Under continuous construction for nearly 230 years, Marienburg Castle/Malbork, is actually three castles nested 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 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.
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 of the amber trade. The town later became a member of the Hanseatic League, and many Hanseatic meetings were held there.
When the castle was sold to the king of Poland in 1457 and the Teutonic Knights left, 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. A monument to him was erected in 1864.
As Malbork, the town became part of the Polish province of Royal Prussia after the Second Peace of Thorn (1466). It was annexed by the Kingdom of Prussia in the First Partition of Poland in 1772 and made part of the Province of West Prussia the following year. Marienburg became part of the German Empire in 1871.
According to the Treaty of Versailles after WWI the inhabitants were asked whether they want to remain in Germany or join the new Second Polish Republic by the Allenstein and Marienwerder plebiscite on July 11, 1920. 17.805 votes were given to remain in Germany, 191 votes for Poland. Based on that result Marienburg was included in the Regierungsbezirk Marienwerder within East Prussia. With the Allied victory in World War II and the Potsdam conference Malbork returned to Poland. All German residents were expelled.
Travel: The Dark Knights of the Soul Peter Griffiths Follows the Trail of the Teutonic Warriors Who Were Once the Masters of Poland
Jan 09, 1999; Every Polish child knows the monument at the spot where Poland finally broke free from German domination. It has nothing to do...