View Full Version : Architect Seeks to Rebuild Historic Core of Königsberg

Sunday, December 5th, 2010, 08:45 PM

An architect in the Russian enclave Kaliningrad is trying to rally support for plans to restore the historic centre of what was once the East Prussian city of Königsberg to its pre-war splendour.

Arthur Sarnitz, born in Kaliningrad to Estonian parents, wants to rebuild its urban core to resemble how it was prior to World War II, before Allied bombing and the Red Army destroyed much of the then German city.

“My plans are ready,” Sarnitz told daily Die Welt this week. “It would be the biggest project of its kind in the world.”

Following Nazi Germany’s defeat in 1945, Königsberg and the surrounding East Prussian territory was handed over to the Soviet Union. The German residents were mostly expelled and Soviets renamed the region wedged between Poland and Lithuania Kaliningrad.

Die Welt reported Sarnitz envisioned first excavating the foundations of Königsberg currently buried beneath modern buildings. His first target for demolition and reconstruction would be the 7.5 hectare central district of Kneiphof including the local town hall.

“If we uncover the top layer, we see the walls of old Königsberg,” he told the paper. “That’s what we want to dig up and we’re being helped by Polish, Russian and German archaeologists.”

Though the buildings would appear outwardly historic, Sarnitz wants to outfit them with modern interiors adapted to 21st century life.

Sarnitz even hired a computer-game company to create a simulation of the reconstructed old town, where Königsberg’s most famous resident – the philosopher Immanuel Kant – strolls through the winding pixelated streets.

The ambitious architect is banking on support from the Kremlin, and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, whose wife comes from Kaliningrad, has reportedly backed rebuilding the town’s historic castle.

However, while Sarnitz admitted financing the project will be difficult at best. “There is no money whatsoever,” he said, explaining he had pegged his hopes on Russian corporate sponsorship.

“A good cause will always find money,” he told the paper. “And the reconstruction of historic Königsberg is historically and morally a good thing.”

The Local/rm

[Source] (http://www.thelocal.de/society/20101027-30777.html)

External link: The project website of Arthur Sarnitz in German. » (http://www.altstadt.ru/)

Sunday, December 5th, 2010, 09:03 PM

I yearn and yearn for the Königsberger Altstadt to be rebuilt.. Preferably paid for by the British government for obvious reasons..

Sunday, December 5th, 2010, 09:33 PM
I wish this man and his team the best. It is very good to see some people actually care about the 1/3 of Germany that was destroyed post war.

It will take more than just a new paintjob to fix the Königsberg castle though :~(


Old Winter
Sunday, December 5th, 2010, 10:44 PM
Here is a good example of rebuilding in Germany:

Dresden Frauenkirche

The original Baroque church was built between 1726 and 1743, and was designed by Dresden's city architect, George Bähr.

On 13 February 1945, Anglo-American allied forces began the bombing of Dresden. The church withstood two days and nights of the attacks and the eight interior sandstone pillars supporting the large dome held up long enough for the evacuation of 300 people who had sought shelter in the church crypt, before succumbing to the heat generated by some 650,000 incendiary bombs that were dropped on the city. The temperature surrounding and inside the church eventually reached 1,000 degrees Celsius. The dome finally collapsed at 10 a.m. on 15 February. The pillars glowed bright red and exploded; the outer walls shattered and nearly 6,000 tons of stone plunged to earth, penetrating the massive floor as it fell.

Using original plans used by builder Georg Bähr in the 1720s, reconstruction finally began in January 1993 under the direction of church architect and engineer Eberhard Burger. The foundation stone was laid in 1994, the crypt was completed in 1996 and the inner cupola in 2000.

The intensive efforts to rebuild this world famous landmark were completed in 2005, one year earlier than originally planned, and in time for the 800-year anniversary of the city of Dresden in 2006.

Since re-opening, the Church of Our Lady has been a hugely popular tourist destination in Dresden. In the first three years after the re-opening, seven million people have visited the church.

The project has inspired other revitalization projects throughout Europe.

Dresden Frauenkirche 1880

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/56/Bundesarchiv_Bild_183-60015-0002%2C_Dresden%2C_Denkmal_Martin_Luther %2C_Frauenkirche%2C_Ruine.jpg






Monday, December 6th, 2010, 12:21 AM
Ancient Autumn.. Thank You In Every Way For This Post..

Appreciated In Every Way.. I Know This Story Of Hope and Renewal For Dresden But To Read It Again Is Fantastic..

My Hope and Dream Is That Königsberg Altstadt is Rebuilt..

Im Sure It Will Happen.. The Day It Is Completed I Will Be On The First Flight To East Prussia To Witness It..

It Remains Heartfelt : )

Monday, December 6th, 2010, 04:34 PM
Rebulding the historic core of Königsberg while remaining a part of Russia doesn´t make much sense to me. :| Russian culture will make cities look Russian automatically. If Königsberg should regain the old German look, it should be handed over back to the rightful owners.

