From the editors
CULTURE IN A "FOREIGN" SPACE: AN INTRODUCTION
TO GENIUS LOCI KALININGRAD AND KOENIGSBERG
KALININGRAD IN THE YEAR 2020 - A NOT QUITE FICTITIOUS CONVERSATION
DESTINATION - KALININGRAD
FROM KALININGRAD DICTIONARY
MAP OF THE CITY
FORMA URBIS. SYMBOLIC PARALLELS
IN OR OUT
THE RAILWAY STATION AND ENTRANCE TO THE CITY OF KALININGRAD
BINARY STATES OF "K" CITY
Eugeny Umansky, Karpenko-Karpenko
IN THE CENTER
Andrei Monastyrsky, Sabina Haensgen
EMPTY CENTER K.
FOLLOWING SILENT WORDS
FA+ (Ingrid Falk & Gustavo Aguerre)
THE MYTHICAL FOUNDATION OF KALININGRAD
PRETERITION: KNEIPHOF ISLAND
THE BRIDGES AND "THE PREGEL'S ODOR"
John Craig Freeman, Greg Ulmer
IMAGING KALININGRAD: THE SEVEN BRIGES OF KOENIGSBERG
FORGOTTEN KANT AND THE KANT-BRAND IN KOENIGSBERG
KANT'S BRIDES: A READYMADE PHOTOGRAPHIC CHRONOTOPE
THE CATHEDRAL AND KANT FOR EVERYONE, OR IS GOD FEARSOME WITHOUT MORAL
THE CASTLE OF SOVIETS
THE ROYAL CASTLE
A WHITE SEAGULL ABOVE THE CITY: THE SYMBOLS OF THE OLD NEW CITY
WRITING OF DREAMS
LIGHT UP DOM SOVETOV
THE HOUSE OF SOVIETS
THE MOST PROFOUND SECRET OF ONE KOENIGSBERG LAWYER: HOFFMANN
A LEGEND ABOUT FIVE LITTLE ULRICHEN AND FERRYMAN ANDRE
KOENIGSBERG-KALININGRAD. THE TASTE OF MARZIPAN
THE COUNTRY OF PENSIONERS - OR THE GERMANS
CONCRETE ELEMENTS OF KALININGRAD
THE UNDREAMED OF CITY
TOWN PLANNING MATHEMATICS
MOSKOVSKII PROSPECT & THE SHADOWS AROUND ALTSTADT
OUR TOWER Ivan Chechot
THE TOWER-REDAN "KRONPRINZ"
THE KRONPRINZ TOWER. Projects for the National Centre for Contemporary Arts by Students of the Institute for Theory and Design in Architecture (Braunschweig, Germany)
THE AMBER ROOM
BASTIONS IN DIAMONDS AND EMERALDS
THE HOUSE OF MACHINERY: THE RECONSTRACTION AND EXPLOITATION OF THE POPULATION
V.I.P. (Very Interesting Person)
PLACE OF EXECUTION
TRACES OF A VIRTUAL HISTORY IN A VERY REAL CITY
CHRIST THE SAVIOR CATHEDRAL
LIFE AND EGGS (A sketch about trams)
A STROLL THROUGH THE CENTER
IN THE FLOW: FOUNTAIN SEASON
WILD WEST OF RUSSIA
ANIMALS IN KALININGRAD AND A MOSAIC
KOENIGSBERG'S SPIRITUAL HERITAGE IN TONS, ITEMS AND SACKS. From the history of lost and found cultural heritage
WE ALL ARE GOING TO BE THERE
MONUMENT TO 1200 GUARDSMEN IN KALININGRAD
MATTER AND SPIRIT
FRAGMENT OF A SYMPHONY FOR SLOW READING: IVANOV AND HIS SURROUNDINGS
ATTIC OF RECOGNITION
MAN AND WOMAN
THE SMALL SCULPTURE "GIRL"
ON THE STREET
Igor Isaev, Dmitrii Demidenko
THE FIRE HYDRANT
Kalle Brolin, Kristina Muntzing
THE WATERFALL HERACLES' BOLT
V.I.P. (Very Interesting Person)
NATASHA POTERYASHINA. Inteview
TO BE IN THE MOOD FOR PACKING
Dmitrii Bulatov, Pavel Savel'ev
ACEPHALUS: OPTICAL MODELS
LIGHT THE CRYSTALS OF KALININGRAD!
