East Prussia

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East Prussia in eastern Europe was the original heartland of Prussia. It is an area rish farmland, lakes and forest bordered to the east and south by the Russian Empire and to the west by the Baltic Sea. The main city was Konigsberg (King's City) the former summer retreat of the Kaisers and Prussian monarchs It was also the home of philosopher Immanuel Kant. The region featured very large estates controlled by Junker elites and nobles.

The province was a battleground in 1914-15, when, following the outbreak of the First World War Russian armies invaded the province but were decisively defeated at the Battle of Tannenberg in 1914 and the Battle of the Masurian Lakes. Following Germany's defeat in 1918, the Treaty of Versailles divided Germany and the state of Poland re-created, which included the Polish Corridor to the Baltic Sea and the port city of Danzig (later Gdansk) declared a "Free City", neither part of Germany or Poland. East Prussia remained part of Germany (with the exception of the port of Memel, seized by newly-independent Lithuania). In 1939 Nazi Germany forced Lithuania to relinquish Memel.

After the Second World War, about 9 million Germans were deported to the West, and East Prussia was divided between the Soviet Union and Poland. Memel - renamed Klaipeda - became part of the Soviet Republic of Lithuania; northern East Prussia, with Konigsberg (renamed Kaliningrad), became part of the Russian Federated Republic (known as Kaliningrad Oblast), and the southern part was ceded to Poland. Adolf Hitler's wartime headquarters, Wolfschanze from which hedirected Operation Barbarossa, was in the territory ceded to Poland.

Since 1946 Kaliningrad has served as a trip wire in Russian defense strategy against aggression from Western Europe. Kaliningrad, which is separated from Russia proper, in Soviet and post-Soviet times as been described as the largest military base on the planet.