Military History blog

Photographs of the Lower Silesian Książ Castle

The Książ Castle, located near Wałbrzych, is the third largest castle in Poland (after Wawel Castle and Malbork). It is beautifully preserved, combining various architectural styles and located on the trail of Piast Castles in south-western Poland. Thanks to the mysteries that hide, known not only to fans of the Middle Ages, but also these interested in the World War II .
Pictures of the castle were taken in June 2014 and October 2017.

The Prince’s Castle was built in 1300 by Prince Bolko I Surowy. The location for its construction was chosen perfectly – the castle is located on the top of the hill, and you can reach it only from one (east) side. One of the reasons for this was that Książ was never captured by foreign troops, and the first owner called him the “key to Silesia”.

The castle’s main rebuilds took place at the beginning of the 18th century and in the first half of the 20th century: a Baroque wing, two Renaissance wings, partitions, gardens and many others were added to the fortified part.

In 1941 Książ was taken over by the nazis, and in 1943 a barbaric reconstruction of the castle was started. The construction attempted to turn it into a huge bunker, which was ploughed through the underground corridors, and whose secrets are still uncovered today.

Nowadays, the castle is owned by the Walbrzych municipality and you can (and definitely should!) visit it.

The history of Książ Castle contains several particularly interesting stories. Two of them I recalled below:

Duchess Daisy’s life

In 1891 Hans Heinrich XV, owner of Książ, married Maria Theresa Cornwallis-West – a beautiful, though poor English nobleman’s dougher, then called Daisy. The marriage was celebrated by reason rather than love; in her diaries the duchess wrote that “love will come later”. It never came, though Daisy gave her husband three sons – interestingly enough, two of them fought later against Hitler: Hans Heinrich XVII in the British army, and Aleksander in Polish army.

Unfortunately, after the World War I, Hans Heinrich XV divorced with Daisy and married his Spanish lover Klotylda Silva y Candanamo. The English woman was still living in Książ, carrying out social and charity activities. It was thanks to her disinterested, good deeds and concern for the local community that the inhabitants of Wałbrzych have remembered her so warmly.

Interestingly enough, Hans Heinrich XV’s second marriage also ended in the break-up. The beautiful Klotylda seduced… Bolko, the son of Hans Heinrich XV and Daisy, who even beguiled a child with her. After divorcing his stepmother and lover, he took her for his wife, but soon afterwards he died in mysterious circumstances.

Apparently, at the end of his lifeHans Heinrich XV reconciled himself to Daisy. He died in 1938 in Paris. After his death, and also after three sons left Książ, Daisy stayed in the castle as the last representative of the family. Unfortunately, she was thrown out from there by the nazis in 1941 – one of the reasons for this was certainly that the English woman sent food parcels to the prisoners of concentration camps.

Suffering from multiple sclerosis, weak and lonely Daisy died in her house in Wałbrzych in 1943, the day after her 70th birthday. She was buried in her family mausoleum in the castle complex, but when Soviets entered the castle, they opened her coffin while looking for treasures. Faithful service transferred Daisy’s body to the Evangelical cemetery in Szczawienko, but in the 1980s the cementery was completely destroyed.

The guide of the Książ Castle, however, concluded the story of the valiant princess Daisa von Pless, that it is possible that the last people who remembered her also at that time took care of her remains, and now the duchess “looks at Książ from a nearby hill”.

German mysteries under the castle

As mentioned above, since 1941 Książ castle was in the hands of the nazis, and from 1943 its rapid and extensive expansion began. For years historians have been inclined to believe that Książ was to be another Hitler’s headquarters. But now this is being called into question, in favour of the theory that there was a huge weapon (maybe even nuclear), or that robbed goods were being stored there. We should remember that the Germans were convinced that after the war they would return to Lower Silesia.

What is certainly known about the German rebuilding of Książ:

  • In 1944, the number of workers amounted to as many as 3000. 35 architects worked in the chateau and nowadays there are no existing projects, plans or documents related to the construction.
  • From all over the Reich, huge amounts of concrete, cement, sand, steel, etc. were brought to Książ At the moment their remains are not visible, which means that everything that the Germans had built in 3.5 years was not discovered yet.
  • The building was supervised by Luftwaffe’s management, which had not previously taken place in any of Hitler’s quarters.
  • The work in the basement of Książ lasted until May 10, i. e. after the capitulation of Berlin.

Historians suspect that what was discovered in the castle so far is only a vestibule to the proper investment of Germans from the Second World War. What do the basements of Książ and its surroundings conceal? Let us hope that we will soon find out.

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