Prussian Army

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War flag of Prussia around 1816

The Prussian Army (full form: Royal Prussian Army , from 1644 to 1701 Electoral Brandenburg Army ) was the army of the Prussian state from 1701 to 1919. It emerged from the standing army of Brandenburg-Prussia that had existed since 1644 . In 1871 she joined the German Army and was dissolved in 1919 as a result of the defeat of the German Empire in the First World War .

The military strength of this army was a prerequisite for the development of Brandenburg-Prussia into one of the five major European powers of the 18th and 19th centuries. Their defeat at the beginning of the Napoleonic Wars in 1806 marked a turning point in their history. They introduced a fundamental modernization under the leadership of Gerhard von Scharnhorst , which completely changed the army. Historians therefore speak of the Old Prussian Army (1644–1807) and the New Prussian Army (1807–1919).

After the reform, the Prussian army took part in the Wars of Liberation between 1813 and 1815 and played a decisive role in the liberation of the German states from French rule. During the period from the Congress of Vienna to the German Wars of Unification , the Prussian army became an instrument of restoration and contributed significantly to the failure of the nation-state-bourgeois revolution of 1848 .

The military successes of the Prussian army in the wars of unification were decisive for the victory of the allied German troops over France. In the German Empire it formed the core of the German army. The constitution of 1871 provided for the Prussian army units to be integrated into the units of the German army during times of war. In the First World War, the Prussian army was therefore not legally independent. After the end of the war, Germany had to reduce its land forces to 100,000 men in accordance with the provisions of the Versailles Treaty . The existing state armies of Prussia, Bavaria , Saxony and Württemberg were dissolved.

One of the most important features of the Prussian army, which has shaped its image to the present day, was its significant role in society. Their influence in the civilian part of the state shaped Prussia as the epitome of a militaristic state (cf. Militarism in Germany ).


In its time as a standing army, the Prussian Army was always subjected to processes of change of varying intensity, as a result of which the army was regrouped, realigned or fundamentally reformed in order to bring the armed power back into harmony with newly emerging political and social conditions. The dynamics of technical, scientific and industrial progress as well as demographic and intellectual developments almost always affected the army as well. These are indications of enormous interactions between the military, society, economy and technology.

For this reason, the political leaderships of the different epochs felt compelled to redefine the tasks and role of the military in state and society and to legitimize them. The respective reform discourses and reform projects of their time were embedded in pan-European developments that the army officials faced and tried to find solutions. In a timeline from around 1650 to 1910, there were periods of rapid change in the army, which rose and ebbed again with the economy, only to be replaced by a new phase of evolution after the reform goals had been implemented.

The fundamental evolutionary stages of the Prussian army were:

  1. Transition from the temporary mercenary army to the standing army approx. 1650 to 1680
  2. Professionalization, standardization, disciplining and institutionalization from approx. 1680 to 1710
  3. Expansion and maintenance of a first-rate army in Europe from approx. 1710 to 1790
  4. Replacement of the Army of the Cabinet Wars by a People's Army from around 1790 to 1820
  5. Restoration of the army as an instrument of rule and quasi praetorian guard of the king from approx. 1820 to 1850
  6. Transition to a modern mass army with industrialized warfare from approx. 1850 to 1910

Under the Great Elector (1640–1688)

Brandenburg soldier and shawm piper of the infantry regiment Electress Dorothea after 1675
(drawing by Maximilian Schäfer )

The beginnings of the Prussian army as a standing army date back to the reign of the Brandenburg Elector Friedrich Wilhelm , the Great Elector (1640 to 1688). At a meeting of the Privy Council on June 5, 1644, it was decided to set up a standing army. Before that, Brandenburg had set up a paid mercenary army in the event of war , which was disbanded after the war. This procedure, as the course of the Thirty Years' War showed , was no longer appropriate.

The growth of the army required massive recruits in Brandenburg. The necessary numbers of recruits could only be raised with coercive measures. The recruiting undertaken for the new army brought together 4,000 men in Kleve alone. In the Duchy of Prussia 1,200 regular soldiers and around 6,000 militias could be raised. In the Kurmark the balance was much lower due to the decimated population. Only 2,400 soldiers could be raised. Also to be counted were the 500 musketeers of the elector's bodyguard. As early as 1646, two years after its foundation, the electoral army consisted of 14,000 men, 8,000 regular soldiers and 6,000 armed militias.

It was also Friedrich Wilhelm who enforced the essential principles of the later Prussian army:

  1. Connection of the advertising system with the compulsory service of local farmer sons,
  2. Recruiting officers from the local nobility,
  3. Financing of the army through the electoral domain income .

In the Second Swedish-Polish War (1655–1660) the Brandenburg-Prussian army already reached a total strength of around 25,000 men, including garrison troops and artillery . Led by the Great Elector personally, 8,500 Brandenburgers and 9,000 Swedes defeated 40,000 Poles in the Battle of Warsaw . In this war, Friedrich Wilhelm obtained sovereignty in the Duchy of Prussia in the Treaty of Oliva in 1660 .

Friedrich Wilhelm and his Field Marshal Derfflinger defeated the Swedish army in the Swedish-Brandenburg War in the Battle of Fehrbellin in 1675 . The electoral army then drove the Swedes out of Germany and later from Prussia during the hunt over the Curonian Lagoon in 1678. Friedrich Wilhelm owed his nickname The Great Elector to these victories .

During the reign of Friedrich Wilhelm, the army temporarily reached a peacetime strength of 7,000 and a war strength of 15,000 to 30,000 men.

Under Elector and King Friedrich I (1688–1713)

At the beginning of the Imperial War with France in 1688, Elector Friedrich III. For the first time it was suggested that in addition to recruiting by individual regiments, his local, Kurbrandenburg regional authorities within the Reich had to raise some of the recruits to replace men. Since then, the army team has mostly been supplemented by forcibly recruited residents and less by recruited foreigners.

In 1701 Friedrich III crowned himself. to the king in Prussia. As a result, his army was called Royal Prussian and no longer Kurbrandenburg. In the course of the 18th century the name Prussia was transferred to the entire Brandenburg-Prussian state, both inside and outside the empire. The price that Prussia had to pay for the imperial recognition of the rise of rank was participation in the War of the Spanish Succession . The Prussian troops took part in the battles of Höchstädt , Ramillies , Turin , Toulon and Malplaquet , among others . During the Spanish War of Succession, Frederick I divided his troops into the various theaters of war. 5,000 men were sent to the Netherlands and 8,000 soldiers to Italy . Thus about 3/4 of the Prussian troops were in the service of the Allies. Even at that time the Prussian troops had a reputation for being the best in Europe. The associated financial burden - together with his luxurious lifestyle - forced the king to temporarily reduce the army to 22,000 men after the end of the war. It was the last reduction in the Brandenburg-Prussian army.

In 1692 a military tribunal was established to raise the soldiers' discipline.

Around 1700, the Prussian army began to dress soldiers more and more uniformly. Uniform clothing brought several advantages: Firstly, the uniform filled the soldiers with a certain spirit of corps. Second, it was easier to distinguish between friend and foe. Thirdly, mass production made it cheaper to dress soldiers. In the Prussian army, blue was the dominant basic color.

Under the soldier king Friedrich Wilhelm I (1713–1740)

Richard Knötel : Friedrich Wilhelm I in the Lustgarten while inspecting the Potsdam Infantry Regiment Lange Kerls

The army gained special importance since the reign of the soldier king Friedrich Wilhelm I (1713 to 1740). The army enjoyed priority in what was now the Kingdom of Prussia in such a way that the state without the army was unthinkable.

It was also Friedrich Wilhelm I who introduced the first statutory recruitment system ( cantonal regulations ) in 1733 , which was to last until 1814. The aim was to end the army's often violent recruiting. The cantonal regulations forced all male children to be registered for military service. In addition, the country was divided into cantons, each of which was assigned a regiment from which it recruited conscripts. The period of service of a cantonist (conscript) was usually two to three months a year. The rest of the year the soldiers were able to return to their farms. Urban citizens were often exempt from military service, but had to provide quarters for the soldiers.

The army was expanded gradually. In 1719 there were already 54,000, in 1729 more than 70,000, in 1739 over 80,000 men (for comparison: in 1739 Austria had 100,000 men, Russia 130,000 men, France 160,000 men under arms). Prussia was "as a dwarf in the armor of a giant". In the ranking of the European states in 13th place, it had the third or fourth strongest military power. Overall, Prussia spent 85% of its government spending on the army at this time. What was still lacking in equality with the great power armies was made up for by the quality of the training.

The royal regiment of the Lange Kerls in Potsdam served as teaching and model troops . This regiment originated from the soldier's hobby of the "soldier king". The king had recruiting officers sent out in all directions in Europe in order to get hold of all the tall men over 1.88 meters there were. This king's passion for “tall guys” had a practical sense, as they could use feet with longer runs. The ramrod could be pulled out of the muzzle loader and inserted more quickly. This allowed them to shoot more accurately and further in battle. A decisive advantage over other armies. The regiment consisted of three battalions with 2,400 men.

Since the reign of Friedrich Wilhelm I, the officer corps consisted essentially of members of the nobility . However, he had to be systematically forced to join the army. Friedrich Wilhelm I forbade the nobility to serve in an army other than the Prussian army. Furthermore, he issued an order that the nobility had to give their sons between the ages of 12-18 years for training and education in the newly created cadet corps . Thus the nobility, like the simple peasants or bourgeoisie, was made subject to service. In principle, long-serving and particularly proven non-noble NCOs were appointed officers in peacetime only in exceptional cases.

Although Friedrich Wilhelm I went down in history as the soldier king, he led his army into war only once during his entire term of office, namely during the Great Northern War in the siege of Stralsund (1715) .

Under Frederick the Great (1740–1786) until the defeat of 1806

After the reorganization of the Prussian infantry, the successor to Friedrich Wilhelm I, Frederick the Great (1740–1786), began the Silesian Wars six months after the accession to the throne and, from a European perspective, the overarching War of the Austrian Succession . The Prussian army, led by Field Marshal Kurt Christoph von Schwerin , defeated the Austrian troops on April 10, 1741 in the Battle of Mollwitz and thus decided the first Silesian War in favor of Prussia.

Austria tried to recapture Silesia in the Second Silesian War . However, the Prussian army had increased by nine field battalions, 20 squadrons of hussars (including 1 squadron of Bosniaks ) and seven garrison battalions during the two years of peace . In addition, a new regulation was introduced for the cavalry and infantry on June 1, 1743, in which the experiences of the First Silesian War were taken into account. Austria and Saxony were defeated in the Battle of Hohenfriedeberg in 1745. Especially the hussars (also called Zietenhusars) under the leadership of General Zieten were able to distinguish themselves in this battle.

Battle of Hohenfriedeberg , attack by the Prussian Grenadier Guard Battalion , June 4, 1745, historical painting by Carl Röchling (1855–1920)

Austria then allied with France in the course of the diplomatic revolution (1756); Austria, France and Russia stood together against Prussia. Frederick the Great attacked his enemies preventively with an army of 150,000 men, which triggered the Seven Years' War . Although outnumbered, the Prussian army achieved notable victories in 1757 in the Battle of Roßbach and the Battle of Leuthen . In contrast, the Prussian forces were clearly defeated in the Battle of Kunersdorf in 1759 .

With dwindling physical reserves, small warfare in particular became increasingly important. In order to be able to compensate for the superiority of the Austrians ( border guards , Pandurs ) and Russians ( Cossacks ) here, Friedrich set up free battalions (“Three blue and three times the devil, an exekaberes shit!”) And even attacked the military with the formation of militia units Development of the Wars of Liberation .

The offensively oriented Frederick II was an advocate of the lopsided order of battle , which required considerable discipline and mobility of the troops. Most of his armed forces were concentrated on the left or right wing of the enemy. He let these advance in stages around the opposing flank. In order to cover up the train, Friedrich attacked the enemy line with further units head-on at the same time, in order to keep the enemy busy so that he did not have time to adjust his formation to the train. If the troops were positioned close to the flank of the enemy, the Prussian units could gain local superiority, penetrate the flank and roll up the enemy ranks from the side, thereby blowing up the formation. Although this tactic failed at Kunersdorf, it was used with great success in the Battle of Leuthen and the Battle of Roßbach. Towards the end of the Seven Years' War, Frederick II began to work out new tactics to replace the oblique battle line.

The French Revolution prompted Prussia, in alliance with Austria, to undertake a counter-revolutionary invasion. As a result of the cannonade at Valmy on September 20, 1792, it ended with the withdrawal of the Prussian army from France. The event marked France's decisive first success in the First Coalition War around the world (painting from 1835 by Jean-Baptiste Mauzaisse )

The Prussian defeat seemed inevitable, but Frederick the Great was saved by the miracle of the House of Brandenburg . The sudden death of Tsarina Elisabeth led to Russia's withdrawal from the war and to the rescue of Prussia. The possession of Silesia was confirmed in the Treaty of Hubertusburg (1763). At the end of Friedrich's reign (1786) the Prussian army had become an integral part of Prussian society. The Prussian army had about 193,000 soldiers.

Frederick the Great's successor, his nephew Friedrich Wilhelm II , hardly cared about the army. He had little interest in military questions and transferred responsibility for them mainly to Karl-Wilhelm Ferdinand , Duke of Braunschweig, to Wichard von Möllendorff and Ernst von Rüchel . In the period that followed, the army lost its military quality standard. Led by aging veterans of the Silesian Wars and poorly equipped, it could not keep up with the French army of the Napoleonic Wars.

