Marienwerder (Kwidzyn) on Poland Map

Kwidzyn, formerly Marienwerder, is a town in northern Poland on the Liwa River. It extends over an area of 22 square kilometres, with 39 930 inhabitants, according to the 2007 census. It has been a part of the Pomeranian Voivodeship since 1999. It is the capital of Kwidzyn County.


The Teutonic Knights founded an Ordensburg (fortress built by crusading German military orders) castle in 1232 and a town the following year. This new settlement of Marienwerder became the seat of the Bishops of Pomesania within Prussia.

Werner von Orseln statue

The town was populated with Masurian settlers from the Duchy of Masovia. Werner von Orseln (the 17th Grand Master of the Teutonic Order), who died in Marienburg (Malbork) in 1330, was buried in the cathedral of Marienwerder. St. Dorothea of Montau lived in Marienwerder from 1391 until her death in 1394. The rebellious Prussian Confederation was founded in Marienwerder on March 14, 1440.

In 1466, the town became a Polish fief together with the remainder of the monastic state of the Teutonic Knights after their defeat in the Thirteen Years' War.

Marienwerder became part of the Duchy of Prussia, a fief of Poland, upon its creation in 1525. The duchy was inherited by the House of Hohenzollern in 1618 and was elevated to the Kingdom of Prussia in 1701. The town became the capital of the District of Marienwerder. After the First Partition of Poland, Marienwerder became an administrative seat of the new Prussian Province of West Prussia. The town and district were included within the government region of Marienwerder after the Napoleonic Wars.

Kwidzyn Castle

After 1871, when Marienwerder was included in the newly created German Empire, the "Kulturkampf", a German anticlerical movement of the 19th century, was aimed mainly at Catholics. In 1885 Marienwerder had 8,079 mostly Lutheran inhabitants, many of whose trades were connected with the manufacturing of sugar, vinegar, and machines. Other trades were brewing, dairy farming, and fruit-growing.

After World War I, the Treaty of Versailles transferred most of West Prussia to the Polish Second Republic. The treaty permitted the East Prussian plebiscite in a few areas, to determine if Marienwerder would remain in Germany as part of East Prussia or join Poland. The inhabitants of the town voted on 11 July 1920 for East Prussia.

During the Weimar Republic, a Polish high school was founded in the town. On August 25, 1939, pupils of the school were deported to Nazi concentration camps.

In 1945 during World War II, Marienwerder was plundered by the Soviet Red Army. Red Army established war hospital in the town for 20,000 people. The town's old centre was burned by Soviet soldiers. The post-war Potsdam Conference placed it under Polish administration in 1945. Since then it remains as part of Poland. Burned parts of the town's old centre were dismantled to provide material for the rebuilding of Warsaw after its destruction in the Warsaw Uprising.

The Plebiscite

Marienwerder Plebiscite, 11 July 1920

The Marienwerder plebiscite was a plebiscite for self-determination of the region, in accordance to the Treaty of Versailles. Prepared during early 1920, it took place on 11 July 1920. The majority of voters selected East Prussia over Poland, with about 92% of the votes.

In accordance with Articles 94 to 97 of the Treaty of Versailles, section entitled "East Prussia", the territory of the plebiscite was formed by Marienwerder (now Kwidzyn) district, which encompassed counties of Stuhm (Sztum), Rosenberg in Westpreußen (Susz) as well as parts of counties of Marienburg (Malbork), east off the Nogat River and Marienwerder (east of the Vistula River).

The treaty defined the area as "The western and northern boundary of Regierungsbezirk Allenstein (Allenstein district) to its junction with the boundary between the Kreis (district) of Oletzko (Olecko) and Angerburg (Węgorzewo); thence, the northern boundary of the Kreis of Oletzko to its junction with the old frontier of East Prussia."

Bibliography: Article based on Wikipedia