East Prussia

East Prussia (German: Ostpreußen, pronounced [ˈɔstˌpʁɔʏsn̩] (listen); Polish: Prusy Wschodnie; Lithuanian: Rytų Prūsija; Latin: Borussia orientalis; Russian: Восточная Пруссия, translit. Vostóčnaja Prússija) was a province of the Kingdom of Prussia from 1773 to 1829 and again from 1878 (with the Kingdom itself being part of the German Empire from 1871); following World War I it formed part of the Weimar Republic's Free State of Prussia, until 1945. Its capital city was Königsberg (present-day Kaliningrad). East Prussia was the main part of the region of Prussia along the southeastern Baltic Coast.[1]

The bulk of the ancestral lands of the Baltic Old Prussians were enclosed within East Prussia. During the 13th century, the native Prussians were conquered by the crusading Teutonic Knights. After the conquest the indigenous Balts were gradually converted to Christianity. Because of Germanization and colonisation over the following centuries, Germans became the dominant ethnic group, while Masurians and Lithuanians formed minorities. From the 13th century, East Prussia was part of the monastic state of the Teutonic Knights. After the Second Peace of Thorn in 1466 it became a fief of the Kingdom of Poland. In 1525, with the Prussian Homage, the province became the Duchy of Prussia.[2] The Old Prussian language had become extinct by the 17th or early 18th century.[3]

Because the duchy was outside of the core Holy Roman Empire, the prince-electors of Brandenburg were able to proclaim themselves King beginning in 1701. After the annexation of most of western Royal Prussia in the First Partition of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1772, eastern (ducal) Prussia was connected by land with the rest of the Prussian state and was reorganized as a province the following year (1773). Between 1829 and 1878, the Province of East Prussia was joined with West Prussia to form the Province of Prussia.

The Kingdom of Prussia became the leading state of the German Empire after its creation in 1871. However, the Treaty of Versailles following World War I granted West Prussia to Poland and made East Prussia an exclave of Weimar Germany (the new Polish Corridor separated East Prussia from the rest of Germany), while the Memel Territory was detached and annexed by Lithuania in 1923. Following Nazi Germany's defeat in World War II in 1945, war-torn East Prussia was divided at Joseph Stalin's insistence between the Soviet Union (the Kaliningrad Oblast became part of the Russian SFSR, and the constituent counties of the Klaipėda Region in the Lithuanian SSR) and the People's Republic of Poland (the Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship).[4] The capital city Königsberg was renamed Kaliningrad in 1946. The German population of the province was largely evacuated during the war or expelled shortly afterwards in the expulsion of Germans after World War II. An estimated 300,000 (around one fifth of the population) died either in war time bombing raids, in the battles to defend the province, or through mistreatment by the Red Army.

East Prussia
Province of the Kingdom of Prussia (until 1918) and the Free State of Prussia



Flag Coat of arms
Flag Coat of arms
Location of East Prussia
East Prussia (red), within the Kingdom of Prussia, within the German Empire, as of 1871
Capital Königsberg
 •  Established 31 January 1773
 •  Province of Prussia 3 December 1829
 •  Province restored 1 April 1878
 •  Soviet capture 1945
 •  1905 36,993 km2 (14,283 sq mi)
 •  1905 2,025,741 
Density 54.8 /km2  (141.8 /sq mi)
Political subdivisions Gumbinnen
Allenstein (from 1905)
West Prussia (1922–1939)
Zichenau (from 1939)
Today part of  Poland
 Russia (Kaliningrad Oblast)


Image-Prussia ethnicity
Ethnic settlement in East Prussia by the 14th century

At the instigation of Duke Konrad I of Masovia, the Teutonic Knights took possession of Prussia in the 13th century and created a monastic state to administer the conquered Old Prussians. Local Old-Prussian (north) and Polish (south) toponyms were gradually Germanised. The Knights' expansionist policies, including occupation of Polish Pomerania with Gdańsk/Danzig and western Lithuania, brought them into conflict with the Kingdom of Poland and embroiled them in several wars, culminating in the Polish-Lithuanian-Teutonic War, whereby the united armies of Poland and Lithuania, defeated the Teutonic Order at the Battle of Grunwald (Tannenberg) in 1410. Its defeat was formalised in the Second Treaty of Thorn in 1466 ending the Thirteen Years' War, and leaving the former Polish region Pomerania/Pomerelia under Polish control. Together with Warmia it formed the province of Royal Prussia. Eastern Prussia remained under the Knights, but as a fief of Poland. 1466 and 1525 arrangements by kings of Poland were not verified by the Holy Roman Empire as well as the previous gains of the Teutonic Knights were not verified.

The Teutonic Order lost eastern Prussia when Grand Master Albert of Brandenburg-Ansbach converted to Lutheranism and secularized the Prussian branch of the Teutonic Order in 1525. Albert established himself as the first duke of the Duchy of Prussia and a vassal of the Polish crown by the Prussian Homage. Walter von Cronberg, the next Grand Master, was enfeoffed with the title to Prussia after the Diet of Augsburg in 1530, but the Order never regained possession of the territory. In 1569 the Hohenzollern prince-electors of the Margraviate of Brandenburg became co-regents with Albert's son, the feeble-minded Albert Frederick.

The Administrator of Prussia, the grandmaster of the Teutonic Order Maximilian III, son of emperor Maximilian II died in 1618. When Maximilian died, Albert's line died out, and the Duchy of Prussia passed to the Electors of Brandenburg, forming Brandenburg-Prussia. Taking advantage of the Swedish invasion of Poland in 1655, and instead of fulfilling his vassal's duties towards the Polish Kingdom, by joining forces with the Swedes and subsequent treaties of Wehlau, Labiau, and Oliva, Elector and Duke Frederick William succeeded in revoking the king of Poland's sovereignty over the Duchy of Prussia in 1660. The absolutist elector also subdued the noble estates of Prussia.

History as a province

1799 Cary Map of Prussia and Lithuania - Geographicus - Prussia-cary-1799
New Map of the Kingdom of Prussia, John Cary 1799, split into the eastern regions of Lithuania Minor (green), Natangia (yellow), Sambia and Warmia (pink), the western Oberland territories with Marienwerder (blue), West Prussian Marienburg (yellow) and Danzig (green)

Kingdom of Prussia

Although Brandenburg was a part of the Holy Roman Empire, the Prussian lands were not within the Holy Roman Empire and were with the administration by the Teutonic Order grandmasters under jurisdiction of the Emperor. In return for supporting Emperor Leopold I in the War of the Spanish Succession, Elector Frederick III was allowed to crown himself "King in Prussia" in 1701. The new kingdom ruled by the Hohenzollern dynasty became known as the Kingdom of Prussia. The designation "Kingdom of Prussia" was gradually applied to the various lands of Brandenburg-Prussia. To differentiate from the larger entity, the former Duchy of Prussia became known as Altpreußen ("Old Prussia"), the province of Prussia, or "East Prussia".

Approximately one-third of East Prussia's population died in the plague and famine of 1709–1711,[5] including the last speakers of Old Prussian.[6] The plague, probably brought by foreign troops during the Great Northern War, killed 250,000 East Prussians, especially in the province's eastern regions. Crown Prince Frederick William I led the rebuilding of East Prussia, founding numerous towns. Thousands of Protestants expelled from the Archbishopric of Salzburg were allowed to settle in depleted East Prussia. The province was overrun by Imperial Russian troops during the Seven Years' War.

Monument of Immanuel Kant - panoramio
Monument to Immanuel Kant in Kaliningrad

In the 1772 First Partition of Poland, the Prussian king Frederick the Great annexed neighboring Royal Prussia, i.e., the Polish voivodeships of Pomerania (Gdańsk Pomerania or Pomerelia), Malbork, Chełmno and the Prince-Bishopric of Warmia, thereby connecting his Prussian and Farther Pomeranian lands and cutting the rest of Poland from the Baltic coast. The territory of Warmia was incorporated into the lands of former Ducal Prussia, which, by administrative deed of 31 January 1773 were named East Prussia. The former Polish Pomerelian lands beyond the Vistula River together with Malbork and Chełmno Land formed the Province of West Prussia with its capital at Marienwerder (Kwidzyn). The Polish Partition Sejm ratified the cession on 30 September 1773, whereafter Frederick officially went on to call himself a King "of" Prussia.

