Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Thanking God for Prussian Victories
To continue our earlier topic of Jews taking a positive attitude towards German rulers, here is the title page for an address of Thanksgiving for a Prussian victory in the Third Silesian War (1756-63).
(See A. S. W. Rosenbach, An American Jewish Bibliography pg. 49.)
The Third Silesian War was part of the Seven Years War, known to American audiences as the French and Indian War. The Seven Years War was essentially a struggle between England and France for control over the North American continent and other colonial possessions around the world. This war is important for American history as it brought the area of Pittsburgh under British control (I went to a middle school in Pittsburgh so the teacher made a big deal about this in American history), gave George Washington his military experience and Britain's later attempt to pay for this war by taxing the colonies eventually helped bring about the American Revolution. Non-Quebecian Canadians can be grateful for this war as it stopped all of you from having to speak French.
While England and France were fighting overseas, over on the European continent Austria attempted to take back the region of Silesia in what is today the western part of Poland from Prussia. (It gives you a sense how badly off Poland was at this point as it essentially played no major role in this regional struggle largely over its territory.) To do this Austria switched its alliance from England to the Hapsburg's traditional opponent, Bourbon France. (This alliance would have long term consequences in the bringing Marie Antoinette to France.) Russian and Sweden also joined in against Prussia. Despite being heavily outnumbered Prussia, led by Frederick the Great, managed to fight off the combined forces of Austria, France, Russia and Sweden to a standstill, earning Frederick the Great the reputation as being one of the greatest military commanders in history.
The battle referred to here is the Battle of Leuthen where Frederick the Great annihilated a much larger Austrian force. Naturally the Jewish community in Berlin took a positive view of this victory. What is interesting is that the sermon preached by Rabbi David Herschel Franckel was translated and printed in London and then in New York. England was allied with Prussia against France. It is good to remember that there was a time in American history when it was good and patriotic to say "God Bless the King of England and the King of Prussia."