THE BRIDGE THAT THE "RUSSIANS COULDN'T PULL DOWN"
THE ROAD TO BERLIN: FROM EPIC TO BANAL. Interview with Valerii Bugrov
HOAR-STONES AND BOUNDARY SYMBOLS
MUSCOVITES ARE HANGING
BEFORE THE CITY
FROM KALININGRAD DICTIONARY
Aleksandr Sologubov / Kaliningrad, Russia
I must tell right from the outset that in my opinion there is no such thing as identity. I'll make it clear: there is only a mental construct, an idea, but there is no real object. Those who think otherwise make the mistake of hypostasis. The real thing is identification. Identification (Latin: identificare - to identify): in psychology and sociology this is the process of an individual's self-identification with another person, group, or image. This term has acquired a broader meaning in sociological and psychological literature. On the one hand it means imitation and imitative behavior and, on the other hand, the emotional merging with an object (especially in research concerning the individual). The topic is politicized and quite popular, a best seller: "We can quite often observe how quickly the ideological base is laid under political and economical demarcations, how the confrontation of interests is transformed into the confrontation of identities" (V. Malakhov). Texts about "identity" are supplied by three main groups of producers: the mass media, scientists and "average citizens." Mass media has a radical opinion. Reductive rhetoric and poor quality texts prevail here. But the thing which is replicated is "an absolutely necessary category of thought and life, which is far from any chance and arbitrariness" (V. Losev on myth). The "scientific discourse" conducted by our specialists is rather esoteric. Representatives of different branches of science express their opinions. An indispensable topos is the difficulty, contradictory phenomenon of the Kaliningrad region. It has its own rhetoric and argumentative methods. However "intellectual constructions concerning political reality, however much a shame it is for the intellectuals themselves, do not define this reality but rather are defined by it" (V. Malakhov).
"Average citizens" took a fancy not only to the rubric of readers' letters but also the internet. There is no problem in expressing your own opinions via the internet. One author exclaims: "I can promulgate any idea, the most absurd one, without trampling into the editorial offices and listening to the whining of editors."
The leitmotif of local discussions about identity is the difference of local citizens from the "indigenous" citizens of Russia. As K. Lorents observes, the desperate search for a sense of belonging and the problem of identity are symptoms of disorder in the transmission of cultural tradition. There is a whole range of opinions in contemporary texts: from a complete refusal of specificity to an assertion of the complete difference of local citizens from the rest of Russian citizens. Texts are featureless, arguments and images flutter from one to another, they are reproduced and modified endlessly. They are scattered all over the local population. Let's examine this jumble:
…Are Kaliningradians trying to understand who they are? They are just rabble brought to this part of the country by fate's decree. Or are there distinct traditions on this territory, is some sort of cultural unity being formed, a specific alloy of Prussian with Russian…
…Here we all are just rabble without roots …
…Most of the people here are of no account, they are normal (petty, vulgar and cruel on the level of mediocrity), and against this background people without motivation - drunks, loafers, madmen, criminals - are seen almost as romantic heroes…
…In my opinion, the Kaliningrad region must be inhabited by the highest quality population of our country and, perhaps, of the entire planet… of course only the most reliable, sensible, morally stable, least inclined to depravity and drunkenness were settled in this westernmost outpost of the USSR. Secondly, the remains of beautiful German architecture must have a salutary effect on the mental and physical development of the citizens.
…Just as the citizens of Eastern Prussia were called a new German tribe, citizens living in Kaliningrad may be called a new Russian tribe…
…During the half-century post-war period there have grown up three generations of people, who represent a new Prussian ethnos. Soon natural territorial identification will settle in the minds of those who were born in this land after the war, and it will be in the mercy of those who are proud of and love their Motherland - Eastern Prussia…
…New ethnos? There is no such ethnos. We are just Russians, ordinary Russians, living in Russia…
…Once upon a time there was a man who lived in an old German house…one day he found a German car, a DKW from 1938 …then he came upon a typical German little cap…who can say now that existence does not determine consciousness?
