Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Russia - Sovetsk


Sent by Irina, a postcrosser from Solnechnogorsk, situated near capital of Moscow.

This is from Wikipedia : Sovetsk (Russian: Сове́тск), which was known by its German name of Tilsit (Lithuanian: Tilžė; Polish: Tylża) before 1946, is a town now in Kaliningrad Oblast, Russia on the south bank of the Neman River. The population was estimated at 43,278 in 2004, and 43,224 in 2002 (2002 Census); 41,881 in 1989 (1989 Census).

Tilsit, which received civic rights in 1552, grew up around a castle of the Teutonic Knights, known as the Schalauner Haus, founded in 1288. It is most famous because of the Treaties of Tilsit signed here in July 1807, the preliminaries of which were settled by the emperors Alexander I of Russia and Napoleon I of France on a raft moored in the river Neman. This treaty, which created the Kingdom of Westphalia and the Duchy of Warsaw, completed Napoleon's humiliation of the Kingdom of Prussia, when it was deprived of one half of its dominions.

This short-lived peace-treaty is also remarkable for quite another reason. Three days before its signing, Prussian queen Louise (1776 - 1810) tried to persuade Napoleon in a private conversation to ease his hard conditions on Prussia. Although without any result, Louise's effort greatly endeared her to the Prussian people.

Until 1945 a marble tablet marked the house in which King Frederick William III of Prussia and Queen Louise resided. Also, in the former Schenkendorf Platz was a monument to the poet Max von Schenkendorf (1783-1817) a native of Tilsit. During the 19th century when the Lithuanian language was banned within the Russian Empire, Tilsit was an important centre for printing Lithuanian books which then were smuggled by Knygnešiai to the Russian-controlled part of Lithuania. In general, Tilsit throve and was an important Prussian town. By 1900 it had electric tramways and 34,500 inhabitants; a direct railway line linked it to Königsberg and Labiau and steamers docked there daily. The Act of Tilsit was signed here by leaders of the Lietuvininks in 1918.

During the time of Nazi Germany, Tilsit was a Militärischer Vorbereich of the Königsberg Militärischer Bereich, which was part of Wehrkreis I. Adolf Hitler visited the town just before the start of World War II, and there is a famous picture of him on the bridge over the Neman River.

Tilsit was occupied by the Red Army on January 20, 1945, and was annexed by the Soviet Union in 1945. The remaining Germans who had not evacuated were subsequently expelled and replaced with Soviet citizens. The town was renamed Sovetsk by the new communist rulers in 1945, in honour of the Soviet system of rule.

Modern Sovetsk has tried to take advantage of Tilsit's rich traditions of cheese production (Tilsit cheese), but the new name Sovetsky has not caught on.

Since April 2007, government restrictions on visits to border areas have been tightened and travel to the Sovetsk and Bagrationovsk areas is only allowed with special permission

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