OP-ED: Kaliningrad’s Mayor Re-writes his City’s History

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Kaliningrad’s Mayor Re-writes his City’s History

by Paul Cordy

(original to La Russophobe)

Paul Goble’s recent blog post in the Moscow Times quoted the mayor of Kaliningrad on the history of his city.  It offers an excellent proof of how deluded some Russians are about historical truth (click LR’s “history” category in the sidebar to read more on this topic), and especially about how creative they are with their own history.

Being creative with history is an old Russian tradition, but during the Soviet Union, rewriting history became a real way of life. Small allied intervention forces at the end of World War I were creatively rewritten into huge invasion armies deliberately pushing Russia in a civil war. Bolshevist leaders who fell out with Stalin disappeared from pictures and were written out of the official history. An attack on Finland was made into a lethal threat coming from a country with about 40 times less citizens than the Soviet Union, Well documented atrocities like Katyn or the famine in Ukraine never happened and so on. And when Stalin died, the whole thing was reversed. Suddenly the glorified leader became a despised tyrant – until Khruschev, the man responsible for this, fell out of grace himself and Stalin was somewhat restored in his former glory. This peculiar way of dealing with history made the Soviet Union into the one country on earth whit an always bright and certain future but with a completely unpredictable history.

During the last years of the Soviet Union this attitude changed. Archives were opened and people began to publicly discuss the real history of their country. One could have expected that finally Russia would deal with it’s past the same way other countries do: be open about historical facts, don’t dispute facts that are obvious, and leave the interpretation of history to public and academic debate. And above all: don’t recreate history for propaganda purposes.

Of course, Putin’s Russia had to reach back to the old Soviet tradition: history is not there to have an idea about what really happened in the past and how nowadays society was shaped, history has only one purpose: glorifying the Russian state. School books were rewritten with that goal, previous attempts going back to the days of perestroika to assess what really happened were vilified, or cut out of public discussion and so on. If there is one nation on earth, that is completely deluded about it’s own history, than it is Russia – all thanks to years of hard work of both the Soviet Union and the Putin regime to wipe out the past and replace it with a history of their own making.

Recently, in an interview with Echo Moskvy, Feliks Lapin, mayor of Kaliningrad, showed to what absurdities this approach to history leads. He declared in all earnestness that Kaliningrad didn’t became part of Russia after World War II, but that Koenigsberg, as it was called before 1945, was a Russian city that became a part of the Russian empire two centuries ago. Now, as the name already indicates, the origins of Koenigsber/Kaliningrad, are not to be found in RUssian history. In fact, the city was founded by the German Teutonic Order in 1255. It became later a part of Prussia, first as a fief of Poland, later, in 1701, it became the place where the first German king of Prussia was crowned. During the Napoleontic wars, Koenigsberg became the centre of Prussian resistance against France. Almost throughout it’s entire history, the city remained in German hands. Only in April 1945 the city was occupied by the Soviet Army. The Soviets changed the name into Kaliningrad, and after deporting or killing the reamins of the German population, turned it into a thoroughly Russian city.

Before 1945, there was nothing Russian about the city. It was an important German harbour, it was also a cultural centre and in some ways the spiritual capital of Prussia. The most famous of it’s citizens was Immanuel Kant, on of the most important philosophers in history and one of the icons of German culture. You would have to search very far to find any traces of Russia in the history of this thoroughly German city. So, what was the basis of the claim that Koenigsberg became a Russian city two hundred years ago? During the Seven Years’ War, when Prussia was fighting Russia, the city was briefly – from 1758 to 1762 – occupied by Russian troops. During that time, Empress Elisabeth I of Russia issued an ukase about the incorporation of Koenigsberg in Russia. Apart from this, there is no link whatsoever between the history of Koenigsberg and that of Russia before 1945. But for the mayor of Kaliningrad, this is enough to claim that Koenigsberg is an old Russian city. Apparently he thinks a few years of Russian occupation make the birth place of Kant into a Russian city — and Kant himself probably into a Russian philosopher.

