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This consists of an oval shield, which decorated the entrance to the municipal council of Gorlice from the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries.
The shield has numerous bullet holes, being clear evidence of the battles which took place in the city and its surroundings for six months, at the turn of 1914 and 1915.

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This consists of an oval shield, which decorated the entrance to the municipal council of Gorlice from the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries.
The shield has numerous bullet holes, being clear evidence of the battles which took place in the city and its surroundings for six months, at the turn of 1914 and 1915. The city was then on the front line. The battle of Gorlice, which was fought on 2 May 1915, was instrumental to the final liberation of Gorlice from Russian occupation. The war destroyed 90% of Gorlice, which had previously been rich and populous . On the first anniversary of the battle, a church service was celebrated on the ruins of the market. In the pictures taken during the ceremony, in the background you can see the coat of arms still hanging on the office building.


Elaborated by Katarzyna Liana (The Ignacy Łukasiewicz Regional Museum of Polish Tourism and Sightseeing Society in Gorlice), © all rights reserved

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On 2nd May in Gorlice

First on 2 May 1657, and then on the same day of the same month in 1915, came the Swedish Deluge and the Great War. In the fortunes of war and political reshuffles, ordinary people, civilians and soldiers fell, as did their town – Gorlice – which has had to rise from ruin so many times.

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First on 2 May 1657, and then on the same day of the same month in 1915, came the Swedish Deluge and the Great War. In the fortunes of war and political reshuffles, ordinary people, civilians and soldiers fell, as did their town – Gorlice – which has had to rise from ruin so many times.
At the beginning of the 17th century, Gorlice was, as for contemporary standards, quite a large and populous town. In 1608, it boasted 137 houses and over 1,200 inhabitants.
At the end of the 15th century, the great fortune of the Karwacjan-Gorlicki family began to wane, due to family divisions. At the beginning of the 2nd half of the 16th century, the former estate of the Karwacjans passed into the hands of Stanisław Odrowąż Pieniążek, and in 1625 the rest of Gorlice was purchased by the Rylski family, who sided with the invading Swedes and their ally, Prince of Transylvania, George II Rákóczi during the deluge.
The 2nd half of the 17th century was not overly fortunate for Gorlice. On 2 May 1657, a raiding unit of the Swedish-Hungarian army reached the town. Attempts at defence, made by the supporters of Pieniążek who were loyal to the crown, ended tragically for the town itself. Rákóczi’s army captured Pieniażek’s mansion, burned half of the town that belonged to them, and murdered a large part of its inhabitants. After the Deluge, the depopulated town lay in ruins – in 1662 it had only 284 inhabitants. Those who stayed built a shrine, whose finial we present on our portal.
Gorlice, however, rose from its ashes and, despite some natural disasters (town fires in 1689 and 1694) and successive economic downturns, had already become a major urban centre with almost 6,000 inhabitants at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, being the largest town in the Subcarpathian region, bigger than Jasło, Krosno, and Sanok.
However, the rapid development of the town was interrupted by the outbreak of World War I. In 1914-1915, Gorlice was caught between shifting front lines. During the approach of the Russian army towards the town, the majority of the councillors and the mayor fled from Gorlice. The town changed hands several times. Finally, on 2 May 1915, during the great offensive, the Austrian-German army captured Gorlice. As a result of these hostilities, the town was almost completely destroyed (only 120 out of 585 buildings survived) and again, just as on 2 May 1657, many of its inhabitants were killed.
On the one hand it represents a breakthrough on the Eastern Front, a huge victory over the Russians, while on the other lies a town in ruins, dead civilians and the construction of numerous war cemeteries, which are worth visiting when our eyes have had their fill of shimmering plaques commemorating military victory...

Elaborated by: Kinga Kołodziejska (Editorial team of Małopolskas Virtual Museums),
Licencja Creative Commons

 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Poland License.

See also:
Commemorative plaque “Cannon 30.5 cm Škoda”
Commemorative plaque “Pustki Hill”
Commemorative cartridge made of shell
Top of a chapel built after the Swedish Deluge
Om importance of the Gorlice–Tarnów Offensive

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About the significance of the battle of Gorlice

One of the most important battles of the World War I took place near Gorlice.
“If I were to state which days in my professional life were the most important to me, these were the 2nd and 3rd of May 1915, when from atop the hills west of Gorlice I saw defeated Russian troops in retreat.” These are the words of the then Chief of General Staff of the Austro-Hungarian army, Field Marshal Franz Conrad von Hotzendorf.

