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Pałac Gruszów - zdjęcie zrobione w maju 1945 r.

The village of Gruszów (Birkholz before the war) was probably founded between 1241 and 1350 during the great Germanic colonisation of Silesia.

The oldest source information about the village dates back to 1369. At that time Gruszów was one knight's property with the nearby Stefanowice. The first known owner of the village was Petsche von Reichenbach, who, according to an entry in the Landbuch of 21.II.1369, left the estate as a widow's property to his wife Katharina.


At the end of the 14th century the village belonged to Janek von Chotyenicz, who in 1393 sold it to the burghers of Świdnica, Nickel and Franck Tscheche. The historical chronicles are silent about the ownership in the following century - it is likely that the estate was at that time in the hands of the bourgeois families of the town of Świdnica.

Until 1511 Gruszów was owned by Jorge [George] von Czettritz, whose tombstone is embedded in the floor of the side altar in the church in neighbouring Śmiałowice.

In 1519, the owner of the estate (then spelled Bürgholtz) was Caspar Laßar zu Nimbke. In 1550, Gruszów (Birkholz) was owned by the knight Christoph von Temericz, to whom Stefanowice (Stäubchen) also belonged. From 1576, the knightly estate belonged to Ernst von Zedlitz of Wilkow (Wilkau), who became infamous in 1580 when "out of furious anger he stabbed a farmhand to death with a dagger". - for which he paid compensation of 200 thalers to the friends of the unfortunate man. In 1594 the owner of Gruszów was George von Seidlitz, in 1619 Hans von Schindel and after him George Christoph von Taubadel.

The 30-year war brought, as it did to all neighbouring villages, also the destruction of Gruszów. " Gruszów completely destroyed" is mentioned in 1641, but by then 4 houses had already been rebuilt. In 1642, one of the most important battles of the Thirty Years' War in Lower Silesia was fought near Gruszów - the so-called "Battle of Marcinowice and Szczepanów" (German: "Das Gefecht von Groß Merzdorf und Stephansheim").

The clash involved several thousand combatants, and the area in which the battle was fought covered the area between Gruszów, Marcinowice and up to Szczepanów.

Rycina „Eigentliche Abbildung des Treffens so zwischen der Königlichen Schwedischen eines theils, vnd Kaiserlichen auch Chur Sächsischen anders theils den 21 Maii 1642 bey Schweinitz vorgangen”, Theatrum Europaeum 1692, S.886 22x33cm

In 1652, another 5 houses rose from the ruins. At the end of the 17th century Gruszów belonged to Hans Ernst von Schweinichen. On 9 March 1684, von Schweinichen wanted to borrow 5,000 Rhine gold from the Świdnica Jesuits. As they did not have this sum available, he offered them the Birkholz estate for sale. On 16 April 1684, the estate, which lay in close proximity to other Jesuit properties, came into their possession for 2,400 Rhine gold or 2,000 Silesian thalers. However, the purchase transaction was not approved by the Royal Office in Jawor, probably out of concern that the monastic estate should not become too huge in the area.

The next known owners of the village were: in 1707 Bernhard von Czettriz from Boleścin (Pilzen), in 1733 Sophie Magdalena von Bredow, née von Sommerfeld.

During the Seven Years' War, Gruszów gained some historical significance. Two battalions camped near the village, and Gruszów itself briefly became the headquarters of the Austrian army. General Count Franz Leopold von Nádasdy stopped here on 13 October 1757, when the troops under his command besieged Świdnica, as illustrated in the coloured engraving.

In 1778 Gruszów was owned by Ernst Christian von Hohendorf (colonel and commandant of the Schweidnitz fortress), a year later by Charlotte Sophie von Hohendorf. At that time, the village had one farmstead, 15 homesteaders, 3 cottagers and 139 inhabitants.

In 1785, Johanne Magdalene Sophie von Stryk, from the house von Czettritz-Neuhaus, is mentioned as the owner of the village. In the following years, Mrs von Stryk remarried to Baron Johann Albrecht von Buddenbrock. This marriage produced five children, including Beate Johanne Caroline (1768-1840), who on 05 May 1790 married Gotthard von Dresky (1758-1832), to whom Upper Grodziszcze (Ober-Gräditz) and Mościsko (Nieder-Faulbrück) belonged. After the death of her mother, Beate Johanne Caroline von Dresky, she inherited the Gruszów estate on 06 December 1825. At that time, the knights' estate comprised 101 hectares of land.

The von Dresky family erected their aristocratic residence in Gruszów Palace around 1830, probably on the site of a historically older establishment, as indicated by the stonework used secondarily in the construction, the extensive foundations of the palace and the escape tunnel leading from the basement. We know from the descendants of the von Dresky family that the first residence erected burnt down between 1832 and 1840. However, it was quickly rebuilt after 1840 by Herman von Dresky (1806-1852). In Johann Georg Knie's inventory of villages and towns published in 1845, the family seat in Gruszów already appears as "herrschaftliches Schloss". Hermann von Dresky sells the estates of Grodziszcze Górne and Mościsko inherited from his father Gotthard for economic reasons.

Herman's wife, Auguste von Dresky (1813-1875), née von Nimptsch, stipulated in her will that the knight's estate in Gruszów was to pass to her first-born son Eugen von Dresky (1831-1892) for a fixed price of 80,000 Reichstalars. The estate summary, however, shows that Eugen von Dresky accepted a heavy legacy; his mother Auguste left her children an estate almost to the roof in debt. After the death of Eugen von Dresky, the Grušov estate was taken over by his eldest son Hermann von Dresky (1870-1943).

15 October 1900. Hermann von Dresky marries Baroness Johanne von Zedlitz und Leipe. The money from his wife's dowry allows for the extension of the palace, which was completed in 1903. The residence was converted into a representative palace building in the Neo-Renaissance style. For this purpose, the roof and wall dormer were demolished and the existing main building was raised by one storey. The final mansard hipped roof was lit by pointed dormers. In addition, a risalit with a gabled finial was erected on both long sides. In addition to the old external walls, a four-column portico was retained, on which a spacious terrace was built overlooking the park and garden, as well as a wooden veranda built on the eastern wall of the palace.

The newspaper Schlesisches Tageblatt, Schweidnitzer Stadtblatt describes 10 October 1903: "From the construction of the Birkholz palace. The reconstruction of the magnificent palace building in Birkholz is proceeding apace and is expected to be completed before the end of this year. The new palace - a truly magnificent building - has 20 rooms with all adjoining rooms in addition to 2 salons. As is well known, the building was designed by master mason Mr (Edward) Juppe".

After Herman von Dresky's death in 1943, the estate was inherited by his first son Gotthard von Dresky (1904-1971), who, as a qualified farmer until his displacement, took over the management himself.

Gruszów Palace was on the so-called Grundmann List, a list of places where Günther Grundmann, the Lower Silesian conservator, located the most important movable monuments, mainly from Wrocław, at the end of World War II: museum collections, church equipment but also private collections, mainly in Lower Silesian palaces. The Nazis feared air raids and the arrival of the Russians, and therefore, following instructions from the authorities in Berlin, collected information on works of art and cultural property to be secured for state institutions.

The art historian Grundmann provided depots in several towns, so that the collection would be dispersed and, in the worst case scenario, at least some of it would survive. On 2 May 1944, 100 crates containing the 'valuable prints' of the Breslau municipal library (Stadtbibliotek Breslau) were brought to Gruszow. Its holdings were deposited in two rooms on the ground floor of the building. From an official note by Prof. Hippe (then director of the Breslau city library), we learn that on 02 July 1944 a further 38 crates of 'valuable volumes' were transported to Gruszów Palace.

Until 1945 the village was called Birkholz, which in direct translation means "birch wood". According to the publication "Geographical Names of Silesia", the current Polish name is a possessive name from the Silesian surname Grusza or a topographic name from the word "pear". It is interesting to note that immediately after the end of the Second World War the village was called Gruszewo. To this day, many inhabitants use this old name when saying, for example: "I go to Gruszewo", "I live in Gruszewo". Today's Gruszewo was given its name on 9 December 1947, on the basis of a decree by the Ministers of Public Administration and Regained Territories.

"The children in the Gruszów Palace feel perfectly well". - we learn from a newspaper from 1946. Immediately after the end of the Second World War Gruszów Palace became a holiday destination. The first holidaymakers were small "colonists". At that time, the palace and the land belonging to it (130 hectares) were managed by the Union of Polish Teachers (ZNP), which organised the first summer camps here in 1946 for forty children from working-class families (mostly from the Counting and Clock Factory and the Union of Quarries). The colony centre was run at the time by the Workers' Society of the Friends of Children (RTPD), a socialist childcare organisation operating under that name until 1949.

From a note of the ZNP convention held on 24 October 1945, we learn: "The Board has applied from the Land Office for an estate [...] comprising 130 hectares of land and a fairly spacious palace [...] The biggest problem of developing the estate is the lack of grain for sifting. The management will do everything possible to obtain grain. To this end, it has made contact with the administrative authorities and the Soviet Military Command".
After 1945, the palace was the property of the State Land Fund, the owner of the Gruszów Palace estate was, until it was dissolved, Kombinat Państwowych Gospodarstw Rolnych Świdnica. After the war, the farm buildings were used by the Agricultural Production Cooperative. In the 1970s the palace was inhabited, meetings, parties and weddings were held here. There was even a grocery shop on the ground floor of the building for many years.

By the decision of the provincial conservation officer of 08 November 1980, both the palace and the adjacent park were entered in the register of monuments. In addition, the Evangelical cemetery; the palace outbuilding/manager's building in the palace complex (no. 10); residential houses and outbuildings in the complex (no. 22), among others, are included in the register of monuments.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, it was handed over to a private owner by the then Wałbrzych Voivodship authorities as compensation for property left behind in the east. An investor from Belgium became the next owner of the building. During this time, work was carried out to protect the building from further deterioration, the roof was sealed and partially repositioned. Thanks to these measures and the supervision of the building, the building survived until 2006, when it was bought by the current owners.

The palace before renovation in 2006
The palace before renovation in 2006
The palace before renovation in 2006

Clean-up work began immediately. The site and the building were cleaned up. After obtaining the relevant building and conservation permits, the first stage of the renovation included the roof, replacing the window frames and building a fence. After this most important work for the preservation of the site and the building, the years-long restoration of the palace began. The main focus was on the restoration of the existing façade elements, the restoration of the historic wall and ceiling panelling, the stucco ceilings, the historic tiled cookers, the sandstone fireplace, the spacious wooden staircase and the interlocking staircase leading to the basement, which once housed the palace kitchen. All the work took almost nine years. It was possible to recreate the atmosphere of the residence at the end of the 19th century, thanks to antiques, paintings and stylised furniture, among other things.

Gruszów Palace is a rectangular-plan building, built of brick and plaster, with a basement and two storeys. It has two storeys separated by a profiled inter-storey cornice, a flat crowning cornice and a mansard roof with dormers. The entrance to the palace, facing the park, is a magnificent portico supported by four Doric columns carrying a terrace. The building as a whole has the uniform character of a reconstruction carried out at the beginning of the 20th century.

Palac Gruszów / Schloss Birkholz
Gruszów Palace 1930s
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