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Orzysz - ul. Cierniaka 12 (02).jpg
Flag of Orzysz
Coat of arms of Orzysz
Coat of arms
Orzysz is located in Poland
Coordinates: 53°48′20″N 21°56′45″E / 53.80556°N 21.94583°E / 53.80556; 21.94583
Country Poland
 • Total8.16 km2 (3.15 sq mi)
 • Total5,615
 • Density690/km2 (1,800/sq mi)
Postal code

Orzysz [ˈɔʐɨʂ] (German: Arys)[1] is a town in northeastern Poland, in the Pisz County, Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship, with 7,512 inhabitants (2007). It is located on Orzysz Lake in the region of Masuria.


Sacred Heart Church

The location of the town has been inhabited for a long time. In 1895 remains of a settlement dated to c. 300-1000 AD were discovered near the town on the shores of Lake Arys. The present settlement was founded during by the Grand Master of the Teutonic Order Konrad von Erlichshausen in 1443. After the Peace of Toruń in 1466 it came under Polish suzerainty as a fief.

After Reformation until 1702 church services in the only church were conducted in Masurian dialect, spoken by the majority Polish (Masurian) population of the town. A year earlier, in 1701, the town became part of the Kingdom of Prussia. A Catholic church was built in the 20th century. The population of Arys in 1740 was 640, and in 1782 about 900. The population of Arys slowly increased. There were 85 craftsmen recorded in 1775, majority of them shoemakers. The town, located on a trading route, was granted city rights in 1725 by Frederick William I of Prussia. The town has been militarily occupied frequently. During the Seven Years' War it was held by Russian troops for four years. The troops were quartered in the town also in the years 1806-1807, and 1812-1813. A fire destroyed almost the entire town in 1826.[2] Although Orzysz was outside the authority of Poland after 1657, in 1834 Poles still formed the majority of the local parish, with 600 people in comparison to 502 Germans.[3]

20th century[edit]

A memorial stone dedicated to poet Michał Kajka who died in Orzysz in 1940

During World War I, several battles were fought between the German and Russian armies in 1914 and 1915, in the area of Arys. The town was held by Russian troops for twenty days and almost completely destroyed.[2][4] Soon thereafter, the 1920 East Prussian plebiscite was held in the town, for self-determination of the region, which was preceded by a massive German propaganda campaign across Warmia and Masuria. Subsequently, only one vote was cast for Poland in the Arys plebiscite.[2][4]

Towards the end of World War II Arys, was nearly destroyed in the Soviet January offensive. There were only 300 people in the town in winter of 1945, mostly Prussian Masurians. Arys, now Orzysz was ceded to Poland by the Allies during the Yalta Conference, and the town's German population, that had mostly fled, lost their home.[2]

Notable residents[edit]


  1. ^ "Former Territory of Germany" (in German). 2017-11-13.
  2. ^ a b c d J. Foszczyński, "History of Orzysz", Orzysz naturalnie (in Polish), Urząd Miejski w Orzyszu (Orzysz City Council)
  3. ^ Jan Bałdowski, Warmia i Mazury, mały przewodnik, Wydawnictwo Sport i Turystyka, Warsaw, 1977, p. 164-165
  4. ^ a b Weise, Erich, ed. (1981) [1966]. Handbuch der historischen Stätten. Ost- und Westpreussen (in German). Stuttgart: Kröner. pp. 6–7. ISBN 3-520-31701-X. [Source from the Cold War period[verification needed]

Coordinates: 53°48′20″N 21°56′45″E / 53.80556°N 21.94583°E / 53.80556; 21.94583