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ROYAL HOTEL ****     Szpitalna 93, 05-160 Modlin
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History of the Modlin fortress

The location of the ROYAL Hotel in the area of the Modlin Fortress, is truly exceptional from the point of view of European history. The Office of the Conservation of Historical Monuments has classed it as a historical building .

The Modlin Fortress is one of the most famous military structures in Poland. It is a unique example of architecture used in national defence, the largest of its type in Poland and one of the largest in Europe.
Carl X Gustav appreciated the military and geographical advantages of Modlin, and in 1655-56 set up the main base for the Swedish army from where campaigns were led into the very heart of Poland were conducted. During this period initial attempts were also made to fortify Modlin. At the instructions of the Swedish king an army camp was set up in the region of Nowy Dwór and the island lying at the point where the Vistula and Narwia rivers cross was fortified.
This period initial attempts were also made to fortify Modlin. On the Swedish king’s instructions an army camp was set up in the region of Nowy Dwór at that time and the island lying at the point where the Vistula rive and Narwa cross was fortified(which has long since disappeared).
It was the emperor Napoleon I who took the initial decision to build the Modlin fortress in Poznań in December 1806. The Franco-Prussian-Russian war was being fought at that time (1806-1807). The plans for the fortress were commenced in spring 1807 and the author of the concept to build reinforcements was a French engineer, general François de Chasseloup-Laubat. Mid 1811 6000 infantry soldiers, 702 sappers and artillery fighters, 10 000 volunteer peasants, 815 carpenters and lumberjacks and 300 stone masons carried out the building work. Warsaw brick-yards supplied bricks and wood was used from the surrounding forests. The government of the Grand Duchy of Warsaw bore the costs of the erection of the fortification. To finance this in 1809 it was decided to introduce personal tax .
In 1813 the fortress was besieged by a Russian army of 12 000 soldiers, initially by general Iwan Paskiewicz, and later by general Andrej Kleinmüchel. A garrison of Polish and French soldiers and soldiers from Wurtemburg and Saxony – 5230 soldiers in total. Finally the fortress surrendered on 1 December 1813 after a siege lasting 10 months. However, it’s worth noting that it was not conquered by an attack. Modlin did not surrender until after Napoleon’s defeat at Lipsk and his retreat after Ren, when there was no longer any point in defence.
Members of the insurgent government including Adam Czartoryski stayed in the fortress. The president of the government Bonawentura Niemojewski summoned a council of war there, which took place in the living quarters of the commanding officer of the fortress. Members of the Insurgent parliament also came to the fortress with Marshall Władysław Ostrowski and activists of the Patriots Association with Joachim Lelewel at the forefront. Mid September 1831 Poland had two capital cities and two governments. Russians were resident in Warsaw with the new “Grand Duke of Warsaw” Iwan Paskiewicz and the government of Fiodor Engel, and the National Government was situated in Modlin and the surrounding area and the commander in chief general Maciej Rybiński. A Polish garrison of 7000 soldiers defended the Modlin fortress with commander in chief general Ignacy Ledóchowski at the head, who capitulated without putting up a fight on 8 October 1831 after 14 days blockade. The capitulation document was handed to the leader of the Russian guards W. Ks. Michałowi (brother of tsar Nicholas I ).
The Russians were aware of the ideal location of the Modlin fortress and intended to expand it, which is confirmed in the letter by tsar Nicholas I to field marshall Iwan F. Paskiewicz: “There is no doubt that Modlin should be converted into a fortress of the highest class, for a main […] base and we will go about this as soon as possible”. (Letter from tsar Nicholas I from Petersburg, 22 XII 1831). Tsar Nicholas I himself visited the modernised fortress on occasions, including in September 1833 and November 1834. That same year Modlin was given a new name – that of the “highest” Russian patron – St. George. From then on, the Russians referred to it as the fortress of St. George. Despite the fact that Petersburg at that time did not have a rail link with Warsaw, the Russian tsar came to Modlin by horse-drawn carriage. These were long and tiring journeys, but during his reign Nicolas I (lived 1796-1855) visited Modlin on no less than on 17 occasions. There was an exceptional visit in 1838 when Nicolas I met with the Austrian Archduke Ferdynand (1781-1850)in Modlin, the governor of Galicia. In turn, in 1843 Nicolas I met with the Prussian king Frederick Wilhelmem IV in Modlin, in 1845 with Prince Emil ofHesse, and in 1850 with the Austrian emperor Franz Joseph I, the Prussian Prince and princess and countless Prussian princes. The Modlin fortress was the “beloved child” of Nicholas I, as he had built it and boasted about it in Europe. During the tsar’s visits luxurious furnishings from the Royal Castle and Palace in the Łazienki Royal Park were transported to his rooms in the fortress .
