'Kaliningrad Oblast (Russian: Kaliningradskaya Oblast) is a small administrative district (see oblast) and the westernmost parcel of land belonging to Russia. Its largest city is Kaliningrad, which has considerable historical significance. The territory also includes the cities of Tapiau, Wehlau, Insterburg, Gumbinnen, Heiligenbeil, Pr. Eylau, Allenburg, Gerdauen, Gross Rominten, and Trakehnen.
(Part of) The History of Kaliningrad Oblast
The area around the city of Kaliningrad was completely sealed off for fifty years because the Soviet Union had built huge military installations there and used the harbor as a year round port--it was one of the few Soviet ports on the Baltic which was operable in winter-time. With the fall of the Iron Curtain, the enormity of the installations and the sheer magnitude of the environmental destruction has been exposed.
In the days before the Iron Curtain came down, US television showed news reports from the Soviet Union. These reporters filmed the vast acres of land filled with military equipment around the harbor of Kaliningrad. They showed the train depot and the dozens of trains that were sitting there, idled for weeks or months, filled with materials, all spoiled. It was a scene of earlier massive Soviet Union military build-up and now the scene of total massive breakdown. These surrealistic visions stand in stark contrast to the vanished city of Koenigsberg, the city of Immanuel Kant and the city of kings. As the Russian reporters intended, this showed the real state of the Soviet Union, at that time by the CIA still portrayed as a mighty enemy of the USA.
(I would appreciate it if anyone could post photo/s from Kaliningrad of that time , if available.)
The contamination of the soil by military occupation is another matter. In the case of the Soviet Union military occupation of the other part of Germany, the German Democratic Republic GDR, the costs of environmental cleanup sofar run into many billions of DM or dollars. Similar environmental cleanup is necessary around Kaliningrad.
A website with recent photos taken by Joost Lemmens of Netherlands gives samples of destruction in small towns by neglect under the Soviet Union around Kaliningrad Oblast. This site gives the Prussian German town names and the corresponding Russian names after 1945/49. It starts out with a gate to the horse breeding stables in Trakehnen and hopeful signs of new beginnings for this devastated land.
Additional statement by J. Lemmens : Re. the name "East Prussia" being "both partisan and misleading" I would like to remark that the current Russian inhabitants of the region call their homeland this way (Vostochnya Prussia -- no, maybe not the military and top officials, but the common people anyway) -- just because it IS East Prussia, and they see no need to hide this fact. In fact they are generally quite interested in and open-minded about its German past.
Even the town of Kaliningrad is still being called "Kënigsberg" or simply "Kënig" by the man in the street, as well as this name being used by many local enterprises.