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Remains Of A Day: East Prussia (Ostpreußen) Today

East Prussia had been German for centuries. All that changed in 1945 when the victorious Russians merged it into Russia and called it Kaliningrad. 1945 was a horrific year for Germans of East Prussia. The brutal battle and subsequent loot, pillage and rape scars the German psyche even today. Most Germans were expelled from there, other fled. Those who remained starved to death.
East Prussia's history is written in blood.

Today it is Russian. Kaliningrad. But traces of the German past remains even today. See the images below.....

East prussia today rusted helmet grave german soldier


East Prussia had always been a bastion, a far-flung realm of Germandom, ever since its foundation on distant shores of the Baltic (the Ostsee, or eastern sea, as Germans call it) by the Teutonic Knights seven centuries earlier . Its name of “Prussia,” originally derived from an indigenous tribe, was then descriptive of terrain standing under the Polish crown. The word came by stages to be applied loosely to the whole Germanic kingdom of the Hohenzollern dynasty, as promulgated by a first coronation—of Frederick I—in Königsberg, Prussia’s chief city, in 1701.

For all its later extension to the Rhineland and much of middle Germany, the old heartlands of Prussia in the East continued to furnish the country’s stereotypes. Noble landowners (“Junkers”) and great estates supplied a vital part of its ethos—and liability; so did a Lutheran church much given to pietistic forms of devotion. Such values were sustained into the twentieth century by tariff concessions for landowners and subsidies for Protestant organizations.

Historic Prussia also embodied, psychologically and culturally, German claims to dominance. For what Nazi ideologues came to prize as “blood and soil,” Blut und Boden, the organic linkage of race with territory, East Prussia was crucial, even if plenty of Germans also shared Frederick the Great’s view of a remote and primitive province more suited to bears than humans.


Nazi relic dug out


German soldiers memorial 1945 tombstone

Engravings old German architecture

Surviving German monument pillar

Remains German horn on building wall

Old German made building Kaliningrad

German style building East Prussia built 1913

Old German monument Ostpreussen


Although the 1945–1949 expulsion of Germans from the northern part of former East Prussia was often conducted in a violent and aggressive way by Soviet officials, the present Russian inhabitants of the Kaliningrad Oblast have much less animosity towards Germans. German names have been revived in commercial Russian trade and there is sometimes talk of reverting Kaliningrad's name to its historic name of Königsberg. The city centre of Kaliningrad was completely rebuilt, as British bombs in 1944 and the Soviet siege in 1945 had left it in nothing but ruins.

East prussia old new names Kaliningrad map
Map of East Prussia showing the old German names of towns and the new names given by the conquerors


Hell On Earth: East Prussia In 1945

Suggested Reading

Forgotten Land: Journeys Among Ghosts of East Prussia Max Egremont

Forgotten Land: Journeys Among the Ghosts of East Prussia by MAX EGREMONT

Until the end of World War II, East Prussia was the German empire’s farthest eastern redoubt, a thriving and beautiful land on the southeastern coast of the Baltic Sea. Now it lives only in history and in myth. Since 1945, the territory has been divided between Poland and Russia, stretching from the border between Russia and Lithuania in the east and south, and through Poland in the west. In Forgotten Land, Max Egremont offers a vivid account of this region and its people through the stories of individuals who were intimately involved in and transformed by its tumultuous history, as well as accounts of his own travels and interviews he conducted along the way.

Forgotten Land is a story of historical identity and character, told through intimate portraits of people and places. It is a unique examination of the layers of history, of the changing perceptions and myths of homeland, of virtue and of wickedness, and of how a place can still overwhelm those who left it years before.

1 comment:

  1. War is war and terrible things happen in wars. But the destruction of East Prussia was a terrible war crime. Sure the sausage chomping German Nazi scum who supported Hitler often deserved just what they got. But the people of Prussia did not deserve what happened to them. They voted less for the Nazi scum than almost anywhere in Grossdeutchland. Before the Germans absorbed Prussia it was a model of tolerance and liberalism in its time. The American and French revolutions were both based on principles stemming from the Great King of Prussia. He also decreed that Prussian civil service be bilingual, Polish/German and also decreed that all Prussians of any race and religion (Lutheran, Catholic and Jewish) be treated completely equally.

    But during WWII the Nazi scum murdered the Prussian Jews and expelled and/or exterminated much of the Polish population of Prussia, especially East Prussia. One can understand the fury of the surviving Jews, Poles and invading Russians at anything or anyone "German". But understanding does NOT equal acceptance or aquiesence of the crimes committed against the Germanic people of East Prussia.

    Most of them traced their Prussian heritage back up to 700 years, most would have stayed, they had yielded sovereignty over their lands to Poland for most of their existence, they likely would have done so again. They should have been allowed to remain in a Polish Prussia.

    What the Poles and Russians did was exactly the same as the Nazis. Wasn't that the whole point of WW II, that the Nazis were WRONG?

    Poland should at the least, invite the expelled Germans and their decendants to return to East Prussia. (after all the Germans are a rich people and a few hundred thousands returning to Prussia would be a huge boost to the Polish economy). And let us never forget that Prussia's "Golden Age" was as a Polish/German state, never a Nazi one.

    And Koenigsberg was NEVER Russian. At least it belongs to POLAND not to Russia. Give East Prussia back to Poland and let the Germans who want to come home, at long last, for God's sake, let them come home!


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