Volume 30

Acta Historica Universitatis Klaipedensis, vol. 30Contact Zones in the Historical Area of East Prussia

Acta Historica Universitatis Klaipedensis, Vol. XXX

Editors: Vasilijus Safronovas, Klaus Richter

Klaipėda, 2015

This volume of the series Acta Historica Universitatis Klaipedensis invites readers to look at the historical area of East Prussia as a combination of multiple contact zones. German, Polish, Russian and Lithuanian authors have come together in an attempt to reveal the mutual human interactions manifested in these contact zones, and the human relations with the material culture, the area of residence, and simultaneously with history. Papers covering the period from the 18th to the 20th century analyse the external and internal contacts of East Prussian cultures and the phenomena of identification and assignment born through those contacts, the cultural contacts with the landscapes and townscapes of the people who lived, or are still living, in the historical space of East Prussia, and processes in the symbolic appropriation of spaces manifested through them. The research papers are thematically complemented by a source publication which allows us a glimpse of the German-Lithuanian clash over the Territory of Memel (Klaipėda Region) in the interwar period.

Editors’ Note


Ostpreußen und sein Nachleben: Von der Hartnäckigkeit eines historischen Phänomens
EN title: East Prussia and its Posthumous Life: on the Tenacious Vitality of a Historical Phenomenon

Abstract and Full Text
The paper is a keynote address to the conference ‘Contacts and Cultural Transfer in the Historical Region of East Prussia (1700–2000)’ that took place in Nida in September 2013. It considers what the East Prussia region means, and what it is associated with today, after it stopped existing 70 years ago. The question is asked what the current situation of East Prussian historiography is, and potential directions for the development of new relevant research are outlined. The author argues that in the process of the cognition of East Prussia, a shift was made from the conservative system of meanings, developed mainly by the former local elites in Germany after the Second World War, to the cognition of regional diversity, which existed before the era of nationalism, and to coping with national narratives about East Prussia. Simultaneously, in the former territory of East Prussia, which currently belongs to Poland, Russia and Lithuania, individual elements of the past of the region continue to occupy an increasingly important role in layers of the local identity, and form opportunities for local cultures of remembrance.

Key words: East Prussia, historical research, collective memory, cultures of remembrance, cultural heritage.


Die (Re-)Konstruktion altpreußischer Identität in der regionalen Kulturgeschichtsschreibung im Ostpreußen des 18. Jahrhunderts (Lilienthal, Arnoldt, Pisanski)
EN title: The (Re-)Construction of the Old Prussian Identity in Regional East Prussian Historiography of the 18th Century (Lilienthal, Arnoldt and Pisanski)

Abstract and Full Text
The paper focuses on the contribution of regional 18th-century ‘East Prussian’ historiography to the formation of an Old Prussian identity. The author specifies the concept of ‘Old Prussianism’, and reveals the main steps in the change in that model of identity in the 18th century through an analysis of three authors who were active in Königsberg and spanned three generations: Michael Lilienthal (1686–1750), Daniel Heinrich Arnoldt (1706–1775) and Georg Christoph Pisanski (1725–1790). On the basis of their treatises, the paper reveals how in the 18th century, in the territory of the former Duchy of Prussia, a unique regional self-awareness independent of Royal (Polish) Prussia and of Brandenburgian Prussia was developing, as well as a related concept of the past of the region.

Key words: Brandenburgian Prussia, Royal Prussia, historiography, regional self-awareness, Old Prussian identity.


The Interest in East Prussian Ethnic Culture in the Second Half of the 19th Century and its Impact on the Activities of Richard Dethlefsen

Abstract and Full Text
The paper analyses the impact of his interest in 19th-century East Prussian ethnic culture on the activities of Richard Jepsen Dethlefsen (1864–1944), one of the pioneers of monument protection in the region. Dethlefsen’s important activity in the area of recording and protecting the East Prussian cultural heritage also implied an acquaintance with the cultural values of Prussian Lithuania, whose roots were formed by the Reformation in the Duchy of Prussia; by Romanticism, which actualised the history of Prussia and the Prussian tribes; and a few other factors. Despite the impact of nationalism paradigms in the German Empire in the late 19th century, Dethlefsen’s activities contributed to the understanding of the intentions of his contemporaries to consider East Prussia as a unique cultural space, whose historical conditions predetermined the survival of the uniqueness of several ethnic regions, by emphasising it as a value of the East Prussian province to be protected. The concept of pluriculturalism of the former East Prussia, as revealed in Dethlefsen’s work, remains a relevant guideline for cultural heritage policy in west Lithuania (the former Klaipėda region).

