CHAPEL



Text by Grzegorz Madej
Translation by Patrycja Haftarczyk


The Tomb Chapel of the Sułkowski Dukes in the Castle in Bielsko-Biała – status for the year 2011
The Association for the Benefit of Renovation of the Castle Chapel in Bielsko-Biała
Museum in Bielsku-Białej
Bielsko-Biała 2011
A subject of this dissertation is the castle chapel in Bielsko-Biała, also called St. Anna’s Chapel. It is a least examined object of the castle complex. The research that has been done so far will be presented and analyzed in details in this dissertation.
Modern structure of the chapel created in 1855, is characterized by E. Chojecka as Neo-Romanesque style with some far echoes of Italian Romanticism. It is a one-nave building and the east and west elevation is seen as two-storey structure, where the lower part constitutes a high pedestal. The composition of elevation has three axis with framed divisions of walls, and with rectangular upper windows closed by semi-circular tops and divided by panels with Neo-Gothic tracery. Windows of the lower part are round. The whole structure is crowned by arcaded cornice. The east façade is higher, reaching in its foundation to the level of an observation terrace – old castle garden (Zwinger) – which is noticeably lower than the interior level of the chapel’s floor. In the middle axis of the west façade there is an entrance to the chapel from the ground level in a form of a passage resting on two Neo-Romanesque columns and crowned with a gabled roof which reaches the lower storey. The south façade has a character of a shallow, multistage flank niche with two two-storey slender pilasters crowned with small tympana. Centrally on the axis, there is a tondo of a window enclosed in a rectangular frame, crowned with an arch with a simple geometric decoration in a form of rustication. The south façade has a triangular top which transforms into a rectangular pedestal with a small round window, which is crowned by a small fleche with four Neo-Romanesque columns in the corners analogue to the columns of the passage. The are four widows on the tower, one of each side, which are crowned by double-arches (they are obscured with metal Venetian blinds from the inside), above which are small round windows, and the whole is closed with arches on top. The fleche is crowned by a conical roof with a flat bulb with cross. The roof of the chapel, tower, and the passage are currently covered with metal sheets.
The last private owners of the castle, the part of which is the chapel, were the Sulkowski Dukes of Sulim coat-of-arms (1752-1945). Characteristic feature of its structure is a strong layering which is a result of constant renovations and rebuildings of the object through centuries. According to the recent findings the stone castle on Bielsko’s hill was erected around the 14th century. It is written in the previous research materials that at the turn of the 16th century a hypothetic chapel could be situated in the old tower in the south-east corner (today’s Watchtower and Embrasure), an evidence of this theory is supposed to be an existence of a small risalit on the east wall of the castle. However, any written materials connected with the existence of the secret object such as a castle chapel we can find not before the second half of the 18th century, in the inventory of Bielsko’s goods, to be exact, written out on the 8th and 11th of July and signed on the 15th of August 1786, which was described and discussed by J. Polak. The document was prepared because of the inheritance of the entail including the castle by another heir of Aleksander Józef Sułkowski (1695-1762) – Aleksander II Antoni (1731-1786). His predecessor was August Kazimierz Sułkowski (1729-1786) who inherited the goods after his father, the creator of the magnitude of the family, and the first Sułkowskis fee tail in Bielsko established in 1752. After the inheritance, Aleksander II Antoni was the owner of the goods only until the 21st of September 1786 when he died suddenly in Vienna. We will come back to this figure in the context of a burial in the castle chapel. Another natural heir of the entail was the third brother Franciszek de Paula Sułkowski (1733-1812), who bound himself permanently with the castle in Bielsko (with a short break in the years 1792-1802) when he had to sell the palace in Włoszakowice in the Greater Poland, which was build on initiative of his Father. In this way Franciszek Sułkowski became a creator of Bielsko’s ducal line of the family, descendants of which live to this day scattered around the world. The line of the family connected with the primary ducal residence in Rydzyn died out in 1909 after the childless death of Antoni Stanisław Sułkowski. The residence was the second entail of the Sułkowskis family created by August Sułkowski in 1783, which was relinquished by Franciszek Sułkowski.
