The Forgotten Land: Journeys Among the Ghosts of East Prussia
No country embodied more dramatically than Prussia the turbulence of twentieth-century European history. A great power in the 1800 and 1900s which became a free state in the Weimar Republic post-1918, it was carved up between Poland and the USSR after World War II - and passed abruptly into history. The scene of the final battle between Hitler and Stalin, and of Stalin's 'terrible revenge', it came to embody the clash of the two most significant totalitarian regimes of modern Europe. Many of its refugees are still alive and with astonishing stories to tell. Where communism once faced down fascism there is now a different kind of fracture. Max Egremont's first travels to the old East Prussia took him to a post-communist desert. But at the beginning of the twenty-first century, he found a wholly new scenario: a Kaliningrad caught up in the corrupt materialism of Putin's Russia, and across the border, a northern Poland that had become part of the European Union. He had encountered one of the margins of the West. "Forgotten Land" is an evocative and intensely atmospheric book that draws on interviews and Egremont's own travels to explore the nature of history and identity, and what really happens when boundaries are redrawn.