East Prussia

coat of arms of the Prussian province East Prussia

the Prussian province East Prussia was from 1871 to 1945 the most northeast region of the German Reich. Old person the Prussia country was the master country of the Baltic Pruzzen. From their area the medal state went through anddynastische combination with Brandenburg Brandenburgi Prussia, also duchy Prussia designated, as well as royal Prussia and finally since 1701 the Kingdom of Prussia out. In its capital king mountain crowned itself to 18. January 1701 the brandenburgische cure prince Friedrich III. as Friedrich I. even to the Prussian king. As hymn of East Prussia the East Prussia song is considered.

Table of contents

war sequences

by his exposed situation before the Russian border, his front position in the First World War, his separation ofremaining realm area by the contract of Versailles 1919, the force excesses in the case of occupation by the Red Army 1945, escape and driving of the population out East Prussia became the symbol both for the nationalists of all parties involved and for the frights of theWar and crime at the civilian population generally. Straight ones at the today's situation there one can recognize the fatal effects of systematically planned and more committed “ethnical cleanings “, both on the cultural inheritance and on the long-term economic development.

for area and population

East Prussia was appropriate at the Baltic Sea coast, between Lithuania and Poland, its northern half forms today the Russian Kaliningrader area, the southern Polish Woiwodschaft Ermland Masuren. With a surface of approximately 39000km ² had East Prussia 1939 2.6 million inhabitant and was comparatively thinly populated with 66,6 inhabitants for each km ². However in the capital at that time 372,000 inhabitants lived king mountain. , The quite narrow Memelland lain completely in the north, which belongs to the region East Prussia,is today litauisch. Since East Prussia is no more matching political area, the term is used only more rarely „East Prussia “in the not specializedspecific media for the current region, if the political affiliation plays no or only a subordinated role (z.B. in natural history films).

Ostpreußen um 1881
East Prussia around 1881

East Prussia covered 1939 39,840 km in May ² (including Memelland) with 2.649.017 inhabitants.



archaeological finds testify human settlement at the south coast of the Baltic Sea since 2000 v. Chr.

98 n. Chr. reported Tacitus in its Germania on the Aesti towards width units. However Tacitus had visited and seized these areas themselves never, also all at the Baltic Sea (Mare Suebicum) of living trunks (among other things Lombarden, Burgunder, Semnonen, Wandalen, Lugier, Silinger, Goten) as Suebi (Swabia) together, so that one finds few written details to early history. 550 n. Chr. the Byzantine historical writer Jordanes ranks the Aesti among the gothical realm.

Approximately around 850n. Chr. a Bavarian geographer speaks of the Brus.

Wulfstan of Haithabu (Schleswig) reported in its reports on a journey on the country and the people of that area. The eastBaltic Litauer became in the 11. Century for the first time described, while the PrussenWestbalten were. But only with the time of the Christianisierung and the associated building of churches one began locally to lead written documents the detailed information contained.

The English designation Spruce (spruce) is derived etymologisch also from Pruce (Prussia) and asReference to trade with Prussia seen. The oldest use of this word is 1400 ago in the old-English language. One finds the same development more diverse in the franko Canadian dialect of Akadien, in that the term prusse for designationTree species - depending upon region - (fir, red fir, Hemlocktanne; Schwarz-Fichte, mould/white spruce, American red spruce; Larch) serves.

state State of

original was East Prussia the master country of the Pruzzen (old Prussia country) at the Baltic Sea coast, north later Poland and westby Lithuania; the southwest border was west the Weichsel, northeast for instance the city Memel northern of the river Memel. The master area of the Pruzzen went also south beyond the borders of the medal state Prussia or East Prussia, sees old map of theOld Prussia country Web left down)

the area settled by Baltic trunks at the Baltic Sea coast became since that 10. Century for the sphere of interests of the developing and expanding German and Polish states.

Mieszko I., a prince from the house of the Piasten, gaveMark count Gero and emperor Otto I. in the tenth century that are and kept from the emperor and its successor Otto II. and Otto III. Country as Lehen.

