Polish Lodz

The situation of Poles in Lodz Bazylika Archikatedralna pw. św. Stanisława Kostki w Łodzi, as well as other ethnic groups living here, changed in the 1920s and 1930s of the nineteenth century. Authorities of the Polish Kingdom recognized the natural conditions of Lodz and the surrounding area, stimulating the development of the textile industry. They began to encourage investment in these areas. Numerous incentives for German settlers, as well promotion of the weaving industry, gave rise to small workshops and factories. Effective development of the industry required appropriate number of workers. The labor force was just as important for the development of the city as the investors. Cooperation of these factors resulted in the success of the 19th century Lodz. A large number of German settlers in the mid-nineteenth century upset the ethnic structure of the city. The announcement of the land reform by the tsarist government in 1864 caused a massive influx of Polish population to the industrial Lodz. During this time, the inhabitants of Polish descent began to dominate among the population of the city. Until the outbreak of World War One, more than a half of the 600 thousand citizens of  Lodz were Polish.Bazylika Archikatedralna pw. św. Stanisława Kostki w Łodzi

In the first half of the nineteenth century, Poles coming to Lodz recruited mainly from two social groups: landless peasants and residents of small rural towns from the western regions of the Polish Kingdom. The Polish population flowing into the city usually entered the ranks of the working class (textiles, metal, construction, transport industry), some of them became craftsmen and intelligensia. Few of  the wealthy merchants and industrialists were Polish. A lot of Polish women were employed as domestic help. Almost all Polish workers' families lived in one-room apartments, housing 4-5 persons. National traditions and language were nurtured by Polish elementary schools, which were created in the second half of the nineteenth century, and especially by the Catholic church. Living conditions in neighborhoods and villages were difficult. Residents lived without sewage system, buildings were simple and chaotically constructed; poverty was common. Bazylika Archikatedralna pw. św. Stanisława Kostki w ŁodziThe rapid development of industry in Lodz gave rise to new class divisions in the city population, leading to conflicts. Poles, as a working class, took part in mass rallies, such as the one in 1861 at Scheibler’s factory, during the so-called "Lodz revolt" in 1892, or during the Revolution of 1905. Polish citizens of Lodz also actively supported the independence movement and subsequent uprisings in the nineteenth century. Their support was particularly visible in the case of the January Uprising of 1863.  Unit of 300 insurgents was formed in Lodz,  who went to fight the Russians. It is estimated that a total of 2,000 residents of our region took part in the Uprising.

The nature of the Polish community began to evolve gradually in the late nineteenth century. More and more Poles became members of the middle class and intelligentsia. The Poles had a Polish-language press: initially it was "Lodzer Zeitung" (also in German), and from the 1880s - "The Lodz Daily" The beginning of the twentieth century in Lodz is associated with the development of readership and Polish press, as the opening of the City Public Library indicates. After regaining independence by the Polish State, Lodz was the second largest urban center in the country. The city also attained the rank of a regional administrative center for the first time in the history, becoming the seat of provincial authorities. An interesting initiative osiedle im. Montwiłła-Mireckiego, aimed at improving the housing situation of Poles in Lodz, was the construction in of the Montwill-Mirecki housing estate in the late 1920s. The housing estate was built between 1928-1931 alt by the Municipality of Lodz, in the vicinity of the Na Zdrowiu Park. Apartments  were of a high standard at the time – they had electricity, running water and sewerage. These facilities were scarce in pre-war Lodz. Ultimately, the estate was to be an area intended primarily for workers in Lodz, but in the face of the economic crisis of the 1930s, rents in modern buildings were too high and the intelligentsia began settling there instead. During the inter-war period, Łódź was a multinational city, however, the vast majority of residents were Polish.