The former Ducal Prussian districts of Eylau (Iława), Marienwerder, Riesenburg (Prabuty) and Schönberg (Szymbark) passed to West Prussia. Until the Prussian reforms of 1808, the administration in East Prussia was transferred to the General War and Finance Directorate in Berlin, represented by two local chamber departments:

On 31 January 1773, King Frederick II announced that the newly annexed lands were to be known as the Province of West Prussia, while the former Duchy of Prussia and Warmia became the Province of East Prussia.

Napoleonic Wars

Antoine-Jean Gros - Napoleon on the Battlefield of Eylau - Google Art Project
Napoleon on the Battlefield of Eylau in February 1807

After the disastrous defeat of the Prussian Army at the Battle of Jena-Auerstedt in 1806, Napoleon occupied Berlin and had the officials of the Prussian General Directorate swear an oath of allegiance to him, while King Frederick William III and his consort Louise fled via Königsberg and the Curonian Spit to Memel. The French troops immediately took up pursuit but were delayed in the Battle of Eylau on 9 February 1807 by an East Prussian contingent under General Anton Wilhelm von L'Estocq. Napoleon had to stay at the Finckenstein Palace, but in May, after a siege of 75 days, his troops led by Marshal François Joseph Lefebvre were able to capture the city Danzig, which had been tenaciously defended by General Count Friedrich Adolf von Kalkreuth. On 14 June, Napoleon ended the War of the Fourth Coalition with his victory at the Battle of Friedland. Frederick William and Queen Louise met with Napoleon for peace negotiations, and on 9 July the Prussian king signed the Treaty of Tilsit.

The succeeding Prussian reforms instigated by Heinrich Friedrich Karl vom und zum Stein and Karl August von Hardenberg included the implementation of an Oberlandesgericht appellation court at Königsberg, a municipal corporation, economic freedom as well as emancipation of the serfs and Jews. In the course of the Prussian restoration by the 1815 Congress of Vienna, the East Prussian territories were re-arranged in the Regierungsbezirke of Gumbinnen and Königsberg. From 1905, the southern districts of East Prussia formed the separate Regierungsbezirk of Allenstein. East and West Prussia were first united in personal union in 1824, and then merged in a real union in 1829 to form the Province of Prussia. The united province was again split into separate East and West Prussian provinces in 1878.

Map of the province of East Prussia in 1881

Historical ethnic and religious structure

In year 1824, shortly before its merger with West Prussia, the population of East Prussia was 1,080,000 people.[7] Of that number, according to Karl Andree, Germans were slightly more than half, while 280,000 (~26%) were ethnically Polish and 200,000 (~19%) were ethnically Lithuanian.[8] As of year 1819 there were also 20,000 strong ethnic Curonian and Latvian minorities as well as 2,400 Jews, according to Georg Hassel.[9] Similar numbers are given by August von Haxthausen in his 1839 book, with a breakdown by county.[10] However, the majority of East Prussian Polish and Lithuanian inhabitants were Lutherans, not Roman Catholics like their ethnic kinsmen across the border in the Russian Empire. Only in Southern Warmia (German: Ermland) Catholic Poles - so called Warmiaks (not to be confused with predominantly Protestant Masurians) - comprised the majority of population, numbering 26,067 people (~81%) in county Allenstein (Polish: Olsztyn) in 1837.[10] Another minority in 19th century East Prussia, were ethnically Russian Old Believers, also known as Philipponnen - their main town was Eckersdorf (Wojnowo).[11][12][13]

In year 1817, East Prussia had 796,204 Evangelical Christians, 120,123 Roman Catholics, 864 Mennonites and 2,389 Jews.[14]

German Empire

From 1824–1878, East Prussia was combined with West Prussia to form the Province of Prussia, after which they were reestablished as separate provinces. Along with the rest of the Kingdom of Prussia, East Prussia became part of the German Empire during the unification of Germany in 1871.

Krönungszug Königsberg (1861)
Coronation of William I as King of Prussia at Königsberg Castle in 1861

From 1885 to 1890 Berlin's population grew by 20%, Brandenburg and the Rhineland gained 8.5%, Westphalia 10%, while East Prussia lost 0.07% and West Prussia 0.86%. This stagnancy in population despite a high birth surplus in eastern Germany was because many people from the East Prussian countryside moved westward to seek work in the expanding industrial centres of the Ruhr Area and Berlin (see Ostflucht).

The population of the province in 1900 was 1,996,626 people, with a religious makeup of 1,698,465 Protestants, 269,196 Roman Catholics, and 13,877 Jews. The Low Prussian dialect predominated in East Prussia, although High Prussian was spoken in Warmia. The numbers of Masurians, Kursenieki and Prussian Lithuanians decreased over time due to the process of Germanization. The Polish-speaking population concentrated in the south of the province (Masuria and Warmia) and all German geographic atlases at the start of 20th century showed the southern part of East Prussia as Polish with the number of Poles estimated at the time to be 300,000.[15] Kursenieki inhabited the areas around the Curonian lagoon, while Lithuanian-speaking Prussians concentrated in the northeast in (Lithuania Minor). The Old Prussian ethnic group became completely Germanized over time and the Old Prussian language died out in the 18th century.

World War I

At the beginning of World War I, East Prussia became a theatre of war when the Russian Empire invaded the country. The Russian Army encountered at first little resistance because the bulk of the German Army had been directed towards the Western Front according to the Schlieffen Plan. Despite early success and the capture of the towns of Rastenburg and Gumbinnen, in the Battle of Tannenberg in 1914 and the Second Battle of the Masurian Lakes in 1915, the Russians were decisively defeated and forced to retreat. The Russians were followed by the German Army advancing into Russian territory.

After the Russian army's first invasion the majority of the civilian population fled westwards, while several thousand remaining civilians were deported to Russia. Treatment of civilians by both armies was mostly disciplined, although 74 civilians were killed by Russian troops in the Abschwangen massacre. The region had to be rebuilt because of damage caused by the war.

Weimar Republic

East Prussia 1923-1939
Inter-war East Prussia (from 1923 to 1939)

With the forced abdication of Emperor Wilhelm II in 1918, Germany became a republic. Most of West Prussia and the former Prussian Province of Posen, territories annexed by Prussia in the 18th century Partitions of Poland, were ceded to the Second Polish Republic according to the Treaty of Versailles. East Prussia became an exclave, being separated from mainland Germany. The Memelland was also separated from the province. Because most of West Prussia became part of the Second Polish Republic as the Polish Corridor, the formerly West Prussian Marienwerder region became part of East Prussia (as Regierungsbezirk Westpreußen). Also Soldau district in Allenstein region was part of Second Polish Republic. The Seedienst Ostpreußen was established to provide an independent transport service to East Prussia.

On 11 July 1920, amidst the backdrop of the Polish-Soviet War, the East Prussian plebiscite in eastern West Prussia and southern East Prussia was held under Allied supervision to determine if the areas should join the Second Polish Republic or remain in Weimar Germany Province of East Prussia. 96.7% of the people voted to remain within Germany (97.89% in the East Prussian plebiscite district).

The Klaipėda Territory, a League of Nations mandate since 1920, was occupied by Lithuanian troops in 1923 and was annexed without giving the inhabitants a choice by ballot.

Nazi Germany

Bundesarchiv Bild 183-2008-0513-501, Königsberg, Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler and Erich Koch in Königsberg, 1936

Erich Koch headed the East Prussian Nazi party from 1928. He led the district from 1932. This period was characterized by efforts to collectivize the local agriculture and ruthlessness in dealing with his critics inside and outside the Party.[16] He also had long-term plans for mass-scale industrialization of the largely agricultural province. These actions made him unpopular among the local peasants.[16] In 1932 the local paramilitary SA had already started to terrorise their political opponents. On the night of 31 July 1932 there was a bomb attack on the headquarters of the Social Democrats in Königsberg, the Otto-Braun-House. The Communist politician Gustav Sauf was killed; the executive editor of the Social Democratic newspaper "Königsberger Volkszeitung", Otto Wyrgatsch; and the German People's Party politician Max von Bahrfeldt were all severely injured. Members of the Reichsbanner were assaulted while the local Reichsbanner Chairman of Lötzen, Kurt Kotzan, was murdered on 6 August 1932.[17][18]

Through publicly funded emergency relief programs concentrating on agricultural land-improvement projects and road construction, the "Erich Koch Plan" for East Prussia allegedly made the province free of unemployment: on August 16, 1933 Koch reported to Hitler that unemployment had been banished entirely from the province, a feat that gained admiration throughout the Reich.[19] Koch's industrialization plans provoked conflict with R. Walther Darré, who held the office of the Reich Peasant Leader (Reichsbauernführer) and Minister of Agriculture. Darré, a neopaganist rural romantic, wanted to enforce his vision of an agricultural East Prussia. When his "Land" representatives challenged Koch's plans, Koch arrested them.[20]

After the Nazis took power in Germany, opposition politicians were persecuted and newspapers banned. The Otto-Braun-House was requisitioned to become the headquarters of the SA, which used the house to imprison and torture its opponents. Walter Schütz, a communist member of the Reichstag, was murdered here.[21] In 1938 the Nazis altered about one-third of the toponyms of the area, eliminating, Germanizing, or simplifying a number of Old Prussian, as well as those Polish or Lithuanian names originating from colonists and refugees to Prussia during and after the Protestant Reformation. More than 1,500 places were ordered to be renamed by 16 July 1938 following a decree issued by Gauleiter and Oberpräsident Erich Koch and initiated by Adolf Hitler.[22] Many who would not cooperate with the rulers of Nazi Germany were sent to concentration camps and held prisoner there until their death or liberation.

After the 1939 invasion of Poland by Nazi Germany opening World War II, the borders of East Prussia were revised. Regierungsbezirk Westpreußen became part of Reichsgau Danzig-West Prussia, while Regierungsbezirk Zichenau was added to East Prussia. Originally part of the Zichenau region, the Sudauen district in Sudovia was later transferred to the Gumbinnen region.

World War II

Bundesarchiv Bild 137-065743, Ostpreußen, Ankunft von Umsiedlern aus Litauen
East Prussia in 1941

In 1939 East Prussia had 2.49 million inhabitants, 85% of them ethnic Germans, the others Poles in the south who, according to Polish estimates numbered in the interwar period around 300,000-350,000,[23] the Latvian speaking Kursenieki, and Lietuvininkai who spoke Lithuanian in the northeast. Most German East Prussians, Masurians, Kursieniki, and Lietuvininkai were Lutheran, while the population of Ermland was mainly Roman Catholic due to the history of its bishopric. The East Prussian Jewish Congregation declined from about 9,000 in 1933 to 3,000 in 1939, as most fled from Nazi rule.[24] Those who remained were later deported and killed in the Holocaust.

In 1939 the Regierungsbezirk Zichenau was annexed by Germany and incorporated into East Prussia. Parts of it were transferred to other regions, e.g. Suwałki to Regierungsbezirk Gumbinnen and Soldau to Regierungsbezirk Allenstein. Despite Nazi propaganda presenting all of the regions annexed as possessing significant German populations that wanted reunification with Germany, the Reich's statistics of late 1939 show that only 31,000 out of 994,092 people in this territory were ethnic Germans.

East Prussia was only slightly affected by the war until January 1945, when it was devastated during the East Prussian Offensive. Most of its inhabitants became refugees in bitterly cold weather during the Evacuation of East Prussia.

Evacuation of East Prussia

Königsberg after the RAF bombing in 1944

In 1944 the medieval city of Königsberg, which had never been severely damaged by warfare in its 700 years of existence, was almost completely destroyed by two RAF Bomber Command raids — the first on the night of 26/27 August 1944, with the second one three nights later, overnight on 29/30 August 1944. Winston Churchill (The Second World War, Book XII) had erroneously believed it to be "a modernized heavily defended fortress" and ordered its destruction.

Gauleiter Erich Koch protracted the evacuation of the German civilian population until the Eastern Front approached the East Prussian border in 1944. The population had been systematically misinformed by Endsieg Nazi propaganda about the real state of military affairs. As a result, many civilians fleeing westward were overtaken by retreating Wehrmacht units and the rapidly advancing Red Army.

Reports of Soviet atrocities in the Nemmersdorf massacre of October 1944 and organized rape spread fear and desperation among the civilians. Thousands lost their lives during the sinkings (by Soviet submarine) of the evacuation ships Wilhelm Gustloff, the Goya, and the General von Steuben. Königsberg surrendered on 9 April 1945, following the desperate four-day Battle of Königsberg. The number of civilians killed is estimated to be at least 300,000.

However, most of the German inhabitants, which then consisted primarily of women, children and old men, did manage to escape the Red Army as part of the largest exodus of people in human history: "A population which had stood at 2.2 million in 1940 was reduced to 193,000 at the end of May 1945."[25][26]

History after partition and annexation

Following Nazi Germany's defeat in World War II in 1945, East Prussia was partitioned between Poland and the Soviet Union according to the Potsdam Conference. Southern East Prussia was placed under Polish administration, while northern East Prussia was divided between the Soviet republics of Russia (the Kaliningrad Oblast) and Lithuania (the constituent counties of the Klaipėda Region). The city of Königsberg was renamed Kaliningrad in 1946. Most of the German population of the province had left during the evacuation at the end of the war, but several hundreds of thousands died during the years 1944–46 and the remainder were subsequently expelled.

Expulsion of Germans from East Prussia after World War II

Shortly after the end of the war in May 1945, Germans who had fled in early 1945 tried to return to their homes in East Prussia. An estimated number of 800,000 Germans were living in East Prussia during the summer of 1945.[27] Many more were prevented from returning, and the German population of East Prussia was almost completely expelled by the communist regimes. During the war and for some time thereafter 45 camps were established for about 200,000-250,000 forced labourers, the vast majority of whom were deported to the Soviet Union, including the Gulag camp system.[28] The largest camp with about 48,000 inmates was established at Deutsch Eylau (Iława).[28] Orphaned children who were left behind in the zone occupied by the Soviet Union were referred to as Wolf children.

Karte viertepolnischeteilung

An illustration of the changing borders in Eastern Europe before, during, and after World War II (Map is written in German)

German territorial losses 1919 and 1945.svg&lang=en

Changes in Germany's borders as a result of both World Wars, with the partition of East Prussia.

Southern part to Poland

Representatives of the Polish government officially took over the civilian administration of the southern part of East Prussia on 23 May 1945.[28] Subsequently, Polish expatriates from Polish lands annexed by the Soviet Union as well as Ukrainians and Lemkos from southern Poland, expelled in Operation Vistula in 1947, were settled in the southern part of East Prussia, now the Polish Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship. In 1950 the Olsztyn Voivodeship counted 689,000 inhabitants, 22.6% of them coming from areas annexed by the Soviet Union, 10% Ukrainians, and 18.5% of them pre-war inhabitants. The remaining pre-war population was treated as Germanized Poles and a policy of re-Polonization was pursued throughout the country[29] Most of these "Autochthones" chose to emigrate to West Germany from the 1950s through 1970s (between 1970 and 1988 55,227 persons from Warmia and Masuria moved to Western Germany).[30] Local toponyms were Polonised by the Polish Commission for the Determination of Place Names.[31]

Northern East Prussia to the Soviet Union

"Königsberg" licence plate holder, 2009

In April 1946, northern East Prussia became an official province of the Russian SFSR as the "Kyonigsbergskaya Oblast", with the Memel Territory becoming part of the Lithuanian SSR. In June 1946 114,070 German and 41,029 Soviet citizens were registered in the Oblast, with an unknown number of disregarded unregistered persons. In July of that year, the historic city of Königsberg was renamed Kaliningrad to honour Mikhail Kalinin and the area named the Kaliningrad Oblast. Between 24 August and 26 October 1948 21 transports with in total 42,094 Germans left the Oblast to the Soviet Occupation Zone (which became East Germany). The last remaining Germans left in November 1949 (1,401 persons) and January 1950 (7 persons).[32]

The Prussian Lithuanians also experienced the same fate.