According to the same logic, Poland, once a part of the Russian empire, should be considered Russian above all. THe same probably goes for Finland, the Baltic states – not to mention Ukraine, Belarussia or Georgia. What once was Russian, even for a brief moment in history, should be considered first and foremost Russian until the end of times. The neighbours of Russia better be warned.

39 responses to “OP-ED: Kaliningrad’s Mayor Re-writes his City’s History

  1. @the last paragraph.

    Deputy Duma Speaker Zhirinovsky thinks exactly that (and then some more).

    (Of course he’s just a clown and whole Duma thing is like with the horse of Caligua.)

  2. A hell of a lot more Russians than just Zhirinovsky think that.

  3. More on the horrors of Russian rule.
    http://www.rferl.org/content/Ukraine_Identifies_Thousands_Of_Stalin_Victims_Buried_Outside_Kyiv/1732495.html

    I wonder how the Russians tell their spawn about the ethnic cleansing of Koenigsburg in 1945-46?
    They probably just deny it as usual.

  4. How typical.

  5. This is standard Soviet procedure, e.g
    “Editions of books censored by Soviets, including Volume 5 of the “Great Soviet Encyclopedia,” published in 1949. The volume had just been mailed to subscribers when the Soviet censors were ordered to remove references to Lavrentii Beria, Stalin’s former head of the Soviet secret police who had fallen out of favor.

    “The publisher sent notices to librarians all over the world, asking them to remove pages referring to Beria,” Jones said, “and they were told to substitute pages about the Bering Sea.”

    Librarians at Illinois recall that razor blades were sent along with the directive and new pages from Moscow. Their decision was to “tip in” the substitute pages, and to leave in the pages dealing with Beria.”
    see: http://news.illinois.edu/news/02/1217censorship.html
    or
    Censorship of historical thought By Antoon de Baets p.490: “The publishers of the Great Soviet Encyclopedia advised their subscribers to cut out the pages about Lavrenty Beria – the head of the NKVD (People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs; predecessor of the KGB) purged in December 1953 and the author of the 1935 On the History of the Bolshevik Organizations in Transcaucasia, alternatively titled Stalin’s Early Writings and Activities, well-known for its falsifications – and to replace the pages with a newly-supplied article on the Bering Strait. In 1957 the second edition of the Great Soviet Encyclopedia devoted five pages to Stalin. The first (1947) had fifty-eight, the third (1976) two.”
    I first heard about this encyclopedia business many years ago from my father, who recounted that in the immediate post-WWII libraries in the UK with subscription regularly received pieces on the oddest of subjects as alphabetically required to fill the precise length of the slot previously inhabited by someone or something the party line had suddenly turned against!

    • “pieces on the oddest of subjects as alphabetically required to fill the precise length of the slot previously inhabited by someone or something the party line had suddenly turned against”

      George Orwell did not take it out from the blue air, did he?

  6. or, if you want to go even further, any piece of land that a Russian has ever trod is, naturally, a part of Russia. which of course excludes only… um… the Moon, I think.

    • The newest one is Arctic (which is not even a land really, and the Russians just “conquered” it from below).

  7. Medvedev has formed a commission to investigate the re-writing of Russian history contrary to the Kremlin’s interests:

    http://www.themoscowtimes.com/article/600/42/377250.htm

    Re-writing it in favor of the Kremlin’s interests, of course, is just fine and dandy.

    • The kremlin marches on in their Bizzaro world! [For those of you who read the old Superman comix :)]

    • Right. The key phrase there is “rewrite history to the detriment of Russia’s interests”.

      Meaning that if it is rewritten *in interests* of Russia, then it not only is OK, but it is the only right thing to do.

      And it has always been done that way. Ever since 1917.

      • Hail Columbia

        And it has always been done that way. Ever since 1917.