Wednesday, December 8th, 2010, 08:41 PM
I agree with you only just a little Thusnelda but I feel the historical centre of the city should be rebuilt in its splendour regardless of whom rules the historical German city.. I DO understand what you are saying..

More so may I say the British Government should foot the bill for most of the restructure and rebuilding of the city centre because their RAF Bomber Command alone destroyed it in 4 nights of 'Harris Style' Intentional *Culturally Destroying Carpet Bombing*..

Typical over so many Cultural Cities and Towns throughout Germania..

His brutality shall never be forgotten..

Thursday, December 9th, 2010, 01:43 PM
Rebuilding one building or two is one thing --- but rebuilding a whole historic core in a small period of time? Well, it's sure restore some grandour but it'll be a far cry from what it once was: It will never become again what it was, the spirit of the original architect flows into the building only once. Look at Nuremberg, they tried to historically rebuild it, but it doesn't look anything as grand as it did before the war.

Other than this, Thusnelda is right: A Russian city will always have a Russian character, so if they want to bring any part of the old character of it back, it should be given back to us. Not that it wasn't offered by the Russians after the collapse of the East Bloc - it was actually offered back; just that Germany didn't pull through with what was a genuine offer after they realised the US leadership wasn't too happy about it. :oanieyes

Heinrich Harrer
Thursday, December 9th, 2010, 02:09 PM
Rebulding the historic core of Königsberg while remaining a part of Russia doesn´t make much sense to me. :| Russian culture will make cities look Russian automatically. If Königsberg should regain the old German look, it should be handed over back to the rightful owners.

I agree. As much as I would like the old state of the city being restored, this looks just like a ploy to create a sort of prussian "Disneyland" to attract more german tourists so they can fill their pockets with our history.

Thursday, December 9th, 2010, 02:19 PM
More so may I say the British Government should foot the bill for most of the restructure and rebuilding of the city centre because their RAF Bomber Command alone destroyed it in 4 nights of 'Harris Style' Intentional *Culturally Destroying Carpet Bombing*..

His brutality shall never be forgotten..

Although I agree it would be a great idea to rebuild I think the costs would make it near impossible.
Regarding your other comments, one word COVENTRY:(

Thursday, December 9th, 2010, 03:41 PM
I think this plan cannot be realized. But I wish them all best, because idea is fantastic. War left a lot of wonderful historical cities in ruins (and not only German, for ex. Warsaw used to be beautiful city, from what I've heard. Today it's awful). Every attempt of bringing it back is admirable.

Russian culture will make cities look Russian automatically.
Not Russian, but Soviet. Russian architecture produced some breathtaking cities (St. Petersburg aka Leningrad), but Soviets failed hard.

Thursday, December 9th, 2010, 04:19 PM
Warsaw used to be beautiful city, from what I've heard. Today its awful).

Funny you mention Warsaw as an example, because the center of Warsaw actually has been completely rebuilt. They used pictures from before the war to build it exactly as it was before. I've been there myself and I have to say that the result is quite amazing. It shows that rebuilding can be done and that the grandeur of a city can be restored. Of course the buildings are new and they aren't "original", but in my view this doesn't really matter. There will always be new buildings and new cities and we cannot hold on to the old ones. So what is more beautiful than building new cities in a style that can be seen as a continuation of our architectural heritage. I really hate to see all these modern, ugly, soviet-like buildings popping out of the soil, which have no connection to the beauty that our people used to create.
Maybe a new center, but still in a decent Germanic style, would be a better alternative, but our modern achitectures are simply not able to do that, it seems. So recreating an old center is at present the best way to keep a city's Germanic character and beauty, because at least it leads to a center which originally sprang from the Germanic soul. And for a bombed city, it's also a way of saying that you are still there, that you haven't been defeated.

The above concerns the rebuilding of Germanic cities in general. As long as Königsberg is part of Russia, it's of not much importance what happens to it. Although a bit of Germanic influence in non-Germanic cities isn't a bad thing and it would be nice to walk through the new old center and get an idea of how it originally looked like. It would also make it harder for Russians to claim the city as theirs, because the new center would in fact be a German creation.

Thursday, December 9th, 2010, 04:47 PM
Well, then I have to apologize. I have been there once and saw nothing but typical soviet-type buildings. Only greyness and concrete. It was one of the most depressing cities I have ever been to. Seems like I haven't been to the historical center. Have to go there sometime...

Old Winter
Friday, December 10th, 2010, 09:15 AM
The total rebuilding of the Dresden Frauenkirche was 180 million, there are movies nobody want to see that cost more to make.

Friday, December 10th, 2010, 03:59 PM
Here are some wonderful aerial shots of pre-war Königsberg from my archives.
(Took me forever to locate them)
These were images taken just prior to the war.
I highly recommend that you enlarge these to see the amazing details: