What is "Ostpreußen"?

Germany's East 1937
Germany's East 1937

A territory of nearly 40 000 km², including areas between the river Weichsel, the Baltic Sea, and the coast of Samland in the west, a narrow strip of land north of the river Memel, the Rominter Heide (Rominter Heath) in the east, and Masuria in the south and south-west. 800 years ago, the knights of the Teutonic Order conquered the region in long and bloody battles and settled German craftsmen and farmers there. The area gave the name to the Ducal Prussia. The first Prussian king was crowned there in 1701. Since the creation of the "Deutsches Reich" (German Empire) in 1871, East Prussia was the most eastern part of Germany until 1945.


However, to understand what makes East Prussia unique, how it was created, and why it is still important to preserve its history, you have to take a look at the past: Take the "Prußen", for example, a West Baltic tribe, whose ancestors had lived in that area since around 500BC.


Famous East Prussians

Immanuel Kant (1724-1804), unknown artist, Oil/Canvas, 19th Century
Immanuel Kant (1724-1804), Unbek. Künstler, Öl/Lw., 19. Jh.

With the beginning of new age, the reformation, and the foundation of Ducal Prussia in 1525, an lifely intellectual exchange developed in the area that was to become the Province of East Prussia. There were celebrated scholars in the natural sciences as well as in the arts, literature, and philosophy: They were well-known beyond the borders of East Prussia in their time and are still famous all over the world today.


East Prussia's most famous son is- without doubt- Immanuel Kant. His critical philosophy influenced not only other philosophers, but also the whole cultural world and even politics. A pioneering natural scientist was Nicolaus Copernicus who lived in the Ermland. Famous classical authors include E.T.A. Hoffmann, Agnes Miegel, and Siegfried Lenz. The Academy of Arts in Königsberg generated a lot of important artists such as Lovis Corinth. Käthe Kollwitz remains the most important artist of East Prussia.


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