A similar fate befell the Curonians who lived in the area around the Curonian Lagoon. While many fled from the Red Army during the evacuation of East Prussia, Curonians that remained behind were subsequently expelled by the Soviet Union. Only 219 lived along the Curonian Spit in 1955. Many had German names such as Fritz or Hans, a cause for anti-German discrimination. The Soviet authorities considered the Curonians fascists. Because of this discrimination, many immigrated to West Germany in 1958, where the majority of Curonians now live.

After the expulsion of the German population ethnic Russians, Belarusians, and Ukrainians were settled in the northern part. In the Soviet part of the region, a policy of eliminating all remnants of German history was pursued. All German place names were replaced by new Russian names. The exclave was a military zone, which was closed to foreigners; Soviet citizens could only enter with special permission. In 1967 the remnants of Königsberg Castle were demolished on the orders of Leonid Brezhnev to make way for a new "House of the Soviets".

Modern status

Since the fall of Communism in 1991, some German groups have tried to help settle the Volga Germans from eastern parts of European Russia in the Kaliningrad Oblast. This effort was only a small success, however, as most impoverished Volga Germans preferred to emigrate to the richer Federal Republic of Germany, where they could become German citizens through the right of return.

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

The borders of the present-day Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship in Poland correspond closely to those of southern East Prussia.


The Prussian central government appointed for every province an Oberpräsident ("Upper President") carrying out central prerogatives on the provincial level and supervising the implementation of central policy on the lower levels of administration.

Since 1875, with the strengthening of self-rule, the urban and rural districts (Kreise) within each province (sometimes within each governorate) formed a corporation with common tasks and assets (schools, traffic installations, hospitals, cultural institutions, jails etc.) called the Provinzialverband (provincial association). Initially the assemblies of the urban and rural districts elected representatives for the provincial diets (Provinziallandtage), which were thus indirectly elected. As of 1919 the provincial diets (or as to governorate diets, the so-called Kommunallandtage) were directly elected by the citizens of the provinces (or governorates, respectively). These parliaments legislated within the competences transferred to the provincial associations. The provincial diet of East Prussia elected a provincial executive body (government), the provincial committee (Provinzialausschuss), and a head of province, the Landeshauptmann ("Land Captain"; till the 1880s titled Landdirektor, land director).[33]

Upper Presidents of East Prussia and Prussia

1765–1791: Johann Friedrich von Domhardt, president of the Gumbinnen and Königsberg War and Demesnes Chambers
1791–1808: Friedrich Leopold von Schrötter, president of the Gumbinnen and Königsberg War and Demesnes Chambers, as of 1795 Minister for East and New East Prussia
1808–1814: vacancy?
1814–1824: Hans Jakob von Auerswald, upper president of East Prussia
1824–1842: Heinrich Theodor von Schön, upper president of Prussia, merged from East and West Prussia, since 1816 already upper president of West Prussia
1842–1848: Carl Wilhelm von Bötticher, upper president of Prussia
1848–1849: Rudolf von Auerswald, upper president of Prussia
1849–1850: Eduard Heinrich von Flottwell (1786–1865), upper president of Prussia
1850–1868: Franz August Eichmann, upper president of Prussia
1868–1869: vacancy
1869–1882: Carl Wilhelm Heinrich Georg von Horn, upper president of Prussia, after 1878 of East Prussia
1882–1891: Albrecht Heinrich von Schlieckmann, upper president of East Prussia
1891–1895: Count Udo zu Stolberg-Wernigerode, upper president of East Prussia
1895–1901: Count Wilhelm von Bismarck-Schönhausen, upper president of East Prussia
1901–1903: Hugo Samuel von Richthofen, upper president of East Prussia
1903–1907: Count Friedrich von Moltke, upper president of East Prussia
1907–1914: Ludwig von Windheim, upper president of East Prussia
1914–1916: Adolf Tortilowicz von Batocki-Friebe, upper president of East Prussia
1916–1918: Friedrich von Berg, upper president of East Prussia
1918–1919: Adolf Tortilowicz von Batocki-Friebe, upper president of East Prussia
1919–1920: August Winnig (SPD), upper president of East Prussia
1920–1932: Ernst Siehr (DDP), upper president of East Prussia
1932–1933: Wilhelm Kutscher (DNVP), upper president of East Prussia
1933–1945: Erich Koch (NSDAP), upper president of East Prussia

Elections to the provincial diets

  Summary of the East Prussian Provincial Diet direct election results
Parties %
SPD 24.1 20 24.8 +0.7 (-) 22 +2 (-4) 26 +1.2 23 +1 13.6 -12.4 12 -11
USPD 6 +6 merged
in SPD
DNVP[34] 13.4 +13.4 11 +11 45.6[35] 40 (+4) 31.2 (+17.8) 27 (+16) 12.7[34] -18.5 11 -16
DVP 3.6 +3.6 4 +4 8.7 (+5.1) 8 (+4) 0 -8
BWA 16 +16 0 -16 0 0 0 0
Zentrum 9.3 8 +8 6.9 -2.4 6 -2 8.1 +1.2 7 +1 7 -1.1 7 0
KPD[36] 7 +7 6 +6 6.9 -0.1 6 0 8.6 +1.7 8 +2 6 -2.6 6 -2
BWW 6 +6 0 -6 0 0 0 0
Parties %
DDP 5.7 +5.7 6 +6 3.6 -2.1 3 -3 2.8 -0.8 3 0 0 -3
NSDAP not run not run not run not run 4.3 4 +4 58.2 +53,9 51 +47
LL/WP[37] 2 +2 4.2 +4.2 4 +2 4 -1.2 4 0 0 -4
DFP not run not run not run not run 4.2 +4.2 4 +4 0 -4 0 0
CSVD not run not run not run not run not run not run not run not run 3 +3 3 +3 0 -3
AuA not run not run not run not run 2 +2 0 -2 0 0
FOW 2 +2 0 -2 0 0 0 0
Poles' Party 1 +1 0 -1 0 0 0 0
Others 2 +? 0 -2 0 0 0 0
85 Total
87 Total
87 Total

Land Directors and Land Captains of East Prussia

1876–1878: Heinrich Edwin Rickert (NLP, later DFP), titled land director
1878–1884: Kurt von Saucken-Tarputschen (Fortschritt, later DFP), titled land director
1884–1888: Alfred von Gramatzki (DKP), titled land director
1888–1896: Klemens von Stockhausen, titled land director
1896–1909: Rudolf von Brandt, titled land captain
1909–1916: Friedrich von Berg, titled land captain
1916–1928: Manfred Graf von Brünneck-Bellschwitz, titled land captain
1928–1936: Paul Blunk, titled land captain
1936–1941: Helmuth von Wedelstädt (NSDAP), titled land captain
1941–1945: vacancy
1941–1945: Reinhard Bezzenberger, first land councillor, per pro

