February 25th 1947: Prussia ceases to exist

On this day in 1947, the state of Prussia, which had existed since 1525, ceased to exist. Prussia was a German kingdom, and in the nineteenth century became its most powerful state, rising in strength to challenge other established European powers. Otto von Bismarck aimed to unite all German states under the domination of Prussia, which was achieved through the German Unification Wars (Austro-Prussian War 1866 & Franco-Prussian War 1870-1871). As Prussia merged with Germany it lost its distinctive identity and in 1918 the royalty abdicated and nobility lost most of its political power. Under Nazi rule, Prussia lost its identity even more, with centralisation policies removing its autonomy. Prussia lost some territory in the post-war division of Germany into zones and the Western allies sought its full abolition. This was secured in Law 46 by the Allied Control Council, citing Prussia’s association with past militarism as the reason. Former Prussian territory was then re-organised. Prussia has since been vilified by Germans as a symbol of the militarism and obedience that led to the Nazi rise to power.