Przemyśl ([ˈpʂɛmɨɕl] ( listen) German: Premissel,
Ukrainian: Peremyshl, Перемишль less often
Перемишель) is a city in south-eastern
Poland with 66,756
inhabitants, as of June 2009. In 1999, it became part of the
Subcarpathian Voivodeship; it was previously the capital of Przemyśl
Przemyśl owes its long and rich history to the advantages of its
geographic location. The city lies in an area connecting mountains and
lowlands known as the
Przemyśl Gate, with open lines of
transportation, and fertile soil. It also lies on the navigable San
River. Important trade routes that connect
Central Europe from
Przemyśl ensure the city's importance.
2.1 Within the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth
2.2 As part of Austrian Poland
2.4 After World War I
2.5 Second World War
2.6 After the war
4 Main sights
8 Twin towns
9 Notable people
10 See also
12 External links
Different names in various languages have identified the city
throughout its history. Selected languages include: Bulgarian:
Пшемишъл (Pshemishǎl); Czech: Přemyšl; German: Premissel;
Latin: Premislia; Russian: Перемышль (Pjerjemyshlj); and
Yiddish: פּשעמישל (Pshemishl).
Royal Casimir castle
Przemyśl, the second-oldest city in southern
Poland (after Kraków),
appears to date from as early as the 8th century. The region
subsequently became part of the 9th-century Great Moravian state.
Archeological remains testify to the presence of a monastic settlement
as early as the 9th century. Upon the invasion of the Hungarian tribes
into the heart of the Great Moravian Empire around 899, the Lendians
of the area declared allegiance to the Hungarian authorities[citation
Przemyśl region then became a site of contention between
Kievan Rus and
Hungary beginning in at least the 9th century.
The area was mentioned for the first time in 981 by Nestor, when
Vladimir I of
Kievan Rus took it over on the way into Poland. In
Przemyśl returned to Poland, and in 1031 it was retaken by Rus.
The palatium complex was built during the rule of Bolesław I
Chrobry. Between the 11th and 12th century the city was a capital
of the Principality of Peremyshl, one of the principalities that made
Kievan Rus' state. Sometime before 1218 an Eastern Orthodox
eparchy was founded in the city.
Przemyśl later became part of the
Kingdom of Galicia–Volhynia.
Within the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth
Early 17th century graphics with Latin writing Premislia celebris
Przemyśl was taken by Casimir III of
Poland and became part
of the Polish kingdom as result of the Galicia–Volhynia Wars. Around
this time the first Roman Catholic diocese was founded in the city,
Przemyśl was granted city rights based on Magdeburg rights,
confirmed in 1389 by king Władysław II Jagiełło.
The city prospered as an important trade centre during the Renaissance
period. Like nearby
Lviv (Polish: Lwów, German: Lemberg), the city's
population consisted of a great number of nationalities, including
Poles, Ruthenians, Jews, Germans,
Czechs and Armenians. The long
period of prosperity enabled the construction of such handsome public
buildings as the Old Synagogue of 1559. A
Jesuit college was founded
in the city in 1617. The prosperity came to an end in the middle of
the 17th century, due to wartime destruction during The Deluge and the
general decline of the
Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth at this time.
The city decline lasted for over a hundred years, and only at the end
of the 18th century did it recover its former levels of population. In
1754, the Roman Catholic bishop founded Przemyśl's first public
library, which was only the second public library in the
Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth (Warsaw's
Załuski Library was
founded 7 years earlier). Przemyśl's importance at that time was such
Austria annexed eastern Galicia in 1772 the Austrians
Przemyśl their provincial capital, before deciding
In the mid-eighteenth century, people of Jewish faith constituted
55.6% (1692) of the population, Roman Catholics 39.5% (1202), and
Greek Catholics 4.8% (147).
