Sucha Beskidzka [ˈsuxa bɛsˈkʲit͡ska] (before 1961 called only Sucha) is a town in the Beskid Żywiecki mountain range in southern Poland, on the Skawa river. It is the county seat of Sucha County. It has been in the Lesser Poland Voivodeship since 1999; previously it was in Bielsko-Biała Voivodeship (1975–1998).
Sucha Beskidzka lies in a basin, between the hills of the Beskids (Beskid Makowski and Beskid Maly), on the Skawa river. In 2002, Sucha had the area of 27,46 km2., with forests occupying 44%. The town is a rail junction, located along two lines – the 97th from Skawina to Żywiec, and the 98th from Sucha Beskidzka to Chabowka. The rail station PKP Sucha Beskidzka, together with a roundhouse was built in the 1880s.
Until 1964, the town was called Sucha. The adjective Beskidzka, added in that year, refers to the Beskidy Mountains.
In the late Middle Ages, the area of Sucha Beskidzka belonged to Duchy of Oświęcim. In the early years of the 15th century, Prince Jan III of Oświęcim initiated a program of settlement of the sparsely populated forested areas in the Beskids. In 1405, a man named Strzala was allowed to found a settlement, which later took on the name Sucha. Most likely, the Strzala family remained owners of the settlement until the late 15th century, when Sucha was transferred into the hands of the Słupski family. In 1554, Stanisław Słupski sold the village to an Italian-born goldsmith from Kraków, Gaspare Castiglione, who changed his name to Kasper Suski. Castiglione initiated the construction of the Sucha Castle.
In the early 17th century Sucha belonged to the Komorowski family. The village remained in private hands until 1939, as the so-called "Sucha State" (panstwo suskie). Among its owners were the Wielopolski family, the Branicki family, and the Tarnowski family. In the 1610s, Piotr Komorowski funded here a parish church, and vastly expanded the castle of Kasper Suski, turning it into a residence. Furthermore, Sucha was a center of early industry, with glass works, watermill, brewery, and iron works. Due to several royal privileges, Sucha emerged as a local trade center; the village prospered under Anna Konstancja Wielopolska, who owned it in 1693 – 1726. The area of Sucha was one of centers of the Bar Confederation, and in 1772 (see Partitions of Poland), the village, with the population of 3,000, became part of Austrian province of Galicia.
In the 1840s, Sucha was purchased by the Branicki family, Korczak coat of arms, which opened a large library together with a museum in the Sucha Castle. The village already had ironworks, which operated until the 1880s. In the same period, Sucha received a rail station, along the Galician Transversal Railway. Here, a northwards connection with Kraków was added in 1884, after which Sucha became an important rail junction. In 1896 Austrian authorities finally granted town charter to Sucha. In 1895 – 1907, a new church was built, and in 1910, new building of Bank Spoldzielczy. In the Second Polish Republic, Sucha belonged to Kraków Voivodeship, and was part of Żywiec County (later the town was transferred to Wadowice County). In 1922–1939, the castle belonged to the Tarnowski family. In 1939, population of the town was 6,200.
On September 3, 1939 (see Invasion of Poland), Sucha was captured by the Wehrmacht. In late 1939, the town was annexed by the Third Reich, and was located near the border with the General Government. Jews, of whom there were about 500 in the town, were immediately put to work as forced laborers. Many Poles were dispossessed of their homes to make room for ethnic Germans who arrived in town from the east. In June 1942, more than 200 Jews were rounded up and sent to Auschwitz, where most of them were murdered. The remaining 300 Jews were forced into a ghetto in an old brewery. Many worked as forced laborer to improve flood control along the Skawa River. In May 1943, about half the remaining Jews were sent to Auschwitz where most were murdered. The rest were sent to labor camps. There were few survivors among the Jewish population by the end of the war, but they remember that the Polish townspeople often tried to help as did the ethnic German mayor. The city engineer was so helpful to Jews that he and his wife were murdered by the Germans in Auschwitz. For a description of Sucha during the war and Holocaust, see the Encyclopedia of Camps and Ghettos.Lucy Lipiner, then Lusia Mandelbaum, who grew up in Sucha, writes of her fond pre-war memories of Sucha in her book Long Journey Home. But the day after the Germans invaded Poland, Lusia's family and several aunts and uncles fled by horse-drawn cart to the east. They survived the war in Lwow, then under Soviet control, then Siberia, where they were deported, then later Tajikistan where they lived with several other Jewish families. When they returned to Poland after the war, they found all the rest of their family had been murdered.
After the war, the government of People's Republic of Poland again attached Sucha to Kraków Voivodeship. New districts with blocks of flats were built, new factories were opened. In 1956, for the first time in history, Sucha became the seat of a county, and in 1975, the town became part of Bielsko-Biała Voivodeship. In 1983, the new hospital was completed.
Since the beginning of the 20th century Sucha Beskidzka has been a tourist centre for the Beskidy Mountains (part of the Carpathians). Here several tourist trails begin, which lead into the mountains. First trail was marked in 1906. In the town there are fine examples of old architecture: a Renaissance castle (16th century), named Little Wawel after the royal palace in Kraków (now it serves as a hotel with a restaurant), a church with a cloister (17th century) and an old wooden inn, called Rzym (literally meaning "Rome"; 18th century).
In the town, there are two higher education schools:
The Foreign Language Teacher Training College (Nauczycielskie Kolegium Języków Obcych, NKJO (in Polish))
The Higher School of Tourism and Ecology (Wyższa Szkoła Turystyki i Ekologii, WSTiE)
Famous people from Sucha Beskidzka
Billy Wilder – filmmaker and writer (Some Like It Hot, Sunset Boulevard, The Apartment), won seven Academy Awards
Jan Wolenski – philosopher; resident of Sucha Beskidzka.
Walery Goetel – geologist and palaeontologist; researcher of geological structure of the Tatra Mountains