Cities and towns

City/Town District (Kreis) Pop. in 1939 Current Name Current Administrative Unit
Allenburg Landkreis Wehlau 2 694 Druzhba Kaliningrad Oblast (Russia)
Allenstein Landkreis Allenstein 50 396 Olsztyn Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship (Poland)
Angerburg Landkreis Angerburg 10 922 Węgorzewo (Węgobork) Warmia-Masuria
Arys Landkreis Johannisburg 3 553 Orzysz Warmia-Masuria
Barten Landkreis-Rastenburg 1 541 Barciany Warmia-Masuria
Bartenstein Landkreis Bartenstein 12 912 Bartoszyce Warmia-Masuria
Bischofsburg Landkreis Rößel Biskupiec Warmia-Masuria
Bischofstein (Ostpreußen) Rößel 3 200 Bisztynek Warmia-Masuria
Braunsberg Landkreis Braunsberg 21 142 Braniewo Warmia-Masuria
Darkehmen/Angerapp Landkreis Darkehmen Ozyorsk Kaliningrad
Domnau Bartenstein Domnovo Kaliningrad
Elbing Stadtkreis 85 952 Elbląg Warmia-Masuria
Eydtkuhnen Landkreis Stallupönen 4 922 Chernyshevskoye Kaliningrad
Fischhausen Landkreis Samland 3 879 Primorsk Kaliningrad
Frauenburg (Ostpreußen) Braunsberg 2 951 Frombork Warmia-Masuria
Friedland (Ostpreußen) Bartenstein Pravdinsk Kaliningrad
Gehlenburg Johannisburg Biała Piska Warmia-Masuria
Gerdauen Landkreis Gerdauen 5 118 Zheleznodorozhny Kaliningrad
Gilgenburg Landkreis Osterode 1 700 Dąbrówno Warmia-Masuria
Goldap Landkreis Goldap 12 786 Gołdap Warmia-Masuria
Gumbinnen Landkreis Gumbinnen 24 534 Gusev Kaliningrad
Guttstadt Landkreis Heilsberg Dobre Miasto Warmia-Masuria
Heiligenbeil Landkreis Heiligenbeil 12 100 Mamonovo Kaliningrad
Heilsberg Heilsberg Lidzbark Warmiński Warmia-Masuria
Heydekrug Landkreis Heydekrug 4 836 Šilutė Klaipėda County (Lithuania)
Hohenstein Osterode Olsztynek Warmia-Masuria
Insterburg Landkreis Insterburg 48 711 Chernyakhovsk Kaliningrad
Johannisburg Johannisburg Pisz (Jańsbork) Warmia-Masuria
Königsberg (Preußen) Stadtkreis 372 000 Kaliningrad Kaliningrad
Kreuzburg (Ostpreußen) Landkreis Preußisch Eylau Slavskoye Kaliningrad
Labiau Landkreis Labiau 6 527 Polessk Kaliningrad
Landsberg in Ostpreußen Preußisch Eylau Górowo Iławeckie Warmia-Masuria
Liebemühl Osterode Miłomłyn Warmia-Masuria
Liebstadt Landkreis Mohrungen 2 742 Miłakowo Warmia-Masuria
Lötzen Landkreis Lötzen 13 000 Giżycko (Lec) Warmia-Masuria
Lyck Landkreis Lyck 16 482 Ełk (Łęg) Warmia-Masuria
Marggrabowa/Treuburg Landkreis Oletzko/Treuburg Olecko Warmia-Masuria
Marienburg in Westpreußen Landkreis Marienburg (Westpr.) Malbork Pomeranian Voivodeship (Poland)
Mehlsack Braunsberg Pieniężno (Melzak) Warmia-Masuria
Memel Stadtkreis 41 297 Klaipėda Klaipėda
Mohrungen Mohrungen 5 500 Morąg Warmia-Masuria
Mühlhausen Landkreis Preußisch Holland Młynary Warmia-Masuria
Neidenburg Landkreis Neidenburg 9 201 Nidzica (Nibork) Warmia-Masuria
Nikolaiken Landkreis Sensburg Mikołajki Warmia-Masuria
Nordenburg Gerdauen 3 173 Krylovo Kaliningrad
Ortelsburg Landkreis Ortelsburg 14 234 Szczytno Warmia-Masuria
Osterode (Ostpreußen) Osterode 19 519 Ostróda Warmia-Masuria
Passenheim Ortelsburg 2 431 Pasym Warmia-Masuria
Peterswalde Osterode Piertzwald Warmia-Masuria
Pillau Samland 12 000 Baltiysk Kaliningrad
Preußisch Eylau Preußisch Eylau 7 485 Bagrationovsk Kaliningrad
Preußisch Holland Preußisch Holland Pasłęk Warmia-Masuria
Ragnit Landkreis Tilsit-Ragnit 10 094 Neman Kaliningrad
Rastenburg Rastenburg 19 634 Kętrzyn (Rastembork) Warmia-Masuria
Rhein (Ostpreußen) Lötzen Ryn Warmia-Masuria
Rößel Rößel 5 000 Reszel Warmia-Masuria
Saalfeld Mohrungen Zalewo Warmia-Masuria
Schippenbeil Bartenstein Sępopol Warmia-Masuria
Schirwindt Landkreis Pillkallen Kutuzovo Kaliningrad
Pillkallen-Schlossberg Pillkallen Dobrovolsk Kaliningrad
Seeburg Rößel Jeziorany (Zybork) Warmia-Masuria
Sensburg Sensburg Mrągowo (Żądzbork) Warmia-Masuria
Soldau Neidenburg 5 349 Działdowo Warmia-Masuria
Stallupönen Stallupönen 6 608 Nesterov Kaliningrad
Tapiau Wehlau 9 272 Gvardeysk Kaliningrad
Tilsit Stadtkreis 59 105 Sovetsk Kaliningrad
Wartenburg (Ostpreußen) Allenstein 5 841 Barczewo (Wartembork) Warmia-Masuria
Wehlau Wehlau 7 348 Znamensk Kaliningrad
Willenberg Ortelsburg 2 600 Wielbark Warmia-Masuria
Wormditt Braunsberg Orneta Warmia-Masuria
Zinten Heiligenbeil Kornevo Kaliningrad

See also


  1. ^ The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition (2008), East Prussia
  2. ^ Schaitberger, L. "Ostpreußen: The Great Trek". Retrieved 8 December 2016.
  3. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica: Old-Prussian-language; Gordon, Raymond G., Jr. (ed.): Ethnologue: Languages of the World, 2005, Prussian
  4. ^ tenn@owlnet.rice.edu. "Sarmatian Review XV.1: Davies". Retrieved 8 December 2016.
  5. ^ A Treatise on Political Economy
  7. ^ Plater, Stanisław (1825). Jeografia wschodniéy części Europy czyli Opis krajów przez wielorakie narody słowiańskie zamieszkanych: obejmujący Prussy, Xsięztwo Poznańskie, Szląsk Pruski, Gallicyą, Rzeczpospolitę Krakowską, Krolestwo Polskie i Litwę (in Polish). Wrocław: u Wilhelma Bogumiła Korna. p. 17.
  8. ^ Andree, Karl (1831). Polen: in geographischer, geschichtlicher und culturhistorischer Hinsicht (in German). Verlag von Ludwig Schumann. p. 218.
  9. ^ Hassel, Georg (1823). Statistischer Umriß der sämmtlichen europäischen und der vornehmsten außereuropäischen Staaten, in Hinsicht ihrer Entwickelung, Größe, Volksmenge, Finanz- und Militärverfassung, tabellarisch dargestellt; Erster Heft: Welcher die beiden großen Mächte Österreich und Preußen und den Deutschen Staatenbund darstellt (in German). Verlag des Geographischen Instituts Weimar. p. 41.
  10. ^ a b Haxthausen, August (1839). Die Ländliche Verfassung in den Einzelnen Provinzen der Preussischen Monarchie (in German). pp. 75–91.
  11. ^ "Monastery of the Dormition of the Mother of God in Wojnowo (Eckersdorf)". wojnowo.net.
  12. ^ Tetzner, Franz (1902). Die Slawen in Deutschland: beiträge zur volkskunde der Preussen, Litauer und Letten, der Masuren und Philipponen, der Tschechen, Mährer und Sorben, Polaben und Slowinzen, Kaschuben und Polen. Braunschweig: Verlag von F. Vieweg. pp. 212–248.
  13. ^ "Old Believers in Poland - historical and cultural information". Poland's Linguistic Heritage.
  14. ^ Hoffmann, Johann Gottfried (1818). Übersicht der Bodenfläche und Bevölkerung des Preußischen Staates : aus den für das Jahr 1817 mtlich eingezogenen Nachrichten. Berlin: Decker. p. 51.
  15. ^ Ethnic Groups and Population Changes in Twentieth-Century Central-Eastern Europe: History, Data, and Analysis. Piotr Eberhardt,page 166, 2003 M E Sharpe Inc
  16. ^ a b Robert S. Wistrich, Who's who in Nazi Germany, 2002, pp. 142-143.
  17. ^ Matull, Wilhelm (1973). "Ostdeutschlands Arbeiterbewegung: Abriß ihrer Geschichte, Leistung und Opfer" (PDF) (in German). Holzner Verlag. p. 350.
  18. ^ Die aufrechten Roten von Königsberg Spiegel.de, 28 June 2009 (in German)
  19. ^ Dan P. Silverman (1993). "Fantasy and Reality in Nazi Work-Creation Programs, 1933-1936". The Journal of Modern History. 65 (1): 113–151. doi:10.1086/244609.
  20. ^ Richard Steigmann-Gall, The Holy Reich - Nazi Conceptions of Christianity 1919-1945, 2004, p. 102.
  21. ^ Matull, page 357
  22. ^ Neumärker, Uwe; et al. (2007). "Wolfsschanze": Hitlers Machtzentrale im Zweiten Weltkrieg (in German) (3 ed.). Ch. Links Verlag. ISBN 3-86153-433-9.
  23. ^ Szkolnictwo polskie w Niemczech 1919-1939, Henryk Chałupczak Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Marii Curie-Skłodowskiej,page9 1996
  24. ^ Rademacher, Michael. "Deutsche Verwaltungsgeschichte Preußen, Provinz Ostpreußen 1871 - 1945". Retrieved 8 December 2016.
  25. ^ Beevor, Antony, Berlin: The Downfall 1945, Penguin Books (2002). ISBN 0-670-88695-5
  26. ^ Beevor, Antony, Berlin: The Downfall 1945, chapters 1-8, Penguin Books (2002). ISBN 0-670-88695-5
  27. ^ Andreas Kossert, Damals in Ostpreussen, p. 168, München 2008 ISBN 978-3-421-04366-5
  28. ^ a b c Ther, Philipp; Siljak, Anna (2001). Redrawing nations: ethnic cleansing in East-Central Europe, 1944-1948. Rowman&Littlefield Publishers. p. 109. ISBN 0-7425-1094-8.
  29. ^ Ethnic Germans in Poland and the Czech Republic:A Comparative Evaluation by Karl Cordell and Stefan Wolff
  30. ^ Andreas Kossert, Ostpreussen - Geschichte und Mythos, p.352, ISBN 3-88680-808-4
  31. ^ The Polish toponymic guidelines (p.9)
  32. ^ Andreas Kossert, Damals in Ostpreussen, p. 179-183, München 2008 ISBN 978-3-421-04366-5
  33. ^ In some Prussian provinces the same office continued to be called Landesdirektor also thereafter. Cf. article: "Landesdirektor", in: Der Große Brockhaus: Handbuch des Wissens in zwanzig Bänden: 21 vols.; Leipzig: Brockhaus, 151928–1935; vol. 11 (1932), p. 71.
  34. ^ a b In 1933 the DNVP ran under the list KFSWR, also including the Stahlhelm and the LB.
  35. ^ DVP and DNVP formed the united list called Prussian Block (PB, Preußenblock).
  36. ^ In 1921 the party was named United Communist Party of Germany, VKPD.
  37. ^ In 1921 the Landliste (LL, Rural List) gained two seats, in 1926 the LL formed a united list with the WP and the East Prussian Farmers' Federation (OBB), in 1929 they all ran as part of the WP.


