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Kętrzyn [ˈkɛntʂɨn] (About this soundlisten) (until 1946 Rastembork; German: Rastenburg (About this soundlisten)), 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.[2]


Kętrzyn Widok ogólny miasta z kościołem Św. Katarzyny.JPG
Ketrzyn, Poland - panoramio.jpg
2009-07 Kętrzyn 2.jpg
  • From top, left to right: Panorama of the town
  • Saint George Basilica
  • Former Masonic Lodge
Flag of Kętrzyn
Coat of arms of Kętrzyn
Coat of arms
Kętrzyn is located in Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship
Kętrzyn is located in Poland
Coordinates: 54°5′N 21°23′E / 54.083°N 21.383°E / 54.083; 21.383
Country Poland
Voivodeship Warmian-Masurian
CountyKętrzyn County
GminaKętrzyn (urban gmina)
Town rights1357
 • MayorKrzysztof Hećman
 • Total10.34 km2 (3.99 sq mi)
 • Total27,478[1]
Time zoneUTC+1 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+2 (CEST)
Postal code
Area code(s)+48 89
Car platesNKE

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, 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.

In 1440, the town joined the anti-Teutonic Prussian Confederation.[3] In 1454, the town recognized Polish King Casimir IV Jagiellon as rightful ruler and the townspeople sent their representative to Königsberg to pay homage to the King.[4] After the Thirteen Years’ War (1454–1466) the town remained part of the Teutonic Order's state and, from 1525 to 1701, the Duchy of Prussia, a Polish fief until 1657.

In 1667, a Polish-language church school was established in Rastenburg.[3]

In 1701 the town became part of the Kingdom of Prussia and subsequently, in 1871, part of Germany. During the Seven Years' War, from 1758 to 1762, the town was occupied by the Russians. In June 1807, the division of General Jan Henryk Dąbrowski was stationed in the town. In the second half of the 19th century, a sugar factory, brewery and mill were built. In the years 1855-1859, Wojciech Kętrzyński, a historian, activist and Polish patriot, attended the local gymnasium. In the late 19th century a Polish Lutheran parish still existed in Rastenburg,[5] despite the policy of Germanisation conducted by the Prussian authorities.[3]

20th centuryEdit

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.[3]

After the war, the town was transferred to Poland under border changes promulgated at the Potsdam Conference. 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.[3] 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.[6][7] Both names are still commonly used nowadays, with Rastembork being more popular among ethnic Masurians and foreigners.[citation needed]

After the war, the town's life was being rebuilt. In 1945, the Municipal Theater was established.[3] Thanks to voluntary contributions, books were purchased for newly organized public libraries.[3] A museum was created in the renovated castle.[3]



International relationsEdit


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Rastembork, Poland - Geographical Names, map, geographic coordinates". Retrieved 21 June 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Archived 2018-04-21 at the Wayback Machine dr Jerzy Sikorski, Historia miasta Kętrzyn
  4. ^ Tomasz Darmochwał, Marek Jacek Rumiński, Warmia Mazury. Przewodnik, Agencja TD, Białystok, 1996, p. 123 (in Polish)
  5. ^ Słownik geograficzny Królestwa Polskiego i innych krajów słowiańskich, Tom IX, Warsaw, 1888, p. 531 (in Polish)
  6. ^ "Urząd Miasta Kętrzyn - Zainwestuj w Kętrzynie". Retrieved 21 June 2019.
  7. ^ Maria Malec (2002). Słownik etymologiczny nazw geograficznych Polski. Wydawn. Naukowe PWN. p. 122. Retrieved 4 May 2012.

External linksEdit