City of Köngisberg (today Kaliningrad), was established as a settlement
by the castle, by Livonian Brothers of the Sword, by king Ottocar II from
Bohemia (Czech). It's beeing built in the place of destroyed pagan Prussian settlement,
conquered during second crusade against pagan Prussia in 1253 - 1257. The
original settlement might have been established even as early as around 300 BC.
Its inhabitant's were mostly hunters and fishermen. After conquest in 1255,
a castle is built, and in 1257 upgraded to a castle of brick. New settlement
and the castle are called Köngisberg - king's mountain. In 1262 a 3 year long siege
by pagan Prussians ends. In 1286 the settlement received city rights.
In 1333 a construction of cathedral begins. In 1339, a city being one of most important
Teutonic Order's cities, joins Hanzeatic League. In 1387 a construction of
characteristic castle tower ends; that completes the construction of the castle.
In 1511, 21 years old at the time Albert of Brandenburg,
becomes a Grand Master of Tetonic Order. In 1525 the grand master swore fealty to
Zygmunt I, king of Poland, and Prussia becomes a homage of Poland. With Grand
Master leaving catholicism, Prussia becomes a secular country and loses support of
western European knights. Köngisberg becomes a capital and a seat of dukes of
Prussia, and after 1701 a seat of king of Prussia.
In 1544 Albrecht Hohenzollern funded Köngisberg University.
In 1578 the castle was extended and rebuilt.
In 1618 Prussia and Brandenbug join. In the same year duke Albrecht dies.
In 1626 Prussia and Poland are attacked and plundered by Sweden.
On July 11th, 1657 in Köngisberg castle Frederick III
Brandenburgian is born. In the same place, on January 18th, 1701 he crowns
himself to the first king of Prussia and calls himself Frederick I. A great
pestilence in 1709-1711 kills 250 thousand people. In 1717 king Frederick I gives
Amber Room to tsar Peter I the Great. By some people it is acknowledged
a seventh wonder of the world. Work on it was completed in 1770. The room with by 565 candles
illuminating mosaics and mirrors was creating unique effect. Peter I places the room
in Tsarskie Siolo (near St. Petersburg), from where in 1941 it was robbed by German
army. In 1724 three cities around the castle join in one city Köngisberg. In the
same Immanuel Kant is born - a genius student, lecturer and rector of the
city's university. In 1756 the Seven Years' war breaks out, between Prussia,
Russia and Austria. Prussia participates in partition of Poland in 1772, 1793 and 1795.
The beginning of the next century is dominated by Napoleonian
Wars. In 1807 Napoleon's army enters Prussia. Frederick William III
asks tsar Alexander I, but joined armies are defeated and France occupies
also part of Russia. Russia and Prussia make pact against Napoleon in 1812.
East Prussia joins German Reich in 1871.
Treaty of Versailles in 1919 again separate Prussia from
Germany. Territory separating two contries belonges now to Poland and is called
"Polish corridor". In 1939 World War II breaks out. Facing the ooffensive of
the Red Army in 1944, authorities make decision of turning the city into
fortress. The city, as well as old city and the castle receive great destructions
during so called carpet bombings by Britain in August 1944. The city defends
itself from January to April 1945. Local citizens, trapped in siege, tries to get
out, mainly using water ways. After city was taken by the Russians the destruction
was approximately 90%.
Oficially during the bombings the Amber Room was destroyed as
well. Brought here from Tsarskie Siolo, mounted together and put in one castle's
chambers. However because its remainings was never found and reports of it being
conveyed out of town various witnesses encouraged many "treasure hunters" from
all over the world. However no one managed to find it yet.
In 1945 during Potsdam Conference, Köngisberg was
given to USSR. In 1946 the name of the city was changed to Kaliningrad (as a
tribute to Mikhail Kalinin, a revolutionist who died that year). In 1948
the city is partially rebuilt, and the remaining German citizens deported.
The ruins of the castle, destroyed mostly during British
bombing, are ulitimatelly blasted in 1967-1969. In the place a Home of Soviets
is built, typical communistic building, future home of communistic party. But the
work could not be completed - design engineers did not take into consideration
castle's undergrounds and the new building subsides and tilts, is not safe -
in this state it remains today.
In 1991 there was 5000 Germans living in Kaliningrad,
and approximately 1300 in Kaliningrad Oblast.
See also: Old postcards