Königsberg, East Prussia - Remembered
I invite your comments about this website - and in particular if you have something to share regarding a personal connection to this once wonderful city that history seems to want us to forget about. Posting your information here will help preserve the memory of those who lived and worked there for so many generations and built the vibrant and thriving city and its community that were so viciously annihilated at the end of WWII.
In posting your comments, I reserve the right to review and edit them in the interest of relevancy, civility, as well as brevity, and as a result it might take a day or more for your comment to appear on this site.
If you would like to get in touch with someone who left a comment here, contact me via the form on this site as I might have their email address, and in which case I will give them your email address and leave it up to them to get back to you.
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|Feb 28, 2014||Christel||I could not stop reading this site. I also was born in Koenigsberg, 1933, did not get out untill 1947. My brother, sister and mother all starved to death, I had to put my mother in to the ground. War is hell. Got to the neue heimat in 1954 .Lost all my relatives. Went back to Koenigsberg with my older brother just to say goodbye.It was a sad day .Went to Cranz und die Wandern Duenen.|
|Feb 26, 2014||Nick||
Interesting site, but there should be a LOT more acknowledgement of why this
disaster happened to Konigsburg: Germany launched the worst war of all time,
killed something like 20 million people ... (comment abbreviated, as it
follows a familar refrain, e.g., Germany got what they deserved, etc.)
Admin: Thank you for your comments, but - again - this site is not about rehashing all the evils of WW2, and you would probably need more than a lifetime to read everything that has already been written and published about that sorry subject. On the other hand, not much can be found about the sad fate of the City of Konigsberg, its people and its history as a result of that ugly war, and that is what this site is attempting to address in a very modest way. Yes, Germany started WW2, but I doubt that the greater civilian population of Konigsberg was consulted on the matter, and not that it would have swayed the maniacal Hitler one way or the other; his mind was made up the moment he took office. At any rate, the people of Konigsberg can no more be held responsible for the death and destruction committed by the Nazi regime than the Russian people can be held responsible for the evils perpetrated by the Stalin regime, which, according to various account, may have caused the death of upwards to 20 million people – and some, such as Alexander Solzhenitsyn, say millions more -and these were primarily people within his own Soviet empire. The insanity called war kills millions of innocent people, regardless of what side they are on. And if you’re looking to apportion blame to anyone, look in the mirror – it is a unique feature of human beings, no other creature on earth behaves that way.
|Feb 18, 2014||Christine||My mother, who is now 85, is from Konigsberg. She has told me many stories of the horrors that she, her younger sister and my grandmother faced as they fled overland from the Russians after the British and Americans bombed. After the war my mother came to England and married my English father, who was a British soldier fighting in Germany. Some years ago we took my mother to Kaliningrad. We found two of the places where my family had lived: the site of Knochenstrasse and the house they lived in in the suburb of Liep. After the war this house was given to a Russian officer. His drunken son and family still live there. We went inside and saw the state this once smart house was in. My German family's name was Niemann. My mother misses her life in Konigsberg so very much and has never felt really at home in England. So very sad. I think that she would like to speak with someone who also remembers this once beautiful city.|
|Feb 7, 2014||Christina||I echo the thanks of others for the efforts you have made in creating this site. Two of my grandparents were from Konigsberg and whenever they speak of their experiences during WWII and after they repeat "you do not understand!!!". Now I have more of an understanding. Thank you for the eye opener.|
|Jan 31, 2014||Liam||Great site. My family were 'persecuted' Prussian (orthodox)Lutherans, from a colony near Posnan, that immigrated it South Australia in 1854. from Kalwowska, I know of their spectacular journey to Bremen then beyond, but yearn for more data on our history in East Prussia. How long were we in this region, south of Silesia? We're my family always colonists, moved there from another region as Lutherinism and Prussian empire grew? I have been to my ancestral lutherin church in Kalwaska, heritage listed and long converted to a catholic friendly denomination. Very sad it all seemed, the town developed from Nazi railway times and then kind of Sovietised. Any posts about when these South Eastern Prussian zones, now Poland, would be super!|
|Jan 28, 2014||Kamil||
I was brought up in another famous city of East Prussia - Angerburg. It was also
almost destroyed ("thanks" to soviet soldiers). Only about 20% of buildings
left. When I look at the old pictures of these cities I feel really sorry for
the former residents and I wish I could back in time to these days and walk the
(Admin: There is a great site dedicated to Angerburg, East Prussia, at http://www.angerburg.de/
|Jan 16, 2014||Monika||Our Dad used to tell us stories of the bombing's and the Russian's and how their family made it to the West. Never really understood any of it until I found this site. Thank you|
|Jan 4, 2014||John||A fourth book, recently published, The Second World War, by British historian Anthony Beevor outlines the events in East Prussia and in Koenigsberg and relates the violence unleashed and the suffering of the innocent elderly, women, and children when the Red Army came. (Admin: I've updated the links page under the Books|
|Nov 13, 2013||Mary||
Thank you for this site. I cried the first time I visited. My father was born &
raised in Koenigsberg. Have not been able to find anything on his life there.
His parents & one sister.
(Thank you Mary - It is for people like you that this site was set up, in addition to providing some account - in English - of the tragic end of this once great European city and its significant history, as well as the cruel fate that befell its more than 300,000 citizens )
|Nov 12, 2013||Marty||
You have a posting on May 7 2013. I would like to email the person who wrote the
article. My Mother was also on the ship she is speaking of. I would just like to
share some of her stories to them. Thank You - PS you have compiled a
amazing site, thank you for that.
(Admin: Thanks Marty - I've fwd your email to the poster on May 7)
|Nov 11, 2013||anonymous||This site is a stern reminder to humanity: two wrongs do not ever succeed to make anything right! We all know that the victors get to write all the books. However, the truth cannot be eradicated from our universal conscience anymore that the ghosts left behind in Koningsberg.|
|Oct 14, 2013||Andrew||THANK YOU for all the research, compilation and website design you have accomplished for the beloved people of Konigsberg! I have already shared this site because it struck me so deep, and will continue to do so. I have had a special interest in Konigsberg ever since my father pulled out an old wooden plate bearing the heraldry of the city. Later, I learned that my grandmother came from East Prussia and that I had a large family base there. My grandmother's first husband was killed during the battle for Stalingrad. She fled East Prussia with others and she held one of her daughters in her arms as she died due to starvation. She described the displaced Germans searching through manure for corn and other edible foodstuff as they were forced out of their land and homes. An American soldier watched my grandmother helping an ill German walk to a truck, and the American officer ordered her to ride in the front of the truck with him. Later, she came to the U.S. and married a U.S. soldier, and they moved to Montana to raise a family. To this day, I am not satisfied with what I know of her family (her maiden name was Penczerczinski), but I hope to go to Kaliningrad some day to learn more and simply be there so I can connect with a big part of my heritage. If you want a picture of that heraldic plate of Konigsberg, I would be glad to send it to you. I think it would be a gesture of thanks to you for this beautiful site you have worked to make available for the public. Many Thanks!!!|
|Oct 12, 2013||Rick||
Greeting from Australia...Rick Is there a register of court of law Justizrat
[judges].Please, for Konigsberg 1790-1840. I am researching my family
surname of LEO maybe also von LEO.
(Admin: There are a number of genealogical resources listed further down this page - May 9th, 2013 - in response to similar questions)
|Oct 8, 2013||Claus||
One old relative of mine, a sailor, visited Konigsberg in 1905 and mailed a
colored post card to his sister in Denmark. It shows the Schlossbrugge and may
be of interest for you. If so pls. let me have your email address, and I shall
send a scan to you.
(Admin: Thanks Claus - scan received, and I have added it to the slide show of Königsberg Before WW2 section)
|Oct 6, 2013||Francesca||
There is only one thing that i can say: russians must go away from a place that
they don't deserve.I know and i saw what they have done to Königsberg, there is
no respect to history , to the people who build the city and no respect for the
monuments. They have destroyed all , ruined all as they are used to do. what i
would like to see is that one day they get away from east prussia and go back in
their place. in Europe we don't need barbarians that are able only to destroy.
(Admin: In all fairness to the Russians that live in Kaliningrad/Königsberg today, there has been an effort to preserve and restore some of the historical features of the city, as well as remembering its significant past. Of note are the 3-day 750th anniversary celebrations of 2005 that marked the founding of the city in 1255 by German knights under the name Königsberg. In preparation for this event specialists from St. Petersburg went to great lengths to restore the Neo-Gothic brick gate, formerly part of Königsberg's fortress. It became the official symbol of the festivities and visible on countless flags and posters decorating the inner city. However, the name Königsberg was not being used during the celebrations - simply '750 years of Kaliningrad'. )
|Oct 4, 2013||Patrick||Until recently my interest in ww2 was minimal but of late I have read a number of well researched and written books that have opened my eyes what happened to East prussia and it's people haunts me - your site is their memorial.|
|Sep 30, 2013||Eyal||I am writting the history of my jewish family that escaped Koenigsberg in stages between 1933 and 1939. The Winter family was a very influential family of the early 20th century in Koenigsberg. It was one of the wealthisest famllies in the city owning the large Mill in Koenigsberg and exporting grain to western europe and the US Owned by Salomon and Anna Winter). In 1938 when the Jewish orphanage was set on fire. Anna Winter moved all the children to her home (Villa Winter). She was then arrested by the Gistapo for violating german law in running an orphanage without a license, but later was later offered freedom and a passage to the UK in exchange for selling Villa Winter to Koch who was the Gaulauter of East Prussia. Does anyone know if any of these children survived the holocaust? I would appreciate letters photos or any other documents from the period from both German and Jews to get a complete picture of the events for my book. (Please email Prof. Eyal Winter at the The Hebrew University of Jerusalem directly by clicking this link)|
|Sep 21, 2013||Markus||
This is well researched & beautifully illustrated site and serves well to
illustrate the amazing history of this once proud city. I must take issue,
though, with the numerous comments about its' transfer to Russia, the expulsion
of ethnic Germans & the 'rights' of those people. You claim that innocent women
& children were expelled & were not reponsible for the emergence & rise of the
Nazis. What nonsense (etc, etc, ...)
Admin: I have abbreviated this comment significantly, as all this follows a familiar line, eg., many Germans voted for Hitler, other countries suffered equally horrid bombing raids, and each German is responsible for the attrocities of WW2 because they are German. To restate the purpose of this website, it is to provide - in English - some account of what happened to the once beautiful, thriving and prominent East Prussian City of Königsberg, and its unfortunate citizens who suffered a fate far worse than any other city in Nazi Germany, by being either being incinerated in their homes - or if they survived - to be forcibly expelled from their possessions and lifelihoods, and their historic city (or what remained of it) being given to the Soviets while suffering the final indignity of being renamed after a insignificant Stalin puppet named Kalinin. European history remains large silent on the topic of Königsberg's destruction - as well as on the expulsion of at least 12 million Germans from their East European homelands at the end of WWII.
|Sep 8, 2013||Katie||Thank you for this site. The information and pictures are priceless. I recently read Max Egremont's book, Forgotten Land, and have been dreaming about this lost landscape for countless nights. After going through old relative's photographs, seeing cousins from Germany, the photographer's marks being from Konigsberg, my interest has been insatiable. Anyway, thank you for this wonderful and interesting site.|
|Sep 4th, 2013||Frau Holle||
Thanks for the thorough info you have compiled! I was moved to tears at the
beauty of pre-war Koenigsberg. It resembles Hamburg, which is where our mother
moved us from Canada to escape the odious racism we were subjected to as
Germans. I feel a bit bad for the moderator being subjected to so much callous
commentary. My mother hails from West Prussia, Lodz, and told many stories about
the random violence and harassment German people including schoolchildren on
their way to German school were subjected to as a minority. The local police did
nothing to resolve such issues. Family members living in other countries also
experienced bullying as Germans, pre-WWII. That was another effect of the
disastrous WWI treaty ...
I would have liked to show this site to my mother who recently passed away. She researched German culture in the Baltic States. She often recounted the horror of the firebombing in cities like Dresden, jammed with mostly women and children refugees. She was devastated that the retaliatory human rights abuses wreaked upon German civilians together with the razing of their culture wasn't even mentioned. It was not expedient to publish such chronicles for decades after the 2nd WW ended. Now, that has been changing. I am no longer vilified for speaking German in public as was the case up until the late '70's. Thank you.
|Aug 25, 2013||Richard||An interesting site. The fate of the German East in 1944-45 was very sad and it is not known about enough in the West. I hope that one day Germans will be able to return. I'm most sad at the thought of the fate of German families overtaken by the Russians.|
|June 3rd, 2013||Rey||Very interesting page about a city I love, because I studied here from 1974 to 1979, in the Kaliningrad State Fisheries Institute, the former Gestapo Building. I always search for pictures of Konigsberg and try to compare with the present city and is really sad to see how a beauty disappeared as a result of a war. What is done is done. The majority of Russians living in Kaliningrad want to rebuild and recover as much as possible from the old city, but that cost money they do not have. Many want also to rename the city back to Konigsberg and even restaurants are offering the famous "Königsberger Klopse". The best way to keep some German taste in the city is to increase cooperation and friendship between the new generations of Germans and Russians.|
|June 1st, 2013||Vera||
I just went through this entire site and my heart is broken! My mother, who died
in April 2008, was born in Konigsberg. She spoke of it occasionally when we were
growing up,and I know that she and her parents were forced to leave, but this is
the first time I have learned the details. Her name was Elli Charlotte
Hildegarde Blonsky. She was 14 and ended up in a Russian work camp. Too much
more to post here.
Admin: Outside the German speaking communities not much is known about the forced diaspora of over 13 million Germans from their Prussian and other Eastern European homelands after 1945 - and even their immediate descendants typically know little about this mass expulsion. And this is because we - in the West - have been deliberately remained silent about this monstrous act of ethnic cleansing. As well, German expellees were so traumatized by the horror and anguish caused by the brutality of this event that they simply could not bring themselves to talk about it. Not ever ...
May 9th 9thh
My grandfather was Erwin Suehs (Suess/Seuss/Sus) born in konigsberg in 1896. His
father was Julius Suehs. My grandfather immigrated to the United States in April
1914 to live with his uncle Otto Suehs in New York City. He never saw his
immediate family again. Can you let me know what resources are available to find
out about my family there and and what happened to his sister who ended up in
West Germany. Thank you very much.
