Cover image for The vanished kingdom : travels through the history of Prussia
The vanished kingdom : travels through the history of Prussia
Roy, James Charles, 1945-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Boulder, Colo. : Westview Press, 1999.
Physical Description:
xiii, 398 pages : illustrations, maps ; 24 cm
Reading Level:
1300 Lexile.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
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Item Holds
DD345 .R69 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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Twice in this century, Germany initiated wars of unimagined terror and destruction. In both cases, defense of the "Prussian" realm, the German homeland, was the perceived and vilified perpetrator. Few today understand with any precision what "Prussia" means, either geographically or nationalistically, but neither would they deny the psychic resonance of the single word. To most, it means unbridled aggression, the image of the goose-stepping Junker .But what was once Prussia is now a significant portion of Eastern Europe, a contested homeland first won by Christian knights of the Teutonic Order. For centuries thereafter its terrain has been crisscrossed by war and partitioned by barbed wire. In its final catastrophe of 1945, nearly two million German refugees fled the region as Russian armies broke the eastern front, perhaps the greatest dislocation of a civilian population at any time during World War II. With the Berlin Wall now a memory and the Soviet Union in a state of collapse, this remains a geography in shambles. Modern travelers can now, for the first time in decades, see and ponder for themselves what Prussia really was and now is.James Charles Roy and Amos Elon, two writers noted for their inquisitive natures, have gone to search through the rubble themselves. They intermingle present-day observations with moving vignettes from the German and Prussian past, sketching a portrait of the Europe we know today. The story is spiced with interviews and reminiscences, unforgettable in their sadness, of people looking back at a life now gone, a life full of turmoil and heartache, memories both fond and tragic. The final result: a far deeper understanding of the tattered lands of today's Eastern Europe.

Author Notes

James Charles Roy has been a peripatetic "independent scholar" since 1970, when he left Time Inc. He has written innumerable articles on Irish history and five distinguished books, including The Fields of Athenry and Islands of Storm , a Book-of-the-Month and History Book Club selection. He divides his time between Moyode Castle in County Galway and his home in Newburyport, Massachusetts.

Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

Roy traveled through what used to be the ancient kingdom of Prussia, the cradle of modern Germany, contrasting what he saw and heard from current Polish citizens with the memories of former German residents. The forced relocation of millions of Germans who had lived there for more than 700 years certainly added to the misery of 1945. What makes this book interesting is that few readers know much of the "Great Trek" during the winter of 1944-45 that turned Danzig into Gdansk and K”nigsberg into Kaliningrad. Many readers have heard of the alleged connection of Prussian militarism to Hitler's rise, but for those who lack an understanding of Prussia's cultural history, such allegations are meaningless. Roy, whose previous books have all dealt with Ireland, presents a solid popular history of Prussia but adds nothing new in the final chapters on the war. The book relies too heavily on secondary sources to be of use to academics, though it has a good bibliography for those unfamiliar with Prussia. Recommended for undergraduate collections and public libraries.ÄRandall L. Schroeder, Wartburg Coll. Lib., Waverly, IA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Introduction Königsberg (kaliningrad): The Nowhere Cityp. 1
Part 1 Beginnings the Teutoni Knightsp. 23
1 Old Prussia 1275-1995 Finding the Wayp. 25
2 Marienburg 1275 Crusades and the Birth of Prussiap. 43
3 Danzig 1375 Drive to the Eastp. 65
4 Gr?nwald 1410 the Knights Repulsedp. 81
5 Frauenburg 1543 Polish Inroadsp. 93
Part 2 Consolidation: The Hohenzollern Dynastyp. 103
6 Grosse Werder 1660 the Great Electorp. 105
7 Neudeck 1760 the Soldier-Kingp. 115
8 Eylau 1807 Napoleonic Disasterp. 133
Part 3 Blood and Iron: Bismark and Wilhelmp. 159
9 Cadinen 1888 Rush for Gloryp. 163
10 Tannenberg 1914 the Siamese Twinsp. 177
11 Gross Pötzdorf 1930 Weimar Interludep. 195
Part 4 Extinction: The Second World Warp. 207
12 Suwalki 1939 Warp. 211
13 The River Memel 1941 into Russiap. 231
14 Stutthof 1943 Final Solutionsp. 241
15 Rastenburg 1944 Madness, Assassination, Honorp. 253
16 Ostpreussen 1945 Along Country Roadsp. 285
17 In the West: Survivorsp. 313
Notesp. 327
Select Bibliographyp. 353
A Note on the Geography of East Prussiap. 375
Creditsp. 377
Acknowledgmentsp. 379
Indexp. 381