When was the castle chapel in Bielsko really erected? In the material of Ewa Chojecka as well as Maria Bicz-Suknarowska and Waldemar Komorowski we can find information that the present chapel was build to the structure of the castle in 1855 (the year when the chapel was finished) . Thus, the question is what is the object seen on the oldest lithographic vista of Bielsko, that is the so called panorama by Johanny, from 1801 , which presents a building with three windows visible on the left side of the castle, and which resembles the chapel from 1855 in a simplified form? E. Chjecka defines this object as having a possible sacred purpose. In the prevailing materials we can find this information about the chapel: A building with three windows on the east side, attached to the south side of the castle, it used to be situated in the place of the present chapel – we do not know its function. Further we read: The constructions book from 1810 enumerates the chapel, <>, which at that time had to be situated within the premises of the castle (not as a separate annex as it is in the present) and most probably on the ground-floor, as there is a mention of reparation of walls in a vaulted room above it. In some other materials we can find information about the chapel from 1855: It was erected (sic) in the memory of duke Ludwik’s wife Anna Baroness Dietrich, who died in 1853. Further: It was added (sic) to the east wing of the castle from the south, over a steep slope. All the thesis above, which assume that a new object was created from foundations, without taking into consideration previous objects, would be plausible if it were not for one small detail in the form of the inventory in which the castle chapel was the first room registered. Here we should pay attention to the significant objects, especially because of their size, which, as E. Chojecka emphasizes, show that the chapel itself had to be sizeable : one high altar presenting the Suffering Christ and a crucifix under a tabernacle between two gilded wooden columns; two side altars with pictures presenting Madonna in Sorrow [Mater Dolorosa] and Christ Crucified; a big painting with the Last Supper of Christ (we will come back to this object in the context of present décor); six pews with four cushioned; two carpets; fount; canopy for one altar and a wardrobe made of soft wood with three drawers and a level raiser. Could this objects be stored in one of the castle’s rooms? It seems unlikely. Moreover, there is one more detail in the inventory which seems to be very significant. After a long list of objects from the chapel there is a one more room mentioned, that is: oratorio (sic). This evidently is a reference to a probable attached room in the upper part of the chapel which was designed for the choir, if we take into consideration some objects enumerated (music stands), or something like a ducal patron box. It was probably the place which could be entered directly from the rooms on the first floor, thus most likely from the Blue Room. The question is how this place was constructed, was it wooden or bricked? Given that there was an oratorio in the chapel, it would explain the appearance of a repaired room above the chapel in the constructions book from 1810. It also allows to rule out the idea of the chapel being situated within the castle interiors, especially on the ground floor. Still, the alleged existence of the chapel (in 1810) within the castle can be explained by e.g. its temporary existence after the fire in 1808, maybe in the rooms were today we have the Castle Gallery – the Watchtower and Embrasure. In the first one there is a bricked passage to the present chapel, and it is said that a part of a gallery’s room functioned as a vestry. We can find some valuable information about the castle chapel in the publication Zamek w Bielsku. Zarys historyczny [The Castle in Bielsko. Historical Background]. From the preserved materials it is known that after the fire in 1808, during the reconstruction works on the castle, an object on the north side, that used to be a theatre established by Franciszek Sułkowski, was rebuild into an old brewery. However, a new building for the theatre was build in 1813 on the south side, near the existent castle chapel. In the insurance specifications for the castle from 1829 we can find an information about building (rebuilding?) of a so called old chapel in the south-east corner. Thus, taking into consideration some interpretations the thesis about the chapel being temporarily located within the castle becomes plausible. After another fire, which afflicted the town in 1836, the castle, the old chapel attached to it, and the theatre building were severely damaged (the latter two buildings were burned down entirely). After this fire, construction works were held in the years 1837 and 1838, and during those works, as it is written by B. Chorąży and P. Kenig, a new stable was to be build on the place of the old chapel. This assumption seems to be rather bold as it may be perceived as a desecration of a sacred place. These same authors remark further, in the text about the reconstructions of the castle in the years 1854-1864 when the St. Anna’s Chapel consecrated in 1855 was build in the place of the old chapel existing in 1836, that the old chapel already had its crypts. The confirmation of the assumptions of B. Chorąży and P. Kenig we can find in the insurance status from 1837, where there are no mentions of a chapel and theatre, but there are stables enumerated by the south wall (assumption of the author of this text). It is possible that what was left from the chapel after the last damages was not suitable for sacred purposes, thus it was adapted for the stables which were also burned during the fire.

