Biała Podlaska [ˈbʲawa pɔdˈlaska] (listen) (Latin: Alba Ducalis), is a city in eastern Poland with 58,047 inhabitants (2005). It is situated in the Lublin Voivodeship (since 1999), having previously been the capital of Biała Podlaska Voivodeship (1975–1998). It is the capital of Biała Podlaska County, although the city is not part of the county (it constitutes a separate city county). The city lies on the Krzna river.
The first historical document mentioning Biała Podlaska dates to 1481. In the beginning Biała Podlaska belonged to the Illnicz family. The founder of the city may have been Piotr Janowicz, nicknamed "Biały" (Polish for "white"), who was the hetman of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Biała Podlaska was administratively part of the Podlaskie Voivodeship, and then the Brest Litovsk Voivodeship in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (then in union with Poland).In 1569, Biała Podlaska changed hands. The new owners were the Radziwiłł family. Under their rule, Biała Podlaska had been growing for two and a half centuries. In 1622, Aleksander Ludwik Radziwiłł built the fortress and the castle. In 1628, Krzysztof Ciborowicz Wilski established Bialska Academy as a regional center of education (since 1633 it was a branch of the Jagiellonian University, then called Kraków Academy). During this time, many churches were erected, as was a hospital.
The prosperity period ended with the Swedish invasion in 1655. Then Biała Podlaska was attacked by Cossacks and Rákóczi armies. The town was significantly destroyed; however, thanks to Michał Kazimierz Radziwiłł and his wife Katarzyna Sobieska, it was rebuilt. In 1670, Michał Kazimierz Radziwiłł gives Biała Podlaska town rights and the coat of arms, which depicts archangel Michael standing on a dragon.
In 1720, Anna Katarzyna Radziwiłłowa began building the tower and the gate - both buildings exist to this day and are the most interesting remains of the castle and palace. In the 18th century, the city and the fortress were times destroyed many times in warfare and rebuilt. The last heir, Dominik Hieronim Radziwiłł, died on 11 November 1813 in France, as a colonel of the Polish army. The palace fell into ruin and was pulled down in 1883.In 1815, the town became part of Congress Poland within the Russian Partition of Poland. At the end of the 19th century, Biała Podlaska was a large garrison town of the Imperial Russian Army. Near the intersection of Brzeska Street and Aleje Tysiclecia Avenue is a cemetery for soldiers killed during World War I.
In 1918, following World War I, Poland regained independence and the town was reunited with Poland. During the Second Polish Republic in the interwar period, Biała Podlaska was growing fast. The town was the seat of the Podlaska Wytwórnia Samolotów (PWS), an important airplane factory. There was also a garrison of the 34th infantry regiment of the Polish Armed Forces. The regiment, formed in 1919, fought successfully in the Polish–Soviet War, and also fought against Germans and Soviets during the invasion of Poland, which started World War II in 1939. During the Polish–Soviet War, on 1 August 1920, Russians invaded the city, but were quickly repelled by the Poles, and later on they invaded again, before the town was eventually liberated by the Polish 1st Legions Infantry Division on 17 August 1920. The last commander of the regiment, lieutenant colonel Wacław Budrewicz, was taken prisoner of war by the Soviets and murdered by them in the 1940 Katyn massacre, in which also multiple Polish teachers and policemen from the city, and alumni of local schools were murdered.
World War II halted the town's development because of Nazi and Soviet repression. The Germans captured Biała Podlaska on 13 September 1939, but withdrew on 26 September to allow the Soviets to a station in the town. But, on 10 October 1939, in accordance with the terms of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, the Soviets departed and the town was reoccupied by the Germans. By that time, the Soviets had already completely plundered the PWS airplane factory, so that nothing but empty buildings remained. Poles expelled by the Germans in 1939–1940 from various places in German-annexed western Poland were deported to the area, while their previous homes were handed over to German colonists as part of the Lebensraum policy. In March and July 1940, the Germans imprisoned dozens of Poles in the local prison, and then massacred them in the nearby Grabarka forest. Over 40 Polish teachers were arrested in the town on 24 June 1940, imprisoned in Lublin and then deported to concentration camps, as part of the AB-Aktion. On 5 July 1940 the Germans carried out another massacre of Poles in Grabarka, whom they previously imprisoned in the town. Further massacres of Poles were carried out by the Germans throughout the war. Despite such circumstances, the Polish resistance movement was active in the city. After Germany attacked their Soviet ally in Operation Barbarossa, a German prisoner camp was set up near Biała Podlaska, where many Soviet POWs were killed. In 1944 the town was recaptured by Polish and Soviet troops and restored to Poland, although with a Soviet-installed communist regime, which remained in power until the Fall of Communism in the 1980s.