        Actually, you may want to go further back to the late 18th century, when that Fräulein from Prussia, Catherine the Great, published the “Collected Chronicles of the Russian State”, which among other things, attempted to unify the history of Kyivan Rus with that of Muscovy, and portrayed the arch-traitor Alexander Nevsky as a national hero. Rewriting history is actually a long-standing Russian tradition.

  8. I might remind all of Fort Ross about two hours north of San Francisco (http://www.mcn.org/1/rrparks/fortross/); I wonder if Moscow will reform the Россійско-американская компанія and try to claim California “back”…..

  9. Well according to Zhirinovsky and Panarin, they certainly think they have a claim to Alaska, although ironically, Zhirinovsky is so enamored of Russian Imperial Borders that his map of the future Russia gives Kaliningrad back to the Germans…

  10. It’s all well and good that the Kremlin thinks it can extract repatriation, but, the fools don’t have the money for a sustained military adventure. Plus their near neighbors hate their guts. Rolling in their tanks like they did in Hungary and Czechoslovakia won’t do it for them again. The world has moved on while they are still stuck in an outdated script.

    If they had a party tomorrow the only fools coming with friendship and presents would be Castro, Chavez, the mad mullahs in Iran and whatever other global rogue carcasses they could dredge up.

    50 years from now China will own their Far East and Siberia. Russia will shrink to a corrupt but manageable and dysfunctional rotten core without oil, gas and commodities to fill its coffers. They’ll be filing past mummified Putin in Red Square still never getting what went wrong.

  11. More Russian stupidity, now is seems the new law on “punishing those who re-write Russian history” will also allow them to “punish” former eastern block citizens, expell ambassadors and other stupidity.
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/russia/5350777/Russia-threatens-to-bar-Europeans-who-deny-Red-Army-liberated-them.html

    • Remember once upon a time Yahoo (I guess it was? Or was that e-bay?) being sued in France for displaying Nazi symbols online. The idea was that a person in France could open a web page located elsewhere and thus see on display the Nazi symbols, which is prohibited by the local legislation.

      In similar fashion Kremlin might try to sue foreigners for displaying “ŗewritten history” in their web pages. That would be fun. ;)

      Or that might be claimed as an excuse for finally cutting off the Russian internet from the rest of the world. The thing that was much talked about a while ago. Now they can claim that they are protecting their citizens from this rotten, illegal “rewritten history”, flowing in from abroad.

      P.S.

      If they really separate the Russian Internet – just imagine what incredible madness will reign there. With all those “I am Russian”s and the like being mandatory standard and model citizens?

      Theocracy.

  12. You are going to like this! :)

    The youth organization “Young Guard of the United Russia” («Молодая Гвардия Единой России»), of the ruling Putinist party, has published an article about the new commission to fight the “falsification of history” on their web site.

    What is surprising is that in unexpectedly honest way have titled their article just the way it is. They have titled it in truly Orwellian way: “The “Ministry of Truth” will take the masks off the historical cheater tricks” (“Историческое шулерство разоблачит “министерство правды”)

    http://www.molgvardia.ru/nextday/2009/05/19/6733

    Fascinating.

  13. It’s typical of Russians to envade other countries. Rightfully Kenigsberg must belong to Germany and hopefully it will in not so distant future. Latvia has just claimed the total loss 0f 20 bln dollars during the Soviet occupation. I do hope Germany will follow her way and make Russia pay for all the mischeives. Putin must admit the simle fact – the Russian occupation was a tragedy for the German people. The only way for Russia is through the repentace for its Communist past.

