Kaliningrad

Famous Locals

21 May 2018
So who should you know from Kaliningrad/Königsberg? The obvious place to start is with the Albertina University, founded in 1544 by the Duke of Prussia, Albrecht of Brandenburg (1490-1568), whose remains were interred in Königsberg Cathedral. Over several centuries, this establishment helped to develop Königsberg into a major European hub of culture/science and it should come as no surprise that many of the city's most famous sons and daughters were very closely associated to it.

Immanuel Kant (1724-1804), the great German philosopher who both studied and taught there, and who is renowned for his strict daily schedule, is chief among them but a state-of-the-art observatory also provided the platform for leading 19th-century astronomers Friedrich Bessel (1784-1846) and Friedrich Wilhelm Argelander (1799-1875) to take huge steps in the identification and plotting of stars. As the century wore on, a series of hugely influential mathematicians including Otto Hesse (1811-74), Carl Neumann (1832-1925) and David Hilbert (1862-1943), all of whom were concerned with the development of algebra and integral equations, also came through the ranks of the Albertina. 

In other areas, Ludwig Rhesa (1776-1840) did much for Lithuanian folk culture while Romantic writer ETA Hoffmann (1776-1822) spent his formative years in his home town before moving on to Poland. Kathe Kollwitz (1867-1945), granddaughter of the revolutionary theologian Julius Rupp (1809-84), documented the human suffering of two World Wars, primarily in prints and lithographs, and Agnes Miegel (1879-1964) was a revered author whose associations with the Nazi party did untold damage to her reputation in later years. 

The city has never been much of a hotbed for sports stars but Lilli Henoch (1899-1942) was a true track and field champion, winning multiple titles and setting world records in discus, shot put and (strange though it may seem) the 4x100m relay! Despite these incredible achievements on behalf of Germany, as a Jew, she was executed by the Nazis in 1942. And, on a lighter note, have you ever seen that stereotypical image of a moustachioed, leotard-wearing strongman? Well, that's basically Königsberg's very own Eugen Sandow (1867-1925), the first international body-building superstar!  

And that brings us to famous modern-day Kaliningraders but, alas, the names aren't quite so plentiful and that is possibly illustrated by the fact that Lyudmila Putina (1958- ), the ex-wife of Vladimir Putin, is the most notable! Other well-known Kaliningraders are people who moved here and include best-selling pop composer and singer, Oleg Gazmanov, who used his gymnastic training to incorporate acrobatics into his act in the early 90s and has been decorated with the Order of Merit to the Fatherland, Russia’s highest civilian honour. Kaliningrad’s most famous sons though are the three cosmonauts who all grew up in the Kaliningrad Oblast and are commemorated with the Compatriot Cosmonaut monument on Prospekt Mira – Alexey Leonov, Yuriy Romanenko and Viktor Patsayev.
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