…An absolute majority of Kaliningrad's citizens regard themselves only as Russians…
…I'm not a Russian writer, but a Prussian story-teller. I write in the language which I imbibed with my mother's milk, but my head is not filled with wooden nesting dolls and peasant's headscarfs but with the ruins of castles and pine-trees in the dunes…
…This is a very strange region…an absolutely German landscape greets us with real German roads…BMWs and Volkswagens rush along these roads, cottages are being gradually built along them, but the cars are driven by Russian Ivans. And they live in cottages as well. It's as if a strange experiment is being conducted in Kaliningrad. Who will have the upper hand - genes or the landscape?
People living in Kaliningrad are happy with this situation. Whatever one may say - they don't consider themselves to be Russians. They consider themselves to be Western Russians. Even those houses that were spared by chance have been desperately russianized. You can come into any doorway - there is an odor of Russia everywhere.
2. Native Kaliningradians
This notion is very vague. To become a native citizen it is not enough to simply be born here. It is requisite that your grandfather came to Kaliningrad in the heroic 1940s. Or at least that your ancestors claimed a new Soviet territory and but didn't just arrive with everything already provided for. It's necessary that in the stories of the eldest their former so-to-say Motherland is not mentioned. So, a branchy root system, both deep and broad is necessary. The self-consciousness of the "natives" is under threat not only from Moscow and foreign countries but also by new migrants. Texts like the following appear in newspapers and are distributed by migration agencies, whose aim is to attract new residents to the region:
…Long term residents of the region are largely of an extremely old age, and their number is annually decreasing…
…the notion of a "native Kaliningradian" has recently become an anachronism.
…The native citizens of Kaliningrad have been diluted by thousands of emigrants from Kazakhstan, Central Asia, and God knows where else. I am not sure of the statistics, but judging by what is visible all around, I can state with confidence that more than half of my contemporary countrymen didn't live here just 15 years ago. And now they do…
…There are wonderful people, sympathizing with the sorrow of others and promising opportunities in every sphere of activity. But don't create illusions, a lot depends on you; for here in Kaliningrad people have begun to appear who have forgotten that we were immigrants - ethnic Russians, Belarusians, Ukranians, people who believe in Russia and love its culture and life principles…
Of course such statements couldn't but provoke a reaction:
…Is the crime rate is growing because of immigrants? Yes, this really is the case…
…During the five years that the law on the Special Economic Zone has been in effect, many adventurers from throughout the entire CIS have been attracted here. …a mass of people who have no bearing on Kaliningrad…everybody is aspiring to live here, and it creates problems for us and our neighbors… For Europe the Kaliningrad region is a black hole…
…What entrance regulations should there be in our opinion?… Just the way it was in Soviet times. By invitation, for family reunification, for business trips, or with sanatorium and spa passes.
3. Terra incognita (Latin: Terra incognita - literally, "unknown land"): Unknown territory; something strange and odd.
This word combination is often used in regard to the Kaliningrad region. In spite of a certain poetics, there are quite real things behind it. Migrants found themselves in a territory that was really strange. The climate, soil, territorial organization, land reclamation system, technology - everything was strange and unknown, everything remained to be developed. A person probably felt his or herself to be a type of explorer here.. Here are some extracts from Kaliningradskaya Pravda of 1946-1948 (the highlights are mine):
…We've started getting ready for spring. We've learned that the soil is really good here, but it needs fertilizers and is overgrown with weeds.
…Three mills were discovered in the neighborhood of the collective farm. A steam engine has been installed in one of them by the blacksmith Leonid Gurilev and his assistant George Yevstratikov. The others were started up with the help of an oil engine found by collective farmers.
…Leading workers of agriculture of the region, the best brigades and teams on this still unknown land have cultivated such a harvest, of which the Germans never dreamed. This is a clear advantage of the socialist system of agricultural management.
…Wasn't it they who forgot about rest, when it was necessary to repair a machine that they had never seen before?
Prewar history became a secret to the immigrants and their descendants. It was claimed that there was nothing worth keeping in memory about this land "from Adam to Potsdam" (I don't know who first coined this or when it was first used).
