Malbork

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Malbork
Teutonic Castle in Malbork
Teutonic Castle in Malbork
Flag of Malbork
Flag
Coat of arms of Malbork
Coat of arms
Malbork is located in Poland
Malbork
Malbork
Coordinates: 54°2′N 19°2′E / 54.033°N 19.033°E / 54.033; 19.033
Country  Poland
Voivodeship Pomeranian
County Malbork County
Gmina Malbork (urban gmina)
Town rights 1286
Government
 • Mayor Andrzej Rychłowski
Area
 • Total 17.15 km2 (6.62 sq mi)
Highest elevation 30 m (100 ft)
Lowest elevation 6 m (20 ft)
Population (2006)
 • Total 38,478
 • Density 2,200/km2 (5,800/sq mi)
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 • Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Postal code 82-200 to 82-210
Area code(s) +48 055
Car plates GMB
Website http://www.malbork.pl

Malbork [ˈmalbɔrk] ( ) (German: Marienburg (Ltspkr.png listen); Latin: Civitas Beatae Virginis) is a town in northern Poland in the Żuławy region (Vistula delta), with 38,478 inhabitants (2006). Situated in the Pomeranian Voivodeship since 1999, it was previously assigned to Elbląg Voivodeship (1975–1998). It is the capital of Malbork County.

Founded in the 13th century by the Knights of the Teutonic Order, the town is noted for its medieval Malbork Castle, built in the 13th Century as the Order's headquarters in what later became known as East Prussia.

History of the castle[edit]

Statue of Casimir IV Jagiellon in Malbork
Malbork / Marienburg castle viewed over the Nogat River.

The town was built in Prussia around the fortress Ordensburg Marienburg which was founded in 1274 on the east bank of the river Nogat by the Teutonic Knights. Both the castle and the town (named Marienburg in German and Malborg or Malbork in Polish) were named for their patron saint, the Virgin Mary. This fortified castle became the seat of the Teutonic Order and Europe's largest Gothic fortress. During the Thirteen Years' War, the castle of Marienburg was pawned by the Teutonic Order to their imperial soldiers from Bohemia. They sold the castle in 1457 to King Casimir IV of Poland in lieu of indemnities.[1][2][need quotation to verify][unreliable source?]

Under continuous construction for nearly 230 years, the castle complex is actually three castles combined in one another. A classic example of a medieval fortress, it is the world’s largest brick castle and one of the most impressive of its kind in Europe. The castle was in the process of being restored by the Germans when World War II broke out. During the war, the castle was over 50% destroyed. Restoration has been ongoing since the war. However, the main cathedral in the castle, fully restored just prior to the war and destroyed during the war, remains in its ruined state. The castle and its museum are listed as UNESCO's World Heritage Sites.

History of the town[edit]

The town of Marienburg grew in the vicinity of the castle. The river Nogat and flat terrain allowed easy access for barges a hundred kilometers from the sea. During Prussia's government by the Teutonic Knights, they collected tolls on river traffic and imposed a monopoly on the amber trade. The town later became a member of the Hanseatic League, and many Hanseatic meetings were held there.

The Teutonic Order, hugely weakened by defeat at the hands of the Poles and Lithuanians, sold the castle and in 1457 transferred their seat to Königsberg (now Kaliningrad, Russia). The town of Marienburg, under Mayor Bartholomäus Blume and others, resisted the Poles for three further years. When the Poles finally took control, Blume was hanged and quartered, and fourteen officers and three remaining Teutonic knights were thrown into dungeons, where they met a miserable end.[1] A monument to Blume was erected in 1864.[3]

The town became part of the Polish province of Royal Prussia after the Second Peace of Thorn (1466).[4] It was annexed by the Kingdom of Prussia in the First Partition of Poland in 1772 and became part of the Province of West Prussia the following year, which became part of the newly founded German Empire in 1871.

Marienburg in West Prussia, map of 1896

Under the terms of the Treaty of Versailles after World War I, the inhabitants were asked in a plebiscite on July 11, 1920, whether they wanted to remain in Germany or join newly re-established Poland. In the town of Marienburg, 9.,641 votes were cast for Germany, 165 votes for Poland.[5] As a result, Marienburg was included in the Regierungsbezirk Marienwerder within the German Province of East Prussia.

The town was hit by an economic crisis following the end of World War I. After a brief recovery in the mid-'20s, the Great depression was particularly severe in East Prussia. In January 1933, the Hitler and the Nazi Party came to power and immediately began eliminating political opponents, so that in the last semi-free elections of March 1933, 54 of Marienburg's votes went to the Nazis.[6]). After the German invasion of Poland in September 1939, leaders of the Polish minority were arrested and sent to concentration camps.

American bomber targeting the Focke-Wulf factory as described.
A Fountain in Malbork

During World War II a Focke-Wulf aircraft factory was set up at the airfield to the east of Marienburg. It was bombed twice by the USAAF in 1943 and 1944. Today the airfield belongs to the 22nd Air Base of the Polish Air Force.

Near the end of the war, the city was declared a Festung and most of the civilian population fled or was evacuated, but some 4,000 people remained. In early 1945, Marienburg was the scene of fierce battles with the Red Army and almost completely destroyed. The battle lasted until March 9, 1945,[7] and following the military capture by the Red Army, the remaining civilian population disappeared and 1,840 people remained missing. In June 1945, the town was turned over to Polish authorities who had arrived in the town in April, and permanently renamed Malbork.

Half a century later, in 1996, 178 corpses were found in a mass grave in Malbork; another 123 were found in 2005.[8] In October 2008, during excavations for the foundation of a new hotel in Malbork, a mass grave was found containing the remains of 2,116 people, a majority of whom were female. All the dead were said to have been German residents of pre-1945 Marienburg, but they could not be individually identified, nor could the cause of their deaths be definitely established. A Polish investigation concluded that the bodies, along with the remains of some dead animals, may have buried to prevent the spread of typhus, which was extant in the turmoil at the end of World War II. On August 14, 2009, all the dead people’s remains were buried in a German military cemetery to the west at Stare Czarnowo (German: Neumark) in Polish Pomerania, not far from the present-day German border.[9][10]

In Malbork one can also find a Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery [11] with 240 graves, mostly of POWs who died in the area during both wars, especially in the World War II Stalag XX-B camp.

After World War Two, the town was gradually repopulated by Poles, many expelled from Polish areas annexed by the Soviet Union. In February 1946, the population of the town reached 10,017 people, then by 1965 it grew to 28,292 and by 1994 to 40,347.[12]

Following the war, the Old Town in Malbork was not rebuilt, instead the bricks from its ruins were used to rebuild the oldest sections of Warsaw and Gdańsk.[12] As a result, with the exception of St. John's church, no medieval buildings remain in the town.[12] In the place of the old town, a housing estate was built in the 1960s.[12]

Notable residents[edit]

International relations[edit]

Twin towns — Sister cities[edit]

Malbork is twinned with:

References[edit]

Notes

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 54°02′N 19°03′E / 54.033°N 19.050°E / 54.033; 19.050