Saturday, November 21, 2009

Older Potsdam and a bit of Hearsay History

 The older half history of potsdam is about wars ,potatoes and royal eccentricities.  At the center of all this is the Prussian crown first worn by the "King in Prussia" Fedrick I and then consequently Fedrick II then The Nephew and so on...

You can buy this replica for 80 euroes at the shop!!! I thought that if I wore it it would be too heavy considering the Phd feather on cap is too long and heavy in its creation to be replaced by gold imitation!

Suum cuique ("to each, his own"), the motto of the Order of the Black Eagle created by King Frederick I in 1701, was often associated with the whole of Prussia.  I like the motto, Its sounds like a NIAS doctoral program motto to me! ( specially in our 'Multi-disciplinary' fields) And hey notice the eagle similarities to our logo at NIAS? Heh Heh.
 Here are two nice examples of the eagle.

The Hohenzollern state was then known as Brandenburg-Prussia, belonging to  family called Electors.The Margraviate of Brandenburg within the Holy Roman Empire and the Duchy of Prussia outside of the Empire.(This was not a Kingdom as  kingdoms within the holy roman empire were not allowed.) It was Frederick I who convinced the then Leopold I, Archduke of Austria and Holy Roman Emperor, was  to allow Prussia to be ruled as a kingdom. He called himself "KING IN PRUSSIA," so as not to threaten territories of the hohenzollern that were not in Prussia. Berlin was called Königsberg!

 The Blue ladies in the background holding the crown on the New palace are the three graces.They ordinarily numbered three, from youngest to oldest: Aglaea ("Beauty"), Euphrosyne ("Mirth"), and Thalia ("Good Cheer"). In Roman mythology they were known as  the "Graces." Sometimes a joke was that in this palace they were the three queens around Frederick , including Empress Elizabeth. ( wait For this Story later in the blog)

His son called Frederick II (the great)  had a traumatic childhood and youth. At age 16, Frederick II had formed an attachment to the king's 13-year-old page, Peter Karl Christoph Keith. Wilhelmina  ( his older sister) recorded that the two "soon became inseparable.  In a strange turn of political events the young prince tried to run away from his autocratic father to England, was caught and punished. The saddest part is that the king forced Frederick to watch the decapitation of his confidant Katte at Küstrin on 6 November, leaving the crown prince to faint away and suffer hallucinations for the following two days.

Taking on the Kingdom after his father's death,Frederick managed to transform Prussia from a European backwater to an economically strong and politically reformed state. His acquisition of Silesia  during the silesian war provided economic benefits. Canals were built, including between the Vistula and the Oder, swamps were drained for agricultural cultivation, and new crops, such as the potato and the turnip, were introduced.  The potato story is worth retelling.

So the people hate eating things that grow below the ground. "Food For hogs! ( pigs)" they insisted. Food shortage was affecting the people of Prussia who had to learn to eat this nice round kartoffels. Despite education and awareness people tried to eat the green shoots of the potato and fell ill. So Fredrick devised a strategy. He had potatoes planted in the royal gardens and had it heavily guarded as special food for the royal kitchens. The curious citizens raided the gardens for the "special veggie." The guards (as planned by the king) looked the other way as the smuggled potatoes made their way into people's kitchens and cuisines.
 The Flip side is that potatoes became so much important in europe that when the crop failed, it caused the potato famine that also affected germany. Apparently turnips saved the day reported my guide.

Frederick also aspired to be a philosopher-king like the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius. The king joined the Freemasons in 1738 and stood close to the French Enlightenment, admiring above all its greatest thinker, Voltaire, with whom he corresponded frequently. The personal friendship of Frederick and Voltaire came to an unpleasant end after Voltaire's visit to Berlin and Potsdam in 1750–1753, although they reconciled from afar in later years. ( Wikki Source)

Forced in to marriage  for political reasons, he never spent time with his wife who lived in a different palace.  ( He called her a fat cow!!)  He is often suspected to be homosexual, or struck with some ailment that made him stay away from women but the pages of history are blurred even about kings.
Frederick took no pleasure from his popularity with the common folk, preferring instead the company of his pet Italian greyhounds, whom he referred to as his 'marquises de Pompadour' as a jibe at Madame de Pompadour. His final resting place marker is near his beloved dogs as he had requested. ( not next to his wife) People put potatoes on his grave as a mark of respect which is in the beloved summer palace in south side facing the gardens at Potsdam.

