200 years ago, my ancestors migrated from Prussia to Ukraine. They left for many reasons, many of which boiled down to their strong pacifism in the midst of a highly militarized country.
Last week, my wife, the boys, and I walked through the favorite palace of Friedrich Wilhelm III, the king of Prussia who was responsible for forcing my ancestors out – Charlottenburg Palace in Berlin.
Photos can’t possibly convey the enormity and the riches of this place, even after being attacked during multiple wars (and used by Napoleon for a time).
My ancestors would never have been able to get into to this place. We, on the other hand, walked right through the king’s bedroom, audience room, and chapel. The chapel, incidentally, mixing church and state; a fine pipe organ along with a statue of an eagle holding the Prussian crown.
I could pause and enjoy the beauty of the place; the oval rooms overlooking the acres of sculpted gardens outside and carefully tree-lined streets leading to the palace, the artwork no doubt worth many millions, the gold and silver place settings, the rare tapestries. And I could also reflect on the problems with such great wealth and power, and the many lives lost and refugees created by the wars the Prussian kings started.
(First of several reflections on our wonderful recent trip to Germany with the boys)