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Although Bismarck had a reputation as an unyielding conservative, he was initially inclined to seek a compromise over the budget issue.
Forced into a policy of confrontation, Bismarck came up with a novel theory. Under the constitution, the king and the parliament were responsible for agreeing on the budget.
Bismarck argued that since they had failed to come to an agreement, there was a "hole" in the constitution, and the government had to continue to collect taxes and disburse funds in accordance with the old budget in order to keep functioning.
The liberals violently denounced Bismarck for what they saw as his disregard for the fundamental law of the kingdom. Although he had opposed German unification earlier in his career, he had now come to believe that it was inevitable.
To his mind, the conservative forces had to take the lead in the drive toward creating a unified nation in order to keep from being eclipsed.
He also believed that the middle-class liberals wanted a unified Germany more than they wanted to break the grip of the traditional forces over society.
He thus embarked on a drive to create a united Germany under Prussian leadership, and guided Prussia through three wars which ultimately achieved this goal.
The first of these wars was the Second War of Schleswig , which Prussia initiated and succeeded in gaining the assistance of Austria. Denmark was soundly defeated and surrendered both Schleswig and Holstein, to Prussia and Austria respectively.
Prussia also annexed Schleswig and Holstein, and also effectively annexed Saxe-Lauenburg by forcing it into a personal union with Prussia which was turned into a full union in King William initially wanted to take territory from Austria itself, but Bismarck persuaded him to abandon the idea.
While Bismarck wanted Austria to play no future role in German affairs, he foresaw that Austria could be a valuable future ally. With these gains in territory, the Prussian possessions in the Rhineland and Westphalia were connected to the rest of the kingdom for the first time.
Counting the de facto annexation of Saxe-Lauenburg, Prussia now stretched uninterrupted across the northern two-thirds of Germany.
It would remain at this size until the overthrow of the monarchy in Bismarck used this opportunity to end the budget dispute with parliament.
He proposed a bill of indemnity granting him retroactive approval for governing without a legal budget. He guessed, correctly as it turned out, that this would lead to a split between his liberal adversaries.
While some of them argued that there could be no compromise with the principle of constitutional government, most of the liberals decided to support the bill in hopes of winning more freedom in the future.
The German Confederation was dissolved as part of the war. In its place, Prussia cajoled the 21 states north of the Main into forming the North German Confederation in Prussia was the dominant state in this new grouping, with four-fifths of its territory and population—more than the other members of the confederation combined.
Its near-total control was cemented in a constitution written by Bismarck. Executive power was vested in a president—a hereditary office of the rulers of Prussia.
He was assisted by a chancellor responsible only to him. There was also a two-house parliament. The lower house, or Reichstag Diet , was elected by universal male suffrage.
The upper house, or Bundesrat Federal Council was appointed by the state governments. The Bundesrat was, in practice, the stronger chamber.
Prussia had 17 of 43 votes and could easily control proceedings through alliances with the other states. For all intents and purposes, the new grouping was dominated by Bismarck.
He served as his own foreign minister for virtually his entire tenure as prime minister of Prussia, and in that capacity was able to instruct the Prussian delegates to the Bundesrat.
The southern German states except Austria were forced to accept military alliances with Prussia, and Prussia began steps to merge them with the North German Confederation.
Activating the German alliances put in place after the Austro-Prussian War, the German states came together and swiftly defeated France, even managing to take Napoleon prisoner.
Even before then, Bismarck was able to complete the work of unifying Germany under Prussian leadership. The patriotic fervour aroused by the war with France overwhelmed the remaining opponents of a unified nation, and on 18 January the th anniversary of the coronation of the first Prussian king, Frederick I , the German Empire was proclaimed in the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles outside of Paris , while the French capital was still under siege.
King William became the first emperor of a unified Germany. The imperial crown was a hereditary office of the House of Hohenzollern.
Prussia also had a large plurality of seats in the Bundesrat, with 17 votes out of 58 17 out of 61 after ; no other state had more than six votes. As before, it could effectively control the proceedings with the support of its allies in the secondary states.
