Königsberg has vanished from the map. But in our minds the former East Prussian metropolis lives on, for Königsberg was the birthplace of the enlightened citizen, the protagonist of our modern society.
Königsberg was founded 750 years ago and was wiped from the maps in the final weeks of World War II. The bombings curtailed the lifespan of a town that had been the birthplace of modern philosophy, modern literature and modern German politics. Königsberg was unlike other cities, its citizens fought hard to win greater freedom and independence and its location at the farthest reaches of the German Reich fostered open-mindedness and cosmopolitanism. In his new book, Jürgen Manthey rekindles the Königsberg spirit that Immanuel Kant regarded as one of cornerstones of his philosophy. But history did not end with Kant, the city's most famous son. Herder, Kleist and E.T.A. Hoffmann, too, spent formative years in Königsberg. The Wars of Liberation and the Prussian reforms of the 19th century began here, and although Königsberg itself no longer exists, it lives on in the ideals of its citizens. With Jürgen Manthey's groundbreaking book, Königsberg returns to the present to take up its rightful position after European reunification.