The earliest, and so far the only description of the chapel’s furnishing we find in the already mentioned inventory from the 1786. We can assume as B. Chorąży and P. Kenig do, that the fires which afflicted the town in the years 1808 and 1836 stroke the castle from the side turned directly toward the burning town. Especially from the south, were the chapel was, so it suffered the most. Unfortunately, there are no remarks in the hitherto materials about the damages of the furnishing mentioned in the inventory from the 1786. The only thing that remained was the information about the reconstruction works in the 1810 after the fire in 1808 , as well as the insurance records from the years 1829 and 1837 . After the fire in 1836 the chapel probably fell into utter decline. The materials we have gathered so far say nothing about wall, vault, or floor decorations. Certainly they underwent some transformations, or a complete change at the time of the rebuilding in 1855. The works on the interior décor were, according to E. Chojecka, finished in 1856. However, there is still a question if the chapel was build from scratch or just rebuild on the remains of some older object? At present we see the chapel as a one-nave object with three-bay division and the groin-barrel vault on buttresses supported on pilasters. There is not much known about the décor from the 1856 accept the fact that in the inventory of the chapel in 1857 the style of its interior was described as “Byzantine”. Certainly it also underwent some changes, what became more vivid after the present vision of the chapel’s walls. Today we can see there layering of a few painting decorations. The last and at the same time the youngest decoration, which probably comes from the beginning of the 1970s, constitutes of plain surfaces, raw umber on the walls and faded rose on the ceiling. The whole is completed with back and brown stripe decoration with motifs of equal-armed silver crosses, which outlines the divisions of the vault’s surfaces with the rose tropics in the same colour. The same motif also outlines the divisions of surfaces in the lower part on the extensions of window alcoves as well as the arcade around the altar. The altar part was additionally decorated with rustic roughcast characteristic for the 1970s, and a strip of wooden paneling at the bottom part of the wall. However, under those decoration there are earlier paintings. The ones that rivet our attention are the fragments exposed in recent years, which present adoring angels, two pairs on opposite walls, near the recent main altar (the north wall). The best preserved piece is the pair of adoring angels with a boat and incensory, situated on the left side of the altar (the west wall). Another figures of individual angels playing the fanfare are visible next to the present choir stall. There is, on the present choir, and under an oculus, a visible half (left part) of a fresco which presents the Last Supper. On the vault by the south wall of the chapel, thus above the recent altar, there are exposed some fragments of a figure with a harp. The whole is supplemented with floral motifs of ivy garlands, thistle and acanthus leaves plaiting, and partially visible garland plaiting of lilies. The painting is formed freely, even expressively, and the figures make an impression of being roughly treated, more like a draft. The time of creation of this exposed paintings has to be examined, as it is not yet determined. Nevertheless, the question is if these are the remains of the Byzantine décor mentioned above? Although, at first glance the frescoes bring to mind the painting from the first tierce of the 20th century. Assuming that the altar was previously situated on the south wall the question is when the polychromies were created and when the chapel’s interior was changed? It seems that the present situation of the paintings is consistent with hitherto arrangement of the chapel. The gestures of both pairs of adoring angels are oriented towards the south – hence towards the previous altar. Two angels playing the fanfare strictly correspond with the situation of the choir. Only the Last Supper, located on the south wall, seems to be out of place, as we would rather see it on the altar. The chapel’s floor has two platforms which can also be an evidence of changes in its arrangement. One with two steps is situated on the north wall, and the second one with one step on the south wall under the choir – probably from the time of the previous location of the altar. In the work of E. Chojecka from 1957 we can read that during her research the altar was situated on the south wall (external) and the choir was on the north wall adjacent to the castle. The change was probably made at the beginning of the 1970s after the chapel was taken over by the Polish Catholic Church. Confirmation of this assumption is an oral description of the chapel’s interior from the years 1945-46 presented by the bishop Jan Szarek, who was then a ten-year-old boy living with his family on Podcienie St., and has seen the chapel right after the Soviet army had left the castle. He found the place demolished with a desecrated crypt (to which we will come back later), broken windows, and the floor covered with straw. The altar was situated on the south wall, and the choir was on the opposite north wall. The entrance on the choir led from the castle room on the first floor (Blue Room), and there was no entrance from the chapel. He describes the décor as buoyant, bright with figurative compositions, however, he is not able to compare it with the paintings that are exposed today. Now a few words about the Last Supper fresco, which is surprisingly connected with the inventory of the chapel from the 1786. There is, among important mobiles in that document, a remark about a sizeable picture presenting the Lord’s Last Supper. Probably this work was destroyed together with other elements of furnishing during the fire in 1808 or lastly in 1836. Was it on canvas or a wooden board? Or maybe it was a fresco – but then it would not be enumerated in the inventory. Are the fragments visible today a conscious continuation of an old décor? Is it possible that it existed in the memory of a client who ordered the later frescoes? Those questions are not yet answered.