As part of Austrian Poland
Austrian KK Postal card in Polish version sent in 1881
In 1772, as a consequence of the First Partition of Poland, Przemyśl
became part of the Austrian empire, in what the Austrians called the
Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria. According to the Austrian census of
1830, the city was home to 7,538 people of whom 1,508 (20%) were
members of the Greek Catholic Church, a significantly larger number of
Ruthenians than in most Galician cities. In 1804 a Ruthenian
library was established in Przemyśl. By 1822 its collection had over
33,000 books and its importance for
Ruthenians was comparable to that
held by the
Ossolineum library in
Lviv for Poles.
became the center of the revival of Byzantine choral music in the
Greek Catholic Church. Until eclipsed by
Lviv in the 1830s, Przemyśl
was the most important city in the Ruthenian cultural awakening in the
In 1861 railways were built to connect
Kraków to the
Lviv (Lemberg) to the east. In the middle of the 19th
century, due to the growing conflict between
Austria and Russia over
Austria grew more mindful of Przemyśl's strategic
location near the border with the Russian Empire. During the Crimean
War, when tensions mounted between Russia and Austria, a series of
massive fortresses, 15 km (9 mi) in circumference, were
built around the city by the Austrians.
The census of 1910 showed that the city had 54,078 residents. Roman
Catholics were the most numerous – 25,306 (46,8%), followed by Jews
– 16,062 (29,7%) and Greek Catholics – 12,018 (22,2%).
Fort 15 "Borek", 1896–1900
With technological progress in artillery during the second half of the
19th century, the old fortifications rapidly became obsolete. The
longer range of rifled artillery necessitated the redesign of
fortresses so that they would be larger and able to resist the newly
available guns. To achieve this, between the years 1888 and 1914
Przemyśl was turned into a first class fortress, the third largest in
Europe out of about 200 that were built in this period. Around the
city, in a circle of circumference 45 km (28 mi), 44 forts
of various sizes were built. The older fortifications were modernised
to provide the fortress with an internal defence ring. The fortress
was designed to accommodate 85,000 soldiers and 956 cannons of all
sorts, although eventually 120,000 soldiers were garrisoned there.
German illustration of the second Siege of Przemyśl, from the 13
January 1915 Illustrated War News.
In August 1914, at the start of the First World War, Russian forces
defeated Austro-Hungarian forces in the opening engagements and
advanced rapidly into Galicia. The
Przemyśl fortress fulfilled its
mission very effectively, helping to stop a 300,000 strong Russian
army advancing upon the Carpathian Passes and Kraków, the Lesser
Poland regional capital. The first siege was lifted by a temporary
Austro-Hungarian advance. However, the Russian army resumed its
advance and initiated a second siege of the fortress of
October 1914. This time relief attempts were unsuccessful. Due to lack
of food and exhaustion of its defenders, the fortress surrendered on
22 March 1915. The Russians captured 126,000 prisoners and 700 big
guns. Before surrender, the complete destruction of all fortifications
was carried out. The Russians did not linger in Przemyśl. A renewed
offensive by the
Central Powers recaptured the destroyed fortress on 3
June 1915. During the fighting around Przemyśl, both sides lost up to
115,000 killed, wounded, and missing.
After World War I
Przemyśl Train Station
Interior of the station
At the end of World War I,
Przemyśl became disputed between renascent
Poland and the West Ukrainian People's Republic. On 1 November 1918 a
local provisional government was formed with representatives of
Polish, Jewish, and Ruthenian inhabitants of the area. However, on 3
November, Ukrainian military unit overthrew the government, arrested
its leader, and captured the eastern part of the city. The Ukrainian
army was checked by a small Polish self-defence unit formed of World
War I veterans. Also numerous young Polish volunteers from Przemyśl's
high schools, later to be known as
Przemyśl Orlęta, The Eaglets of
Przemyśl (in a similar manner to more famous
Lwów Eaglets), joined
the host. The battlefront divided the city along the river San, with
the western borough of Zasanie held in Polish hands and the Old Town
controlled by the Ukrainians. Neither
Poles nor Ukrainians could
effectively cross the San, so both opposing parties decided to wait
for a relief force from the outside. That race was won by the Polish
relievers: the volunteer expeditionary unit formed in
Przemyśl on 10 November. When the subsequent Polish ultimatum to
the Ukrainians remained unanswered, on 11–12 November the Polish
forces crossed the San and forced out the outnumbered Ukrainians from
the city in what became known as the 1918 Battle of Przemyśl.
