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During the Second World War, the Volga Germans were considered to be potential collaborators by the Soviet regime. As a result, many of the Volga Germans were transported to Siberia, in which thousands perished. While many have since emigrated to Germany, Volga Germans still reside in the modern day Russian Federation and Kazakhstan, with an estimated population of almost 600,000. As of 2018, the Volga Germans mainly reside in the Altai Krai and Omsk Oblast, and they make up the majority of Russia and Kazakhstan's ethnic German population.
During the latter years of the Brezhnev era, a proposal in June 1979 called for a new German Autonomous Republic within Kazakhstan, with a capital in Ermentau. The proposal was aimed at addressing the living conditions of the displaced Volga Germans. At the time, around 936,000 ethnic Germans were living in Kazakhstan, as the republic's third-largest ethnic group. On 16 June 1979, demonstrators in what is now Astana protested this proposal. Fearing a negative reaction among the majority ethnic Kazakhs and calls for autonomy among local Uyghurs, the ruling Communist Party scrapped the proposal for ethnic German autonomy within Kazakhstan.
However, the territory of Kaliningrad could've been a homeland for the Volga German population. In the late Soviet era, there were rumors that the oblast could've been established as a homeland for Germans living in the Soviet Union. Given the oblast's German history and culture, it would've made sense. Let's imagine what the world might've been if a German homeland had been established in Königsberg/Kaliningrad. What if Kaliningrad remained German?
Point of Divergence
In 1947, the few remaining ethnic Germans living in Königsberg and the rest of Soviet-occupied East Prussia fear for the future and plan on fleeing the territory. The atrocities committed by the Nazi regime were now common knowledge to the world, and Soviet soldiers certainly wanted revenge against the Germans. However, in a rare moment in his life, Soviet Premier Josef Stalin decided to show mercy towards the remaining Germans. His plan was to convert the Soviet occupied East Prussia into a homeland for the ethnic Germans living under Soviet control. The Volga Germans, whose ancestors colonized the Volga region during the reign of Catherine the Great, were transported to East Prussia. Ethnic Germans living in Poland were also transported to the territory. The city of Königsberg was renamed Kaliningrad in honour of Mikhail Kalinin and the Prussian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic was established. Prussia would officially become a Soviet Republic during the reign of Nikita Khrushchev.
In 1991, as the Cold War drew to a close, a movement for Prussian independence grew. In December of that year, Soviet troops in Prussia accidentally shoot down a aircraft carrying four Soviet officials (Oleg Baklanov, Valeriy Boldin, Oleg Shenin, and Valentin Varennikov), killing all on board. These four men intended on deposing Soviet President Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev, and replacing him with his Vice President, Gennady Yanayev. These troops unintentionally prevented a chaotic political crisis that probably would've brought the Soviet Union to its knees. While the New Union treaty was being signed in Moscow, First Secretary of the Prussian Communist Party, Eduard Rossel, decides to hold a referendum on Prussia's status within the Soviet Union. 65% of the population votes to leave the Soviet Union and declare independence, despite the opposite of the large Russian minority.
During his tenure as head of state and government of an independent Prussia, Rossel worked to maintain a Prussian state independent of both the Federal Republic of Germany and the Union of Soviet Sovereign Republics, despite of both Germany and the Soviet Union recognizing their independence. While he is often criticized for accusations of corruption within the Prussian government, Rossel is often recognized for restoring the nation's independence. Rossel wished to create a unique country, with German and Russian languages being declared the official state languages. Some ethnics Germans, who fled or whose ancestors fled East Prussia at the end of the Second World War, starting to move back.
Today, following the resignation of Rossel in 2002, Prussia remains on good terms with both Germany and the Soviet Union. Prince Georg Friedrich Ferdinand of the House of Hohenzollern often visits Prussia and is popular among the local monarchist movement. Herman Gref was elected President in 2012, and has made trade deals with the Soviet Union and the United States, and plans on holding a referendum to allow Prussia to join the European Union. Prussia is now a bridge that links the German and Russian worlds, due to the ethnic German and Russian populations that dominate the country.