Ruins of the local castle of the Knights Hospitaller
The village borders the Ujście Warty National Park. It had town privileges from 1808 to 1947. During the Second World War, Słońsk was the site of a former Nazi concentration camp (now a museum). The village lies about 25 kilometres (or 16 miles) northwest of Sulęcin and 36 kilometres (22 mi) southwest of Gorzów Wielkopolski.
Present-day Słońsk was founded in territory, formerly part of the Kingdom of Poland, acquired by the German Margraviate of Brandenburg during the High Middle Ages. The Slavic inhabitants of the region were gradually Germanicized in the centuries that followed.
Then known as Sonnenburg, the settlement first appears in documents in 1295. The Knights Templar held lands and buildings in the town. In 1312, the Margrave of Brandenburg and the Bishop of Lebus were joint overlords of Sonnenburg. Henning and Arnold von Uechtenhagen later received Sonnenberg as a fief and built the first castle there in 1341. From the 15th century, the town maintained a close connection with the Order of Saint John (the Knights Hospitaller), who had purchased it from Margrave Friedrich I of Brandenburg. The castle became the seat of the Bailiwick of Brandenburg of the Order, which greatly enlarged the town, building a new church (between 1474 and 1522), a new castle (between 1545 and 1564), and a model hospital (in the 19th century).
A severe prison was built in the town in 1832. It held such Polish fighters for independence as Karol Libelt and Bronisław Dąbrowski (the son of General Jan Henryk Dąbrowski). During World War II, defenders of the Poznań citadel were held in the prison after capture, and in 1944 some of the former fighters in the Warsaw Uprising were incarcerated there.
After World War II
Sonnenburg was captured by the Soviet Red Army in the spring of 1945, as the Second World War in Europe drew to its close. The post-war Potsdam Conference later that year severed Sonnenburg from Germany and awarded it to Poland, which renamed it "Słońsk". Most of the former inhabitants were expelled, as occurred throughout the former German territories, and replaced by Poles expelled from the former Polish Kresy Wschodnie (taken by the Soviet Union) and by settlers from central Poland.
In 1947 Słońsk lost its town rights and reverted to the status of a village.
Sonnenburg, etching by Matthäus Merian the Younger
- Paul von Niessen: Die Johanniterordensballei Sonnenburg und Markgraf Johann von Brandenburg. (=Schriften des Vereins für Geschichte der Neumark. 29/30). Landsberg/Warthe 1913.
- Jean-Michel Palmier, Weimar in exile: the antifascist emigration in Europe and America, Verso, 2006 ISBN 1-84467-068-6, p. 41. Google Books
- History of Słońsk
- Biuletyn Głównej Komisji Badania Zbrodni Przeciwko Narodowi Polskiemu Instytutu Pamięci Narodowej, Wrasaw, 1994, p. 273 Google Books