(Hi Michael - One suggestion I have for questions like this is to go to the Stefan Winkler Ostpreußensite at http://www.stefan-winkler.de/index.php, and post your question on the Guestbook at http://www.stefan-winkler.de/gaestebuch/index.php . You will see many similar inquiries there. Google does a reasonable job translating into English. Because Stefan's site is a German site I would recommend to post comments in German, although it will be ok to post your entry in English, I’m sure. As well, there many genealogical resources on the internet that deal exclusively with East Pruisia, such as the German genealogy wiki, at http://wiki-de.genealogy.net/Computergenealogie, and then specifically for East Prussia at http://wiki-de.genealogy.net/Ostpreußen/Genealogische_Quellen. Some else posted the FEEFHS, or The Federation of East European Family History Societies site here. If someone else reading this page has some ideas as to help specifically English speaking folks with finding family members that disappeared during the dissolution of East Prussia and forced expellation of its German population I will publish it here. Might even dedicate a page to it if I can get enough material for it.)
|May 8, 2013||Stavros||
First of all i want to congratulate this memory- work of the old beauty of
Konigsberg. It is my opinion that that the old monuments and historic places
belong to the humanity and not only to the constructors of these. So, every one,
during the years, who rules the place, must respect and protect and of course
not destroy these. In what about my country, Greece, whe have also our
Konigsberg which is Smyrna, Smirne or Izmir in Turkish. Same civilization, same
beauty same fatal finish, in a few same destiny. More of it the winner will
destroy every sign of the enemies civilization.
Now it must be time to accept the past , to admit the fails and try to built a new better human society. Peaty to old Konigsberg and reconstruct, why not?, a new city a new Konigsberg, maybe more beaytifull than the old city. We Greeks we reconstructed much new cities in memory of our old lost cities in asia minor.
Regards from Athens of the new Smirne neiborhood of Athens.
|May 7th, 20133||Gisela||Vielen Dank. This is a remarkable site. I was born in Koenigsberg in 1939 We (mother,grandmother, deceased sibling and I) fled via Frisches Hafen on a Red Cross Rescue ship. At the last minute the ship we were supposed to board was full and someone directed us to its sister ship. The "other" ship was hit by a torpedo. My mother told me that she could hear people in the oil soaked water. My husband and I visited Koenigsberg many years ago. It is a disgrace. There were rusty ships in the harbor it looked forlorn. Our tour guide led us around the town. Naturally she was Russian and was proud of what she thought was a beautiful place. She did not have a clue as to what the city used to be. She also did not leave out sight. When we were due back to the boat they delayed our departure time until the exact moment we were to leave. It was, at that time, a very controlled tour with no side trips. On the return trip there were quite a few folks retracing their escape route s. My families names were Albrecht and Norys. If anyone has information about either of those names please feel free to get in touch with me. Best regards, Gisela Kelly|
|Jan 26, 2013||Chris S.||Thank you so much for creating this site, I have been researching Königsberg for many years. My Great Grandparents and Aunt were from Königsberg. They left in the 1920's to come to America, I am thankful that they left before the war although I am saddened of the tragedy and loss of this great land as well as family that stayed behind. I had hopes of visiting some day but I fear that their home and most of the original city no longer exist from these photos.|
|Jan 25, 2013||Norma Witt||
Hello, I found your site this evening Jan 24.2013 & I have enjoyed reading &
all the wonderful photos. My Husband Gerhard Witt (died Jan 30 2010) was born in
Klein Peisten. We made a trip in 1984 & we stayed in Allenstein. His Family
all made it to the West in 1949 & all Brothers & Sisters are living in Mechtersheim.My
Husband never forgot his home Ostpreussen & he came to Canada in 1955 to Alberta.Thank-you
for the site.A lot of work has gone into this site. The photos are wonderful. My
Father Daniel Zimmer was born in Sagan Schlesien & he came to Alberta Canada
in 1929. My Husband & I also travelled to Sagan (Zagan) Poland in 1984,just
so I could walk the streets where my Father had walked.
Klein Peisten is in Kreis Preussisch Eylau where my husband Gerhard was born . The Witt Family are very proud to be from Ostpreußen. I did read the former comment page & alot of folks don't know where & how to find some of the old names ,or where their family's village or town was located. I believe one of the best is www.Kartenmeister.com for his wonderful collection of old maps & history & so much more. Then another excellent site is www.ostpreussen.de . A very good genealogy site is www.feefhs.org . Another excellent site is www.ostpreussenseiten.de .This site has so much to offer & lots of photos & is at www.bildarchiv-ostpreussen.de .
There are also many youtube video's on the flight from Ostpreussen & the plight of the refugee's /Flüchtling & are so sad to see. Also many youtube videos on Schlesien & refugee's fleeing where my Dad Daniel Zimmer came from. I am very interested in anything about Ostpreussen & it was a beautiful Country.I can spend many hours on the computer just looking at photos of old everyday life in Ostpreussen . The buidings were truly magnificent.But I enjoy looking at people photos & many times I zoom in close to try & capture a moment of a different time.
|Jan 25, 2013||Peter||Great site, interested because i'm originally was interested in the Königsberg raid as flew over Sweden 29-30 Aug 1944. Some plane was shot down and crashed in southern Sweden. Can only say that the Russians has destroying almost everything as the bombers left over, it's a shame. Regards, Peter.|
|Jan 14, 2013||David||
Thanks for creating and maintaining this website. As a website owner/manager myself,
I do understand the energy it takes! Yours and other sites related to Konigsberg
have been very useful for helping recreate Konigsberg in words for a story I'm
So, Many Thanks!!
|Jan 7, 2013||Otto||Governments are supposed to be the open window of a nation,but often they show their dirty linen.WWII was a horrible example.The Nazis deserved to be liquidated,but what was done to the citizens of East Prussia after the war was unimaginable.I lived there until 1947 when we were luckily expelled,I was 12 years old with two younger brothers. My mother had died in October and the rest of the of family was in unknown places.Hatred makes people go blind.|
|Dec 28, 2012||John||A third book, recently published, entitled, Total War, by Michael Jones, relates with images, among other war torn areas, the tragedy of East Prussia and Konigsberg. Two websites, History in Images 1945 and German Tragedy of Destiny show only too clearly war's futility.|
|Dec 16, 2012||Fop||I am horrified by the gruel suffering caused by Politicians by dividing Germany as they did ! It can happen again when pacts are made with Putin to take over Europe in order to fuel the war economy once more ! Is there an entity to claim Konigsberg again for Germany ?? Kind Regards, Fop|
|Dec 7. 2012||anonymous||I came across your site by chance. I am ashamed to say I had no idea that Konigsberg had been almost wiped off the map... Good luck to you and your members|
|Nov 22, 2012||Leonie||Hello, both my parents are from Koenigsberg, they left in 1940. My fathers name is GRUMACH and my mothers name is LANDSHUT. My whole life I have the feeling I dont know where I belong or where my roots are because of what happened to koenisberg. I would like to be in touch with any people or groups who organise trips or just someone to talk to. My father has passed away and my mother dosnt remember much. I live now in New Zealand. Thank you.|
|Nov 14, 2012||Martin||Very sad to read all this, but it's good someone has preserved a bit of forgotten history. My mother is from Breslau, so I know and understand the traumatic events suffered by the refugees. I visited the DDR a few times before the reunification. What is Konigsberg like today-in 2012 and are any Germans there at all?|
|Nov 11, 2012||John||
The Germans have no right whatsoever, to ever come back to these regions. The loss
of Koningsberg is the price they paid for their very cruel behavior during the second
(Admin: I think you have this backwards, since the Allied forces had absolutely no right to support Stalin in his demand to remove every ethnic German from their homelands. This had nothing to do with retribution because Germany started the war, but everything with Stalin expanding his evil empire, by wanting Konigsberg as ice-free harbor on the Baltic, and keeping the lands rich in coal reserves he had stolen earlier from the Poles in a deal with Hitler, and so needed to compensate the Poles and placate the Western Allies in order to get away with it.)
|Oct 30, 2012||Cinda||Hello. I am descended from former konigsberg citizens, germans, who were in the employ of kaiser Wilhelm I and emigrated to america 1898. I am seeking family who may still be living in former east Prussia. Names of Quoss/Quoos and Hofmann. Do you have a genealogical society?|
|Oct 16, 2012||Tony||
Greetings. I find your site most informative. As a British citizen with german ancestry
on my father's side I travelled a year ago to Lower Saxony to meet up with friends
and ultimately with lost family. Whilst in Germany I was shown great hospitality
by a couple, the husband as a boy having been one of the refugees from East Prussia
who trekked that vast distance to the comparitive safety of the west. I also saw
the small wagons that the expelees used, maintained as memorials in the German towns.
It's absolutely true, very few people in the UK no about this sorry blot on our history and few of thase who do know really care. You are probably aware of a book on the subject recently published by the author, Max Egremont. The book is called, The Forgotten Land
|Oct 14, 2012||Ray||Grüße aus Zadar, Dalmatien-Adria|
|Oct 8, 2012||Arjen||Trying to find birth records from my mother inlaw.......do you know if the church records from this time period survived Konigsberg|
|Sep 29, 2012||Dominic||When you get into the politics of war it grieves me that ideologies run over places, people like pawns. Hitler started off with best of intentions as he, like half of Europe saw what Jewish Bolshevism communism had achieved toppling the Romonovs. East Prussian attacks were well under way after WWI. The Jewish pogroms that led to the bombing of Konigsburg as well as other European destinations, Lord Cherwell, Henry Portal..Henry Morgenthau;wanted to `pastoralise` German lands. Jewish Beria, Ehrenburg & Stalin did the rest. Hitler upset world Jewry & I see it as their revenge. Zionism as a form of nationalism disregarded ordinary Jewish folk, many fought for Germany in WWI but with these polarisd ideologies no one is a winner. We are an extroidinary species that will wipe out an opponent for the sake of it thinks..|
|Sep 26, 2012||Christina||Thank you for creating your site and keeping the memories alive. My mom was born in Koenigstein in 1942 and my grandmother had to flee with her and my moms three older brothers. My brother took my mom back last year. They found the house she lived in and miraculously one of the horseshoes from my grandfathers horse was still there where the barn used to be. Thank you so much for posting the photos and memories.|
|Sep 14, 2012||Chris||
I am doing a family history of our flight from Insterburg to Hamburg. I would like
to use your map to trace our route.Is that o.k.? Thanks, Chris
|Sep 10, 2012||David A. Jones||Excellent website! Thank you for your work.|
|Aug 30, 2012||Julio J Alvarez||As a victim of the communist system, I can identify and relate to what the people of Königsberg went through. It is horrendous to see this part of history being ignored by the Western world. The Soviet Union was EVIL, just like the dictatorships of China, Cuba and North Korea today|
|Aug 27, 2012||Rosie MacLean||
My mother was born in Konigsberg in 1923. She fled with my two toddler brothers
and her mother. My father was a prisoner of war at the time. My mother had to make
life and death decisions at an age when most young people are deciding what courses
to take in college. She demonstrated amazing courage during what she called "the
trek". My mother passed away in May, but not before writing about her life
growing up in Konigsberg. How she loved that city! We have had her book translated
into English. It is called "Where Hoffman Told His Fairytales" and is
available to purchase http://www.blurb.ca/bookstore/detail/3489339?alt=Where+Hoffmann+Told+His+Fairytales%2C+as+listed+under+Biographies+%26+Memoirs&pid=New
Someone was looking for an old map of Konigsberg. You can purchase a map from 1931 at amazon.de. http://www.amazon.de/Stadtplan-K%C3%B6nigsberg-Stand-1931-Rautenberg/dp/380033089X/ref=sr_1_sc_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1346083730&sr=8-1-spell
|Aug 25, 2012||Phil Thomas||
Congratulations on developing not only an extremely interesting website (even though
the subject matter is obviously very sad and thought-provoking) but also one that
is also of such a high quality. My own website (http://peopleinglasshouses.wikidot.com/)
is certainly not of the quality that yours is whilst I focus on highlighting books
that tell the truth about what happened from 1944 to 1950. My best regards and wishing
you well on your work on your website.
(Admin: The website referred to in this comment lists many publications relevant primarily to the expellee issue. I'm not familiar with several of the books lister there and look forward to checking them out. My only disappointment is the reference and link to the discredited British historian David Irving (someone who demonstrates living proof that you can be brilliant, yet fatally flawed at the same time)
|Aug 20, 2012||Lawrence Rowe||Indeed a sad situation. Regardless of the age or period of history you can merely replace one group for another and the process, regardless of how awful, always remains the same. What a splendid city prior to the war; so much of what was East Prussia seems like it was truly lovely. I am not sure if the American Air Force contributed to the city's destruction but if it did I would like to think that many of my countrymen did so with a heavy heart and serious misgivings. But war, as they say, is hell....hell, indeed|
|Jul 31, 2012||Donald Telfer||I would rather have seen Königsberg remain German for ethical & sentimental reasons because Germans had lived there for centuries beforehand.|
|July 23, 2012||M.J. Mons||
Vor einigen Jahren besuchte ich Königsberg. Es bleibt schwer vorstellbar was sich
dort in den Jahren ab 1945 abgespielt hat. Das dort jetzt Russen wohnen ist aus
historischer Sicht merkwürdig.|
(Translated: Some years ago I visited Königsberg. It is hard to imagine what has happened there in the years since 1945. That Russians now live there is remarkable from a historical perspective)
|July 19, 2012||Nigel Wallace||
For former Konigsbergers it must be very frustrating to know that since Poland became
a member of the E.U. in 1999, expellees from places in southern East Prussia such
as Allenstein, Elbing or Frauenburg (or more likely now, their children or even
grandchildren) have a perfect legal right to live and work in their former home
towns. (You and I, as E.U. citizens, do too, of course, though neither of us would
confuse a technical legal right with an overwhelming moral right!).
(Admin: Sorry Nigel, I did cut your comment short in the interest of brevity, and not because your points were not valid or not of interest to me)
|July 19, 2012||Greek||
I think that remembering the old city you are following strange paths. It is offensive
to speak about corrupt russian politics who eventually want to sell kaliningad in
compenese of german money in their pockets. These thinks means that the german people
has the same mentality of the nazis, they cant anderstund why they lose the war
and what kind of terrible bad made at the humanity. And why,following your wishes,only
for kaliningrad and not for breslau or Gdansk for example? Maybe the polish politics
arent corrupt even they? Looks like in your minds they are even subhumans.
