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Kaliningrad (Königsberg until 1946)

Y. S. Kim (2005.12.15)

I am interested in this city because Einstein was profoundly influenced by the philosophy of Immanuel Kant who was born in Königsberg and lived there for 80 years. He never left the city except on one occasion. He had to attend the funeral of his father. In my earlier article on Kant, I said Einstein's special relativity was profoundly influenced by Kant's observer-dependent philosophy.

Here are some photos which I took while in Königsberg/Kaliningrad.

I went to Kaliningrad in order to learn about Immanuel Kant. Russians respect Kant, and there is a museum dedicated to him.

  • Kant Museum is in the tower of this cathedral. Viewed from a different angle.
  • Another view of the Cathedral (photo from the public domain).
  • Kant's grave is located outside this cathedral while many other prominent people were buried inside the building. The reason is that Kant did not believe in Jesus.
  • Kant's name. In order to prove that I was there, I took this photo. You can read Kant's name.
  • Kant's Portrait inside the museum. I was indeed happy to pose with his portrait.
  • Kant's Dinner. Portrait of Kant enjoying a dinner with his colleagues.

  • Books on Kantianism. In one of the rooms at the Kant museum, there were many books written about Kant and his philosophy. There are many books written in German, of course. There are also many in Russian, and some other languages. There were also a number of books written in Japanese. However, there were no books in English. I can understand why there are Kant books in Japanese as I explained in my earlier article on Kant, but it was a total surprise to me not to see any books in English. I have some ideas to resolve this puzzle, but I choose not to elaborate here.

  • Kant as a Russian hero. In Russia, young couples hold their wedding ceremonies on Saturdays, and they then visit graves of Russian heros. Kant is one of their heros.
  • Catherine the Great of Russia had a strong interest in Königsberg and constructed an amber room in her summer palace from ambers from this area. Catherine was also fond of socializing with interesting gentlemen. Kant lived for 80 years, and Catherine was born and died during the Kant era (1724-1804). They both spoke German. I do not have enough expertise to tell whether she met Kant here, but I was happy to see her portrait in the Kant museum. It would be interesting to examine what they learned from each other.

  • Kaliningrad State University (now called Kant State University) replaced the University of Königsberg which was totally destroyed during the WW-II battle. In addition to Kant, Königsberg played a pivotal role in Einstein's formulation of special relativity. Maxwell's equations known to us in the present form were developed by physicists in Königsberg during the period 1890-1910. The Lorentz-covariant formulation of Maxwell's equation was completed by Hermann Minkowski who studied in Königsberg Minkowski was Einstein's professor in Zurich, even though he was not a good student. Einstein was not a good student to anyone.
  • Kant's statue. This is a statue of Immanuel Kant standing in the front yard of Kant State University (formerly called Kaliningrad State University). This statue was presumably erected by Germans during the Königsberg period and re-constructed by Russians after the War.

  • Karl Marx talks about philosophers.

There were many German tourists in Kaliningrad, and they all told me to visit a resort city called Svetlogorsk located at the Baltic coast, about 100 km north of Kaliningrad. It was a German resort town before 1945, and it is becoming a resort area again for rich Germans. It takes about 90 minutes by train to go there.

Let us get back to the main point. The philosophy of Immanuel Kant is a product of geography of the Kaliningrad area. This area had to and still has to entertain many different points of view.

What about Kant?

    Marx's grave at in London.
  • Karl Marx said "The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways. The point however is to change it."

    If Marx was talking about himself as the philosopher and Vladimir Lenin as the person who would change the world, he was wrong.

    Marx was right, if he was talking about Kant (philosopher) and Einstein (to change the world).

  • Einsteinism. E = mc2 by two different observers.

New Kaliningrad

    Thanks to Russia's petroleum resources, Russians are becoming richer and are buying cars, TV sets, PCs, and other personal items. Where are they coming from? Kaliningrad is a major supply base for those consumer products.

    Auto parts and electronic components come to Kaliningrad from Asian and European countries. They are assembled there and are transported to Russia's mainland by their wide-gauge railroad system.

    Indeed, Kaliningrad is Russia's main assembly plant with diligent Russian workers. This is a labor-intensive industry. Kaliningrad's next move should be to construct world-class educational and research institutions, in the tradition of Kant, Euler, Minkowski, and Sommerfeld.

We would like to thank Sergiej Leble and Urlich Mosel for sending us corrections and comments. Some of the maps on this page were from Ann Applebaum's book entitled between EAST and WEST, across the borderlands of Europe.

Why is he with Einstein?
Copyright@2011 by Y.S.Kim.