As mentioned above, Bismarck served as foreign minister of Prussia for almost his entire career, and in that role instructed the Prussian deputies to the Bundesrat.
The Imperial Army was essentially an enlarged Prussian army, and the embassies of the new empire were mostly old Prussian embassies.
The constitution of the German Empire was essentially an amended version of the constitution of the North German Confederation. However, the seeds for future problems lay in a gross disparity between the imperial and Prussian systems.
The empire granted the vote to all men over Within 20 years, the situation was reversed; the cities and towns accounted for two-thirds of the population.
However, in both the kingdom and the empire, the constituencies were never redrawn to reflect the growing population and influence of the cities and towns.
This meant that rural areas were grossly overrepresented from the s onward. Bismarck realised that the rest of Europe was skeptical of his powerful new Reich, and turned his attention to preserving peace with such acts as the Congress of Berlin.
The new German Empire improved its already-strong relations with Britain. The new emperor, a decided Anglophile, planned to transform Prussia and the empire into a more liberal and democratic monarchy based on the British model.
However, Frederick was already ill with inoperable throat cancer, and died after only 99 days on the throne.
He was succeeded by his year-old son, William II. The new Kaiser Wiliam rapidly soured relations with the British and Russian royal families despite being closely related to them , becoming their rival and ultimately their enemy.
Before and during World War I — , Prussia supplied significant numbers of soldiers and sailors in the German military, and Prussian Junkers dominated the higher ranks.
In addition, portions of the Eastern Front were fought on Prussian soil. Prussia — along with Germany as a whole — experienced increasing troubles with revolutionaries during the war.
The Great War ended by armistice on 11 November Uprisings in Berlin and other centres began the civil conflict of the German Revolution of —19 German: William knew that he had lost his imperial crown for good, but still hoped to retain his Prussian crown.
However, this was impossible under the imperial constitution, which stipulated that the imperial crown was tied to the Prussian crown.
In any event, he had lost support of the military who might have fought for him. With armed revolts, mass strikes, and street fighting in Berlin, the Prussian state government declared a state of siege and appealed for imperial military aid.
By the end of the fighting on 16 March, they had killed approximately 1, people, many of them unarmed and uninvolved. The revolutionary period lasted from November until the establishment in August of a republic that later became known as the Weimar Republic.
Prussia was incorporated as a state in the Weimar Republic. Under the republic, undemocratic public institutions were abolished, including the disappearance "of the Prussian Upper House, [and] the former Prussian Lower House that had been elected in accordance with the three-class suffrage".
The joint authority, feudal and bureaucratic , on which Prussian absolute monarchy was based, saw its interests laid in suppression of the drive for personal freedom and democratic rights.
It therefore had to recourse on police methods. The lower house, or Landtag was elected by all taxpayers, who were divided into three classes according to the amount of taxes paid.
The upper house, which was later renamed the Prussian House of Lords , was appointed by the king. He retained full executive authority and ministers were responsible only to him.
As a result, the grip of the landowning classes, the Prussian Junkers , remained unbroken, especially in the eastern provinces. Prussian Secret Police , formed in response to the Revolutions of in the German states , aided the conservative government.
The constitution of was enacted and set into effect on December 5, , by Frederick William IV. This was set out in response to the revolutions of The second constitution was enacted on January 31, , and was continually amended in the following years.
The Constitution of occurred under the rule of Frederick William IV who took power from his father after his death in the year After taking power, William set an appointment of committees to confer on points of various questions.
With this the king believed that he could give a sense of unity without revolution. The government was then cautiously brought together, all members of the eight provincial assemblies, and split into two houses, a house of lords and a second house that enveloped the three estates of the knights, the burgesses and the peasants.
Although they had no real power and the king did not consult them or allow them to veto or argue the legislatures that were being made, it was a step towards a constitutional state.
Known as the "March Days", radical changes began to occur. When the king refused to add the United Diets into an actual representative institution, the people began to rebel.
