The Jewish community developed in Góra Kalwaria only in the 19th century, when the ban on Jewish settlement was lifted. When Poland lost its independence, the town - until then a Catholic Passion centre – became secularised by the Prussian authorities. Shops and workshops run by Jews quickly started to emerge in the town. The growing influence and wealth of the local Jews triggered negative or defensive reactions from Polish entrepreneurs. High incomes from alcohol production and sales were the main bone of contention. The Polish inhabitants of Góra Kalwaria demanded that Jews be banned from taking jobs in the distilling industry. Their demands drew on the example of Grójec, where Jews were not allowed to be involved in some industries, including distilling. Mutual suspicion and aversion was aggravated by the town’s economic backwardness. The vicinity of Warsaw as a major economic centre suppressed local trade and crafts. Local craftsmen were mostly tailors (e.g. Cybula’s tailor shop at 15 Piłsudskiego Street), shoemakers and bakers. Altszuler, who owned a sawmill in Wiślana Street, was one of the town’s prominent Jewish businessmen. Jewish traders sold their goods in the town’s stalls located close to the market square. In the 19th century, when Góra Kalwaria became a Hassidic centre due to the presence of the Alter dynasty tzadiks, economic sentiment slightly improved. The fame and renown of the Alter dynasty attracted their supporters and followers to the town. Their presence was one of the elements that improved the economic situation of some Góra Kalwaria Jews, mainly those who rented houses and flats, as well as merchants, craftsmen and coachmen. The town hall also benefited from the visiting supporters of the tzadik. Every visitor who came to see Alter had to pay one zloty to the town. The growth of the Hassidic pilgrimage activity mobilised Duke Lubomirski, Count Zamoyski and businessman Paszkowski to build a narrow-gauge railway. The railway track ran from Warsaw’s Unii Lubelskiej Square to Góra Kalwaria (the station on Pijarska Street). The railway provided an additional impulse for the town’s economic growth[1.1].

Translated by LIDEX

  • [1.1] Kawka M., “Po prostu człowiek (Simply a Man)”, [in:] Kurier Południowy, 2012, no 432 [online] 6 April 2012 [accessed on: 23 August 2014].