The first serious work was only published in 1996. This work was written by a team of writers and was dedicated to "the events of the history of the whole Prussia since ancient times." Of course, some works on pre-war history had been published earlier, but they were written by amateur students of local lore and only selected events were mentioned in these works. These very same students of local lore photographed German books in Prussian history, as there was no other way of copying them. But nobody officially studied pre-war history.
The lack of knowledge about the territory and its history, such as it was in the first postwar years, persisted for decades. An extract from an article by regional newspaper journalist, who had visited a regional center, resembles the denunciations of a spy who had visited unknown enemy territory. But for Kaliningrad readers such rhetoric is very familiar, clear and acceptable:
…This park is ancient - the trees give away the age [history is unknown yet - only trees, like prisoners, give away secrets - A.S.). There are almost no exotics, which are so popular in our area. There are mainly linden trees. Now they are bare and grey, as they should be in early spring. These lime trees look very lonely, and the whole park looks abandoned and needed by nobody … But what struck me most was a pool - derelict and forgotten… When the path led me to this object, believe it or not, I thought that I was dreaming. This feeling must come over an explorer, when he/she comes upon signs of some lost civilization: this was a city, people lived there, and children's laugher was heard, and then…everything was covered by the sands of time, overgrown by grass. Accurate territory planning, concrete grounds. What city in this region or in the central part of Russia has ever dreamed of an open air pool!? (Kaliningradskaya Pravda, 1989).
Separation from history allows the possibility of semi-mystical speculations about this land and its past. It is full of treasures, catacombs, evidence about unknown life of the former residents.
…I wouldn't have even been surprised if I had seen in that marsh a tyrannosaurus or a speaking dragonfly the size of a tram. Prussia is a land of great mysteries. (Excerpt from a newspaper publication, 2001).
The specific Soviet attitude to the history and place we live in leaves a mark on Kaliningrad's "from Adam to Potsdam." In the list of house-owners we would see "a boon for a spy" rather than for a historian, a student of local lore. We know that our maps represent the area rather poorly. We don't know our own houses. For us to know about a space "is a special privilege; an unfulfilled desire to see and know is strange and dangerous" (V. Kagansky).
But the process of cognition is developing and in the course of time terra incognita will become terra cognita.
4. Outpost (German: Vorposten): Front point, base station.
The "westernmost" became "outpost" right from the start of its existence. This word was used quite often in the first articles about the region that appeared in Kaliningradskaya Pravda.
I wonder how a definite region or city is seen outside and inside. What images are used to describe it? Let's consider Samara. What images are connected with this city? It is, for example, "the second capital of Russia," "the center of Russia," "the Russian Chicago" (an allusion to the pre-revolutionary development of the city), and "the space exploration capital."
During the 1990s many images of the city were created both inside and outside of it. And only the Lord knows what this city and the whole region were called! Images and myths concerning these images are used rampantly to justify practical, political and economic actions. There are old and trite images, those which have just been created, and image-metaphors that exist no longer than a website.
Here are a few, presented in no particular order (geographical, political metaphors, metaphors of the communal apartment, economic metonymies and so on):
"Baltic Macao", "the western Jerusalem of Russia", "European Hong Kong", "new Babylon", "Minor Lithuania", "a new Alaska of Russian history", "Prussian Alaska", "Singapore in Europe", "Strassbourg on the Baltic";
"Western redoubt withstanding NATO", "never sinking aircraft-carrier", "besieged territory", "Russian bridgehead in the center of Europe", "spoils of war", "territorial symbol of World War II", "Outpost #1";
"The island of poverty and ecological disaster", "desperately poor gangsters' nest", "enclave wallowed in crime, where time has stopped", "the most gangster version of the Free Economic Zone", "the territory of the unemployed and honest smugglers", "the most desert-like region in Russia", "a black hole", "zone of deprivation of economic liberty", "a microcosm of all the problems of Russian society", "an abandoned lot named after Grandpa Kalinin", "a country with disappearing past and unknown future", "the tomb of Koenigsberg".