From the army reform under Scharnhorst to the Wars of Liberation

The year 1806 brought a great change. The army, which until then consisted of conscripts and recruits, was defeated by the French army in the battle of Jena and Auerstedt . As a result of this defeat in the Peace of Tilsit in 1807, Prussia lost large parts of its territory and the army was limited to a strength of 42,000 men. Then Gerhard von Scharnhorst began the army reform .

August von Gneisenau , Carl von Clausewitz and other officers helped him reorganize the army. Scharnhorst opened the army to commoners with the aim of reinforcing the concept of achievement before the birthright of the nobility. This was particularly true of the officer corps. The bourgeoisie and the nobility were to form a new class of officers, that of the scientifically educated officer.

He advocated the concept of mass levy ( French levée en masse ) for the Prussian army in order to strengthen the limited Prussian army; then the Landwehr was created as a militia, which reached a strength of 120,000 men. After the reorganization was completed in September 1808, only 22 of the 142 Prussian generals of 1806 were serving, of the remaining 6 had died and 17 had left on punishment. Scharnhorst introduced the Krümpersystem in that up to a third of the respective soldiers were given leave and replaced by new recruits. This did not circumvent the stipulated maximum strength of 42,000 men and yet created a reservoir of men fit for service.

Scharnhorst also reformed the catalog of punishments. Flogging with a stick and running the gauntlet were banned, instead the new system only provided for arrest sentences. In the case of minor offenses, the penalties were graded accordingly, from re-exercise to labor service or the police station. This reform of the disciplinary penalties was necessary so that the concept of the people's army could work. The image of the soldier pressed into service, threatened with desertion and who had to be kept in the army by force, was to be replaced. Instead, the soldier should become a respected, honorable profession that fulfills its duties voluntarily. The success of this reform policy enabled Prussia a few years later to successfully participate in the wars of liberation .

The alliance treaty of February 24, 1812 obliged Prussia to provide an auxiliary corps of 20,000 men (14,000 infantry, 4,000 cavalry, 2,000 artillery with 60 cannons) for the war against Russia. This auxiliary corps was assigned to the 27th Division of the Xth Army Corps of the Grande Armée . The participating battalions and regiments were selected by drawing lots. The Prussian Auxiliary Corps (Yorcksches Korps) did not fall into the downfall of the Great Army on their way to Moscow and back, as it was deployed on the left flank in Courland. On the other hand, on the direct orders of Napoleon, two parent companies of the Prussian artillery brigade of the French Guards Artillery were illegally attached as train soldiers. These came as far as Moscow and went down there in the wake of the Guards artillery. There were almost no returnees from these two units. Despite a few skirmishes, Yorck's auxiliary corps was largely spared and, after an addition in January / February 1813 in Tilsit, formed the core of the first troops in the liberation struggle against France.

After the defeat of the Grande Armée in Russia, the armistice between Prussia and Russia was signed on December 30, 1812 near Tauroggen (Tauragė in Lithuania) by the Prussian lieutenant general Graf Yorck and von Diebitsch , general of the Russian army. Yorck acted on his own initiative without orders from his king. The convention said that Yorck should separate his Prussian troops from the alliance with the French army. In Prussia this was seen as the beginning of the uprising against French rule.

When the people were called on March 17, 1813 to fight for freedom, 300,000 Prussian soldiers (6 percent of the total population) were standing by. General conscription was introduced for the duration of the war, and from 1814 it also applied to peacetime. In addition to the standing army and the Landwehr, the Landsturm Edict of April 21, 1813 created a third contingent, the so-called Landsturm , which could only be used in the event of a defense and was the last contingent. At the end of 1815 the Prussian army had a strength of 358,000 men.

From the Congress of Vienna to the Wars of Unification

Royal Prussian gendarmes (NCOs) on horseback and on foot, ca.1840.

After the Congress of Vienna , a large part of the Landwehr and part of the line army were demobilized, so that the strength sank from 358,000 men in 1815 to around 150,000 men in 1816. In the years between 1816 and 1840 (death of Friedrich Wilhelm III. ) The military budget was limited by various austerity measures as a result of a structural budget deficit in the Prussian state. In 1819 the military share of the state budget was 38%, in 1840 it was 32%.

After the wars of liberation, many of the military reforms, some of which were idealistic, faded. This went hand in hand with the general restoration of the old conditions. The Landwehr was unable to take the place that was intended for it next to the standing army, as its military value was too limited. The officer's profession was still open to the bourgeoisie, but the aristocratic class was obviously preferred. So the Prussian army again became a refuge for conservative, aristocratic and monarchical sentiments. During the revolution of 1848 , the Prussian army was the instrument that ensured that the revolution failed and the structures of rule remained intact. Although Prussia had become a constitutional monarchy with the constitution of 1850 , the soldiers were sworn in on the person of the ruler and not on the constitution.

In 1859 Albrecht von Roon (Minister of War and the Navy) was commissioned by Wilhelm I to carry out an army reform in order to adapt to the changed circumstances. The reasons for the renewed need for reform lay in technical progress and the sharp increase in population (the size of the army, as in 1816, was 150,000 men). Furthermore, after two chaotic mobilizations in 1850 and 1859, it became clear that the Landwehr could be used for a war of defense, but of limited value in a war of aggression.

First page from the ordinances for senior troop leaders of June 24, 1869 by Helmuth von Moltke

His goal was to expand the Scharnhorst system and create an armed nation. In order to achieve this, he proposed in his army reform to maintain conscription for three years, to increase the number of recruits by 1/3, to enlarge the field army and to reduce the landwehr. Due to a constitutional conflict that this triggered , the reform was not adopted by the North German Confederation until 1866. As the Landwehr was pushed back further, the process of "de-bourgeoisie" of the army was pushed forward.

In addition, the outdated equipment was modernized during this period (1850s and 1860s). The Prussian army was the first to equip the entire infantry with rifled rifles, the fuse breech-loaders . Likewise, the previous smooth-bored guns were gradually replaced by new guns with rifled gun barrels . In May 1859 ordered General War Department at Alfred Krupp 300 cannons from cast steel (against the background of the conflict between Austria, France and Italy → Sardinian War ). In view of this major order, Krupp rejected his idea of ​​stopping cannon production and development.

The strong drill ( drill and formal service ), which still came from Friedrich Wilhelm I , was replaced by a better training system; Combat exercises and target shooting became more important. This increased the army's combat strength. The long-time neglected professional training of officers was brought back to a high level; the ordinances for senior troop leaders of June 24, 1869 by Helmuth von Moltke were groundbreaking . The Prussian army became one of the most powerful of its time. This was also evident in the German-Danish War (1864) and in the German War (1866).

In the empire

Prussian Hussars
(early 20th century)

With the establishment of the German Empire in 1871, the Prussian Army became a core component of the German Army , and the Baden Army was incorporated into it as the XIV Corps . In times of peace, the Prussian army legally existed alongside the other state armies ( Saxon Army , Bavarian Army , Württemberg Army ).

In accordance with Article 63, Paragraph 1 of the Imperial Constitution of April 16, 1871, during wartime there was an all-German army under the command of the Emperor. In times of peace, on the other hand, the federal princes with their own army (Prussia, Saxony , Württemberg and Bavaria ) had the right to command. Thus, in times of peace, the Prussian king (who was also German emperor) had supreme command of the Prussian army. In addition, the Prussian parliament retained the right to the military budget in times of peace . With the founding of the empire, no federal state had any sovereign right to wage war.

The Prussian army as a legally independent army was disbanded in 1919 with the establishment of the Reichswehr after the first World War was lost .

An important reference work for and about the Prussian army was - and still is today for historians or genealogists , for example - the ranking list regularly published by the War Ministry in Berlin .

The total strength of the Prussian army at selected times of its existence:
year 1646 1656 1660 1688 1713 1719 1729 1740 1756 1786 1806
soldiers 14,000 25,000 8,000 30,000 38,000 54,000 70,000 83,000 150,000 193,000 240,000
year 1807 1813 1815 1825 1840 1859 1861 1867 1870 1875 1888
soldiers 63,000 300,000 358,000 130,000 135,000 150,000 211,000 264,000 313,000 325,000 377,000

After the dissolution

Article 160 of the Versailles Treaty limited the size of the (not only Prussian) land army in the German Reich to 100,000 and that of the navy to 15,000 professional soldiers . The maintenance of air forces , tanks , heavy artillery, submarines and capital ships was prohibited to the Reich. At the same time, the general staff , military academies and military schools were disbanded .

Most of the soldiers were released; many found it difficult to find their way into civilian life after the war.

Reichswehr Minister Otto Gessler contented himself with limited political and administrative tasks during his term of office; the chief of army command, Hans von Seeckt , succeeded in largely removing the Reichswehr from the control of the Reichstag. Under Seeckt, the Reichswehr developed into a state within a state . It felt more committed to an abstract idea of ​​the state than to the constitution, and it was extremely distrustful of the political left.

V. Seeckt joined the Prussian army in 1885 and had a steep career up to 1918. During the Kapp Putsch in 1920, Seeckt refused to use the Reichswehr against the coup volunteer corps ; but he had the uprising of the Red Ruhr Army brutally suppressed. The Reichswehr also organized the so-called Black Reichswehr, a secret personnel reserve networked with paramilitary formations, of which it saw itself as the leading cadre. In 1926 v. Seeckt fell.

During the Reich Presidency of Hindenburg , the Reichswehr leadership gained increasing political influence and ultimately also determined the composition of the Reich governments. In this way, the Reichswehr contributed significantly to the development of an authoritarian presidential system during the final phase of the Weimar Republic.

Uniforms and military customs


Grenadier and officer (in the background a NCO ) of the Infantry Regiment Prince Leopold von Anhalt-Dessau 1698 colored drawing by Richard Knötel 1857–1914

Uniforms in the modern sense were only introduced with the introduction of the standing armies and the establishment of textile manufacturers . The basic color of the uniforms in Prussia was blue. This was cheap to produce and mostly the color of the resource-poor Protestant states in northeastern Europe, such as Sweden or Hessen-Kassel . In contrast, rich Roman Catholic states generally wore light (white, gray and yellow), and rich Protestant states generally wore red uniform skirts (Kurhannover, Denmark, Great Britain).

Originally the uniform was called livery or mount in Brandenburg-Prussia, it was only from Friedrich II onwards that the term uniform became established, but the old terms were still used colloquially for a long time.

As a rough rule, the Prussian soldier was given a new uniform once a year, with a total of up to five sets. The first set was put on for parade, the second as a dress uniform, the third and fourth set for daily duty and the fifth set, if any, lay in the closet in case of war. Every soldier could - after receiving an exchange set - keep his old uniform for free. Usually this was used to dress the family members. So it came about that, especially in the country, the isolated uniforms were worn by the civilian population for years. Most of the Prussian uniforms were manufactured by the royal warehouse in Berlin, which was founded especially for this purpose in 1713 by royal instructions .

The officer's uniform in particular not only fulfilled a representative function, but was also used by its wearers as a means of distinction within the framework of a specific regimental culture . Even without a rank badge, internal differentiations can be made using details of the uniform (e.g. hat feathers, portepees ).


Kurbrandenburg / Prussian infantry uniforms (1644–1709)

Blue skirt, open at the front, with a collar, waistcoat, trousers and stockings in regimental colors. Wide loafers with clasps, a large cartridge pouch and a wide, open hat or grenadier cap. The officers differed in better fabrics, cuts and embroidery on the uniform. Spontoon , sword and officer's sash were also symbols of their status .

Old Prussian infantry uniforms (1709–1806)

Prussian fusiliers of the regiment "Prince Heinrich of Prussia" (No.35) in 1757

In 1709 regulations for uniform Prussian uniforms were introduced. All soldiers (men and women, NCOs and officers) basically wore the same blue skirt. The skirts differed in the quality of the fabrics and the cuts. In addition a white or yellow vest and trousers of the same color. The gaiters were initially white, from 1756 black, with low shoes. Boots were mostly only worn by the staff officers and generals. Sleeves, borders, collars and lapels were made in the regimental colors. The respective regiment could also be recognized by the shape of the cuffs as well as the color and shape of the buttons, borders, bows, braids and embroidery. Headgear was the three-cornered hat, with the grenadiers the grenadier cap.

Officers could be recognized by their portepee , sash and ring collar . The officers differed from each other by the embroidery on the skirt. From 1742 the generals were recognizable by an ostrich feather on the brim of their hats. NCOs could be recognized by a smooth braid on the hat and braids on the cuffs and on the side arm. Since 1741 in the Guard and since 1789 in general, NCOs from Vice Sergeants were also allowed to wear portepee.

Hunters wore a green skirt with a green vest and more olive-colored trousers with black gaiters, and from 1760 boots.

New Prussian infantry uniforms (1806–1871)

Uniforms of the Landwehr 1813

As a result of the French Revolution and the subsequent successes of the Napoleonic armies after 1789, the Prussian uniforms also adapted more to the new French style. Until the fall of the old Prussian army in the battle of Jena and Auerstedt , they were largely similar to the uniforms of the time of Frederick II.

In the course of the army reforms after the fall of the old Prussian army in 1806, new uniforms were also introduced. The basic color remained blue. The new skirts were very short in line with the fashion, the trousers pulled up high, sometimes rather gray, very high stand-up collars, skirts and trousers cut very tight. The shako was introduced in a tall and wide form as headgear . Shoulder pieces or epaulettes to differentiate the ranks were introduced from 1808.

Uniforms of the Prussian Army during the Wars of Liberation in 1813

The newly formed Landwehr had a simple uniform with a litewka made of blue or black cloth with a colored collar and wide linen trousers. The badges on the collar, lapel projection, cap edge and lid projection were in the colors of the respective province . They wore a large Landwehr cross on their hats .