Crypts are this part of the chapel, which requires a particular research. We base our current knowledge on the ground penetrations which were conducted at the beginning of 2004 using a ground-penetrating radar and a video probe. They gave us a general, inaccurate image of the crypts. So far we know about four chambers with four to five coffins situated in them. Those crypts were named: D, C, B, and A, and the crypt D is the first from the side of the last situation of the altar, that is from the north. Crypts’ walls are plastered to the basis of vaults which are mostly made of bricks and not plastered. Crypts D, C, and B and the coffins in them are situated on the east-west axis. The crypt A has an expanded form with one certain visible coffin by the west wall situated on the north-south axis. It is hard to determine the actual size of the chambers, however, the material show that the crypt A is the biggest. It is situated on the area of the old altar from the south side and it has a multi-element form. It is possible that is has a triple form of the letter “H”. Three other crypts seem to be of similar size and rectangular shape. Crypts D, C, and B have brick vaults of a gentle cradle shape. The crypt A has divisions visible on the film and an element of a lower brick partition, the meaning of which is so far hard to define. Maybe they are architectural relicts of a previous crypt? In the crypt A, above the coffin situated by the west wall on the north-south axis, there is a cradle vault visible supported, on one side, probably on a steel splint. This vault seems to be analogical to the ones in the crypts D, C, and B. In further parts of the western wall we observe a flat vault. It is suggested in the film that the crypt has some wooden buttress. Moreover, in the middle part there is a steel construction supporting the newest part of the vault, which probably is some later interference from the period after the 1945. It is possible that this was a place where was a stone slab, which closed an entrance to the crypt, and was destroyed after 1945. Bishop Jan Szarek says that Soviet soldiers left the castle at the end of 1945 or 1946. At that time he saw in the chapel a hole into the crypt on the right side from the entrance before an altar (the south side), stone slabs were put aside and two mummified corpses in black clothes were dragged on them. One of the bodies was a woman. The bodies were without fingers and one of them had a pipe tucked under arms which probably was used to take the body out of its coffin. According to bishop J. Szarek, when the Soviets left the castle, priest Karol Kasperlik who was a rector of the St. Nicolas’s Parish, tried to save the chapel from another vandal acts, boarding up the entrance. He had to do this a few times as it was not a big obstacle for burglars. The film that was mentioned before, also shows some holes in the vaults of other crypts, which can also be interpreted as the remains of other burglary attempts. If this hypothesis is true it had to happen after the time described by bishop J. Szarek, as he did not see other traces of profanation in the floor besides the crypt by the altar. The film shows that crypt D and C have holes in the vaults on the west side. The crypt B however has no traces of any kind of interference. The openings in the previous two crypt can be interpreted as technical entrances to the chambers if the burials were made from above. However, it is puzzling that there are piles of rubble and dust on the coffins underneath the openings. Are all the crypts from the same period and is the crypt A the oldest? Taking into consideration today’s appearance of the crypt, its distinct architecture as well as its situation near the presumed old altar, the question seems right. Is the crypt A a uniform creation or are its elements from different periods? Those questions can be answered only after further penetrating research. As it was said before there are a few coffins in the basement of the chapel. Coffins that are visible on the film in the crypts D, C, and A seems to bee made of some metal – tin? Their style is similar to the coffins of the Sułkowski dukes under the chancel of the parish church of St. Stanisław Bishop in Rydzyn, which can be dated back to the end of the 19th century. The ones in Bielsko do not have such decorated lids (at least on those we can see in the film). Decorations of the coffins in the crypts D and C focuse on developed Neo-Baroque form with an artistic cross on a lid. The most impressive is the coffin from the crypt C where we can see a realistic figure of Christ crucified and probable strip of decorations by the upper edge of the lid. In the crypt D a cross on a lid is loosened and askew what can mean that it might have been disturbed. The coffin is, in its bottom part (the side of legs), covered with rubble which probably came from the opening made by robbers. The coffin in the crypt C, with a most magnificent cross on a lid, seems to be untouched, however its bottom part is also covered with some rubble right under the robbery opening in the vault. The crypt B is a puzzle as there are no traces of robbery, but the film shows a disorder in it. We can see some black shapes scattered around which probably are slabs from some previous burials(?), among which we can see a wooden coffin with a damaged lid. In the breakage we can probably see a scull. Coffins in the three crypts are situated with bed-heads turned to east. In the crypt A there certainly is one full coffin situated by the west wall with a bed-head turned to the north, that is with a face to the old altar. This coffin is similar in its shape to the coffins from the crypts D and C, but a cross on a lid is simpler, without Neo-Baroque decorations on the ends of arms. It is also rather untouched. Next to this coffin, a little bit deeper into the crypt, the film shows a side edge of another object, which is a rubble under a place where hypothetically was the stone slab closing the entrance to the crypt. It is possible that under this rubble is another coffin, because there are metal edges visible among the debris, which look like fragments of a lid. This part of the crypt A is narrower and as if situated parallel to the crypts D, C, and B. Further parts of the crypt A are illegible, except a lower brick in a form of an L.
