was a city in north-eastern Europe
, on the Baltic
sea. It is remembered in Euler
's The Bridges of Königsberg
problem, and the city has produced some famous academics, including the philosopher Immanuel Kant
and mathematicians Christian Goldbach
and David Hilbert
The city was founded in the 13th century by the Teutonic Knights under the Holy Roman Empire. In 1255, a fortress, dubbed "King's Mountain", or Königsberg, was erected. Around this fortress three cities appeared: Alshtadt, Knaiphoff and Lebeniht. These would later be united into one city which would take its name from the castle. The Knights ruled the area until the 15th century, when they lost control of the city to the Prussian Confederation, a group led by the merchants of the Hanseatic League. The Prussians enlisted the help of Poland and finally threw off the tyranny of the Teutonic order by 1525. Königsberg (Krolewiec in Polish) became the capital of the Hohenzollern Duchy, an autonomous state under Polish rule.
Prussia gained its independence from Poland in 1657 with the Treaty of Wehlau. When Prussia emerged from the Holy Roman Empire as an independent state in 1701, Frederick I was crowned as the first Prussian king in the chapel of the Königsberg fortress.
From Prussia to Russia
In the 1800s, Prussia entered into the German Confederation, and finally into a united German Empire under Bismarck.
After World War I, the borders of Europe were redrawn by the victors in Verseilles. The modern state of Poland was established, and Königsberg became an isolated island, separated from the rest of Germany by the "Polish Corridor." The new boundaries, especially in the east, were exploited by nationalists who demanded that the former German territories be annexed.
As Germany's eastern frontier, it was also the launching point of Hitler's attack on Russia. During World War II, Königsberg was in the thick of the eastern front. It was heavily bombed and sieged by the Russian troops, and occupied by the Soviets in 1945. The Soviets annexed Königsberg into the USSR at the Potsdam Conference, while the rest of East Prussia was given to Poland.
It is here that the history of Königsberg ends and that of Kaliningrad begins. The city was renamed by the Soviets after M. I. Kalinin, a Soviet leader. The remenents of German and Prussian culture were destroyed, partly by war and partly as a deliberate policy of Russification. It culminated with the destruction of the ruins of the castle in 1957, and in its place the local House of Soviets was built. In addition, millions of German residents of both Königsberg and the rest of East Prussia were forcibly deported. Today, Kaliningrad is almost exclusively Russian.
Kaliningrad was particularly important to the USSR, and is now to Russia, as a Baltic port that is ice-free year round; it is now the central base for the Baltic Fleet of the Russian Navy. And now with the independance of neighboring Lithuania, Kaliningrad is once more an isolated exclave.