Monday, April 16, 2018

East Prussia

ASVG file created by Matthead
I’m trying to understand East Prussia—past and present. Here are a few facts I’ve gleaned through my reading. East Prussia is now divided into three countries: Lithuania, Russian Federation and Poland. The Lithuanian part used to be known as Memelland with the main city being the port of Memel. Today it’s called Klaipeda.  The Russian Federation encompasses the former Königsberg (now Kaliningrad) and the former East Prussia’s northern parts. Poland gained the southern two thirds of East Prussia. These political divisions were finalized in 1946. Stalin was eager to have access to a warm seaport on the Baltic. (Now, of course—with the 2014 annexation of Crimea—Russia also warm seaports on the Black Sea. Millions of Germans were displaced. Growing up, most people of the church we attended were displaced Germans from these areas. It’s not until recently that I’ve begun to research and understand the politics behind their relocation to Canada.

I’m eager to visit the former East Prussia. The trip I’m planning involves cycling along the Baltic through three countries. It should be a good way to explore the landscape that my mom and her family traveled as they tried (and failed) to escape the Red Army. But I plan on going in September, not January. 

From the book, Als die Deutsche weg waren, (After the Germans left), I get the distinct impression that the Russian Federation is not a prosperous place. It’s a wasteland—its current citizens resentful of being forced to live so far from the rest of Russia. Only Kaliningrad received a facelift, commemorating it’s 750thbirthday, back in 2005. Putin knows that many Germans are nostalgic for the old city and tourism is a big draw. I plan on celebrating my birthday this year by watching a World Cup Soccer game on TV to be played in Kaliningrad. 

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