Biała Podlaska

For the village of the same name, see Biała Podlaska, Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship.
Biała Podlaska

Buildings near the main square


Coat of arms
Biała Podlaska
Coordinates: 52°2′N 23°7′E / 52.033°N 23.117°E / 52.033; 23.117
Country  Poland
Voivodeship Lublin
County city county
Established 1481
Town rights 1670
  Mayor Dariusz Stefaniuk
  Total 49.40 km2 (19.07 sq mi)
Highest elevation 150 m (490 ft)
Lowest elevation 137 m (449 ft)
Population (01.05.2012)
  Total 59,280 Increase
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
  Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Postal code 21-500 to 21-502, 21-506, 21-527
Area code(s) +48 083
Car plates LB

Biała Podlaska [ˈbʲawa pɔdˈlaska] (Ukrainian: Біла Bila, 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The first historical document mentioning Biała Podlaska dates to 1481.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 at the time a part of Brześć voivodeship in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (then in union with Poland).[1]

In 1569, Biała Podlaska changed hands; the new owners were the Radziwiłł family. Under their rule, Biała Podlaska had been growing for two and half centuries. In 1622, Aleksander Ludwik Radziwiłł has 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 one hospital. The prosperity period had finished with Swedish invasion in 1655. Then Biała Podlaska was attacked by Cossacks and Rakoczy armies. The town was significantly destroyed; however, thanks to Michał 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.[1]

In 1720, Anna Radziwiłł begins 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 many times destroyed (mostly as a result of wars) and rebuilt. The last heir, Dominik Radziwiłł, has died 11 November 1813 in France, as a colonel of the Polish army. The palace, which fell into ruin, has been pulled down in 1883.[1]

Castle tower and the regional museum at the Radziwiłł park in Biała Podlaska (before renovation)

At the end of 19th century, Biała Podlaska was a large garrison town of the Imperial Russian Army. Near cross-section of Brzeska Str. and Aleje Tysiclecia Ave. is located a cemetery of soldiers killed during World War I.

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 in September campaign of 1939. The last commander of the regiment, lieutenant colonel Wacław Budrewicz, has been taken prisoner of war by Soviets and murdered by them in 1940 Katyn massacre.

World War II halted the town's development because of the Nazi and Soviet repressions. The Germans captured Biała Podlaska on 13 September 1939, but withdrew on 26 September to allow the Soviets to station in the town; however, 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 have already managed to completely plunder the aforementioned PWS airplane factory, so that nothing but empty buildings remained. After Germany attacked their Soviet ally in Operation Barbarossa, war prisoner camp had been set up around Biała Podlaska, where Soviet POWs were killed.

In the postwar period and until today, Biała Podlaska has been developing into a more modern city but still retains many of the original 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, like 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 out 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 existing to this day with communities in London, America and various cities in Israel. The chasidim of Kotsk also had a large presence in Biała Podlaska, some of which later became Gerrer chasidim. In the already 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 in accordance with the terms of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact to allow for the Red Army to take over. 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.[2] On 1 December 1939, a decree was issued requiring all Jews to wear a 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 came during the deportations from Suwałki and Serock. The overcrowding resulted in a typhus epidemic in Biała Podlaska in early 1940, causing many deaths.[2]

Several hundred more Jews were brought in from as far as Kraków and Mława during "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 paving roads, draining ditches, constructing sewage lines and building barracks. Many women worked in the Nazi farms. In March 1942 the ghetto had 8,400 inmates.[2]

The Holocaust

Biała Podlaska Ghetto liquidation action conducted in 1942

After the launch of Operation Reinhard – the code name for a most deadly phase of the Holocaust in occupied Poland – on 6 June 1942, the Jews were told to prepare for "resettlement". Only workers from the forced labour camps possessing labour permits would 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 the awaiting Holocaust trains and sent to Sobibór extermination camp. All were gassed.[2]

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.[2] 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 a 125 kilometres (78 mi) distance, or massacred on the spot during roundups.[3] Samuel Rajzman who survived the Treblinka uprising later testified, that he witnessed a transport of 6,000 Jews from Biała Podlaska arrive at Treblinka. When the sealed doors flew open, 90 percent of prisoners – men, women, and children – were already dead inside. Their bodies were thrown into smouldering mass grave at the "Lazaret".[4]

The remaining Jews of Biała Podlaska were sent to a transit point at the Międzyrzec Podlaski Ghetto for deportations to death camps.[3] In July 1943 the transit ghetto in Międzyrzec was liquidated. All its inmates were deported to Majdanek and Treblinka, where they were gassed.[3] 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 Jews are known to have survived the Holocaust. Most of them left Poland after the war.[2]


