Kantian Journal

2016 Vol. 35. №4

Königsberg Cathedral and Kant’s tomb in Soviet Kaliningrad


Based on earlier unknown or poorly studied archival documents, this article reconstructs the post-war history of the 14th century Königsberg Cathedral and the tomb of philosopher Immanuel Kant in former Kneiphof. The study investigates the authorities’ and general public’s attitudes towards this monuments. Throughout the Soviet period until the beginning of Perestroika, the local Communist party and state authorities attempted to demolish the ruins of the Cathedral, which was damaged during the war, and relocate Kant’s grave. However, this goal was not achieved, because members of Kaliningrad intelligentsia and the emerging civil society, who had the support of Moscow cultural organisations and institutions, including the Ministry of Culture of the RSFSR, furthered the cause of protecting the main attractions of Königsberg/Kaliningrad. Thе article discusses the projects of using the ruins of the Cathedral for different purposes (creation of a university library, construction of an observatory, a concert hall, or an open-air theater, etc.). The author cites documents about granting the Cathedral the status of a monument of cultural heritage. The article provides information about the physical condition of the Cathedral and Kant’s tomb in different years, including the materials of various relevant committees. The author describes the conservation, maintenance, and restoration of both objects. The history of the Cathedral and Kant's grave is examined in the context of politics of memory pursued by the regional authorities. Changes in the attitudes towards the German historical and cultural heritage of former East Prussia are traced. The supplement contains 16 documents from the State Archive of the Kaliningrad region, 14 of which are published for the first time.

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