In 1870 France declared war on Prussia but soon lost the war in 1871. The Prussian victory was the final test of leadership for Prussian King Wilhelm. In the afterglow of victory, he announced the formation of the Second German Empire at the Versailles Palace in occupied France… the new German Empire was born on… Continue reading The new German Empire was born on French soil in 1871
The inauguration of the Berlin Siegessäule (Victory Column) is depicted here in an 1873 artist's rendering of the ceremony conducted by Kaiser Wilhelm I...the image in gold is a close up of the Victoria statue atop the column, as it appears today. Originally, the Victory Column was designed by Heinrich Strack in 1864 to commemorate… Continue reading Inauguration of the 1873 Berlin Siegessäule (Victory Column)
Prussian King Friedrich II (Frederick the Great) instituted the blue enameled cross “Pour le Merite” in June 1740 as a token of appreciation for those leaders in his army who distinguished themselves in the first Silesian War. The medal continued to be awarded for the next 180 years, gaining its greatest renown with Germany’s air aces… Continue reading This German medal, nicknamed the “Blue Max”, has an interesting story to tell, including why it has a French name.
Königsberg Castle with the Kaiser Wilhelm Statue is pictured here in sharp detail, along with the routine comings and goings around the castle in 1895. This stone castle was constructed in 1257 as the fortress residence of the Grandmasters of the Teutonic Order and later became a residence for Prussian rulers. The people captured in… Continue reading Königsberg Castle with the Kaiser Wilhelm Statue is pictured here in sharp detail, along with the routine comings and goings around the castle in 1895.
In Germany the year 1888 is remembered as the year of 3 Kaisers. Friedrich Wilhelm succeeded his father as Emperor in 1888, but ruled for only 98 days, before succumbing to throat cancer. Although still young at age 57, he was Emperor of Germany for only 3 months. Upon Friedrich's death, his son Wilhelm II… Continue reading If Friedrich had lived longer, he might have been able to change European alliances, preventing the outbreak of WWI and thus WWII
...with walls 27 ft high and 7 feet thick...and with outermost castle walls that enclose 52 acres. For perspective, that is four times the enclosed area of Windsor Castle. Amazingly, this huge German medieval structure still exists... it has survived the ages and is now 743 years old, although it is no longer located within… Continue reading Marienburg Castle is the largest fortress ever built in Europe
"Dinner at the Ball" captures a moment in time during the high point of peace and prosperity in the German Empire. It was 7 years after the German unification of 1871 and was the era of Kaiser Wilhelm I and his Chancellor Bismarck, who created a booming economy and a foreign policy that produced 43… Continue reading Most of Menzel’s paintings were quickly gathered up by museums and patrons in Germany
Political cartoons are not new...yes, they were even used during the reign of Frederick the Great...this image and text was distributed in Frederick's time and was considered a parody, poking a sarcastic finger at the degree of loyalty within Prussian ranks. It shows Frederick surrounded by his amazingly loyal Infantry...the text states: Du bist noch… Continue reading Even Frederick the Great was a target of contemporaneous political sarcasim
The 1904 unveiling of the Wagner Memorial in Berlin’s Tiergarten Park was a major social event, interestingly thanks to the opera singer Ludwig Leichner, who donated the Memorial to the city of Berlin. The event was memorialized in a painting by the famous artist, Anton von Werner. He was commissioned to capture the unveiling ceremony,… Continue reading An opera singer donated the Wagner Memorial to the city of Berlin in 1904
This painting of "Erwachende Germania" (Awakening of Germania) symbolized efforts of the mid-19th century to unite German states into a second empire. In this 1849 painting by Christian Köhler, he depicts an allegorical "Germania" as a female warrior, awakened from her slumber by the approach of an evil power. She protects the old German Imperial… Continue reading This 1849 painting of an allegorical “Germania” symbolized a general yearning for a new German Empire