The Piasten tried the imperial Lehen for itself after the death of the emperors,too keep and further country to conquer.997 n. Chr. came Adalbert of Prague with soldiers of the Piasten Boleslaw I. Chrobry to East Prussia, in order to subject the Pruzzen. They penetrated in the area around Danzig up to the Baltic Sea. ThosePruzzen could resist however and the soldiers Boleslaws back urge, about what the Vita sank Adalbert reported.

In the future Poland tried several times without success to conquer the settlement area of the Pruzzen and the Pomeranen (Pommern) around an entrance toTo receive Baltic Sea. The war courses accomplished by Konrad von Masowien likewise under the pretext of the Missionierung failed because of the resistance of the Pruzzen; It could keep parts of the conquered Kulmerlandes only brief. Already 1209 was it unsuccessfully against the Pruzzen and overa safe north border to reach, offered Konrad von Masowien to the German knight medal of Landrechte in response for military support. These Landrechte became 1226 by the German emperor Friedrich II. in the golden one bull of Rimini and 1234 of Pope Gregor IX. in the golden one bull of Rieti formally confirms.

the medal state

old Prussia (the later East Prussia, Ermland and parts of west Prussia) existed in the year of the golden ones bull of emperor FriedrichII. from the following areas:

in the year 1224 were already William of Modena from the Pope to Legaten for and. A. Prussia and SAM country designated.

At 1226 beganthe German medal under high master Hermann of Salza the Christianisierung Prussia, that by the golden bull of Rimini (1226) by emperor Friedrich II. and papal bull was placed from 1234 under the rule of the German medal. 1245the papal Legat William divided the Prussia country from Modena into four dioceses : Ermland, Kulmerland, Pomesanien and SAM country. The four dioceses been subordinate the archbishop of Riga (see also list of the archbishops of Riga). It lasted howeveruntil 1283, before heidnischen Prussia were defeated. The medal won 1309 also Pommerellen with Danzig and could the country against the heidnischen Litauer defend.

First bishop Preussens was the monk Christian from the Cistercian monastery Oliva, before Lekno with Gnesen. Seat of the medal was only Venice, then in Prussia the medal castle Marienburg, after the Schutzheiligen of the German medal Maria designated.

After the defeat in the battle with fir mountain of 1410 and that 13 years continuing city warwithin Prussia from 1454 to 1466 the German medal lost west Prussia and had the Polish leaning sovereignty Ostpreussens to recognize. This was however neither by the Pope nor by the emperor recognition and 1494 raised emperors Maximilian I. the German master to the realm prince. Ermland becameexemptes independent prince diocese. 1511 became Albrecht of Brandenburg to brook Prussia high master of the German medal. As also the previous high masters it refused to the Polish king that is.

Emperor Maximilian I. prince day defense and marriage alliances closed also in the year 1515 on the Vienneseand it explained the Jagiellonen that he will not support the German medal in Prussia.

Albrecht tried in a 4-jährigen rider war unsuccessfully and from the empire in the pass calmly to prevent the connection at Litauen Poland. Albrecht went along then a personal family allianceits uncle Sigismund I. .

duchy Prussia

statue of Albrecht of Brandenburg in Marienburg

1525 became Prussia a duchy under Albrecht of Brandenburg to brook. Brandenburgi Prussia was called. The German medal used a new high master , Roll ago of Cronberg, which took however not as before in king mountain, but in Mergentheim its seat. 1527 received from the emperor the authorization to Cronberg to call itself administrator high master around. On Reichstag to Augsburg the 1530 became the high master alsoGerman medal regalia and the country Prussia belehnt. (Still the son emperor Maximilians II. administrator of Prussia was until 1618. Then one called the office high and German masters. Hoch-und German master of the German medal had by the emperor since1526 the same conditions in the Imperium, as a prince diocese). 1532/34 were set for duke Albrecht under spell. 1544 created duke Albrecht the University of Albertina in king mountain. The cultural achievements in its term of office were the Pruteni boards, the productionPrussian maps as well as a Münzreform under line Nikolaus Kopernikus. Into this time also the admission of Evangelist refugees and particularly the first translations of religious writings fell into different languages of the new Prussian citizens from the neighboring countries. After death dukeAlbrechts in the year 1568 came its fifteen-year son Albrecht Friedrich to the government; its mental disorder caused that since 1577 in his place brandenburgische cure princes from the line of the Hohenzollern governed, there it together 1569 the office duke of Prussiahad inherited.1618 ended the Prussian line of the Hohenzollern, as Albrecht II. died.

