History of Königsberg - Kaliningrad:

Königsberg - Kaliningrad

Königsberg was founded in 1255 at the waters of the “Frisches Haff” by the union of the three settlements: Königsberg (old town), Löbenicht and Kneiphof. Already in the 11th and 12th century there was active trading with the Vikings, and in the beginning at the 13th century it accomodated a warehouse office of the “German Hanse” . In 1339 contracted the old town of Königsberg to the Hanseatic Leage.

The order state turns to kingdom

In 1525 the order state was transformed to the worldly dukedom Prussia. On 18th of january 1701 Friedrich the 3rd was crowned as King, and the previous dukedom turned into the Kingdom of Prussia. His son Friedrich Wilhelm the 1st united on 28th August 1725 the old town, Löbenicht and Kneiphof to the “Royal Prussia Capital Königsberg “, a city with 40.000 inhabitants. In the same year the philosopher Immanuel Kant was born in Königsberg (1724 – 1804).

Theatre of war

During the “7 year war” (1756-1763) the Russians attacked East Prussia. While the 5 years of occupation by Russia, under the leadership of governor Baron Korff, the inhabitants of Königsberg had a better life than before under the leading of King Friedrich the Great. After the occupation by the Russians, Königsberg experienced bad times when three enormous fires nearly destroyed the whole town. 1807 the emperor Napoleon 1st conquered and occupied Königsberg.

German Empire

1871 East Prussia became part of the German Empire and enjoyed times of ecconomic boom.

Between the world wars

After the first world war West Prussia became a part of Poland while East Prussia turned into a german exclave. In 1920 the german eastfair was founded and represented intermediary and bridge function between East Prussia and the eastern states of the German Empire. The second world war destroyed the entire city of Königsberg. About 4200 inhabitants lost their lifes, 200.000 persons lost house and home. On 12th of january 1945 the Russians startet their great offence and encirceled Königsberg. Because the gauleiter did not evacuate in time, it became a disaster for hundred thousands of the civil population. They were defeated, or they tried to escape by crossing the ice of the “Frisches Haff”. The number of dead persons is specified by 614.000. On 4th of april the german commander general Otto Lasch capitulated. For this reason Hitler sentenced him to death in absence.

Königsberg turns to Kaliningrad

At the conference of Potsdam, East Prussia was divided into a russian and a polish district of administration. The remaining german population was forced to evacuate.

On 17th of october the UdSSR integrated their part of East Prussia into the Sowjetrepublik. Königsberg became capital. In autumn of the same year, already arrived the new inhabitants of Königsberg, coming from all over the UdSSR, but not all of them voluntarily. 1947 Königsberg was renamed to “Kaliningrad” in memory of the communist and close friend of Stalin “Michail Iwanowitsch Kalinin”. Michail Iwanowitsch Kalinin was the first head of the state of the Sowjetunion.

1948 the rest of the german population was expelled. The region was completely new settled. Today the population is estimated by 430.000 inhabitants..

New Identity

From 1946 to 1991 Kaliningrad was administration of a totally shielded military district. Nothing was rebuilt, and most of the people living there did not want to live there. Today it is already the second and third generation living in Kaliningrad since the end of world war II. Those people where born in Kaliningrad and have their own families here. These people try to embellish the town by building beautyful buildings and greens. 

Since 1991 the Iron Curten fell and with Perestroika the exclave opened more and more to western Europe. Today it is possible to visit Kaliningrad, and many descendants of former expelled have the opportunity to investigate what has happened to their forbears.

The people of Kaliningrad are Russia, but feel like Europeans. So the russian exclave serves as bridge between Russia and Europe.

Modern Kaliningrad

More than one decade the German-speaking Newspaper “Königsberger Express” is published in Kaliningrad. Primary it was planned for homesick tourists. Time after time it turned into a very important source of information about life in the russian exclave. Chief editor Elena Lebedeva reports: “ I was born in Königsberg even though the city was already called Kaliningrad. And all the years I went to school and university and later at work, they wanted us make believe, that the history of this town began 1945. We publish the “Königsberger Express” because it was not to overlook, that the Iron Curtain inhibited that information of our life could reach our guests from all over the world.”

Editor Königsberger Express: Igor Sarembo, Elena Lebedewa
Publisher: RAUTENBERG MEDIA KG, Troisdorf