Sambian Peninsula separates the Vistula and the Curonian Spits, one of the longest worldwide (90 and 98 kilometres, respectively). The latter belongs to the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Sambia itself was long inhabited by Pruthenians – a pagan Baltic tribe conquered by the Teutonic Knights in 13-14th centuries. Since then, they gradually blended, often by being rooted out and assimilated, into the medieval Prussian society of settlers coming from today’s Germany, Poland, the Netherlands, Lithuania, Russia, Czechia and many other countries.
The Pruthenian language became extinct even though we know it was still in use in 16th century. When the Reformation started, secular Prussian princes ordered creation of Catechism in it. Thanks to it, some words have survived the extinction of the whole ethnic group together with its culture and beliefs.
Sambia has always been a place where the nordwest, cold wind dominating southern part of the Baltic Sea, enters the Eurasian mainland. Before World War Two, it was a paradise for gliding. Sailplaners enjoyed sheer coasts and learnt to respect forces of nature which could be source of joy and excitement as much as of danger and destruction. One them was a young boy from Palmnicken (Yantarnyi) named Martin Bergau. As a 16-year-old he finished a war pilot course but was assigned to land anti aircraft defence of Königsberg. He survived the war and was one very few eyewitnesses of the Palmnicken Massacre in January 1945. In his memoirs entitled Der Junge von der Bernsteinküste. Erlebte Zeitgeschichte 1938–1948, he described both the beauty of Sambia and the tragedy of thousands of Jews who died on its coast.
Sambia’s cliff, postglacial landscape clashes with high waves here and, occasionally, witnesses heavy storms. Nowadays, as global climate changes become more visible, it suffers from an unusually high number of them. Impossible to fend off, they slowly take away high coasts and damage objects constructed to attract tourists. They usually start in November and can last until March.
Nevertheless, when the waves are not extremely high, the Sambian coast remains an attractive spot for walks for both locals and tourists.
All photos were taken with the Minolta X-500 and two native Minolta SR (MD) lenses: Rokkor 55mm f/1.7 and Rokkor 85mm f/1.8.© 2020