The building at Sobieski Street was built in 1907–1908 for the purpose of the court, prison and flat of judges. The architecture of the building has been adapted to the Gothic style prevailing in Gniew. The object has been designed by the local architect, Arthur Schultz, and it was built by the Gniew construction company of Erich Obuch.
The judicial system in Gniew is worth mentioning here. In Teutonic times, the principles that governed the judiciary system were determined by the Order and written in the provisions of the Chełmno law. The function of the judge was exercised by the mayor, who along with the councillors and town councillors, selected from among the townspeople, jointly created the courts. Their task was to “rule the judgment”, that is, with the help of witnesses or using other methods, assess the facts, while the role of the judge was to “perform justice”. In addition to the judge and jurors, the court also included the city scribe and the representative of the Order.
At the Polish times, the governor was a decisive person. The crimes were punished with the death penalty, mutilation or corporal punishment without injury, and they were also used when it was impossible to pay off the previous fine penalty due to the lack of funds.
In the years of 1561–1615 the book called the “Bloody Register” was conducted in Gniew, containing the list of murders and punishments using tortures. Thanks to this document we have a picture of the course of the court hearings from that times. If the accused during “the arbitration hearing” did not admit to the alleged act, then “he was interrogated using tortures”, while it is worth paying attention to the fact that at that times greater attention was paid to the testimony, which was extracted from the accused during the tortures, rather than to those from the arbitration hearing. Therefore, it often happened that during tortures, the interrogated confessed to the crimes, which they have never committed.
The book has also described the witch trials, who in their testimonies confessed to maintaining relations with Satan and to possessing people and animals using spells and magic ointments.
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Urząd Miasta i Gminy Gniew
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