In 1843 a new helmet, popularly known as the Pickelhaube , was introduced. The bell was initially cut very high. In general, the uniforms of fashion changed according to the middle of the century to lower and softer stand-up collars, longer skirt tails, wider trouser cut and lower helmet with shorter and round visors in several steps. In 1853 the so-called private button on the collar was introduced as a rank badge . In 1866 the final shoulder pieces for the officers came. The tunic was single-breasted with eight buttons. The boots became lower up to the well-known “ Knobelbecher” shape .

Prussian infantry uniforms in the Empire 1871–1919

The uniforms remained largely unchanged until the outbreak of war. After the founding of the empire, the imperial cockade was worn in addition to the state cockade from 1897 . In 1907 the first field-gray uniform was introduced on a trial basis , but it was only to be worn in the event of war. The field gray uniform underwent some changes up to the beginning of the war and during the war, for example the color was more gray-green, but the name field gray was retained. During the World War , only a field-gray uniform was worn, initially the spiked hood with a cover, from the middle of the war the M1916 steel helmet was introduced across the board.

Hunters and riflemen wore a dark green tunic and a shako as headgear. The artillery also wore a dark blue tunic with a black collar. The tip of the helmet ended in a ball. The soldiers of the train wore dark blue tunics with light blue collars and a shako.


The hussars wore an Attila in regimental colors with cord trimmings and armpit cords. Some regiments also wore fur. The dragoons had a tunic made of cornflower blue cloth with collars, lapels and epaulettes of different colors depending on the regiment. The helmet was similar to that of the infantry. The Uhlans had an ulanka (tunic) made of dark blue cloth with epaulettes and, depending on the regiment, different colored collars, lapels and lugs. A chapka was worn as headgear . The cuirassiers had Koller white Kirsey with matching collar and epaulets, according to regiment with different colored cuffs, trimmings, advances and collar Patten. Headgear was a steel helmet (cuirassier helmet). The hunters on horseback had a rollerball and tunic made of gray-green cloth with light green epaulettes and lapels. Blackened steel helmet as headgear.

Troop flags

Troop flags as a recognition and identification symbol of military units had a permanent place in the Prussian army. In 1713 King Friedrich Wilhelm I laid down uniform dimensions and motifs for the flags and standards of his troops. The flags were square, the standards a little longer than wide and had a triangular cutout on the side facing away from the stick. Both had the Prussian eagle in their midst in a laurel wreath with a crown . In the corners were the seals of the respective rulers, also in a laurel wreath with a crown. In addition, different colors were specified for the basic cloths for the individual branches of the army. The edge was bordered with gold-colored borders.


Rank groups

There were six rank groups in the Prussian army: 1st men (common), 2nd non-commissioned officers (with and without porters ), 3rd subaltern officers , 4th captains , 5th staff officers and 6th generals .

The team rank was limited to the simple soldier , called "commoner" at the time, who was also designated according to the respective branch of service and, as a second rank, the private in the infantry. With the cavalry one completely renounced the level of private service. It was not until 1859 that this changed in part with the introduction of the corporal rank. However, this rank was limited to the artillery. In the course of the 18th century, some rank designations in Prussia were modernized. Instead of the previous names Obristwachtmeister and Obrist, the names Major and Colonel prevailed.

In the 18th century, rank badges to differentiate between the various ranks were not yet common. They were only introduced in Prussia in 1808. With the introduction of uniform uniforms in the Prussian army, the officers gradually received badges to differentiate between the various classes of rank. Wearing a sword was already considered a badge of rank in the 18th century. Other distinguishing features were, for example, the quality and cut of the uniform itself.

The ranks of the Prussian army were a model for the ranks of the following German armies up to the present day Bundeswehr .

Rank badge

(from 1866)

Officers' epaulettes and armpit pieces

The private wore an award button (the so-called private button) with the Prussian eagle on each side of the collar. The corporal corporal wore the larger badge of the sergeants and sergeants on each side of their collar , as well as the saber tassels of the NCOs.

NCOs without portepee wore gold or silver braids on the collar and the lapels of the tunic. Saber tassel or thong with a tassel mixed in the national color. The sergeants wore a large award button.

NCOs with portepee ( sergeant , sergeant , deputy sergeant and deputy sergeant ) carried the officer's side rifle with portepee.

Deputy officers wore the badges of the vice sergeants (or vice sergeants) with the officers' buckle belts. The epaulettes had a braid edging.

Lieutenants and captains wore a shoulder piece (armpit) made of several strings lying next to each other. On it were the numbers or names stamped from metal, which the teams also wear. A simple lieutenant wore no star, a first lieutenant wore a silver star, and a captain had two silver stars. The epaulets were without fringes, otherwise like the shoulder boards.

The staff officers' epaulettes had braided cords with silver running through them. At the major without a star, the lieutenant colonel had one gold star, a colonel two gold stars. On it were the numbers or names stamped from metal, which the teams also wore. Epaulets with silver fringes, otherwise like the shoulder boards.

The generals had oak leaf embroidery on the collar and lapels. On the shoulder pieces the golden braided cords were interwoven with silver. Major general without a star, lieutenant general one star, infantry general, etc. two stars, colonel general three stars and field marshal general two crossed command posts. Golden fringed epaulets.


The armament of the soldiers of the Prussian army differed according to rank and regiment. In the 17th and 18th centuries, the defense material consisted of rapiers , sabers , pikes , bayonets , muskets , rifles (flintlock shotguns), carbines , cannons , howitzers and mortars .

  • Epee: In the army, every infantryman wielded a thrusting epee until 1715. From 1732 there was a uniform model for the cuirassiers, from 1735 also for dragoons.
  • Saber: The hussars built in 1721 received a saber based on the Hungarian model from the Potsdam rifle factory.
  • Pike: NCOs of the Prussian army first wore halberds , then a 2.35 m long partisan-like short rifle , which was replaced after 1740 by a three-meter long short rifle in the regiments intended for the first meeting of the order of battle. After the Seven Years' War these were replaced by bayonet rifles
  • Bayonet: Bayonets were added as new edged weapons from the end of the 17th century . Actually part of the fire rifle, their appearance, in addition to the technical improvement of the firearms, was decisive for the sorting out of the pikes.

Firearms have been the main weapon in combat since the 17th century. Before 1700 were flintlock rifles introduced, the Luntenschlossgewehre peeled off. A new pattern was introduced under Friedrich Wilhelm I when rifles were bought from Liège from 1713. Based on the same model, rifles called Infantry Rifle Model 1723 were built in the Potsdam rifle factory from 1723 onwards. This was mainly used for the own army. The pattern from 1740 remained authoritative for the time of the Seven Years' War and afterwards. It was not until 1780 and 1787 that new models were added to the armament as the M1740 / 1789 infantry rifle . After the presentation of a new infantry rifle by Hauptmann von Nothardt , this new Nothardt rifle M1801 was to be produced and delivered to the infantry, including the fusiliers, with the cabinet order of February 14, 1801 . Until the outbreak of war in 1806, however, only about 45,000 copies of this model were produced, which only covered about 30% of the total requirements for the entire infantry. A major shortcoming of the campaign of 1806, however, was the quality of the rifles in use by the infantry. In some cases, infantry rifles from the Revolutionary Wars from 1792 to 1795 were still in use, and many rifle barrels were thinned out by frequent cleaning and polishing. Before the outbreak of the war, many reports spoke of inadequate material. In 1811 the infantry rifle M / 1809 was introduced.

In 1740 the field artillery consisted of four cannon calibers (24, 12, 6 and 3 pounders ), an 18 pound howitzer and another 50 and 75 pound mortars; from 1742 a 10 pound howitzer was introduced.

The cutting and stabbing weapons changed little in the course of the 19th century. In the cavalry, every man had a set of firearms consisting of the main weapon, the carbine and a pair of pistols. The carbine was lighter than the infantry rifle and also had a smaller caliber.

In the middle of the 19th century, the armament of the infantry consisted almost exclusively of smooth muzzle-loading weapons, albeit with percussion ignition . The function of such locks was very reliable. Around 240,000 units were built by 1853 and issued to the troops from 1848. In the second half of the 19th century, the Prussian army took up technical advances in weapon production rather cautiously and hesitantly. First the so-called needle guns were added, breech - loading rifles, 60,000 of which were manufactured on behalf of King Friedrich Wilhelm IV in 1840. The breech-loader had a significantly higher rate of fire than conventional muzzle-loaders. Five to seven aimed shots per minute were possible. At that time, a high rate of fire was not considered an advantage, but a waste of ammunition and a sign of poor order. Battle victories were sought by closed bayonet attacks rather than by fire superiority. Therefore, those responsible at the time believed that the modern rifled muzzle-loaders from Louis Étienne de Thouvenin and the Minié rifle , with which most armies were equipped, were competitive. Initially kept secret and only delivered to a few units, it was almost out of date by the time the needle gun was generally introduced in 1859. It was only after almost 20 years that most of the Prussian troops were equipped with the needle gun. For the war against Austria it was enough to meet the requirements, the Austrian Lorenz rifle (M1862), a muzzle loader , achieved a rate of fire that was not even half as high as that of the needle gun. But in the war against France four years later, the rifle was hopelessly inferior to the modern, much more far-reaching Chassepot rifle of the French. The introduction of rifled steel guns with rear loading was even more sluggish. Only the complete helplessness of the short-range Prussian guns in the face of Austrian artillery already armed with rifled guns led to the conversion to rifled breech-loaders after 1866.

Organizations and Institutions

Old Prussian Army

Like all armies in the period from 1644 to 1806, the army consisted of the arms of infantry and cavalry . Artillery was added later as an independent branch of service . The Prussian army focused more on the infantry. In the view of the commanders at the time, the two branches of arms cavalry and artillery represented little more than support forces for the infantry. This is expressed, for example, in the very infantry-centered training of artillery or dragoons . As the increase in the numerical size of the army over the course of time suggests, the number of newly established military units rose in parallel. The regiment represented the largest form of organization in the army for all three branches of arms . The strength of course changed in the course of time, so that standardized figures are not possible.

The infantry gradually trained a total of 60 infantry regiments by 1806.

By 1806 the cavalry had formed a number of 35 regiments.

In 1806 the artillery consisted of 4 field artillery regiments, one mounted artillery regiment and 17 garrison artillery companies.

In addition to these three branches of service, there were also smaller groups in the Prussian army. The technical troops (for example miners and engineers), minstrels , the rudimentary medical services and the field preachers should be mentioned .

New Prussian Army

The old Prussian army was completely destroyed in the war of 1806 by Napoleon, many soldiers were taken prisoner. In 1806, the Prussian generals had painfully learned that the previous organizational structure with the regiment as the largest form of organization, strictly separated according to the individual branches of the armed forces, was no longer up to date. With the reorganization of the army from 1807, it was decided to dissolve the old regiments in their existing form and to create a new structure.

The reformers around Scharnhorst then formed mixed troop formations in which the various branches of service (artillery, cavalry, infantry) were integrated. These troop associations should be able to independently solve all problems / tasks that arise in a battle or in a campaign. Thus, in addition to the previous structure, the following major units were created: 1. the army corps , 2. the division , 3. the brigade .

The new structure of the Prussian army was as follows:

  • Army Corps,
    • Division,
      • Brigade,
        • Regiment,
          • Battalion,
            • Company.
Prussian Landwehr Cavalry in the Wars of Liberation
lithograph by Richard Knötel (1857–1914)

After the reform and the introduction of general conscription in 1814, the typical juxtaposition of line army and landwehr in the army emerged. In the event of war, each line regiment was assigned a Landwehr regiment, which together formed a brigade. Another important structural change was the establishment of the Prussian War Ministry from December 25, 1808, instead of the military administration previously divided between various authorities.

From 1807 on, the Prussian infantry was divided into line infantry, light infantry / hunters and the Landwehr infantry. The line infantry kept the old names musketeer, fusilier, grenadier, but there were no longer any differences outside of the name range. The cavalry was also divided into a line cavalry and the Landwehr cavalry, but the latter was disbanded in 1866. The line cavalry continued to consist of different types of cavalry: the cuirassiers, hussars, dragoons and, recently, the lancers . A special case in the army were the regiments of the guards, which together formed the guards corps (army corps with their own structure). By 1914, the Prussian army had trained eight cavalry regiments and 11 infantry regiments.

From the end of 1815 to 1859 the structure of the Prussian army remained largely the same. A major change took place in 1861 as a result of the army reform by von Roon, when additional regiments of the line were established at the expense of the Landwehr, which lost its importance considerably. With the formation of the North German Confederation , further contingents of smaller states were integrated into the army. From the founding of the Reich to the outbreak of the First World War , the strength of the Prussian army increased steadily. It formed up to 80% of the Imperial Army .

In 1900 there were 17 Prussian army corps (plus three Bavarian corps with separate numbering, two Saxon and one from Württemberg). As a rule, an army corps had two divisions . The total strength of an army corps was: 1,554 officers, 43,317 men, 16,934 horses, 2,933 vehicles. The divisions usually comprised two infantry brigades with two regiments each, two cavalry regiments with four squadrons and a field artillery brigade with two regiments. An infantry regiment normally consisted of three battalions, each of which consisted of four companies, i.e. twelve companies per regiment.

In addition, an army corps had one or two foot artillery regiments , a hunter battalion , one or two engineer battalions , a train battalion and, in some cases, various other units, such as a telegraph battalion, one or two field engineer companies, one or two medical companies, railway companies, etc. at their disposal as corps troops. In 1900 an infantry regiment had a peacetime strength of 69 officers, six doctors, 1,977 NCOs and men as well as six military officials, for a total of 2,058 men. A cavalry regiment had 760 men and 702 service horses. This strength applied to regiments with a high budget, regiments with a medium or lower budget had a lower strength. An infantry company with a high budget had five officers and 159 non-commissioned officers and men, with a lower budget four officers and 141 non-commissioned officers and men.