The actual entombed body in its tomb was transported, protected in bunkers and then finally after WWII was laid to rest in in the Kaiser Friedrich Mausoleum in Sanssouci's Church of Peace on the grounds of the park for a while. The King 's body was then shifted again after reunification.

On 17 August 1991, Frederick's casket lay in state in the court of honor of Sanssouci, covered by a Prussian flag and escorted by a Bundeswehr guard of honour. After nightfall, Frederick's body was finally laid to rest on the terrace of the vineyard of Sanssouci, according to his last will without pomp and at night near his Italian Greyhounds.
It was befitting tribute to  der alte Fritz ("Old Fritz"), he was fondly called , as both the nazis and the autocratic rule of  had done much damage by using him for their propaganda.

The king preferred spending his time in his summer residence Potsdam, where he built the palace of Sanssouci, the most important work of Northern German rococo. Sanssouci, which translates from French as "carefree" or "without worry", was a refuge for Frederick.The most beautiful facade overlooks the beautiful gardens on the south side. You walk down the steps from this and you are in a steps like garden that is delightfully coloured. ( I am not sure but either all women were not allowed here or the queen was not allowed)

On a personal aside, the guide did have a very thick accent and for some time I kept thinking the king loved ducks  ( "Doocks" he said) and he was buried next to his lovely ducks. ( there are ducks in the fountains). Kept wondering how in those days those ducks did not end up on his table? Then realized it was dogs when he said in reply to a question by some one that the Doocks were  italian greyhounds!!!


Front reception

A windmill near the gate.

Next to the palace

 View from the top:
and what a surprise at the view from the lower tier. From the lower gardens the whole view  of the grape vines is beautiful, even when the leaves are turning brown.

  Rococo is a style of architecture and art that developed in France . If you want to know more about it, Click HERE for a wikki-link. You can see the  German rococo style in these details (the white is sadly discolored)."Architects often draped their interiors in clouds of fluffy white stucco."

Situated on the western side of the Sanssouci royal park  ( am Luste garten) The building was begun in 1763, after the end of the Seven Years' War, under Frederick the Great and was completed in 1769. It is considered to be the last great Prussian baroque palace.

The New palace is on the same grounds, you can walk up.

The Seven years war : On 29 August 1756 his well-prepared army crossed the frontier and  invaded Saxony, thus beginning the Seven Years' War (1756–1763). Facing a coalition which included Austria, France, Russia, Saxony, and Sweden, and having only Great Britain and Hanover as his allies, Frederick narrowly kept Prussia in the war despite having his territories frequently invaded.He was almost at the losing end  of the war, the Prussian army was greatly weakened and had just lost the vital Baltic Sea port of Kolberg to the Russians when Emperess Elizabeth of Russia ( who was behind the Russian's assault) suddenly died ( at the beginning of 1762). It is called "Miracle of the House of Brandenburg," becoz it turned Frederick's defeat into a victory of sorts. Elizabeth's nephew came to the throne as Peter III. Peter was notoriously pro-Prussian; on his accession, he withdrew his troops and ended the war. In celebration getting into lots of debt Frederick the great built his new palace.

 Ostentatiously, this is the Kitchen with Fortuna shining on a top!

Next door is the servant's quarters ( being Restored) with Victoria.


 We need fortune and Victory!

In an architectural form, Frederick the Great sought to demonstrate the power and glories of Prussia attributing it as fanfaronade, an excess of splendor in marble, stone and gilt. Alas he ran out of money and so his bed chamber has original brick and stone while the main palace is painted brickwork!
 Prussia on the World?

look carefully at the wall above and the picture below . Can you see which is original brick?

For the King, the New Palace was not a principal residence, but a display for the reception of important royals and dignitaries. Of the over 200 rooms, four principal gathering rooms and a theater were available for royal functions, balls and state occasions. I did not go IN! Maybe for another visit some other time!

During his occasional stays at the palace, Frederick occupied a suite of rooms at the southern end of the building, composed of two antechambers, a study, a concert room, a dining salon and a bedroom, among others.
 Skipping a few other kings and their stories...  Read your own history.

From King to emperor:

Just fast forwarding to another Era in German history, now.

