Frederick II of Prussia quotes

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Frederick II of Prussia

Birthdate: 24. January 1712
Date of death: 17. August 1786
Other names: Friedrich der Große, Fridrich II. Veľký, Re Federico il Grande

Frederick II ruled the Kingdom of Prussia from 1740 until 1786, the longest reign of any Hohenzollern king, at 46 years. His most significant accomplishments during his reign included his military victories, his reorganization of Prussian armies, his patronage of the arts and the Enlightenment and his final success against great odds in the Seven Years' War. Frederick was the last Hohenzollern monarch titled King in Prussia and declared himself King of Prussia after achieving sovereignty over most historically Prussian lands in 1772. Prussia had greatly increased its territories and became a leading military power in Europe under his rule. He became known as Frederick the Great and was nicknamed Der Alte Fritz by the Prussian people and eventually the rest of Germany.In his youth, Frederick was more interested in music and philosophy than the art of war. Nonetheless, upon ascending to the Prussian throne he attacked Austria and claimed Silesia during the Silesian Wars, winning military acclaim for himself and Prussia. Toward the end of his reign, Frederick physically connected most of his realm by acquiring Polish territories in the First Partition of Poland. He was an influential military theorist whose analysis emerged from his extensive personal battlefield experience and covered issues of strategy, tactics, mobility and logistics.

Considering himself "the first servant of the state", Frederick was a proponent of enlightened absolutism. He modernized the Prussian bureaucracy and civil service and pursued religious policies throughout his realm that ranged from tolerance to segregation. He reformed the judicial system and made it possible for men not of noble status to become judges and senior bureaucrats. Frederick also encouraged immigrants of various nationalities and faiths to come to Prussia, although he enacted oppressive measures against Polish Catholic subjects in West Prussia. Frederick supported arts and philosophers he favored as well as allowing complete freedom of the press and literature. Most modern biographers agree that Frederick was primarily homosexual, and that his sexual orientation was central to his life. Frederick is buried at his favorite residence, Sanssouci in Potsdam. Because he died childless, Frederick was succeeded by his nephew, Frederick William II, son of his brother, Augustus William.

Nearly all 19th-century German historians made Frederick into a romantic model of a glorified warrior, praising his leadership, administrative efficiency, devotion to duty and success in building up Prussia to a great power in Europe. Historian Leopold von Ranke was unstinting in his praise of Frederick's "heroic life, inspired by great ideas, filled with feats of arms ... immortalized by the raising of the Prussian state to the rank of a power". Johann Gustav Droysen was even more extolling. Frederick remained an admired historical figure through Germany's defeat in World War I. The Nazis glorified him as a great German leader pre-figuring Adolf Hitler, who personally idolized him. Associations with him became far less favorable after the fall of the Nazis, largely due to his status as one of their symbols. However, by the 21st century a re-evaluation of his legacy as a great general and enlightened monarch returned opinion of him to favour.

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Frederick II of Prussia

„Rascals, would you live forever?“

—  Frederick II of Prussia

To hesitant guards at the battle of Kolin https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Kol%C3%ADn#Battle, 18 June 1757
Attributed in E. M. Knowles, Oxford Dictionary Of Quotations (5th Edition) (Oxford University Press, 1999)
"Kerels, wollt ihr den euwig leben?" Frederick the Great, by David Fraser, Penguin 2000, p. 353 Other versions have it: "Hünde, wollt ihr euwig leben?" (Dogs, do you want to live for ever?).
Attributed

„I think it better to keep a profound silence with regard to the Christian fables, which are canonized by their antiquity and the credulity of absurd and insipid people.“

—  Frederick II of Prussia

Letters of Voltaire and Frederick the Great (New York: Brentano's, 1927), trans. Richard Aldington, letter 37 from Frederick to Voltaire (June 1738)

„Audacity, audacity, always audacity!“

—  Frederick II of Prussia

Il nous faut de l'audace, encore de l'audace, toujours de l'audace! http://www.gutenberg.org/dirs/etext04/8dscs10.txt
We must dare, dare again, always dare!
Georges Danton, speech, Assemblée legislative, Paris (1792-09-02), reported in Le Moniteur (1792-09-04)
Misattributed

„My people and I," he said, "have come to an agreement which satisfies us both. They are to say what they please, and I am to do what I please.“

—  Frederick II of Prussia

Attributed by Thomas Babington Macaulay, Life of Frederick the Great (1882), pg 48.
Repeated by Thomas Babington Macaulay in a review of "Frederick the Great and his Times. Edited, with an Introduction, by Thomas Campbell, Esq". Edinburgh Review, ISSN 1751-8482, 04/1842, Volume 75, Issue 151, p. 241-242, though it does not appear in the original work.
Knowles, Oxford Dictionary Of Quotations (5th Edition) (Oxford University Press, 1999)
Attributed

„Neither antiquity nor any other nation has imagined a more atrocious and blasphemous absurdity than that of eating God. — This is how Christians treat the autocrat of the universe.“

—  Frederick II of Prussia

Letters of Voltaire and Frederick the Great (New York: Brentano's, 1927), trans. Richard Aldington, letter 215 from Frederick to Voltaire (1776-03-19)

„I wanted to have a water jet in my garden: Euler calculated the force of the wheels necessary to raise the water to a reservoir, from where it should fall back through channels, finally spurting out in Sans Souci. My mill was carried out geometrically and could not raise a mouthful of water closer than fifty paces from the reservoir. Vanity of vanities! Vanity of geometry!“

—  Frederick II of Prussia

Je voulus faire un jet d’eau dans mon jardin; Euler calcula l’effort des roues pour faire monter l’eau dans un bassin, d’où elle devait retomber par des canaux, afin de jaillir à Sans-Souci. Mon moulin a été exécuté géométriquement, et il n’a pu élever une goutte d’eau à cinquante pas du bassin. Vanité des vanités! vanité de la géométrie!
Letter H 7434 from Frederick to Voltaire (1778-01-25)

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„I feel the deepest veneration for the divine being, and therefore I am careful not to attribute to him unjust, fickle behavior, which would be condemned by the meanest mortal. Because of that, dear sister, I prefer not to believe that the almighty, benevolent being is at all concerned with human affairs. Rather I do attribute everything that happens to the living beings and certain effects of incalculable causes and I silently bow down before this being which is worthy of adoration, by admitting my ignorance concerning his ways, which his godly wisdom chose not to reveal.“

—  Frederick II of Prussia

Ich empfinde für das göttliche Wesen die tiefste Verehrung und hüte mich deshalb sehr, ihm ein ungerechtes, wankelmütiges Verhalten zuzuschreiben, das man beim geringsten Sterblichen verurteilen würde. Aus diesem Grunde, liebe Schwester, glaube ich lieber nicht, dass das allmächtige, gütige Wesen sich im mindesten um die menschlichen Angelegenheiten kümmert. Vielmehr schreibe ich alles, was geschieht, den Geschöpfen und notwendigen Wirkungen unberechenbarer Ursachen zu und beuge mich schweigend vor diesem anbetungswürdigen Wesen, indem ich meine Unwissenheit über seine Wege eingestehe, die mir zu offenbaren seiner göttlichen Weisheit nicht gefallen hat.
Letter to princess Amalie von Preußen

„Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Etiam egestas wisi a erat. Morbi imperdiet, mauris ac auctor dictum.“

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