The village of Harsz and its colourful history
The village of Harsz is located in the northern part of the Masurian Lake District, on the way between two bigger towns, Giżycko and Węgorzewo. Picturesque Harsz was established in 1550. Its characteristic old, irregular building development perfectly blends into the slightly hilly terrain, surrounded by forests.
In the past, Harsz was a royal village. In 1858 it covered the area of 79 wloka (units of land from old Polish) and 15 acres and it had 685 inhabitants. In 1938 this number increased to 811. The official name of the village was Haarszen but the spelling was changed to Haarschen in 1938.
The village is located by Harsz lake within the zone of silence. On the lake bank there is an information board describing the history of the village:
“”The founder of the village, called Skarsaw at that time (1550), was Marcin Gut from the village of Świder. It covered 80 włóka (the old-Polish unit of land). In the year 1600 the village was inhabited by 48 peasants and 10 crafters. However, in 1710 the plague was to kill 311 people, taking away almost the whole village. It was believed that the Black Death was caused by evil powers. In order to fight them, you were supposed to search the dead to find a phantom eating its own body. The next step was to cut off its head, place it under the phantom’s arm and bury the body. This method was applied frequently, which only made the spread of the illness worse.”
During the World War I, there was an expatriation camp in Harsz. The fact that mainly German people were settled in the area, contributed to the germanisation process of the nearby Masurians. Moreover, Russian acts of war almost completely destroyed the whole village. The Russians burned down churches and houses, which had all been made of wood. After the war, the Germans, who won the plebiscite held on these lands, organized a strong action of germanisation. They gave away land for free and built farms, which have resulted in the harmony and coherence of the Harsz landscape.
The major attraction of the village is a large number of stork nests, whose residents have taken a particular liking to this area.
The rich history of the Masurian Lake District and the village of Harsz has greatly contributed to the hospitality of local people. Everybody can find here their own piece of paradise on Earth.