Brandenburg Prussia

the duchy Brandenburgi Prussia (without the prince diocese Ermland) fell to the brandenburgische line of the Hohenzollern, at this time under Johann Sigismund. From now on both regions in a country appeared, the later (starting from 1701) kingdom Prussia. Despite the name the central area of this country lay in the Mark Brandenburg.

Kingdom of Prussia

after in 18. Century Poland(1772 first division of Poland) and western parts of Prussia Friedrich II. was divided. huldigten, arranged the king to 31. January 1773 on to call the reacquisitions west Prussia and the past duchy Prussia as East Prussia. Ermland with all stone and Brown mountain, since years exemtes prince diocese in Prussia, came again under common government, those of the king of Prussia. Capital of East Prussia was up to the end of the Second World War king mountain.

After the Viennese congress 1815 East Prussia and west Prussia were established as provinces. Of 1824 to 1829 they were personnel and from 1829 to 1878 material to the province Prussia united. 1878 were divided these again, to 1919 formed the provinces East Prussia (capital: King mountain) and west Prussia (capital: Danzig) the northeast part of the German Reich.

By its common border with Russia and its advanced geographical location East Prussia in the First World War became an important scene of the east front, here lay the only areas of the realm, which were occupied by strange troops during the world war (apartfrom small areas of the Oberelsass, the involving heavy losses battles at the west front took place on French and Belgian territory).
Propagandistic representation of the Führungsduos Hindenburg/Ludendorff
the Russian advance was brought in the second battle from fir mountain to to stand, thoseresponsible persons of generals Hindenburg and Ludendorff put here the basis to their large popularity, which they used during the Weimar Republic in different way: Hindenburg as a conservative realm president, Ludendorff as Putschist and allied Hitler.

the Versailler contract

With the entry into force of the Versailler of contract west Prussia was divided predominantly without popular vote between Poland and the free city Danzig separated from the German Reich. In the eastern part a popular vote took place, in that the inhabitants to 8% for an affiliationat Poland and to 92% for whereabouts with Germany votierten. The eastern part thereupon the province East Prussia attached as governmental district west Prussia with administrative seat in Marienwerder, and/or the newly formed border Mark float west Prussia attached.

To 10. January 1920 became thatsouthwest part of the circle envy castle without popular vote surrendered to Poland, mainly because an important railway line ran by the principal place Soldau (Dzialdowo). From this the new circle Dzialdowo (Soldau) was formed, to the Polish Woiwodschaft the Pomerellen belonged.

In the southernEast Prussia (Masuren) took place 1920 a popular vote over the future area affiliation. Background of the popular vote was that a substantial part of the population in Masuren beside German used „Masuri as traffic language also “, a Polish dialect. Germany should Masuren afterthe Erstentwurf of the Versailler of contract without popular vote at Poland transfer. Only after protest of the government Ebert the parties agreed with the negotiations in Versailles on a popular vote. The inhabitants could select Poland during the popular vote between the alternatives „“and„East Prussia “. 97% the inhabitant decided to want to belong further to East Prussia.

The Memelgebiet, which in accordance with the Versailler contract should become a Free State, and since 1920 was occupied by French troops, 1923 by litauischen federations was occupiedand in the consequence annektiert.

and third realm 1922

by the realm traffic Ministry the shipping service East Prussia was furnished to Weimar time, which made a connection between East Prussia and the heartland of the German Reich over the sea route. The shipping service East Prussia existeduntil 1944.

Traffic between the German Reich and East Prussia on the Landweg were not unproblematic because of the so-called Polish passage (the land connection between actual Poland and the Baltic Sea by past west Prussia). The railway traffic took place in verplombtenCourses, with which partially even the windows were course-hung. Also the traffic between East Prussia and the realm area was made more difficult by the Polish authorities. The relationship between the Weimar Republic and since the Putsch of marshal Pilsudski 1926 authoritarian-anti-democraticallygoverned Polish state was extremely hostilely, again and again came it along the common border to armed arguments.