On March 18 the king made the decision to agree to some concessions. However, there were multiple stand-offs with soldiers as he had not been able to stop them from attacking even peaceful crowds.
In March the king agreed to demands issued by the people and made a number of concessions. At the May 22, , convention he put out the sketch of the new constitution.
The people submitted a revised draft on July 26, When all discussions were finished, Frederick dissolved the convention and the constitution was officially put in place on December 5, The constitution was separated into different articles headed under eight separate headings.
Each of these groups varies in numbers of articles with the seventh and ninth sections having only one article each and the second section having forty separate articles.
There have also been fourteen provisions divided into General Provisions and Temporary Provisions. The Prussian constitution of allowed for the freedom of conscience, the freedom of public and private worship and the freedom of association onto religious bodies.
It stated that all churches and other religious associations should administer everything independently and privately from the state and that no part of the government may affect the Church.
The constitution also stated that all children should be taught their religion from people of their own religion and not by someone else.
As a breakdown of the religion of the kingdom, according to a census taken in the early or mid s, around the s there was a division of six religions based on one million people.
According to this census there were , Although dominated by Protestant Lutherans along with some Reformed , it contained millions of Catholics in the west and in Poland.
There were numerous Catholic populations in the Rhineland and parts of Westphalia. The original core regions of the Kingdom of Prussia were the Margraviate of Brandenburg and the Duchy of Prussia which together formed Brandenburg-Prussia.
A Further Pomeranian province had been held by Prussia since Combined with Swedish Pomerania , gained from Sweden in and , this region formed the Province of Pomerania.
Prussian gains in the Silesian Wars led to the formation of the Province of Silesia in These three provinces were ultimately lost to Congress Poland after the Congress of Vienna in , except for the western part of South Prussia, which would form part of the Grand Duchy of Posen.
Following the major western gains made by Prussia after the Vienna Congress, a total of ten provinces were established, each one subdivided further into smaller administrative regions known as Regierungsbezirke.
In , the Provinces of East and West Prussia merged to form the Province of Prussia , but the separate provinces were reformed in The principalities of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen and Hohenzollern-Hechingen were annexed in to form the Province of Hohenzollern.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Former German state — Royal coat of arms. Kingdom of Prussia red within German Empire red and light yellow between and Roman Catholicism , Judaism.
New Imperialism World War I. Brandenburg-Prussia and King in Prussia. Italy and 14 German states . Administrative divisions of the German Empire on 1 January Minister President of Prussia and List of Prussian finance ministers.
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. The Evolution of Prussia, the Making of an Empire.
The process of army reform ended in with the introduction of compulsory military service. The rest consisted of regular soldiers that were deemed excellent by most observers, and very determined to repair the humiliation of After the defeat of Napoleon in Russia , Prussia quit its alliance with France and took part in the Sixth Coalition during the "Wars of Liberation" Befreiungskriege against the French occupation.
In exchange, Prussia withdrew from areas of central Poland to allow the creation of Congress Poland under Russian sovereignty. The first half of the 19th century saw a prolonged struggle in Germany between liberals, who wanted a united, federal Germany under a democratic constitution, and conservatives , who wanted to maintain Germany as a patchwork of independent, monarchical states with Prussia and Austria competing for influence.
One small movement that signaled a desire for German unification in this period was the Burschenschaft student movement, by students who encouraged the use of the black-red-gold flag, discussions of a unified German nation, and a progressive, liberal political system.
Prussia benefited greatly from the creation in of the German Customs Union Zollverein , which included most German states but excluded Austria. In the liberals saw an opportunity when revolutions broke out across Europe.
This conservative document provided for a two-house parliament. The lower house, or Landtag was elected by all taxpayers, who were divided into three classes whose votes were weighted according to the amount of taxes paid.
Women and those who paid no taxes had no vote. The upper house, which was later renamed the Herrenhaus "House of Lords" , was appointed by the king. He retained full executive authority and ministers were responsible only to him.
