20 Pages

Introduction: Modern Prussia — continuity and change

WithPhilip G. Dwyer

The defeat of Germany in the Second World War saw not only the end of the Third Reich, but also the end of Prussia. On 25 February 1947, the Allied Control Council passed Law 46 formally dissolving the state of Prussia and striking it from the map. Throughout the eighteenth century, the centralizing initiatives of the Prussian state had always had to contend with elements of the Prussian nobility and, to a lesser extent, the traditional middle classes, who made a self-conscious effort to maintain their old privileges and to preserve their social position. If the Prussian landed nobility traditionally resisted and rejected the centralizing initiatives of the state in favour of their own regional and local privileges, the Revolution of 1848 changed all that. If conservative political thought evolved during the course of the nineteenth century, it nevertheless had difficulty keeping pace with the tremendous changes taking place in both the urban and rural landscapes.