Neuwedell, today Drawno, still keeps its old town crest: the von Wedel family crest, the black wheel on yellow, and a white bird that has undergone some changes over the centuries. A new research suggests it originally was a white swan, the symbol of County Stormarn near Hamburg, where the Wedel family originated from.
An etching by Matthäus Merian, around 1650. One of the earliest and certainly historically and topographically pretty correct view of the town.
Neuwedell/Drawno today. (Photos by Juliane Heuermann, 2006)
Neuwedell was founded by seven brothers of the von Wedel family in the early 14th century, first mentioned in 1313, when the brothers started to erect their stronghold on a hilly pensinsula of Lake Düpsee. Rapidly the town started to grow around the Wedel castle. Town and Castle went through many border wars between Pommerania, Brandenburg and Poland during the next centuries. On 4 July 1592 a devastating fire destroyed the town, church and the castle. The von Wedel family encouraged the rebuilding of the town and the church, at the expense of the castle, which took the longest time to rebuild. Still, the Castle looks in good and impressive shape in Merian´s view of the town.
In 1690 another devastating fire destroyed the church and large parts of the town again. Again the von Wedel family encouraged and helped finance the rebuilding process, and ceased work on the castle.
At last, during the Seven Years War in 1758 the approaching Russian army destroyed the town and the Wedel Castle for good.
The Wedel family never rebuilt the castle but retired to outlying smaller estates, now villages near Neuwedell/Drawno: Schlossgut, Brückgut and Grossgut. Their last property, Grossgut, they had to leave for good in 1945. The castle remained a ruin, quite unchanged since 1758 until today.
In 2006, a group of von Wedel family members visited Neuwedell and the ruin and were guided around by the Polish historian Grzegorz Brzustowicz, who wrote a profound book about the town´s history and is still involved in keeping the town´s history alive.
Grzegorz Brzustewicz on the right.
He even brought recently unearthed pieces of 17th century pottery, found at the ruin, probably parts of elaborate old ovens in the castle.
The town´s magistrate began to decorate all road signs with the town´s historic crest. Photo by Lorenz von Wedel, 2006.
At the same time they built a state-of-the-art movie theater and named it after the old founders of the town: Wedel. This obviously delights this member of the von Wedel family! Photo by Irene Kehlert.
The church before 1945.
The church in 2005.
Inside the church before 1945.
Part of the altar in 2006.
Not much of the old church interior has survived, but this memorial with the names of the sons of the town who died in WW I is still there and respected.