Who was behind the demolition of the ruins of the medieval castle of Świerklaniec? The Presidium of the Tarnowskie Góry County National Council has reached an agreement on this, behind the back of the Provincial Conservator of Silesian Monuments, with the Ministry of Culture.
The restaurateur discovered all this after the fact by accident, when the residents of Świerklaniec have already half demolished the pile of rubblewhich remained after the castle. A few months later, the ministry told the curator that the ruins had been blown up and that a large quantity of Gothic bricks had thus been lost and could be used to repair other castles. If it weren’t for the loss of a priceless monument to the Tarnowskie Góry district, the whole story might even seem amusing.
Even in 1957, the ruins of the old castle in Świerklaniec were boasted. In the issue of “Gwark”, which was published before the first Gwarki Days, there was an addendum “Discover the beauty of Tarnowskie Góry”, which includes a photograph of part of the castle and you can see that a Much of the ruins were in good condition. That it was not a pile of rubble is evidenced by the preserved balustrades on the first floor of the newer part of the building. Later, however, someone in the Tarnowskie Góry neighborhood was disturbed by the ruins. Information began to spread, which canceled the historical value of the monument, incl. that a romantic ruin erected at the end of the 19th century. How was the reality?
Old or new castle?
The castle consisted of several parts, built in different centuries. The oldest was probably erected in the 14th century“Previously, already in the time of Piast, there was probably an older wooden and earthen foundation or a defensive fortress. Even in 1513 this building must have been mainly of oak wood. Probably the aboveground part was in wood, while the cellars and the peripheral wall were masonry.” – we read in the article by Jarosław Rolak “Świerklaniec Castle. The history of the demolition in the light of the archival documents of the Provincial Conservator of Silesian Monuments in Katowice”, published in “Wiadomości conservatorskie Voivodship of Silesia” .
How was the castle? Originally, it was built on an elliptical plan, it had two floors. The elliptical enclosure wall with cellars was constructed mostly of broken stone, with little use of Gothic brick. The castles of Nowy Hradek, Olesk and especially Kurozwęki also have such an elliptical layout. According to Rolak, at the beginning of the 18th century it was completely rebuilt, adding two wings.
Another major reconstruction took place in the second half of the 19th century. The oldest part was added to the second floor, two flanking quadrangular towers were added in the front facade, and the whole was closed off by battlements. The two 18th century wings were also enlarged. The southern one had three towers, two flanking and one round. The north wing, meanwhile, was extended to the first floor. The reconstruction was in the English Gothic revival style.
“The castle was surrounded by moats and a park. In 1912, electrical installations and other improvements were made there. the seat of central management of the Donnersmarck family estate. In 1945, following the hostilities, the “little Versailles” and the castle were burned down and destroyed. While in the case of the “little Versailles” the thing is clear and there is no doubt that the palace was set on fire by the soldiers of the Red Army, in the case of the castle it is not certain. whether it was set on fire at the last moment by retreating German soldiers or Red Army soldiers “- wrote Jarosław Rolak.
Exchange of ideas
The remains of the “little Versailles” were knocked down and even then there were attempts to do the same with the ruins of the castle. How do you know that? Extract from the letter of the curator of monuments of Katowice, which he addressed in June 1957 to the Presidium of the National Council of Tarnowskie Góry county. He states that he has information on plans to demolish the ruins of the castle and reminds her that he is illegal. This year, the ruins of the castle have been entered in the register of monuments.
The provincial conservator “assessed the state of destruction of the building at 65% – 70%, but with good maintenance of the construction walls, sound foundations, and a well-preserved interior part and one of the wings. He underlined the great historical value of the building due to its the Gothic character of the establishment and he did not rule out the possibility of reconstructing the facility in the future, including adapting it for new purposes,” wrote Jarosław Rolak.
Letters were exchanged, there were ideas for rebuilding the rest of the castle and open a PTTK hotel or hostel there. But at some point, the demolition of the wings of the stronghold and the neo-renaissance part began. The oldest part was said to be preserved as a permanent ruin.
“However – as it turned out – the question of the ruins and the need to “put them in order” was then absorbed not only by the ministry and the provincial conservator of monuments. The Presidium of the Tarnowskie Góry County National Council asked the Ministry of Culture and Arts regarding the demolition and consent, on April 3, 1962, of the received ministry.” – we read in the article by Jarosław Rolak.
In “Gwark” from early August 1962 we find an article “In Świerklaniec it will no longer be haunted”. The weekly reports that in mid-August miners of the “Andaluzja” mine – with the blasting section of the “Nitron” plant in Krupski Młyn – to start demolition work on the ruins of the castle in Świerklaniec. “Miners and chemical plant workers will treat these robots as a social act,” reads Gwark.
“The castle in question had no historical value, it was built as a medieval stronghold, in modern times, as it was fashionable then (the Donnersmarcks, who built it, n were not in Silesia in the Middle Ages) Recently there has been a lot of noise around these ruins in connection with the alleged fear, that “grunts” and other noises disturb passers-by. owls massively nesting in the ruins. In the future, there will be no more “fears” in Świerklaniec, because when the ruins are demolished, the owls will also have to leave. “
The weekly issue of August 11, 1962 contains the information: “In the next few days the ruins of the Świerklaniec castle of the dreads will disappear. The “Andalusian” miners have already drilled murderous in its foundations. You are now waiting for the pyrotechnics of “Nitron” which will blow up the ruins. It is likely to happen within the next week. »
According to Rolak, the ruins exploded in September.
Why did it explode?
On November 30, the Provincial Inspector of Monuments went to Świerklaniec Park to inspect it, and then he noticed what had happened. On January 31, 1963, the Minister of Culture and the Arts signed a decision to remove the ruins of the castle from the register of monuments because of their demolition. Then the ministry became interested in knowing why explosives were used for the demolition and who was behind such actions. They were gothic bricks, which – if the building were demolished and not demolished – could be used for the repair of other monuments, thus reducing the costs of conservation work.
“According to information gathered by the Provincial Conservator of Monuments, the ‘demolition’ was carried out as follows: the Presidium of the Tarnowskie Góry County National Council, having obtained permission for demolition from the Ministry, entrusted this task to Zakład Gospodarki Komunalnej i Mieszkaniowej in Świerklaniec, which was located in the park. The factory, not having the financial resources to allow the demolition, turned to one of the mines for help in this matter. delegated two blast miners who blew up the facility. Local people, in exchange for salvaged building materials, were to help remove the piles of rubble. When the provincial inspector of monuments discovered it, the debris was removed by 50%,” wrote Jarosław Rolak.
What arguments were used by the Presidium of the National Poviat Council in Tarnowskie Góry to convince the Ministry of Culture and Arts that the ruins of Świerklaniec Castle should be demolished? We will probably never know again. Jarosław Rolak did not find the letter at the ministry, he thinks it did not survive. What could have determined the fate of this priceless monument? Ordinary human stupidity?
The alleged fears reported by “Gwarek” appear to be a naïve explanation. Was there an aversion to what was post-German, quite common in the post-war period, especially among immigrants from Upper Silesia? Or perhaps economic reasons were behind the desire for demolition? No money to rebuild and develop the ruins? Or maybe just someone he sharpened his teeth for building materials and got his?
Archive article by Jarosław Myśliwski, published November 3, 2015.