After the seizure of power of the national socialists 1933 could this in the population among other things also by occurring in Germany as humiliating the feltVersailler of contract popularity win. Gau leader and thus actual local ruling power in East Prussia Erich cook originating from the Rhine country became. The renewed armament of Germany took place first hidden, later then completely openly. In consequence of the National Socialist policy of expansion became in the west(Saargebiet) and southeast (Austria, Sudetenland) German-language areas attached to the realm, without encountering with the Western powers France and Great Britain because of their indecision and Appeasement politics serious resistance. For the German demands in the northeast, thatReconnection Danzigs and the return „of the passage “, signaled it however in case of an occupation to the Casus belli (Kriegsfall). Only Lithuania gave to 23. March 1939 on solid German pressure the Memelgebiet to the German Reich back.

A scarce halfYear later began with the German attack on Poland the Second World War. After the fast occupation of this country beside 20 years were annektiert before the retired provinces west Prussia and floats further parts of Poland. Still 1939 became there more again Governmental district Zichenau in an educated manner, which was assigned to the province East Prussia. Furthermore the new district Suwalki (late Sudauen ) stepped to the province, while in former times westPrussian areas fell around Elbing and Marienwerder to the new realm gau west Prussia, late Danzig Westpreussen. Thoseagain at East Prussia attached areas were however ethnical practically purely Polish areas, which had confessed also historically never before in closer connection with East Prussia (apart from a short episode after the Polish divisions).

conquest, end of war andDriving out

toward end of the Second World War was conquered East Prussia by the Red Army after bloody fights. The National Socialist gau line under gau leader Erich cook omitted the punctual evacuation of the population and placed independent Fluchtbewegungen under heavy punishment. The evacuation and escapeonly much began to late and ran often unordered. Thus a majority of the civilian population was entangled directly into the fighting. After the end of the fighting returning inhabitants or by the advance of the Red Army caught up refugees became multiple by throughanti-German propaganda goaded on soldier of the Red Army, killed, abused, raped and to the hard labour into the Soviet Union kidnaps. A part of the population could save itself over the country with treks of refugees to the west, another part became over the Baltic Sea, forwardseverything over the port evacuates Pillau. Altogether the rushed into escape on war conditions demanded a very high blood tariff to a large extent in the winter. It becomes estimated that of with end of war approx. 2,4 million inhabitants of East Prussia approx. 300,000 under to a large extent miserable conditionsdied. Under humans, who were during sinking the “William Gustloff “, which” general of Steuben “and the” Goya “died in the spring 1945, also many refugees from East Prussia. Alexander Solschenizyn and Lew Kopelew were eye-witnesses and against the atrocities committed by the Red Army as for example in Nemmersdorf expressed themselves. They came both on it into hard labour camp (Gulags).

The survivors inhabitants became until 1947 nearly completelyfrom their homeland to remaining Germany evacuated. A small percentage could remain nevertheless, then there was in the today Polish part of East Prussia the possibility of professing themselves to the Polentum and of remaining thus in the homeland, although under cumbersomeLiving conditions. This possibility was particularly offered the Masuren, which had that beside German the Polish used masurischen dialect as native language. A lodging right was likewise granted to skilled workers, since one could not do without these usually. The predominant majority of the refugees inhabitantsEast Prussia found their new homeland in the western zones of occupation, most of it in Schleswig-Holstein, Lower Saxony and Bavaria. After the Potsdamer agreement was divided East Prussia between Poland and the Soviet Union. The Soviet portion was assigned to the Russian Soviet republic andwith Russians from central Russia and the area of the today's federation circle as well as with white Russians settles Volga. The Polish portion was divided on the again-created Woiwodschaften Danzig , all stone and Suwalki. Here primarily Poland became from central Poland and in the frameworkthe action Weichsel from southeast Poland refugee Ukrainer settled. The capital king mountain was renamed 1946 to honours of the Soviet politician Mikhail Iwanowitsch Kalinin in Kaliningrad, equally all places in the Soviet portion became - if they were not dissolved - renamed.