After the end of the
Polish–Ukrainian War and the Polish–Bolshevik
War that followed, the city became a part of the Second Polish
Republic. Although the capital of the voivodship was in
Przemyśl recovered its nodal position as a seat
of local church administration, as well as the garrison of the 10th
Military District of the
Polish Army - a staff unit charged with
organising the defence of roughly 10% of the territory of prewar
Poland. As of 1931
Przemyśl had a population of 62,272 and was the
biggest city in southern
Poland located between
Kraków and Lwów.
Second World War
See also: Battle of
After the invasion of
Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, the
border between the two invaders ran through the middle of the city
San river until June 1941. During the Soviet occupation
Przemyśl was incorporated to the
Ukrainian SSR in the atmosphere of
NKVD terror. It became part of the newly established Drohobych
Oblast. In 1940 the city became an administrative center of
Peremyshl Uyezd with the Peremyshl
Fortified District established
along the Nazi-Soviet frontier before the German attack against the
USSR in 1941.
The town's population increased due to a large influx of Jewish
refugees from the
General Government who sought to cross the border to
Romania. It is estimated that by mid-1941 the Jewish population of
the city had grown to roughly 16,500. In the
Operation Barbarossa of
1941, the eastern (Soviet) part of the city was also occupied by
Germany. On 20 June 1942 the first group of 1,000 Jews was transported
Przemyśl area to the Janowska concentration camp, and on 15
July 1942 a
Nazi ghetto was established for all Jewish inhabitants of
Przemyśl and its vicinity – some 22,000 people altogether. Local
Jews were given 24 hours to enter the Ghetto. Jewish communal
buildings, including the Tempel Synagogue and the Old Synagogue were
destroyed; the New Synagogue, Zasanie Synagogue, and all commercial
and residential real estate belonging to Jews were expropriated.
Further information: Jewish ghettos in German-occupied Poland
Population of Przemyśl, 1931
Source: 1931 Polish census
View of the Old Town in Przemyśl, 2014
The ghetto in
Przemyśl was sealed off from the outside on 14 July
1942. By that time, there may have been as many as 24,000 Jews in the
ghetto. On 27 July the
Judenrat about the forced
resettlement program and posted notices that an "Aktion" (roundup for
deportation to camps) was to be implemented involving almost all
occupants. Exceptions were made for some essential, and Gestapo
workers, who would have their papers stamped accordingly. On the same
day, Major Max Liedtke, military commander of Przemyśl, ordered his
troops to seize the bridge across the
San river that connected the
divided city, and halt the evacuation. The
Gestapo were forced to give
him permission to retain the workers performing service for the
Wehrmacht (up to 100 Jews with families). For the actions undertaken
by Liedtke and his adjutant
Albert Battel in Przemyśl, Yad Vashem
later named them "Righteous Among the Nations". The process of
extermination of the Jews resumed thereafter. Until September 1943
almost all Jews were sent to the Auschwitz or Belzec extermination
camps. The local branches of the Polish underground and the Żegota
managed to save 415 Jews. According to a postwar investigation in
German archives, 568
Poles were executed by the Germans for sheltering
Jews in the area of Przemyśl, including Michał Kruk, hanged along
with several others on 6 September 1943 in a public execution. Among
the many Polish rescuers there, were the Banasiewicz, Kurpiel, Kuszek,
Lewandowski, and Podgórski families.
Red Army retook the town from German forces on 27 July 1944. On 16
August 1945, a border agreement between the government of the Soviet
Union and the Polish Provisional Government of National Unity,
installed by the Soviets, was signed in Moscow. According to the
so-called Curzon Line, the postwar eastern border of
Poland has been
established several kilometres to the east of Przemyśl.