Publications in English
  • Baedeker, Karl, Northern Germany, 14th revised edition, London, 1904.
  • Beevor, Antony (2002). "chapters 1-8". Berlin: The Downfall 1945. Penguin Books. ISBN 0-670-88695-5. (on the years 1944/45)
  • Alfred-Maurice de Zayas, " Nemesis at Potsdam". London, 1977. ISBN 0-8032-4910-1.
  • Alfred-Maurice de Zayas, A Terrible Revenge: The Ethnic Cleansing of the East European Germans, 1944-1950, 1994, ISBN 0-312-12159-8
  • Dickie, Reverend J.F., with E.Compton, Germany, A & C Black, London, 1912.
  • Douglas, R.M.: Orderly and Humane. The Expulsion of the Germans after the Second World War. Yale University Press, 2012. ISBN 978-0300166606.
  • von Treitschke, Heinrich, History of Germany - vol.1: The Wars of Emancipation, (translated by E & C Paul), Allen & Unwin, London, 1915.
  • Powell, E. Alexander, Embattled Borders, London, 1928.
  • Prausser, Steffen and Rees, Arfon: The Expulsion of the "German" Communities from Eastern Europe at the End of the Second World War. Florence, Italy, European University Institute, 2004.
  • Naimark, Norman: Fires of Hatred. Ethnic Cleansing in Twentieth-Century Europe. Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 2001.
  • Steed, Henry Wickham, Vital Peace - A Study of Risks, Constable & Co., London, 1936.
  • Newman, Bernard, Danger Spots of Europe, London, 1938.
  • Wieck, Michael: A Childhood Under Hitler and Stalin: Memoirs of a "Certified Jew," University of Wisconsin Press, 2003, ISBN 0-299-18544-3.
  • Woodward, E.L., Butler, Rohan; Medlicott, W.N., Dakin, Douglas, & Lambert, M.E., et al. (editors), Documents on British Foreign Policy 1919-1939, Three Series, Her Majesty's Stationery Office (HMSO), London, numerous volumes published over 25 years. Cover the Versailles Treaty including all secret meetings; plebiscites and all other problems in Europe; includes all diplomatic correspondence from all states.
  • Previté-Orton, C.W., Professor, The Shorter Cambridge Medieval History, Cambridge University Press, 1952 (2 volumes).
  • Balfour, Michael, and John Mair, Four-Power Control in Germany and Austria 1945-1946, Oxford University Press, 1956.
  • Kopelev, Lev, To Be Preserved Forever, ("Хранить вечно"), 1976.
  • Koch, H.W., Professor, A History of Prussia, Longman, London, 1978/1984, (P/B), ISBN 0-582-48190-2
  • Koch, H.W., Professor, A Constitutional History of Germany in the 19th and 20th Centuries, Longman, London, 1984, (P/B), ISBN 0-582-49182-7
  • MacDonogh, Giles, Prussia, Sinclair-Stevenson, London, 1994, ISBN 1-85619-267-9
  • Nitsch, Gunter, Weeds Like Us, AuthorHouse, 2006, ISBN 978-1-4259-6755-0
Publications in German
  • B. Schumacher: Geschichte Ost- und Westpreussens, Würzburg 1959
  • Boockmann, Hartmut: Ostpreußen und Westpreußen (= Deutsche Geschichte im Osten Europas). Siedler, Berlin 1992, ISBN 3-88680-212-4
  • Buxa, Werner and Hans-Ulrich Stamm: Bilder aus Ostpreußen
  • Dönhoff, Marion Gräfin v. :Namen die keiner mehr nennt - Ostpreußen, Menschen und Geschichte
  • Dönhoff, Marion Gräfin v.: Kindheit in Ostpreussen
  • Falk, Lucy: Ich Blieb in Königsberg. Tagebuchblätter aus dunklen Nachkriegsjahren
  • Kibelka, Ruth: Ostpreußens Schicksaljahre, 1945-1948
  • Bernd, Martin (1998). Masuren, Mythos und Geschichte. Karlsruhe: Evangelische Akademie Baden. ISBN 83-85135-93-6.
  • Nitsch, Gunter: "Eine lange Flucht aus Ostpreußen", Ellert & Richter Verlag, 2011, ISBN 978-3-8319-0438-9
  • Wieck, Michael: Zeugnis vom Untergang Königsbergs: Ein "Geltungsjude" berichtet, Heidelberger Verlaganstalt, 1990, 1993, ISBN 3-89426-059-9.
Publications in French
Publications in Polish
  • K. Piwarski (1946). Dzieje Prus Wschodnich w czasach nowożytnych. Gdańsk.
  • Gerard Labuda, ed. (1969–2003). "Historia Pomorza", vol. I–IV. Poznań.
  • collective work (1958–61). "Szkice z dziejów Pomorza", vol. 1–3. Warszawa.
  • Andreas Kossert (2009). PRUSY WSCHODNIE, Historia i mit. Warszawa. ISBN 978-83-7383-354-8.

External links

Coordinates: 54°44′N 20°29′E / 54.733°N 20.483°E

1920 East Prussian plebiscite

The East Prussia(n) plebiscite (German: Abstimmung in Ostpreußen), also known as the Allenstein and Marienwerder plebiscite or Warmia, Masuria and Powiśle plebiscite (Polish: Plebiscyt na Warmii, Mazurach i Powiślu), was a plebiscite for self-determination of the regions southern Warmia (Ermland), Masuria (Mazury, Masuren) and Powiśle, which had been in parts of the East Prussian Government Region of Allenstein and of West Prussian Government Region of Marienwerder, in accordance with Articles 94 to 97 of the Treaty of Versailles.

