Bytom is a city with powiat rights in southern Poland, in Silesia, in centre of Metropolitan Association of Upper Silesia and Dąbrowa Basin.
It is one of the oldest cities in the Upper Silesia, and the former seat of the Piast dukes of the Duchy of Bytom. Until 1532, it was in the hands of the Silesian Piasts, then it belonged to the Hohenzollern dynasty. After 1623 it was a state country in the hands of the Donnersmarck family. From 1742–1945 the town was within the borders of Prussia and Germany, and played an important role as an economic and administrative centre of the local industrial region. Until the outbreak of World War II, it was the main centre of national, social, cultural and publishing organisations fighting to preserve Polish identity in Upper Silesia.
During Kristallnacht in 1938, Nazi Germans burned down the Bytom Synagogue. In 1942, the Beuthen Jewish community was liquidated and its members were the first transport to be sent to Auschwitz concentration camp.
After the war, decades of the Polish People's Republic were characterized by a constant emphasis on the development of heavy industry, which deeply polluted and degraded Bytom.
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