|Gmina||Tczew (urban municipality)|
|• Mayor||Mirosław Pobłocki|
|• Total||22.26 km2 (8.59 sq mi)|
|Elevation||25 m (82 ft)|
|• Density||2,700/km2 (7,000/sq mi)|
|Time zone||UTC+1 (CET)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC+2 (CEST)|
|Area code(s)||+48 58|
Tczew ([tt͡ʂɛf] (listen), Kashubian: Dërszewò, German: Dirschau (help·info)) is a city on the Vistula River in Eastern Pomerania, Kociewie, northern Poland with 60,279 inhabitants (June 2009). The city is known for its Old Town and the Vistula Bridge, or Bridge of Tczew, which played a key role in the Invasion of Poland during World War II.
It has been the capital of Tczew County in the Pomeranian Voivodeship since 1999, and was previously a town in Gdańsk Voivodeship (1975–1998). It is also the largest town of the ethnocultural region of Kociewie.
The city is the location for the annual English Language Camp arranged by the American-Polish Partnership for Tczew.
Tczew is located on the west bank of river Vistula, approximately 30 kilometres (19 miles) south of Gdańsk Bay at the Baltic Sea and 35 kilometres (22 miles) south-east of Gdańsk.
Tczew (Trsow, Dersowe, ‘weaver's town’) was first mentioned as Trsow in a document by Pomeranian Duke Grzymisław bestowing the land to the Knights Hospitaller in 1198. Around 1200 Sambor I, Duke of Pomerania, built a fortress here. In some documents, the name Derszewo appears, which stems from the name of a feudal lord, Dersław. It is unknown whether Trsow and Derszewo referred to the same or two neighboring settlements. In order to obtain better control of traffic on the Vistula, Pomeranian Duke Sambor II moved his residence form Lubiszewo Tczewskie to Tczew. By 1252 the settlement was known by the names Tczew and Dirschau.
In 1258 a city council was created and in 1260 Tczew was granted town rights. It is the only case in Poland for a city council to be established before granting city rights. Craft and trade developed, there was a port on the Vistula and a mint. Duke Mestwin II in 1289 brought the Dominican Order to the city. It was part of Poland until 1308. Following the Treaty of Soldin in 1309, Tczew was purchased from Brandenburg by Heinrich von Plötzke of the Teutonic Knights, despite the fact that the initial claims to the region by Brandenburg were of dubious legality. The townspeople were expelled by the Teutonic Knights and the town's organization ceased to exist for more than half a century. It was rebuilt from 1364 to 1384, and was granted Kulm law by Winrich von Kniprode. After the Polish victory in the Battle of Grunwald in 1410, the town was briefly recaptured by Poland. In 1434 the town was burnt down by the Hussites. In 1440 the town joined the Prussian Confederation, opposing Teutonic Order's rule. In 1457, during the Thirteen Years’ War, Bohemian mercenaries on the Order's service sold Tczew to Poland in lieu of indemnities. The Second Peace of Thorn (1466) confirmed the reincorporation of Tczew to Poland. It became a county seat within the Pomeranian Voivodeship in the newly created Polish province of Royal Prussia, soon also part of the Greater Poland Province of the Polish Crown.
During the Protestant Reformation most of the town's inhabitants converted to Lutheranism. In 1626, it was occupied by king Gustav II Adolf of Sweden, who built a pontoon bridge across river Vistula and who had his camp at the southern side of the town. After the war Tczew was visited twice by Polish King Władysław IV Vasa, in 1634/1635 and 1636. Although it was rebuilt, it then suffered during the Polish-Swedish Wars. In a nearby battle on 2 September 1657, the Poles were defeated by the combined troops of Brandenburg and Sweden under general Josias II, Count of Waldeck-Wildungen.
The region was annexed from the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth by the Kingdom of Prussia during the First Partition of Poland in 1772. Tczew, as Dirschau, became part of the newly founded Province of West Prussia. During the Napoleonic Wars and the Polish national liberation fights the town was captured by Polish troops of General Jan Henryk Dąbrowski in 1807, but became Prussian again in 1815. In 1818 Prussians closed down the Dominican monastery.
With the Unification of Germany, the town became part of the German Empire in 1871 and from 1887 was the capital of the Dirschau district in the Province of West Prussia. The town grew rapidly during the 19th century after the opening of the Prussian Eastern Railway line connecting Berlin and Königsberg, with the Vistula bridge near Dirschau being an important part.