Key words: cultural heritage, ethnocultural tradition, monument protection, East Prussia, Prussian Lithuania, west Lithuania.


Der Ostdeutsche Heimatdienst und die Volksabstimmungszeit in Ostpreußen. Der Anfang vom Ende der friedlichen Koexistenz?
EN title: Ostdeutscher Heimatdienst and the Plebiscite in East Prussia. The Beginning of the End of Peaceful Coexistence?

Abstract and Full Text
A fierce national East Prussia-related conflict between Germans and Poles after the First World War basically contrasted with the prewar situation in the province. After the decision taken at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919 to hold a plebiscite in two governmental districts of this German province on their inhabitants’ political affiliations, the vast population there had to take a test on the basic choice of their political, and simultaneously cultural, orientation. Today, researchers agree that the plebiscite of 1920 caused irreversible damage to the multiethnic area. There is no doubt that the so-called Ostdeutscher Heimatdienst organisation strongly contributed to this. The article raises questions as to what circumstances promoted the establishment of the organisation, who its principal actors were, and how they affected the East Prussian population.

Key words: East Prussia, the Versailles system, German-Polish relations, propaganda, Ostdeutscher Heimatdienst.


Die katholische Kirche in Memelland (1923–1939)
EN title: The Catholic Church in the Klaipėda Region in the Period 1923 to 1939

Abstract and Full Text
After the Evangelical-dominated Territory of Memel (the Klaipėda Region) had been integrated into the Republic of Lithuania in 1923, the issue of the situation of the Catholics, non-dominant religious group in the region, accounting for 5 per cent of its population in 1925, had to be solved. In 1926, they were separated from the Diocese of Warmia, and joined the newly formed Klaipėda Prelature, part of the Diocese of Telšiai. Thus, the Catholics of the Klaipėda Region were integrated into Church structures controlled from Lithuania, unlike the Evangelicals, who remained part of the composition of the Prussian Evangelical Church. This paper, mainly on the basis of ecclesiastical documents, presents for the first time a broader analysis of the structure of the Catholic Church and its activities in the Klaipėda Region, as part of Lithuania, in the years 1923 to 1939.

Key words: Catholic Church, Territory of Memel (Klaipėda Region), Klaipėda prelature, Lithuanian-German relations.


From ‘Ancient Slavialand’ to ‘Paradise Lost’: Rehabilitation of Cultural Heritage in Kaliningrad (late 1940s to early 1980s)

Abstract and Full Text
The paper characterises the several-decades-long process of rehabilitation of the prewar cultural heritage in the Kaliningrad. After the northern part of the former East Prussia (Königsberg, and since 1946, the Kaliningrad Oblast) had been annexed by the USSR, and after basically a total change of the population had taken place, the authorities started to Sovietise the region. Knowledge of the prewar past was prohibited from the very beginning, and Stalin-era propaganda formed the founding myth of the Kaliningrad region with reference to the notion of ‘a Slavic land from time immemorial’. Despite the significant shifts that took place in the process of research into the history of the Kaliningrad Oblast during the Soviet period, carried out by historians from Russia and other countries, the adaptation by the postwar settlers to the socio-cultural landscape remains a poorly researched theme. The paper argues that the rehabilitation of the prewar (and primarily German) cultural heritage took place all through the Soviet era, by gradually converting the initially alien environment into their own. Ultimately, a fundamental shift took place in the cultural memory of Kaliningrad’s inhabitants; from the fear of staying ‘in an empty land’, they moved to the compatibility of ‘memory and desire’: the understanding that the metaphor of ‘paradise lost’, which revealed the nostalgia of the former inhabitants of East Prussia, also defined the feelings of Kaliningrad residents for the land that had become their home.

Key words: Kaliningrad Oblast, cultural heritage, cultural memory, space appropriation.


Andrzej SAKSON
Polnisches Ostpreußen – Depositär oder Nachfolger der deutschen Vergangenheit?
EN title: Polish East Prussia: is it a Deposit of German Culture or a Successor to it?

