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.
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.
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.
The so-called “Group of Saints” (Heilige) formed in Mazury, in the County of Neidenburg (Kreis Neidenburg), in the late 18th c. and was most active in the parishes of Jerutki (Jerutten), Rozogi (Friedrichshof), and Wielbark (Willenberg). The present article, based on the documents stored in Secret State Archives Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation in Berlin-Dahlem, discusses its activities. In particular, an effort is made to present the reconstructions of the essential policies and postulates of the activity of the group members. The author tries to answer the question about the period of time that the activities of surinkimininkai (Gemeinschaftsbewegung; participants of prayer hours held in private homes by lay preachers) in the Land of Mazury started. The official secession from Church was the principal reason which made the author support the previous researchers of the phenomenon of the “Saints” who attributed the “Saints” to non-traditional religious groups. On the other hand, because of the pietist roots and the majority of their views, they can be considered to be direct predecessors of surinkimininkai.
Journal:Acta Historica Universitatis Klaipedensis
Volume 18 (2009): Antrojo pasaulinio karo pabaiga Rytų Prūsijoje: faktai ir istorinės įžvalgos = End of the Second World War in East Prussia: Facts and Historical Perception, pp. 109–126
The paper gives an overview of military developments on the final stage of Second World War in the East Prussia territory. The events in this area had been sticked in collective German memory as an Apocalypse. The extensive crimes committed by the conqueror, the motives for the mass criminality in East Prussia are examined as well. These events left a collective trauma in the culture of German remembrance, but the consequences for the Soviet Union were also negative.