The former synagogue in Lesko, Poland; 2004. x

Lesko, known as Linsk in Yiddish, is a town in Poland that held a sizable Jewish population before World War II.  Although records are not clear when the town’s Jewish community was first created, by 1890 the Jewish population was recorded at 2,425 persons.  The main synagogue of Lesko - pictured above - was constructed between 1626 and 1656 to replace a wooden synagogue.  It could accommodate 1,500 people. 

Following the annexation of Poland by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union under the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, the town of Lesko was in the Soviet zone of control so its Jewish population was spared during the initial years of the war.  That changed in 1941 with Operation Barbarossa and the German invasion of the Soviet Union, which involved the capture of Lesko by Nazi Germany.  60% of Lesko’s Jewish population was killed in the Holocaust.  The interior of the synagogue was also set on fire by the conquering German soldiers.  The building of the synagogue still stands and has been renovated extensively, now housing a Museum of Jewish history, an Art Gallery, and an annex office.  The bimah of the synagogue was looted from the synagogue during World War II and is now used on a Polish gentile’s home as a balcony.

HISTORY OF POLAND IN 10 STEPS:
#5 Poland Vanishes From Maps For 123 Years
Photo: Allegory of the 1st partition of Poland, showing Catherine the Great of Russia (left), Joseph II of Austria and Frederick the Great of Prussia (right) quarrelling over their territorial seizures.

Each of the invaders (the Russian Empire, the Kingdom of Prussia and and the Habsburg Austrian Empire) implemented a policy of denationalising Polish citizens. A vast part of the intelligentsia went into political exile or resigned from public political activity. However, the idea of Poland as an independent state was not lost. Polish units were formed during the Napoleonic Wars, and clandestine Polish organisations started two major uprisings (both were unsuccessful) and tried joining the Spring of Nations in 1848 (again, unsuccessfully).

After the merciless strangulation of the last major insurrection – the January Uprising (1863 -1864) – Polish political activists turned back to grassroots work. Instead of trying to regain independence forcefully they started organising unofficial education centres that taught Polish language and history (the language was forbidden in some districts), watchfully fostered social reform, and continued advocating the ‘Polish case’ at the courts of the enemies of the invaders of Poland.

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well, in this one I try out two things: major use of a map and quite a lot of chronology (which I don’t really like), but of course it also contains a more analytical assessment at the end.