Multicultural Łódź

The phenomenon of a multicultural and multinational Lodz has been a point of interest and fascination for many decades. This issue has become of particular interest nowadays, when the city and its inhabitants return to their identity, established in the nineteenth and early twentieth century. How was it possible that a small village, inhabited in 1820 by 767 people, turned into one of the most powerful and rapidly growing industrial centers of Eastern Europe, where nearly 100 years later, shortly before the outbreak of World War I, 600 000 people lived and worked?
The unique character of the city of Lodz can be attributed not only to the rapid urban and industrial development, but, above all, to the ethnic composition of its citizens. Poles, Jews, Germans and Russians had a direct impact on its transformation in all spheres: material, cultural, architectural and religious.

The largest national group of Lodz were Poles, amounting in 1914 to nearly 300 thousand people (50% of the general public). The next group in terms of numbers were Jews, constituting about 30% of the population. They were followed by Germans, with a population of up to 70,000before the outbreak of World War I. The least numerous were Russians, with about 6.5 thousand people living in Lodz at the time. The period of the most rapid growth in the number of inhabitants of Lodz falls at the end of the nineteenth and first decade of the twentieth century. In 1870, the population was about 50,000, in 1901 it reached 300,000, and in 1914 almost 600 thousand people lived in the city. Such a rapid development of the city’s population was associated primarily with migration. For all nations coming to Lodz, the city became the proverbial “promised land”, where they had the opportunity to improve their current living conditions. The city offered the possibility of rapid changes in social status for the most active and enterprising individuals, it was, however, difficult and required a titanic effort, and sometimes also luck. Conditions created for new settlers coming to Lodz, in combination with the natural environment in the region as well as the opening of a huge market in the Russian Empire became an ideal base for further development of the city. Just how extremely attractive these conditions were may be evidenced by the fact that emigrants came from such distant places as Rhineland and Styria.

The coexistence of Lodz citizens, so diverse in terms of tradition, religion and customs, had to involve manifestations of both rivalry and antagonism, as well as neighborly assistance or cooperation. The problems between the nations arouse from the political situation (Poles versus Russians), mistrust towards people of different religious background (the attitude of Christians towards Jews) or socio-economic disparities (such as between Poles and Germans). However, as open conflict based on nationalistic sentiments was practically impossible. The system of links between business and property relations was so complicated that an attack on one of the national groups brought inevitable repercussions to the others. This cultural melting pot in Lodz created a unique atmosphere of local patriotism and bound the thus far foreign nations into a single urban community. The relationship Lodz citizens of all nationalities with their city, regardless of their national background, is evidenced by their artistic output, such as memoirs, poetry or music, but also by the joint declarations of members of the City Council at the time of reconstruction of the Polish state. Living side by side had to affect every aspect of city development, including the language which its citizens spoke. Journalists from as early as the early twentieth century noticed a considerable influence of German on the Polish language in Lodz, including not only professional terminology but also everyday speech. The German language was widely understood and spoken quite fluently not only by the bourgeois elites but also by Polish workers and foremen. In the streets, you could hear a mosaic of languages​​: Polish, Yiddish, German and Russian.

The functioning of a large, rapidly developing city boosted cooperation among its residents. Roles in this collaboration evolved throughout the nineteenth century but the main division can be described as follows. 70% of Germans were active in the fields of trade and industry; Russians, as a result ofthe political situation, were mostly employed in the public administration and the army; Poles, arriving en masse from the surrounding towns and villages, mainly provided the manpower of Łódź; Jews were primarily associated with trade, finance and factories. Despite these social and professional differences, life and work in the city provided an opportunity for more profound relations to be made, and thus for the people to become accustomed to "aliens" who gradually ceased to be so. Such an opportunity was the everyday life: shopping in a shop or a market, conducting business and establishing trade contacts, visiting government offices and banks, religious ceremonies, and eventually also theater, cinema and sporting events. Residents of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century were integrated by different types of festivals, circus performances and dancing. All that allowed the Lodz citizens to get to know each other and to learn to live together.

The industrial and demographic development of Lodz had to entail its urban expansion. The multicultural character of the city left its mark also on this aspect. Investors were mostly representatives of groups dominant in the economic life, mainly Germans and Jews. Particularly important was the development of architecture in Lodz in the 1890s, when the low and monotonous architectural skyline of the city turned into a large modern construction site, with a variety of architectural forms. The design of Lodz buildings was modeled primarily after Berlin and Vienna architecture. This resulted in a rich variety of the city's architecture, whose creators, architects and artists were the citizens of Polish Lodz, German or Jewish origin. Buildings which were created at the turn of the century, despite the ravages of World War II and the period of Polish People's Republic, represent the uniqueness of Lodz until today.

The most fascinating and exotic aspect of the life in Lodz was the religious coexistence. In Lodz, until 1939, one could see Catholics praying in their churches, Protestants singing psalms, Orthodox believers in their churches and pious Jews in their synagogues and prayer houses. Rituals associated with holidays such as Christmas or Easter on the one hand and Pesach or Yom Kippur on the other, mingled in the streets of the robust city. Daily observations of different cultures, faiths and religions had to reduce distrust over time. The tangible trace of the presence of all these cultures, and especially individual people who created them are still the cemeteries of Lodz. This includes the great necropolis at Ogrodowa Street, where Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox builders of Lodz are laid to final rest together. The size and significance of the Jewish minority is evidenced by the beautiful and unique New Cemetery at Bracka Street.

The multicultural and multinational city of Lodz, built by Poles, Germans, Jews and Russians alike, existed and flourished until the outbreak of World War II and its traces are visible in the city until today.



German Łódź

German community began to settle in Lodz and its surroundings at the end of the eighteenth century. A turning point in the inflow of this minority was the seizing of the Lodz land by the Kingdom of Prussia as a result of the second partition treaty of 1793. The settlement was favored both by the German authorities administering there until 1807 years as well as the Russian administration of the Polish Kingdom into which Lodz was included after 1815. The authorities had high hopes for rapid economic and industrial growth of the region with the German settlement, and in the wider perspective of the whole area, the so-called “Congress Poland”. The administrative incentives for German immigrants included among others: exemption from tax obligations for a period of six years, free materials to build houses, perpetual lease of land for construction, exemption from military service or duty-free transport of the immigrants’ livestock. All this had an impact on a large influx of German artisans and craftsmen from the areas of Pomerania, Great Poland, Brandenburg, Silesia, Saxony and even the Rhineland and Styria. Settlers were not a uniform group.

They differed from one another in terms of dialect, religion and material position. As a rule, however, they brought with them professional experience and technical background necessary for industrial development. The largest increase, and thus, the highest percentage of German-speaking population of Lodz took place before 1836, when as many as 70% of people out of the 6500 population of Lodz were German settlers. This percentage decreased in subsequent years, with the growth of the Polish and Jewish population. At the beginning of the twentieth century, the German population of Lodz was approximately 20%. Generally speaking, German immigrants were the best-educated and comprised of technical experts, foremen and managers. In the first half of the nineteenth century, they founded small weaving workshops, which later turned into large industrial plants. It is impossible to overestimate the contribution of the German community to the development of the city. Germans build factories and created jobs, they did not forget about their education, language and religion, building Protestant churches and forming German schools, as well as cultural and social associations. German industrialists funded hospitals and housing estates for their employees, expanding areas of the city, thus allowing greater immigration.

It is certain that without the German settlers such a rapid and dynamic development of Lodz in the nineteenth century would have been impossible. The most powerful German families in Lodz included: the Scheiblers, Heinzels, Biedermanns, Geyers, Grohmans, Anstadts, Schweikerts and Kindermanns. They left behind magnificent monuments, which include: the St. Matthew Evangelical church, the White Factory of Ludwig Geyer, the Herbst Palace, the Scheibler factory, the Biedermann Palace, the Heinzel Palace, the Grohman Villa and many others.

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