In 1914 the Prussian army comprised 166 infantry regiments, 14 hunter / rifle battalions, 9 machine gun detachments, 86 cavalry regiments, 76 artillery regiments, 19 foot artillery regiments (fortress artillery), 28 engineer battalions , 7 railway battalions , 6 telegraph battalions, 1 aircraft battalion, 4 aircraft battalions Departments.

Army constitutions

The army constitution of the 18th century was based at the same time, with varying proportions, on a recruited mercenary army from foreigners and an early conscripted cantonal army based on the Swedish model from natives. All swore an oath of allegiance to the king alone and thus the army was the monarch's sole executive body and his main political means both internally and externally. In addition, the army had no constitutional link in a state that did not yet have a modern-day separation of powers or a codified state constitution .

This army constitution lost its validity with the revolutionary wars. Revolutionary popular armies displaced mercenaries. General conscription made the people more central to the political process.

The Prussian army under the Defense Act of 1814 stood on completely different social pillars than the old Prussian army. The new order lasted until the army's existence came to an end. Boyen's military law of September 3, 1814 was based on an elitist concept of the nation. It tried to reconcile the bourgeoisie with the army and tied in with the military constitution used in the wars of liberation. It represented a codification of central reform ideas. Bourgeois-liberals, less democratic ideals shaped the new system. It was more modern than the stuck state constitution, but the army was reserved for the king alone. Their institutions were not affected by the new thinking. On the one hand, all layers of society were henceforth involved in roughly equal shares in the army; on the other hand, the Frideridzian system had been preserved to some extent, due to the one-sided assignment of command to the king and the separation of the army constitution from the state constitution.

Doctrines, images of war, strategies and tactics

The members of the Prussian army never acted in isolation and detached from external influences, but remained embedded in a pan-European network and, as part of this international association, followed the current changes. Such supra-personal, transorganizational processes were conveyed to military personnel through intellectual teaching concepts at military schools and in action. The current doctrines, hierarchically following images of war, including the following war strategies and finally deployment tactics, were teaching concepts valid throughout Europe for members of the military of all armies of that time, which significantly guided and determined their actions and thinking in active service.

As a result of the influence of external influences on the institution of the Prussian army, it was isomorphically similar to the structures of the other army, albeit with a time lag. The doctrine of the Prussian army, the war images of the generals and their developed war strategies and tactics were ultimately only derived derivatives of higher-level, Europe-wide guidelines that limited the spectrum of permissible action, decision-making and design. In the early modern military system , these requirements began to be increasingly written down and regulated. These organizational rules were always broken when the army fell behind in an international comparison, because new developments in other armies had brought about changes in the organizational system. Before organizational measures such as restructuring or personnel changes could take effect, models and new concepts of warfare had first spread through discourse and exchange and found general acceptance in the army. This active process could in some cases last for decades. Such time periods were relevant in the 1790s or also in the 1840s. They were followed by significant Prussian army reforms, which ultimately led to fundamental structural changes.

The second half of the 18th century was marked by lasting changes in the field of warfare and corresponding changes in the image of war . The military strategy in the age of absolutism was determined by the defensive idea. By anticipatory maneuvering of the army through the leadership, enemy supply lines and magazines should be captured in order to destroy the enemy's base of operations . The concept developed in the revolutionary wars aimed at the general destruction of the enemy armed forces. Movement and contact with the enemy were part of the military commanders' strategy canon. Hans Delbrück called the former strategy the fatigue strategy and the latter the prostrate strategy . In the tactical area, the defensive strategy corresponded to the linear tactics , on the other hand the combat tactics of the French revolutionary armies were determined by the thrust of the relatively independent operating columns of the tirailleur tactics (rifle combat ). The image of war changed from a cabinet war to a people's war . The guerrilla war took shape and led to the creation of autonomous volunteer corps that were detached from the army . B. Kleist (1760), Hirschfeld (1806), Krockow (1807) and Lützow (1813). The Prussian army had considerable problems converting the old defensive system to the more offensive system. This led to the defeat in the battle of Jena and Auerstedt in 1806. It took a catastrophic defeat to align the institution of the Prussian army as a whole with the new military age. This succeeded in an exemplary manner in the second attempt and the army regained its old strength in Europe and was able to maintain this until the end of the army's existence.

By the mid-19th century, the industrial revolution in Western Europe and the United States brought a wealth of new technology to the army command of the time. This changed not only the existing image of war, but also the armies themselves. Just like the technical innovations, the method of mass production was new and revolutionary and made it possible to set up and equip far stronger armies than before. In 1815, a total of 200,000 men from three armies fought against each other near Waterloo. Half a century later at Königgrätz, all the armed forces involved already numbered over 480,000 men. The new technologies affected both the tactical and the operational-strategic level of warfare. The increased range of guns and the higher frequency of fire of the infantry weapons forced the attack columns to move far on the battlefield. The telegraph, in turn, accelerated the transmission of information and also appeared to be a suitable instrument for facilitating mobilizations and troop leadership in war. The expansion of a railway network in particular created the conditions for a radical change in the conduct of the war, which enabled the General Staff to draw up precise deployment plans and to concentrate large numbers of troops punctually and precisely at the borders in a fraction of the time previously required.

General Staff

For the tasks of combat deployment planning and practical leadership in the field, the early modern armies increasingly saw the formation of a staff to lead subordinate units, federations, large associations or other departments of the armed forces. These consisted of specialists and high-ranking officers. Elector Friedrich Wilhelm created the forerunner of the modern general staff , a quartermaster general based on the model of the then highly respected Swedish army. The task of the staff was to supervise the engineering service of the army, to monitor the marching routes and to select camps and fortified positions. At the same time, similar institutions emerged in England under Oliver Cromwell , in the Habsburg Monarchy and other southern German states. Under Frederick II, the general staff officers were functionally better placed adjudants and command recipients of the king than an autonomous advisory body.

Christian von Massenbach and Levin von Geusau developed the facility further in 1803. Under Gerhard von Scharnhorst, the General Staff was then institutionally anchored from 1808 as a central body in the newly established War Ministry with the General Staff officers in the newly formed troop brigades.

The Prussian general staff proved itself in the wars of liberation against France and in the wars of unification. The military planning was based on military science principles.

The greater army strength in the middle of the 19th century necessitated an expansion of the operational areas, especially in order to meet the growing need for food. This in turn made new management tools and structures necessary. In most armies, the general staffs, initially only insignificant auxiliary organs of the military commanders, increasingly took over the management of the operations.

Officer corps

The rulers paid special attention to the officer corps . The soldiers 'king and Friedrich II in particular devoted time and attention to the officers of the army, which went down to the planning of the officers' individual lives. The approach of the kings was to form a spiritual and moral elite of the nation. They took the recruitment for this from the best and most distinguished families in the country, the nobility. This immediately resulted in an aristocratic character in the officer corps, whose attitude promised stability to the army. In the 18th century, recruitment was often carried out with violence and the use of potential threats. The nobility was compulsorily obliged and domesticated by the service of the weapon and accustomed to the demands of the king. The general background here is also an unexplained power struggle between the nobility and the monarchs, which the latter clearly decided. Re-educating the nobility was a difficult business. The later famous descendants of von Bismarck , Alvensleben , and the Schulenburg from the Altmark were at the time in the eyes of the kings after Gustav Schmoller "recalcitrant troublemakers, moreover uneducated, raw and lazy".

Army Administration

Of great importance for the transition to miles perpetuus was an efficient army administration which first had to organize the financial payments and human resources. The troops eventually had to be supplied and armed. The process of transition to the standing army, in addition to stabilizing the troops, resulted in greater nationalization. The administration of the troops was carried out autonomously through its own regimental structure until 1655. The regimental colonel was the actual administrator, the regiment owner and commercial director. Only with the creation of institutions such as the war chancellery and the generals were organs created that were supposed to guarantee the strict control according to the specifications of the sovereign. War commissioners controlled the officers, arranged the accommodation and meals for the troops, and collected taxes, which they also administered. Grain magazines and arsenals were built on other structures , the administration of which was also subordinate to the war commissioners. In addition, a steadily increasing property portfolio belonged to the army, which also had to be managed. In addition to the fortifications of the garrisons, functional facilities such as bakeries, forage sheds, train sheds , assembly depots, barracks , guard houses , horse stables and powder magazines were also part of the army. The army administration of the old Prussian army was part of the state administration until the beginning of the military reforms at the beginning of the 19th century . The army and army administration were thus institutionally separated.

Cadet institutions

The old Berlin Cadet House was demolished in 1777, around 1757

The Prussian cadet schools served as an educational institution for the children of impoverished noble families . The offspring were given a proper training and education and at the same time the army was able to cover part, according to Gerhard Ritter around 1850, "a good half" of the recruiting needs for the officer corps.

Elector Friedrich Wilhelm founded the so-called cadet corps with the institutions in Kolberg , Berlin and Magdeburg . The Kolberg Cadet Corps consisted of 60 to 70 cadets and was transferred to the newly formed "Royal Prussian Cadet Corps" in Berlin in 1716, where it was increased to 110 cadets. For this corps there was a separate cadet house in Berlin from 1717 . In 1719 the cadets were also transferred from Magdeburg to Berlin, and the Berlin cadet corps now consisted of 150 cadets. In 1776 the Berlin Cadet House was rebuilt . In 1790 it consisted of 252 cadets.

Royal Cadet house in Stolp around 1793

Further cadet schools were founded in Stolp (1769), Kulm (1776) and Kalisch (1793). The cadet institute in Stolp founded by Friedrich II was initially designed for 48 cadets and was expanded in 1778 to up to 96 cadets, who were taught in six classes. The cadet house in Kulm was initially designed for 60 cadets and was expanded to 100 cadets in 1787 with a permit from King Friedrich Wilhelm II. In 1793 there were 260 cadets in Berlin, 40 cadets in Potsdam, 96 cadets in Stolp and 100 cadets each in Kulm and Kalisch. In the Peace of Tilsiter Kulm and Kalisch were ceded, Stolp was dissolved in 1811 and moved to Potsdam. After the end of the Wars of Liberation , Kulm was rebuilt before the institution was moved to Köslin in 1890 .

In 1902 the Prussian Cadet Corps consisted of eight cadet houses and the main cadet institute .

Living conditions of members of the army in the old Prussian army (1644–1807)

Housing conditions

After the introduction of the standing army by the Great Elector Friedrich Wilhelm, the life of the soldiers changed fundamentally. At the time of the Thirty Years' War , the mercenaries were entitled to pay and the booty when they stormed and sacked a conquered city. There was no other entitlement to food. There was also no uniform legal and punishment system for the soldiers. In summer the troops remained in temporary camps and in winter they were billeted.

This form of billeting now became common for the standing regiments. This means that the citizens had to provide the soldiers with a room (facing the street) in their houses. This billeting caused a considerable burden on the landlords (this is especially true for married soldiers). In return, the landlords received 14 groschen per month for a married soldier and 10 groschen per month for an unmarried soldier. The cavalry regiments were initially in rural villages, but were then moved to the cities. The reason for the relocation lay in the better control of the soldiers in the city (the city as a closed system) and the excessive lack of discipline of the same against the rural population. All homeowners not affected by billeting had to pay a tax.

The unmarried soldiers had to run their household together with other soldiers in a friendly manner . The daily grocery shopping and the preparation of meals was done independently and without paternalism.

Only in the fortress towns of Magdeburg and Kolberg were the teams in barracks in the period before the Seven Years' War. Otherwise it was a long time before the entire army was housed in its own barracks . Shortly after the Seven Years' War, the first cavalry barracks were built in Berlin, and others soon followed. These should primarily take in the married soldiers and their families. The first infantry barracks were built in Prenzlau in 1767. It was intended for 240 men. Further barracks followed in Berlin, Spandau , Nauen , Neuruppin , Frankfurt / O and Königsberg . In these barracks, too, the capacity was 240 men. However, the barracks were nowhere near enough to accommodate all soldiers and their families.

A married man with his wife and children and two unmarried soldiers shared a room in the barracks. The cleaning was the responsibility of the married man's wife. In return, she received 6 groschen a month from each soldier. These cramped living conditions led to frequent conflicts and violent clashes.

Some soldiers were allowed to marry if the ratio to unmarried people in a company did not exceed 1/3. For this they needed the permission of the company commander . The recruited foreigners in particular were welcomed to marry, as the risk of desertion was then considerably reduced.

Earnings and maintenance

A simple foot soldier received one thaler and eight groschen a month after deducting bread and clothing costs (for comparison: a meal with drink cost around 2 groschen around 1750, one taler consisted of 24 groschen). The soldiers' quarters, on the other hand, were free and one soldier received 1½ pounds of bread daily. Also due to this extremely meager pay, the soldiers were allowed to pursue a profession in order to receive additional income. There were master craftsmen, the unskilled worked for the cloth makers, as wool spinners or as henchmen in the building trade. During a campaign, the soldier took care of himself from his salary and the allowances he received. These were two pounds of bread a day and two pounds of meat a week.

As for the officer rank, an officer of the lower ranks had to be satisfied with a very low salary of 9-13 thalers per month. From this he had to finance the lavish, professional life that was expected of an officer. Thus, such a position was a losing proposition for a long time. Only with the rank of captain (commander of a company), which one achieved after an average of 15 years of service, could the officer expect a more abundant income. In addition to the military command, the commanding officer of a company was responsible for the financial management of a company. If the captain of a company managed well, he could generate a surplus of 2000 thalers per year, which he could claim for himself. The actual pay, however, was still tight and was around 30 thalers per month.

