Archival heritage of former East Prussia

   Changes to national borders in Europe after the Second World War has brought numerous consequences. When it comes to archives, a real revolution took place in this field and its results have not been overcome yet.
   In the context of the changes, the collections  of the former State Archives in Königsberg has  a special position. They were moved several times and became almost entirely dispersed. Nowadays, are preserved within the holdings of archives in several countries, specifically  in the State Archive in Olsztyn and in the Secret State Archive of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation in Berlin-Dahlem (Geheimes Staatsarchiv Preußischer Kulturbesitz). Some parts of  this collection  may be found in the State Archives of Kaliningrad Region and in Lithuania (Vilnius).
   Having included seventy-five per cent of the territory of former East Prussia which, over centuries, was in many ways linked to Polish  national history, Poland took over  archives  of the Königsberg Archive which had been evacuated from Königsberg by the authorities of Nazi German authorities and recovered in the current territory of Poland. Poland also received archives from the Königsberg Archive from the Allies. In total, Königsberg collections currently held  in the State Archive in Olsztyn consists of  approx. 2 800 metres of files. They are the subject of interests of Polish, German, Russian as well as other researchers. At the same time, circles of Polish historians are interested in an open access to the parts of Königsberg collections held  in Berlin and in other archives in Europe.
   Irrespective of legal issues concerning whether the dispersed archival collections  belong to the Polish, German or Russian archives  we have taken the initiative aimed at ensuring an open access to the archival holdings  of the former State Archive in Königsberg. In doing so, we refer to the UNESCO concept of common archival heritage.
Using the 21st century technology, we will make efforts to gradually digitise historical sources from the territory of former East Prussia and make them available on the website of the State Archive in Olsztyn 
   Basing  on our experience, we believe that together with our partners from Russia and Germany, we will soon be able  to reconstruct the dispersed  Königsberg collections  in a digital form.

Historical background