Notes on German Culture, Old Germany...lost territory, prussia

In 1902, Kaiser Wilhelm II made a trip to the Marienburg in West Prussia

The Marienburg High Castle with Virgin Mary’s Church

A moment in time at the start of the 20th century…one of many that the Marienburg Castle witnessed during its 747 years of existence in northern Europe, from 1274 to 2021. On this occasion in 1902, Kaiser Wilhelm II made the trip to West Prussia to participate in the consecration of Virgin Mary’s Church in the Marienburg Castle. His visit also coincided with the end of renovation work on the High Castle, making it a memorable event for all the visitors.

Medieval depiction of the Marienburg

Apart from the Royal couple, the celebration was witnessed by representatives of the Johannites from Germany, Austria and England… the Johannites, or Order of Saint John, are the German Protestant branch of the Knights Hospitaller, the oldest surviving chivalric order, which was founded in Jerusalem in the year AD 1099. Also attending were Prince Albrecht von Hohenzollern, the Prince of Mecklenburg and the Prince of Württemberg. The celebration was hosted by Konrad Steibrecht, on behalf of Management of Rebuilding of the Castle, and took place in the Castle Church and in the Middle Castle. 

Kaiser Wilhelm’s visit in June 1902 was particularly memorable because of the glamorous events that accompanied the visit….including an event where Prussian soldiers of the 152nd Regiment from Marienburg wore the medieval armor of Teutonic Knights.

Did you ever wonder what exactly is Breakfast for a King? Here is the menu from Kaiser Wilhelm’s visit in June 1902 :

The Breakfast Menu translates as follows: Kaiser Soup… Turbot fish in Holland style… Veal Tenderloin garnished… Ham with Mushrooms… Strassburger Pudding… Young Goose, Fruit and Salad… Asparagus… Strawberries with cream… Cheese sticks… and Dessert.

Some history of the Marienburg

The Marienburg Castle is the largest fortress ever built in Europe…with walls 27 ft high and 7 feet thick…and with outermost castle walls that enclose 52 acres. For perspective, that is four times the enclosed area of Windsor Castle. Amazingly, this huge German medieval structure still exists… it has survived the ages and is now 747 years old, although it is no longer located within the borders of Germany.

Marienburg Castle was built by the Teutonic Order, a German Roman Catholic religious order of crusaders, in the form of an Ordensburg fortress. The Order named it Marienburg (Mary’s Castle) and the town which grew around it was also named Marienburg. The Castle fortress was constructed in 1274, after the uprising and re-conquest of ferocious pagan tribes in Prussia. Its immediate purpose was to maintain control of the area in the event of any future uprisings of the Baltic tribes.

There is quite a history between 1274 and 1945…too much to include here. To read my article about this time period, press on this link

The Grandmaster entering Marienburg
 German Tourist Information Office, 665 Fifth Avenue, New York City … 1930s advertisement featuring the Marienburg

In the last months of WWII, the venerable Marienburg was still intact, but it was too symbolic for the Russians. The castle was purposely wrecked to the point that only 50% remained standing.

After WWII, both West and East Prussia plus Pomerania,Posen and Silesia were removed from Germany. The Allies decided to distribute these German lands to Russia, Lithuania, and Poland. The wrecked Marienburg went to Poland, where its history was honored and serious work was undertaken to recreate as much as possible of the castle. Today the 747 year old Marienburg Castle can still be visited…it’s a major tourist attraction in Poland, but the Castle has been re-named “Malbork”.


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