In the postwar period and after the fall of communism, Biała Podlaska has developed as a more modern city. It retains many of the historic features in the central Polish old town of the city. From 1975 to 1999 Biała Podlaska was a capital of the voivodeship, later it again became a city county, as before 1975.
History of the Jewish community
The first mention of Jewish settlement in Biała Podlaska dates from 1621, when 30 Jewish families were granted rights of residence there. By 1841, there were 2,200 Jews of a total population of 3,588 in the town. In 1897, the number was 6,549 out of 13,090 inhabitants. In the 19th century, the chasidic movement established strong roots in Biała Podlaska.
A descendant of the Yid Hakodosh of Przysucha formed the Biala chasidic court, which survives to this day with communities in London, and cities in the United States and Israel. The chasidim of Kotsk also had a large presence in Biała Podlaska, some of whom later became Gerrer chasidim. In sovereign Poland by 1931, the Jews constituted 64.7% of the total population, or 6,923 out of 10,697 citizens. Four Yiddish newspapers were published locally between the two world wars.
The Germans captured Biała Podlaska on 13 September 1939 during the invasion of Poland but withdrew on 26 September. On 10 October 1939, the Soviets handed the town back to the Germans when the line of demarkation was finally set up. Around 600 Jews escaped the town during the Soviet departure. The Germans formed a Judenrat in November 1939, which set up a public kitchen and a Jewish infirmary. By the end of the year, the Nazis began to impose discriminatory restrictions against the Jews. On 1 December 1939, they decreed that all Jews had to wear a yellow Star of David. Jews were ordered to move into an open-type ghetto along the Grabanów, Janowa, Prosta and Przechodnia streets, and a Jewish Ghetto Police was established. At the end of 1939, some 2,000 to 3,000 more Jews were brought there as a result of deportations from Suwałki and Serock. The overcrowding and poor sanitations resulted in a typhus epidemic in Biała Podlaska in early 1940, causing many deaths. The Germans imprisoned some Poles in the local prison and then deported them to concentration camps for helping and rescuing Jews.Several hundred more Jews were brought in from as far as Kraków and Mława during German "resettlement" actions conducted in 1940 and 1941. The men were sent to new labour camps in the Wola district at an airfield, the train station, and elsewhere. Hundreds were forced to pave roads, drain ditches, constructsewage lines and build barracks. Many Jewish women worked in the Nazi farms. In March 1942 the ghetto had 8,400 inmates.
After the launch of Operation Reinhard on 6 June 1942– the code name for the most deadly phase of the Holocaust in occupied Poland – the Jews were told to prepare for "resettlement". Only workers from the forced labour camps possessing labour permits were to be exempt from the deportation. On 10 June 1942, some 3,000 Jews, including women with children, were assembled in the synagogue courtyard. Many Jews fled to the forests. The assembled Jews were led by the German police to the train station. The next day the prisoners were packed into deportation trains and sent to Sobibór extermination camp. All were gassed.In September 1942, some 3,000 Jews from the neighbouring towns of Janów and Konstantynów were brought into Biała Podlaska Ghetto. The overcrowding became desperate. The Jews sensed that the ghetto was slated for liquidation. Many escaped to the forests; others prepared hiding places in the basements. On 6 October 1942, the Germans deported about 1,200 Jews from the local labour camps to Międzyrzec Podlaski Ghetto. The subsequent "deportation actions" conducted by the Nazi German Reserve Police Battalion 101, augmented by the Ukrainian Trawnikis, lasted throughout October and November 1942. In total, some 10,800 Jews from around Biała Podlaska and its county were sent to their deaths at the Treblinka extermination camp, 125 kilometres (78 mi) away, or massacred on the spot during roundups.Chil Rajchman, a Sonderkommando who survived the Treblinka revolt and the war, later testified that he witnessed a transport of 6,000 Jews from Biała Podlaska arrive at Treblinka. When the sealed doors were opened, 90 percent of prisoners – men, women, and children – were already dead inside. Their bodies were thrown into smouldering mass grave at the "Lazaret".The remaining Jews of Biała Podlaska were sent to a transit point at the Międzyrzec Podlaski Ghetto for deportations to death camps. In July 1943 the transit ghetto in Międzyrzec was liquidated. All its inmates were deported to Majdanek and Treblinka, where they were gassed. The Nazis left a small group of 300 Jewish slave labourers in Biała Podlaska to clean up the decaying ghetto area. In May 1944, the surviving workers were transported to their deaths at KL Majdanek. Biała Podlaska was captured by the Red Army on 26 July 1944. Only 300 Polish Jews are known to have survived the Holocaust. Most of them left Poland after the war.