Prepared during early 1920, it took place on 11 July 1920. The plebiscite was conducted by German authorities, formally under Inter-Allied control. According to Richard K. Debo, both German and Polish governments believed that the outcome of the plebiscite was decided by the ongoing Polish-Bolshevik War which threatened the existence of the newly formed Polish state itself and, as a result, even many German citizens of Polish ethnicity of the region voted for Germany out of fear that if the area was allocated to Poland it would soon fall under Soviet rule.According to several Polish sources the German side engaged in mass persecution of Polish activists, their Masurian supporters, going as far as engaging in regular hunts and murder against them to influence the vote. Additionally the organisation of the plebiscite was influenced by Great Britain, which at the time supported Germany, fearing the increased power of France in post-war Europe.According to Jerzy Minakowski due to terror and unequal status of German and Polish side, Poles boycotted the preparations for the plebiscite which allowed Germans to engage in falsifications.

The German conducted plebiscite reported that majority of voters selected East Prussia over Poland (over 97% in the Allenstein Plebiscite Area and 92% in the Marienwerder Plebiscite Area); most of the territories in question remained in the Free State of Prussia, and therefore, in Germany.

Bezirk Bialystok

Bezirk Bialystok (German for District of Białystok, also Belostok) was an administrative unit of Nazi Germany created during the World War II invasion of the Soviet Union. It was to the south-east of East Prussia, in present-day northeastern Poland as well as in smaller sections of adjacent present-day Belarus and Lithuania.The territory lay to the east of the Molotov-Ribbentrop line and was consequently occupied by the Soviet Union and incorporated into the Belarussian Soviet Socialist Republic. In the aftermath of the German attack on the Soviet Union in June 1941, the western portion of Soviet Belarus (which, until 1939, belonged to the Polish state), was placed under the German Civilian Administration (Zivilverwaltungsgebiet). As Bezirk Bialystok, the area was under German rule from 1941 to 1944 without ever formally being incorporated into the German Reich.The district was established because of its perceived military importance as a bridgehead on the far bank of the Memel. Germany had desired to annex the area even during the First World War, based on the historical claim arising from the Third Partition of Poland, which had delegated Białystok to Prussia from 1795 to 1806 (see New East Prussia).In contrast to most other territories that lay east of the Molotov-Ribbentrop line and which were permanently annexed by the Soviet Union following the Second World War, most of the territory was later returned to Poland.


Bärenfang or Meschkinnes is a German honey-flavoured liqueur based on vodka. It is usually called Bärenjäger in English-speaking countries.

Bärenfang means “bear trap”; Bärenjäger means “bear hunter”.Meschkinnes, a term mostly used by people from East Prussia, comes from Lithuanian meškinas, meaning “male bear”.

Bärenfang has an alcohol content of 30%–45% ABV (60–90 proof). In Germany, Bärenfang is often made at home since the basic recipe and many variations of it are readily available. Most homemade Bärenfang is based on vodka, but some recipes with a higher alcohol content are based on neutral spirit.

Bärenfang is always made with honey from nectar because honey from honeydew may have a bitter aftertaste.

Dieter Wisliceny

Dieter Wisliceny (13 January 1911 — 4 May 1948), was a member of the Nazi SS, and a key executioner in the final phase of the Holocaust.

East Prussian Offensive

The East Prussian Offensive was a strategic offensive by the Soviet Red Army against the German Wehrmacht on the Eastern Front (World War II). It lasted from 13 January to 25 April 1945, though some German units did not surrender until 9 May. The Battle of Königsberg was a major part of the offensive, which ended in victory for the Red Army.

The East Prussian Offensive is known to German historians as the Second East Prussian Offensive. The First East Prussian Offensive (also known as the Gumbinnen Operation), took place from 16–27 October 1944, and was carried out by the 3rd Belorussian Front under General I.D. Chernyakhovsky as part of the Memel Offensive of the 1st Baltic Front. The Soviet forces took heavy casualties while penetrating 30–60 km (19–37 mi) into east-northern part of Poland, and the offensive was postponed until greater reserves could be gathered.

Evacuation of East Prussia

The evacuation of East Prussia was the movement of the German civilian population and military personnel from East Prussia between 20 January 1945 and March 1945, that was initially carried out by state authorities but later evolved into a chaotic flight from the Red Army.Although organized at the beginning, the East Prussian evacuation quickly turned into a chaotic flight due to Soviet advances. A part of the evacuation of German civilians towards the end of World War II, these events are not to be confused with the expulsion from East Prussia that followed after the war had ended. The area that was evacuated was not the Gau East Prussia, but the inter-war East Prussia where most people already held a German citizenship. German citizens in Memel and other regions with proximity to East Prussia also took part in the evacuation, wishing to escape by sea, even though in their regions there was no official evacuation announced.

The evacuation, which had been delayed for months, was initiated due to fear of the Red Army advances during the East Prussian Offensive. Some parts of the evacuation were planned as a military necessity, Operation Hannibal being the most important military operation involved in the evacuation. However, many refugees took to the roads on their own initiative because of reported Soviet atrocities against Germans in the areas under Soviet control. Both spurious and factual accounts of Soviet atrocities were disseminated through the official news and propaganda outlets of Nazi Germany and by rumors that swept through the military and civilian populations.

Despite having detailed evacuation plans for some areas, the German authorities, including the Gauleiter of East Prussia, Erich Koch, delayed action until 20 January, when it was too late for an orderly evacuation, and the civil services and Nazi Party were eventually overwhelmed by the numbers of those wishing to evacuate. Coupled with the panic caused by the speed of the Soviet advance, civilians caught in the middle of combat, and the bitter winter weather, many thousands of refugees died during the evacuation period. The Soviet forces took control of East Prussia only in May 1945. According to the West German Schieder commission, the civilian population of East Prussia at the beginning of 1944 was 2,653,000 people. This accounting, which was based on ration cards, included air raid evacuees from western Germany and foreign workers. Before the end of the war an estimated 2 million people were evacuated, including 500,000 in the Autumn of 1944 and 1,500,000 after January 1945. An estimated 600,000 remained behind in Soviet-controlled East Prussia in April-May 1945.According to a 1974 West German government study an estimated 1% of the civilian population was killed during the Soviet offensive. The West German search service reported that 31,940 civilians from East Prussia, which also included Memel, were confirmed as killed during the evacuation.

Gau East Prussia

Gau East Prussia was formed in 1933 in Nazi Germany initially as a district within the Free State of Prussia. In 1935, Germany's constituent states were dissolved and the Gaus replaced the states and their responsibilities. In 1939, East Prussia expanded following the annexation of the Klaipėda Region from Lithuania and the occupation of Poland, while a sliver of territory from the gau was transferred to Reichsgau Danzig-West Prussia. After Germany's attack on the USSR, the Belarusian city of Hrodna (German: Garten) also became part of the Gau.

After the war, the territory of the former Gau became part of the Russian SFSR enclave of Kaliningrad in the Soviet Union, major sections were given to Poland, and the area of the Klaipėda Region was returned to the Lithuanian SSR and Hrodna - to the Belarusian SSR within the Soviet Union.

High Prussian dialect

High Prussian (German: Hochpreußisch) is the group of East Central German dialects in former East Prussia, in present-day Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship, Poland. High Prussian developed in the 13th–15th centuries, brought in by German settlers mainly from Silesia and Thuringia, and was influenced by the Baltic Old Prussian language.

High Prussian dialects were spoken mainly in the Catholic region of Warmia and adjacent East Prussian Oberland region beyond the Passarge River in the west (around Preußisch Holland and Mohrungen), subdivided into Breslausch (from Silesian Breslau) and Oberländisch. They were separated from the Low Prussian dialect area by the Benrath line isogloss to the west, north and east; to the south they bordered on the Polish Masurian dialect region.

Like Silesian German, High Prussian is moribund due to the evacuation and expulsion of the German-speaking population from the Province of East Prussia during and after World War II. The dialect has few remaining speakers today.


Kaliningrad (Russian: Калининград, IPA: [kəlʲɪnʲɪnˈɡrat]) is a city in the administrative centre of Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave between Poland and Lithuania on the Baltic Sea.

In the Middle Ages it was the site of the Old Prussian settlement Twangste. In 1255, during the Northern Crusades, a new fortress named Königsberg was built by the Teutonic Knights. Königsberg became the capital of the Duchy of Prussia, a fiefdom of Poland from 1525 to 1657, and later East Prussia, Germany. It was heavily damaged during World War II, and its population fled or were removed by force. Königsberg became a Russian city, renamed Kaliningrad in 1946. At the 2010 Census, Kaliningrad's population was 431,902.

