Coast

The coastline of Pomerania and what was Prussia has a physical and political geography which is fascinating. There are river estuaries and strange fingers of land which run out to sea for miles. In the days of sail they were probably difficult to navigate but behind them would have been a safe harbourage in stormy weather. It’s largely a forgotten coastline (nothing much seems to happen here) but it is of great commercial importance given the ports which service the Baltic shipping trade. This has always been the case. Along this coast are ancient cities which were once part of the Hanseatic League (an early EU without the bureaucracy). Politically the coast has changed hands quite a bit, right up to modern times. Much of it was Prussia, then a chunk of it was hived off to become East Prussia, separated from Germany by the (Polish) Danzig (now Gdansk) corridor. Then in Pomerania there was the ancient German port of Stettin. Now Polish and called Szczecin. It is a long journey upriver to reach the port and en route there is miles of low lying woodland and reed beds which teem with wildlife. This is sparsely populated country. At Peenemunde a few miles to the west lies the site where the V2 rockets were developed. They have one outside a museum. It’s what’s called ‘dark tourism’.  Further up the coast is the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad (formerly Konigsberg) which provides an indication of how far east German territory used to extend. A less familiar name is Klaipeda in Lithuania. Again to enter the port it’s necessary to navigate past another long finger of land. Further upriver is Russian territory. Klaipeda was once known as Memel. Occupied by the Lithuanians then by Germans and now Lithuanian once more. Anthony Beevor’s book Berlin covers the area as he describes German retreat from the Red Army in 1944-45.

 

 

 

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