Prussia has not existed as a geographical reality for more than sixty-five years. It was not simply that its lands were occupied by Allied forces from west and east, soon divided by an Iron Curtain (an accident of the war’s end); rather it was deliberately dismantled by the victors. Protestant Prussia was regarded as the powerhouse of German militarism, aggressive capitalism and eastward imperialism despite the fact that Hitler, Himmler, Göring and Goebbels all came from Catholic Germany or Austria. Crushing the curse of Prussia was seen as the core of any postwar settlement of the German lands. No Prussia, no more war.
As we learn in Max Egremont’s engaging but disorganised exploration of the fate of its eastern half, the heartland of the old Prussian marches, Prussia had already been divided once at the whim of the victors. In 1919 a Polish ‘Corridor’ was carved out of Prussian territory to