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Nowy Sącz in Bolesław Barbacki's time

Boleslaw Barbacki was born in 1891. It was a period when Poland did not exist on the map of Europe, and Nowy Sącz found itself within the borders of the Austrian partition. Under the rule of Franz Joseph of the Habsburg dynasty, Poles enjoyed relative freedoms; within the so-called Galician autonomy, they could cultivate their traditions and celebrate Polishness among other things. These circumstances resulted in the formation of various kinds of associations, aimed at maintaining the Polish national spirit and providing adequate Polish education. It was then that the “Sokół” Gymnastic Society and the People's School Society were created. Both Boleslaw Barbacki and his father, Leon Barbacki, were associated with those two organizations. Of course, the cultivation and promotion of Polishness had restrictions, and that is why also secret organizations were formed, especially popular among young people. Barbacki co-founded one such organization, which was named the “Filaret Circle”.

At the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, especially since Bolesław’s uncle, Władysław Barbacki, took the position of city’s mayor, intensive growth and modernization of Nowy Sącz began. The main square with its representative town hall built after the fire of 1894 and the Jagiellońska street still remained the main points on the map of Nowy Sącz

Before 1914, almost 25 thousand people lived in Nowy Sącz, unfortunately the outbreak of the First World War halted the demographic development of the city, and so it was not before 1939 that its population reached 30 thousand.

Nowy Sącz of the time of Bolesław Barbacki was dominated by the Polish people of the Catholic denomination. The main temple of the city was the St. Margaret’s Church. Before the Second World War, Nowy Sącz also had a significantly large Jewish population. Another group present in the city was the Lutherans, of which a large part was of German descent. At the beginning of the 20th century, next to the Barbacki family house on Kunegundy Street, a Greek Orthodox church was built, as there were also a lot of Ruthenians living in the city.

Boleslaw Barbacki witnessed the restoration of Poland’s independence, which first arrived in Nowy Sącz on 31st October 1918.

During the interwar period, the city had a specific, peripheral character. It did not however lack various events of cultural and state-wide importance, such as the visit of President Mościcki or the funeral of Bronisław Pieracki. Bolesław Barbacki was actively involved in the cultural development of the city, both through his work in the Drama Society and in “Sokół”, and through joining the castle reconstruction committee.

The steady development of the city was interrupted by the outbreak of World War II and by the German invasion on the city. Soon in Nowy Sącz the terror characteristic for the entire German occupation reigned; marked with deportations, arrests, torture and executions. On August 21, 1941, in Biegonice near Nowy Sącz a mass execution was carried out, in which 44 people lost their lives; Bolesław Barbacki was one of them.

Below – postcards from Nowy Sącz in the time of Boleslaw Barbacki.