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Beginning and development PDF Print E-mail
Although the Jewish community never made up more than 20% of the population of Gliwice, it played a significant role in the life and activities of Gliwice.


 Jews  first settled in Silesia during the Middle Ages. Jewish merchants travelled through Gliwice but no written documents survive that would provide any evidence of a continuing Jewish presence in the city. The only trace is that there was a street named Judengasse  (Jews’ Alley, currently Krupnicza Street) until the 19th century. The oldest written evidence of the Jews of Gliwice dates back to the end of the 17th century, when a young Jewish girl was baptized. More detailed information begins in the mid-18th century; in 1743 there were four Jewish families including 28 people.

From then until around 1860 the Jewish population  of Gliwice grew steadily, reaching a peak of about 2,000—18.8% of the city’s inhabitants. Thereafter the total number remained fairly steady until the 1920s, while the city’s overall population grew to 120,000. 

Most of the early Jewish settlers were peddlers, innkeepers and merchants.  The Troplowitz family, one of the first Jewish families in Gliwice and for a long time the best-known, began as innkeepers and distillers, and later became wine merchants and importers, specializing in wines from Hungary. Salomon Troplowitz (1789 - 1869) established the business, building his cellars, tasting room, office and home in the city’s Rynek. In 1848 he became the first Jewish member of the City Council.



One of his sons, Louis (Simon Ludwig) Troplowitz (1825 – 1913), was a master mason and one of the builders of the Gliwice synagogue.  Another son, Jakob Simon (1831 – 1907), expanded the wine business to Breslau (Wroclaw) and Berlin.

Louis Troplowitz’s son, Oscar Troplowitz (1863 – 1918) trained as a pharmacist.  He purchased a small factory  in Altona (now part of Hamburg) and expanded it into a large, successful manufacturer of toiletries: Beiersdorf AG, named after the original owner, today ranks among the largest such companies. Oscar Troplowitz is remembered for having created Nivea cream, the first toothpastes and improved wound dressings.  He donated a monument to the city symbolizing Silesian industry.  It stood at Reichspräsidentenplatz in Gliwice (presently Pilsudski square) until its demolition in 1945.


The other builder of the Gliwice synagogue was Salomon Lubowski (1825-1889). During his 40-year career, he designed and built many structures in Gliwice besides the synagogue: the family house of his daughter Flora and her husband Oscar Caro (now the Villa Caro, which houses the Museum of Gliwice), the regional government offices, the old Post Office and others.


The Caro family played an important role among the Upper Silesian industrialists. They possessed the “Hermina” smelter in Łabędy (presently Łabędy smelter) and a part of a wire factory. Oscar Caro (1852-1931) managed the “Oberschlesiche Eisenindustrie” conglomerate (“Obereisen” for short).

The Huldschinsky family was also prominent in Upper Silesian industry. In 1866 Salomon Huldschinsky opened a pipe factory, which later became  the Huldschinsky smelter in Gliwice. After merging with ”Oberbedarf”, it became one of the largest Upper Silesian industrial concerns. Salomon’s son Oscar Huldschinsky developed a residential area for the factory’s workers (near Chorzowska Street) and established the Holy Family Church (1901) in that neighborhood.



Other Upper Silesian industrialists included the Friedländer family. Two members in particular were connected with Gliwice: Emanuel Friedländer and his son Friedrich Victor, later known as Fritz von Friedänder-Fuld (1858-1917), who were wholesalers of coal and large producers of coke. Josef Kleczewski (1839-1922) and his son Max (1867-1931) owned a paper factory here.

Gliwice had prominent Jewish lawyers, including Arthur Kochmann, Ernst Kohn, Eugen and Wilhelm Lustig, Ludwig Herrnstadt, Erich Schlesinger; doctors such as: Arthur Blumenfeld and Simon Freund.  Other prominent German Jews were born in Gliwice: writers and poets: Ulla Wolff-Frank, Rudolf Herrnstadt and Arthur Silbergleit;  and musicians such as the Winkler family.  The publisher Gottfried Bermann Fischer, the physicist Eugen Goldstein and the psychiatrist Alfred Hauptmann were all born here. Others with roots in Gliwice include Edith Stein, whose parents lived here until about 1880;  Hans Adolf Krebs (1900-1981), the biochemist and doctor who won the Nobel Prize in 1953, was the son of a Gliwice native.


The Schreiber (later Servan-Schreiber) family, whose descendants founded the French newspapers “Les Echos” and “L’Express,” lived in Gliwice in the mid-19th Century,  The mother of Peretz (Fritz) Naphtali (1888-1961), the economist and member of the Israeli government in the 1950’s, was a member of the Troplowitz family. Jews also owned some of the city’s department stores and shops. Among others worthy of mention is Erwin Weichmann, whose textile department store (at what is now Zwyciestwa Street) was designed by Erich Mendelsohn.


Four members of the Jewish community were granted the title of honorary citizens of Gliwice:
  • in 1892 Simon Freund (1823 – 1896) – Sanitätsrat (an honorary title given to distinguished doctors), the Chairman of the Jewish community Board,
  • in 1917 Justizrat Eugen Lustig (1856 – 1929) – a well-known lawyer, corporate counsel for the city and Chairman of the Jewish community Board; the present Gorzołki Street was named Lustigstrasse upon his death;
  • in 1919 Josef Kleczewski – the owner of the paper factory, a member of the city council for many years and a member of numerous associations in the city and the Jewish community,
  • in 1928 Justizrat Arthur Kochmann (1864 – 1943) – a lawyer, member of the City Council,  German Democratic Party and the Chairman of the Upper Silesian Union of Jewish Communities; he was the President of the Gliwice Jewish religious community for many years until his deportation to Auschwitz at the end of 1943.

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