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The Kant Journey from April 18 – 23, 2018


My husband and I had the pleasure to take part in the annual trip to Kaliningrad / Königsberg from April 18th to April 23rd, 2018; in honor of the 294th birthday of Immanuel Kant on April 22. The trip was wonderful; well organized and with an interesting program every day; in very good company with the other travel participants – many of whom had a family connection with Königsberg or East Prussia.

Everywhere we went, we were warmly welcomed by the officials in charge: the Kaliningrader Gebietsmuseum für Geschichte und Kunst, the Dom, the city Insterburg etc. 

City Tour  – although not much to see from the initial Königsberg, Andrej Portnjagin succeeded in giving us a very good visual and historic overview of how Königsberg once was, first by a photo presentation, thereafter by a Kaliningrad roundtrip; a few pre-war buildings and monuments were still present, otherwise it was typical East-European building style (“Plattenbauten”), a charming part was, that the Kalinigrader had started to transform some of these Plattenbauten into Hanseatic Gothic style. The Königsberger Dom has been restored, even the Epitaph of the Danish-born Duchess Dorothea, married to Duke Albrecht in 1526, has been fully restored. Clearly, the Kaliningraders love their city and want it to be even more enjoyable. They are indeed looking forward to the WM Football games this summer that will amongst other places take place in their brand-new stadium. 

Immanuel Kant’s presence as Hauslehrer in an evangelical pastor’s house in Judtschen/Weselowka, a small village near Insterburg/Tschernjachowsk was so well illustrated by Dr. Dierk Loyal, whose Huguenot – ancestor was living in the same village at the time that Immanuel Kant was there. A tremendous work has been done to restore the former pastor’s house.

Throughout the trip, many Kant specialists and Kant explorers were invited to give speeches on various Kant topics: amongst others, why Kant’s philosophy is so important nowadays as ever to keep peace in the world; or how Kant is used by contemporary artists in their paintings/installation art works.  

Immanual Kant’s birthday on April 22nd was celebrated in the very best manner: first by Prof. Dr. Diedrich Graf von Keyserlingk who spoke of his family von Keyserlingk in East Prussia and in particular about Gräfin Caroline Charlotte Amalie von Keyserlingk, an influential woman with many intellectual & cultural & social & political interest, she became a close friend and supporter of Immanuel Kant. The Gräfin had artistic skills and many of the beautiful drawings she made have fortunately been secured during the war and copies thereof now shown in the Kant Museum in the Königsberger Dom.  The afternoon was dedicated to a solemn celebration with various excellent speeches by Russian Kant experts; the credo being the Organ concert performed by a young musician – whereafter we all went outside the Dom to lay flowers at the Kant tomb.

In the evening, we were all invited to the “Bohnenmahl” - together with guests from Kaliningrad - in the Grand Hall Restaurant. A very lively and enjoyable evening, despite language barriers (which was overcome by speaking with hands and feet, and exchanging lots of cheek-kisses), again with speeches, and a wonderful cello music performance by Sebastian Wolf Töttcher and students from the Rachmaninov College in Kaliningrad (balalaika and piano accordion).    

A big thank to Marianne Motherby, Gerfried Horst and Prof. Dr. Nina Dmitrieva, Direktorin der Academia Kantiana in Kaliningrad for their great efforts to make this trip such a success. 

© April 2018 Tine Kehler-Hvid

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