After the war
In the postwar territorial settlement, the new border between Poland
Soviet Union placed
Przemyśl just within the Polish People's
Republic. The border now ran only a few kilometers to the east of the
city, cutting it off from much of its economic hinterland. Due to the
murder of Jews in the Nazi
Holocaust and the postwar expulsion of
Ukrainians (in 1947's
Operation Vistula or akcja Wisla), the city's
population fell to 24,000, almost entirely Polish. However, the city
welcomed thousands of Polish migrants from Eastern Galicia. Their
numbers restored the population to its prewar level.
As a result of all these events, the growth of the city in the years
after 1945 was stunted. In the 1990s, economic reforms in Ukraine
after the fall of the
Soviet Union allowed the border to be opened,
improving the city's opportunities for trade.
Climate data for Przemyśl
Record high °C (°F)
Average high °C (°F)
Average low °C (°F)
Record low °C (°F)
Average precipitation mm (inches)
Source: BBC Weather 
Due to long and rich history of the city, there are many sights in and
around Przemyśl, of special interest to tourists, including the Old
Town with Rynek, the main market square. Among the historic buildings
and museums, opened to visitors, are:
Statue of the good soldier Švejk in Przemyśl
Muzeum Narodowe (the National Museum) - this has a splendid collection
of icons, second only to the one in Sanok. It is free on Wednesdays.
Muzeum Dzwonów i Fajek (the Museum of Bells and Pipes) - free on
Muzeum Diecezjalne (the diocesan museum)
Reformed Franciscan church and monastery, founded in 1627
Franciscan Church, from mid 18th-century in a baroque style
Uniate Cathedral, former 17th-century
Jesuit church, now a Uniate
cathedral with a nice iconostasis
Carmelite Church, 17th century late-
Castle, built by Casimir III the Great in the 14th century.
New Synagogue (Przemyśl)
Lubomirski Palace, an eclectic style palace of the Lubomirski family
constructed in 1885.
Kopiec Tatarski - a mound to the south of the city where a
Tatar khan was supposedly buried.
World War I
World War I cemeteries (Cmentarz Wojskowy)
Civil Defense Shelter - Schron Kierowania Obroną Cywilną
Saint Theresa Carmelite Church
Greek-Catholic Cathedral of St. John the Baptist
Wyższa Szkoła Administracji i Zarządzania
Wydział zamiejscowy w Rzeszowie
Wyższa Szkoła Gospodarcza
Wyższa Szkoła Informatyki i Zarządzania
Nauczycielskie Kolegium Języków Obcych
Nauczycielskie Kolegium Języka Polskiego
Czuwaj Przemyśl - football club
Czuwaj Przemyśl - handball club
Polonia Przemyśl - football club
Sejm elected from Krosno/
Andrzej Ćwierz, Law and Justice
Marian Józef Daszyk, League of Polish Families
Mieczysław Golba, Law and Justice
Mieczysław Kasprzak, PSL
Janusz Adam Kołodziej, Polish Families League
Marek Kuchciński, Law and Justice
Tomasz Kulesza, Civic Platform
Elżbieta Łukacijewska, Civic Platform
Janusz Roman Maksymiuk, Self-Defence
Wojciech Tadeusz Pomajda, Democratic Left Alliance
Stanisław Zając, Law and Justice
See also: List of twin towns and sister cities in Poland
Przemyśl is twinned with:
South Kesteven, United Kingdom
Jerzy Bartmiński, UMCS
Austro-Hungarian Army Marshal
Jan Borukowski, Bishop of Przemyśl
Helene Deutsch, née Rosenbach, psychoanalyst
Andrzej Maksymilian Fredro,
Sejm Marshal in 1652
Mark Gertler, British painter
Joshua Höschel ben Joseph
Hermann Kusmanek von Burgneustädten
Helena Podgórska, Righteous Among the Nations
Jan Nepomucen Potocki
Teodor Andrzej Potocki
Hieronim Florian Radziwiłł
Andrzej Tomasz Zapałowski
Władysław Dominik Zasławski
Velvel Zbarjer, Brody singer
Zyndram of Maszkowice
Wojciech Inglot, founder of
Inglot Cosmetics Company
Old Synagogue in
Przemyśl destroyed by the
Nazis in 1941
^ "Population. Size and structure by territorial division" (PDF). ©
1995-2009 Central Statistical Office 00-925 Warsaw, Al.
