Poland ‘Renames’ Kaliningrad
The city once known as Koenigsberg is now Krolewiec, at least in Polish government documents.
Reuters (“Kremlin calls Polish decision to rename Kaliningrad ‘hostile act’“):
The Kremlin said on Wednesday that Poland’s decision to rename the Russian city of Kaliningrad in its official documents was a “hostile act”, as bilateral ties continue to fray over the war in Ukraine.
Kaliningrad was known by the German name of Koenigsberg until after World War II, when it was annexed by the Soviet Union and renamed to honour Soviet politician Mikhail Kalinin.
Warsaw said on Tuesday that Kalinin’s connection to the 1940 Katyn massacre – when thousands of Polish military officers were executed by Soviet forces – had negative connotations and that the city should now be referred to as Krolewiec, its name when it was ruled by the Kingdom of Poland in the 15th and 16th centuries.
“The current Russian name of this city is an artificial baptism unrelated to either the city or the region,” Poland’s committee on geographical standardisation said.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the decision “bordered on madness”.
“We know that throughout history Poland has slipped from time to time into this madness of hatred towards Russians,” he told a daily news briefing.
Relations between Poland and Russia have historically often been very strained, including during and after World War Two.
Moscow says it liberated Poland when its forces drove out Nazi German forces at the end of the war. Most Poles believe the Soviet Union replaced Nazi occupation with another form of repression.
More recently, Poland, a member of the NATO military alliance, has strongly backed Ukraine after Russia’s invasion on Feb. 24, 2022, and has stepped up the demolition of memorials to fallen Soviet troops across the country.
That the Poles are finally taking down Soviet monuments is well past due. Renaming a city in another country, though, just seems silly—almost as silly as the Russians caring what the Poles call Kaliningrad.
After first having annexed Poland’s Eastern half in 1939 in cooperation with Nazi Germany (and, of course, not giving it back in 1945).
It could indicate – at the very least in Russia’s eyes – that Poland is eager to see some of Russia’s previous conquests undone.
Being stripped of land is what Russia does to others, not something that is supposed to happen to Russia itself.
Finally, Russia’s role (as the controlling and central part of the Soviet Union) in defeating Nazi Germany has been used for a long, long time to whitewash the crimes of the Soviet Union against both its own citizens and other peoples. Shining a light on that hypocrisy (as the Poles are now doing) riles up the Russians like nothing else.
Pretty decent trolling. Hits different levels. Reminds people of Russia’s history in helping the Germans kill Poles and how the Russians went on to deny Poles freedom after the war. Then it also pokes fun at the Russians trying to re-establish the Russian empire in Ukraine noting that parts of Russia once belonged to Poland.
“The City Formerly Known as Kings”
@drj: If ya go back far enough everybody can be labeled the bad guy.
The Poles once believed in restoring empires by force too. Didn’t work but a lot of people died. As long as grudges are held or can be pulled out of the closet and refurbished…it never ends.
This is why your English teachers yelled at you about the passive voice.
“Was known” by whom? “Was renamed” by whom? Hint: not the same people, and in neither case necessarily the people who lived there. What fraction of the local population has always called it Krolewiec?
It matters whether this is equivalent to “UK renames ‘Florence’ to ‘Firenze’ in official documents” or “France renames ‘Trier’ to ‘Trèves’ in official documents”.
Excellent rant. I got disproportionate pleasure from that.
@Michael Reynolds: We aims to please. Glad it tickled your fancy.
Slightly less ranty, does anyone here know whether the switch to Pinyin pronunciation and spelling of Chinese city names was an actual change in official names, or just a correction of historical Anglo mispronunciations?
@DrDaveT: Yes, fair point. Wiki puts it this way: “The history of the city may be divided into four periods: the Old Prussian settlement known as Twangste before 1255; the Polish city of Królewiec from 1454 to 1455 and then fief of Poland from 1456–1657; the German city of Königsberg from 1657 to 1945; and the Russian city of Kaliningrad from 1945 to present.”
It’s a combination of Polish trolling of Russian, a favourite national pastime, and a pointed indication that Kaliningrad oblast is dependent for any future economic prospects upon the good will of the Polish/Baltic/Nordic coalition within the EU.
And also, possibly, an indirect tweak of the Germans noses, re, it’s previous name of Konisberg, capital of East Prussia.
Just wait till the Finns take to referring to Vyborg as Viipuri.