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
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.