And , course you have money, and you are honest people it is better to pay at last the debit that you have a favour to my people, becouse of the military attack and occupation against Greece during ww2. And please , i think that it is time to give us back the stolen pieces of our civilization like statues ,marms e.t.c .
Dont you feel shame , you the arian race, to keep and expose stollen by your people pieces of an inferior civilization? Dont you have pieces of yours past, for excibition?
I am so sorry about you an i am gonna say that once this mentality wash smassed from whole the civil world and principally from the red army but now the site prooves that still exist deep in your minds.
(Admin: Thank you for your observations, and regarding your concerns about this site, let me say the following.
Firstly, this site is mainly about Königsberg and the fact that its fate seems largely forgotten if not ignored in the West. But at the same time it is a reminder about similar senseless destruction in times of war, and in particular about man’s inhumanity to man regardless of where the insanity of war takes place. And when it comes to paying the price for either starting a war or being at the receiving end of it, the price is always paid by the millions of ordinary people who will often lose everything that was dear to them, including their own lives, and regardless of what side they were on.
Secondly, the suggestion that there is wide-scale corruption in Russia was based on what the Russian people in the street were saying during the many demonstrations at the recent presidential elections there.
Lastly, regarding the looting of historic artifacts by the Nazis (and that was not only in Greece, I completely agree that they should be returned to their country of origin, regardless of where they are located now.)
|July 17, 2012||Dries Verbraeken||Thank you for publishing this site about Königsberg, the subject has been largely forgotten but documenting it makes it up. Keep up the good work|
|July 11, 2012||Nigel Wallace||
As we all know, history is written by the victors, while that of the vanquished
is dismissed as irrelevant even if the conquered people are not actively demonised.
For instance, you would have to be an expert today to know about the history and
culture of the Etruscans, the Incas or the Zulus - all once-proud peoples subsumed
into great empires who saw themselves as civilisers. While I must make it clear
that I am not an apologist for Hitler or the criminal organisation that he led,
I am an admirer of German culture and civilization that ultimately was the brutal
dictator's biggest victim (ask yourself: can you ever hear the word "German"
without the word "Nazi" popping up in your consciousness?).|
It is obvious that there is not, and never will be in the foreseeable future, the political will among the powers that be to return what is left of East Prussia to German sovereignty. Germany itself, its thinking permanently crippled by the fascists' legacy, would not dare raise the subject, and no Russian government would publicly admit to being willing to dispose of territory handed to it - especially that of their former deadly enemy. The only possible solution is an economic one. Whether for reasons of family sentiment or otherwise, German nationals should take every chance to buy up businesses and homes in the Konigsberg area, so that by degrees the demography is altered until its population has a German majority. A plebiscite could then be held to sanction the territory's return to German sovereignty.
(Admin: Interesting concept! While at one time Germany was sufficiently flush with cash to essentially absorb the entire East German economy when the DDR was able to join them after finally shedding its corrupt communist leadership - Germany's current attempt to single-handedly bankroll the rescue of the slowly sinking EU wreck is likely to leave them a little short in the bank for some time, and this will impact on all German businesses and individuals in terms of being able to invest abroad. Had this not been the case, I'm sure they could have easily taken over the entire Kaliningrad Oblast if the price had been right! It would have just been a matter of putting the money in the right hands via a backdoor into the Kremlin to make this happen given the continuing popularity of schmiergeld in those quarters as evidenced by the most recent street protest against the massive corruption at all state levels in the Rodina. This isn't necessarily such a wild idea as some Kaliningrad resident's speculate about the region being separated from the "coastal" Russia and being autonomous. Others speak in favor of the enclave being integral part of the country. And " Sometimes we hear rumors from Moscow about our region being sold to Germany in order to cover Russian debts". This quoted from an article in the Sunday Telegraph (London), January 21, 2001, by Tony Paterson, titled Germany In Secret Talks With Russia to Take Back Konigsberg .”)
|Jul 10, 2012||John Cullen||
This site is a fabulous reminder of how Koenigsberg was prior to WW II. Two books
are available in English, one just published entitled Savage Continent, Europe in
the aftermath of World War II (covering the years 1944-1949. By Keith Lowe.
The other published in 2008, entitled World War Two, Behind Closed Doors, Stalin,
The Nazis and the West. By Laurence Rees. These volumes may answer important
historical questions as to the impotency of the West in the carving up of Europe
at war's end.
Regards to you and your website viewers.
(Admin: Thank you for those titles - Timely, as I'm publishing a new page
on this site just for books on the subject matter.
|July 8, 2012||Alex Seneviratne||I was studying the history of East Prussia and felt so sad to read about what happened to this beautiful and cultured city.|
|July 7, 2012||Anonymous||
It is a superb site in my quest for East Prussia - I was never told the details
in class/university I just happened to be interested in 'the consequences of war'
- who is the author please!
(Admin: I didn't know the details either until - one day - I came across a reference to the city of Königsberg and couldn't find it on a map anywhere until I looked at pre WWII maps of Eastern Europe and was finally able to located it. It doesn't matter who the author of this site is; there is really no original material here. Any claims made or facts stated are available elsewhere, either in books or on the internet, and readily found if you take the time to go after them. All I have done is to assemble them in one place, which is this website)
|Jul 7, 2012||Anonymous||
It's sad to see that you only talk about one side of the story. This war will stay
on Germany's consciousness for the long time. It's naive to think that the city
will be returned to Germany. Germany had to pay for its sins, and I guess Konigsberg
was one of those payments. If you remember Russia didn't start the WWII. Also, if
you are looking for the cities to write about, read about Saint Petersburg (Leningrad).
More than a million civilians died during the Siege of Leningrad. It is known as
on of the longest (over 800 days) and most destructive sieges in modern history.
As for Kaliningrad, it's beautiful the way it is - "Beauty and The Beast" in one. Its rich, sometimes tragic history only makes it more unique.
(Admin: Thank you for your comment. I don't believe it is realistic either to expect that these former Prussian homelands will ever be returned to Germany - although renaming Kaliningrad to Königsberg would at least pay some homage to its rich history and the people that lived there over the centuries to help build it - if in name only. But it would be consistent with the Russians renaming Leningrad to St. Petersburg to do justice to its real history, wouldn't it? If they can do that in light of Lenin's significant stature in Soviet or Russian history, with Mikhail Kalinin having been just another Stalin crony and yes-man - who supposedly allowed the NKVD to arrest and torture his own wife and sent off to a labour camp - naming a once great city like Königsberg after a mediocre Soviet bureaucrat like him is an insult not only in light of the city's significant role in European culture and history, but also to the people who live and work there today! Well, that is my opinion.
Regarding your comment that it is sad that this site only covers one site of the story - the Königsberg story by itself is a relatively small part of the incredible tragedy that was World War II, affecting millions of people, and killing so many of them on all sides. But the fact that there appears to be a deliberate silence around the fate of Königsberg - and the German expellee situation - was a reason for me to set up this site, so it will not be forgotten, including the fate of the many hundreds of thousands innocent people who lost their homes, their lands and their birthright and in too many cases their lives , and all because of where they lived during the insanity that was WWII. In this context - when you say "Germany had to pay ..." - this was paid for mostly by millions of ordinary German citizens, including innocent women and children who were never in a position to oppose the Nazi regime in any way, shape or form when they were under the Nazi dictatorship. They absolutely did not deserve this kind of punishment, and no more so than holding the average - now former - Soviet Union citizen responsible for all the heinous crimes and carnage committed by one of the most murderous dictators in history of mankind, the brutal Joseph Stalin. Apparently still revered in Russia today - it has been estimated that he was responsible for a least 20 million deaths, and they were mostly his own citizens within the Soviet Communist Empire, including the deadly Ukrainian famine he purposely imposed on the region and that killed 5 million in 1932-1934. )
|June 24, 2012||Lisa||
I am trying to find an old map of Königsberg and the street Pr. Neue Damgasse 3?
Do you know of any good maps of the town before second world war? The Germans that
got deported, are there an archives on them and where they got deported? Thanks
(Admin: I found a source for many old pre-WWII street maps at this site - http://www.landkartenarchiv.de/shellstadtkarte22_193435.php - and this link goes directly to a Königsberg Stadtkarte. but I could not see that address on it. Could be in one of Königsberg's suburbs.)
|June 23, 2012||George Emsden||Hi just found your site. I have just finished reading the late Sebastian Haffner's book The Rise & Fall of Prussia which is available via Amazon or in my case, via my local library. The author's obituary is quite interesting too. (Like the anti-spam questions :-)|
|June 21, 2012||Kit||I have just returned from 10 days in East Prussia attending the European Championships. On my web site www.kitcarsonfootball.com is my diary and comments about East Prussia. It may interest site readers.|
|June 21, 2012||stavros psychogyios||The old city was a beauty; the new is a bad east common city. We have to see what means war and conquest. I am not agreed that Kaliningrad must go back to Germany, war was war and this war was terrible. Germany has to pay for the crimes. However it will be better to help rebuilt the city just it was in the past and in return the Russians must accept the return of the old citizens to give t Kaliningrad the face of civilization|
|June 17, 2012||Dom||
Does any witnesses or anyone have any information on Lancasters that were shot down
and fates of airmen who may have survived? Any information would be appreciated.
Please write to
(Admin: Did you check here: http://www.raf.mod.uk/bombercommand/aircraft.html )
|June 16, 2012||Jim Neary||
Hi, I've just discovered your site while looking for the title of a book about East
Prussia which was published in the late 1950' or early 60's.The author visited various
towns and noted the dereliction and the agricultural degradation in the area.
It's not Forgotten Land by Max Egremont but if I remember rightly it may
have been published in Canada. I seem to remember that it had a title something
like "Germany's Forgotten Territories" but I can't find it. Can anyone
(Admin: It's likely that are referring to Europe's Forgotten Territories, by Charles Wassermann, R. Roussell, Copenhagen, 1960, 304 pages. Wassermann is a Canadian journalist who travel to the former German territories East of the Oder-Neisse line in 1957 to report on their status.)
|June 13, 2012||Richard Von Busack||
The vanishing of this old city is one of the least known tales of the Second World War. Apparently, my great-great-grandmother Gertaud Von Hagen was born in a since-flattened castle that family lore said was called Deuna (apparently not the same one in Central Germany) in a Konigsberg district called Worlack. Does anyone know what the Russians call this district today?
|June 8, 2012||Wilhelm||I would, at this time, like so very much to thank you for this site. There are few (and even that is too many) who understand what is lost when one is separated from their roots so completely. For our S/M friends who may read this; generations were cut off and they had nothing to do with any of it. One thing I for one am sick to the teeth reading is how mean old butcher Stalin forced the west - and their nuclear waffens – from doing anything!? It is that sort of nonsense that kept the intelligentsia of Germany from throwing the Nazis out (ref: Chamberlin/Czechoslovakia/ The German Resistance) before Poland. A good many people in the west have no understanding of what East Prussia means historically to the rest of Germany. It is one of those things that tend to remain in the National collective memory for EVER.|
|June 5, 2012||Catrin Collier||I returned to the UK last week from a research trip to Kaliningrad and have a few photographs of the remaining German features of the city and nearby village of Yablonevka formerly Lichtenhagen . My mother was born in Allenstein East Prussia, her mother in Konigsberg and many of my family including my great grandmother disappeared there in 1945. I have published two fictionalised accounts based on my mother’s experiences. The first, One Last Summer is recommended reading on the Holocaust Memorial Day website.|
|May 22, 2012||Mal Roberts||
Just found your site. My mother is from Königsberg and was a young refugee when
the Russians came.
Now 83 her fam. name is Wittkowsky , my grandfather orig. from Danzig. Grandmother fam. Kohn. Would love to try to find any family out there.
|May 20, 2012||Gabe||I grew up hearing the sad stories about Koenigsberg and Ostpreussen. But nothing in my Canadian grade school education showed me where those places were. I'm so grateful for the internet and your website. I'm starting to understand my mother's trauma.|
|May 6, 2012||Nils S(La Suede)||I wish the town of Königsberg still was there. WWII was a disaster also for Germany.|
|May 3, 2012||Johan||A fantastic page unfortunately you allow many blockheads to write their uncensored and largely unsympathetic views. (Admin: You have a point, but I'm trying to balance the various opinions expressed here, and that isn't always easy!)|
|Mar 23, 2012||Justice for Konigsberg||Wow. What Happened with the Ethnic cleansings following WWII was just as bad if not worse than the Holocaust. 15 million Germans, 3 millions Poles, total of 18 million people, 7 million more than the 11 million Holocaust Victims. (Admin: I believe there is little value in numerically comparing these two events in terms of the horror inflicted on innocent people - but in terms of sheer unadulterated evil, nothing tops the Holocaust in its sickening, murderous intent) It is my hope that, eventually, Koenigsberg and the surrounding region (modern-day Kaliningrad Oblast) will eventually be returned to Germany. The German and Russian governments, rather than ethnically cleansing the area, can instead provide economic incentives for Germans to move in, and economic incentives for Russians to move out. I also believe Lwow should be returned to Poland, and Stettin/Szczecin could possibly be returned to Germany. The appeasement of Stalin with eastern Poland and Koenigsberg was even worse than the Munich appeasement in 1938, because there were virtually no ethnic Russians in Koenigsberg. It is too late to totally reverse this, but some steps can be taken to make it better and return Koenigsberg. I hope one day this Stalinist appeasement will be viewed just as unfavorably as the Nazi regime.|
|17 Apr, 2012||J. Joe D||I can see some merit in this website. However, I have no sympathy for this city and Germans who lived there ... (Admin: I have removed the remainder of this comment because it is an example of some folks efforts to rekindle the discussion about whether the destruction of Konigsberg and the annihilation of its citizenry was a justified act of war or not - and there continue to be people today who take the view that it was, and take a certain delight in this. As I am personally of the opinion that it is always and forever wrong to incinerate people - including their children - in their beds just because of their nationality and where they lived, I have no interest in contributing to such a discussion)|
|Apr 4, 2012||Colum||
Great website! Is there any link to a map of Konigsberg before the war or even maps dating back to Friedrich Wilhelm I?