  14. While on the subject of rewriting history, here is something recent and ongoing [false flag?]:

    On September 23, 1999, police arrested three Federal Security Service (FSB) agents who had planted a detonator and RDX – the same explosive used in the earlier bombings – in the basement of a residential building in the city of Ryazan. The FSB explained the agent’s activities as a “training exercise,” claiming the sacks of explosives actually contained only sugar. The investigation was dropped and all evidence classified “top secret.”
    At about the same time, a Russian soldier discovered RDX in sacks labeled as “sugar” at his army base near Ryazan. The incident was never investigated and the evidence classified.
    On September 13, 1999, the Speaker of the Duma, Gennady Seleznev, announced that an apartment house in Volgodonsk had been blown up – three days before the attack actually occurred.
    Mark Blumenfeld, the property manager of our house on Guryanova Street in Moscow that was blown up, told our lawyer and several journalists that FSB agents had “talked him into” changing his testimony. The agents showed him a photo of Achemez Gochiyayev, a Chechen he had never seen before, and under pressure he “identified” him as the man who had rented storage space in the basement.
    The composite sketch based on Mr. Blumenfeld’s initial description of what the real suspect looked like disappeared from the police file and was replaced with the photograph of Mr. Gochiyaev. Meanwhile, our attorney Mikhail Trepashkin, himself a former KGB agent, told reporters that he had recognized FSB agent Vladimir Romanovich from the police sketch. Romanovich was subsequently killed in Cyprus in a hit and run incident that was never solved.
    In November 2003, on the eve of the trial of two Chechens later convicted for transporting the explosives used in the Moscow bombings, Mr. Trepashkin was arrested after a gun had been planted in his car. This prevented him from submitting Mr. Blumenfeld’s statement to court that the FSB agents had pressured him to give false evidence. The trial of the two Chechens was not convincing to us or the world as it was held behind closed doors and human rights groups noted numerous violations of due process. Mr. Blumenfeld’s statement and the replacement of the police sketch with the photo of Mr. Gochiyayev was never reviewed by a Russian court.
    Four people investigating the FSB’s possible involvement in the bombings were assassinated. Duma Deputy Sergei Yushenkov was shot dead in Moscow in April 2003 and his colleague Yuri Schekochihin died of apparent poisoning three months later. Journalist Anna Politkovskaya was gunned down in October 2006 in her Moscow apartment block and a month later, former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko died of poisoning in London.

    http://www.theotherrussia.org/2008/05/31/russian-terror-victims-ask-for-truth/

  15. And even more than that – the North-West show “terrorists” in the year 2002 were re-dressed FSB agents as were the guys which siezed Beslan school in 2004. Russians are totally in the dark about the real nature of their own government. Let the coming westerners reveal the whole truth about their country.

    • 1956 Hungary: KGB dressed in Hungarian police uniforms, with machine-guns in hand, shoot the Hungarian demonstrators.

      2004 Ukraine: Hundreds of KGB agents, with Ukrainian police uniforms in hand, ready to shoot demonstrators in Kiev during Orange Revolution?

  16. rts

    Yes and more than that – our redressed agents attacked yours twin towers in New York 09.01.01. And more than that our redressed agents made the Holocaust! And more over we have a contract with devil. Moreover we have a horns. We are devils. And you are angels. And I suggest you to go to the angels` lunatic asylum only still ery still and silents.

  17. There’s a group of women “Mothers of Beslan” which is accusing the Russian government, namely Putin for his inability to cope with the situation way back then in that small town of Beslan for the huge number of victims in 2004. I’ve tryed my best to stay and sound reasonable while commenting here on that issue.

  18. rts

    Be calm Lunatic. It is only diabolical visions. You are just ill. Keep your silent!

    LA RUSSOPHOBE RESPONDS:

    We’re a bit curious, you demented little freak: Just how much of this ridiculous crap do you expect us to put up with before we block you? Aren’t you the least bit afraid of wearing out your welcome?

  19. LA RUSSOPHOBE RESPONDS: ????

    Are you sensitive kind? :-)

    Take it easy and go greasy if you want your blog sound spicy.

    LA RUSSOPHOBE RESPONDS:

    We have rules for commenting which appear in our header. If you don’t follow them, you’ll be banned. And we’ll do it for just one reason: because you make Russia look bad.

  20. OK – Russia is the best country in the world . . . except for all the others.

  21. Hail Columbia , slight exageration there ; the
    Mongols did not rule Rus for 240 years , it
    was Moscovy . Not the same then not the same still.

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