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Sunday, 26 March 2017
VisitBiałystok.com - All about Białystok


After 1749
As a result of the 3rd partition of Poland, Białystok was placed under Prussian occupation. At that time the population did not exceed 4 thousand, almost half of whom were Jews.

As part of the repressions imposed on the nation as a result of the November Uprising, a tight customs border was established between the Polish "Congressional" Kingdom and the Russian Tzarist Empire. Paradoxically the situation caused Białystok to flourish as many of the textile factory owners, who had their businesses mostly around the city of Łódź, moved to Białystok so as to avoid the high duties on the goods imported into Russia. Many manufacturing plants were founded both in the city and its vicinity, creating jobs for the local population from the town and the neighbouring villages. By 1845 16 thousand people populated the city.

The city continued to develop following the launch of the Warsaw - St Petersburg railway line in 1862. By 1879 there were 47 textile plants operating in Białystok, employing 1.5 thousand workers. The population almost reached 35 thousand. In the last decade of the 19th century the city was equipped with telephone lines, water pipes and horse-pulled trams. By the turn of the century, the population reached 70 thousand, 80% of whom were Jews.

In 1915 the city was taken over by German troops who stayed here until the end of World War I, retreating from the Polish army as late as February 1919. Following the regaining of independence, Białystok became the capital of the newly created voivodeship and was enlarged by including several adjacent villages within its territory. The move changed the ethnic structure of the town: now Jews constituted only 48.7% of the total population and Poles - 46.6%. The city was also inhabited by Germans (1.9%), Russians (1.8%), Belarussians (0.8%), and other nations (0.2%). In the late 1920's and early 1930's the centre of Białystok was modernised with a district of official offices such as the seat of the Voivode in the Branicki Palace, a building of the Voivodeship Courts and a Treasury Office by Mickiewicza Street and a colony of houses for office clerks on Świętojańska street. A new city parks was also created, called Planty.

On 15 September 1939 German troops invaded the town only to withdraw from it by 22 September, giving ground to the Soviet army as a result of the Ribbentrop - Molotov pact. For the next 19 months Białystok played the role of a district capital in the Belarussian Republic. Soon the Germans came back, taking the town over again and creating, under Hitler's orders, a special Białystok district called the "Bezirk Białystok", under the direct supervision of the fűhrer. Despite the very harsh repressions of both of the occupying armies, the city was the location of a strong resistance movement directed by the National Army (Armia Krajowa).

The most difficult times were experienced by the Jewish population grouped behind the walls of the ghetto between July and August 1941. The ghetto was finally liquidated in August 1943. Out of the 50 thousand Białystok Jews from before the War only about one thousand survived the Holocaust. Białystok was liberated on 27 July 1944 by the troops of II Belarussian Front. In the course of the military clashes against the retreating Germans, 75% of the city buildings were destroyed. 40 thousand people inhabited the town in the first months following the liberation. In two years the number grew to 47 thousand, mainly due to the inflow of repatriates from the areas of Vilnius and Grodno.


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