That“House of the Soviets”, built apart from the earlier location of the Königsberger of lock

acknowledgment of the fixing of the boundaries

the German Democratic Republic - GDR recognized 1950 the or Neisse line as its border to Poland on. This acknowledgment becomes however the international law-obligatory effectagreed upon. In addition, the Federal Republic of Germany - FRG, which stressed the sole agency right for Germany and all Germans, thus for the citizens of the GDR and their national territory, operated under her chancellor Willy Brandt in the context of the new east politics inthe early 1970er years the acknowledgment of the fixing of the boundaries subject to a final peace treaty. In the course of the entry of the GDR to the FRG „the old “FRG had before (to 14. And thus their requirements on those sign November 1990) a GermanPolish Grenzvertragformer German east areas and concomitantly on East Prussia give up. Without this border acknowledgment contract the German „reunification would have been endangered “.

today's situation

after the administrative reform 1975 became the Polish East Prussia into the new districts (Woiwodschaften) Elbląg, Olsztyn, Ciechanów and Suwałki divided. After a renewed district reform at the 1. January 1999 in the Polish south part forms this area since that time nearly in its whole the Woiwodschaft Ermland Masuren with the capital Olsztyn (Olsztyn), the northern part forms today the Russian Oblast Kaliningrad with the capital Kaliningrad. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union this Oblast is now a Exklave Russia. Some Russian inhabitants call the city today frequently „Kjonigsberg “, „Kenig “or „Kenigsberg “, why a back designation in the old names, as Pc. Petersburg happened, a constant topic is.

administrative arrangement of the province East Prussia

in the time of 1878 to 1945 has itself the territorial administrative arrangement within that predominantly agriculturally structured province East Prussia only gradually changed. However are 1920 and1939 the external borders substantially changed.

governmental districts

from 1878 to 1945 existed the two governmental districts Gumbinnen and king mountain. From the southern circles of these districts developed at the 1. November 1905 the new governmental district all stone.

That in former timeswestPrussian governmental district Marienwerder became partly, common with some circles from the former governmental district Danzig (Elbing and Marienburg) the 1. July 1922 as governmental district west Prussia with the seat in Marienwerder of the province East Prussia attached and stepped to 26. October1939 to new realm gau the Danzig Westpreussen.

To 26. October 1939 was incorporated from annektierten Polish areas the new governmental district Zichenau (Ciechanów) of the province East Prussia. Starting from 1. August 1941 developed for that from occupied Soviet (Byelorussian) areas Polish to 1939new district Bialystok. This was also managed by the eastPrussian upper president and gau leader Erich cook as a boss of the civil administration and treated actually like realm area, was not integrated however formally to East Prussia.

urban areas

except that already 1818 existing urban area king mountaini. Pr. developed in the course of the time the following further urban areas: The cities Tilsit (1896), Insterburg (1901), all stone (1910) and Memel (1918) were separated from their districts and formed own urban areas. The westPrussian Elbing was already since 1874 urban areaand belonged from 1922 to 1939 to East Prussia.


The following circles were dissolved or renamed: while the following circles developed again (partly under new name):
Administrative arrangement of East Prussia
conditions 31.December 1937 conditions 1. January 1945

governmental district all stone

urban area

  1. all stone

urban area

  1. all stone

of districts

  1. all stone
  2. Johannisburg
  3. Lötzen
  4. Lyck
  5. envy castle
  6. Ortelsburg
  7. Osterode i. Ostpr.
  8. Rössel [seat: Bishop castle]
  9. Sensburg
work on []


  1. all stone
  2. Johannisburg
  3. Lötzen
  4. Lyck
  5. envy castle
  6. Ortelsburg
  7. Osterode i. Ostpr.
  8. Rössel [seat: Bishop castle]
  9. Sensburg

governmental district Gumbinnen

of urban areas

  1. Insterburg
  2. Tilsit

of urban areas

  1. Memel
  2. Insterburg
  3. Tilsit

of districts

  1. meadow castle
  2. Darkehmen
  3. Goldap
  4. Gumbinnen
  5. Insterburg
  6. valley [seat: Heinrichswalde]
  7. Pillkallen
  8. Stallupönen
  9. Tilsit Ragnit [seat: Tilsit]
  10. faithful castle

of districts

  1. Angerapp
  2. meadow castle
  3. Ebenrode
  4. moose valley [seat: Heinrichswalde]
  5. Goldap
  6. Gumbinnen
  7. Heydekrug
  8. Insterburg
  9. Memel
  10. lock mountain (Ostpr.)
  11. Sudauen
  12. Tilsit Ragnit [seat: Tilsit]
  13. faithful castle

governmental district king mountain

work on []

