Happy 300th Birthday, Old Fritz!

By Anastasia Mills Healy

This year Germany is celebrating the tercentenary of the birth of one of history’s most interesting rulers, Frederick the Great. Books, performances of his symphonies, lectures, a play, parades and architectural tours all compete for attention from those keen on learning more about the “enlightened despot” who ruled Prussia for 46 years.

The fact that Frederick II was an art collector and arts patron, as well as an intellectual who spoke many languages and read voraciously on many topics justifies the descriptor “enlightened.” As for “despot,” historians can tick off the battles forged, lives lost and territories annexed in his role as military commander.

Many handsome buildings Frederick had built-in Berlin exist today, including the Berlin State Opera. And in Potsdam, there is the newly restored Neues Palais, which will open major areas never before available to the public in honor of this anniversary. However, the yellow, rococo Sans Souci palace in Potsdam was his retreat. Here he died here peacefully and it is here you may find a simple stone slab marking his grave (after numerous moves due to politics over the years).

Bring a potato to leave. Read the following January 24 article from The New York Times to find out why.

Article: Germany Permits Itself to Celebrate Prussian King


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