As a result, the grip of the landowning classes, the Junkers , remained unbroken, especially in the eastern provinces. Bismarck was determined to defeat both the liberals and conservatives and increase Prussian supremacy and influence among the German states.
There has been much debate as to whether Bismarck actually planned to create a united Germany when he set out on this journey, or whether he simply took advantage of the circumstances that fell into place.
Certainly his memoirs paint a rosy picture of an idealist [ citation needed ] , but these were written with the benefit of hindsight and certain crucial events could not have been predicted.
What is clear is that Bismarck curried support from large sections of the people by promising to lead the fight for greater German unification.
He eventually guided Prussia through three wars, which together brought William the position of German Emperor. The Kingdom of Denmark was at the time in personal union with the Duchies of Schleswig and Holstein , both of which had close ties with each other, although only Holstein was part of the German Confederation.
In , Denmark introduced a shared constitution for Denmark and Schleswig. This led to conflict with the German Confederation, which authorised the occupation of Holstein by the Confederation, from which Danish forces withdrew.
The Austro-Prussian forces defeated the Danes, who surrendered both territories. In the resulting Gastein Convention of Prussia took over the administration of Schleswig while Austria assumed that of Holstein.
Bismarck realised that the dual administration of Schleswig and Holstein was only a temporary solution, and tensions rose between Prussia and Austria.
The struggle for supremacy in Germany then led to the Austro-Prussian War , triggered by the dispute over Schleswig and Holstein.
On the side of Prussia were Italy, most north German states, and some smaller central German states. The century-long struggle between Berlin and Vienna for dominance of Germany was now over.
As a side show in this war, Prussia defeated Hanover in the Battle of Langensalza While Hanover hoped in vain for help from Britain as they had previously been in personal union , Britain stayed out of a confrontation with a continental great power and Prussia satisfied its desire for merging the once separate territories and gaining strong economic and strategic power, particularly from the full access to the resources of the Ruhr.
Bismarck desired Austria as an ally in the future, and so he declined to annex any Austrian territory. Prussia also won full control of Schleswig-Holstein.
Executive power was held by a president, assisted by a chancellor responsible only to him. The presidency was a hereditary office of the Hohenzollern rulers of Prussia.
There was also a two-house parliament. The lower house, or Reichstag Diet , was elected by universal male suffrage. The upper house, or Bundesrat Federal Council was appointed by the state governments.
The Bundesrat was, in practice, the stronger chamber. Prussia had 17 of 43 votes, and could easily control proceedings through alliances with the other states.
As a result of the peace negotiations, the states south of the Main remained theoretically independent, but received the compulsory protection of Prussia.
Additionally, mutual defence treaties were concluded. However, the existence of these treaties was kept secret until Bismarck made them public in , when France tried to acquire Luxembourg.
The controversy with the Second French Empire over the candidacy of a Hohenzollern to the Spanish throne was escalated both by France and Bismarck.
With his Ems Dispatch , Bismarck took advantage of an incident in which the French ambassador had approached William.
However, honouring their treaties, the German states joined forces and quickly defeated France in the Franco-Prussian War in Officially, the German Empire was a federal state.
The Hohenzollern kingdom included three-fifths of the German territory and two-thirds of its population. The imperial crown was a hereditary office of the House of Hohenzollern , the royal house of Prussia.
The prime minister of Prussia was, except for two brief periods January—November and —94 , also imperial chancellor. But the empire itself had no right to collect taxes directly from its subjects; the only incomes fully under federal control were the customs duties, common excise duties, and the revenue from postal and telegraph services.
While all men above age 25 were eligible to vote in imperial elections, Prussia retained its restrictive three-class voting system.
In both the kingdom and the empire, the original constituencies were never redrawn to reflect changes in population, meaning that rural areas were grossly overrepresented by the turn of the 20th century.
As a result, Prussia and the German Empire were something of a paradox. Bismarck knew that his new German Reich was now a colossus out of all proportion to the rest of the continent.
