Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Prussian Explanation

On occasion, I will 'preach' a bit on German history, which is long, complicated, and difficult.

The best way to examine Germany, is to compare it to Microsoft.  There's version 1, version 1.2, version 2, version 3, etc.  So it is....with Germany.

Modern Germany really only existed from 1947 on, which means that it's not yet even 75 years old.

For Germans of another generation.....it was Prussia.  On the books, from 1919 to 1947.....they generally referred to the nation in some fashion as Prussia, but it was drifting strongly toward "Germany".  The Kaiser had been removed after World War I, and the political parties simply worked within the boundary that they had prior to 1919 restructure episode.

The map?  This is the Prussia of 1914.....a series of Kingdoms that were bound to the Kaiser, and the framework of Prussia.

Yeah, old Prussia had bits and pieces of Switzerland, Poland, Russia, Denmark, Belgium, Czech, and Lithuania.  It's a map that few Germans could recognize from today, and it draws various questions.

Prussia?  It existed in various forms and maps from 1525....until 1947 when the Bundestag finally rewrote the Constitution.  You could argue that it was dead from 1919 on.....but it's not worth the effort to engage on this subject.

A significant amount of Poland being Prussia?  Yes.

Konigsberg?  It doesn't exist anymore....it's now called Kaliningrad.  It's a major city of 430,000 residents.  It had historic stories going back to the 1500's, and was of a major German influence throughout the late 1800s.

Up until the 1860 period, the duchies (a nifty word for kingdom) of Holstein and Schleswig were not part of the Prussian empire.  They had more in relation to Denmark, than Prussia.  Some direct comments were made in the 1860 era, and a war of sorts ended up occurring....with Prussia and it's Hapsburg neighbor (the Austrian Kingdom) waging the confrontation against Denmark.  In the end....Holstein was signed over to the Hapsburgs, and Schleswig was signed over to Prussia.  Maps over Europe changed because of this episode.

Amusing enough....it only took a year or two....for Prussia to decide that the Hapsburgs weren't that great of a neighbor, and a war ensued with them.  The end result was Nassau, Frankfurt, Hanover, and Hessen being deeded over to Prussia.  Holstein became Prussian property.  In practical terms....Prussia was now Germany....they had roughly sixty percent of all the Germanic people in Europe under their umbrella.

What you can say....from the 1800s on....is that the map of Prussia/Germany....is often under revision.  Few Germans would say much about this today, but it's one of those odd facts about German history (things tend to change).

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