(Admin: One of the visitors here sent me a great scan of a pre-WWII map of Konigsberg; you can find it here: Konigsberg Map
|Mar 31, 2012||Dorothy Warstat Jones||Wonderful site! The pictures are heartwarming and heartbreaking. Thank you for providing me a little taste of where my Gammy and Gampy came from. ]Melauken]|
|Mar 20, 2012||Kathleen Moore||I have been working on my family's genealogy and found that my great great grandfather was the burgermeister of Königsberg back in the mid 1800's. I would like to go to Königsberg to see what is left from the old days, but I don't speak German, Russian, or Polish. Does anyone know if there are any records (births, deaths, marriages, etc) in the church or city hall there?|
|Mar 5, 2012||Anonymous||I liked your website very much. Previously I had heard the wartime military history of Königsberg and since learning about that have often wondered why this region of Russia was not repatriated back into Germany after the end of the cold war and the fall of the former Soviet Union? Thanks or more appropriately sorrowfully due to your website I have my answer I had no idea allied forces were complicit in such actions by the soviets but then again if we had been principled as Americans we would have insisted that ALL countries be given back their independence. So sad America has done such good but often due to lack of commitment and principle we seem to fall short of truly remarkable actions and take the route that is most expedient to our own interests rather than those of free people everywhere. Maybe if Roosevelt had been in good health Stalin would not have taken such advantage of the situation. So sad.|
|Feb 23, 2012||Peter Clark||This is an extremely well-crafted website which beautifully conveys the history of Koenigsberg and its tragic end. My wife was born in the city just before the outbreak of WW II and was evacuated before the Soviet invasion. I learned about the wartime horrors from her relatives which aroused my interest so much that I have recently completed a book, "The Death of East Prussia: War and Revenge in Germany's Easternmost Province," which will be published this fall. It describes how East Prussia's geographic position exposed it to threats from the east, how Nazi Germany's war of annihilation in Eastern Europe generated the revenge which the province was subjected to by the invading Soviet forces, how East Prussians struggled to survive or succumbed in the desperate wartime conditions, and how the wartime allies extinguished East Prussia by dividing it between Russia and Poland.|
|Feb 15, 2012||Will||
I am writing you to enquire as to when the trek back to East Preussen takes place and how we might join in this vacation. I would also like to know if there is a fraternity of descendants to keep our history alive. I would very much like to correspond with you and others about our history-you now have my email. mitt frundlich grussen,Will
That link is of another very useful site if interested in Prussia: http://ostsicht.de/willkommen.htm . Regarding a group of Königsberger descendants - I had some links to sites that had information of that kind, but they are starting to disappear ... I'll see what I can come up with, as it is on my project list for the site to list that kind of info, have a database of sorts. One of these days I will have more time.)
|Feb 12, 2012||Sheila||
Where was the orphanage in Konigsberg and do you have a picture of it. My father and his siblings were at the orphanage for a time before they were sent with foster families
(Admin: I'm aware of two orphanages at Konigsberg. The Jewish Orphanage was attached to the New Synagogue on the Lindenstrasse (today's ulitsa Oktyabrskaia), and is today the only standing remains of that fine building, after the main structure and temple was destroyed in the Kristallnacht pogrom on the night of November 9–10, 1938.
Then there was the The Royal Orphanage, founded in 1701 by Friedrich I and built just inside the city walls near the Sackheim Gate. I have no other information about that site)
|Feb 6, 2012||Philip||Your site was enjoyable. Don't let that beauty that once was perish. I and those who cherish beauty and history - Thank you.|
|Feb 3, 2012||Sheila||Having just visited Berlin with many visits to museums showing how people can be subjected to such horrors, I bought a box of Konisberg Marzipan. I have just read the history of the city online and again aghast at the horrors of suffering people. All politicians should read the history of these times.|
|Feb 1, 2012||Luke||
Good web site, seems to lack any detail on real Prussians on who's land and bodies
this German town and province were built. What go's around comes around. At least
Soviets left some East Prussians alive the Pagan Prussians who's name the German
colonizer's also stole were not so lucky .
(Admin: While the Teutonic Knights did apparently kill a lot of the indigenous population in that area during their Baltic conquest, many - if not the majority - of the locals would have survived, and they - and their subsequent generations - lived happily ever after after they were assimilated into the new order. That was the way of the world in those days - and not any different from most other areas in Europe. Tribal warfare by any other name. But if that was in any way the justification for destroying hundreds of years of nation building and western culture, by incinerating thousands of innocent people in their beds and voiding survivors from their home lands some 700 years later in Konigsberg - well, Luke, let's hope you're not in charge of the next murderous army that seeks to set right the wrongs of some distant past by under the motto of " What goes around, comes around")
|Jan 20, 2012||Steve||A fine old city perverted by the Nazi regime ... and a truly tragic ending! However, no amount of historical revisionism can distort the reality of who started it all and collaborated zealously to the end to bring about the inevitable final result. They that sow the wind shall reap the whirlwind. So true ... so unfortunate ... and for the innocent ... so haunting and unspeakably tragic.|
|Jan 18, 2012||Peter Scriven||
I happened upon your website from looking up the poet Simon Dach. I have a Lithuanian
customer in Bristol UK and she gave me a small book about Lithuania in which a statue
is shown of Simon Dach. I followed the link to Königsberg and found your website.
I was born in the UK during WW11 and reading the devastating account of the assault
on your city appalls me. I visited Dresden in July 2011 for the first time and my
feelings were the same. War is futile and only a few gain by it, most suffer and
in particular the hard working of the lower ranks.
|Jan 14, 2012||Claus Petersen||A very interesting and beautifully made site, but in a way also very depressing to see a beautiful old town destroyed by war, and that none – as it seems - of the old historic buildings were rebuild. My interest stems from the fact, that I recently discovered that my 3 time grand father, Adam Friedel, was born 1788 in Königsberg, and migrated in the early 18th century to Denmark where he became a Danish citizen in 1811.|
|Jan 12, 2012||Frances Lexutt||My husband and his family were from Laukischken, Labiau East Prussia. While his father was in British prison camp in Italy, my husband, his mother, grandfather, grandmother, aunt and 3 cousins (1 child died in 1945) were taken from their home and kept from 1945 until 1949 some place in Russian in a prison type camp. They were released in 1949 and subsequently made their escape to Western Germany and lived in Hamburg before coming to the United States in 1956. Due to the trauma of those times my husband (now 73) suffers from PTSD. Thank you for making sure none of us forget what these people went through.|
|Jan 11, 2012||anonymous||
Thx so much - and yet recall - leading German (!!)politicians such as Schroeder (and Merkel?) joined the Russian/Soviet May 8 celebration in Moscow - with banners flying hammer and sickle with placards of Lenin and Stalin! No mention of Soviet mass-murder - of Russians - or others.
|Dec 4, 2011||oma R.||
Your history of Koenigsberg after WW11 struck a cord with me. Both my parents were
born in Koenigsberg. I recall my mother telling me that her father and stepmother
died in that horrible winter when they had to leave Koenigsberg. We had to evacuate
our town and ended up living behind the Iron Curtain until we immigrated to Canada.
War is a terrible tragedy where mostly innocent people perish.
Thanks for the website.
|Dec 3, 2011||CCMW||Thank you for this very well presented website though seeing the destruction of this jewel of the Baltic was very depressing. I have my own small contribution to this story at http://nccg.org/preussen|
|Nov 29, 2010||Colin Epton||Some years ago I bought an old atlas in a junk shop and wondered what happened to all the old towns of eastern Europe after the war. When I did the research I found the story of the destruction of Konigsberg particularly haunting. Pre-war photo's show a charming, prosperous city, with its people going about their business with no idea of the horror that will soon befall them. Yours is an excellent site with plenty of interest, keep up the good work. The memory of this city and its people should not be allowed to die.|
|Nov 25, 2011||Ian||
This website is interesting and it is now possible to visit Konigsberg with the travel company Regent Holidays which specializes in unusual locations. I have recently read "Forgotten Land" by Max Egremont which is an interesting and very sad account of the last days of Konigsberg and East Prussia. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union the world has changed for the better and it is now possible and I hope to see the section of East Prussia currently occupied by Russia returned to Germany in the manner of the former GDR.
(Admin: Thank you, Ian. I believe it to be highly unlikely that that the Russians will either rename the city back to Konigsberg or return the enclave to Germany. At the 750 anniversary of the city in 2005 the name Konigsberg was not being used during the celebrations - simply '750 years of Kaliningrad'. To give this some context, as much as Russia has become more open about acknowledging its troubled past under its previous soviet rule – including such things as the Katyn Forest massacre – it seems there are still a majority of Russians who think that the dictator Stalin is a figure to be admired, and this despite the fact that historians have estimated the number of people that have perished under his absolute and brutal regime to be somewhere between 15 and 30 million. The vast majority of victims would have been his own citizens. In this he is likely only second to his fellow communist dictator and genocidal butcher Mao Tse-tung in having more deaths of his own citizens on his conscious. So long as the majority of Russians aren't filled with a sense of revulsion when the name of Stalin comes up it is unlikely they are willing to redress any of the criminal actions that were perpetrated in his name. However, there is always hope for the future - but I assume we'll have to wait until ex-KGB operative Putin - who's wife, incidentally, is from Kaliningrad - is no longer in charge of the country)
|Nov 13, 2011||Allan||
This is a wonderful site and it is extremely moving. Whilst the beauty of Konigsberg
comes through in the photographs, what I find most disconcerting are the people
in those same photographs - going about their everyday business, shopping, playing,
working etc. We know they and their families have no long term future in this city.
They are either going to die in the air raids or evacuation/expulsion or are going
to have to move hundreds of miles away and start all over again.
The contrasting photographs of old Konigsberg with present day Kaliningrad are quite upsetting and depressing. When Warsaw was rebuilt there was an attempt to recreate the city as it was. No such attempt appears to have been made in Kaliningrad, which looks a particularly drab and uninteresting place. No offence intended to present day citizens.
Konigsberg/Kaliningrad should stand as some sort of world heritage city alongside places like Coventry (where I live), Dresden, Hamburg, Lidice, Oradour-Sur-Glane, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Rotterdam, Warsaw, Guernica etc as testament to the fact there are no real winners in war, the innocent so often suffer for the sins of the guilty.
Many congratulations for creating this very poignant tribute to a lost and in many ways forgotten treasure of Eastern Europe.
(Admin: Thank you for your comments - and with due respect to the citizens of Kaliningrad today who are completely innocent with respect to the destruction of Königsberg, most recently they appear to have been making an effort to recognize their city's link with the past, including celebrating the 750 year anniversary of Königsberg / Kaliningrad in 2005. Towards this occasion, some of the bombed-out buildings left standing have been restored to a degree, and apparently more are slated for restoration based on the availability of funds. I'm still working on a photo page for this site that will attempt to show some of it and will publish it soon.)
|Nov 11, 2011||Marty||Enjoyed very much your website. Photos provide a great deal of insight into the history of 20th Century Konigsberg/Kaliningrad. I hope to visit someday. Greetings from USA.|
|Nov 1, 2011||Ruth||Well done! A very interesting collection of information. I would be interested in reading more. I would be glad to see the original name restored!|
|Oct 31, 2011||Hans Fuss||
Great web site especially the old photos.
Both my parents were from Prussia and both spoke very highly of the city and it's beauty.
I am an avid reader of the area and the turmoil that occurred there.
Keep up the great work and THANK YOU
|Oct 31, 2011||anonymous||Most enjoyable|
|Oct 30, 2011||Robert Schultz||
My great , great, grandparents left Konigsberg to escape the war in Prussia. Do
you know of local churches etc that might have genealogy information in the city?
I will be in the Konigsberg this spring.
|Oct 30, 2011||Teresa Schrubba||My maiden name was SCHRUBBA. I have just buried my father GUSTAV. (1925-2011) He did not speak of the war, but told me he was born in Kalinoven\Borschimmon, Dreimuhlen, Steinkendorf. He wasn't clear about any of these details. I have difficulty tracing these on a map after the name changes. He survived the war after being captured and taken to Canada, then following that to England. His father was a Blacksmith and I gather they had a small farm with pigs, cattle and horses. His parents, (my oma AUGUSTE STRALLA & opa LUDWIG SCHRUBBA) were taken by the Russians. However, oma was thankfully rescued by the British Red Cross and taken to West Germany. Dad met her once following the war. I have been really interested by this website and I am grateful to you for this small link into my late father's past. I would love to know more. Thank you.|
|Oct 29, 2011||Susan Kretchman||My grandfather was born in Koenigsburg in 1884. I did not know him; he came to the United States in 1910.I am trying to learn about Poland during the years he lived there.|
|Oct 22, 2011||Scott Lijon||I have always wondered as a child what happened to the Prussians who seemed to have disappeared after WWII. No history book has any mention of them...I am now saddened by the allies behavior towards the German civilians after the war...|
|Oct 20, 2011||Hans Robert||
My father was from Konigsberg, born 1928, in the army 1944.He was taken prisoner
when Konigsberg fell. He did not talk much of it but he did say a few things such
as you cannot go back, the city is not there. He and a couple of prisoners jumped
off a train in Lithuana and spent weeks getting back home where he was able to find
my Grandmother (Oma). I cannot imagine what she endured. In 1948 or 1949 they were
sent to E. Germany luckily my grandfather (Opa) was taken prisoner by the British
in Norway I believe, and were able to reunite In the west. I do remember my father
telling me when he was a prisoner and working on a dairy farm he had an to take
a drink of milk and did, he said he new if he was caught by the Russians he would
have been shot right there. Such was the fate of Germans at that time.
I guess that is why I savor drinking milk so much.
|Oct 19, 2011||anonymous||
How many web sites should be published to memorize thousands of villages and towns
of the Soviet Union which were demolished by the upper race from Fatherland? How
many innocent civilians never ever returned to their homes because were moved to
German factories for work to death? I guess you know the answers. Regardless of
that I still recon the older town on Konigsberg should have been preserved in better
shape. Sad to know how many things couldn't be done for that. Luckily Cathedral
at Kneiphof has been restored and not just because of German funding. The truth
is it was joint effort and other source of funding were taking part. Do more for
integration of sore hearts and not for splitting.
