History of Ilawa (Ger. Deutsch-Eylau) starts in 1305. That year komtur of Teutonic Order from Dzierzgon (Ger. Christburg) Sieghond von Schwarzburg founded on the peninsula of Jeziorak Lake, in the place of old-Prussian settlement, a new village and granted it city laws. In 1317 the city law was renewed. In the oldest documents city is called Ylavia (1317), Ilow themtonicalis (1421), Deutschen Ylaw (1404) and Ylow (1437). The city contained an office of Teutonic Order's official - a deputy of komtur of Dzierzgon. In 1363-1363 the city suffered from a plague, which stopped the city's growth.
In the uprising in 14545 Ilawians were on the side of Prussian Union, goal of which was to make Prussia a part of Poland. After lost battle at Chojnice, Ilawa became a part of Teutonic Order state. As a result of the Thirteen Years War 1454-1466, Ilawa was for some time within borders of feud of Poland. In 1513 the city became a feud of the bishop of Pomezania, and after his death in 1522 it was pawned. In 1520 the city paid homage to the king of Poland
Sigismund the Old. Shortly after that in 1525 Ilawa became a part of Ducal Prussia.
After six years long peace in the city, in 1628 the Swedes entered the city. During following wars, warfare luckily spared Ilawa. Only once Brandenburgian army captured it. After the peace treaty in Oliwa in 1660, peace returned to the city.
In 1706 most of the city was digested by fire. Only the church of Lord's Transformation and a couple of houses survived. In 1758 Russians occupied the city.
In XVIII and XIX, the city was constantly growing. In 1860 Ilawa gained waterway to Elblag and Ostroda. In 1872 a railroad connection with Torun and Ostroda was built, in 1876 additionally with Malbork and Gdansk. At that time a district court and customs office was established.
Beginning of XX century meant further growth for the city: a town hall was built (1912), gas-works, expanded in 1901, and water-supply completed in 1903. In 1920 a plebiscite was held - it meant to decide which country did the citizens want to belong to. 95% voted for belonging to Prussia. In the thirties by liquidation of unemployment through creating public works, a nazi party NSDAP gained support in Ilawa.
During Second World War there was a work camp and penal camp for prisoners from Sztum located in Ilawa. In 1944 local government started preparing for evacuation of civilians. On January 22nd, 1945, soldiers of II Belarussian Front entered the city. As a result of war operations the city suffered substantial losses. After Russians entered the city, Ilawa was destroyed, and the remaining machines and other properties were taken to Soviet Union. Former work camp became prisoners of war camp, prisoners were used to local works, some were taken to Soviet Union. In 1945 Polish government and settlers came to those lands. In 1948 remaining Germans from Ilawa area were moved to Germany. The city started to dynamically rebuild and grow.
Also see: Old postcards