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Kaliningrad - History

One of the most significant fruits of the first crusade was the creation and growth of the military orders—the Hospitallers, or Knights of St. John, the Templars, and the Teutonic Knights. The Order of Teutonic Knights of St. Mary's Hospital at Jerusalem was founded in 1128. During its earlier history its members limited their endeavors to religious and charitable work. It was not until 1190, during a later crusade than that we have been narrating, that it acquired military organization as a purely German order. The dukes and kings had assigned to the Teutonic Knights a province which was not theirs to give, and granted them free leave to rob and plunder tribes whom they found it convenient to brand with the name of heathens and savages. There was a strange monotony in the history of the Teutonic Order.

In the 13th century Prussia belonged to the knights of the Teutonic Order. In 1454, that part, since denominated Polish, or West Prussia, revolted to Casimir IV, king of Poland, and was incorporated into the dominions of the republic. At the same time the Teutonic Knights were constrained to hold the remaining part, called Ducal or East Prussia, as a fief of the crown of Poland. In 1525, Albert, the grand master of te Knights, betrayed the interests of his fraternity, and concluded a treaty with Sigismund, king of Poland, by which East Prussia was erected into an hereditar duchy, and given to him as a Polish fief. Having adopted the tenets of Luther, he married a princess of Denmark, and transmitted this rich inheritance to his descendants; one of whom, Fredrick-William, was the first duke that threw off his dependence on Poland, in 1657. It is divided into the German department, or that of Konigsberg; and the Lithuanian, of which Gumbinnen was the seat of regency. The foundation of the Prussian monarchy, was established by Fredrick William, between 1640 and 1688. His son and successor, Fredrick, in 1701, assumed the title of King of Prussia.

Konigsburg Konigsburg

Ost-Preussen or East Prussia, or Ducal Prussia, bounded NW. by the Baltic, NE. by Russia, SE. & S. by Poland, and W. by W. Prussia, with an are of 15,115 square miles, had a population of 870,000 in 1820, about one third of Lithuanian origin, & two thirds descendants of Swiss, French, or German Protestants. It was divided into two governments, Konigsberg and Gumbinnen. The latter is composed of the part of Lithuania, allotted to Prussia. Chief towns, Konigsberg, Gumbinnen, Memel, and Tilsit. The climate is severe, the winters very cold, and the spring and autumn changeable, and frequently foggy. The soil is tolerably fertile, producing corn, potatoes, hemp, flax, hops, and madder.

After the Great War, Poland was unsuccessful in absorbing Lithuania, but the Poles did annex the Vilnius region in October 1920. In response, armed Lithuanians took the Memel (Klaipeda) region from French administrators who were supervising the cordon sanitaire that was to maintain a buffer between Western Europe and the radical Bolsheviks. Kaliningrad's formation was complete with the Versailles boundaries of 1923.

Once claimed by Prussia, Kaliningrad was annexed by the Soviet Union during Great Patriotic War and has since remained under Russian control. When Stalin first requested Soviet control over Konigsberg at Tehran, he advocated the Soviet need for a warm water port at the expense of Germany. In defiance of geographic and historical realities, the Allied leaders of World War II carved the oblast from the northern third of East Prussia and awarded it to Stalinís Soviet Union. Soviet ownership of Konigsberg received tacit approval at Yalta and formal acceptance at Potsdam. After changing the Oblastís name to Kaliningrad in honor of Mikhail Kalinin, former President of the Supreme Soviet, Stalin imprisoned or expelled the German inhabitants and replaced them with displaced Russians, Belarussians, and Ukrainians.

The population of the Kaliningrad region is one of the largest migration processes in the post-war history of the USSR. Since August 1946, mass arrival of immigrants from 27 regions of Russia, 8 regions of Belarus, 4 autonomous republics to the region was organized. This determined the multinational structure of the region’s population and the formation of a unique type of culture, which is characterized by the interaction and interpenetration of traditions and customs of numerous nations and nationalities. At the end of the 1940s forced deportation of the local German population from the Kaliningrad region was carried out. At the turn of 1947 - 1948. the creation of the governing bodies of the new Soviet region on a constitutional basis was finally completed. In May 1947, the Kaliningrad City Executive Committee was formed, and in December the first elections to local Soviets were held.

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Page last modified: 02-12-2019 17:59:36 ZULU