Here we should also mention characteristic niches with regular square intersections, the function of which is today indefinable. A first niche of this kind is in the middle of the southern wall in crypt C. There are no such things visible in the crypt D, however we can see two of them in the middle and four in the corners of south and north wall in the crypt B. In the crypt A we can also see such niches with loosen and partly removed brick material in the middle part, right under the place of previous situation of the manhole slab.

Whose remains hide the crypts of Bielsko’s castle chapel? At this point, without proper research, we cannot find full answers to this question. We grope trying to assemble all the facts, presumptions, and legends into one whole. So far the first mention of a burial in the chapel appears in the information about the death of Aleksander II Antoni. The third in the role owner of Bielsko died on the 21st of September 1786 in Vienna. In the work of G. Wurbst we can find information that the heart of Aleksander was brought to Bielsko in a silver urn on the 27th of November 1786 and buried in the castle chapel on the right side in a niche, behind the iron grating. The relic was put into the niche and blessed by Father Jan Szczyrba, a local dean and rector, and the keys to the grating were given to the local registry. The inventory from 1786 in all probability concerns the same chapel. His body was probably buried in Kottingbrunn in Austria, where his tombstone is embedded in a façade of a church. Franciszek Sułkowski bought the town and it was owned by the family in the years 1784-1787 (earlier in 1780 he also bought the Guttenbrun estate). The next member of the family who is supposed to be buried in the chapel is Jan Nepomucen Sułkowski, as it was stated in his will written in the Terezin stronghold. However, emperors authorities there did not allow for the movement and he was buried on the local cemetery in Terezin. Nevertheless, there is a question where Teodor Sułkowski (1726-1792) from the ducal line was buried, as he lived for some time with his cousins in the Bielsko’s castle (1780-1786), and then he moved to another town where he died. Another full of mysteries (which is common in Bielsko’s line of the Sułkowskis family) is a mentioning about a chapel in Mysłowice, which stands near a parish cemetery in Brzęczkowice on so called, Górka Słupecka. There is an annotation in Mysłowice’s register books under the dates 23rd and 26th of October 1811 about the death and burial (near the chapel) of three-year-old Ludwik Maksymilian Sułkowski, son of the duke Jan Sułkowski (it is Jan Nepomucen, who was called here the French duke). Then we find information about an exhumation and relocation of the baby’s corpse on the 1st of April 1837 on the nearby cemetery and about another relocation to the family’s residence in Bielsko. It should be said here that Jan Nepomucen was connected with the residence in Słupna because of his wife Ludwika Larisch from Osiek. The duke’s son Ludwik Maksymilian, as it is written by Kincel, was supposed to be born by the duchess’s maid and fathered by Jan, as it was supposed to happen with his two other descendants August (1808) and Karol Maksymilian Jan (1812). Various sources state that his children born by his wife were Ludwik (1814) and Maksymilian (1816), thou there are some speculations about the fatherhood of the latter. This kind of cases happened in the Sułkowskis family very often. The assumed relocation of Ludwik Maksymilian’s body to the family residence had taken place after the death of Jan, which happened in 1832 in the Terezin stronghold where he was imprisoned. So the question is who performed the relocation and where the boy’s remains buried in Bielsko’s castle? Maybe this fact should be connected with another record? Ludwika Sułkowska from the Larisch family was, after her tragic death in 1814, also buried in Słupna, where after many years some rumors appeared that her body was moved to the family grave in Bielsko