Marienburg Castle; Mass Murder by the Red Army in 1945
The Marienburg castle was founded in 1274 by the Teutonic Order and named after their patron
saint, the Virgin Mary. The Order under Siegfried von Feuchtwangen moved its headquarters into
Marienburg in the Vistula Delta, which gave them access to the Baltic Sea. The castle, once housing
3,000 "brothers in arms",  was expanded to become the largest fortified Gothic building in Europe. It
consisted of 52 acres with three separate entities, the High, Middle and Lower Castles, separated by
multiple dry moats and towers and all within the outermost castle walls.
The Teutonic Knights collected river tolls on passing ships and had a monopoly on the trade of
amber. The city became a member of the Hanseatic League and many Hanse meetings took place at
the castle. The castle had a tumultuous history and by the early 1800's, having been reconstructed
and repaired, it became a symbol of German cultural history and national consciousness. At the
conclusion of World War II, more than half of the castle was in ruins from Allied bombing and,
together with the surrounding city, it was given away to Poland.
In October, 2009, some human bones were found in by workers digging foundations for a five-star
hotel by the castle, which is now a partially rebuilt Polish tourist attraction and a UNESCO "World
Heritage" site. Six months later, the bones totalled those of some 2,120 men, women and children,
including babies, all with no clothing, no documents or personal belongings, except for a pair of
child's eyeglasses. It is assuredly the site of the mass murder of some of the 3,000 unaccounted for
people who could not flee Marienburg in time as the advancing Red Army closed in on them in early
1945. There was evidence of crushed and broken bones and the skulls found at the top of the heap
had bullet holes. Lime had been used to decompose the remains.
Marienburg castle
before and after
bombing, below (click
to enlarge)
94th Bomb Group
B-17 Flying Fortress
targeting the
Focke-Wulf factory as
Marienburg in
West Prussia, map
of 1896 (click)