Recruitment and desertion

At the beginning of the early modern period, three recruiting procedures were common among the infantry: recruiting volunteers, compulsory drafting, and recruiting from mercenary entrepreneurs. The latter method was the most common, especially during the Thirty Years War. For a sum of money, the mercenary entrepreneurs put together a ready-made army for the princes. The rulers were often dependent on these entrepreneurs and at the same time on unreliable multinational mercenary troops.

A change in the way soldiers were recruited in Prussia occurred when the mercenary army passed to the standing army at the end of the 17th century. The goal was to create a standing army of professional soldiers who would serve even during peacetime. As a result of the War of the Spanish Succession, the army was no longer able to replace the high losses in the regiments with free advertising , so the main concern of the Prussian army was no longer the financing system, but the problem of raising funds. Thus, compulsory advertising was used as the main recruiting system over. In practice, the recruits were drawn from now on with the help of residents' lists. Despite the resulting problems ( desertion ), the process of pressing parts of the population into soldiers prevailed. In the course of the War of the Spanish Succession there was real manhunt. The advertisers used all sorts of lists and crimes in order to get hold of the tallest men possible. The War of the Spanish Succession, for example, radically changed the type of soldier within the Prussian army, from voluntarily hired mercenaries to pressed, compulsory soldiers. Instead of a life profession, being a soldier had degenerated into a lifelong fate with no way out.

After the war and the return of the regiments to the garrison , a wave of desertions set in that exceeded anything that had existed before. In 1714 alone 3,471 musketeers (almost three complete regiments ) deserted . The resulting shortage of soldiers provoked another manhunt, in which the recruiters brutally, ruthlessly and arbitrarily recruited every man they could get their hands on. This led to civil unrest in some of the country's provinces. Many young men left the country during this period for fear of lifelong military service.

A major desertion conspiracy occurred in Potsdam in January 1730, when 40 Guards Grenadiers of the particularly familiar Royal Regiment No. 6 ( tall fellows ) agreed to leave the garrison, murdering and plundering. The planned revolt, which in essence probably originated from grassroots sectarians, was exposed before it was carried out. The main ringleaders were punished in a manner typical of the time. Those involved were questioned, sentenced under martial law and publicly punished. One of the three grenadiers who were believed to be the main ringleaders was injured with red-hot pincers. Then they chopped off his oath fingers and hung him. The second also had to go through the forceps torture before his nose and ears were cut off and then brought half dead to the Spandau fortress prison, where he died. The third was slapped and whipped by the executioner and then taken into custody. The rest of them had to run the gauntlet before they came to Spandau for a certain period of time. A few months later, the royal family also recorded a desertion event. In August 1730, the Crown Prince and his companion Hans Hermann von Katte tried to escape, which has become famous .

The army's susceptibility to desertions only changed with the introduction of the canton system in 1733. This system made the quasi-existing conscription more predictable. The canton system also contributed to keeping desertions within limits. A total of 30,216 Prussian soldiers deserted from 1713 to 1740. In 1720 820 infantrymen deserted, in 1725 only 400 infantrymen. This number remained roughly constant until 1740.

During the Seven Years' War the desertion rate of the Prussian army was no higher than that of other European armies. In addition to the figures, good evidence is the refusal of the vast majority of the prisoners of war to join the Austrian army. This despite the fact that they could not hope to return and the detention conditions were very poor. Even in the bitterest moments, for example after the battle of Kunersdorf in 1759, the Prussian army lost only a few men to desertion compared to other European armed forces. The non-Prussians in the Prussian service had no higher desertion rate than the Prussians themselves.

Military training and everyday life

Military punishments: "How an honest man receives a beating", Daniel Chodowiecki
Military punishment: "How a villain receives a beating", Daniel Chodowiecki

For the line tactics of the time in combat, soldiers were required who had perfect command of their weapon and lockstep and who functioned reliably even under the enormous stress of the battle. The result was a system in which the soldier was trained to be a willless enforcer of the orders of his superiors.

Everyday military life during the year and a half of training or the annual two-month period of service consisted of up to five hours of drill and drill exercises on parade grounds and subsequent cleaning and cleaning of the equipment. Work started at 5:30 a.m., but work usually closed around noon. For the drill and drill exercises , corporal punishment was also used (until 1812), although this was legally limited. According to the catalog of military punishments, anyone who beat a man bloody while being beaten was punished.

The draconian corporal punishment, however, included running the gauntlet , which was threatened several times in the new war articles of 1713. In cases of extremely possible run-through - up to 30 times - this sentence amounted to a death sentence . Despite the sometimes very harsh punishments, the context must also be seen that the violence in the regiments was part of the character of the time. So it was normal for the farmer to be beaten by his landlord . Punishments like running the gauntlet or hanging were on the other hand much worse in the Thirty Years War than in later times. The difference between the penalties of the Prussian army and those of other European armies was not in the severity, but in the legality . So the traditional harshness and mistreatment of the common soldier was carried out throughout the army according to the same rules, according to legal principles and no longer according to personal arbitrariness.

Military punishment running the gauntlet (etching by Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki - 1776)

The corporal punishment was restricted by Friedrich Wilhelm II. After the reorganization of the army in 1807 it was practically abolished and only retained for people who were punished for second class soldiers . The 1872 Military Criminal Code abolished all corporal punishment.

From 1714 a leave of absence system was introduced in which soldiers trained for around 18 months were given leave of absence for ten months every year after a two-month drill period. However, this regulation did not apply to the recruited foreigners (1740: 1/3 share of the army), who continuously performed their service in the garrison as guards and training posts.

Those on leave always had to wear military clothing (probably ankle boots) during their vacation time. With this they were externally marked and also protected from the arbitrariness of the landlords, because they were only subject to military jurisdiction .

The service in the army was theoretically lifelong to the point of incapacity for service. In practice, however, the majority of soldiers served 10–15 years. It was not until 1787 that there were official guidelines, according to which soldiers in the cavalry should serve 12 years and soldiers in the infantry 10 years and then be released.

Old age and disability benefits

Since Prussia had a large standing army on an international scale and this was often used in war, there was consequently a large number of war invalids and the problem of dealing with this social group therefore had a high priority. The practice, according to which injured mercenaries were largely left to their fate and, at best, almshouses, church institutions or benevolent individuals took care of those affected, slowly began to change at the end of the 17th century. A change in mentality had taken place that had turned the mercenaries into soldiers who only served the state and in person the absolute prince. This changed service and loyalty relationship between military personnel and warlords resulted in an increased duty of care for the prince , so that these injured soldiers could no longer simply leave their fate to their fate. The Hallesche Pietism , which had a strong influence in Prussia, shaped the ideas of rulers and servants around 1700. Several forms of state welfare developed, in which the primary focus was on the elementary concept of care, which was supposed to prevent those affected from joining the great mass of vagabonds and beggars.

Well-trained soldiers with war experience were of great value to the Prussian leadership. Therefore, they were kept in the force as long as possible. There was no classic service time limit in the 18th century. So the service was theoretically lifelong. However, only a few were able to fulfill the role of a venerable role model for the young recruits in old age. Most were only left with the troops for social reasons. Such second-rate soldiers, who could no longer be used for a campaign, were given tasks in garrison service. From 1717 independent garrison regiments were formed in Prussia. In 1726 the garrison units already numbered 7,000 men (invalids).

Veterans who were no longer able to perform posts, on the other hand, were granted disability pensions, often referred to as mercy salaries, from specially set up disability funds, some of which functioned according to the insurance principle. Such payments could be made as one-time gifts or recurring benefits, although in the latter case they would be linked to the person remaining in the country itself.

At the end of the 17th and the first half of the 18th centuries, the institutionalization of disability benefits began. Invalid houses for the severely handicapped and nursing homes were built all over Europe, for example the Royal Hospital Chelsea in London in 1682 and the Hôtel des Invalides on Paris in 1708 . In Lüneburg-Celle , Duke Georg Wilhelm was the first prince in the empire to have an invalid house built between 1679 and 1684. In 1703 Frederick I wanted to have a house for the disabled built in Berlin, but this failed because of the lack of funds. The high losses after the two Silesian Wars made Frederick II resume the idea of ​​the Invalidenhaus. Friedrich II gave the instruction to build houses for disabled people in Berlin, Stolp and Carlshafen for retired soldiers who were disabled.

The Royal Invalid House in the 18th century,
originally after a colored engraving by Matthias Seutter , around 1750

The Invalidenhaus in Berlin was opened on November 15, 1748 . This facility provided places for 631 people, including 13 officers and 126 women. The small number of disabled places in the house contrasted with much higher numbers of wounded on the battlefield. Due to the limited development of society in the 18th century, only a small fraction of the wounded received local medical care. The transport mortality of the wounded was 30%. The mortality in the hospitals was also very high. The small number of those who had recovered were the invalids. In times of war, however, the low reception capacities may not always have been sufficient. The task of the disabled houses was to provide war-damaged officers, NCOs and men with accommodation, food, clothing and medical care free of charge. The disabled houses had a decidedly military character, so the disabled had to wear uniforms outside of duty as well as guard duty.

The officers who were unfit for duty were given governor or commanding posts in the fortresses when they were in need. If there were no vacancies, the king paid the generals a one-off pension of 1,000 to 2,000 talers, staff officers a few hundred, captains and lieutenants far less. However, there was no entitlement to this. Every care was purely a matter of grace and there was no legally enforceable claim to care. The princes recognized at most a moral and socio-ethical obligation for soldiers damaged in their service.

In order to alleviate the plight of the often destitute widows with often numerous children, Friedrich had active officers take over their sponsorship or, if the sons were of the appropriate age, primarily employed the sons in the army. Friedrich Wilhelm I took care of the numerous war orphans through the Great Military Orphanage, which he founded in 1724 . This was initially only intended for the children of his body regiment , the Lange Kerls . Later the children of other soldiers also found accommodation there and the need for space increased, so that the house had to be expanded in 1742 and replaced by a new building in 1771. In 1758 the house housed 2,000 orphans.

With the gradual departure from the army constitution of absolutism from the end of the 18th century, the gradual transition to a statutory pension entitlement for war invalids took place. Prussia made an early start on this with Article 19 of the Regulations for Foreign Advertising of February 1, 1787 .

Living conditions of members of the armed forces in the New Prussian army (1807-1919)

In 1860 65% of the officers came from the nobility ; only a good third were commoners. In 1913 there were still 30% aristocrats and 70% commoners.

Income and maintenance (around 1900)

The income (wages) of the crews and non-commissioned officers consisted of wages, bread allowance, food allowance and clothing and accommodation with heating, lighting, etc. In special cases, financial compensation was paid for this. In addition, there was free medical treatment and medicines. Married NCOs also received free medical treatment and medicines for their families. Some NCOs (such as Wallmeister, Zeugfeldwebel) also received a salary .

In comparison:

  • In 1910 a metal worker (lathe operator, locksmith, iron bender, grinder, etc.) earned between M 20, - to M 40, - per week.
  • Today, 10.00 M would correspond to purchasing power of 58.30 euros.

Circumstances of the officer

The financial circumstances of the lower officer ranks were extremely meager. The lieutenants were dependent on allowances from home. Depending on the exclusivity of the regiment and the resulting lifestyle, allowances of M 50 to M 200 per month were necessary. A lieutenant couldn't live on his salary . This of course also ensured a social selection, the prospective officer had to come from backgrounds that could afford to subsidize the officers. As a rule, passed to the promotion to captain rd. 10 years, the next promotion to major took another approx. 15 years. Very few officers made it to the position of staff officer , but left the army beforehand, which was possible at any time without any problems as there were no periods of commitment.

An annual income of at least M 4,000.00 was considered necessary for a marriage, which was only achieved by the captain. Before that, the officer could only marry if the bride brought enough money into the marriage. In order to get married, you had to have the marriage license issued by your superior. The financial question played an important part in obtaining the marriage license, as did the origin of the bride. Only from the captain onwards did the officers' salaries become comparable to those of the higher officials.

Military training, everyday life and recruitment

Each army corps had its own replacement district to meet its personnel needs. From today's perspective, general conscription has proven to be an integration factor. With around 200,000 to 300,000 men drafted each year, not all of the conscripts were drawn. The young men saw an organization with great discipline that sought to practice justice, although not always with success. Inadequacies and individual encroachments were even discussed in the Reichstag , and the top leadership tried to take drastic measures. The leadership was much better than in times before the reforms of the wars of liberation and many foreign armies ahead of their time. Service in the army became much more attractive in the course of the 19th century, and in 1912 64,000 men volunteered for service.

The bulk of NCOs came from the ranks of the surrenders, conscripts who had voluntarily extended their two-year military service by one year. As a rule, advancement to officer was not possible, so most of them served twelve years and then switched to civil administration due to a lack of opportunities for advancement.

For the officer offspring, more and more non-aristocratic classes were used. The prerequisite for officer applicants in Prussia was primary school , but before the First World War 2/3 of the officer applicants had already had the Abitur . In 1913, 70% of the officers were of civil origin. The officer corps gained a dominant social position in Prussia after 1815, so that the bourgeoisie imitated the lifestyle of the military elite. Every officer was obliged to uphold and defend their honor. The class honor included loyalty to the monarch and people and fatherland , the "Prussian sense of duty" under the umbrella term of service, but also loyalty to the bottom, a personal duty of care for his subordinates. This class honor led to a homogeneous, closed officer corps, which had uniform conservative norms and values.