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Żołnierze niemieccy na tle Gorlic przygotowują się do pościgu za Rosjanami, „Ilustrowany Kurier Wojenny, 20.06.1915, domena publiczna
One of the most important battles of the World War I took place near Gorlice.
“If I were to state which days in my professional life were the most important to me, these were the 2nd and 3rd of May 1915, when from atop the hills west of Gorlice I saw defeated Russian troops in retreat.” These are the words of the then Chief of General Staff of the Austro-Hungarian army, Field Marshal Franz Conrad von Hotzendorf.
It is the beginning of 1915. The Great War is being waged between the Entente countries in Europe (incl. Russia, Great Britain, France) and central states (among others Prussia, Austro-Hungary). The goal of each country is to strengthen its influence in the Balkans. Meanwhile, the eastern front, which is the front line for direct clashes between Russia and Prussia and Austro-Hungary, moves to the west. The Russians, after capturing Przemyśl and Tarnów, approach Gorlice. Now they have only one goal: to attack and defeat the Austro-Hungarian enemy.
The commanders of the Austrian staffs descend into panic. How to check the inevitable assault of the Russian troops, having such limited strength after previous battles? The Prussian ally, who also wants to strengthen the southern section of the front, comes to the rescue.
As a result, the 217,000-strong Austrian-Prussian army under the command of general Mackensen is pitted against the 80,000-strong Russian army commanded by General Radko Dimitriev, dubbed the small Napoleon. Holding such numerical superiority, the combined troops of the central states decide to launch a retaliatory attack. On Sunday, 2 May, this leads to a direct clash between the combatants. By the end of the day, after a fierce struggle, shifting advantages and enormous losses on both sides, the Austrian-German armies succeeds in defeating the so far invincible Russian opponent. The front line moves 6-10 kilometres to the east. Over the next two days, the central states overcome the second Russian defence line. Russian army is forced to retreat during the following weeks. Decimated, without weapons, ammunition and food depots, they flee from their positions. Gen. Radko-Dimitriev is then deprived of command.
The exact course of the battle of Gorlice is presented by the model located in the Gorlice museum. On our website we present three exhibits related to the event in question, whose significance is considered by historians to be ground-breaking:
Commemorative cartridge made of shell
Commemorative plaque “Pustki Hill”

Commemorative plaque “Cannon 30.5 cm Škoda”

Elaborated by Editorial team of Małopolskas Virtual Museums,
Licencja Creative Commons

 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Poland License.

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The coat of arms of a city as a sign of its possession

This is the “Zadora” coat of arms, used by the founders of Gorlice, the Karwacjanie. According to Marcin Kromer, the city was founded in 1355, with the consent of Casimir the Great, by Dziersław I Karwacjan...

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This is the “Zadora” coat of arms, used by the founders of Gorlice, the Karwacjanie. According to Marcin Kromer, the city was founded in 1355, with the consent of Casimir the Great, by Dziersław I Karwacjan, who came from a wealthy family of merchants and bankers in Kraków. Under the rule of the family, the city developed rapidly, although it was still in the shadow of the nearby royal town of Biecz. In 1416, the Town Council and the Vogt were already operating in the town, and, in 1417, Władysław Jagiełło changed the town charter of Gorlice from Polish law to Magdeburg law.
In 1496, the Karwacjans changed their surname to Gorliccy. Was the name supposed to emphasize their attachment to the city, or rather to strengthen their status? A coat of arms? The one that still functions in Gorlice and which we can see on the presented shield, is only a slight transformation of “Zadora”, and therefore the private coat of arms of the city’s founders. The lion does not breathe fire anymore, but it still holds keys in its paws: probably the keys to the gates of Gorlice. The Karwacjans’ lion is still visible on the blue background, or rather... in order not to leave any doubt: Gorlicki’s lion.

 

Elaborated by Editorial team of Małopolska’s Virtual Museums,
Licencja Creative Commons

 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Poland License.

 

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Escutcheon of Gorlice city

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