Russian Foundation for Basic Research
Grant numbers № 19-49-390003
Soviet War Monuments in Kaliningrad and the Evolution of Historical Memory (Mid-20th – Early 21th Centuries)
War memorials are important for preserving the historical memory of the people’s feat during the Great Patriotic War. The territory of Kaliningrad Oblast (formerly East Prussia) was a zone of bloody battles in 1945. Currently, there are 44 memorials to Soviet heroes and victims of the war in Kaliningrad; they have not been studied systematically. The article aims to trace the history of the creation of the war memorial heritage of the Soviet era in Kaliningrad and to identify its content and regional specifics. The research is based on published and archival documents of the State Archive of Kaliningrad Oblast: decisions of the authorities, materials of public organizations, local newspapers. In the framework of the general historical and cultural approach, comparative and typological research methods were used in the research. The author characterizes the first monuments to the fallen Soviet soldiers that appeared immediately after the war, including the memorial ensemble dedicated to 1,200 soldiers of the 11th Guards Army who died during the storming of the city; considers issues related to the legal status of monuments in the post-war period; studies the changes in the politics of memory in the 1960s and its manifestations at the regional level (construction of new monuments, museification of memorial sites). He analyzes public discussions of the 1960s around the construction of the main war monument in Kaliningrad and describes its proposed projects. The author describes the initiative of a number of Soviet commanders to build a memorial panorama museum in Kaliningrad and reveals the reason for its failure. He studies the increase in the number of war memorials in the region in the 1970s and 1980s and notes that it coincides with the anniversary dates of Victory in the Great Patriotic War. He analyzes public initiatives to install monuments in the years of Perestroika and during the formation of the new Russian statehood (late 20th – early 21st centuries); gives the periodization of the formation of the Kaliningrad memorial landscape; reveals the regional features of the memorialization of the wartime events. The author concludes that today the Soviet war memorials in Kaliningrad are an instrument of patriotic education based on the military traditions of the older generations. They contribute to the cultural and historical self-identification of the inhabitants of the only Russian exclave and are an important component of the identity of Kaliningraders.