Conscription in the Prussian Army 1815–1918


In 1871, Articles 57 ff. Of the Imperial Constitution extended the general conscription that had been in force in Prussia since 1814 to all of Germany . So now “every German” at the age of 20 had to belong to the army or navy for 7 years . In order to disrupt general scientific and industrial training as little as possible through general conscription, it was left to every young man to voluntarily enter military service after the age of 17, if he had the necessary moral and physical qualifications. All conscripts were, if they did not join the Prussian army voluntarily, from January 1st of the calendar year in which they turn 20 years of age, subject to conscription (compulsory military service). For this purpose they had to report regularly to the responsible alternative authorities until a decision was made about their military use, but no more than twice a year. With the exception of the Guard Corps and the Navy, each army corps had its own replacement district from which it drew its soldiers. The Guard Corps drew its soldiers from all Prussian provinces and individual states, the Navy from all over the Reich. The guard could choose the mentally and physically best conscripts who were at least 1.70 m tall (half of the guard corps had to be at least 1.75 m tall).

According to the Imperial Constitution, the 7 years of compulsory military service were divided into 3 years of basic military service and a 4-year replacement reserve requirement in the 1st class replacement reserve, which served to supplement the army in the event of mobilization and to form replacement troops. This principle could not be fully implemented due to the rapidly growing population and thus also the men of military age. In many cases, those doing military service were given leave of absence from their active military service after two years (so-called disposition leave) and were sent to the 1st class substitute reserve, where they then stayed for five years instead of four. From 1890, a two-year military service was finally established by law (law of July 15, 1890). It began in October of each year with the reading of the war articles and the preparation by the priests of their own denomination, which led to the swearing-in on the respective sovereign and the emperor with the hand on the flag (with the artillery with the hand on the cannon) . Alsatians and Lorrainers were only sworn in on the emperor.

After the 7th year in the Prussian Army, every Prussian was transferred to the 2nd class substitute reserve, in which he was exempt from military obligations in peacetime, but in the case of mobilization, up to the age of 31, also to supplement the Prussian Army Had to be available (§§ 23 ff. Reich Military Law). After reaching the age of 31 you belonged to a unit of the Landwehr .

In addition, according to the Landsturm Edict of April 21, 1813, the entire defensible male population in Prussia who were not in the standing army or in the Landwehr, aged 17 to 60, was obliged to obey the mobilization of the Landsturm . In a way, it formed the last reserve of the country. The maximum age was lowered to 42 years after the establishment of the German Empire in 1875. With the law of February 11, 1888 regarding changes to military service, there were two bids: Landsturm I included all men up to the age of 39, Landsturm II all older people. Section 24 of the law extended the duty to land storms up to the age of 45. With the mobilization on August 1, 1914, many Landsturm units were set up and mobilized, and more during the First World War.

Temporary military service (professional soldier)

In addition to the general conscripts, the Prussian Army naturally consisted of professional soldiers and soldiers who signed up for a certain period of time. These volunteers concluded a so-called surrender and were then referred to as surrender . You could also recognize them by a special badge on the shoulder flap of the uniform and by the so-called surrender tassel on the side gun. Only those who had completed their 3-year (from 1890 2-year) basic military service, were qualified to be superiors and whose leadership was impeccable could commit themselves as a surrender. The capitulants could commit themselves for 1 to 2 years and were recruited preferentially to NCOs. With a commitment for 3 years, the capitulators received a so-called surrender cash in the amount of 50, - Marks. Those who committed themselves for 4 years at the first surrender received a hand money of 100 marks. The surrender became sergeant after approximately 5½ years of service and vice sergeant after 9 years of service. Particularly skilled soldiers could be promoted to sergeant. After completing 12 years of service, the soldiers were entitled to the civil benefit certificate and a service bonus of 1,000 marks.

Relationship between the army and civil society (1644–1871)

The relationship of the army to civil society was subject to various interpretations over time, which also depended on the external image of the Prussian army as a whole. The stereotypical images of the army developed at home and abroad were subject to ascriptions of strong characteristics. In particular, the war propaganda of the allied victorious powers from both world wars tried to emphasize the strength of militarism in Prussia. In retrospect after the dissolution of the Prussian state in 1947, Prussia was viewed by the Allies and somewhat later by the Germans as a militaristic state with a militarized society. The long-standing line of argument of the post-war historians saw a historical continuity of development, which inevitably had to lead to the events of the Second World War . Accordingly, the funded by the Hohenzollern rulers symbiosis between ostelbischer Gutsverfassung (intended in the 17th century Junkers ) and the old Prussian officer class have borne the breeding ground for future disaster in itself. Following the line of argument, this symbiosis arose from this symbiosis in the 18th century, a stable state power base, which in the 19th century developed a strong reaction tendency against socio-political currents and was able to successfully transfer its conservative values ​​to the population.

The historical doctrines of the Western Alliance and the Eastern Bloc represented and taught until the end of the 1980s that the right-wing conservative attitude of the majority of the population of the Prussian state favored the rise of Hitler.

In the judgment of the victorious powers of the Second World War, the essence of the state differed from that of its surrounding neighbors and thus enabled a special development that could only be ended by the dissolution of Prussia and its institutions. The events of that time, as well as the one-sided evaluations of the post-war period, are viewed and evaluated more reflected and more objective with increasing time lag in historical studies. The intermediate tones are emphasized, which do not color the image as white or black, but rather make it appear holistic and balanced. The Prussian army was ultimately an institution that increasingly pervaded society and determined its relationship, just as civil society, namely the bourgeoisie , could have a positive as well as a negative influence on the army. Characteristic of the Prussian Army in relation to civil society was the bon mot of the "army as the school of the nation".

At the time of the Old Prussian Army (1644–1806)

Until the introduction of the standing army in 1644, the relationship between the army and civilians was just as bad as in other countries at the time. The recruits had no ties to the land they were supposed to defend. As a result, its own mercenaries were at least as feared as the enemies they were supposed to protect it from. After the establishment of a standing army, the reputation of the soldiers improved only slowly. The reason for this was the great burden placed on civilians. It was they who had to bear the financial burdens and were constantly threatened by forced advertising. However, the standing army improved the soldiers' discipline and the attacks on civilians decreased.

By billeting the Prussian soldiers, they were closer to the civilian population than soldiers from other armies. The encapsulation of the soldiers did not take place until the soldiers were erected and billeted in walled barracks from the second half of the 18th century. The canton system made it difficult to separate civilians from the military, as Prussian soldiers were only required to serve two months of the year in peacetime in the 18th century. In the period from 1644 until the end of the Seven Years' War in 1763, there were no structural points of conflict between civilians and the military. The arguments that took place were personal in nature. From the 1770s on, there was increased criticism from the educated middle class. The reasons were, in particular, the low social background of the teams, the sophisticated precautions against desertions and the now barbaric punishment system. In 1795 a commission was set up on the basis of this criticism, which has meanwhile also been voiced by officers. I.a. demanded the staff officer v. Boyen (later Minister of War and reformer) an abolition of the dishonorable corporal punishment and increases in wages and bread. This was also recognized by the Commission.

Frederick the Great increased the proportion of the nobility in the Prussian officer corps, as he was convinced of their special impeccable spirit. Until then, there were also many civil officers in the army (for example Derfflinger ). This change in the officer structure also had an impact on social development and the class structure of Prussian society. With the ousting of the bourgeois officers, the army began to be isolated from society. The designation of the Prussian army as a "state within the state" became a reality from then on. The officer corps (at the same time the elite in the state) formed a tightly closed unit with fixed borders. They also formed the later refuge of reaction in the 19th century. The historian Hans Rosenberg judged that ultimately the visual proximity of the army to the strict Junker rule and the lack of freedom of the peasants had a detrimental effect on the development of political and social conditions in Prussia. The recognized historian Wolfgang Neugebauer agreed with this assessment in his standard work on Prussian history.

Due to the strength of the army, also in international comparison, contemporaries got the impression that all efforts of the citizens and the state seemed to be aimed at maintaining the army. In fact, since the soldier king and his successor Frederick II, the army had the highest priority in order to ensure the main objective of maintaining and securing the state internally and externally. Since then, Prussia has found itself in the "permanent stress of continuous overexertion" for the army. This became an end in itself. This is what the following famous quote from a contemporary witness refers to.

"The Prussian monarchy is not a country that has an army, but an army that has a country in which it is, as it were, only quartered"

All in all, towards the end of the reigns of Friedrich Wilhelm I and Friedrich II, Prussia offered the image of a well-organized military society. Otherwise the oversized military power could not have been built up. Fear of military and state authority and submission also became models in civil society. The role of the people in the 18th century was limited to providing supplies for the army, i.e. providing them with food, uniforms, money, living space for the soldiers and, of course, a supply of recruits. In 1806 the officer corps consisted of 7,000 officers . 6,300 of them came from the nobility.

During the Napoleonic period (1807-1815)

Military Reorganization Commission, Königsberg 1807

The basic considerations of the Prussian reformers were not originally in Prussia, but also took place in other German states, such as Austria, Bavaria and the Confederation of the Rhine. However, in Prussia more had to be fought against the resistance of the nobility, but the reforms were more permanent than in other countries and in 1814 became part of the Prussian army constitution. After the defeat in 1807 , until after the Wars of Liberation , the army, which had been closed to the outside world, developed into a people's army, even if only for a short time.

Until 1806, the army consisted of conscripts with non-general conscription ( canton regulations ) and non-Prussian recruited mercenaries. In the course of the reforms, the injustices in recruitment were eliminated through the introduction of compulsory military service. For this reason, among other things, a people's army was established at this time, in which the same standards applied to all men. The aim of the Prussian reformers was to educate the people in a new patriotic spirit by serving in the army. The citizen should accept the state and its structures and principles (and thus also the army) internally and voluntarily. The following was enacted in the regulations on August 6, 1808 (violation of the nobility's privilege):

"From now on, only knowledge and education are to be granted an entitlement to officer positions in times of peace, and excellent bravery and overview in times of war. All individuals from across the nation who possess this quality can therefore claim the highest positions of honor in the military. All previously held preference of the class ceases completely with the military and everyone has the same duties and the same rights. ”From this point on, the proportion of commoners in the officer corps increased to 70% at the beginning of the First World War. Outside the military, the barriers to class between the nobility, the bourgeoisie and the peasantry, as well as subservience to the estate, were lifted and citizens were allowed to participate in the self-government of the cities. These were important prerequisites for a “people in arms”. In 1807 the constitution of the Reserve Army stated: "All residents of the state are born defenders of it".

The Prussian government announced in 1808 that men from the bourgeoisie could also be drafted. Since the common soldier had no "civil honor" until then, the property and educated middle class rejected this. The reformers' hope that the bourgeoisie would have changed their attitudes by the time the plans were made by 1810 were an illusion. It was not until 1812/13, after years of pressure from French despotism, that the will of the bourgeoisie for military resistance began to outweigh earlier reservations. However, concessions from the king also played a role. Those who were able to dress and arm themselves could serve with the hunters with far-reaching privileges . The aristocracy, too, turned against the opening up to the commoners because they feared for their right to be appointed officers.

From the Congress of Vienna to the Revolution of 1848 (1815–1849)

After the Congress of Vienna , two camps faced each other in Prussia. On the one hand, the reformers like War Minister Boyen , who wanted to create a modern people's army on a militia basis and to do so had to win over the bourgeoisie. In keeping with the liberal zeitgeist, the officer corps should be recruited from the bourgeoisie, be socially respected and have a high level of military and general knowledge. On the other side stood the king and the nobility. The king feared for his influence on the armed forces and refused an external control. The nobility were also hostile to the reforms because they feared for their privileges and special status in the state. The following arguments revolved around the two opposites, the liberal people's army and the disciplined combat army, which has a special status in society. This came to a head in the controversy as to whether the army was bound by the constitution or by the king and on whom the oath should be taken.

With the departure of all reformers (Boyen resigned from his post as minister of war in 1819), the image of the citizen soldier changed into a soldier standing outside of society. An officer would not and should not take part in daily politics. The gap between citizens and the military widened. The restorative elements gained the upper hand in the years up to 1840. The abolition of compulsory military service desired by these circles did not succeed.

Storming of the barricade at the Konstablerwache in Frankfurt am Main on September 18, 1848 by the Prussian military,
lithograph by EG May based on a contemporary drawing by Jean Nicolas Ventadour. Historical Museum, Frankfurt am Main

So the Prussian army changed its inner face. The new class of officers that emerged in these years was far removed from the humanistic, universal spirit of reformers such as Scharnhorst, Gneisenau or Boyen. A new generation of officers emerged who were restricted to technical matters and trained in commanding the troops. The proportion of the nobility sank overall, but the bourgeoisie copied the forms of the "higher class", resulting in an officer class of great inner cohesion and with solid traditions. With Friedrich Wilhelm IV's accession to the throne , hopes for liberalization increased. Among others, Boyen was again Minister of War.

This hope ended when, in the wake of the pauperism of the onset of the Industrial Revolution, the army was increasingly deployed after 1846 for bloody police operations against civil unrest. The law enforcement operations intensified the increasing alienation between the civilian population and the military. When the king gave an address on March 18, 1848, in which he promised concessions, the people accepted the promises with enthusiasm. The troops standing by, however, misinterpreted the expressions of joy and, for fear of the start of a revolution, opened fire on the crowd, killing thirteen people. During the revolution of 1848 the army saw itself as the only guarantor against the revolution. The officer corps saw its foundations endangered and stood ready, even without royal orders, to intervene in the internal turmoil if necessary. After the intervention of stronger Prussian associations against the popular uprisings in large parts of the German Confederation, the Prussian army finally managed to put down the uprising in bloody battles. With the end of the revolution in 1849, all attempts to reconcile the army and civil society finally failed.

