23 Pages

Prussia’s military legacy in Empire, Republic and Reich, 1871–1945

WithDennis Showalter

Prussia’s military legacy influenced the German Empire in another way as well — by maintaining the Frederician approach of seeking decisive battles to resolve limited wars. This chapter focuses on the myths and the realities of the Prussian army in the German nation from 1871 to 1947. As such, it is a study of change and continuity in two spheres: perception and reality. Prussia in the Second Empire, the Weimar Republic and the Third Reich was as much a state of mind as a physical entity. To critique either perspective, it must be understood that the Prussian army of a unified Germany was more than a trope, more than a set of symbols. The First World War seemed to mark the end of the Prussian heritage in the German army. Mass national mobilization combined with the exigencies of the wartime replacement system to mix men from all parts of the Reich in the same units.