Prussia is not a state that possesses an army, but an army that has conquered a state.
— Honoré-Gabriel comte Mirabeau
Most nations arise from the coming-together of their people, or through some great revolutionary event. But Prussia was hatched from a cannonball.Prussia (Preußen in German), named after the duchy and former Ordenstaat but born of the margravate and electorate of Brandenburg (coincidentally by merging with said Ordenstaat, by then secularized), became the dominant state in Germany (having more than half of Germany's land area and population) by the time it was unified (by Prussia, incidentally) in 1871. From 1701 until the end of World War One in 1918, it was known as "The Kingdom of Prussia", and post-WWI as "The Free State of Prussia". Because "republic" sounded too French. After World War II Prussia ceased to exist after ethnic cleansing by an oddly similar sounding state as part of its Roaring Rampage of Revenge. Any one you meet today of "Prussian" decent is either an immigrant or a descendant of an exile. Ironically considering their authoritarian bent, some members of the old conservative, aristocratic Prussian officer class (who despised Nazism) were heavily involved in the plot to assassinate Hitler, but it doesn't stop Hollywood from confusing the two. Wilhelm II, pictured, Kaiser (Emperor) of Germany and King of Prussia from 1888 to 1918 is probably the most famous Prussian in popular imagination, mostly for being the "bad guy" of WWI. Well, he did show up in The Simpsons once. Another notable Prussian was Otto von Bismarck, a real-life Magnificent Bastard with a Magnificent Hat to prove it. He is at Number 9 on Germany's list of its top 200, because we all love a Magnificent Bastard. Despite his being deceased this is undoubtedly part of his plan. Just what part, we may never know. Earlier on, Prussia's dominance was built in the eighteenth century on its trademark militarism, which was summarized by Count Mirabeau as "some countries possess armies, but Prussia is an army that happens to possess a country." This reached its Crowning Moment of Awesome in the Seven Years' War, when Prussia essentially stood alone (though subsidized by Great Britain) against Austria, Saxony, Russia, France and Sweden. All at once. And not only survived, but kept all of its pre-war territorynote . That's why Frederick II is called the Great. Notably the country was completely smashed flat by Napoleon in 1806, but made a Back from the Brink rally, kicked ass at the Battle of the Nations and Waterloo (despite turning up late) and was set on the road to domination of Germany. With the proclamation of the German Empire in 1871 at the Palace of Versailles, Prussia became the part of the new Germany. Some scholars have argued that Germany was not unified at all, and merely "Prussianized". After World War One, the Hohenzollern monarchy was overthrown and Germany was forced by the Allies to give up a significant chunk of its eastern territory to the newly-recreated state of Polandnote . This left East Prussia and the old imperial capital Königsberg (plus the neighbouring, short-lived, Free State of Danzig) physically separated from the rest of Germany by a small strip of land known as the Polish Corridor, the existence of which was one of the many many factors that led that short guy with the Chaplin moustache and his Prussia-idolizing friends to start another war. It didn't end well. Incidentally, many in the Nazi top leadership had a big nostalgia for the glory days of the Prussian-run Empire and of the Prussian military, so they tended to put on thick Prussian accents in an attempt to emulate their predecessors; however, most of these men, including Hitler, weren't Prussian at all: they were predominantly southerners (mostly Bavarians, but a few, most famously Hitler, were from Austria and what is now Baden-Württemberg), and most of those who weren't were Rhenish westerners. This is a big part of the reason that the Prussian dialect went extinct so quickly (the exiles dropped it because they didn't want to be mistaken for Nazis). After World War II, all of Germany east of the Oder-Neissenote , most of which was Prussia, was handed over to Poland, partly to compensate her for her own territorial losses to Ukraine and Russia (the northern part of East Prussia, including its capital, went directly to the Soviets). The Germans kept a claim on those areas until 1970, when it signed the Treaties of Moscow and Warsaw. This was again confirmed with the 1992 Treaty of Good Neighbourship, which formally and finally recognized East Prussia, along with Pomerania and Silesia, as part of Poland. The area remains a part of Poland to this day, and almost everyone is happy for it to stay that way. The northern half of East Prussia however outlasted the USSR and remains part of Russia as the Kalilingrad Oblast, where there is still talk by some locals (odd, considering said locals are almost all Russians) to rename the titular city back to Königsberg.note See Prussian Kings for more info regarding Prussia's kings. Compare and contrast Imperial Germany. Also related to Kaiserreich.
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