From 1849 to the founding of the Empire in 1871 and in the Second Empire

Since the introduction of the imposed constitution in 1849, the king's military command had been in place under constitutional law. The parliament, on the other hand, had budgetary power and determined all military expenditure. During the Prussian constitutional dispute (1862–66) ( army conflict ), the king prevailed over parliament on the issue of military command .

The founding of the Empire in the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles finally took place as a purely military spectacle, symbolically this stands for the driving force that led to the formation of the Second Empire and ultimately also strongly shaped the nature of this state. The army reform finally enabled the army to consolidate its special position as a monarchist instrument of power (it was only subject to the king). The army became the educational institute of the people and moved completely to the center of state efforts. Political decisions were also shaped by military aspects. Military norms and values ​​were increasingly finding their way into everyday life. The military virtues of punctuality, orderliness and discipline became civil virtues. Life in Germany became militarized and it was during this time that society began to differ from other European societies in its everyday life. Parades, imperial maneuvers and launching became social events and delighted the population. Uniforms were given a particularly respected position in society, an example of the special character of the time is the incident involving Captain von Koepenick . For the military, however, this event was a second Jena in the media, a journalistic catastrophe. Exposing the effects of latent militarism was widely discussed. The Berliner Morgenpost stated the day after the attack:

"That a whole community with all its public functions, yes, that a division of soldiers itself was duped by a single person in such an overwhelmingly comical and yet completely successful way, that is what a military garb has done in our country of unlimited uniform reverence which an old, crooked-legged individual had hung himself poorly. "

This was followed by a national and international wave of ridicule about the consequences of the military and, in particular, the arrogance of the military to civilian positions. As a result, there was an open and civil discussion culture at this time, which could freely express its opinion. This fact speaks rather for a publicly effective and pronounced civil culture, which is so z. B. had not given in the Third Reich. How strong civil society was able to develop in the following years was shown by the civil handling of the Zabern affair shortly before the beginning of the First World War. In spite of militaristic currents, a strong civilian movement had emerged parallel to these, which at least limited the influence of the military, and could possibly also restrict it if necessary.

The well-known literary work Der Untertan by Heinrich Mann , which shows the character and personality development of (male) individuals in civil society at the time, aimed in the same direction as the incident involving Hauptmann von Köpenick . The book and film portrayal shows a strongly adapted and submissive thinking and acting protagonist.

Speech of the German Emperor Wilhelm II in Potsdam on November 23, 1893 at a recruit swearing in:

“Recruits! You have now sworn your allegiance to Me before the consecrated servant of God and in the face of this altar. You are still too young to understand the true meaning of what has just been said, but first make sure that you always obey the given rules and teachings. You have sworn your allegiance to me, which - children of my guard - means, you are now my soldiers, you have surrendered yourselves to me with body and soul. There is only one enemy for you and that is My enemy. With the current socialist activities it can happen that I order you to shoot down your own relatives, brothers, even parents - which God forbid - but even then you have to obey My orders without grumbling. "

- Kaiser Wilhelm II.


Prussia's history and its essence was also shaped by military elements, which, when viewed as a whole, led to blanket judgments, here on the assumption that the military transformed the state of Prussia and restricted civil society at will. The myth of militarism in Prussia is part of a series of general myths that developed in the everyday and scientific discourse of contemporary witnesses. Further examples are:

  • The myth of the special spirituality of the Prussian state.
  • The Prussian virtues
  • The myth of the incorruptibility of the Prussian officials
  • The myth of the Prussian rule of law
  • The myth of Prussian tolerance

Myths are social constructions about historical reality that condense and simplify the traditions of a social community and in this way create social conventions that no longer have to be proven and justified. As a rule, they tend to simplify and shorten. In this sense, the militarization legend about Prussia is also a convention that has achieved general validity, is not fundamentally wrong in its statements, but has a tendency to falsify simplification and abbreviation through blanket judgments.

This tendency is also present in the militarization thesis on Prussia. On closer inspection, various assumptions no longer fit into the argumentation model. For example, the work of the military reformers in the course of the wars of liberation. These had a deeply liberal-progressive core approach in their reform program. The discipline through the use of the stick in the army and society in the 18th century was seen by the advocates of the militarism thesis as proof of the barrack-like tone in society, but the social discipline did not result in social gagging, but enabled progress in what was completely disinhibited by the Thirty Years' War Social structure so that more civilized and more complex institutions - from above - could be built. In Prussia there were always the same social institutions and debates with a similar density and frequency as in the relevant Western European states such as England or France. Ultimately, society has also adapted and incorporated every fad emanating from England or France. All of this contradicts a separate thesis and the assumption that there is a weak civil society.

Larger military operations by the army with combat operations
number 17th century 18th century 19th century
Years war Years war Years war
1 1618-1648 Thirty Years' War 1701-1713 War of the Spanish Succession 1806-1807 Fourth coalition war
2 1656-1660 Second Northern War 1715-1719 Great Northern War 1813-1814 Wars of Liberation
3 1663-1664 Turkish War 1663/1664 1740-1742 First Silesian War 1815 Summer campaign of 1815
4th 1674 Dutch War 1744-1746 Second Silesian War 1848-1849 Schleswig-Holstein survey
5 1675-1679 Swedish-Brandenburg War 1757-1763 Seven Years War 1864 German-Danish War
6th 1683-1686 Great Turkish War 1776-1777 War of the Bavarian Succession 1866 German-German war
7th 1688-1697 War of the Palatinate Succession 1792-1793 First coalition war 1870-1871 Franco-German War
8th 1794 Kościuszko uprising

A quantitative comparison of the army with comparable European armies on the basis of the number and length of the war missions shows that the Prussian army was not involved in wars more often than the French, English, Imperial or Russian armies at the same time. Initiative Wars of aggression, understood as a military attack on a neighbor who was basically peaceable, were only waged against Austria under Frederick II or, with reservations, Poland. Otherwise, the wars were the result of diplomatic alliance activities and commitments and embedded in an overall European approach. This also speaks against the special military-warlike character of the state and its army compared to its European neighbors of the same time.

Culture of remembrance

The multiple depictions of members of the Prussian army in drawings, watercolors, copperplate engravings and oil paintings are still significant, visible forms of souvenir as collections in private hands or in museums open to the public. The most famous painters of this genre with reference to the Prussian army in the 19th century were Richard Knötel and Carl Röchling . In terms of cinematic processing of the historical material, the time of Frederick the Great predominates. Most of the films are from the pre-war period ( Fridericus Rex films ), especially from the time of National Socialism. Newer film processing has become rare and is produced as a documentary film rather than a feature film. There is a large stock of popular literature that is devoted to Prussian military history and does not make any scientific claims. These works provide interested readers with a regional reference, overview and abundantly illustrated the military developments with a focus on military technology and organization, military customs, the presentation of individual résumés of important people and certain individual events up to individual campaign representations.

The York March , played by the United States Marine Band
Military Merit Cross
Gold Military Merit Cross
Medals of the Class of Merit 1793
The cross-shaped awards from Louis Schneider

In the military music hold until today many of the original march of the Prussian army. In particular, the military music service of the Bundeswehr actively uses the music inventory as part of active troop service.

The tradition of giving war awards to honor and to commemorate the participants of missions as well as former servants began early in Europe. A number of such medals were minted and awarded in the Prussian army. Among other things, there was a military medal of honor 1st and 2nd class, a rescue medal , general medals , a 25-year service award cross , the Düppelkreuz, the Alsenkreuz , a war commemorative coin from 1813/15 , a commemorative medal from 1863 , a war commemorative coin from 1870/71 , a commemorative cross for 1866 , a war memorial for 1864 , a Hohenzollern commemorative coin and a coronation medal. The more important badges were the Military Merit Cross , which was called "Pour le Mérite" for non-commissioned officers and men due to its low number of awards based on the total number of soldiers, and the Military Merit Order Pour le Mérite as such.

Nowadays, key scenes of the Prussian army from different eras are re-enacted in Germany as part of organized re-enactment events . The thematic predecessors of this movement were the local warrior associations of the 19th century.

Visible structural legacies of the Prussian army have become the war memorials and barracks in many German cities. In individual cases, fortifications such as the Spandau Citadel have been preserved and are now used for tourist and leisure activities. The Bundeswehr relies for its construction on Prussian traditions, most notably the time and the actors of the Prussian military reforms of 1807-1813. The goal of the Prussian military reformers to create an institution that creates the thinking citizen in uniform is congruent with the foundation of values ​​of the Bundeswehr and establishes the preservation of this line of tradition in today's German army.

An important army museum in Germany is the German Historical Museum in Berlin, which focuses on the collection of uniforms and equipment of the Prussian-German armies.

Extensive new barracks were built in the time of the German Empire, which were built in the inner cities for the line units and which are still visible legacies of this era. Today these functional buildings are often used by authorities as office buildings or have been converted into apartment buildings.

Research history

There has been an extensive literature on the Prussian army since the 18th century. An important author of this century was the Prussian King Frederick II himself (see list of literary works by Frederick the Great ). The classic research focus of more recent date lies in the social history and in it above all the fields of investigation salary , catering , accommodation , clothing , medical , judicial and administrative systems . Another object of investigation is the military as a profession , the position of the individual in relation to the army (motivation to join, economic and social situation, future prospects).

Military history researchers also examine the Prussian military as an organization and its adaptation to tactical changes, such as the introduction of new combat or weapon technology. English-speaking historians in particular devote themselves to the investigation of the military tactics of the Prussian-German army under the premise of the Prussian approach to blitzkrieg, which is regarded as original Prussian. Authors who publish in German continue to hold back on the subject of warfare.

Folkloric publications deal in detail with the decoration and furnishing of uniform and utility parts and the reproduction of the individual regimental and formation stories. Important German writers from this category are Martin Guddat and Hans Bleckwenn . In the 19th and early 20th centuries, the national (Borussian) historiography dominated, especially in Prussia, with a tendency towards military glorification of history. Curt Jany's standard work comes from this period. Since his books refer to archival data sets that were lost in 1945, the troop-specific data can still be used as a source for research due to the lack of equivalent alternatives.

In view of the specifically German development, which accumulated in a special way in the 19th and 20th centuries, the scholarly insight of historians in the second half of the 20th century focuses on the relationship between the military and Prussian civil society. Important and recognized authors of this time are Otto Büsch , Wolfgang Neugebauer and Gordon A. Craig . Military History Research on the Prussian army ran the Military History Institute of the GDR and today operates among other things, the Military History magazine the Military History Research Office of the Bundeswehr.

See also

Commons : Regimental flags in the 18th century  - collection of images, videos and audio files



Living conditions

Organization of the Army

  • Hans Bleckwenn (Ed.): The old Prussian army: appearance and essence. 1713–1807, 8 parts in 16 volumes, Osnabrück 1973ff., ISBN 3-7648-0187-5 .
  • Jörg Muth: Escape from everyday military life. Rombach Verlag, Freiburg i. Br. 2003, ISBN 3-7930-9338-7 (also for the area of ​​living conditions).
  • Olaf Groehler : The army in Brandenburg and Prussia from 1640 to 1806. The army. 1st edition. Brandenburgisches Verlagshaus, Berlin 1993, ISBN 3-89488-013-9 .
  • Martin Guddat: Cuirassiers Dragoons Hussars. The cavalry of Frederick the Great. Verlag Mittler & Sohn, Bonn 1989, ISBN 3-8132-0324-7 .
  • Martin Guddat: Gunner, Bombardier, Pontonier. The artillery of Frederick the Great. Mittler & Sohn publishing house, Bonn 1992, ISBN 3-8132-0383-2 .
  • Martin Guddat: Grenadiers Musketeers Fusiliers. The infantry of Frederick the Great. Edition Nikol, Verlag ES Mittler & Sohn GmbH Hamburg, ISBN 3-930656-38-8 .
  • Curt Jany, Eberhard Jany (ed.): History of the Prussian Army from the 15th century to 1914. Biblio Verlag, Osnabrück 1967 (expanded edition of the original edition from 1928), three volumes.
  • Philip Haythornthwaite: The Army of Frederick the Great. Infantry & Cavalry. Siegler Verlag, Sankt Augustin 2004, ISBN 3-87748-641-X .
  • Dirk Oetting: Order tactics. Frankfurt am Main / Bonn 1993.
  • Bright Easter Day: Education, training and education. Elite ideal, claim and reality in the officer corps in the Empire 1871-1918. Paris / New York 1990, 374 pp., ISBN 3-631-42489-2 .
  • Siegfried Fiedler: Armies of the Modern Era - Warfare and Warfare in the Age of Cabinet Wars. ISBN 3-7637-5478-4 .