by her son Ludwik, when he returned from America. It happened rather late, as it was after 1864, and the present castle chapel was build already in 1856. Was it really after 1864 when Ludwik moved the remains of Ludwik Maksymilian and his mother? Or maybe it was initiated by someone else and happened earlier? Maybe it was carried out by the management of the entail on Ludwik’s orders? As it is known that the patronage of the chapel was given to honor Ludwik’s wife Anna Elżbieta Franciszka von Dietrich, who died at the beginning of 1853, when Ludwik was on exile first by Lake Constance, and then in the north-American town New Bremen in Lewis county, in New York State (1849-1858 or 1860). It is possible that Ludwik showed up in Europe again at the end of 1858, as we can find him of the passengers’ list of Borussia ship from New York through Southampton, and Havre, to Hamburg. It is known that after his return from the U.S.A., he traveled around Europe. In 1860 he came back together with his second wife Maria Antonina Gemperle and five of their children born in the United States: Tayda (1853), Anna Antoinette (1854), Alfred Adolf Johan (1855), Alexander Edmund (1856). First he lived in Switzerland, then in Neumarktl (at present Tržič in Slovenia) until 1862, and after that in Feistritz am Wechsel, and finally, at the end of 1864, he settled in Bielsko. In the meantime, two other of his children, Stanisław (1862) and Paulina (1863), were born in Rorschach (Switzerland), and then other were born in Bielsko: Zygmunt (1864), Gabriela (1866), Edgar and Wanda (1868), and Wiktor (1870). As we can see, after his return from America Ludwik visited his estates inherited after his first wife Anna Dietrich, the Neuhaus castle in Neumarktl, and the Feistritz castle in Feistritz am Wechsel. Anna Sułkowska, whom chapel in Bielsko was devoted, had died in Vienna and probably was buried in tomb of family Dietrich, afterwards also Sułkowski's on Matzleinsdorfer Friedhof, just by the tomb of a composer Christoph Willibald von Gluck. In the work by E. Chojecka we can read that the chapel had a function of mausoleum of Ludwik’s recently died wife. Anna Elżbieta Franciszka Sułkowska was one of two daughters (her sister Wilhelma Józefa died when she was four) of a tycoon in Austria at that time, baron Józef Dietrich von Dietrichsberg (1780-1855) and Anna Clara Bela (or Bera). Józef Dietrich finished philosophy, but he devoted his life to the family business. His social status Dietrich achieved by transportation services during the Continental Blockade (1806-1812) and transportation of weaponry during the Napoleonic Wars. He was the owner of the family business called Commercial-Grosfuhrwesens-Geschäft, which after his father’s death was transformed into the Gebrüder Dietrich. The Dietrich family was awarded by the Empress Maria Teresa with the predicate “von Dietrichsberg” and the title of k. k. Artillerie-Wagenmeister – Artillery truck Inspector, for its merits for Austria. Thanks to his actions J. Dietrich achieved a transportation monopoly in the monarchy, what placed him among the wealthiest people in Austria. In a short time he became an owner of many castles and palaces in the area of the whole Habsburg’s monarchy. In 1815 Dietrich bought the Feistritz castle (Feistritz am Wechsel – Lower Austria), and in 1822 the Pankota castle (Pâncota – Transylvania), which after his death in 1855 were inherited by the duke Józef Maria Ludwik Sułkowski (1848-1920), his only grandson after his daughter Anna and Franciszek Sułkowski. There is an impressive Neo-Ghotic grave chapel on the graveyard in Feistritz, which was built in 1892 by Józef Maria Sułkowski in memory of his lover Luiza Vecseghy. At some point the couple was in the newspapers around the world. Coming back to the baron Dietrich, maybe he initiated an erection of a new chapel on Bielsko’s castle for his beloved daughter, or maybe he financed it? Continuing the elaboration about burials in Bielsko’s chapel we should mention the duke Ludwik