The parts of the city which was originally the Jewish "quarter" are still existing.[5] The Jewish community is commemorated by a memorial erected at the site of the Jewish cemetery destroyed by the Nazis.[6] Another memorial was recently erected by Jewish survivors from the town now living in the USA. Two former private prayer houses of the Jewish community are still in existence.[7] The cemetery otherwise stands as an empty reminder of the hole that was ripped out of Biała Podlaska by the Holocaust. Apart from Israel, Melbourne in Australia has the largest number of Jewish Biała Podlaska survivors - 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 1672-1684, 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).[8]

Among the local art galleries are the Galeria Podlaska,[9] Galeria Ulica Krzywa (Crooked Street Gallery),[10] Bialskie Centrum Kultury (the Biała Podlaska Cultural Center), and Galeria Autorska Jakusza Maksymiuka (Janusz Maksymiuk's Gallery).

The 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.



The city is a major transportation 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.


The 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.[14] 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).[15]


There's 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.

State universities


Ulica Zamkowa

News websites hailing from the city include,,,,,,,[17] and

Local TV Stations include:

Among the local radio stations are:

National radio transmissions are broadcast through the Łosice transmitter. They include:

Broadcast directly from Biała Podlaska include:

Among the newspapers published locally are:

Films and programs made in Biała Podlaska

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

International relations

Twin towns - Sister cities

Biała Podlaska is twinned with:

Notable individuals


  1. 1 2 3 Biała Podlaska, Historia miasta - Serwis Urzędu Miasta Biała Podlaska Official website.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 S.J., C.W., & Carmelo Lisciotto, Biala Podlaska HEART 2007. Sources listed: Yitzhak Arad and Sir Martin Gilbert.
  3. 1 2 3 Struan Robertson, Hamburg Police Battalions during the Second World War, "Aktion Reinhard". (Internet Archive).
  4. Kopówka, Edward; Rytel-Andrianik, Paweł (2011), "Treblinka II – Obóz zagłady" [Monograph, chapt. 3: Treblinka II Death Camp] (PDF), Dam im imię na wieki [I will give them an everlasting name. Isaiah 56:5] (in Polish), Drohiczyńskie Towarzystwo Naukowe [The Drohiczyn Scientific Society], ISBN 978-83-7257-496-1, archived from the original (PDF) on October 10, 2010, retrieved 9 September 2013, with list of Catholic rescuers of Jews, selected testimonies, bibliography, alphabetical indexes, photographs, English language summaries and forewords by Holocaust scholars.
  5. "Grabanov Street seen from Prosta St. (winter 1944/5).". 2007-11-29. Archived from the original on 2007-11-29. Retrieved 2011-09-15.
  6. "Las Hały - miejsce zagłady Żydów (The Hały Forest, place of extermination of Jews)". Biala Retrieved 28 June 2014 via Internet Archive.
  7. "Jewish Travel in Poland - Selected Sites of Jewish Interest in Poland". Archived from the original on 2007-10-08. Retrieved 2009-05-05.
  8. "Historia Muzeum". Muzeum Południowego Podlasia w Białej Podlaskiej, Warszawska 12 Street, Biała Podlaska. 2014. Retrieved 23 August 2014.
  9. "Galeria Podlaska - News". Retrieved 2011-09-15.
  10. "Galeria Ulica Krzywa - Biała Podlaska - Główna". 2007-03-23. Archived from the original on 2011-09-15. Retrieved 2011-09-15.
  11. "Podlasie Jazz Festival". Podlasie Jazz Festival. Retrieved 2011-09-15.
  12. "Biała Blues Festival". 2009-02-10. Retrieved 2011-09-15.
  13. "Wiadomości - Biała Podlaska - Xix Podlaska Jesień Teatralna – Inauguracja Plenerowa". Retrieved 2011-09-15.
  14. BIP (2014). "Urząd Miasta Biała Podlaska". Panel administracyjny. Biuletyn Informacji Publicznej. Retrieved 23 August 2014.
  15. Diennik Polski (27 Sep 2001), Lista nowo wybranych posłów, 27 września 2001. From the list of newly elected MPs for 2001.
  16. "Akademia Wychowania Fizycznego w Białej Podlaskiej". Retrieved 2011-09-15.
  17. 1 2 "IPI Radio BiPeR - Internetowy Portal Informacyjny Radia BiPeR - Biała Podlaska". 2011-09-09. Retrieved 2011-09-15.
  18. Łukasz Jakimiuk. "". Retrieved 2011-09-15.
  19. Побратимские связи г. Бреста.
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Coordinates: 52°02′N 23°08′E / 52.033°N 23.133°E / 52.033; 23.133

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