Army equipment

  • The new uniforms and the great maneuvers in Prussia . In: Illustrirte Zeitung . No. 37 . J. J. Weber, Leipzig March 9, 1844, p. 163-169 ( ).
  • Hans Bleckwenn: The Frederician uniforms 1753–1786. 4 volumes. Hardenberg, Dortmund 1984; Volume I: ISBN 3-88379-444-9 .
  • The colorful skirt in Prussia. Military and civil uniforms from the 17th to the 20th century in drawings, engravings and photographs from the holdings of the Berlin Art Library. Selected and edit v. Ekhart Berckenhagen u. Gretel Wagner. Exhibition catalog Berlin 1981 a. Celle and Bonn-Bad Godesberg 1982. Staatliche Museen Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Berlin 1981, ISBN 3-88609-029-9 .
  • Werner Eckardt, Otto Morawietz: The hand weapons of the Brandenburg-Prussian German army - 1640-1945. 2nd Edition. Hamburg 1973.
  • Hans Dieter Götz: The German military rifles and machine guns 1871-1945. 4th edition. Stuttgart 1985.
  • Hans Dieter Götz: Military rifles and pistols of the German states 1800–1870. Stuttgart 1978.
  • Daniel Hohrath : Frederick the Great and the Uniforms of the Prussian Army from 1740 to 1786 [A publication of the German Historical Museum] . 2 volumes, Verlag Militaria, Vienna 2011, ISBN 978-3-902526-50-2 .
  • A. Mila: History of the clothing and equipment of the Royal Prussian Army in the years 1808 to 1878. At the same time a supplement to the uniform list of the German Reich Army. Reprographic reprint of the Berlin edition: Mittler 1878. “Heere der Geschichte” J. Olmes, Krefeld 1970.
  • Heinrich Müller: The army in Brandenburg and Prussia from 1640 to 1806. The armament . Brandenburgisches Verlagshaus, Berlin 1991, ISBN 3-327-01072-2 .
  • Paul Pietsch: The formation and uniforming history of the Prussian army. 1808-1910. Volume I: foot troops (infantry, hunters, riflemen, pioneers) and their Landwehr. Publishing house for national literature, Berlin 1911.
  • Paul Pietsch: The formation and uniforming history of the Prussian army. 1808-1912. Volume II: Cavalry, Artillery, Train, Generality, etc. Verlag für nationale Literatur, Berlin 1913.
  • Carmen Winkel: Distinction and representation. Interpretation and meaning of military uniforms in the 18th century. In: Sandro Wiggerich, Steven Kensy (Ed.): State Power Uniform. Uniforms as a symbol of state power in transition? (=  Studies on the history of everyday life . No. 29 ). Franz Steiner Verlag, Stuttgart 2011, ISBN 978-3-515-09933-2 , pp. 127-145 .

Web links

Commons : Military Prussia  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Karl-Heinz Lutz, Martin Rink , Marcus von Salisch: Reform, Reorganization, Transformation: On the change in the German armed forces from the Prussian army reforms to the transformation of the Bundeswehr , on behalf of the MGFA , R. Oldenbourg Verlag , Munich 2010, foreword and Foreword
  2. Jany, Vol. I (lit.), p. 546
  3. It is reasonable to assume that the promotion of tall guys, often referred to as a tick, was entirely due to the king's calculation: “Throughout my life, I found myself compelled to pursue two passions that I did not have [sic!] : One was absurd avarice and the other a dissolute affection for tall soldiers. It was only because of these very conspicuous weaknesses that I was allowed to collect great treasure and build a strong army. Both are there, now my successor doesn't need a mask. ”Report of the Privy Council of Schliestädt, commissioner of the Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel court, quoted from Georg Malkowsky: Art in the service of the state idea . Berlin 1912. p. 110.
  4. See the statistics in the Great General Staff. War History Department II (Ed.): The Prussian Officer Corps and the investigation of the war events. Mittler and Son, Berlin 1906, pp. 104-107.
  5. ^ The Prussian Army in 1812; Vol. 1; Great General Staff; Berlin 1912
  6. ^ Curt Jany, p. 149.
  7. ^ Lothar Gall : The cannon king Alfred Krupp . In: Research Frankfurt , May 7, 2010, p. 56 ff. ( Pdf online )
  8. Hans-Joachim Neumann, p. 46
  9. ^ Curt Jany, p. 228.
  10. a b Curt Jany, p. 254.
  11. ^ Curt Jany :, p. 287.
  12. ^ Andreas Wirsching: The Weimar Republic. Politics and society . Munich 2000, p. 55 f .; Eberhard Kolb: The Weimar Republic. 6th edition, Munich 2002, p. 42.
  13. Hans Mommsen : Military and civil militarization in Germany 1914 to 1938 . In: Ute Frevert (Ed.): Military and society in the 19th and 20th centuries. Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 1997, p. 273.
  14. Cf. Carmen Winkel: Distinction and Representation: Interpretation and Meaning of Military Uniforms in the 18th Century. In: Sandro Wiggerich, Steven Kensy (Ed.): State Power Uniform. Uniforms as a symbol of state power in transition? (= Studies on the history of everyday life 29). Franz Steiner Verlag, Stuttgart 2011, ISBN 978-3-515-09933-2 , pp. 127-145.
  15. ^ The Prussian Army in 1812; Vol. 1; Great General Staff; Berlin 1912; P. 204
  16. ^ Karl-Heinz Lutz, Martin Rink , Marcus von Salisch: Reform, Reorganization, Transformation: On the change in the German armed forces from the Prussian army reforms to the transformation of the Bundeswehr, on behalf of the MGFA , R. Oldenbourg Verlag , Munich 2010, p. 191-198
  17. ^ The little book of the German army , published by Lipsius & Tischer, Kiel and Leipzig 1901, p. 24 ff.
  18. ^ Curt Jany, p. 326.
  19. ^ Karl-Heinz Lutz, Martin Rink , Marcus von Salisch: Reform, Reorganization, Transformation: On the change in the German armed forces from the Prussian army reforms to the transformation of the Bundeswehr, on behalf of the MGFA , R. Oldenbourg Verlag , Munich 2010, p. 68
  20. Wolfgang Neugebauer: Handbook of Prussian History: Volume III, From the Empire to the 20th Century and Major Topics in the History of Prussia, Walter de Gruyter , 1992 Berlin New York, p. 365
  21. ^ Karl-Heinz Lutz, Martin Rink , Marcus von Salisch: Reform, Reorganization, Transformation: On the change in the German armed forces from the Prussian army reforms to the transformation of the Bundeswehr, on behalf of the MGFA , R. Oldenbourg Verlag , Munich 2010, p. 29f
  22. ^ Karl-Heinz Lutz, Martin Rink , Marcus von Salisch: Reform, Reorganization, Transformation: On the change in the German armed forces from the Prussian army reforms to the transformation of the Bundeswehr, on behalf of the MGFA , R. Oldenbourg Verlag , Munich 2010, p. 67
  23. ^ Klaus-Jürgen Bremm : From the highway to the rail. Military and railways in Prussia, France and the Habsburg Monarchy until 1848/50, Military History Journal , Volume 63, Issue 1. Pages 1-52, pp. 1f
  24. ^ Klaus-Jürgen Bremm : From the highway to the rail. Military and railways in Prussia, France and the Habsburg Monarchy until 1848/50, Military History Journal , Volume 63, Issue 1. Pages 1-52, pp. 1f
  25. Otto Büsch, Wolfgang Neugebauer: Modern Prussian History, deGruyter Verlag, 1981, Volume 2, p. 763f
  26. Ralf Pröve : Standing army and urban society in the 18th century: Göttingen and its military population 1713-1756, R. Oldenbourg Verlag, Munich 1995, p. 2
  27. Hartmut Schustereit: German military administration in transition, Oberbaum Verlag 2000, p. 17
  28. as a contribution published in: Otto Büsch , Wolfgang Neugebauer : Moderne Preußische Geschichte, deGruyter Verlag , 1981, Volume 2, p. 855
  29. a b c Christian Friedrich Wutstrack : Brief historical-geographical-statistical description of the royal Prussian duchy of Western and Western Pomerania . Stettin 1793, pp. 691-693.
  30. ^ Gottfried Traugott Gallus: History of the Mark Brandenburg for friends of historical information . Volume 6, Züllich and Freistadt 1805, p. 274 restricted preview in the Google book search.
  31. Handbook of Historic Places in Germany . Volume 12: Mecklenburg - Pommern , Kröner, Stuttgart 1996, pp. 289-290.
  32. Olaf Groehler , p. 31.
  33. Jürgen Kloosterhuis : Legendary "tall guys". Sources on the regimental culture of the royal grenadiers Friedrich Wilhelm I, 1713-1740., Self-published by the Secret State Archives Prussian Cultural Heritage, Berlin 2003, p. 222
  34. Jürgen Kloosterhuis : Katte, Ordre und Kriegsartikel: File analysis and military-historical aspects of a “technical” story, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 2011, 2nd edition, p. 61
  35. Olaf Groehler , p. 20.
  36. ^ Martin Guddat : Handbook on Prussian Military History 1688 - 1786, ES Mittler & Sohn , Berlin 2012, p. 56
  37. Michael Reiff: Strandgut des Krieg: The social situation of war invalids in the German armies of absolutism and the Napoleonic period (1648-1815) , in: Military and Society in the Early Modern Age , Bulletin , vol. V, Heft 1 (2001), P.56
  38. ^ Wolfram Sternbeck: The Invalidensiedlung in Berlin-Frohnau - A forgotten legacy of Prussia. Ed .: Invalidenstiftung Berlin, Sutton Verlag , Berlin 2007
  39. Michael Reiff: Strandgut des Krieg: The social situation of war invalids in the German armies of absolutism and the Napoleonic period (1648-1815) , in: Military and Society in the Early Modern Age , Bulletin , vol. V, Heft 1 (2001), P. 57
  40. Karl H. Peter : Candidate Naval Officer - Their Training from 1848 to Today (1969)
  41. Das kleine Buch vom Deutschen Heere , Verlag von Lipsius & Tischer, Kiel and Leipzig 1901, p. 124 ff.
  42. a b Transmission error corrected according to Hein: The small book of the German army, Kiel and Leipzig 1901 p. 126
  43. ^ Adolf Levenstein: The worker question with special consideration of the socio-psychological side of the modern large enterprise and the psychophysical effects on the workers . Munich 1912. pp. 68-75.
  44. Karl-Volker Neugebauer, pp. 223–224.
  45. a b Karl-Volker Neugebauer, p. 220 ff.
  46. Sections 10-11 Reich Military Law of November 9, 1867, Federal Law Gazette p. 131 Scan on Commons
  47. Men who left the Reich territory, lost their nationality, but had not acquired or lost another nationality, had to report if they took their permanent residence in Prussia and could subsequently be evacuated, but in peacetime not beyond the age of 31 addition to being withheld on duty. The same applied to the sons of emigrated persons and those who returned to Prussia, provided that the sons had not acquired any other citizenship. The above provisions also applied to emigrants who had acquired another nationality but who became Reich citizens again before they reached the age of 31. § 11 Reich Military Law Scan on Commons
  48. see e.g. B. 8th Landwehr Division (German Empire)
  49. ^ Imperial 'Law on the Landsturm' of February 12, 1875; Deutsches Reichsgesetzblatt Volume 1875, No. 7, Pages 63–64 Scan to Commons
  50. Reichsgesetzblatt 1888, p. 11 ff.
  51. see e.g. B. Württemberg Landsturm Infantry Regiment No. 13
  52. In the Anglo-Saxon region in the 20th century, militarism, cadaver obedience , submissive spirit, uniforms, spiked bonnets , grim and sadistic junkers with smacking faces as well as aggression, desire for expansion and racism were considered very Prussian attributes , see: David E. Barclay: Preussens Disappearance Ein Streifzug through Anglo-American literature , in: Zeitschrift für Ideengeschichte (4) 2011, p. 53
  53. Etienne François , Hagen Schulze (ed.): German places of memory, CH Beck Verlag, Munich 2001, Volume 1, Chapter: Die Junker, p. 526
  54. So, in his contribution, Reif describes the transformation of historical images into Junkerism in: Etienne François, Hagen Schulze (Ed.): Deutsche Memungsorte, CH Beck Verlag, Munich 2001, Volume 1, Chapter: Die Junker, p. 520ff
  55. ^ Basically read in the standard work from 1958 by Hans Rosenberg : Bureaucracy, Aristocracy, Autocracy. The Prussian Experience 1660-1815, Harvard University Press
  56. Christopher Clark : Prussia - Aufstieg und Niedergang 1600-1947, Pantheon Verlag, 2006, p. 10 Clark quotes Ludwig Dehio , a well-known historian, in an overall compilation of the history of the debate in his internationally acclaimed standard work , according to which National Socialism was not a coincidence, but « the current symptom of a chronic Prussian infirmity ».
  57. The content of the section can be found in: David E. Barclay: Preussens Disappearance A foray through Anglo-American literature , in: Zeitschrift für Ideengeschichte (4) 2011, pp. 52–64
  58. Wolfgang Neugebauer : Handbook of Prussian History: Volume III, From the Empire to the 20th Century and Major Topics in the History of Prussia, Walter de Gruyter , 1992 Berlin New York, p. 354
  59. Wolfgang Neugebauer: Handbook of Prussian History: Volume III, From the Empire to the 20th Century and Major Topics in the History of Prussia, Walter de Gruyter , 1992 Berlin New York, p. 354
  60. Georg Heinrich von Berenhorst : From the estate . Reprint of the edition, Dessau 1845 and 1847, Biblio-Verlag, Osnabrück 1978, ISBN 3-7648-0850-0 . P. 187.
  61. Olaf Groehler , p. 66.
  63. Christopher Clark: Prussia - Aufstieg und Niedergang 1600-1947, Pantheon Verlag, 2006, p. 682
  64. Hans Bentzien: Under the Red and Black Eagle - History of Brandenburg-Prussia for everyone , Volk & Welt publishing house, Berlin 1992, p. 286
  65. The website was created as a supplement to the six-part television documentation that was broadcast in 2000/2001 in the first program of ARD, in ORB- Television, on WDR television, on B1 (SFB) and Phoenix.
  68. Wolfgang Heil: The common soldiers. The social life of the military lower class in the old Prussian army and its position in old-class society, 2001, p. 151
  69. for example Robert Michael Citino in: The German Way of War: From the Thirty Years' War to the Third Reich, University Press of Kansas, 2005
This version was added to the list of articles worth reading on April 8, 2007 .