(Admin: Point taken - I've changed the language to say "the funding for this included financial support from Germany". Thanks for pointing that out.)
|Oct 19, 2011||Hana||I have been reading the Anthony Beevor book about the fall of Berlin in 1945 and am finding it both absolutely fascinating and horrible. The stuff he mentions about Konigsberg prompted me to go looking on the Internet and confirmed what a tragic, sad fate befell it. The main thing I draw from the whole thing is that through much of the 20th Century Europe went mad and the little people were the ones who suffered. Dreadful.|
Oct 16, 2011
Excellent report or account of events. As I was born in Koenigsberg, I still have a deep feeling for my birthplace and it's culture.
It makes me very angry how the allies decided over the German population and divided the country, cutting all roots off.
|Oct 12, 2011||anonymous||You have truly told it as it really happened. The story of Konigsberg is one of quiet desolation; being lost to history. I believe it is time to tell its story, like you have done, and spread its side of post WWII occupation. The saying is "to the victor goes the silence", and it is time for that phrase to become obsolete. Very well done|
|Oct 5, 2011||Arno Vizenti||
Hello, I lived in Konigsberg until I was 16 years old, thank you for remembering my home town. I met a Russian born in Kalingrad in Nelson, New Zealand last week, here to play rugby in the Rugby World Cup. His name was Juri. Arno.
|Sep 22, 2011||Paul Graves||
I cannot tell you how much I appreciate the Konigsberg site. My ancestors are from that area, and our original name was KRAMER. How wonderful to see the pictures of what once was. Is the movement to change to the name back to Konigsberg really a hope, or a pipe dream? I would really like to continue hearing more about other sites in the old East Prussia.
|June 5, 2011||
I stumbled on to your site, you are correct, most are oblivious
to the fate of Koenigsburg, its heritage as a center of learning and culture, its
people--and the Allied role in extinguishing what little light was left at the end
of WWII. A friend visited just after the Soviet era looking for his roots. There
was nothing to be found.
Warmest regards, Peters (LATVIANS.COM, LOBH.ORG, among others)
|May 5, 2011||Darlene Bluhm Bennett||Thank you for that beautiful presentation on Konigsberg. My father was born in Germehnen in 1893 and emigrated to the US in about 1911. He was so proud of his homeland and missed it. I have been to Germany but Kaliningrad is too far from the tourist sites and I was not able to visit Kaliningrad. I am so sad that beautiful city was destroyed. War is terrible!|
|May 28, 2011||Giovanni Salieri||
Thanks for mantaining the memory of Koenisberg alive. My father was in Koenisberg in 1938 and he was impressed by a city he was admiring may the memory never been lost Should any commemoration event be done let me know. I appreciate Your work - Thank YOU
Giovanni Salieri , Seregno, Italy
|May 18, 2011||Jason Head||
My mother was born in Koenigsberg in 1941. She was a war refugee and fled. She ended up with another family in a refugee camp in Norway before she was adopted by an American family in 1946. Do you know if there are any records still remaining to help find her existing family. She passed away in 2003, but I would welcome any information that you have. Her name was Gisela Machinska, but I've heard that her last name might have been changed to make it less German. Thanks.
|May 5, 2011||Ben Gregory||
An incredible website. I am an architecture student, Konigsberg looks like it was a stunningly, beautiful European city. I would have loved to have been able to visit. It is tragic beyond words what happened there. 800 years of history destroyed in such a short space of time, and what its been replaced with utterly depressing.
I studied modern history up to A-level, and what amazes me is how the complete destruction of German cities and the ethnic cleansing of Germans form Eastern Europe is never mentioned, instead it is just completely ignored. It seems to me that very few people in the English speaking world have any idea that this even happened. Such a total eradication of history, culture, architectural and a whole people deserves to be in the history books?
|May 5, 2011||anonymous||Thank you. Webs like yours will make future generations remember what wars can do. Still, the descendants of the expelled like me are still waiting for the world to recognize what an injustice was made to innocent German civilians (my father is an East Prussian expellee at the age of 12), the same as has been recognized to Jews, poles, Russians, Palestinians etc|
|May 4,2011||Rita Richter||After seeing this, I almost feel like I've been there. I am looking for Heilsberg, a village near Konigsberg on the Baltic Sea. That is where my maternal grandmother came from. She emigrated between 1880 and 1910C. Could you do help me find Heilsburg? I would deeply appreciate whatever you can do to either locate Heilsberg or find records relating to those years. Her maiden name was Marie Druzinsky <|
|May 4, 2011||anonymous||
Very nice presentation.
A truly sad story on the inhumanity of man.
|Apr 25, 2011||Maxim||
Hello, my name is Maxim. I'm looking for are people which lived Koenigsberg befor war. I'm was finding some things and want give it back. Gold ring "B. K. 8.4.1928" - marry day, and men which birthday 03.05, surname Wehrum (Wehrim, Wehrm, Wehram), Gottsched str.
|Jan 21, 2011||Peter Douvres||
It is truly sad what happen to this city and the people who once lived there. Very few people in this country have no idea what happen to Konigsberg. The cold war obscured the history of what happen to East Prussia. I have always been fascinated by what happen to Germany during WWII and especially the destruction that occurred throughout the country. There is a family in our congregation that fled East Prussia in 1945 and wrote a book about their escape. They just missed getting onto the German ship Von Stuben which was sunk by the Russians.
Can you tell me about your background and are you from Konigsberg. I would love hearing your story.
(Admin: Sorry Peter - I have no connection to Konigsberg, other than having found its tragic story and feeling compelled to preserve the memory of this once great city and its people)
|Jan 10, 2011||Ted Mai||
Thank you for this web site. Danke schon. Ich mochte sagen das auf deutsch, aber mein sprechen nicht so gut ist.
I have been researching the events of post WWII Germany, especially Ostprussen, because my ancestors came from a little town south of Konigsberg, called Kinkheim. Now it is in Poland and renamed Kinkajme.
|Nov 4, 2011||Mark Dams||
My Father was born in Konigsburg in 1917. He died in Munhiem in 1988. He fought as a Luftwaffe pilot in WWII although because he never spoke of the war I never did learn how he participated or even if he was forced to participate in the fight. He, my mom, my sister and brother fled Germany in 53 (after my Dad spent 5 years at a labour camp in Siberia after being caught by a Russian Army force literally hours after Hitler died. They went to start a new life in Canada where I was born in 62. I still remember my Dad having a few paintings and drawings of his birthplace around the house. Because I am facinated by the war and what happened after, I went looking for and found your site. I remember my father saying, "you can't go back, it will never be the same". I was never sure what he ment but after looking at the before-after shots, I think I now understand. My mom and grandmother spoke about how difficult it was to abandon the city with only what they had on their backs while it
Looking forward to hearing from you.
|March 31, 2011||Steen Hanssen||
Here’s my small contribution to keep alive the memory of Königsberg and East Prussia.
Full article visit
http://honestcooking.com/2011/03/23/der-knodel/ promote the article by Like on Facebook or write a comment.
excerpt: ………Perhaps the most famous member of the Knödel family is the Königsberger Klöpse from the doomed capital of East Prussia. Königsberger Klöpse is essentially boiled meatballs made from veal or pork and served with white sauce, capers and cooked potatoes. Following WW2, Königsberg got nearly obliterated by Bomber Harris’s RAF and what little was left then got demolished by the Russians in their successful and thorough annexation of East Prussia. I mention this because in former East Germany (DDR) the name Königsberger Klöpse became an outright taboo. Any reference to the vanished German city of Königsberg (today Kaliningrad) was not welcomed by the party line and the dish was therefore officially renamed Kochklöpse, in response and with bitter irony people then began to call the dish Revanchistenklöpse (revisionistic meatballs). I find it quite compelling that the story of what happened to East Prussia and Königsberg lives on through the Königsberger Klöpse dish……..
|April 8, 2011||Marchmoor||Max, you live in a world of fantasy and know nothing about war. Let me put this to you. There are no rules in war, certainly not in modern times. If an aggressor attacks, then the defender is free to use whatever methods are available to not only defend their own, but also extinguish the aggressor sooner rather than later. It might come as a shock to you but the business of war is about survival, there is little time to be deciding if a historic church will be destroyed or people will die. The days of gentlemen armies fighting in a field are well and truly over. Of course, post-war, the ‘experts’ move in and try and intellectualize and lay their own opinions on the event, from the comfort of their armchairs. It is not to say that the annihilation of people and cities is a good outcome for humanity…it is a sad footnote to human history, but first and foremost wars are about survival and whether you like it or not anything goes.|
|April 2, 2011||Max Murx||
It is extremely interesting how those who deeply inside know very well what a horrendous
crime was committed have swallowed and digested and now regurgitate all their own
WWII propaganda they still need to defend those horrors against the inner voice
in themselves. But they have a problem: Those massacres were not committed by a
longtime vanished totalitarian regime like the Nazis, those were mass murders by
western nations still claiming to be the keeper of the world’s ethical conscience.
They think they can put others on trial. That assumption is based on one’s own moral
bigotry. It is an open wound until honestly processed. The world can take the good
example of the Russians. Taking responsibility for Katyn in no way has scratched
their international reputation, in contrary, it was seen as an act of honour and
dignity. Exactly such an act is what the world is waiting for from those “great
victorious nations” of WWII, present superpowers or former empires. Probably it
helps to know that 13% of those 600.000 German civilians, annihilated by Winston
Churchill and friends were below the age of 10 years. It doesn’t hurt to say that
killing of 80.000 children and babies was something really bad. Strategic necessity
by the way is legally irrelevant. That excuse would render all laws of warfare and
international conventions invalid.
There is still a crime of the present time to be prosecuted: all world asks why those atrocities are completely erased from the minds of those who suffered from them and also their descendants. Instead, Germans torture themselves with alleged eternally lasting collective guilt. Look at “Stockholm Syndrome” and PTSD and remember that there is one German generation which was a target of 3 genocides in one life: the British blockade and famine in 1919 AFTER the end of WW I (800.000 victims), the fire bombings of WWII (600.000) and the expulsions, killings and deliberate starvation during 1945 -1947 (17.000.000 of which 4 -5 million died)- The result is a pathological traumatic reaction until the trauma is healed, and since this process didn’t even start, this trauma will persist. The crime: The trauma is exploited by everyone. Not only by those having pressed € 200 Billion restitutions out of them but also by those misusing the victims silence and pathologic level of guilt feelings for alibi to justify their nations own atrocities, deliberately misinterpreting those symptoms as confessions. However: every trauma creates another one. Its time to think.
|March 5th, 2011||Dr. Jay von Minden||I am working on a book covering the social history of Koenigsberg 1800-1920 with an emphasis on the mundane work-week lives of residents. If anyone has factual information and would like to contribute, please email me at email@example.com . No detail is too trivial for this project.|
|Feb 27, 2011||Dr. Jay von Minden||
First, I wish to thank the web site author for compiling all this information and
for keeping the topic of Königsberg alive. Next, I wish to underscore a few points
for further consideration.
If we look at the bombing of Königsberg as some type of justice, we are making a
cruel mistake. By 1944/45 the people suffering the Allied bombings were mostly women
and children, many of whom were not even German. Refugees fleeing the Soviets began
the westward march years ahead of the Germans. These included not only Baltic peoples
(Estonians, Latvians, Lithuanians) but also the French, English, and Russian P.O.W.’s
who had been assigned to farms throughout East Prussia. There are many autobiographical
accounts of those P.O.W.’s fleeing to Germany (and helping their East German captors)
in the fear of being liberated by the Soviets. That should tell us something.
So when we read of personal accounts, let us remember that these people were children
at the time. If we stand on the Biblical adage “a tooth for a tooth” we will find
ourselves toothless and no wiser for the pain.
A web site like this reminds us of other innocent civilians caught up in the insanity
of WWII. Let us not disregard their stories because of their nationality. If we
are to keep our humanity, if we are to remember the civilian cost of war, we must
remember all of it.
