Bagrationovsk - PreußischEylau


The postcard from the private collection of Igor Skorik.

In 1325 the Teutonic Knights built a castle called "Yladia"or "Ilaw", later known as "Preussisch Eylau", in the center of the Old Prussian region Natangia. Ylow is the Old Prussian term for mud or swamp.

Preußisch Eylau received its civic charter in 1585. In 1709 - 11 the Bubonic Plague caused the death of 2212 inhabitants of the Eylau area.
The bloody Battle of Eylau (7–8 February 1807) during the Napoleonic Wars involved the French troops of Napoleon Bonapart, the Russian troops of General Bennigsen and Prussian troops of General Anton Wilhelm von L'Estocq.

While only three inhabitants of Eylau died throughout the battle, 605 persons died due to hunger and diseases in the year 1807 (average death rate in "normal" years: 80-90). Napoleon used the local courthouse as his headquarters in Eylau on February 1807.
On April 1, 1819 the town became capital of the administrative district Preußisch Eylau (Kreis Pr. Eylau). In 1834 a Teachers' Seminary was founded, educating every East Prussian teacher until it was closed down in 1924.
The town was connected to the railway on September 2, 1866.
The town was occupied without a struggle by Russian troops on August 27, 1914, but these troops left again on September 3, 1914.
After 1933 large barracks were built by the Wehrmacht and in 1935 Infantry and Artillery units were stationed there.

On 9 February 1945, during the Soviet Red Army's East Prussian Offensive, the town was occupied by troops of the 55th Guards "Irkutsk-Pinsk" Division commanded by Major General Turtchinski.

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The German population that had not already fled during the evacuation of East Prussia was subsequently expelled, the last transport leaving on November 23, 1947.
In early August 1945 Polish officials took over the administrative power in the town, but left again on January 1, 1946, as the new borderline between the Soviet Union and Poland was set just at the southern outskirts of the town.

In January 1946 the town became part of the Russian Kaliningrad Oblast and the town's name was changed to Bagrationovsk, honouring General Pyotr Bagration, who was one of the senior Russian leaders in the Napoleonic Wars.
Today the main border crossing point between Russia and Poland (Bezledy/Bagrationowsk) is located 2 km south of the town.

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Photos by Andrey Skorik

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