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#1
Old 03-09-2011, 10:15 PM
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Fate of the Prussian Military Aristocracy?

Since the end of World War II, and the establishment of the Federal German Republic and until 1990, the German Democratic Republic what happened to the old Prussian aristocracy better known as the Junkers whose scions included Bismarck, von Moltke, and von Manstein?
#2
Old 03-09-2011, 11:42 PM
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All titles of nobility were abolished in 1919. Although the present holders of titles are recognised as such by various genealogical and nobiliary groups. They get around this by appending the titles as part of their personal names. Some have retained wealth, some have got poor, and some have served the various elected governments as ministers or civil servants. Some still try to reclaim lost estates.

Hiter loathed the aristocracy, as a class conscious proletarian thing; this is as distinct from his republican hatred of the monarchists, as aristocratic rule is different to monarchic rule, since neither are dependent upon the other and are often fatally antagonistic. The value of the Prussian aristocracy was in that it was bound to service by the early Hohenzollerns of the 18th century and therefore remained loyal to the crown rather than seeking separate power as a group. Other than acting as a land-owners' group in parliaments.

That said, it was not a Military Aristocracy: they weren't samurai or mamluks... They were simply a comparatively poor aristocracy that willingly furnished some of their members as excellent soldiers.
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#3
Old 03-09-2011, 11:54 PM
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the district of Prussia got renamed the district of Kaliningrad, and the majority of its surviving population had the good sense of moving to West Germany in the process, leaving farms and other possessions behind. Some did not make it http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/KdF_Ship_Wilhelm_Gustloff

Presumably their distinct class culture took a big hit from heavy military casualties among men and from economic dispossession. Children usually take after their fathers socially and culturally, and there was a big shortage of Prussian officers able to start families after the war.
#4
Old 03-10-2011, 05:52 AM
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Originally Posted by code_grey View Post
the district of Prussia got renamed the district of Kaliningrad
That was one half of East Prussia. Prussia as a whole stretched across almost the entire northern half of Germany as it existed before 1945.

The WW2 allies were somewhat fixated on the idea that it was "Prussian militarism" that had acted as a significant factor in war breaking out, and as a result the German state of Prussia was abolished by the occupying powers.

As for the OP's question: presumably the heavy curtailment of the German military by the Treaty of Versailles, combined with post-war social and political upheaval within Germany, did for Prussian Junker traditions. And as Claverhouse said, Hitler had a particular loathing for aristocrats, and didn't trust them.
#5
Old 03-10-2011, 10:40 AM
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The majority of the Junkers appear to have been located in specific areas.

First, the old Kingdom of Prussia, conquered by the Teutonic Knights and settled by Germans who gradually completely replaced the Old Prussians, a Baltic people allied to the Lithuanians and Latvians. Its boundaries were remarkably close to those of interwar East Prussia./ After WWII this was partitioned, the south half being included as Warmia-Masuria region, Poland, and the north half becoming Kaliningrad oblast, Russia (in the USSR until that broke up, but a part of Russia proper from the start).

West Prussia became German as part of the Polish Partition of 1772, though it was already heavily settled by Germans along with the native Kashubians. It fell to Poland after WWI.

Pomerania (except for a western end of the traditional region, part of Mecklenburg) corresponded roughly to the "north wing" of the lands east of the DDR ceded by Germany to Poland in 1945. Historically ethnically German, it was mostly a possession of the Swedish crown, yielded to Brandenburg-Prussia in three chunks between 1722 and 1815.

Silesia, the "south wing" of those lands, fell to Brandenburg-Prussia after the Seven Years' War, and was an ethnic crazy quilt of Poles and Germans.

Brandenburg, the dcentral third of the old DDR, was the heartland of Hohenzollern power. In fact, "Prussian" comes from the fact that the Margraves/Electors of Brandenburg, desiring a crown and constrained by the concept that there was only one king per ethnicity and the German King was the Holy Roman Emperor or his son, became Kings of Prussia (remember the Old Prussians were ethnic Balts) to get around this.

(To complete the array of Prussian lands, we should mention the Prussian Rhine Province, an 1815 creation of the Congress of Vienna./)

The Junkers were concentrated largely in Prussia (sensu stricto), Brandenburg, and Pomerania. They lost much of their influence after WWI, the Nazis used a few of the best Junker generals, and what influence was left went down the tubes with WWII.
#6
Old 03-10-2011, 02:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Polycarp View Post
Brandenburg, the dcentral third of the old DDR, was the heartland of Hohenzollern power. In fact, "Prussian" comes from the fact that the Margraves/Electors of Brandenburg, desiring a crown and constrained by the concept that there was only one king per ethnicity and the German King was the Holy Roman Emperor or his son, became Kings of Prussia (remember the Old Prussians were ethnic Balts) to get around this.
"Kings in Prussia". It was a compromise made with the Holy Roman Emperor to recognize the fact that the Electors of Brandenberg didn't have royal rights in Brandenberg, which was part of the HRE, but only in Prussia, which was part of Poland.
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