|Feb 13, 2011||Aleksandr Balanda||I spent a long rainy winter nearby in Klaipeda, on the same street as the Kaiser's palace, my apartment between the old german post office and the Danes river. Across the river, it was a short walk to the drama theater, whose ghostly balcony has unchanged in time, the very spot where Hitler stood to deliver his speech of German dominance. Konigsberg likewise, was the city where Hitler cast his vote in the last elections of the Weimar Republic. Those 700 years of German rule came to an end, but they also began with the Crusader's assimilation/eradication of the native Baltic Prussians, who had their own unique culture and language. 25 generations of German settlers might sound like forever to most people, but it never made them native. (more akin to a Texan in northern Mexico in the year 1830.) The proto-Vikings had fishing settlements along the lagoon 500 years before, but didn't colonize the region. Before the Kaliningrad Oblast was created, Stalin offered the land to Lithuania. Even though being communist, the Soviet Lithuanian leaders declined, knowing their total population would be diluted by non-lithuanians, as befell Latvia a generation earlier.|
|Feb 3, 2011||Svetlana Kalashova||My name is Svetlana and I was born in Kaliningrad. I love my hometown all my heart... and it's too sad to see old pictures of Koenigsberg and understand what the great city it was. By the way, I start to make a movie about Koenigsberg-Kaliningrad. So, I'm looking of a people who was born in Koenigsberg or who can tell me something about Koenigsberg (about everything: city, lives in koenigsberg, streets, peoples, war, remove etc...). You can write to me - firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Feb 2, 2011||J S VERMAAK||Why should the modern germany suffer for the past, Konigsberg should be returned besides the other lost terroteries and at the same token so should the land that the soviet union stole from Poland.|
|Feb 5, 2010||Alan W.||Thank you for putting all this together, fantastic insight in to what happened. My mother lived in Königsberg during this period and has just been telling me how she survived the horrors. She eventually escaped with her parents and sister on the 31 Jan 1945, they were one of the last ones to get a ship out of there.|
|Jan 29, 2011||Angela||Wow! Many emotions still run deep. Personally I've never had to live through a war, but I grew up in Germany and was definitely affected by the end results, which brings me to make one point: War is horrible! I will never understand the hatred and destruction people bring about during war. We can discuss it in hindsight as much as we want, nobody can ever really make sense of it. It appears from this blog though, that war affects generation after generation. As a German, who was born over a quarter century after WWII I was made to feel the guilt of a whole nation. I don't have an answer, but I hope that I or my children will never have to life through a war, EVER! For the people in this blog who choose one side or the other: just remember to have a little compassion and understanding, and as many stated - don't brush a people with the same brush. In every war, there were many heroic individuals who tried to fight the regime; that was true during WWII, and also later in the Soviet Republic. It's always easy to point a finger after the fact, but we don't know what we would do. I certainly don't. Would we be courageous enough to fight against a dictator? Nobody can know that until they have lived through it. Fear is very powerful. Fear of death, torture, losing your family. Let's not judge too harshly. Let's try to learn from this and live in peace with each other.|
|Jan 25, 2011||Johann||While Viktor Pilarski has some valid points, I have to point out that his belief that all Germans were (are) evil has some flaws. In 1944, my mother was 12. Her elder sisters already married and living elsewhere in Germany, she was the only child at home with her parents, then already nearing their 60's. By 1945, my mother, now thirteen, had personally buried both her parents by placing their bodies in burlap sacks and dumping them into a communal grave (a hole in the ground where all the other bodies were deposited). That same year, her face scared as a result of a bombing, she was taken captive. She remained in a Russian prison camp until she was released at 16, alone, with no food or means to survive. But she did survive, ans a year later, she was reunited with her remaining sisters (the eldest was also killed during the war). Tell me Mr. Pilarski, as a 12 year old girl, as a 13 year prisoner of war, was my mother one of the evil Germans you speak of?|
|Jan 24, 2011||Diane||My grandmother came from konigsberg some time after wwi, i think. so i was very glad to see the photos. i believe i read that that area was originally settled by the polish people; and they were killed or run out when the prussians took over the territory. i don't think it is productive to wallow in guilt or hatred about the past. we must do we can every day to spread peace and good will.|
|Jan 24, 2011||D. Shatin||As a child we used to visit cousins on my Mother's side who lived in a house in W. Orange NJ. Two sisters, their respective husbands, and children lived their with their Uncle and housekeeper. The adults spoke English with a German accent. My Mother was related to them on her Father's side who immigrated from Germany pre WW I. This family came to the U.S. from Konigsberg following Kristallnacht. It took quite awhile to get visas and the sisters had twin brothers who were disabled. The family was frantic to find a safe place for the twins as the family was Jewish. They were able finally to get them out to the Netherlands where they would be safe. The twins were exterminated after the invasion of the Netherlands by the Nazis. This branch of the family were born in and grew up in Konigsberg Germany. For quite some time I was trying to figure out where this was in Germany and came to learn it became a part of Russia during the WWII and is now Kaliningrad. I have a screen saver of the beautiful former Konigsberg on my computer and it is a magical looking place. Thank for your posting these many pictures of Konigsberg, once Eastern Prussia and the center of learning, tranquility and peaceful coexistence among all groups. The magnitude of destruction is immeasurable. And yet, we continue these barbaric ways, unrestrained. A pox on all war mongers and their families.|
|Jan 6, 2011||Andreas||
I came about this site in preparation of my first trip to Kalinigrad which shall
take place in Summer 2011. My personal connection to Königsberg ?My dad was
born and raised in Königsberg and my mum was born in Stettin. My grandfather was
a dentist, living and practicing at the Paradeplatz in city center of Königsberg.
I grew up with many books, pictures and histories told of Königsberg, Rauschen and
Cranz from the twenties and thirties. How my dad played around the Dome and Kantmemorial
as a young boy.
My dad became a soldier at the age of 17 and came back from Sowjet prison in 1949 at the age of 26. He arrived in Berlin on his 26th. birthday and moved to Kaiserslautern. He eventually worked in the ministery of defense in Bonn, where i grew up from the age of 2. After the first heavy bombings on Stettin, my grandmother and mum and her little brother fled to relatives in Tempelburg then to Woldenberg. After the breakthrough of the Sowjet Armee they tried to escape western. She experienced the invasion of the Red Army in Waren/Müritz on May 1st 1945 at the age of 9 with all the shootings, executions raptures and violence. My mum, now 74, still suffers from various anxiety disorders and it's getting now worse the older she gets. She barely can talk about those days and starts trembling the same minute. After 6 months they could move further to the South of Germany as my maternal grandfathers family lived near Stuttgart. She went to school in Esslingen but still tells unbelievable stories of those refugee kids were treated badly. It's not as if those refugees from the east were welcomed at all in the other parts. The whole country was destroyed and these peolpe from the east suffered double. The experienced the extremely brutal invasion of the Red Army and the loss of everything, the escape, the violence and by arriving in their new "homes" they were spit after for being poor and from the east. To honestly think - even today - that the simple fact of being German is justification enough to ignore the personal suffering of a 9 year old girl, who experienced all those things, is not comprehensible. I grew up in Bonn with my parents and maternal grandparents constantly telling stories of the past, of their lifes in Stettin and Königsberg, I grew with pictures on the wall, many many books about the cities on the shelf, and many private pictures from the 20's and 30's. But it was a little bit like having parents from Disneyworld. You simply could not go to the city where mum or dad were born like my classmates. Both my parents have been traumatized for their entire life. My father, being already 17 when the war started, managed to go on with his life by writing, reading and working on it with his mind. He personally was shocked afterwards to not have realised what the system was all about. He was born in 1923 in Königsberg and from the age of 12 he was part of HJ and simply grew up with the diction of Nazi-Germany. He never got over the fact that he did not recognize the madness of the system.
My grandparents born in Königsberg in 1895 and 1898 and who died in 1947 and 1961 respectively, obviously were actively not opposing to the system. So my dad never questioned the system at the time. He died in 1988, one year before the wall came down and two years before the Oblast Kaliningrad was opened. He always dreamt of once at least once going to Königsberg again and sitting at the shores of the Schlossteich. My grandfather was a dentist, his office being situated in the middle of the city center on Paradeplatz next door to my grandparents flat. He did oppose to the Nazis in his own way. If there was an obligation to put out flags on Paradeplatz, he constantly put out the old flag of the German Empire. My father once told me that he was by no means a democrat in our modern sense. He was no republican. He was a "Kaisertreuer", he wanted back his old Kaiser Wilhelm. You see, everything was very complicated. Everyone had his own personal reasons, backgrounds, ideas about the situation. When I dealing with the past I try to tell apart the generell political situation from the personal one. Of course the result of WWII with Stettin and Königsberg being destroyed, the German population being expelled is caused by the Germans itself by starting the war. But then again, my parents and especially my mum has no personal guilt at all and yet she became a victim of the Sowjet Armee. So how to handle with it ? For decades we kept silence of the suffering of German civilist in connection with the expelling, with the situation in Pommerania and East-Prussia at the end of WWII, because it would immediately has the taste of putting the German guilt into a softer light. But this is not the idea. The German guilt is undenieble and the geopolitical result is not to be questioned. But there were war crimes on almost every side and it's not helping to justify the deads of other countries with the hint: but the Germans were the first. Today noone would support a strategie like that. You don't react with the same deads unless you have to to defend yourself. Otherwise you are not considered to be any better than the person you are accusing to be attacking you. Today that is common sense in conflicts for the strategie of UN or NATO. Looking back on WWII many things would have been done differently by the allies if that modern strategie would have been already common sense. But those were the days and any accusation towards the allies are leading nowhere.
Furthermore I often ask myself, being lucky to be born into a western democratic country, what would I have done ? Would I have a been a "hero" and oppose to the system ?? How can I juge about people who kept silent at the time without having experienced the same situation ? I wish that I would have done something, but I can not state that for sure i would have. So I am very reluctant or reserved to judge. For me, being born in 1965, all that war, violence and hatred is beyond my imagination. If today you see a film about Hitler, he and everything seems to be so obviously crazy and dangerous that it's unbelievable he got the power and yet it all happened only 20 years before I was born. I grieve about all lifes lost in WWII but the foreign ones as much as the german ones, about the loss of the jewish element in German society, about the loss of my parents home, about the destruction of so much history, buildings, art and culture. I am very curious how the trip to Kalinigrad aerea will effect my view. If anyone has to some good ideas where to go to and what is not to be missed, let me know.
|Jan 1, 2011||Rudi||As an American with grand parents from Insterburg, I become shocked at the justifications I hear for the bombing of German civilians. Truly the English speaking world suffers from the same thing we accuse others of = extreme propaganda and a cover up of dispicable behavior. A comprehensive look at history will reveal that is was the English who decided to first bring the war to civilians during the Battle of Britain. Germany was bombing only miliatary targets up to that point. Why did Churchill not warn Covntry and Newcastle about impending Luftwaffe raids that he was aware of before hand - why? Good propaganda to get the Americans in the war. Please let s not forget that the Americans allied themselves with the most infamous butcher of history - Stalin. At least Churchill recognized this but was ignored by the big money socialist Roosevelt - yes communism and socialism are one click apart. Thanks to continued embarassment of such a bedfellow we continue to soft peddle soviet atrocities. By the way if we were to measure despots on numbers of innocents murdered - Stalin makes Hitler seem sedate. Hence we continue to hear that the Germans got what they deserved. Perhaps in today s post Christian culture that may be true. Then we should remember not to feign shock at atrocities across the globe. Königsburg is forever gone to history; however it may be wise to begin to remember the innocent Germans that were murdered just because of their geographic location. I for one will only ever refer to the lost cities of Insterburg, Allenstein, Elbing, Danzig, Stettin, Breslau and hundreds of others by there correct German names if only to remind current generations of the eventual loss of credibility by attempting to rewrite history.|
|Dec 29, 2010||Roger||
As from Kaliningrad: DECEMBER 2010 REFLECTIONS ON KALININGRAD
On a brilliant but frigid Sunday a week ago my young friend, Danil, the 18-yr-old son of our pedicurist, Angela, took me to the visit the World Oceanic Museum here on the Pregel River that runs through the center of Kaliningrad. It is an interesting museum with large research ships and submarines moored outside on the Pregel. It was so cold (minus 25) that we didn’t get onto or in the ships or submarines, but viewed them from outside. The museum is small but with very interesting aquariums with all manner of strange fish from all over the world. Especially intriguing were small fish from SE Asia which swam around in the water, but then would spread their fingered fins and climb out of the water onto mango tree branches and waddle around on their fins breathing air through their gills. One gets a sense of how life on earth evolved from that in the seas. But for me, the bookstore was the best discovery. There I found a brand-new book on Koenigsberg/Kaliningrad presenting matching pictures from the 1930s and now in 2010. It is in Russian, German, and English (Koenigsberg-Kaliningrad: Two Views of History, by Vladimir Voronov [Kaliningrad 2101] ISBN 978-9955-488-46-0). Also, there is a new fold-out map of Koenigsberg in the 1930s with German street names and buildings and an index of the current Russian names. I’ve devoured both the book and map since then.
For almost a decade I’ve visited Kaliningrad and have homes here and in Svetlogorsk/Rauschen. Over that time I have seen in Kaliningrad the major monuments that have been restored after the horrendous and unnecessary bombings in 1944 by the British and the furious Russian attack in 1945. I’ve also seen the many photos of the city center after 1945 reaching into the 1970s – a barren landscape with a few pitiful ruins piercing the skyline. Even the great Gothic cathedral, now so beautiful, was a ruin into the 1990s. I’ve also driven so many times through the city and have assumed that most of the buildings were Russian constructs – as many of the so-called Khrushchev apartment buildings indeed are (done quickly and ugly for the families of the militarized Kaliningrad to live in). But as I looked at the new book with pictures of buildings of all sorts then and now, I am astonished to see how the Russians have taken these frightfully damaged buildings and restored them for use. An absolutely amazing achievement in only the past 30 or so years. Now when I go out into the city I look up to the second floors and above of buildings to see the shapes of the windows, and sure enough, surprisingly many, many are German. The old brick German buildings with their brick decorative elements are easy to spot, but those that have been plastered over are not, but the window shapes and configuration of the buildings give them away. For me the city really takes on a whole new character reflecting the German past. But it also makes one admire how the Russians, poor as they have been and are, have recreated and restored for themselves this great old East Prussian city out of the ashes of WWII. Which brings me back to Danil.
His family lives in a 3-story fairly non-descript building plastered green. It is not far from our new penthouse, near the city center and zoo. The stairway going up to their second-floor apartment makes one think he is in the slums of the Bronx – as do many of the stairways in the older buildings – poorly lit, cracking cement stairs, rickety railings, etc. But then one enters the apartment (as I have in so many apartments we visit here) and is astonished to find a beautiful, modern, well-furnished apartment. As Danil and I talked I began to analyze the structure of the apartment – 15-foot ceilings, spacious rooms, meter-thick cement walls, long gracious hallway, etc. It clearly is not something one would build today for a family of modest means. Hence, I asked Danil about it. To my surprise he casually said that it had been a German apartment building made for the families of officers of the Luftwaffe. This they confirmed in finding old photos and newspapers as they renovated the apartment. I have several illustrated books on Koenigsberg/Kaliningrad with pictures of the post-war devastation and the brave new words in the Communist newspapers then trumpeting how this ‘Fascist’ city would be recreated according to the new Communist standards. Straighten out the old German streets, destroy buildings like the famed Alte Schloss (which they dynamited in 1966) with its German imperial character, build a new worker’s paradise, and so on and so forth.
But the old German buildings have been reused and restored, streets and boulevards largely remain in their curved and crooked German patterns, and amazingly there is on the ballot this March a public referendum to demolish the immense House of Soviets (which Brezhnev called the ugliest building in, or ‘the sore tooth’ of Russia -- built on the site of the Alte Schloss) and to rebuild the Alte Schloss. Now if only the original Amber Room, the eighth wonder of the world created for Friedrich I in Berlin of amber from this area, could be discovered here and placed in its last know resting place, the rebuilt Alte Schloss, reminding the world that the center of the amber universe is here, not in Poland or Lithuania and not even in Pushkin where the magnificent reproduction is now to be found.
|Dec 9, 2010||Richard||
The story of what happened to Konigsberg is terrible, and I thank you for highlighting
the appalling, and mostly unknown story of the great city s demise. It makes us
all think that these events must never happen again, and we should all strive for
greater understanding of different nations and cultures. I do ,however, object to
people bashing our forefathers and calling Arthur Harris "evil" and ridiculing
him "being in hell with Stalin and Hitler". What cretins are you? Britain
( and her few allies ) had few other options available in 1940. The only means of
real resistance was the aerial campaign against Germany. The technology of the day
meant that houses and their civilian occupants would be affected. No one should
blacken the name of the brave RAF crew members, nor their superior officers, who
fought this campaign through the dark days of the Second World War. We haven t earned
the right to criticize enjoying our freedom which they sacrified to give us. Over
55,000 British and Commonwealth air crew died between 1939 and 1945. The fact that
they caused death and suffering is frankly irrelevant, they were doing a job to
save the free world from Nazi tyranny. The fact that they were better at their job
than the Luftwaffe were in 1940 over Britain, contributed to our freedom. And I
thank them for it! War is a terrible thing, and terrible acts are committed, but
don t judge and rebuke deeds of the "greatest generation" from the comfort
of your arm chair, sipping your coffee with your broadband internet access. They
died so you could have your misguided ideas......'
