21 Pages

Prussia, Prussianism and National Socialism, 1933–47

WithBrendan Simms

The famous decree of the Allied Control Council of 1947 announcing the dissolution of Prussia was an exorcism, an ideological-historical statement as well as a territorial fiat. It reflected allied — and many German — preoccupations with the allegedly baleful role played by Prussia and Prussianism in the shaping of modern Germany. But in Nazi Germany, Prussianism was to permeate film and popular literature to an unprecedented degree. The Day of Potsdam attempted nothing less than a mystic communion between Prussianism, traditional religion, and the new order. Perhaps the most striking example of the suggested synthesis between National Socialism and the old Prussia were the ceremonies to mark the opening of the new session of the Reichstag after the elections of March 1933, which have come to be known as the ‘Day of Potsdam’. Prussia was not just a nebulous historical concept or identity, but also by far the largest of the states making up the Weimar Republic.