I was doing a page about Poland’s seven wonders, and working on Marienburg Castle, when I found out a little about the four schools developed for elite Nazi military rank.
There were strict requirements for admission to the schools. Candidates had to be aged 25-30 and belong to the Nazi Party, Hitler Youth, Sturmabteilung or the Schutzstaffel, be physically 100% healthy and be pure-blooded with no hereditary defects.
The first three schools were typically stark, modern structures with extensive facilities. Vogelsang, for instance, reportedly contained the world’s largest gymnasium at the time. Each student attended all four institutions in sequence, for speciality training, finishing in Marienburg for training that included live-fire military exercises.
The three junior schools were for the education of political leaders. Their sites and individual focusses were:
Ordensburg Krössinsee, focussing on the racial philosophy of the new order, near Falkenburg.
The Prince of Wales/Edward VIII/Duke of Windsor at Krössinsee
Ordensburg Sonthofen, focussing on administrative and military tasks and diplomacy, in Allgäu, Bavaria, and
Ordensburg Vogelsang, focussing on character development and situated in Eifel, Rhine-Westphalia.
Willy Meller: Fackelträger (torch bearer) at the Sonnenwendplatz (solstice place), Vogelsang
IYou are the torch bearers of the nation; You carry on the light of the spirit in the fight for Adolf Hitler
Junkers (cadets) would spend a year at each school and after an hour’s exercise classes began at 07:00. Afternoons were focussed on sports and military training.
Relevance to our site?
Well, Marienburg in Prussia is now Malbork, Poland, and Falkenburg is today Złocieniec, Poland
The Ordensburgen today
Krössinsee is used by the Polish Army’s 2nd Battalion, 12th Tank Brigade
Sonthofen was acquired (from the US military) in 1956 and housed schools of the Bundeswehr (military police and staff service)
Vogelsang is open to the public and (after many years of military use) will house the administration of the Eiffel National Park, the visitor centre and an exhibition.
An Ordensburg was a fortress built by Livonian Brothers of the Sword, or later by Teutonic Knights to fortify territory against the pagan natives (!). Later they were built to defen agains the Commonwealth.
They were generally bigger than the castles the Knights built at home, and controlled larger areas – up to ten times.
We’ve already mentioned Ordensburg Marienburg – the magnificent Malbork Castle, and there are some pictures on our Seven Wonders page. But to just to add three more examples:
Ordensburg Königsberg, now Kaliningrad in the eponymous Russian Oblast
Ordensburg Gross-Roop, now Lielstraupe Castle in Latvia
Ordensburg Neidenburg, now Nidzica, Poland