(Admin: Anyone who gave their life in WWII to slay the evil and murderous Nazi beast deserves our deepest appreciation, and their acts of bravery and self-sacrifice should never be forgotten. And this includes the thousands of US and British airmen who performed incredible feats of courage by flying nearly blind for hours and hours in the dark across hostile territory and aided by primitive navigational aids (well, at least by today s standards). However - I take exception to your blunt pronouncement that "The fact that they caused death and suffering is frankly irrelevant ...." The people that were at the receiving end of this would have surely thought different of this - and there are many truly heartbreaking accounts of the incredible horror and suffering endured by those who were incinerated by one of the many firestorms that were unleashed by the Allied Forces across Germany in WWII.
We saw terrible things: cremated adults shrunk to the size of small children, pieces of arms and legs, dead people, whole families burnt to death, burning people ran to and fro, burnt coaches filled with civilian refugees, dead rescuers and soldiers, many were calling and looking for their children and families, and fire everywhere, everywhere fire, and all the time the hot wind of the firestorm threw people back into the burning houses they were trying to escape from. – —Lothar Metzger, survivor (Dresden>It seems to me that there will in fact be some hope for the human race if we manage to learn just a little from such horrific events as WWII, such as the realization that not "All s Fair in (Love and) War" and that the end not always justifies the means. This would include the recognition that there is a distinction between killing people for the sake of killing them, versus them being killed because that was the only way a strategic target (such as a munitions factory) could be taken out. In the end, the deliberate bombing of civilian targets in order to break the morale of the German people did little to bring an end to WWII. The British Bombing Survey Unit (BBSU) of 1945 concluded that
The essential premise behind the policy of treating towns as unit targets for area attack, namely that the German economic system was fully extended, was false." This, the BBSU noted, was because official estimates of German war production were "more than 100 percent in excess of the true figures". The BBSU concluded: "Far from there being any evidence of a cumulative effect on (German) war production, it is evident that, as the (bombing) offensive progressed ... the effect on war production became progressively smaller (and) did not reach significant dimensions. (Copied from wikipedia)This means that many people in Germany – including thousands of innocent children, women, the elderly - were turned into burning cinders and ashes just because someone thought that this might be a good idea to help shorten the war, when in fact it did hardly make a difference at all.
|Dec 1, 2010||C Vance||Where would the names of the huguenots be located that lived there? I am searching for my ancestors Mathieu & Jane Mauve & their daughter Susanna. They were in America by 1739 in Georgia at the latest.|
|Nov 11, 2010||Phil||Very interesting and informative. Of particular value I feel are the photos of Königsberg circa 1938.|
|Nov 11, 2010||Peter||
The reason the Germans have not paid restitution to the Poles is because Poland
was awarded nearly one fourth of prewar Germany at the end of the War. It is hard
to comprehend that at that time there existed someone smart enough to decide that
one fourth of prewar Germany was probably enough restitution. Today the value of
these areas, now incorporated into Greater Poland, are in the trillions. At least
four times the value of Eastern Poland which the Soviet Union decided it deserved.
I will name again the major German cities now in Poland: Danzig Stettin, Breslau,
Posen and, of course, the jewel of the Baltic Koenigsberg. Besides these cities,
there were the churches, museums and cultural properties, the highly developed infrastructure,
factories, universities (Brahms composed his well-known Academic Overture for the
hundredth anniversary of Breslau University), schools, autobahns and various breadbaskets
upon which Germany as a whole depended. It should be remembered that Poland has
signed an international document attesting that it will not seek further restitution.
Like everything, however, it could become an open question. Yes, I am aware of the
often quoted three partitions of Poland which took place in the 18th century. I
can name the where, when and how it all came about.
Probably it is no surprise that the Russians got the bear s share and the Germans came out short by comparison. If there is anything the Poles are masters of it is claiming that such and such an area was originally Polish due to the efforts of some Piast prince. Yes, there were a lot of Poles in West Prussia and even in Posen where Hindenburg was born. But I can also point out that before the War, Danzig and Breslau were ethnically and culturally nearly 100% German. The attempts by the Poles to prove beyond a doubt the polonicity of these two cities has been, first of all, comical and then painful. As there were Poles in West Prussia, the repressive Versailles Treaty which ended World War I resulted in a large number of Germans ending up in Poland. It was the random murder and oppression of these Germans which ignited World War II. The Poles stubbornly refused to negotiate this issue and the return of the German city of Danzig. Had they been more practical, the War could have well be avoided.
Even in this "good" war, as it is called (There are no good wars!), the little person pays with his life and property instead of the majority of the party Bonzen . The grandmother in East Prussia who was gang raped and nailed to the barn door in East Prussia, the women and children who suffered a horrible death in the icy waters of the Baltic when the refugee ship Gustloff with 9,000 aboard was arbitrarily sunk by a Soviet submarine captain, (He later for the Order of Lenin for his heroic action.) and finally the old German farmer who was beaten to death in one of the Polish revived concentration camps in Silesia all paid the ultimate prices for being seen as Nazis and not Germans I do recognize what was done to the Poles and others. I abhor and condemn the crimes committed against them no less than those committed against the Germans. But I am drawn to try and point out that the Germans should not be (even after 65 years) painted with the wide brush of NAZI and their sufferings and victimization should not be dismissed with the erroneous, but unforutnately oft repeated statement, THEY DESERVED IT.! The majority of the German people were themselves victims of the War. The ignorant belief that the Nazi and the whole German people were one in the same is a repugnant falsehood used to unsuccessfuly justitfy the horrendous crimes of the Allies.
|Sep 19, 2010||Marcin||
Well, looks like it s touched a sensitive spot! However one may try to dilute or
relativise things here, one thing is clear: there would have been no bombing of
Koenigsberg without the 1933 elections and all the subsequent chain of events into
which the MAJORITY of the German people walked with eagerness and zeal! Talking
about one without talking about the other means erring from the very start! As for
the EU etc. - well, regimes may change, but long-term interests and policies do
not. No one in Poland is ever dreaming anymore of regaining Lviv or Vilnius - because
we REALLY consider these countries our friends! - but in Germany we have the Prussian
Claims Society, the Bund der Vertriebenen, the Museum with its narrow, decontextualised
view of history, and we also have the EU - a German invention, precisely, and East-oriented,
of course, because there is no other major player in this part of the continent
except Berlin. Even if the above is paranoia, I must say Germans have the historical
DUTY to reassure me that it s ungrounded! For now, they have been doing little of
that... (Balance of comment removed)
(Admin: Sensitive? Well, let me put it this way: the world would be a significant better place if we stopped judging people en masse based on their membership in a group, be it religious, ethnic or based on citizenship. Let’s face it, if you think about it, there are really no such things as “Catholics” or “Jews” or “Germans”, but only individuals who are German, Jewish or Catholic. The difference is that when someone does an evil thing, it is because he or she is evil, and not because they have a certain nationality, and for that reason the responsibility starts and ends with the individual and does not transfer to anyone else with the same nationality. There is no such things thing as guilt by association, or by membership in a group - ethnic, religious or otherwise - and to believe so smells like pure unadulterated racism. Now you could argue – as you seem to do – that there is something intrinsic to the German culture that is responsible for all that happened with WWII. I don’t happened to see it that way – but you’re entitled to you own opinion. I’ve tried to make a case in an earlier comment regarding the conditions in Germany when Hitler came to power, and will leave it at that. But I’ve removed part of you last comment because it is a little too subjective and goes way beyond what I would like this site to be about.
|Sep 18, 2010||Marcin||
Was it the Gaullists who fought in Algeria or the Republicans or Nixonites in Vietnam?
So please, stop using the excuse about "Nazis". It was the GERMANS who
started the war and what was the party in power at the time doesn t matter. The
NSDAP won the elections in 1933 by a sweeping majority thrughout Germany. The war
was a German vision, its purpose was for German culture to rule the world. Nazism
was but a means to achieve that end. As for the post-war expulsions - the nostalgia
(to say the least) for those areas felt by Germans to this day means that they were
the right thing to do! The Allies wanted to make sure that no one would one day
try again to claim those areas for Germany - and start another war. This is, I m
sure, what would have happened had millions of Germans been left in what was now
western and northern Poland and the Kaliningrad Oblast. What Germans did during
the war - mass-scale barbarism unheard of in western civilisation - meant that no
one wanted to leave even the slightest risk that this could happen again. Somehow
those grieving the Vertreibung don t say anything about the massive deportations
of Slavs - Poles, Ukrainians, Belarussians, Russians - from areas that were to become
the subject of German colonisation. Those grieving the bombing of Konigsberg somehow
don t say anything about the bombing of Warsaw and other Polish cities in September
1939. It s really terrible, you know, because it means that Germans have learned
nothing from the war and that their extreme nationalism - which stems from their
(right!) sense that their culture is among the world s finest - has only been concealed,
not uprooted. This bodes ill for the future of Europe and makes one suspect that
the EU was devised to obtain that which Germany had failed to achieve in the East
by military means...'
(Admin: Were the French cooperating with the Nazi Regime, or was it the Vichy Government? Where the Nixonites demonstrating against the war in Vietnam, or where they Americans? You have to be careful how you apply your language here. Firstly, there is no German DNA, nor is there French, American or Polish DNA. There are only people who live within the borders of a country, and as such are identified with the country where they live. Secondly, it is a mistake to assume that - any any given time, and anywhere in the world - the government of the day enjoys the full support of the people that live under it. That was no more true in Germany then as is was in Russia or Spain - where dictatorial regimes ruled the roost - as it is in the current prison states of North Korea an Burma. What they all have in common is that thugs are charge, and all opposition to them is suppressed, and typically via the most brutal means. But even if the the majority of German people at the time were in support of Hitler s domestic policies - and there is no evidence to suggest that everyone was fully aware what he was doing to the Jewish people when they were out of site, the punishment inflicted on the city of Königsberg and its people and the subsequent ethnic cleaning perpetrated by Stalin are criminal acts of the very worst kind no matter from where you look at it. Your comment "This bodes ill for the future of Europe and makes one suspect that the EU was devised to obtain that which Germany had failed to achieve in the East by military means…" show a humorous touch of paranoia that you maybe should do something about.)
|Aug 28, 2010||Chris||My father fled Konigsberg as a child during WWII. Im curious... how have you been going about researching your fiance s family tree?|
|Aug 8, 2010||Victor Pilarski||
I suggest a little different "fallacy": Hitler was evil. Hitler was an
admired hero, a leader and an idol for the great majority of Germans for 12 years
till his death. The first and only significant attempt to overthrow Hitler by his
countryman was made only after the beginning of Germany s decline and by no means
because the perpetrators lost their faith in Nazi ideology or became suddenly humanity
lovers. German s remorse on German s deeds in WW2 began only after Germany s defeat,
not a moment earlier. Therefore most of the Germans were evil, or collaborated happily
with evil. Does the above still look as a fallacy? Your description of Hitler as
a psychopath suggest that millions Germans and other Europeans accidentally and
suddenly began to murder Jews and plunder their property with fanatic zeal just
because some psychopath told them to so. Well, it doesn t sound convincing. More
convincing is the explanation that Hitler only released the suppressed demons that
were integral part of Europe s history for very long centuries. Those demons never
really disappear, including today. They only wait till their next occasion. As to
the cultural legacy you mention – what is it worth if so many individuals, who were
the main bearers of the same cultural legacy, were neither human nor brave enough
to even try to oppose those scums you mention and preferred to cheer them? It reminds
me an argument in a defense of Poles of a Polish friend of mine, after he recognized
the persecution of Jewish survivors in Poland after the Holocaust (which prevented
any chance of reviving a Jewish life there): "One event cannot wipe out centuries
of common blooming history of Poles and Jews in Poland". To me it sound like
a of a man who killed his wife and children, who s defense claim is: "One incident
cannot hide all those our happy years of marriage…" Well, actually and unfortunately,
(Admin: Well, Victor, clearly your mind is made up on much of this and I have neither the time or inclination to even try and change it. But I do want to say the following: Regarding Hitler s rise to power and popularity in pre-WWII Germany, you may want to read up on the conditions in Europe and Germany when he came to power and perhaps understand how the WWI War Reparations act as set out under the Treaty of Versailles had a created a political and social-economic climate in Germany that was ripe for someone like Hitler to take advantage off for his own evil visions. Together with his incredibly effective propaganda machine under the directions of the sinister Josef Goebbels he found a willing and eager people that could just about be manipulated in any given direction so long as it provided a way out of the sewer hole that the rest of Europe had condemned them to, and that featured such things as hyper-inflation at the rate of 4 trillion German marks to 1 US dollar. None of this justifies the ensuing conquest of Europe and the persecution of the Jews of course - nothing, but nothing could ever justify that - but it does go a long way towards an explanation of how a nation can be dragged down by a malevolent leadership into a realm which leads straight to hell. )
|Aug 11, 2010||August||First of all, thank you for hosting and bringing this history of the city of Koningsberg to the public. What a beautiful city it seems to have been. Then, a question to anyone who fled this city as civilian and went to Berlin in the late days of the German Reich. Because I m working on a manuscript, and I m in the beginning phase of putting a work plan schedule on the concept of bringing the civil history of Prussian people who fled East Prussia in the last days and months of the WWII. I hope I won t be misunderstood. My grandfather on my mothers side, faced almost 3 years in German prison camps due to his resistance of the occupant Germany in Norway, and was a survivor until he passed away in 1972 of a heartattack. So I have been brought up on mainly stories of the "triumphanting and glorius victory" of the Allied forces of WWII.He was a barber in Sachsenhausen, Buchenwald and Nazwieler, and I m also told he saved several people from execution by hiding them under the floors of the barrack where he was forced to work. My main aim is to try to show that there were also great suffering and losses on BOTH sides of the war and when we attack or condemn war as an evil, we have to know that the ones who really suffers in war are almost always those who didn t wanted it, and often women and children. And if the mindset and hearts, and the human condition has changed since 1946, I would like to find that out on my own through my work on a doc. to show the other side of the so-called victory of the sheeple mankind. Maybe this is only a small contribution to a near future to end all wars. Perhaps a naive thought, but as long as I live I like to give it a try, my way. So the message has been sent :-) Because a major factor today is the way we communicate (internet), whatever faith, belief-system, nation or political view we stick to. My suggestion is that internet might be a future peace-keeper and cultural tool for building frindship cross borders of the other acpects of life. Thank you for listening in, and once again thanks for the this website.(Admin: Comment edited for brevity, relevance, and to take out some language possibly produced by translating software)|
|Aug 10, 2010||Victor Pilarski||
It looks that the heart touching nostalgia s wave above somehow omitted an integral
part of Konigsberg s history of destruction. Let s ponder about that destruction
– when did it actually begin? Wasn t it in the night between the 10nh to 11nh of
november 1938, when dedicated and loyal citizens of Konigsberg burnt to ashes the
New Synagogue of Konigsberg? Or maybe it was when those citizens diligently burnt
down the other three synagogues of Konigsberg? And when exactly began the death
toll among and the expulsion of the inhabitants of the city of Konigsberg and the
loot of their property? Wasn t it when the same dedicated, loyal and diligent citizens
of Konigsberg began the arrests, imprisons, throwing orphans to the streets, looting
and deportations of other citizens of their city who just happened to be Jews? A
fake burst of emotion is called in Hebrew "crocodile tears" – when the
predator burst in tears a moment after the kill, in memory of the victim. In our
case, the predator did more than that – he even forgot his prey.
