TAMH: Trading Ports

Pillau in the 19th century

(Baltiysk, Russia (Kaliningrad Oblast))

Scottish connections with Pillau go back several centuries, David Hervie (1707-1775), although a native of Königsberg, was from a Scottish family, and was minister in the presbyterian church in Pillau. Its nationality has changed many times in its history. One of the first strongholds of the Teutonic knights when they came eastwards, Gustavus Adolphus landed here in 1626, with 14,000 troops and occupied the town until 1629. In 1807 it was besieged by the French and was ceded to Napoleon in 1812 but was restored to Prussia the following year. It was an important port in the 19th century for the export of timber and flax to the Tayside ports. Meyers Lexicon (1897) described Pillau as the external port of Königsberg (Kaliningrad) because, prior to the completion of the ship canal, which was then being constructed, many ships had to unload at Pillau, their draft being too great. The first picture (from ca 1920) shows the lighthouse at the point the canal enters the Baltic. The second picture is a postcard view of the harbour entrance in 1921. Home of the 1st U-boat division in WWII, it was also an outpost of the 2nd U-boat training division. Despite its connection with submarines, the German High Command allowed ships carrying refugees and wounded soldiers to sail from here, and from Danzig, unaccompanied in 1945. The General von Steuben, leaving from Pillau was sunk on 10 Februay 1945 by Russian submarine S13 with the loss of more than 3000 lives.

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© Douglas MacKenzie
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Entrance to Pillau Harbour, 1921

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