Tilsit: Wikis


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Sovetsk (English)
Сове́тск (Russian)
—  Inhabited locality  —
The old town of Sovetsk
Map of Russia - Kaliningrad Oblast (2008-03).svg
Location of Kaliningrad Oblast on the map of Russia
Sovetsk is located in Kaliningrad Oblast
Location of Sovetsk on the map of Kaliningrad Oblast
Coordinates: 55°05′N 21°53′E / 55.083°N 21.883°E / 55.083; 21.883Coordinates: 55°05′N 21°53′E / 55.083°N 21.883°E / 55.083; 21.883
Coat of Arms of Sovetsk (Kaliningrad oblast).png
Coat of arms
Administrative status
Country Russia
Federal subject Kaliningrad Oblast
In administrative jurisdiction of Kaliningrad Oblast[citation needed]
Administrative center of Kaliningrad Oblast[citation needed]
Municipal status
Head (Mayor)[citation needed] Victor Smilgin[citation needed]
Population (2002 Census) 43,278 inhabitants[1]
Time zone USZ1/USZ1S (UTC+2/+3)
Founded 1288[citation needed]
Postal code(s) 238750[citation needed]
Dialing code(s) +7 +7 40161[citation needed]

Sovetsk (Russian: Сове́тск), which was known by its German name of Tilsit (Lithuanian: Tilžė; Polish: Tylża) before 1946, is a town now in Kaliningrad Oblast, Russia on the south bank of the Neman River. The population was estimated at 43,278 in 2004, and 43,224 in 2002 (2002 Census); 41,881 in 1989 (1989 Census).


History of Tilsit

Tilsit, which received civic rights in 1552, grew up around a castle of the Teutonic Knights, known as the Schalauner Haus, founded in 1288. It is most famous because of the Treaties of Tilsit signed here in July 1807, the preliminaries of which were settled by the emperors Alexander I of Russia and Napoleon I of France on a raft moored in the river Neman. This treaty, which created the Kingdom of Westphalia and the Duchy of Warsaw, completed Napoleon's humiliation of the Kingdom of Prussia, when she was deprived of one half of her dominions.

Napoleon in Tilsit

This short-lived peace-treaty is also remarkable for quite another reason. Three days before its signing, Prussian queen Louise (1776 - 1810) tried to persuade Napoleon in a private conversation to ease his hard conditions on Prussia. Although without any result, Louise's effort greatly endeared her to the Prussian people. Her popularity in Germany lives on, up to the present day.

Until 1945 a marble tablet marked the house in which King Frederick William III of Prussia and Queen Louise resided. Also, in the former Schenkendorf Platz was a monument to the poet Max von Schenkendorf (1783-1817) a native of Tilsit. During the 19th century when the Lithuanian language was banned within the Russian Empire, Tilsit was an important centre for printing Lithuanian books which then were smuggled by Knygnešiai to the Russian-controlled part of Lithuania. In general, Tilsit throve and was an important Prussian town. By 1900 it had electric tramways and 34,500 inhabitants; a direct railway line linked it to Königsberg and Labiau and steamers docked there daily. The Act of Tilsit was signed here by leaders of the Lietuvininks in 1918.

During the time of Nazi Germany, Tilsit was a Militärischer Vorbereich of the Königsberg Militärischer Bereich, which was part of Wehrkreis I. Adolf Hitler visited the town just before the start of World War II, and there is a famous picture of him on the bridge over the Neman River.

Tilsit was occupied by the Red Army on January 20, 1945, and was annexed by the Soviet Union in 1945. The remaining Germans who had not evacuated were subsequently expelled and replaced with Soviet citizens. The town was renamed Sovetsk by the new communist rulers in 1945, in honour of the Soviet system of rule.

Modern Sovetsk has tried to take advantage of Tilsit's rich traditions of cheese production (Tilsit cheese), but the new name Sovetsky has not caught on.

Since April 2007, government restrictions on visits to border areas have been tightened and travel to the Sovetsk and Bagrationovsk areas is only allowed with special permission


Many of the town's buildings were destroyed during World War II. However, the old town centre still includes several German buildings, including those of Jugendstil design. The Queen Louise Bridge, now connecting the town to Panemunė in Lithuania, retains an arch; all that is left of a more complex pre-war bridge structure.

International relations


Twin towns — Sister cities

Sovetsk is twinned with:

Notable residents

Historical population

  • 1880: 21,400
  • 1900: 34,539
  • 1910: 39,013
  • 1925: 50,834
  • 1933: 57,286
  • 1939: 59,105
  • 1946: 6,500
  • 2002: 41,000
  • 2004: 43,300


External links

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

TILSIT, a town of Germany, in the Prussian province of East Prussia, situated on the left bank of the Memel or Niemen, here crossed by an iron railway bridge, 57 m. S.E. of Memel and 72 N.E. of Konigsberg by rail. Pop. (1905), 37,148. The town has a number of handsome modern buildings, including a town hall, a post office, law courts, and a large hospital. It contains four Protestant churches, among them the German church, with a handsome steeple, and the curious circular Lithuanian church, a Roman Catholic church, a Jewish synagogue and a classical school (Gymnasium). The manufactures include machinery, chemicals, soap, leather, shoes, glass and other articles, and there are iron-foundries, breweries, and steam flour and saw-mills. Tilsit carries on trade in timber, grain, hemp, flax, herrings and coal; but its trade with Russia, at one time considerable, has fallen off since the construction of the railway from Konigsberg to Kovno. The river is navigable above the town, and there is a steamboat communication with Konigsberg, Memel and Kovno.

Tilsit, which received civic rights in 1552, grew up around a castle of the Teutonic order, known as the "Schalauner Haus," founded in 1288. It owes most of its interest to the peace signed here in July 1807, the preliminaries of which were settled by the emperors Alexander and Napoleon on a raft moored in the Memel. This treaty, which constituted the kingdom of Westphalia and the duchy of Warsaw, registers the nadir of Prussia's humiliation under Napoleon. The poet Max von Schenkendorf (1784-1817) was born at Tilsit.

See Aus Tilsits Vergangenheit (5 vols., Tilsit, 1888-1892); and R. Thimm, Beitrage zur Geschichte von Tilsit (Tilsit, 1893).

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