"The most beautiful girl or woman in the world would be a matter of indifference to me, but tall soldiers—they are my weakness." Thus confessed Frederick William, second king of Prussia, whose passion compelled the creation of an elite regiment of six-foot-plus grenadiers. Recruitment, diplomatic gifts, and the occasional abduction of a spindly peasant or acromegalic tradesman supplied thousands of "giants" for the ranks; experiments with breeding programs and stretching machines were somewhat less successful. Frederick II, Frederick William's son and successor, dispersed the regiment when he succeeded to power in 1740. The Potsdam Giants had never actually seen combat, the main part of their duty having been to drill and parade before their enraptured king. [more inside]
World War I in Color is a documentary designed to make the Great War come alive for a 21st-century audience. The events of 1914-18 are authoritatively narrated by Kenneth Branagh, who presents the military and political overview, while interviews with historians add different perspectives in six 48 minute installments annotated within. [more inside]
American military planners are fascinated with German/Prussian military history. Busts of Von Clauswitz adorn American military academies where On War is taught, often with the misperception that Von Clauswitz viewed war as a controllable science. Shock & Awe is just the idea of Blitzkrieg with better weapons. Endless exhortations about unit cohesion (a complex, multi-layered idea with no military definition that is nonetheless used to keep gay soldiers from openly serving) comes from admiration for the Wehrmacht, their discipline and courage on the battlefield. So too the idea of a military culture separate and more honorable than the civilians they protect, advancing the professional warrior model at the expense of the citizen-soldier model. But to quote author military/adventure author Tom Clancy, “Why do people have a fixation with the German military when they haven’t won a war since 1871?” Previously
Indeed, all three of Hitler’s prized leather whips were presents from high society ladies. : Christopher Clark reviews High Society in the Third Reich by Fabrice d’Almeida in the London Review Of Books.
One day in 1999, Alex Sabac el Cher, a retired German textile salesman opened his door to a historian who had a painting to show him and a few questions. Preußisches Liebesglück ("Prussian love bliss"), a 1890 painting of two lovebirds, an African officer of the German imperial army and his young red-headed bride, was perhaps an allegory of (color-)blind love, but also an actual moment of happiness in the Sabac el Cher family history, that started in 1836 with the gift of a young Nubian boy nicknamed August "Good morning" to an exiled princely murderer and became interwoven with German history. Bonus: First 10 minutes (in French) of a documentary about the Sabac el Cher.
Von der Maas bis an die Memel,
Von der Etsch bis an den Belt.
Deutschland, Deutschland Europa, Europa über alles, Über alles in der Welt!
Von der Etsch bis an den Belt.