Dzierżoniów / Reichenbach

July 10th, 2014
Dzierżoniów / Reinchenbach

Dzierżoniów / Reinchenbach

The rich history of the City of Dzierżoniów / Reichenbach in Dol­ny Śląsk / Lower Silesia records frequent political changes. In the town and its surrounding area, one finds proof of the reigning Piast Dukes of Schweidnitz-Jauer, the Kings of Bohemia, the Habsburg emperors, the Prussian kings, and of the German Empire of 1871. The roots of the town reach back to the 13th century. The first recorded mention of Reichenbach refers to a document, written on February 13, 1268. At the end of the 13th century, Reichenbach becomes the center for the surrounding area and assumes the character of a fortified town. In 1428, the town is attacked by the armies of the Bohemian Hussites and totally destroyed. The plague and other epidemics repeatedly claim many victims.

In the 15th century, Silesia falls under the Bohemian crown and, a century later, becomes part of the Habsburg monarchy. In 1763 at the end of the Third Silesian war, Reichenbach and most of Silesia become part of the Kingdom of Prussia.

In the 16th century, business and trades, the production of linen and other goods bring about the “Gol­den Century of Reichenbach.” The Silesian Wars of 1740 to 1763 soon disrupt this peaceful era. During the Napoleonic Wars, several in­ternational congresses take place in Reichenbach, which to a large degree determine the future map of Europe. This is the time during which Reichenbach reaches the height of its political importance. Between 1816 and 1820, it even becomes the capital of one of the four districts of the province of Si­lesia.

In the 19th century, the town and its surrounding villages become the center of the Silesian weaving industries. The centuries old cot­tage weaving industry is replaced by large scale industrial produc­tion facilities. This economical and social change brings unspeakable poverty and political unrest and upheaval to the area, which culmi­nate in the uprising of the Silesian weavers in 1842. Through various projects, the Prussian kings try to alleviate the suffering of the population and the irate factory workers. The city of Reichenbach gains from these measures as well as from the connection to the new railroad in Schweidnitz / Świdnica and from there with the larger Prussian railroad system.

During World War I and World War II, Reichenbach remains untou­ched by destruction. In the year 1945, the city finds itself in the area that would belong to Poland according to the Potsdam Treaty. Soon after the end of World War II, many Jewish survivors libera­ted from the concentration camps settle in the city which now recei­ves the name of Rychbach, which, however, is soon changed to Dzierżoniów after the father of bee keeping, Jan Dzierżon. Econo­mically, the linen and the electro­mechanical industries experience large scale development. During the late 1980s and early 1990s, Poland becomes a democracy and achieves its full independence. New laws permit local self-govern­ment for the communities and thus, Dzierżoniów gains legal and financial autonomy.

© John Koch 2009

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