(Admin: True, very few of the synagogues across Germany survived the infamous Kristallnacht of November 1938, and the beautiful New Synagogue on the Lindenstrasse at Konigsberg was no exception. Today, only the part that housed the Jewish Orphanage still exists on that spot. A night of infamy by any other name and the start of far, far worse to come for anyone who happened to be a member of the Jewish faith as it marked the start of the Holocaust. But who are we to blame for this: all the Germans who were alive at the time, or mainly the Nazi scum who orchestrated this dark and ugly period in German history. I continue to believe that it is unfair to paint everyone with the same brush. A logical falacy lies at the bottom this, and it goes as follows: Hitler is evil Hitler is a German Therefore, all Germans are evil. Also, the significance of Konigsberg should not be reduced to period that Hitler was in charge of Germany - its considerable history and cultural contributions deserve much better than that, and so do the people that lived and worked there over the centuries. It is their legacy and rightful place in European history that this site is all about.)
|Aug 4, 2010||Max Popov||
Das ist in Ordnung, keine Bildquellen zu hinweisen? Beste Gruesse, Max Popov
(Admin: Max is right, of course. Strictly speaking, if you own a photograph, it would not be right for someone else to use it either without your permission or without at least (!) crediting you as the source of it. Wikipedia, for example, is absolutely maniacal about that, unless the photographs are in the public domain.I cannot claim ownership to many of the Konigsberg photographs used on this site - I have collected them over a few years by searching for them on the internet. And in regards to my use of them on this site, I m of two minds of this being right or wrong. I believe these photos belong to everyone who once called Konigsberg home, and to those who it was taken from in terms of cultural heritage, and - last but not least - to those who have taken an interest in preserving the memory of a once beautiful and thriving city in eastern Europe, and the tragic tale of its eventual destruction at the end of WWII. There is no profit motive involved here - this site is actually costing me money.
But fair is fair, and if anyone needs to be given credit for any of the photographs on this site, I will do so. Simply submit your details to me via this site and how you acquired the copyright to any of the photographs I have used, and I will add that information to the site.)
|May 20, 2010||HARLEY & HELGA (WERSCHUN) NOLDEN||
My wife (at the time was 8yrs old) and her mother, grandmother and brother (age
5 at the time) escaped the Russians during operation Hannibal in Jan 1945. They
were abe to make it to Okesboel Dennmark refugee camp until the end of the war.
Helga (Wershun) Nolden seeks other refugees from Konigsberg and from Oksboel Denmark
and like to share experiences. You can reach Helga at the email above. She has also
published her story and a photo review of the book can be found at the link below.
Thank you for presenting this forum. We really do enjoy it.
ESCAPE FROM HELLFIRE TO FREEDOM
|Apr 25, 2010||Stephen||Thank you for this wonderful site. My family is about equally divided of English and German descent and I can understand the sentiments of both sides regarding the bombing and destruction. It s only of late that I ve become more aware of and interested in the beautiful city of Konigsberg and the region of East Prussia. As someone mentioned, YouTube has many videos of the old city, but also try Flickr for many beautiful old pictures. Again, thank you.|
|April 1, 2010||Trish||Thank you for this story. I came across it because I am researching my fiances family tree. His whole family lived in Konigsberg, Germany. He knows nothing about them other than names and trying to find information on them seems impossible. With all the destruction during the war its no wonder no records are available today. What a shame. It was a beautiful city.|
|Mar 2, 2010||Bernhard||Canitz, thank you, this is a priceless site. Alan, Ronnie W., (or any others who wish to make contact), my mother also grew up in Konigsberg and was forced to flee from the russians....write to me at email@example.com (PS Helmuth Von Lust, I too grew up in England and experienced a similar fate.|
|Feb 24, 2010||Ronnie Wallace||Our mother and family escaped from the ruins of Konigsberg and was persuaded by her mother not to board the Wilhelm Gustloff ship. The ship was sunk by a Russian sub; they passed the wreckage 2 days later. (Admin added: The Wilhelm Gustloff s final voyage was during Operation Hannibal in January 1945, when it was sunk while participating in the evacuation of civilians and personnel who were surrounded by the Red Army in East Prussia. The Gustloff was hit by three torpedoes from the Soviet submarine S-13 in the Baltic Sea on the night of 30 January 1945 and sank in less than 45 minutes. An estimated 9,400 people were killed in the sinking.If accurate, this would be the largest known loss of life occurring during a single ship sinking in recorded maritime history. - More at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MV_Wilhelm_Gustloff|
|Jan 25, 2010||brightonian||
In any war the imperative priority is to 'win'. Bomber Harris was doing
what he was ordered to do by Churchill and the other political leaders in Britain
during the Second World War. Harris's brief was to carry the war to the civilian
populations of Germany, to destroy its physical infrastructure, its industrial capacity
and its ability to wage war effectively. Public opinion in Britain supported this
for obvious reasons - don't forget that Britain was under constant air attack
by the Luftwaffe for virtually the entire period of the War and tens of thousands
of innocent people were killed.
Koinigsberg was a key German strategic position on the Eastern Front in 1944. It had to be captured to ensure defeat of the Reich, and in the event of course this is what the Red Army was able to do. But didn't it make sense for the RAF to lend a helping hand with their bombers? Was not their constant pressure from Stalin, and from public opinion in Britain and elsewhere who saw the Red Army - 'our gallant Soveit allies' - as their saviour from the odious and appalling tyranny of Naziism, to assist this process, and what politician could resist their pleas? In hindsight, the allied bomber offensive against Germany in the War was a grotesque example of 'overkill'. It did not significantly impact German war production until very late in the War. But hindsight is a luxury that was not available to allied strategists at the time - they simply had to do everything possible to defeat Germany because the consequences of an allied defeat wouild have involved unimaginable suffering for the people of Europe.
I have been moved by many of the postings I have read and the sheer scale of the suffering inflicted by the RAF on the civilian populations of German cities, including Konigsberg, is abhorrent and evil. But war itself is evil and, as I have said, the overriding priority of any war is to 'win' it, especially if the foe is as repulsive as the one that wrought havoc on so many peoples's lives after 1939?
|Jan 14, 2010||admin||
Arthur “Bomber” Harris actions should be forever condemned as crimes against humanity
given his single minded focus on the deliberate destruction of cultural and civilian
targets. The first deliberate mass bombing of a historic city was the Royal Air
Force attack which incinerated over 80 per cent of the timberbuilt Hanseatic old
town of Lubeck on Palm Sunday, 28 March 1942. This attack was launched purely as
an experiment, to test whether bombing timberframed buildings could start an inferno
large enough to be used as an easy aiming point for later waves of bombers. Harris
is on record to have said: "I wanted my crews to be well blooded, as they say
in fox hunting, to have a taste of success for a change". Subsequently,
in May 1942, in Operation Millennium, over 1,000 bombers rained incendiaries on
Cologne, predictably using the Cathedral and the Old Town as their aiming point,
and destroyed over 13,000 houses. In July 1943, in 'Operation Gomorrah'
- the name itself says a lot - the week- long fire raid on Hamburg, over one-third
of all buildings in the city were destroyed, including most of the historic centre
and its churches, and the university library with its 800,000 volumes.
But – please! - do not make the mistake of tarring all the British people with the same brush – that would be just as unfair as tarring all the German people with the evil Nazi brush. There was plenty of opposition by those who knew what Harris was doing over Germany. After the war, Harris was the sole commander-in-chief not made a peer in 1946. Bomber Command's crews were denied a separate campaign medal (despite being eligible for the Air Crew Europe Star and France and Germany Star) and, in protest at this establishment snub to his men, Harris refused a peerage. Disappointed by the criticisms of his methods, Harris moved to South Africa in 1948 and did not return until 1953 when he was offered and accepted a baronetcy. And here is one several examples of public opposition to the bombing of of civilian targets during WW II (link to come ....)
|Jan 14, 2009||Greg||
The war crimes of Bomber Harris are not only justified but celebrated by the British
people and Queen Elizabeth II (note her dedication of a statue to Bomber Harris).
Granted, we all condemn the evils of Naziism. But the deliberate destruction of
German cultural history and cities like Konigsberg by Harris is not only shameful
it is evil, motiviated by hatred of German culture that had nothing whatever to
do with Naziism. And particularly the Prussian cultural ethos was hated, sterotyped
into the "Junker". despite the fact that East Prussians led the opposition
to Hitler. That is why Brezhnev razed the restorable remains of the Konigsberg Castle
in the 1960s. to extirpate all remains of Prussian history.
Bomber Harris was an evil, malicious soul, not looking for industrial targets to cripple German industry but to destroy all vestiges of German culture. Churchill acquiesed in all of this. And the wily Stalin turned out to be the rapacious winner, along with Poland. I'm sure in Hell, Hitler, Stalin and Bomber Harris must all comfort one another by justifying their evil deeds. Evil is not extinguished by more evil, it is fostered and energized. That is the legacy of Bomber Harris.
|Dec 24, 2009||Jan Schultheiss||For those who read German I can recommend Hans-Burkhard Sumowski, "Jetzt war ich ganz allein auf der Welt", Erinnerungen an eine Kindheit in Königsberg 1944-1947 (München 2009 - ISBN 978-3-442-73955-4). I just bought it and it covers the atrocities that Helmuth von Lust refers to (and suffered himself as well), except that the writer of the book at least finds his father back after the war. It's almost Christmas 2009 - the feast of peace. But almost 65 years after the fall of Königsberg we, human beings, still haven't learned and things like this still happen. Every day. On our world.|
|Oct 31, 2009||Chris Walker||
More Germans died as a result of WW2 than any other people. Although 'only'
6-8 million died during the war, around double that number were killed afterwards
by deliberate allied policies. Infant mortality in 1946 was about 650/1000 and the
food ration for each person was about 1100 calories per day.
Here in England they do not tell us these things at school. If the Germans are supposed to be ashamed of their conduct in WW2, the allies should be too.
|Oct 26, 2009||Helmut von Lust||
Thank you for telling our story. I was one of those 'war children'
caught up in 'Die Flucht aus Konigsberg'. I cannot remember the city before
the bombs very much but I can never forget the summer of 1944 and the terrible months
afterwards. I saw my family and friends killed one by one. It is too terrible to
describe. I was just 6 years old. The Russians pushed us ever westwards. If they
caught us it would mean certain death. When we reached Berlin we thought we were
safe. But then it happened all over again. I was alone on the streets. My family
was dead. After the fighting stopped the soldiers gave us some bread and told us
to leave. Our people were not welcome to stay in Berlin - that is something you
do not mention. No one was allowed to give us shelter - even kids like me. Us Baltic
Prussians were driven out by the Germans from Berlin - I can never forget this.
I became a refugee and finished up in England. There I was beaten in the streets
and my face was pushed in the gutter because I was German. The other children would
urinate on me. I can never forget this either..
Today I have no blood family, no homeland, no culture. My childhood was a nightmare. I have my memories - but I wish I hadn't. What did I do to deserve this? And there are tens of thousands of us left like this. But no one cares.
|Sep 28, 2009||Boohoo||
Yes, it's a shame that so many German cultural buildings were destroyed and
so many civilians killed...but how many irreplaceable cultural artifacts and how
many beautiful cities were destroyed by the Germans? And how many civilians (especially
Slavs, who were seen as untermenschen) displaced/shot/bombed/gassed/starved? A thousandfold
(Admin: So, one barbaric and murderous act deserves another? It seems to me that if it was bad for Jerry to fly over to to England and try and bomb women and children in their beds at night, it is bad everywhere and for for all times, and hence equally bad for Harris and the RAF to to the same thing elsewhere in reprisal. Targeting civilian populations for destruction is a despicable and barbaric act - and nowadays the trade of card-carrying Taliban and other religious and political fanatics around the world.
I think it is a mistake, though, to identify a regime such as the Nazi scum with the local German population, and treat them as if they were the same entity. And while it is true that the psychopatic Hitler had a lot of support at home, the true extent of the opposition at home will never been known because - between the brown-shirted bullies marching through the streets in their hobnail boots and that sinister gang of killers know as the Gestapo - it was made damned sure no one would ever dare to speak out in public against him.)
|Aug 31, 2009||J.Z. Holden||Thank you for these lovely photographs. It is tragic to have to be part of history during "interesting" times. Let us keep in mind that "ethnic cleansing," although praticed "unofficially" throughout Germany, Eastern Europe and Russia on a regular basis long prior to 1933, reached unheard of heights during WWII, instituted by the Nazi Regime and the Final Solution. Had Germany not had the collective dream of Aryan world domination, the precious city of Konigsberg might have remained untouched. It is called Karma. What goes around, comes around.|
|Aug 8, 2009||Roland||This is truly a sad story and one I have encountered many times in my studies. Thank you for the photographs of a once magnificent city.|