Sušice – History

During the Middle Ages Sušice was a settlement of gold-panners established by the trade route to Bavaria on the confluence of the Otava and the Roušarka rivers. The settlement was the most likely founded in around 790 AD. The first written records nevertheless date back to 1233. The whole Sušice region belonged to the Bavarien Earls of Bogen from 1124. In 1273 the Czech King Přemysl Otakar II gained the territory back for good and started to build here a royal town and a centre of regional administration, which was to become a pillar of his power. In 1322, the King John of Luxembourg ordered construction of rampart around the town (this is documented by the oldest Sušice relic - a stone tablet with Latin text originally inserted in one of the town gates and after the rampart demolition built into the wall of the town hall vestibule). He confirmed the rights on gold panning to the town in 1324. Sušice received further privileges from the Emperor Charles IV (the mile right in 1356 according to which no inn-holders nor craftsmen could run their business within a mile from the town; right on toll collection in 1372; restriction of mortgaging or alienation of the royal town of Sušice from the kingdom, etc.) and from Wenceslas IV (privilege of organising a week market once in a year on the occasion of the assumption of Virgin Mary in 1406). During the Hussite Wars the town supported the Taborites and several Hussite reunions were organized here. The citizens of Sušice participated in all significant battles. In the 16th century the town grew rich thanks to its position on one of the Golden Path branches (trading with salt, corn and malt).

For its participation in the uprising of the Bohemian Estates, the town was after the White Mountain battle inflicted by confiscation of the estates and by the exile of the commons in the period of "recatholisation". During the Thirty Years' War, the town suffered from invasion of Swedish army and many fires. The whole region including the town were afflicted with plaque between 1678 and 1681. The worst tragedy nevertheless occurred on 20th June 1707, when practically the whole town including the suburbs burnt down due to an extensive fire. The fire spread to the whole town in only a half hour. Not even the town archive could be saved. According to the preserved records, 30 people died in the fire, which destroyed the imposing image of the town it had acquired during the 16th century. New construction after the extensive fire practically gave the town its present appearance. Three town gates, the ramparts, and the moats were gradually pulled down and the material was sold to the citizens on construction of family houses.

The town population was also growing rapidly. In 1822 Sušice had 2 900 citizens, in 1832 3 953 citizens already. The greatest boom of Sušice came in the 19th century in respect with introduction of the production of matches in 1839 by local native Vojtěch Scheinost, who soon sold his company to a Jewish businessman Bernard Fürth. Fürth funded further developments of the production and building of the production plants. The phosphate matches (later on safety matches) won fame to Sušice worldwide. In late 19th century, leather industry also developed substantially in the town (Schwarzkopf company was the only shoe-making factory able to compete to Baťa's mass production and his trend of reasonably priced shoes). Many other companies run business in the field of exploitation of raw materials and construction industry.

In 1868 there were 20 breweries and 5 mills, 7 glass-works and several paper-mills in the district of Sušice. freshwater fish farming was introduced in 1871, the town was linked to the railway in 1888 and a hospital was established there in 1898. PAP production company started to produce impregnated paper cups in 1933 (nowadays most products are made of plastic).

The majority of the population of Sušice has always been Czech, which is why the town was not attached to Great German Empire in 1938. The town was liberated by the American Army of General Patton on 6th May 1945 (memorial tablet on the building of the museum).