A lazy day in the LowLands

Today I had a day off…

So, I went on a private tour (with friends) – of course to visit the LowLands. It seems that every time I go there I find something new, something I did not see the previous time… And so it was today.

(HERE are some pictures I took today – enjoy – may they bring some bright memories)

As usually, I went through Nowa Kościelnica (Neu Münsterberg). There I traditionally took photos of the house, which is shown on the cover of Prof. Peter Klassen‘s book (Mennonites in Early Modern Poland and Prussia). It was built in 1840 for Wilhelm Classen, and then it was owned by Dyck family… Today it is being very well cared for by the present owners, who have a lot of patience and understanding for every group of Mennonites visiting the place and wanting to take a photo there. 😉

There are good things going on in the village!! The half timbered arcaded house which is situated on the curve of the road, (once belonging to the Wiebe family) is under restoration now. Or should I rather state – is being reconstructed. The present owners finally got some refinance from the Ministry of Culture to rescue the building. It is a great success, especially that very little funds are being transferred to the LowLands for restoration of the historical heritage. 😦 I wish the owners all the best – especially that the house was in the last stage of destruction by time, and weather (as the last renovation of this splendid building took place in… 1933 !!!).

Nowa Kościelnica was founded in the medieval times (1352) by my favorite Teutonic Grand Master (Winrich von Kniprode) and had an area of 50 hufen (1 hufe = 17,955 ha = 179550 sq meters). Mennonites appeared here in the 16th century, and among the most popular surnames were: Brecht, Dick, Ens, Epp, Fehr, Harder, Isaac, Claassen, Matis, Penner, Peters, Regehr, Thiesen, Welcke, Wiens, Willms. In 1820 there were 560 inhabitants – in it: 106 Mennonites. In 1868 a petition was signed by the farmers from Nowa Kościelnica. Among them were: a Bergmann, as well as land owners: Johann Ens, Epp, Joann Harder, Joann Classen, Aron Penner, Aron Peter, Abraham van Riesen, J. Wiens.

Then I drove through Ostaszewo (Schöneberg). It was founded in 1333 and had an area of 60 hufen. In the 16th century the dikes on the Vistula river broke, and 200 people drowned in their sleep, and next 85 drowned trying to mend the broken dike. The flood of 1526 took lifes of about 5000 people, 1800 horses, and 400 cows. 15 LowLand villages suffered, and it took almost 5 years to repair the dikes. From the 18th century there were Mennonnite families listed there: Ens, Kopp, Kroecker, Mieretz, and van Roy operating the ferry on the Vistula River. In 1820 there were 775 inhabitants with only 15 Mennonites. In 1936 the noted Mennonite surnames were: Bergmann, Claassen, Dück, Epp, Friesen, Harder, Makelburger, Nickel, Purwin, Wienss.

Today – a small exhibition in memory of the past time is being organized in the Old School building. I sure will often return here, to observe the progress. 🙂

My next stop was in Stawiec (Neuteichsdorf). This little cemetery always brings back the memory of a special tour years ago… I had travelled with a lady who remembered the Ladekopp community from the former times (before 1945). She talked about her ancestors burried in this graveyard. By accident I found graves of her greatparents… Then we found the terp where her parents’ house stood (till 1945). The now huge cherry tree, she had long ago planted from a stone, was still there, and the two lilac bushes (remembered by her from childhood) were in blossom. Today – although many of the graves were destroyed by the post-war settlers, it still is a quiet little place though loaded with personal histories of this land.

After visiting Stawiec, I drove to Lubieszewo (Ladekopp).  Although the village was mentionned already in 1255, the location took place between 1315-1324.  From the 18th century such Mennonite surnames were mentionned as: Claassen, Dick, Elias, Ens, Epp, Essau, Fiegeth, Jantzen, Kroecker, Peters, Rigehr, Suckau, Toews, Wieb; Wiens, Wilms, Nikolaus Bergen, Jacob i Peter Classen, Kliewer, Joann Quiring, Jakob and Joann Wiebe. Among 640 inhabitants, 97 were Mennonites. As stated in the notes of http://www.holland.org.pl – in 1868 the village possessed 150 hufe, 66 houses, with 288 Catholics, 326 Protestants and 114 Mennonites. Among the richest land owners were noted: Jacob Claar, Kornelius Dyck, Herman Friesen…

And today ? Today it is a village en route to Malbork, or into the heart of the LowLands, with an interesting medieval church and definitely hidden history. Even the house where the saddler had lived untill 1945, is in agony…

Tuja (Tiege) – was my next stop. The architecture of the church is so peculiar, that I always stop there to take some more photos… The tomb stones by the northern wall of the  church are in decay now, and it seems that nobody is interested in even lifting them up from the ground. The once flourishing area – after the long years of Comminust brain wash – now has nothing to offer, except memories of the visitors, and rather harsh kindness of the locals. Unemployment and lack of interest from the local authorities placed the dwellers outside the frmae of society. Maybe that is why they happily welcome everyone who drives off the beaten track, to stop by and chat about the long gone days.


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Amazing Gdansk

HERE is a link to my photo-blog. I posted there some photos of today’s Gdansk.

It is really a beautiful town 🙂

Women’s Day in Cracow

I came back from training.

Nothing new, just in my case, it is rather very natural conclusion.

This training, however, was quite exceptional, as it took place in a very unique place.

The place was Cracow’s basements of the Main Market.

The Market Undergrounds Route Exhibition – is one of the most interesting tourist routes in Poland. Not only because of the content, (as one might say – the load of the material history – uffff, how smart it sounded). It is exceptional also because of the concept and idea and realization of the exhibition. Of course one can blame the authors of the exhibition (it is not the Historical Museum of Cracow), that they overdid – as it is too loud there (I mean the reconstructed sounds of historical Cracow coming from speakers placed in different places of the exhibition), therefore the guide actually has to strain the voice a bit. But, nevertheless all  there deserves a high appreciation.

Who has not yet been in Cracow’s Market Square basement, can “taste” a bit of the climate in Gdansk Blue Lamb (department of the Gdansk Archaeological Museum) – unfortunately the Museum site is only in Polish :(.

However, in Cracow, the creators went further on – and instead of figures served to the visitors a good script with short cinematics. And there are absolutely fabulous “archaeological witnesses” (it is a bit of the original profile saved for further documentation of the site)! And the impressive preserved medieval paved roads with wooden curbs!

Unfortunately, as A.S. was ill, I traveled alone, and therefore I did not take my camera with me. I was afraid to take it – mindful of the risk of travelling alone in our so-called mass transportation. BTW – if the Polish Railway System ran with equal frequency as is checking tickets – it would almost be an idyll in the country …

Who’d want to know more about the Underground Tourist Route can visit this site

It was worth travelling by train 13 hours to the former Capital of Poland only to spend 6 hours underground and then to go on the return trip – for another 14 hours. Why longer and further??? Noone knows. One is obvious – 21st century in Poland definitely should be noted in history as a Regression – and unfortunately in every aspect…

But back to the topic – I got a book 🙂 – by  professor Michał Rożek “Guide to the monuments of Krakow”. With his personal inscription and an unforgettable conversation.

And even the weather made life worth living, making Cracow more than usually crowded (Gdansk should learn from Cracow HOW to make business on tourism!).

And then I had a delicious dinner at the Szara Restaurant – but the restaurant is a separate story itself…

Thus, the training was successful in every aspect …

And by the way – there is something about the ages of the presence of the Polish part of my family in Cracow. Whenever I put my foot in this city – I sink in and return to the roots. Even the gossip (probably unchanged for centuries) seems nice and hearty.

However the view of Ilawa through the train window on the way back and involuntary emotion – that’s returning to Prussia, made it clear to me that this is My Place on earth.

On the other hand, luckily I do not really fully belong to The One Place.

I have Places Dear to My Heart – genetically encoded – and no matter how close or far they are – whenever I visit them – I do it with joy. 🙂