Sułkowski, who was certainly buried in the chapel as there are articles about it from local papers from that time, where we can find an obituary and a description of the burial process between the 18th and 20th of February 1979. This fact is confirmed by an entry in death register in St. Nicolaus parish in Bielsko. The death of the duke on the 18th of February was announced from the early morning by continuous ringing of the chapel’s bell, and the castle was decorated with black flags. Duke’s death was a result of convulsions (epilepsy) that could be caused by his son’s Józef Maria Ludwik scandalous marriage to his sister’s governess. Duke’s earthly remains were displayed for the public on the 18th and 19th of February (Wednesday and Thursday). The funeral ceremony began of the 20th of February at 15.30 with a mass, and the coffin with the body was placed in the crypt in the chapel in Bielsko’s castle at about 18.00. Many people took part in the unusually ceremonial funeral procession. Apart from the family, there were representatives of local authorities, members of local aristocratic families, numerous clergy, government of Bielsko and Biała, representatives of local associations and corporations, veterans, numerous citizens of both sister towns and some of the duke’s clerks. In magazine Gwiazdka Cieszyńska were also written informations about burial in castle's chapel on 30th December 1913 of duke Alfred Sułkowski died on 26th December 1913 in Cracow's sanatorium. The same source informs also about burial in castle's chapel body of duke Aleksander Edward Sułkowski on 2nd September 1929, died after serious disease on 30 July 1929. The body of duke was resposed on bier surrounded by fir, due to his will. Funeral procession was lead by Rev. prelate Bulowski with assistance of six priests. On the funeral were participating aristocracy, authority representatives, delegations from districts and numerous crowds.

In written sources we can also find information that the last burial in the chapel took place in September 1940 and it was the burial of Maria Teresa Franciszka von Moser-Ebreichsdorf (08.01.1872 Vienna-17.09.1940 Bielsko), wife of the duke Alexander Edmund Sułkowski. Future research should allow us to determine if there are, among the coffins situated in the chapel’s crypts, remains of other members of the ducal family who died in Bielsko, such as Jan Nepomucen’s second wife Maria Antonia Gemperle (19.05.1832 Tübach-05.03.1870 Bielsko). It also seems to be necessary to determine the graves of other members of the Sułkowskis family from the Bielsko’s line, who are scattered around the world. In this case it can be hard to find the grave of Maksymialian Sułkowski, son of Jan Nepomucen, and Ludwika from Larisch, as well as Ludwik Sułkowski’s brother. Maksymilian Sułkowski fought on the barricades in Vienna in 1848 where he died on the 6th of October and could not count on a proper burial as an opponent of the monarchy. By the way, there is an information about this figure which does not appear in Polish sources. The duke Maksymilian Sułkowski traveled in the years 1841-45 around Columbia and Venezuela (written sources confirm his travels in 1841 and 1843), where he collected natural exhibits: birds, mammals, and insects. His greatest collection were 400 species of butterflies. Later the work on the collection was taken over by a Vienna’s entomologist Vincenz Kollar (1797-1860). The scientist was able to describe 38 species from the collection brought by Sułkowski, in which 20 were newly discovered. Results of this research was published in 1850 after Maksymilian Sułkowski’s death. In this work under the number 13 Kollar described Morpho Sulkowskyi, a new species named after its discoverer. There are no information about the burial of Maksymilian’s wife, Creole brought from Columbia, who died around 1846 in Słupna. As well as there are no information about a grave of the son of Maksymilian and the Creole, Maksymilian Jr. born in 1842/43 in Columbia, who died around 1850 in Słupna.