Urban area

  1. king mountain (Pr)

urban areas

  1. king mountain (Pr)


  1. beard stone
  2. brown mountain
  3. fish living
  4. Gerdauen
  5. holy hatchet
  6. welfare mountain
  7. king mountain (Pr)
  8. Labiau
  9. Mohrungen
  10. Prussian Eylau
  11. Prussian Holland
  12. slot castle
  13. Wehlau

of districts

  1. beard stone (Ostpr.)
  2. brown mountain (Ostpr.)
  3. Gerdauen
  4. holy hatchet
  5. Welfare mountain
  6. Labiau
  7. Mohrungen
  8. Prussian Eylau
  9. Prussian Holland
  10. slot castle
  11. SAM country [seat: King mountain (Pr)]
  12. Wehlau

governmental district west Prussia (seat: Marienwerder)

urban area

  1. Elbing

of districts

  1. Elbing
  2. Marienburg (Westpr.)
  3. Marienwerder
  4. rose mountain i. Westpr.
  5. Stuhm

Governmental district Zichenau

of districts

  1. Mackeim
  2. Mielau
  3. east castle
  4. Plöhnen
  5. Praschnitz
  6. sharp meadow
  7. Schröttersburg
  8. Sichelberg
  9. Zichenau


upper president

elections to the Provinziallandtag

1921: DNVP 27.1% - 23 seats | SPD23.5% - 20 seats |DVP 15.3% - 13 seats | Center 9.4% - 8 seats | KPD 7.2% - 6 seats | USPD 7.1% - 6 seats | Strip packing - 7.0% - 6Seats |Poland - 1.3% - 1 seat | WP 1.2% - 1 seat | Land list 1.1% - 1 seat
1925: DNVP/DVP 45.6% - 40 seats | SPD 24.8% - 22 seats|Center 6.9% - 6 seats | KPD 6.9% - 6 seats | WP 4.2% - 4 seats | DVFP 4.2% - 4 seats | Strip packing 3.6% - 3 seats | A revaluing party 2.4% -2 seats
1929: DNVP 31.2% - 27 seats | SPD 26.0% - 23 seats | DVP 8.7% - 8 seats | KPD 8.6% - 8 seats | Center 8.1% - 7 seats | NSDAP4.3% - 4 seats |WP 4.0% - 4 seats | CSVD 3.0% - 3 seats | Strip packing 2.8% - 3 seats
1933: NSDAP 58.2% - 51 seats | SPD 13.6% - 12Seats |DNVP 12.7% - 11 seats | Center 7.0% - 7 seats | KPD 6.0% - 6 seats
at 100% missing voices = in the Provinziallandtag not represented choice suggestions.

acquaintance East Prussia

see also list important East Prussia


the eastdown-German dialects, which were spoken in East Prussia, are seized and described in the Prussian dictionary.

see also


  • Andreas Kossert: East Prussia. History and myth. Settler publishing house, Munich 2005. ISBN 3-88-680808-4
  • Fritz Mielert: East Prussia. Together with the Memelgebiet and the free city Danzig.(Row: Monographien to geography, Bd. 35). Velhagen & Klasing. Bielefeld. 1926.163 S. (Reproduction: Bechtermünz publishing house. Augsburg. 1999.ISBN 3828902723)
  • Walter Frevert: Rominten (1. Part the “East Prussia Trilogie in such a way specified”). BLV, Bonn, Munich and Vienna 1957
  • Hans's shopkeeper: Moose forest. The moose forest as if pour and to stronghold of eastPrussian hunt (3. Part that“East Prussia Trilogie so mentioned”). Hunt and culture publishing house, Sulzberg in the general-outer 1985 (2. , edition improved), ISBN 3-925456-00-7
  • honouring hard and. Polling man: East Prussia (Länderportrait, current pictures from the former East Prussia). Bridging man publishing house, Munich 2004, ISBN 3-7654-3877-4

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