The article originally appeared on Onet on April 29, 2022
Originally, there was a Prussian settlement in this named place TuwangsteIn 1255 the Teutonic Knights captured the settlement and built a castle, which they named Regiomontium. It was a Latin name meaning “royal mountain”, and it was given in honor of the Czech king Primyslaus Ottokar II, who at that time was at the head of the Teutonic army that invaded Prussia. The German name Königsberg is also derived from the Latin name – and Polish – Królewiec.
The city was annexed to the Teutonic state and made the capital of the diocese of Sambia. In 1273, the Teutonic Order invaded Prussia and began the expansion of Königsberg, in order to make it the seat of the Grand Marshal of the Order in 1312.
In 1454, some Prussian towns and states renounced their allegiance to the Teutonic Knights, and King Kazimierz Jagielluzek IV created the County of Königsberg and incorporated it into Poland. In 1455, the Teutonic Knights retook these areas and the county ceased to exist. In the years 1466 – 1525 the city was the capital of Teutonic Prussia, after the signing of the Second Peace of Torun, which was dependent on the crown of the Kingdom of Poland. In 1525 Königsberg became the capital of Ducal Prussia, which was a vassal of the Polish crown.
Until 1657, Königsberg was part of Poland, Polish printing flourished there, next to Krakow and Wroclaw, and a Protestant academy was built. In 1662, the Brandenburgers entered the city with an army and were forced to swear allegiance. In 1674, attempts to return to Polish rule were halted.
In 1757, the Seven Years’ War broke out, in which the Russian army defeated Prussia. Empress Elisabeth, by agreement with Austria, issued Ocassy to annex Königsberg in Russia, and since then the castle in Königsberg has become the seat of the Russian ruler. The death of the Kaiser in 1762 restored the power of the Hohenzollern and the Russians left Königsberg. At the end of World War II, in April 1945, the city was captured by the Red Army, and the siege alone claimed over 100,000 lives. civilians.
The Soviet Union renamed it Kaliningrad in honor of the recently deceased Micha Kalinin, a person responsible for many mass communist crimes and whose signature was, among other things, documents that sentenced more than 20,000 people to death. Poles in Katyn (Katyn crime).
Until 1948, the German population was used here for work, then they were displaced to Germany, and about 15,000 people were brought in their place. Poles for work in shipyards. At that time, it was planned to create a Polish administration in Kaliningrad, the City Council and the Citizen Guard were created. The Poles counted on the intercession of Great Britain, which originally chose to annex the Kaliningrad region to Poland, however, the last word was Joseph Stalin, who wanted access to the Baltic Sea, and after the Tehran and Yalta conferences, all of Kaliningrad. The oblast eventually became part of the Soviet Union, and any plans to establish a Polish administration there were scrapped.
Despite the great damage that occurred after the war, no work was done in rebuilding the city, on the contrary, many buildings were destroyed in an attempt to “de-Germanic” the area. The ruins of the castle were blown up and the construction of buildings that did not resemble the old ones, which were typical Soviet kitsch, began.
Kaliningrad was completely isolated, and was called a “closed military base” or later an “unsinkable aircraft carrier”. About 200,000 soldiers were stationed there during the Cold War. Soldiers, the Kaliningrad regions are heavily militarized. To this day, this region remains one of the most militarized places in the world. At the time the Soviet Union was falling apart, it is estimated that in 1991-1995, there were around 300,000 servicemen stationed in Kaliningrad. military, their number was reduced only in 1996, and then reached 45 thousand. the people.
After Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia joined NATO, the S 300-PS anti-missile complexes were installed in Kaliningrad, which were supposed to separate the Baltic states from the rest of the alliance in the event of an armed conflict between the Russian Federation and NATO. At the moment, there is also a 9K720 Iskander missile launcher capable of carrying nuclear warheads and SU-39 aircraft, and the number of personnel stationed in Kaliningrad has been increased. There are suspicions of nuclear weapons in Kaliningrad, which is evidenced by satellite images, but Russia does not deny or confirm these reports.
Kaliningrad houses on the waterfront. picture. Ermacophase.
Voices about autonomy have come from Kaliningrad several times, with most residents identifying themselves as Kaliningraders rather than Russians, but such a move was doomed from the start – this region has a very important strategic location for Russia. It is scary for both NATO and the European Union, and it is closer to Warsaw, Vilnius, Riga and Berlin than to Moscow, which is of great importance in the case of placing Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad, with a range of up to 700 km.
In the 90s, an agreement was signed on traffic on the local border between Poland and Kaliningrad, residents of this region willingly came to us for shopping (mainly groceries, due to lower prices and better quality products), Poles went to Kaliningrad for fuel and tobacco products. Traffic across domestic borders was suspended in 2016 during World Youth Day held in Poland and has not been suspended since.
A “bright future” in Kaliningrad has been planned many times. Hong Kong was supposed to become Europe, a kind of bridge between the European Union and Russia, it was also supposed to be the “Las Vegas of the North” and attract Western investments, but in the end neither the first nor the second idea worked out.
Currently, Kaliningrad has been hit hard by sanctions against Russia, and it is estimated that food products are already becoming more expensive there by about 40 percent, and the population is somehow “stuck” in the ghetto due to the ban on flights of Russian planes to EU countries.
I hope the article brought the history of this region a little closer and explained why Poland now borders Russia and why Kaliningrad is such an important place from a strategic point of view.
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