There is not points to locate on the map

So what happened to the Prussians?

Germany wouldn’t exist without Otto von Bismarck, and it was nearly destroyed by Kaiser Wilhelm II – both of them Prussians.

You don’t come across them in news headlines much these days, but it wasn’t so long ago that the Prussians were a dominant force in European politics, and the architects of modern Germany.

They took their name from the Old Prussians, effectively the tribes of the Baltic States, who were eventually conquered by the Teutonic Knights back in the 13th century. The Knights settled the land we now know as Poland with migrants from more Germanized regions of central Europe, and eventually established the Kingdom of Prussia, which covered a huge swathe of territory right across from the Dutch border to what is now Lithuania, including pretty much all of what we now consider northern and eastern Germany.

While the regions further south were riven with religious dispute and busy with the cultivation of vines, this largely flat and protestant north turned out to be excellent at wheat production, and the land-owning dynasties developed sophisticated trade links and transport to the North Sea ports.

The driving force in the uniting of the German states

Their wealth was considerable and their leadership was strong, primarily under Frederick the Great in the 18th century, who established Berlin and nearby Potsdam as his power base (a large exhibition on Frederick will open in 2012 in the Neues Palais to mark his 300th anniversary).

He was followed by Chancellor Otto von Bismarck in the 19th century, and it was the latter who was the driving force in uniting all the various German principalities into the state we know as Germany today.

Prussians were the dominant force in that new state, but it was their King, Kaiser Wilhelm II, an impetuous, impatient man, who effectively globalised the First World War (by joining the Austrian declaration of war on Serbia after the assassination of Franz Ferdinand) because he thought the English and French were seeking his annihilation. That was the beginning of the end for Prussia; the Kaiser abdicated at the end of the war, and the Prussian state was abolished by the Nazis.

So while there’s no place called Prussia any more, the word ‘Prussian’ is still out there in general useage, but has become more generic, used to describe someone good at giving and obeying orders, being punctual, proper, disciplined, punctual, and honest. As well as rather blinkered, inflexible and unimaginative. As well as a kind of blue.

Looking for more? See other destinations in Northern Germany

Share your comments

60 responses to “So what happened to the Prussians?”

  1. prussa should be given to the person that has its best interests like my ggg grans elizabeth of anholt who put up a memorial for her son karl and supported the locals

  2. so why are the mormons refusing to help me gotha im related to the royals and there saying to me come here my pretty princess you shall live no longer to my gran my dad and his uncle

  3. Hi , my Oma ( Gertud Knopke) and Mother( Brigitta) also fled from Prussia in world war 2. around 1945 ?. My mother was around 7 years old. She has spoken about being frozen in the ice and has suffered from illness her entire life as a result (she will turn 80 this year.) I know they became refugees in a village outside Bremen. My mother married and also came to Australia around 1957/58. The war, or in fact my Mothers past life in Germany was not talked about in our home and so I do not know much about her family history. If you have discovered anything more about resources for tracing the Prussian families history I would be interested to know. Thank you

  4. Sort of stolen… the case could also be made that the Russians paid for East Prussia in blood. More blood might get it back.

  5. Many Prussian women were knockout gorgeous. And they needed to be in order to make up for their domineering ways which could quickly grow tiresome.

  6. My ancestor was among those who came to Australia as well.
    My great great grandfather was named Frederick Wilhelm Pischke. In later records he naturalised him name to “Frederic William”.

    All I know is that his parents fled Prussia with him as a child so as to keep him out of the war. I’ve tried to find information on things that happened at that time, but finding much is hard. Maybe there is more information to be found in German.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


We use Cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website.
More about our Cookies