Unfortunately, the last owner of the castle in Bielsko Aleksander Maria Karol Ludwik Sułkowski was not buried in the chapel. His lot seems to be really tragic. The duke leaves the castle in 1945 as a result of the historic events at that time, and moves to Leoben (Styria) the hometown of his second wife Anna Mallinger, where he dies on the 27th of March 1956. He was buried on the local cemetery. The reason why he had to leave the family residence was the fact that during the World War II he signed the volksliste. He was given the fourth category, that is a person of Polish nationality, recognized as a racially valuable person, working for the benefit of the Third Reich. Then, after a prior effort, he was given on the 23rd of October 1941, the second category, that is a person declaring German nationality, using German language daily, cultivating German culture, not taking part in politics. To analyze this move we have to look deeper into the political situation of the town incorporated into the Third Reich. In the future, if someone should look into the duke’s life and his attitude during the World War II, they should take into account the whole truth about the German People’s List and the attitude of the Polish government on exile and the clergy. It has to be said that signing the list in the lands incorporated into the Third Reich was obligatory, unlike in the General Government where it had a totally different burden. It is also important to elucidate the attitude of the Polish Committee of National Liberation towards the volksliste and later amnesties which in a few steps also included people from the German People’s List. The will to recover the property confiscated by the German authorities on the 30th of March 1941, as well as the birth of the duke’s third child, and a first son – next heir of the regulations (dissolved by the German authorities on the 30th of March 1941) already during the War in 1940, seem to be essential facts which had an influence of the duke’s decision. We should remember that before the War Sułkowski was a Polish officer, and at the beginning of the 1920s he was a second lieutenant of the second regiment of chevau-légers stationing in Biała-Bielsko(sic). He resigned from the military service in 1929 already as a major, and then he was admitted to the Association of the Reserve Officers of the RP [Związek Oficerów Rezerwy RP], from which he did not resign in spite of the criticism of the German society. Similarly his brother Roman was a lieutenant in the second airborne regiment in Cracow. We can see a picture of the Sułkowskis brothers in Polish military uniforms, with Bielsko’s castle in the background, printed in “Światowid” in 1935.
The issues described in this essay about the castle’s chapel in Bielsko-Biała are to be used in the research planned in the future in this characteristic object and to restore its old character. The actions that were undertaken are also focused to pay the proper honour to the members of the Sułkowskis family buried in there, as the family became an integral part of the history of our city, region and vast areas connected with the old Austro-Hungarian monarchy. It should be said here, that in the second part of the 19th century, Bielsko’s line of the family ruled in: Bielsko; Vienna (their residence was in the old Matzleinsdorf castle, later called the Sułkowski Theatre); Brakoň, at present it is Gáň-Brakoň in Slovakia, but earlier this land was part of the Upper Hunagary; Neuhaus Palace in Tržič and Tresternitz in the are of the present Slovenia; Pâncota in Transylvania, today it is a part of Romania; Feistritz am Wechsel in Lower Austria with the Feistritz castle; and Gyönk in Hungary. Through the last 65 years the Sułkowskis family was forgotten by the contemporary inhabitants of Bielsko-Biała. There are some superficial articles from the turn of the 1980s, which describe the last Sułkowski in Bielsko, focusing on partial, negative evaluation of the man. The family’s great misfortune was the fact that they were perceived as Poles by the Germans, and as Germans on Polish lands. Now it seems to be needed to bring out all the complex meanders of their lives, with all their ups and downs. Today, deriving from the achievements of the last twenty years, it is expected from us to analyze the historic material about the members the Sułkowskis family, who lived on the borderland of Silesia and Galicia, rationally and without unnecessary emotions. Nowadays, it seems necessary to reject the national ideology in order to objectively characterize this family from Central Europe of typical, for an aristocracy, cosmopolitan character. Taking into consideration the facts that were discovered during works on this text, the previous pejorative attitude that presented the Sułkowskis family as only of German nationality, and having a character of wasteful life spendthrifts, seems to be devoid of scientific basis, ideologically consolidated through the last fifty years. As Kincel states, these opinions are mostly based on, the unfavorable to the family, German press. The same author also notices that it is important to analyze the Bielsko’s line of the Sułkowskis family and the attitudes of its male members through the prism of their wives, who certainly had a considerable influence on the family’s history. As Kościński writes, the wives could have an influence on seeing the family as “Germanized”. Thus, it should be asked what influence on Aleksander Maria Karol Ludwik Sułkowski had his last wife Anna Katarzyna Mallinger, who he married in 1936, and about whom J. Polak writes in his last article “Ostatni Sułkowski na Bielsku” [“Last Sułkowski in Bielsko”] that she was a firm follower of national socialists. Today, analyzing the family it should be remembered that Aleksander Maria Karol Ludwik Sułkowski, having the second category on the volksliste, was recognized by the Polish government as a German, and his property was confiscated by Poland by virtue of the law about the German property. The duke’s decisions made in 1939 had far-reaching consequences and came under this law, which is in force to this day and there is no appeal against this decision.
It is time to light a candle on the graves of those who ruled in the Bielsko’s castle through 193 years. The author of this text hopes that the castle chapel in Bielsko-Biała could be restored in a short time, what would allow the Museum to open it for the citizens and guests of our city.