The parts of the city which were originally the Jewish "quarter" still exist.
The Jewish community is commemorated by a memorial erected at the site of the Jewish cemetery, which was destroyed by the Nazis. Another memorial was recently erected by Jewish survivors from the town who now live in the USA. Two former private prayer houses of the Jewish community are still in existence. The cemetery otherwise stands as a reminder of the hole that was ripped out of Biała Podlaska life by the Holocaust and loss of so many Jews. Apart from Israel, Melbourne in Australia has the largest number of Jewish survivors from Biała Podlaska- all now very aged.
Culture and tourism
Popular points of interest include the Old Town, as well as St. Anne's Church built in 1572, St. Anthony's Church from 1672 to 1684, Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary built in 1759, and the historic building Academy of Biała from 1628.
Popular museums include the most important Muzeum Południowego Podlasia (Museum of Southern Podlasie, founded in 1924), as well as the Oddział Martyrologiczno-Historyczny (Martyrology and Historic Division, since 1973, in the World War II Gestapo jail at Łomaska 21 Street).Among the local art galleries are the Galeria Podlaska, Galeria Ulica Krzywa (Crooked Street Gallery), Bialskie Centrum Kultury (the Biała Podlaska Cultural Center), and Galeria Autorska Jakusza Maksymiuka (Janusz Maksymiuk's Gallery).
There are two popular cinemas in Biała Podlaska including Novekino Merkury - 1 hall, 282 seats, digital cinema 3D, as well as "'Cinema 3D - multiplex situated in Rywal Shopping Center; 4 halls; digital cinema 3D, 4K (Ultra HD). Plays are staged in the auditorium of the Pope John II State School of Higher Education in Biała Podlaska and in amphitheater in park Radziwill.
There are also several cultural centers in the city including Bialskie Centrum Kultury, Scena, Piast, and Eureka.
Days of Biała Podlaska
Podlasie Jazz Festival
Biała Blues Festival
Art Of Fun Festival
Podlaska Jesień Teatralna (en. Podlasie Theatrical Autumn)
The city is a major transport hub: National Road 2 which is also the international road E30, two voivodship (DW811, DW812) roads and one railway line, which is the national railway line number 2.
Biała Podlaska has its own bus lines. The organizer of the communication is the Management of Urban Transport (Polish: ZKM - Zarząd Komunikacji Miejskiej). Buses operate 8 lines marked with letters from "A" to "H" (frequency approx. 30 min). On the basis of an agreement between the neighboring villages, buses carry courses outside the administrative boundaries of the city.
National Road 2 / E30: Terespol - Biała Podlaska - Warszawa - Poznań - Świecko
811 - voivodeship road: Biała Podlaska - Konstantynów - Sarnaki
812 - voivodeship road: Biała Podlaska - Wisznice - Chełm - KrasnystawThe city has an airport, once used for military purposes. The Biała Podlaska Airport has one of the longest runways in Poland. However, the airport is currently unused.
Current President of Biała Podlaska (2016) is Dariusz Stefaniuk. In September 2001, the list of newly elected Members of Parliament (Sejm) from the constituency of Biała Podlaska/Chełm/Zamość included Przemysław Andrejuk (LPR), Tadeusz Badach (SLD-UP), Arkadiusz Bratkowski (PSL), Jan Byra (SLD-UP), Zbigniew Janowski (SLD-UP), Marian Kwiatkowski (Samoobrona), Henryk Lewczuk (LPR), Jerzy Michalski (Samoobrona), Lech Nikolski (SLD-UP), Szczepan Skomra (SLD-UP), Ryszard Stanibuła (PSL), Franciszek Stefaniuk (PSL), Wojciech Wierzejski (LPR), Stanisław Żmijan (PO).
