In the 19th century, the Jewish community in Zabrze had 1,000 members[1.1]. The industrial development of the town benefitted greatly from the discovery of coal deposits on the border of Palów and Zaborze in 1790. The “Queen Louise” coal mine was opened the very next year.

Jews in Zabrze made their living mostfy from crafts, but they did not join any guilds unless they were Jewish. They specialised in the following fields: goldsmithery, furriery, passemanterie, tailoring, watchmaking. The high quality of Jewish–made products attracted many clients[1.2].

The development of industry in Zabrze encouraged local Jews to invest in its growth. Towards the beginning of 1856, two industrialists – Silbergleit and Schlesinger – founded the “Reduta” steel mill in Zabrze. A glassworks was established in the town in 1876. In 1867, a group of wealthy Jews founded a factory of industrial greases and lubricants at Towarowa Street; it operated until the outbreak of WWII. Local Jews invested in the development of the local brewing industry and owned mills. Most frequently, they established small production plants and crafts workshops. They were also engaged in trade. The first hotel in the town was opened in 1876; it was called Silberfeld Hotel after its owner. In 1879, the hotel was purchased by Janusz Kochmann, who opened a liquor shop in the building. Opposite the Kochmann Hotel, there was a hotel owned by Adolf Schiller. It was open until 1934. Another hotel was opened by Ferdynand Fleischer on the corner of Dworcowa and Wolności Streets. In 1912, L. Cohn founded the first car showroom in Zabrze and in the entire region[1.3].

The most drastic measures against the Jewish population were taken in 1938, when, on the night of 9 November, Germans initiated mass deportations of Jews with Polish citizenship. The few that remained in the town were shot or tormented to death during the war, or sent to concentration camps[1.4].

  • [1.1] Zabrze moje miasto: wspomnienia, ed. K. Karwat, Zabrze 2002, pp. 1-16.
  • [1.2] Zabrze od rzemiosła do przemysłu, ed. M. Kosobucki Bydgoszcz 2007, pp. 3-79.
  • [1.3] Zabrze moje miasto: wspomnienia, oprac. i red. K. Karwat, Zabrze 2002, ss. 1-16.
  • [1.4] Żydzi na Górnym Śląsku w XIX i XX wieku, eds. B. Kalinowska-Wójcik and D. Keller, Rybnik-Katowice 2012, pp. 666-720.