Kętrzyn (pronounced KENT-shin [ˈkɛntʂɨn] (listen), until 1946 Rastembork; German: Rastenburg [ˈʁastn̩bʊʁk] (listen)) is a town in northeastern Poland with 27,478 inhabitants (2019). Situated in the Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship (since 1999), Kętrzyn was previously in Olsztyn Voivodeship (1975–1998). It is the capital of Kętrzyn County. The town was named after historian Wojciech Kętrzyński in 1946, however, both the official Kętrzyn and former Polish name Rastembork are still in use.
The first settlement was established in 1329 and Rastenburg was granted town rights and privileges in 1357. Over the centuries it was part of the Teutonic State, Poland and East Prussia in Germany. The town is known for the surrounding Masurian Lakeland and numerous monuments of historical value such as the Wolf’s Lair in nearby Gierłoż, where an assassination attempt against Hitler was made in 1944.
The original inhabitants of the region were the Balt tribe of the Aesti, mentioned by Tacitus in his Germania (AD 98). The town, known in German as Rastenburg and in Polish as Rastembork, was established in 1329 in the State of the Teutonic Knights and was granted town rights in 1357 by Henning Schindekop.
Wolfsschanze (Wolf’s Lair)
Rastenburg and the surrounding district was the scene of the First World War‘s First Battle of the Masurian Lakes and Second Battle of the Masurian Lakes. During the Second World War Adolf Hitler‘s wartime military headquarters, the Wolfsschanze (Wolf’s Lair), was in the forest east of Rastenburg. The bunker was the setting for the failed assassination attempt of the 20 July plot against Hitler.
In 1945, the area suffered devastation from both the retreating Germans and advancing Soviets during the Vistula-Oder campaign. Some ruins of the Wolfsschanze remain. The town was a Wehrmacht garrison town until it was occupied by the Red Army on January 27, 1945. The largely abandoned town was heavily destroyed by the Soviets.
Its surviving German residents who had not evacuated were subsequently expelled westward and replaced with Poles, most of whom were themselves expelled from the pre-war Polish Vilnius Region that was annexed by the Soviet Union and given to the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic.
The town was given the historic Polish name Rastembork in 1945, and in 1946 it was renamed to Kętrzyn after the Polish historian Wojciech Kętrzyński.
- Johann Dietrich von Hülsen (1693–1767), Prussian general
- Karl Bogislaus Reichert (1811–1883), German anatomist, embryologist and histologist.
- Elisabet Boehm (1859–1943), German women’s rights advocate
- Arno Holz (1863–1929), German poet and dramatist
- Wilhelm Wien (1864–1928), German physicist worked on blackbody radiation
- Emma Döll (1873–1930), German politician (SPD/USPD/KPD)
- Rüdiger von Heyking (1894–1956), German Luftwaffe general
- Hanns Scharff (1907–1992), German Luftwaffe interrogator internationally renowned for developing humane, effective interrogation techniques
- Waldemar Grzimek (1918–1984), German sculptor
- Siegfried Tiefensee (1922–2009), German composer
- Dietrich von Bausznern (1928–1980), German composer, cantor, organist and music teacher
Former bank building
The Führer Headquarters (Führerhauptquartiere in German), abbreviated FHQ, were a number of official headquarters used by the Nazi leader Adolf Hitler and various other German commanders and officials throughout Europe during the Second World War. The last one used, the Führerbunker in Berlin, where Hitler committed suicide on 30 April 1945, is the most widely known headquarters.
Other notable headquarters are the Wolfsschanze (Wolf’s Lair) in East Prussia, where Claus von Stauffenberg in league with other conspirators attempted to assassinate Hitler on 20 July 1944, and Hitler’s private home, the Berghof, at Obersalzberg near Berchtesgaden, where he frequently met with prominent foreign and domestic officials.
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These beautiful buildings and the ground they stands on was stolen by Poland and the Judeo-Slavic people.
Germany: Over One Quarter of the Population from ‘Migrant Backgrounds’
People of Turkish descent or who originally came from Turkey were the largest non-German group, making up 13 per cent of the migrant population, with Poles and Russians making up the next largest populations.
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Percentage of linguistic minorities of the German Empire in 1900 by Kreis
About 92% of the population spoke German as their first language. The only minority language with a significant number of speakers (5.4%) was Polish (a figure that rises to over 6% when including the related Kashubian and Masurian languages).
The non-German Germanic languages (0.5%), like Danish, Dutch and Frisian, were located in the north and northwest of the empire, near the borders with Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg. Low German was spoken throughout northern Germany and, though linguistically as distinct from High German (Hochdeutsch) as from Dutch and English, is considered “German”, hence also its name. Danish and Frisian were spoken predominantly in the north of the Prussian province of Schleswig-Holstein and Dutch in the western border areas of Prussia (Hanover, Westphalia, and the Rhine Province).
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Read about WWII here
The defeat and aftermath of the First World War and the penalties imposed by the Treaty of Versailles shaped the positive memory of the Empire, especially among Germans who distrusted and despised the Weimar Republic. Conservatives, liberals, socialists, nationalists, Catholics and Protestants all had their own interpretations, which led to a fractious political and social climate in Germany in the aftermath of the empire’s collapse.
Under Bismarck, a united German state had finally been achieved, but it remained a Prussian-dominated state and did not include German Austria as Pan-German nationalists had desired. The influence of Prussian militarism, the Empire’s colonial efforts and its vigorous, competitive industrial prowess all gained it the dislike and envy of other nations. The German Empire enacted a number of progressive reforms, such as Europe’s first social welfare system and freedom of press. There was also a modern system for electing the federal parliament, the Reichstag, in which every adult man had one vote. This enabled the Socialists and the Catholic Centre Party to play considerable roles in the empire’s political life despite the continued hostility of Prussian aristocrats.
The era of the German Empire is well remembered in Germany as one of great cultural and intellectual vigour. Thomas Mann published his novel Buddenbrooks in 1901. Theodor Mommsen received the Nobel prize for literature a year later for his Roman history. Painters like the groups Der Blaue Reiter and Die Brücke made a significant contribution to modern art. The AEG turbine factory in Berlin by Peter Behrens from 1909 was a milestone in classic modern architecture and an outstanding example of emerging functionalism. The social, economic, and scientific successes of this Gründerzeit, or founding epoch, have sometimes led the Wilhelmine era to be regarded as a golden age.
In the field of economics, the “Kaiserzeit” laid the foundation of Germany’s status as one of the world’s leading economic powers. The iron and coal industries of the Ruhr, the Saar and Upper Silesia especially contributed to that process. The first motorcar was built by Karl Benz in 1886. The enormous growth of industrial production and industrial potential also led to a rapid urbanisation of Germany, which turned the Germans into a nation of city dwellers. More than 5 million people left Germany for the United States during the 19th century.
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