Wojciech Kętrzyński (born Adalbert von Winkler; 11 July 1838 – 15 January 1918), was a historian and the director of the Ossolineum Library in Lemberg (Lwów), the capitol of Galicia, Austrian Empire. He focused on Polish history at a time when Poland was partitioned between foreign powers. He was the father of Stanisław Kętrzyński.
The Kętrzyński-family is of Kashubian origin and settled in Pomerania since the sixteenth century. In 1821 his father had changed his surname to "von Winkler", a direct translation of "Kętrzyński", while he served in the Prussian Army. After he left the military his father became a Prussian policeman (gendarm) at Lötzen where he married a local German wife and died in 1846.
Kętrzyński was born in Lötzen (Lec, modern Giżycko) as Adalbert von Winkler, Province of Prussia, within the Kingdom of Prussia, and grew up under the care of a German family after his father's death. He was sent to a military school for soldier orphans at Potsdam in 1849 but returned to Masuria and passed his Abitur at Rastenburg (Rastembork, modern Kętrzyn). In 1856 his sister had discovered the family's ancestry and informed him about it, which caused his decision to identify himself as a Pole, even though he did not read or write Polish and knew only a few words and expressions. As Kętrzyński later wrote, at the time of his national conversion he "was a German and felt himself to be German" and this "decision had been sudden and had raised no doubts". In 1859 he enrolled at the University of Königsberg, still as "von Winkler", but used the name "von Kętrzyński" for his matriculation in 1861. Here he also spoke for the first time Polish to students.
In 1863 he was imprisoned for his support of the Polish January Uprising in the Russian partition and spent his jail time in Olsztyn (Allenstein), Berlin, and Kłodzko (Glatz). Throughout his imprisonment he translated his dissertation from German into Latin and Wincenty Pol's "Song of our Land" into German.
After being released from prison, Kętrzyński completed his doctorate at the University of Königsberg (Krolewiec) and moved to the Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria within Austria-Hungary to pursue his interests. He became the head (1873) and the director (1876) of the Ossolineum Library in Lviv, then capital of the Kingdom of Galicia. Kętrzyński died there during World War I.
In recognition of his deeds after World War II, the town Rastenburg (Polish: Rastembork) in Masuria was renamed Kętrzyn after Kętrzyński in 1946. In Olsztyn a scientific institute was established named after him in 1963, called Ośrodka Badań Naukowych im. Wojciecha Kętrzyńskiego. Its primary mission is to document and research the history of Polish people (i.e. Slavic Masurians) and their culture in Warmia and Masuria, concentrating on their efforts to oppose Germanization. Another important subject of its research is the structure and administration of Royal Prussia.
- "Szkice Prus Wschodnich" zamieszczone w "Przewodniku Naukowym i Literackim" Lwów 1876.
- "Nazwy miejscowe polskie Prus Zachodnich, Wschodnich i Pomorza wraz z ich przezwiskami niemieckimi" Lwów 1879.
- "Gazeta polska z początku XVIII w.(Poczta Królewiecka 1718-1720) Lwów 1880.
- "Aus dem Liederbuch eines Germanisierten (1854-1862)" 1883 - confiscated by Prussian and Austrian authorities.
- "O ludności polskiej w Prusiech niegdyś krzyżackich" Lwów 1882.
- "O powołaniu Krzyżaków przez księcia Konrada" Saint Petersburg 1903.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Wojciech Kętrzyński.|
- Museum in Kętrzyn (in Polish)
- Ośrodek Badań Naukowych im. Wojciecha Kętrzyńskiego w Olsztynie (in Polish)