With this in mind, he declared Germany a satisfied power, using his talents to preserve peace, for example at the Congress of Berlin. Bismarck had barely any success in some of his domestic policies, such as the anti-Catholic Kulturkampf , but he also had mixed success on ones like Germanisation or expulsion of Poles of foreign nationality Russian or Austro-Hungarian.
Frederick III , became emperor in March , after the death of his father, but he died of cancer only 99 days later. He turned out to be a man of limited experience, narrow and reactionary views, poor judgment, and occasional bad temper, which alienated former friends and allies.
Prussia nationalised its railways in the s in an effort both to lower rates on freight service and to equalise those rates among shippers.
Instead of lowering rates as far as possible, the government ran the railways as a profitmaking endeavour, and the railway profits became a major source of revenue for the state.
The nationalisation of the railways slowed the economic development of Prussia because the state favoured the relatively backward agricultural areas in its railway building.
Moreover, the railway surpluses substituted for the development of an adequate tax system. Prussia was proclaimed a "Free State" i. Freistaat within the new Weimar Republic and in received a democratic constitution.
Also, the Saargebiet was created mainly from formerly Prussian territories. East Prussia became an exclave, only reachable by ship the Sea Service East Prussia or by a railway through the Polish corridor.
With the abolition of the older Prussian franchise, it became a stronghold of the left. Its incorporation of "Red Berlin" and the industrialised Ruhr Area, both with working class majorities, ensured left-wing dominance.
Unlike in other states of the German Reich, majority rule by democratic parties in Prussia was never endangered. Nevertheless, in East Prussia and some industrial areas, the Nazi Party of Adolf Hitler gained more and more influence and popular support, especially from the lower middle class starting in However, the democratic parties in coalition remained a majority, while Communists and Nazis were in the opposition.
The East Prussian Otto Braun , who was Prussian minister-president almost continuously from to , is considered one of the most capable Social Democrats in history.
He implemented several trend-setting reforms together with his minister of the interior, Carl Severing , which were also models for the later Federal Republic of Germany FRG.
For instance, a Prussian minister-president could be forced out of office only if there was a "positive majority" for a potential successor.
This concept, known as the constructive vote of no confidence , was carried over into the Basic Law of the FRG. Most historians regard the Prussian government during this time as far more successful than that of Germany as a whole.
In contrast to its pre-war authoritarianism, Prussia was a pillar of democracy in the Weimar Republic. The Reichstag building having been set on fire a few weeks earlier on 27 February, a new Reichstag was opened in the Garrison Church of Potsdam on 21 March in the presence of President Paul von Hindenburg.
In a propaganda-filled meeting between Hitler and the Nazi Party, the "marriage of old Prussia with young Germany" was celebrated, to win over the Prussian monarchists, conservatives and nationalists and induce them into supporting and subsequently voting in favor of the Enabling Act of The federal state governments were now controlled by governors for the Reich who were appointed by the chancellor.
Parallel to that, the organisation of the party into districts Gaue gained increasing importance, as the official in charge of a Gau the head of which was called a Gauleiter was again appointed by the chancellor who was at the same time chief of the Nazi Party.
This centralistic policy went even further in Prussia. From to , almost all ministries were merged and only a few departments were able to maintain their independence.
Hitler himself became formally the governor of Prussia. However, most of this territory was not reintegrated back into Prussia but assigned to separate Gaue of Danzig-West Prussia and Wartheland during much of the duration of the war.
The population fled , mostly to the Western zones, or was driven out. The number of casualties is estimated 2 to 4 million, including those who fled the Soviet army during the last months of the war before the treaty.
As part of their wartime goals, the Western allies sought the abolition of Prussia. Stalin was initially content to retain the name, Russians having a different historical view of their neighbour and sometime former ally.
Nonetheless by Law No. In the Soviet occupation zone , which became East Germany officially, the German Democratic Republic in , the former Prussian territories were reorganised into the states of Brandenburg and Saxony-Anhalt , with the remaining parts of the Province of Pomerania going to Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.