Abstract and Full Text
Changes in the political power and the population in the southern part of East Prussia, which went to Poland in 1945, led to the removal of traces of the German past in the region, and to its Polonisation immediately after the war. After discussing the de-Germanisation policy, typical of the postwar period, the removal of symbols of ‘German power’, the elimination of the ‘German spirit’, and trends in the adaptation of the new population to the cultural landscape, the author raises the question how relations between the population of the territory and the German heritage and past changed after 1989. The issue is considered in the context of the discussion among intellectuals in Poland as to what the relationship with the German heritage should be. The answer is based on the results of a sociological poll carried out by the Institute for Western Affairs in 2001.

Key words: East Prussia, Warmia and Masuria, cultural heritage, relations with the ‘German’ heritage.


Die symbolische Aneignung historischer Räume im östlichen Preußen. Nationale und regionale Strategien
EN title: The Symbolic Appropriation of Historical Spaces in East Prussia: National and Regional Strategies

Abstract and Full Text
The paper discusses different appropriation strategies applied to the same historical region of East Prussia. By dating the beginning of the symbolic appropriation to the early 19th century, the author reviews the strategies, first applied by Germans and Poles, and later also by Lithuanians and Russians, to make East Prussia or their respective part (Warmia and Masuria, Lithuania Minor, and the Kaliningrad Oblast) their own. This is demonstrated by several periods, starting with the situation before 1914, the First World War, the interwar period, and the Second World War, when East Prussia still existed; and finishing with the postwar period and the changes after 1989. A distinction is made between national and regional East Prussia appropriation strategies, as well as different levels of the process, i.e. publicistic (literary) and practical.

Key Words: East Prussia, symbolic appropriation, appropriation strategies, polyculturalism, cultural contacts.



Julius ŽUKAS
On a Detail of Political Confrontation in the Territory of Memel in the 1930s
XX a. 4-ojo dešimtmečio politinės konfrontacijos Klaipėdos krašte fragmentas


Das ›Pruzzenland‹ als geteilte Erinnerungsregion. Konstruktion und Repräsentation eines europäischen Geschichtsraums in Deutschland, Polen, Litauen und Russland seit 1900 (Studien des Georg-Eckert-Instituts zur internationalen Bildungsmedienforschung, Bd. 135). Hrsg. von Stephanie ZLOCH, Izabela LEWANDOWSKA. Göttingen: V&R unipress, 2014. – 398 S. ISBN 978-3-8471-0266-3

PODEHL, Markus. Architektura Kaliningrada. Wie aus Königsberg Kaliningrad wurde (Materialen zur Kunst, Kultur und Geschichte Ostmitteleuropas, Bd. 1). Marburg: Verlag Herder-Institut, 2012. – 420 S. ISBN 978-3-87969-375-7

Leonid Arbusow (1882–1951) und die Erforschung des mittelalterlichen Livland (Quellen und Studien zur baltischen Geschichte, Band 24). Hrsg. von Ilgvars MISĀNS, Klaus NEITMANN. Köln, Weimar, Wien: Böhlau Verlag, 2014. – 383 S. ISBN 978-3-412-22214-7

Books on the Baltic Region: The Construction of the Content of its History and the Deconstruction of its Concept
Geschichte, Politik und Kultur im Ostseeraum (The Baltic Sea Region: Northern Dimensions – European Perspectives, Bd. 12). Hrsg. von Jan HECKEL-STAMPEHL, Bernd HENNINGSEN. Berlin: Berliner Wissenschafts-Verlag, 2012. – 252 S. ISBN 978-3-8305-1768-9
GRZECHNIK, Marta. Regional Histories and Historical Regions. The Concept of the Baltic Sea Region in Polish and Swedish Historiographies (Geschichte, Erinnerung, Politik. Posener Studien zur Geschichts-, Kultur- und Politikwissenschaft, Bd. 3). Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 2012. – 186 pp. ISBN 978-3-631-63172-0; ISSN 2191-3528

WITTRAM Heinrich. Einblicke in die baltische Kirchengeschichte. Bewährungsproben in einer Ostseeregion (Dokumente aus Theologie und Kirche, Bd. 9). Rheinbach: CMZ Verlag, 2011. – 544 S. ISBN 978-3-87062-125-4


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