There are about a dozen primary schools in the city. The secondary schools include six public schools and one Catholic Secondary School named after Cyprian Norwid. Among the local secondary schools are the High School No. 1 named after Józef Ignacy Kraszewski, the High School No. 2 named after Emilia Plater, the Adam Mickiewicz High School No. 3, High School No. 4 named after Stanisław Staszic, and the Catholic High School named after Cyprian Norwid.
Państwowa Szkoła Wyższa im. Papieża Jana Pawła II w Białej Podlaskiej
Branch a Kazimierz Pułaski Technical University of Radom
Faculty of the Józef Piłsudski University of Physical Education in Warsaw
News websites hailing from the city include biala24.pl, bialanonstop.pl, bialasiedzieje.pl, slowopodlasia.pl, tygodnikpodlaski.pl, Bialczanin.eu, Radiobiper.info, and Interwizja.edu.pl.
Local TV Stations include:
Biała Podlaska TV – channel available on cable TV Vectra (in both digital and analog technology)
TVP Lublin – channel available in MUX-3 DVB-T
Interwizja – internet TV
pulsmiasta.plAmong the local radio stations are:
Polskie Radio Lublin 93.1 FM (Broadcast from Biała Podlaska)
Katolickie Radio Podlasie 101.7 FM (Broadcast from Łosice transmitter)
Radio Biper (Internet radio)National radio transmissions are broadcast through the Łosice transmitter. They include:
Polskie Radio Jedynka (88.3 FM)
Polskie Radio Trójka (90.5 FM)
RMF FM (91.9 FM)
Radio ZET (105.4 FM)
Polskie Radio RDC (103.4 FM)Broadcast directly from Biała Podlaska include:
Radio Maryja (87.8 FM / 107.7 FM also from Łosice transmitter)
Polskie Radio Dwójka (98.3 FM)
Belarusian Radio Racja (99.2 FM) - radio for the Belarusian minority in PolandAmong the newspapers published locally are:
Biała Się Dzieje na papierze
Films and programs made in Biała Podlaska
Smoleńsk - film, which tells the story of the Smolensk plane crash on 10 April 2010. Scenes were recorded at airport in Biała Podlaska.
To nie koniec świata! (Eng. It's not the end of the world!) - TV series broadcast on Polsat
K2 - Kierowców dwóch - automotive program by TVN Turbo. Some episodes are recorded on Biala Podlaska Airport
Sports and recreation
Sport facilities in Biała Podlaska include 4 stadiums, 3 swimming pools, and a popular tennis court. Recreation facilities include also public spaces such as Radziwiłł Park and promenade at Plac Wolności (the Freedom Square).
Sections and clubs
AZS-AWF Biała Podlaska – handball, basketball, gymnastics, swimming, volleyball, weightlifting
Podlasie Biała Podlaska – men's soccer
KU AZS PSW Biała Podlaska – women's soccer, men's handball
Bialskopodlaski Klub Jeździecki – horsemanship
UKS TOP-54 – men's soccer, handball, korfball, cheerleaders, billiards
UKS Piątka plus – handball, billiard
UKS Jagiellończyk – soccer, athletics, gymnastics, women's volleyball
UKS Orlik-2 – women's basketball, men's soccer
UKS Serbinów (men's volleyball)
SKS Szóstka (women's volleyball)
UKS Olimpia – basketball, taekwon-do, soccer
UKS Kraszak – men's handball, basketball
UKS TATAMI – judo
Międzyszkolny Klub Sportowy ŻAK
Klub Żeglarski Biała Podlaska
Bialski Klub Sportowy GEM – tennis
Klub Sportowy Zakład Karny – volleyball
Bialski Klub Karate Kyokushin
Klub Sportowy Wushu
WOPR Biała Podlaska
Bialski Klub Rowerowy – cycling
Bialskie Stowarzyszenie Koszykówki "KADET" - basketball
Twin towns - Sister cities
Biała Podlaska is twinned with:
Brest in Belarus
Niort in France
Józef Ignacy Kraszewski (1812–1887), Polish writer, author of about 200 novels, received his primary education at the local academy, the Biała's college in 1822–26.
Karol Stanisław "Panie Kochanku" Radziwiłł (1734–1790) - Polish noble and aristocrat, died in Biała.
Apolinary Hartglas (1883–1953) - lawyer, publicist, Jewish politician, a parliament deputy from 1919 to 1930.
Xenia Denikina (1892-1973), wife of Anton Denikin, kept a journal of émigré life in France during WWII