Niepodległości 208. 2009-06-02. Retrieved 2009-06-22.
^ Under 981, the Primary Chronicle reports on Volodymyr's campaign
against the Poles, which resulted in the capture of "their towns"
Peremyshl and Cherven. As the chronicler notes, they remained under
Rus' control until his own time. In: S. Plokhy. "The origins of the
Slavic nations: premodern identities in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus".
Cambridge University Press, 2006. p. 57.
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Dynastic Traditions of Medieval
Poland (c. 966-1138). BRILL. 2010. p.
^ a b c d e f Stanislaw Stepien. (2005). Borderland City: Przemyśl
and the Ruthenian National Awakening in Galicia. In Paul Robert
Magocsi (Ed.). Galicia: A Multicultured Land. Toronto: University of
Toronto Press. pp. 52-67
^ J. Motylkiewicz. "Ethnic Communities in the Towns of the
Polish-Ukrainian Borderland in the Sixteenth, Seventeenth, and
Eighteenth Centuries". C. M. Hann, P. R. Magocsi ed. Galicia: A
Multicultured Land. University of Toronto Press. 2005. p. 37.
^ Juraj Buzalka. Nation and Religion: The Politics of Commemorations
in South-East Poland. LIT Verlag Münster. 2008. p. 34
^ a b Tom Idzikowski. "The History of the Construction of the Fortress
of Przemyśl". Engagements and Battles. Austro-Hungarian-army.co.uk.
Retrieved May 23, 2012.
^ Bernd Wegner (1997). From peace to war: Germany, Soviet Russia, and
the world, 1939–1941. Berghahn Books. p. 74.
^ Voytovych, L. Drohobych Oblast. "
Lviv Gazette". 18 July 2013
^ Koval, M. Unknown Ukraine: 20th century history of fortifications.
Myths and reality.
^ Encyclopedia of the Ghettos (2016). "סמבּוֹר (Sambor)
המכון הבין-לאומי לחקר השואה - יד ושם:".
The International Institute for
Virtual Shtetl (2016). "Jewish history of Przemyśl. The Holocaust".
POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews. Archived from the original
^ Daniel Fraenkel. "Akte 1979. Battel, Albert. Die deutschen
Gerechten". Deutsche und Österreicher. Wallstein Verlag.
pp. 65–. Retrieved May 23, 2012.
^ Anna Poray, Polish Righteous: Those Who Risked Their Lives with
photographs and bibliography, 2004. See: BANASIEWICZ.
^ "Killed by military police and
Gestapo for helping Jews". Holocaust
Forgotten. Retrieved May 24, 2012. Search keyword: Przemyśl
^ "Average Conditions Przemyśl, Poland". BBC Weather. Archived from
the original on July 26, 2009. Retrieved August 30, 2010.
^ "Schron Kierowania Obroną Cywilną - Visit Przemyśl".
visit.przemysl.pl (in Polish). Retrieved 2017-07-26.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Przemyśl.
Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Przemyśl.
Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article
(in Polish) Municipal website
(in Polish) Photo-blog about Przemyśl
Przemyśl on old postcards
Przemyśl Photo Gallery
Przemyśl Blog, its Sons and Daughters
Przemyśl at KehilaLinks
Poland at JewishGen
Coordinates: 49°47′10″N 22°46′26″E / 49.78611°N
22.77389°E / 49.78611; 22.77389
Counties of Podkarpackie Voivodeship
Seat (not part of the county): Przemyśl