Kutuzovo, Krasnoznamensky District, Kaliningrad Oblast
Kutuzovo (Russian: Куту́зово; German: Schirwindt, Lithuanian: Širvinta) is a sparsely populated rural locality (a settlement) in Krasnoznamensky District of Kaliningrad Oblast, Russia, located at the eastern extreme of the oblast. As Schirwindt, it was a part of Germany until the end of World War II.
The former German name of the settlement is of Baltic origin. Before 1945, Schirwindt was a small border town in the German province of East Prussia. It was notable for being the easternmost settlement in the old German Reich. A toll booth and checkpoint operated on the German border with Russia (then later interwar Lithuania and, briefly, the Soviet Union). The Lithuanian town of Kudirkos Naumiestis (German: Neustadt Schirwindt, lit. "Schirwindt New Town"; Naumiestis also means "new town" in Lithuanian) lay just across the frontier.
Being the easternmost settlement in Germany, Schirwindt was also the first German town to see sunrise, a fact that was incorporated into its former coat of arms, which featured a Prussian eagle atop a rising sun. The coat of arms was granted by King Frederick William IV on 3 August 1846.
From 1725 to 1945 Schirwindt formed part of the Pillkallen administrative district (Landkreis Pillkallen) within the Gumbinnen government district (Regierungsbezirk Gumbinnen) within the Province of East Prussia. With little more than 1000 inhabitants at any given time, Schirwindt was one of the smallest towns in the province. It became part of the German Empire in 1871.
Unfortunately, being a border town, Schirwindt also stood directly in the line of fire between the German and Russian armies in both World Wars. It suffered extensive damage during the ultimately unsuccessful Russian invasion of East Prussia in World War I — as did its cross-border sister city Kudirkos Naumiestis — but was quickly rebuilt under the supervision of the Königsberg architect Kurt Frick. Nevertheless, due to its remoteness, the settlement only grew slowly during the interwar years.
Schirwindt was almost completely destroyed by Red Army artillery during the East Prussian Offensive in World War II; it was the first town in Germany proper that was reached by Soviet infantry. In contrast to Pillkallen and Goldap, Schirwindt was never recaptured by the Wehrmacht. After the war, the northern part of East Prussia was transferred to the Soviet Union. The few German inhabitants still remaining in the shelled-out town were expelled, and Schirwindt was renamed Kutuzovo in honour of the Napoleonic-era Russian general Mikhail Kutuzov.
The town has not been rebuilt since, and the area looks approximately the same as it did immediately after the war. Currently the settlement is almost completely uninhabited. Only part of the former school has been preserved, and now functions as a barracks for border patrol guards. The foundations of the old village church (Immanuelkirche), designed by Friedrich August Stüler, can still be seen in the town centre.
Notable people from Schirwindt
- Arthur Milchhöfer, German archaeologist