Kaliningrad Oblast

Kaliningrad Oblast (Russian: Калинингра́дская о́бласть, Kaliningradskaya oblast), often referred to as the Kaliningrad Region in English, or simply Kaliningrad, is a federal subject of the Russian Federation that is located on the coast of the Baltic Sea. As an oblast, its constitutional status is equal to each of the other 84 federal subjects. Its administrative center is the city of Kaliningrad, formerly known as Königsberg. It is the only Baltic port in the Russian Federation that remains ice-free in winter. According to the 2010 census, it had a population of 941,873.The oblast is an exclave, bordered by Poland to the south and Lithuania to the east and north, so residents may only travel visa-free to the rest of Russia via sea or air. The territory was formerly the northern part of East Prussia, with the southern part now being Poland's Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship. With the defeat of Nazi Germany in 1945, the territory was annexed by the Soviet Union. Following the post-war migration and Flight and expulsion of Germans (1944–50), the territory was populated with citizens from the Soviet Union. Today virtually no ethnic Germans remain; most of the several thousand who live there are recent immigrants from other parts of the former Soviet Union.

Early in the 21st century, the hitherto fledgling economy of Kaliningrad Oblast became one of the best performing economies in Russia. This was helped by a low manufacturing tax rate related to its "Special Economic Zone" (SEZ) status. As of 2006, one in three televisions manufactured in Russia came from Kaliningrad. The territory's population was one of the few in Russia that was expected to show strong growth after the collapse of the USSR.


Klaipėda (Lithuanian pronunciation: [ˈkɫɐɪˑpʲeːdɐ], listen ; German name: Memel, Samogitian name: Klaipieda, Polish name: Kłajpeda) is a city in Lithuania on the Baltic Sea coast. It is the third largest city in Lithuania and the capital of Klaipėda County.

The city has a complex recorded history, partially due to the combined regional importance of the usually ice-free Port of Klaipėda at the mouth of the Akmena-Danė River. It was controlled by successive German states until the 1919 Treaty of Versailles. As a result of the 1923 Klaipėda Revolt it was added to Lithuania and has remained with Lithuania to this day, except for the period between 1939 and 1945 when it returned to Germany following the 1939 German ultimatum to Lithuania and the German–Soviet Union Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact.

The population has shrunk from the city to suburbs and the hinterland. The city had a population of 207,100 in 1992 to 157,350 in 2014 but the city is growing again. Popular seaside resorts found close to Klaipėda are Nida to the south on the Curonian Spit and Palanga to the north.

Kurt Baluses

Kurt Baluses (30 June 1914, Allenstein, East Prussia – 28 March 1972, Ludwigsburg) was a German football player and manager. He was the first manager of VfB Stuttgart in the then newly founded Bundesliga and also had the biggest success of his managing career with the club, leading Stuttgart to a 5th-place finish in 1963–64.

Low Prussian dialect

Low Prussian (German: Niederpreußisch), sometimes known simply as Prussian (Preußisch), is a moribund dialect of East Low German that developed in East Prussia. Low Prussian was spoken in East and West Prussia and Danzig up to 1945. It developed on a Baltic substrate through the influx of Dutch- and Low German-speaking immigrants. It supplanted Old Prussian, which became extinct in the 17th century.

Plautdietsch, a Low German variety, is included within Low Prussian by some observers. Excluding Plautdietsch, Low Prussian can be considered moribund due to the evacuation and forced expulsion of Germans from East Prussia after World War II. Plautdietsch, however, has several thousand speakers throughout the world, most notably in South America, Canada and Germany.

Simon Dach's poem Anke van Tharaw, the best known East Prussian poem, was written in Low Prussian.

New East Prussia

New East Prussia (German: Neuostpreußen; Polish: Prusy Nowowschodnie; Lithuanian: Naujieji Rytprūsiai) was a province of the Kingdom of Prussia from 1795 to 1807. It was created out of territory annexed in the Third Partition of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and included parts of Masovia, Podlaskie, Trakai voivodeship and Žemaitija. In 1806 it had 914,610 inhabitants with a territory of less than 55,000 km².

Postage stamps and postal history of Allenstein

In 1920 a plebiscite was held to determine whether the populace of the Region of Allenstein wished to remain in East Prussia and that in parts of the Region of Marienwerder to become part of that province in reconfined borders, or become part of Poland. In order to advertise the plebiscite, special postage stamps were produced by overprinting German stamps and sold from 3 April. One kind of overprint read PLÉBISCITE / OLSZTYN / ALLENSTEIN, while the other read TRAITÉ / DE / VERSAILLES / ART. 94 et 95 inside an oval whose border gave the full name of the plebiscite commission. Each overprint was applied to 14 denominations ranging from 5 Pf to 3 M.

The plebiscite was held on 11 July, and produced 362,209 votes (97.8%) for East Prussia and 7,980 votes (2.2%) for Poland. The stamps became invalid on 20 August. Despite the short period of use, almost all of the stamps are cheaply available both used and unused.

After the Second World War, on 2 August 1945, the city was placed under Polish administration by the Soviets (according to the Potsdam Agreement) and officially renamed to Polish Olsztyn (Ger. Allenstein).

Rossitten Bird Observatory

The Rossitten Bird Observatory (Vogelwarte Rossitten in German) was the world's first ornithological observatory. It was sited at Rossitten, East Prussia (now Rybachy, Kaliningrad Oblast, Russia), on the Curonian Spit on the south-eastern coast of the Baltic Sea. It was established by German ornithologist Johannes Thienemann and operated until 1944. In 1945 East Prussia was divided between Poland, Russia and Lithuania, and most ethnic Germans expelled.

Russian invasion of East Prussia (1914)

The Russian invasion of East Prussia occurred during World War I, lasting from August to September 1914. As well as being the natural course for the Russian Empire to take upon the declaration of war on the German Empire, it was also an attempt to focus the German Army on the Eastern Front, as opposed to the Western Front. Despite having an overwhelming superiority over the Germans in numbers, the invading Imperial Russian Army spread its forces thin and was defeated in the battles of Tannenberg and the Masurian Lakes. It was the only time that Germany was ever invaded in World War I.

Second Battle of the Masurian Lakes

The Second Battle of the Masurian Lakes, also known as the Winter Battle of the Masurian Lakes, was the northern part of the Central Powers' offensive on the Eastern Front in the winter of 1915. The offensive was intended to advance beyond the Vistula River and perhaps knock Russia out of the war.

West Prussia

The Province of West Prussia (German: Provinz Westpreußen; Kashubian: Zôpadné Prësë; Polish: Prusy Zachodnie) was a province of Prussia from 1773 to 1829 and 1878 to 1922. West Prussia was established as a province of the Kingdom of Prussia in 1773, formed from Royal Prussia of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth annexed in the First Partition of Poland. West Prussia was dissolved in 1829 and merged with East Prussia to form the Province of Prussia, but was re-established in 1878 when the merger was reversed and became part of the German Empire. From 1918, West Prussia was a province of the Free State of Prussia within Weimar Germany, losing most of its territory to the Second Polish Republic and the Free City of Danzig in the Treaty of Versailles. West Prussia was dissolved in 1922, and its remaining western territory was merged with Posen to form Posen-West Prussia, and its eastern territory merged with East Prussia as the Region of West Prussia district.

West Prussia's provincial capital alternated between Marienwerder (present-day Kwidzyn, Poland) and Danzig (Gdańsk, Poland) during its existence.

West Prussia was notable for its ethnic and religious diversity due to immigration and cultural changes, with the population becoming mixed over the centuries. Since the early Middle Ages the region was inhabited by numerous Baltic peoples, such as Pomeranians in the Pomerelia region, Old Prussians and Masovians in Kulmerland, and Pomesanians east of the Vistula River. Later Slavs and Germans followed. Germans were also the largest group in West Prussia until its dissolution in 1922, with large numbers of Kashubians, Poles, Mennonites, and Jews also settling in the region.

Territories and provinces of Prussia (1525–1947)
Before 1701
After 1701
Post-Congress of
Cities and towns
Urban-type settlements of
oblast significance
Urban-type settlements

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