"A self-supporting region", "paradise for separatists", "bait for revanchists", "a straying enclave that is slowly by surely sliding from Russian hands to European";
"Wicket to Europe", "marine gates of Russia to Europe", "tunnel to Europe";
"The place where the Amber Room is hidden", "amber hole", "amber storeroom", "amber coast of Russia", "amber land of Russia", "amber fatherland";
"Migratory pipe", "unique district of the liberal movement of people", "A house without corridors", "a room whose key is kept by a neighbour", "the oldest flat of the All-European House", "Geographical blot", "political fjord on the Baltic"; "the motor-car capital", "pilot region without a pilot", "experimental socio-political ground", "Russian Island in the center of Europe", "Russia in Europe", "Russian Land's end"; "our little Russia"; "country Kaliningrad", "the zest of Russia"; "Russian island in the E.U. sea"; "Mohicans in the European Union"; "unloved stepchild of Europe", "the last European piece of the Soviet Empire"; "the remotest depth of the province in the middle of Europe"; "a region of partnership".
I will contribute to the creation of the image too. Imagine: we hammer in floats along the seashore, dig a ditch along the Polish-Lithuanian border, hook ships of the Baltic fleet onto these floats, set off for abroad at full speed ahead…Where to?
Various gossip about the future of the region arose after the dissolution of the USSR. The term "regermanization" came into usage. This term had diverse meanings: from the anxiety of countrymen who thought that former German owners would come back and reclaim their lands, to suppositions about the return of the region to Germany. All actions of Germans in the Kaliningrad region, such as investments, were understood as a possible return. I happened to hear a conversation between two workers in a federal institution: "It could happen that we'll be sold to some German for a million marks!".
Regermanization caused a kind of degermanization. One reaction was the passage of a "decree about protection of the Russian language on the territory of the Kaliningrad Region" in March 1996, which prohibited, in particular, "foreign names withdrawn from circulation due to the formation of the Kaliningrad Region as part of the Russia Federation, and the Latin alphabet in the names of different kinds of institutions."
"This craze in our region (the use of foreign words - A.S.) is intensified by the aspirations of the founders of new companies to name their offspring in the foreign style. The attempts to use German words and expressions, to play off prewar names are especially noticeable. Absolutely Russian theater is eager to be called "Tilzit-theater"; a company which agitates Kaliningrad citizens to bring their rubles but not Reichsmarks is called "Koenigsberg"; the most ordinary Zhigulyovskoe Beer turns out to be better made if the brewery is called "Ostmark"; buses with the signs "Koenigauto" ostensibly breakdown more rarely…" (Kaliningradskaya pravda, 1994)
Degermanization is soaring under the region even now.
6. Separatism (Latin: separatus - separate): aspiration to separation, isolation.
Talks about the originality of the Kaliningrad region began in the mid- 1980s. Different alternatives were proposed: the formation of an autonomous republic within the RSFSR, a Baltic condominium (the USSR, the Federal Republic of Germany and Poland). A new idea appeared in 10 years: the idea of a sovereign Baltic Republic. It was getting worse and worse as it went on.
Separatism is not an ordinary word. It's not spoken about in kitchens and on trams. In kitchens and on trams people talk about rent, transit through Lithuania, how to place a child into a kindergarten, about prices for food and so on. And I'm not going to write separatism either - no matter whether it exists or not. It is simply not important for our topic. Rather, we are interested in what is said about Kaliningrad separatism. In these matters people in power, people of the mass media and some others willingly play verbal ping-pong:
…We must form the fourth Baltic republic," - claims a separatist, "Baltia…" however only 10% of the population would like to separate completely from Russia.
…the fact that it will separate itself is a big political game. Two to three percent of the population really supports this idea. According to all the polls there have never been more than 6%...
…yes, geopolitical conditions leave a mark on our lives, on our economy and mentality of the population, but there is no separatism to talk about…
…in other words, the atmosphere of that place can be called nothing but separatism…
…the attitude of part of the residents of the Kaliningrad Region have acquired a distinctive separatist slant in the past year and a half…
…Kaliningrad separatism - it's a myth…
…We know the state of public opinion, and if you happen to hear somewhere talk that separatism and germanization are ostensibly developing in Kaliningrad, well this is just rubbish, I want you to write this very word: rubbish…
Qui bono? Qui prodest?
Translation by N.Shtock