The successor to the throne Alexander II (reigned 1855-1881) did not have such emotional ties with Modlin and other fortresses in the Kingdom as his father. His successor – tsar Alexander III visited the Modlin fortress only once, in 1884 with his son – the Grand Duke Mikołajewicz Aleksandrowicz – the future tsar Nicholas II. The last Russian tsar – Nicholas II visited the fortress in 1897 and gave the orthodox council in Modlin an icon of ST. Joseph.
Over the course of many years the Russians repeatedly expanded the fortress. To do this they made use of the elaborations of the outstanding Polish strategist and hero of the November uprising, general Ignacy Prądzyński . Toward the end of the XIX century Modlin had 1746 shelter structures and was equipped with 794 divisions. In peacetime the garrison had 12 000 soldiers. From 1853 the fortress used the optical telegraph, and from 1877 electric telegraph to communicate with Warsaw. From 1885 there was a telephone line between Modlin and Warsaw.
On the eve of World War I the Modlin fortress was the strongest in Europe. After the out break of war the German army under the command of general Hans Beseler numbering 80 000 men attacked the fortress on 9 August 1915 . A Russian garrison of 105 000 soldiers defended it and over 1000 divisions, which capitulated after 10 days of siege. The main cause of the Russian defeat was the soldiers poor morale and lack of coordination between particular divisions of the tsar . 3000 soldiers lost their lives defending the fortress, 7000 wree wounded, and the Germans took 80 000 prisoners of war. The fortress took 34 600 shells in total. As a reward for conquest of Modlin, general. Besler was awarded the Iron Cross and became governor general of the part of the Polish kingdom occupied by the Germans. On 15 September 1815 the Wilhelm II, the German emperor came to Modlin with field Marshall Paul von Hindenburg and general Erich Ludendorff. The emperor was present at a military parade and visited the fortified building.
After Poland regained independence in 1918 the fortress it has a Polish staff. It was an important point of defence during the war between Poland and the bolsheviks, and the 5th army of general Władysław Sikorski also operated during the battle of Warsaw in 1920 in the region of Modlin. It occupied the stretch from East Prussia to the Modlin fortress and was to defend itself on the banks of Narwia and Orzyc. Its task was to foil all attempts of the enemy to get through the defence lines of the army and for the cavalry to be active on the right wing of the Russian arms of the Western Front.
In autumn 1919 a Cadet Corps no.2 was formed in Modlin , namely a school preparing young officer staff. Mid 1926 the corps was transferred to Chełmno and up to that time 307 graduates of the corps left Modlin. Polish War Marine staff was also organized in the fortress. Tens of marines in 1919 besieged the war port together with the parados. From August 1920 the process of expanding the Vistula Flotilla began, which at the end of that year had 39 officers and 408 marines. Five years later the Flotilla was disbanded. The port workshops were transformed into the Modlin shipyard which built bridges, pontoons and gangplanks for the floating supply column of the sapper soldiers. After the technical expansion at the beginning of the thirties the shipyard also built patrol motorboats. The Modlin shipyard also built two sea trawlers “Czajka” and “Rybitwa”. After the outbreak of World War II the second ship took part in fighting against the Germans and after Hel capitulated on 2 October 1939 “Rybitwa” it came into Nazi hands. After the war it was found by the Polish Sea Mission and operated until it was scrapped in 1972.
In 1929 the Modlinie Sappers Training Centre was established which was connected with the Sappers Training Battalion and the Rail Sappers Training Battalion. The Training in Tanks and Armoured Vehicles (Armoured Defence Centre) was also established in the fortress.
In June 1928 the president of the Polish Republic Ignacy Mościcki visited the I sappers Battalion. Marshall Józef Piłsudski also stayed in Modlin on several occasions.
When on 1 September 1939 the German army invaded Poland commencing the II Word war the fortress in Modlin was one of the last points of Poland’s resistance. Despite the mass attacks from land and air the Polish divisions in Modlin continued their defence up to 29 September 1939, that is, a day longer than Warsaw. Then the actual leader of the fortress gen. Wiktor Thommée signed the conditions of capitulation. The soldiers defending Modlin bravely fought against the Germans for 18 days. Over 2000 Polish soldiers lost their lives defending the fortress. During the Nazi occupation the Germans organized a Centre for training those recruited to the Wehrmacht, hospital, transitional camp and concentration camp in Pomiechówek. In January 1945 the Soviet army entered Modlin. Later the Polish army took over this area and for many years made use of the fortress. As early as the Word War II the Germans started up a field air port, which was also used after the war to train Polish pilots. From 1967 to 1974 there was a Logistics Training Centre in Modlin. Some of the buildings of the fortress are still used by the Polish Army’
Scenes from the film by Jerzy Hoffman „Bitwa Warszawska 1920 3D” were shot in the Modlin fortress. Earlier these fortifications were used from such films as „C.K. Dezerterzy”, „Kiler”, „Pan Tadeusz”, „Avalon”, „Jutro idziemy do kina”, and the serial „Czas honoru”.

Historical information about the Fortress was compiled by Przemysław Gasztold-Seń, an employee of the National Remembrance in Warsaw.
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