Agro-Industrial College (Friedrichschule) Fresco by Otto Heichert
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Agro-Industrial College (Friedrichschule) Fresco by Otto Heichert

The beautiful building of the Agro-Industrial College is located on Timiryazeva St. and used to be the high school of Frederick William I of Prussia and was built in the Gothic Revival style. Many famous scientists are among its alumni.

The vocational college was opened there in 1947 and later was reorganised as an Agro-Industrial college for middle agro-industrial management.

In the school conference hall, there is a fresco restored in 2008 and named “Frederick William I Hearty Welcome to the Caravan of Salzburg Immigrants” created by famous German artist Otto Heichert. It is devoted to the immigration of Salzburg citizens to Gumbinnen.

Fresco “Frederick William I Hearty Welcome to the Caravan of Salzburg Immigrants” by Otto Heichert

A unique fresco depicting the meeting of Frederick William I of Prussia with immigrants from Salzburg was created by the academician of the Königsberg Academy of Arts Otto Heichert in 1912-1913. This piece of art was commissioned by the city government. The reason for creating the picture was the end of construction of a new building for Friedrichshule, a boys-only gymnasium that was preparing to celebrate its 150th anniversary.

In addition, Gumbinnen was preparing for the 200th anniversary of the transfer to Prussia of the Salzburgers expelled for their adherence to Protestantism. Arrived in Gumbinnen at the invitation of the King of Prussia, the Salzburgers found a new homeland on the Prussian lands depopulated after the great plague of 1709-1711.

The Crown Prince, who visited Prussia, the future Frederick the Great, the son of Frederick William I, was very impressed by the region: he had not seen a more prosperous land in all of Europe.

Not only does the fresco leave an indelible impression due to its dimensions (16 x 8 m), the history of writing, oblivion, and revival, but also makes even the most demanding connoisseurs of art admire its composition and variety of characters.

After surviving the war with minor damages, the fresco was painted over, as it did not meet the ideological orientation of a Soviet educational institution, and did not contribute to the training of agricultural specialists in the Gusev Agricultural Technical College that used to be located in the historic building.

On the initiative of N.N. Tsukanova, head of administration of the Gusev district, with the financial support of the Governor of the Kaliningrad region GV. Boosa and the former residents of Gumbinnen, the fresco was restored by the restoration workshop “Nasledie” of St. Petersburg.

The opening of the fresco in May 2008, was attended by Elk Michael Berger, grandson of Heichert, son of Eva Maria, who posed for her father’s monumental painting at the age of two.

The plot idea of the fresco is still relevant today, as the Kaliningrad region has become the center for the resettlement of Russian-speaking citizens from the former Soviet republics, who are now given the opportunity to become citizens of Russia, and to find a new homeland.

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