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How Koenigsberg became Kaliningrad: the history of the westernmost Russian city
How Koenigsberg became Kaliningrad: the history of the westernmost Russian city
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How Koenigsberg became Kaliningrad: the history of the westernmost Russian city
How Koenigsberg became Kaliningrad: the history of the westernmost Russian city

Kaliningrad is a city in many ways unique, with an amazing history, shrouded in many mysteries and secrets. The architecture of the times of the Teutonic Order intertwined with modern buildings, and today, walking along the streets of Kaliningrad, it is difficult to even imagine what kind of view will open around the bend. This city has more than enough secrets and surprises - both in the past and in the present.

Koenigsberg before the war
Koenigsberg before the war

Konigsberg: historical facts

The first people on the site of modern Kaliningrad lived in the first millennium BC. Remains of stone and bone tools were found at the site of tribal camps. Several centuries later, settlements were formed where artisans who knew how to work with bronze lived. Archaeologists note that the finds most likely belong to the Germanic tribes, but there are also Roman coins, issued approximately in the 1st-2nd century AD. Until the XII century A. D. these territories also suffered from the raids of the Vikings.

War Ruined Fort
War Ruined Fort

But the settlement was finally captured only in 1255. The Teutonic Order not only colonized these lands, but also gave the city a new name - King's Mountain, Koenigsberg. For the first time, the city came under the rule of Russia in 1758, after the Seven Years War, but less than 50 years later, the Prussian troops recaptured it. During the time that Königsberg was under the rule of Prussia, he was radically transformed. A sea canal, an airport, many factories, a power station were built, and a horse-drawn tram was put into operation. Much attention was paid to the education and support of art - the Drama Theater, the Academy of Arts opened, the university began accepting applicants at the Parade Square.

Kaliningrad today
Kaliningrad today

Here in 1724 the famous philosopher Kant was born, who until the end of his life did not leave his beloved city.

Monument to Kant
Monument to Kant

World war II: battles for the city

In 1939 the population of the city reached 372 thousand people. And Konigsberg would have developed and grown if the Second World War had not started. Hitler considered this city one of the key ones, he dreamed of turning it into an impregnable fortress. He was impressed by the fortifications around the city. German engineers have improved them, equipped with concrete pillboxes. The assault on the defensive ring turned out to be so difficult that 15 people received the title of Hero of the Soviet Union for the capture of the city.

Soviet soldiers storm Königsberg
Soviet soldiers storm Königsberg

There are many legends telling about the secret underground laboratories of the Nazis, in particular about Konigsberg 13, where psychotropic weapons were developed. It was rumored that the Fuhrer's scientists were actively studying the occult sciences, trying to exert an even greater influence on the consciousness of people, but there is no documentary evidence of this.

Such fortifications were erected along the perimeter of the city
Such fortifications were erected along the perimeter of the city

During the liberation of the city, the Germans flooded the dungeons and blew up part of the passages, so it still remains a mystery - what is there, behind tens of meters of debris, maybe scientific developments, or maybe untold wealth …

Brandenburg castle ruins
Brandenburg castle ruins

It is there, according to many scientists, that the legendary amber room, taken from Tsarskoe Selo in 1942, is located.

How a German city became Soviet

In August 1944, the central part of the city was bombed - British aircraft implemented the "Retaliation" plan. And in April 1945 the city fell under the onslaught of Soviet troops. A year later, it was officially joined to the RSFR, and a little later, five months later, it was renamed Kaliningrad.

View of the surroundings of Königsberg
View of the surroundings of Königsberg

In order to avoid possible protest moods, it was decided to populate the new city with a population loyal to the Soviet regime. In 1946, more than twelve thousand families were transported to the Kaliningrad region "voluntarily and compulsorily". The criteria for the selection of immigrants were stipulated in advance - the family must have at least two adults, able-bodied people, it was strictly forbidden to move the "unreliable", those who had a criminal record or family ties with "enemies of the people."

Königsberg gate
Königsberg gate

The indigenous population was almost completely deported to Germany, although they lived for at least a year, and some for two, in neighboring apartments with those who had recently been a sworn enemy. Clashes were frequent, cold contempt followed by fights.

The war caused enormous damage to the city. Most of the agricultural land was flooded, 80% of industrial enterprises were either destroyed or seriously damaged.

The terminal building was seriously damaged; only hangars and a flight control tower remained from the grandiose structure. Given that this is the first airport in Europe, enthusiasts dream of a revival of its former glory. But, unfortunately, funding does not allow for a full-scale reconstruction.

Königsberg plan of 1910
Königsberg plan of 1910

The same sad fate befell Kant's house-museum, a building of historical and architectural value literally falling apart. It is interesting that in some places the German numbering of houses has also been preserved - the count goes not by buildings, but by entrances.

Many old churches and buildings are abandoned. But there are also completely unexpected combinations - several families live in the Taplaken castle in the Kaliningrad region. It was erected in the XIV century, since then it has been repeatedly rebuilt, now it is recognized as an architectural monument, as indicated by a tablet on the stone wall. But if you look into the courtyard, you can find a playground, modern double-glazed windows installed. Several generations have already lived here, which have nowhere to move out.

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