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Dzierżoniów (German: Reichenbach or Reichenbach im Eulengebirge; from 1945-1946 Polish: Rychbach) is a town in southwestern Poland. It is situated in Lower Silesian Voivodeship (from 1975–1998 it was in the former Wałbrzych Voivodeship). It is the seat of Dzierżoniów County, and of Gmina Dzierżoniów (although it is not part of the territory of the latter, since the town forms a separate urban gmina).
In its early history, the town was known as Reichenbach; composed of the German words reich (rich, strong) and Bach (stream), it refers to the current of the Piława River. The name was rendered in Polish as Rychbach. To differentiate between other places named Reichenbach, the Lower Silesian town became known in German as Reichenbach im Eulengebirge, or "Reichenbach in the Owl Mountains".
Reichenbach was first mentioned in a document dating to 13 February 1258. The parish Church of St. George was also noted early on. The coat of arms, depicting Saint George slaying a dragon, was used by 1290 at the latest. The town passed successively from the Bishopric of Wrocław (Breslau), to the Duchy of Ziębice (Münsterberg), and to the Duchy of Świdnica-Jawor (Schweidnitz-Jauer). Reichenbach became part of the Kingdom of Bohemia in 1325 and the Knights Hospitaller built a school and hospital in the town in 1338. It was plundered by the Hussites during the 15th-century Hussite Wars.
The Habsburg Monarchy of Austria inherited the Bohemian throne in 1526 and became the town's new lords. Reichenbach developed into a trading center, especially for textiles and linen, during the 16th century. After the First Silesian War in 1742, most of Silesia, including Reichenbach, became part of the Kingdom of Prussia. In 1762 during the Seven Years' War, the region between Reichenbach and Schweidnitz (Świdnica) was the setting for the Battle of Burkersdorf between Prussia and Austria.
In 1790 representatives from Austria, Prussia, Holland, and Poland met at Reichenbach to discuss the Ottoman wars in Europe. In 1813 Tsar Alexander I of Russia met with King Frederick William III of Prussia. From 1816–1945 Reichenbach contained the district office for Landkreis Reichenbach. Until 1820 the town was the seat of a Prussian district president. Reichenbach was connected to a rail network in 1855. It became part of the Prussian-led German Empire in 1871.
Reichenbach was transferred from Germany to Poland in 1945 after World War II. Many of its German inhabitants had fled earlier in 1945 before the war's end, while most of those who had stayed were subsequently expelled. The void was filled by Poles moving in, especially from the eastern part of the country that had been annexed by the Soviet Union.
In the period immediately following WWII, the town was known by different names. The municipal office, the local office and the railway administration all used different names for it: Rychbach (its traditional Polish name), Reichenbach and Drobniszew. In 1946 the town was renamed Dzierżoniów after the apiarist Jan Dzierżon. It was also the site of a Jewish commune of 50,000 led by Jakub Egit from 1945-1948.
- Bischofheim, Germany (since 1990)
- Lanškroun, Czech Republic (since 1999)
- Crewe, United Kingdom (since 2005)
- Alushta, Ukraine (since 2001)
- Serock, Poland
- Kluczbork, Poland
- This article incorporates information from the revision as of December 5, 2006 of the equivalent article on the German Wikipedia.
- Adrian Room. Placenames of the World. McFarland & Company, 2005. ISBN 0-7864-2248-3 [Amazon-US | Amazon-UK]
- Um.Dzierzonow.pl. "History". Accessed December 7, 2006.
- Urlaub-Polen.de "Dzierzoniów / Reichenbach". Accessed December 7, 2006. (German)
- Um.Dzierzonow.pl. "Geschichte". Accessed December 7, 2006. (German)
- Bożena Szaynok, "Żydowscy żołnierze z Bolkowa", Odra 1999, 9, p. 22-26, in Polish