These states were de facto abolished in in favour of Bezirke districts , but were recreated after German reunification in The Saar region, which had been administered by the French as a protectorate separate from the rest of Western Germany, was admitted to the Federal Republic of Germany as a separate state in following a plebiscite.
One year later, in , the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation was established and implemented by federal statutes in West Germany in response to a ruling from the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany.
The fundamental goal of this institution is protecting the cultural legacy of Prussia. It continues to operate from its headquarters in Berlin to this very day.
In the midth century the margraves of Brandenburg had become highly dependent on the Estates representing counts, lords, knights, and towns, but not prelates, due to the Protestant Reformation in The Kingdom of Prussia functioned as an absolute monarchy until the Revolutions of in the German states , after which Prussia became a constitutional monarchy and Adolf Heinrich von Arnim-Boitzenburg was elected [ by whom?
The Prussian Constitution established a two-chamber parliament. The lower house, or Landtag represented all taxpayers, who were divided into three classes according to the amount of taxes paid.
The Prussian Secret Police , formed in response to the Revolutions of in the German states , aided the conservative government.
Unlike its authoritarian pre predecessor, Prussia from to was a promising democracy within Germany. The abolition of the political power of the aristocracy transformed Prussia into a region strongly dominated by the left wing of the political spectrum, with "Red Berlin" and the industrial centre of the Ruhr Area exerting major influence.
During this period a coalition of centre-left parties ruled, predominantly under the leadership — of East Prussian Social Democrat Otto Braun.
While in office Braun implemented several reforms together with his Minister of the Interior, Carl Severing that became models for the later Federal Republic of Germany.
For instance, a Prussian prime minister could only be forced out of office if there was a "positive majority" for a potential successor [ citation needed ].
This concept, known as the constructive vote of no confidence , became part of the Basic Law of the Federal Republic of Germany.
Most [ quantify ] historians regard the Prussian government during the s as far more successful than that of Germany as a whole.
Similar to other German states both now and at the time , executive power remained vested in a Minister-President of Prussia and in laws established by a Landtag elected by the people.
The Duchy of Prussia was the first state to officially adopt Lutheranism in In the wake of the Reformation , Prussia was dominated by two major Protestant confessions: The majority of the Prussian population was Lutheran, although there were dispersed Reformed minorities in central and western parts of the state especially Brandenburg , Rhineland , Westphalia and Hesse-Nassau.
Lutherans and Reformed congregations all over the kingdom were merged in by the Prussian Union of churches , which came under tight royal control.
Much of religious life was often conventional and superficial by any normal, human standard. The state and the bureaucracy kept their distance, preferring to spoon-feed the churches and treat them like children.
They saw the churches as channels for education, as a means of instilling morality and obedience, or for propagating useful things, just like bee-keeping or potato-farming.
Prussian monarchs, beginning with Frederick William, Elector of Brandenburg opened the country to the fleeing French Calvinist refugees. In Berlin, they built and worshipped at their own church called the French Cathedral on Gendarmenmarkt.
Time passed by, and the French Reformed assimilated into the wider Protestant community in Prussia. After , Prussia contained millions of Roman Catholics in the west and in the east.
There were substantial populations in the Rhineland , parts of Westphalia , eastern parts of Silesia , West Prussia , Ermland and the Province of Posen.
During the 19th-century Kulturkampf , Prussian Catholics were forbidden from fulfilling any official functions for the state and were largely distrusted.
Prussia contained a relatively large Jewish community, which was mostly concentrated in large urban areas. According to the census, it was the biggest one in Germany with , individuals.
In , approximately 2. Also, the southeast portion of Silesia Upper Silesia had a Polish majority. But Catholics and Jews did not have equal status with Protestants.
As a result of the Treaty of Versailles in , the Second Polish Republic was granted not only these two areas, but also areas with a German majority in the Province of West Prussia.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For other uses, see Prussia disambiguation. Not to be confused with Russia. Prussian eagle — Right: