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Foundation of Town

Narew river (phot.T.Sumiński)

Ostrołęka - lies on sand-mud plain on left side of Narew. Name comes from plain that was flooded by Narew in spring. At about 1km from today's town centre is an island. In 11th or 12th century there was a fort on that island. Probably it was one from couple fortifications near Narew. Other forts were in Łomża, Nowogród and Pułtusk. Around that fort was a village that was grounding of today's town. First document about Ostrołęka is Province Act from 1373r signed by Prince Siemowit III. We don't know exactly when Ostrołęka was founded but we know that in 1373 there was town Ostrołęka but date of its foundation it's unknown.

Ostrołęka in 15th and 16th Century

In the beginning of 15th century Ostrołęka was economical centre in trade with Crossmen Order. Traders from town were selling to order wood, amber, honey and other products. In 90's of 15th century the school was built in Ostrołęka. In year 1526 rest land of Mazowieckie Principality was included to Polish Crown. That was beginning of Ostrołęka Golden Age witch takes only 40 years. In that time queen Bona Sfroza found folwark(big mediaeval farm) called Pomian(today's part of Ostrołęka). In year 1564 2 big tragedies comes to Ostrołęka. One of them was big epidemic and the other one was fire witch has destroyed many buildings. That fire destroyed acquisition of Ostrołęka accumulated by citizens through 2 centuries of extension. After the fire town never recover to condition before it. Unfortunately in 1571 another epidemic depopulated town and countries nearby. At the end of 16th century town was centre of big administration district (1980,5 km2). That was the end of short Ostrołęka Golden Age.

Propably town size at 15th century

Ostrołęka during Sweden Wars

After the disaster town recovered quickly. In the middle of the 17th century the town passed trough period of impoverishment and stagnation. On July 25, 1656 the town resisted a Swedish attack and was laid waste. In 1676 with only 400 inhabitants left it was the most populous town of the Łomża region. In 1665 Tomasz Gocłowski founded monastery to settle the Bernardine monks in town. The monastery was built in late Baroque style. For 35 years of the 18th century Ostrołęka was periodically destroyed by armies, foreign (Swedish, Russian, Saxonian) as well as Polish.

Ostrołęka during the Kościuszko Insurrection. Prussian Rule (1796-1806).

On March 12,1794 the first brigade, stationed at Ostrołęka started marching towards Cracow, with A. Madaliński, a member of the conspiracy in command. This hastened the outbreak hostilities. In consequence Prussian forces advanced as far as the Narew, but Ostrołęka did not surrender. Following the Third Partition of Poland Ostrołęka became the part of what was New East - Prussia; it became a county seat. Some German families settled in and around the town and after 1802 some Jewish families appeared.

The Warsaw Duchy. The Napoleon Wars.

From the end of 1806 through June 1807 Ostrołęka was occupied now by Russian now by French troops. On Feb. 15 and 16 a battle raged on the banks of the Narew and in Ostrołęka itself. For this reason the name of the town appears on the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. In May when the renewal of war activities was planned, the first map of Ostrołęka was made (now in Bibliothéque du Génie in Paris).

Development of Ostrołęka in the period of the Polish Kingdom (up to 1830).

As part of comperhensive plan of industralizing Poland an exstensive settlement for linen and cotton craftsmen was begun on the right bank of Narew in 1826. The number of craftsmen increased. workers trained in new crafts arrived. The town had also 2 bridges, one permanent. The new highway Warsaw-St.Petersburg ran through Ostrołęka.

City during the insurrection and The Battle on Ostrołęka's commons

Although the citizens of Ostrołęka were glade to take part in November's rebellion, they worried that their city, as in every previous war, would be destroyed. However they didn't expect, that the main part of the event would take place on Ostrołęka's commons. According to the planes, polish army was supposed to attack Russian corps of tsar's guard, which camped at the territory from Augustów to Ostrołęka. On 18th May Ostrołęka was conquered by gen. Dembiński. But (pasowałoby podać stopień) Skrzynecki didn't make a use of temporary domination and he couldn't make his mind to attack Russians situated near Łomża. As a result of what Łomża was destroyed. When on 26th May a cannonade was heard, Skrzynecki couldn't believe that Dybicz(russian general) had already reached the suburbs of the city. He gave an order to defence. The best possible place to defend was Bernadine monastery, where the fourth infan-try regiment fortified, which was the main defending force of the city at that time. Unfortunately Russians had brought cannons, and thanks to their power they forced Polish soldiers to sur-render. Dybicz took over Ostrołęka and the battle moved to the right side of the river Narew. Polish with greatest efforts tried to defend the bridge. Skrzynecki wanted to stop Russian forces from crossing the river. Lieutenant-Colonel Józef Bem and his fourth battery were charged with the defence of the bridge. Bem attacked the enemy and managed to hold him back. The battle was a beginning of insurrec-tion's defeat. About 6000 polish soldiers died in it including many Kurp's. Bem, for his bravery, was nominated a commander-in-chief of artillery and he was honoured with a Virtue Militari Cross. That battle was the greatest and the bloodiest battle of November's Insurrection.

Ostrołęka during 1831-1918

After the Polish-Russian war, Ostrołęka was one of the most destroyed cities. Although great losses, Ostrołęka stayed a district city of Płock's province. Ostrołęka greatly declined, what was especially no-ticeable for its citizens. Nearly all handicraftsman's bankrupt. Only products of Ostrołęka's amber works' were famous all over Europe. Ostrołęka got refunds from tsar's Treasury. However it too a long time be-fore it rise from a downfall. On 17th October 1848 Wiktor Gomulicki was born in Ostrołęka, writer and a poet. He was also famous from translating French masterpiece by Wiktor Hugo. In 1847 a monument commemorating Russian Army's victory in the battle of Ostrołęka on 26th May 1831 is raised. At the time of January's insurrection, no battles took place nearby Ostrołęka, as tsar placed a quite large Russian detachment in the city worrying of Kurps' rebels. In 1864 after a Russian government's order, Benedictines leaf Ostrołęka and the monastery buildings were under parish-priest authority since. At the beginning of the new century an Orthodox church was built in Ostrołęka. It was a propa-ganda accent of tsar's authority. Till the time of The First World War, city developed a bit, but it still was a small town situated out-of-the-way. The First World War destroyed its peaceful and monotonous char-acter. Confiscation and compulsion of digging trenches declined the society, caused prices rise of products of the first need and generally city decline. In 1915 military operations at the territory of Polish Kingdom intensified. In July the city was situated on the front line, and in August 1915 Germans passed river Narew and they entered the ruined city. At the time of Germans occupation life in Ostrołęka was hard as at the time of Russian sector. During years 1916 - 1918 Germans strongly exploited area of forests, mainly taking wood away. To make transporting the wood easier, they built 40 km of road from Ostrołęka to Myszyniec and a narrowgauge railway line. In 1918 The hardest times of The First World War was over. Poland was slowly recovering from ashes.

Ostrołęka at 1918-1939

After the First World War city became a part of Biłystok's province. War looses were estimated for 75%. New schools and departments were opened. City was being rebuild. When in 1920 Russian army attacked Poland, Ostrołęka was at the military operations route again. At night from 5th to 6th August Russian army entered the city. Soon after that the town could come back to its normal life. In 1923 a cinema was built. In 1928 a power station was built. It was planed to build a monument commemorating people killed during the battle of Ostrołęka. It was to be unveiled on 26th May 1931. Thanks to a generosity of citizens other monument, commemorated to Józef Bem, was built. It was unveiled 100 years after the battle had taken place. Bulwarks at the beach and new allies were built. In 1939 Ostrołęka was a city without any hopes for further development.

Ostrołęka at the time of Second World War

From June 1939 along 10 km of beaches on both sides of river Narew fortifications and shelters were built. German army reached Ostrołęka without any obstacles, and on 10th September they occupied it. Ostrołęka was changed name for Scharfenwiese. it became a abode of occupying authorities. However it wasn't a part of The German-occupied Poland. It was an outskirts city of III Reich. Germans began con-fiscation. The Jews living in Ostrołęka were ordered to leave it in two hours. Most of them died mainly in Treblinka, but also in other concentration camp. Those, who survived, created an Organisation of Immi-grants from Ostrołęka in Israel. Churches and polish schools were changed into magazines, workshops and factories. Soon underground formations started exiting. Unfortunately there were also traders among citizens of Ostrołęka. Very little people signed up for volksliste, including those, whose names were typi-cal German names and who would easily prove their descent. At the time of occupation many Polish having access to food, were helping the poorest.

Ostrołęka at the time of PRL

Ostrołęka really slowly was recovering from a decline. A plan created by central authorities, which zakł an improvement of economic situation of Poland, gave Ostrołęka a chance for development. Ostrołęka became a central city of Warsaw's region. In 1959 a factory of cellulose and paper was built in Ostrołęka. The next new thing in city was sewage refinery, which was supposed to keep water in Narew clean with-out destroying its biological life. However river's water lost its blue colour and became dirty green. In1973 a factory of cellular concrete was built in Wojciechowice. New jobs brought people to the city and caused a development of alimentary industry. During 70's Meat factory was opened. Also a new factory called "Future" producing mainly wooden articles was opened. At that time sports base also developed. New swimming pool, a stadium for 5 000 people and holiday resort were built. A new hospital was built. In 1989 the city entered another lasting until now period - capitalism.

Ostrołęka in the first decade of democracy

In 1989 new horizons were opened for Ostrołęka. It was given province rights. This fact gave Ostrołęka overbalance over Wyszków or Ostrów Mazowiecka. Paper factory "Cellulose" started to fire people mass after privatisation while modernising production. The factory "Future" went bankrupt and the factory of cellular concrete was modernised and lots of people were fired. Year 1989 brought possibilities for privet craftsmen. Many small service establishments were opened and average people were able to invest their money. Building industry developed. Building of a new hospital was started, but it hasn't been finished until today. Economy also developed. Three new trade pavilions were built, clubs and discos were opened. As it was already mentioned, all bigger companies were privatised. Cellulose changed its name for Intercell, and the factory of cellular concrete was bought by Ytong company. City became prettier. A Głowackiego Street was made a walk. Commons of Ostrołęka were cleaned, what made them more attractive. Centre of the city began to fulfil trade functions. In 1999 the city lost its province rights and became a district city.