Where Was Prussia?

Prussia has always been a confusing concept for me. The name sounds suspiciously like Russia, however Prussians were German in origin. The last stronghold of the Teutonic Knights, Eastern Prussia went on to become the modern day Kaliningrad Province and Ducal Prussia was incorporated into the Hohenzollern family’s Holy Roman Empire and then Frederick the Great’s Prussia, the forerunners to modern day Germany.

I don’t know about you, but I was pretty excited to get all of this organized in my mind. My neuron connections regarding Prussia had always led to nowhere. Now a few of them can lead to the Polish city of Wrocław.

Wrocław has a rich and confusing history. Originally settled by Slav tribes, it has been ruled by the Hanseatic League, the Bohemian kings, the Austran Hapsburgs and eventually, under the name Breslau, became the second most important city (after Berlin) in Frederick the Great’s Prussia. It was an equally important city in Nazi Germany and, perhaps to further stick it to the Germans, it was given to Poland after World War II.

The name was changed to Wrocław and, as the German population was pushed westward, residents of the former Polish city L’wow (given to Russia after the war and now part of the Ukraine) were encouraged to populate the city.

If you think this complicated history is unique to Wrocław, check out a Polish history book. Every city and region has repeatedly changed hands. In fact in 1797 Poland was wiped off the map entirely, greedily partitioned by Russia, Austria and Prussia. Wrocław is simply another example of Poland’s ever changing borders.

As well as Wrocław, we visited the Karkonosze Mountains on the Czech Border. On this subject I must advise: if you are traveling without a spare pair of shoes, wait until the snow melts to climb the mountain.

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