can revenge ever be justified?

I’ve been reading with intense interest, Nicole Eaton’s 2023 release, German Blood, Slavic Soil, How Nazi Königsberg became Soviet Kaliningrad. Eaton’s academic style makes for slow reading, but it’s jam-packed with information. Her thorough study showcases what I fictionalized in Crow Stone.  My mother’s time in East Prussia ended with her deportation to the Urals in the spring of 1945, but her sisters stayed behind. They would have witnessed the renaming of Königsberg to Kaliningrad in July of 1946, staying in the Soviet-occupied enclave until their forced expulsion in 1948. 

As I prepared for my 2019 trip to Kaliningrad, I asked a surviving cousin about her time in East Prussia after the war. She shared some place names Pillkallen (which I wrote about here), but it was difficult because I didn’t even know what questions to ask. Eaton’s book might have helped me understand the situation better. 

Mikhail Kalinin
I’d read several memoirs written by East Prussian survivors, but nothing that summarized the events with objective detachment. Eaton’s research confirms, what many memoirists shared:  East Prussia received the bulk of Soviet revenge. They were not liberating the civilians from Nazi rule, they were punishing them for being fascist. Eaton writes, “East Prussia, as the first German territory the soldiers entered and a place where so many refugees were intercepted during their flight, suffered the worst violence of any German conquered territory, including even Berlin.” (page 129). 

Königsberg was renamed Kaliningrad in honour of one of Stalin's buddies who'd died earlier in the year. Changing names, changing identities. The final act of ownership.

With current world conflicts raging, it’s again revenge not liberation that seems to be fuelling violence. Can revenge ever be justified? 

For more about how Königsberg became Kaliningrad, watch this on Youtube.

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