Wilhelm I, also known as Wilhelm the Great[1] (William Frederick Louis, German: Wilhelm Friedrich Ludwig) (22 March 1797–9 March 1888) of the House of Hohenzollern was the King of Prussia (2 January 1861–9 March 1888) and the first German Emperor (18 January 1871–9 March 1888).During the Franco-Prussian War, on 18 January 1871 in Versailles Palace, Wilhelm was proclaimed German Emperor. The title "German Emperor" was carefully chosen by Bismarck after discussion until (and after) the day of the proclamation. Wilhelm accepted this title grudgingly as he would have preferred "Emperor of Germany."
Under the leadership of Wilhelm and his Chancellor Otto von Bismarck, Prussia achieved the unification of Germany and the establishment of the German Empire. Bismarck looks a bit like one of our friends.. Just try a guess game till I get back and tell you.

The Iron Chancellor", Bismarck held an important role in the German government and greatly influenced German and international politics both during and after his time of service.Bismarck's most important legacy is the unification of Germany. Germany had existed as a collection of hundreds of separate principalities and Free Cities since the formation of the Holy Roman Empire. Over the next thousand years various kings and rulers had tried to unify the German states without success until Bismarck. Largely as a result of Bismarck's efforts, the various German kingdoms were united into a single country. Following unification, Germany became one of the most powerful nations in Europe. Bismarck's astute, cautious, and pragmatic foreign policies allowed Germany to retain peacefully the powerful position into which he had brought it; maintaining amiable diplomacy with almost all European nations.
 Unfortunately, is diplomatic feats were undone, however, by Kaiser Wilhelm II, whose policies unified other European powers against Germany in time for World War I.

She was a woman, whom Napoleon called the only man in Germany. Luise Auguste Wilhelmine Amalie (Luisa Augusta Wilhelmina Amelia) (10 March 1776 – 19 July 1810) was Queen consort of Prussia. called Q. Louise of Meckenburg, this iron hearted lady stood by her people. As Queen of Prussia, she commanded universal respect and affection, and nothing in Prussian history is more admired than the dignity and unflinching courage with which she bore the sufferings inflicted on her and her family during the war between Prussia and France. After the battle of Jena she went with her husband to Königsberg, and when the battles  with France had placed Prussia absolutely at the mercy of France, she made a personal appeal to Napoleon I of France at his headquarters in Tilsit, but without success.

And so we stop here letting you savour these different buildings in Potsdam,
 Some Dutch, some barracks, some Siberian, some tudor, some plain ols german. All hertitage buildingsd and the town itself is one big building musuem.
We enter through the Brandenburg tor, as Potsdam is the capital of Brandenburg.

Another interesting gate is this rocky cave entrance to the Nordic gardens at Sanssouci. Apparently if you are a liar, rocks will drop on your head here. ( politicians beware). Philosophers rest assured the gate is confused if you ask it- what is truth? See I stood for ages for this shot and not a dust dropped on my head. Social scientists may ask what is reality? instead. Scientists... Mmm I dont know just be careful. Politicians, dont dare come near anywhere. It may decide to throw rocks rather than drop them.

Above are  pictures of the siberian houses colony in Potsdam, a set of wooden houses. There were many Russian soldiers stationed here Totally classic!!

The Dutch were called to drain the marshy lands in Potsdam and encouraged to stay and enjoy trade. A dutch colony was created that later of course was occupied by local traders.

 a totally false egyptian needle a minaret style pumping station are other quaint sights.
 More Pics Celciahof  from my previous blog in Tudor style. Notice the Chimneys...

 and the nice geometry.

( Faintly the star, a political symbol on the lawn usually filled with blue flowers in spring, now its winter and so brown)

houses with german rocco, restored and occupied.

Rajahamsa at the garden?

 Most of the statues were boxed up but this one on a pillar.

Yava shilpi kanda kanasu Neenu? ( lady, whose muse art thou?)

 and final pic to celebrate Baccus, the lord of wine and drink, a water fountain ( may be it was a beer fountain. )considering that we don't get plain water anywhere unless we ask for it.

Finally I think that's it about Potsdam.
The next blog is about LIFE in DDR ( east germany): common potty breaks in school and a plastic body car and a bit more on Bunkers after the second underground tour I took. Signing off from Berlin, your doctoral candidate friend in Berlin breaking out of her own walls, all wrapped up in wool... (PS.Gelathi, notice your nice gift's new use, it holds my mufflers in place)

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