Under Prussian and German rule, the Polish population suffered from forced Germanization; for example Poles were denied Polish schools, and refused to teach their children German. The German official Heinrich Mettenmeyer wrote that German-appointed teachers were treated with the highest disdain by Polish children and their parents. The town remained a center of Polish resistance, and Poles established various organizations, including the Bank Ludowy ("People's Bank"). According to the census of 1910, Dirschau had a population of 16,894, of which 15,492 (91.7%) were Germans and 1,397 (8.3%) were Poles.
After Poland regained independence in 1918, local Poles formed the People's Council in preparation for reintegration with Poland. After World War I as a consequence of the Treaty of Versailles, Tczew became part of the so-called Polish Corridor and was incorporated into the re-established Polish state. The official handover happened on January 10, 1920 and on January 30, Polish General Józef Haller arrived in the town with his troops. The town became a center of cultural activities of the German minority in Poland, a German-language school and a theater was founded. The regional member of the Polish Parliament represented the German minority. In this period, the proportion of Germans in the town decreased drastically from over 90% in 1910 to around 9% in 1939. In 1921, Tczew had a population of 16,250, of which 4,600 (28.3%) were Germans.
During the Interwar period, Tczew was famous for its maritime academy (Szkoła Morska) which later moved to Gdynia.
According to the city's website, Tczew was the location of the start of World War II when German bombers attacked Polish sapper installations to prevent the bridges from being blown up at 04:34 on 1 September 1939 (the shelling of Westerplatte commenced at 04:45). The Germans sent two trains with soldiers to capture the bridges, disguised as freight trains, but thanks to Polish railroaders at Szymankowo, they came late, losing surprise factor, and the bridges were blown up after 6 am that day.
During the German occupation of Poland (1939–45) Tczew, as Dirschau, was annexed into Reichsgau Danzig-West Prussia of the administrative district of Regierungsbezirk Danzig of Germany's Third Reich. The Polish population was subjected to mass arrests, repressions, expulsions and murder. The SS-Heimwehr-Sturmbann Götze entered the town in September 1939 to carry out actions against Poles, including mass arrests with the help of local Germans organized in the Selbstschutz, who denounced local Polish activists. The Germans imprisoned hundreds of Poles in camps established in a former factory (present-day museum), in a craft school and in military barracks. In November 1939, Germans carried out executions of numerous Poles from Tczew, including local teachers, officials (including pre-war mayor Karol Hempel,) craftsmen, a policeman, and even a seventeen-year-old student. Catholic priests from Pelplin, who were not murdered in Pelplin, were imprisoned in the Tczew barracks and then murdered in the Szpęgawski Forest. In January 1940, the SS and Selbstschutz carried out two public executions of 33 Polish residents, including railway employees, officials, craftsmen and merchants, at the market square. Also Poles from Starogard and Tuchola counties, who refused to sign the Volksliste, were imprisoned in Tczew and then murdered in a nearby forest. From 1939 to 1941, the Einsatzgruppe operated a penal forced labour camp in the town.
In 1941, the Germans created a transition camp for Poles expelled from the region in a local factory (present-day museum). People were held there for several weeks, and then expelled to the General Government. Hundreds of Polish inhabitants of Tczew were expelled in 1940 and 1941. Some inhabitants were also deported to forced labour to Germany. In 1943, local Poles managed to save some kidnapped Polish children from the Zamość region, by buying them from the Germans at the local train station.
After World War II the town, was one of the most damaged cities of Gdańsk Pomerania. Virtually none of its remaining factories were capable of production. There had been considerable loss of population down to around 18-20 thousand people. Shortly before the end of World War II it was occupied by the Soviet Army. After the end of war the town became part of People's Republic of Poland and renamed Tczew again. German residents were dispossessed and expelled; Polish residents took the first effort of reconstruction, and revitalization.
In 1984 the Museum of the Vistula River, a branch of the National Maritime Museum in Gdańsk, was opened in the building of the pre-war metal products factory, in which during World War II Germans operated a transit camp for Poles expelled from the region.
Currently, there are several companies in the electrical industry and machine building.
January 30, i.e. the date of Tczew's return to Poland after the partition period, is celebrated as Tczew Day.
Note that the above table is based on primary sources which may be biased:
The coat of arms of Tczew depicts a red griffin in honor of Duke Sambor II, who granted the town municipal rights in 1260.
It is an important railway junction with a classification yard.
The two most notable sports clubs of the town are Unia Tczew (football and rowing) and Wisła Tczew (football and boxing).
For the last 19 years, the town has been the host location for the annual English Language Camp. The camp, often nicknamed "Camp Tczew" is hosted by the American-Polish Partnership for Tczew and offers students a three-week program where they have the opportunity to interact with Americans and improve their English.
Tczew is twinned with: