An Ordensburg (plural in German: Ordensburgen) was a fortress built by crusading German military orders during the Middle Ages. "Ordensburg" was also used during Nazi Germany to refer to training schools for Nazi leaders.
The Ordensburgen were originally constructed by the Livonian Brothers of the Sword and later the Teutonic Knights to fortify territory in Prussia and Livonia against the pagan aboriginals. Later, Ordensburgen were used to defend against Poland and Lithuania. The Ordensburgen often resembled cloisters. While they were considerably larger than those in the Holy Roman Empire, they were much scarcer in the Monastic state of the Teutonic Knights. While a normal castle in the Reich would control about 38 km², a castle would control 370 km² in Prussia and 789 km² in Livonia, Courland and Estonia. The few small castles are considered to be of vassals, while the larger ones might have served as arsenals and strongholds against rebels and invaders.
Most Ordensburgen were rectangular, even quadratic in form, built from red brick and lacking a Bergfried. Many castles had no towers at all, as the bailey, a mighty quadrangle, was considered sufficient for defence.
NS-Ordensburgen (National Socialist Germany)
The term Ordensburg was later applied to four schools developed for elite Nazi military ranks. There were strict requirements for admission to the school. Junker candidates had to be aged between 25 and 30 years old, belong to either the Nazi Party, the Hitler Youth, the Sturmabteilung, or the Schutzstaffel, be physically completely healthy, and be pure-blooded with no hereditary defects.
The schools themselves 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 specialty training, finishing in Marienburg for training that included live-fire military exercises.
The three institutions for education of political leaders and their educational focuses were:
- Ordensburg Vogelsang in North Rhine-Westphalia
focus: racial philosophy of the new order;
- Ordensburg Sonthofen in Bavaria, Allgäu, built 1934;
focus: administrative and military tasks and diplomacy;
the facility was used by Germany's Bundeswehr until end of 2007.
- Ordensburg Krössinsee in Pomerania;
focus: development of character;
According to the training model the disciples had to spend one year at each castle in order to become familiar with each educational focus.
A fourth Ordensburg was planned at (the historic) Ordensburg Marienburg, in West Prussia, which was to be established at the medieval Malbork Castle
- List of castles in Estonia
- List of castles in Latvia
- List of castles in Lithuania
- List of castles in Poland
- Krahe, Friedrich-Wilhelm (2000) (in German). Burgen des deutschen Mittelalters. Grundriss-Lexikon. Flechsig. ISBN 3-88189-360-1.
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