Łódź

 

Łódź (German Lodz, also Lodsch, 1940–1945 Litzmannstadt), located in the center of Poland around 130 km southwest of Warsaw, is the third largest city in the country with over 695,000 inhabitants after Warsaw and Krakow.

The capital of the Łódź Voivodeship is the seat of the University of Łódź and the State University of Film, Television and Theater. For the economy of the country, the resident companies of the textile industry as well as the entertainment and electronics branch form a focus.

 

History

Middle Ages and early modern times
Łódź had its origins as a small settlement on a river named after the city Łódka. This river runs below the city. The place was first mentioned in 1332 as Łodzia. In 1423 Władysław II Jagiełło granted city rights under Magdeburg law. In the 17th century, the development of the place experienced a certain stagnation, which was further intensified by a fire in 1661 and the outbreak of the plague. With the construction of the Catholic St. Joseph Church in 1665, the city received its first sacred building.

Period of division until the end of the First World War
With the second partition of Poland in 1793, the city became part of Prussia. Around 1800 only 190 people lived here. After the Peace of Tilsit in 1807 the place became part of the Duchy of Warsaw and in 1815 it was integrated into Congress Poland, so that the city was under the Russian Tsar. This and the subsequent changes laid the foundation for Łódź's economic boom.

Building areas were created in the south of the village. The first German cloth makers settled there in 1823, mostly recruited in western Germany as well as in Saxony, Bohemia and Silesia and later also from the Prussian province of Posen. The German weavers, spinners and dyers, who soon formed the majority of the population, traditionally carried out their craft at home at the beginning.

In the course of industrialization, Łódź became the most important location for the textile industry in Congress Poland. The city was generally considered to be the Manchester of Poland. The population rose from less than 1,000 to several hundred thousand. The first textile factory was completed by Christian Friedrich Wendisch in 1826. The cloth makers' guild was founded in 1825 as the city's first guild. The upswing in Łódź was slowed down by the November uprising of 1830/31. After the fighting, however, the upswing continued and so Louis Geyer (also Ludwik Geyer) built a textile factory in 1836, the so-called White Factory.

In 1848 Jews were first allowed to settle in the newly built factory town. In 1854 Carl Scheibler opened his first machine factory and one year later he set up a modern spinning mill here. During a weaver revolt on April 20, 1861, some factories were damaged. In 1865 the city received the economically important connection to the rail network. The Łódź Volunteer Fire Brigade was formed in 1876. Construction of the first synagogue in Łódź began in 1882. Two years later, the Russian Orthodox Alexander Nevsky Cathedral was inaugurated.

In 1892 there were violent clashes between the residents and the Russian military, with 164 people dying on June 23. The largest Jewish cemetery in Europe was established in the same year on an area donated by Izrael Poznański. Doły Cemetery, established in 1896, is the largest municipal cemetery. In 1897 there were 314,000 people in Łódź, 40% of whom were Germans. Poland's first cinema, the Iluzjon, opened here in 1899. In 1904 there were 546 factories in the city employing 70,000 workers, mostly in the textile industry.

Workers' misery was widespread in Łódź. The child and infant mortality was at times at 70%, partly because there was no sewer system in the city for a long time. Around 1900, 80% of Łódź's population was still illiterate.

During the First World War, the city of Łódź became a battle zone. The battle for Łódź ended in a draw, but the Russian armies had to surrender the city to the Germans on December 6, 1914. The war was a severe economic blow for the city. On the one hand, the important Russian market collapsed, and on the other hand, the occupiers dismantled large parts of the factories without regard to the predominantly German owners.

Interwar period
In the Second Polish Republic, newly founded after the end of the World War in 1918, the laborious reconstruction of industry began in Łódź. In 1931 around nine percent of Łódź residents were German-speaking. The relationship between Jews and Germans was favored by the linguistic proximity. In 1930 there was even a German-Jewish electoral bloc. Nonetheless, anti-Semitism was widespread in Łódź among Germans and Poles alike.

Second World War
The outbreak of World War II hit the city at its post-war economic high. On September 9, 1939, the Wehrmacht marched in without a fight. After the invasion of Poland in September 1939, the new Reichsgau Posen, later Wartheland, was created within the Association of the German Reich. The industrial area around Łódź was incorporated into this on November 9, 1939. The city itself formed a German urban district in the Kalisch administrative district. Always written Lodz by the Germans in the city, it was officially called Lodz after the region was annexed to the German Empire.

 

The German district president in Kalisch moved his seat to Lodsch on April 1, 1940. At the same time, extensive incorporations came into force. The town of Ruda Pabianicka and the surrounding rural communities Brus (German: Bruss), Chojny and Radogoszcz (German: Radegast), which had been under the administration of the Lord Mayor in Lodsch since January 1, 1940, were formally incorporated into Lodsch.

On February 8, 1940, the Łódź ghetto, one of the largest in the “Third Reich”, was established. The Jews imprisoned there had to do forced labor and were later mostly deported and murdered in concentration camps. Only about 900 people were found alive when the Red Army marched in. A youth concentration camp existed next to the ghetto from 1942 onwards, in which children were locked up from the age of two. At least 500 children died here. In 1940 there were 692 murders of the sick in the context of the German euthanasia policy of patients at the Kochanowka institution.

On April 11, 1940, Łódź was renamed Litzmannstadt by the German occupation authorities in honor of the German General Karl Litzmann (1850-1936), whose 3rd Infantry Guard Division had fought victoriously in the Battle of Łódź at the end of 1914. On February 15, 1941, the name of the administrative district Kalisch changed to Litzmannstadt.

Post-war and People's Republic of Poland
On January 19, 1945, Soviet troops reached the city. Since the city's economic structure remained relatively intact, but Warsaw was destroyed, Łódź became one of the most important cities in post-war Poland. Until 1948 it served as the seat of government; a temporary permanent relocation of the capital here was abandoned in favor of the reconstruction of Warsaw.

Many strikes took place in 1945/1946 and the workers felt they had been betrayed. The fact that Jews were disproportionately represented in leadership positions intensified the existing anti-Semitism enormously. The Jews perceived this as a pogrom atmosphere and prompted many of them to emigrate.

In 1948 the later famous Łódź Film School was founded, producing graduates such as Roman Polański and Andrzej Wajda. Jan Moll performed the first heart transplant in Poland in 1969 in the city's hospital.

The official propaganda of the Polish United Workers' Party (PVAP) praised Łódź as a model city of the labor movement. In reality, the working conditions, especially in the textile factories, were miserable, the machines were barely modernized, and serious accidents at work kept occurring. When Wajda made his film The Promised Land, set among the textile barons of the 19th century, in 1974, no elaborate sets had to be made: some of the machines from that time were still in operation. Again and again there were work stoppages in the textile factories. A strike in February 1971 forced the new PVAP leadership under Edward Gierek to make concessions; it was the first successful strike in the history of the People's Republic of Poland.

present
Łódź experienced economic decline in the first ten years after 1989. There was high unemployment and some of the former magnificent buildings were left to decay. An administrative reform in 1999 reduced the number of voivodeships to 16 and enlarged the Łódź voivodeship to 18,219 km². In 2002, the Galeria Łódzka opened a modern shopping center not far from the previous Central. The city has recently changed significantly: factory buildings have been converted into event venues, museums and shopping centers, and the Parada Wolności (comparable to the Love Parade) takes place annually on Piotrkowska Street, the longest boulevard in Europe. According to official information, it is said to have the highest density of bars and clubs in Europe, which are often hidden in small backyards. The city administration and many small organizations are also trying to revive the special flair of the once multicultural city. In order to commemorate the once peaceful coexistence of Jews, Russians, Poles and Germans, the Festival of the Four Cultures takes place every year. The former Poznański textile factory was opened in 2006 as “Manufaktura”, the largest shopping and entertainment center in Poland. The old factory halls were extensively restored and a new wing was added.

 

Origin of name
Łódź means "boat". The origin of the name is controversial. The assumption that the name of the city comes from the small river Łódka ("[small] boat") is not certain. The name is possibly derived from the Slavic first name Włodzisław or from the old Polish term Łozina for willow tree.

coat of arms
The coat of arms shows a gold-colored wooden boat with an oar on a red background. From a heraldic point of view, it is a talking coat of arms because it depicts the city name; whereby the underlying interpretation - as with other speaking coats of arms - does not have to agree with the actual origin of the name. The first documented representation of a boat in the coat of arms is preserved on a city seal from 1535. This is likely to have been in use since the middle of the 15th century. The coat of arms was continued almost unchanged until 1817.

Later there were numerous modifications, among other things to adapt the coat of arms to the Soviet pattern. Of the numerous proposals to include the textile industry, which is important for the city, in the coat of arms, none was implemented.

The coat of arms was introduced on June 5, 1936, with one interruption during the German occupation: from 1941 to 1945 the coat of arms showed a golden swastika on a dark blue background.

The motto of the coat of arms is: Ex navicula navis, Latin for: From a boat a ship.

 

Destinations

Basilica of St. Stanislaus Kostka
Alexander Nevsky Cathedral
Lodz Factory Museum
Historical Museum
Modern Art Museum/ Contemporary Art museum
Textile Museum
Herbst Palace
Księży  mill
Pharmaceutical Museum
Archaeological and Ethnographic Museum
Open Air Museum of Wooden Architecture
Ludwig Geyer White Factory
Villa Leopold Kindermann
Church of St. Anthony of Padua
St. Casimir's Church
Church of St. Dorota
Museum of Cinematography
Piotrkowska street
Freedom Square