Kaliningrad

By Savodnik, Peter | The Wilson Quarterly, Spring 2003 | Go to article overview

Kaliningrad


Savodnik, Peter, The Wilson Quarterly


During the Cold War, the Soviet Union built the pan-Soviet workers' paradise of Kaliningrad atop the physical ruins of the historic Prussian city of Konigsberg. Now Kaliningrad -- capitalist, impoverished, drug-ridden, and physically cut off from the rest of Russia--is struggling to build a new identity atop the political and economic ruin of its Soviet past.

Toward the end of World War II, Soviet troops marched into the East Prussian port city of Konigsberg, exiled, raped, or murdered the remaining Germans, and, in the years that followed, made the place their own. First they renamed it Kaliningrad. Then they rebuilt it in the image of their god, socialist man. Then they sealed off the city and turned it into a fortress. Geography served the Communists well: The port could be filled with submarines and battleships.

A once-vibrant trading center founded by the Teutonic Knights in the 13th century, the city sits in the tiny oblast of Kaliningrad, the westernmost region of Russia, cut off from the rest of the country by southwestern Lithuania and northeastern Poland. During the Cold War, Kaliningrad was part of a sprawling workers' paradise. The people who moved there were defined by their Sovietness, not their ethnicity or religion or their connection to any particular landscape. But when the Soviet Union lost control of its history, Kaliningraders' nationality was swept away in the rapids, and suddenly all the naval officers and fishing captains and the hundreds of thousands of proletarians who had built their lives in the postwar murk were forced to rethink who they were, now that they were no longer Soviets.

The women have been better at this than the men. They're the first thing you notice in Kaliningrad--all the beautiful girls, all the decidedly post-Soviet femmes fatales milling around outside the bars and bistros on Mira Prospekt or in Kalinin Park, or wandering past Immanuel Kant's tomb or the House of Soviets ("the Monster;' as locals call it). V/hen the Red Army occupied the oblast in April 1945, it erased all forms of prewar life, blew up the castles and cathedrals, and repopulated the whole sallow swatch of farms and fisheries with Russians, Belarusians, Ukrainians, Tatars, Georgians, Uzbeks, and tens of thousands of other "transplant-patriots." That's why there are so many long legs, porcelain complexions, and steel-blue eyes in the region. Kaliningraders today are the beneficiaries of a grand coming together of peoples who elsewhere in the post-communist world are segregated according to ethnic, racial, and religious differences.

That, at least, was the party line--the new mythology--at the 2003 Miss Kaliningrad University Beauty Contest, where the 19- and 20-year-old contestants strode up and down a makeshift catwalk bathed in a frenetic rainbow light, to the beat of digital tom-toms and the shouts and shrieks of 500 student-comrades. 'They all came together here," pageant organizer Laura Lukina explained after the show. "It was a real mix of nations." Or, as so many prefer to say of their oblast, which is separated from "mainland" Russia by more than 200 miles, "This is the United States of the former Soviet Union." True, Kaliningrad doesn't look like a place called the United States of anything. The buildings are low, boxy, and unfinished. The nightlife teems with turtle-necked thugs and Mercedes-Benzes with tinted windows. There are taxicabs and neon signs vaguely reminiscent of Times Square, but the air smells more dangerous than full of promise. It's capitalism, but it's a sloppy kind of capitalism, a bizarre, almost adolescent pastiche of images and signposts flashing sex, food, money.

For Marxists, each step in the historical process, we're told, marks a "positing," an arrival at a higher order of political organization, and, at the same time, a "negating," a refutation of that level of organization in anticipation of the next step toward stateless utopia. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Kaliningrad
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.