John Fred William Riepe & Anna Wilhelmina [Luetger] Riepe Joseph Creighton Riepe, Sr. Bertha Fredericka [Riepe] Lord Ruby Fern Riepe & Otis Wendell Riepe Sophia [Peine] Riepe Josephine Catherine [Riepe] Ernst  






Today, we think of Prussia as a historic region of northwestern Germany, which it was, but to better understand Prussia, and its province of Westphalia in particular, we need to go back to even further.  The history of these lands falls into four major time periods; pre-1806, 1806-1871, 1871-1918, and 1918-present.


Before Christ, the lands we refer to today as Prussia were inhabited by various German tribes.  During the period of about 12 B.C. to 5 A.D., a series of battles occurred, resulting in  the Romans holding the territory for a short time.  During the 3rd century, tribes of German peoples known as Saxons began moving into the area.  The Romans were ultimately defeated, and the Saxons took control of the region.  At this time, the area was known as Saxony.  There were three main tribes of Saxons who settled in three primary areas: 1.) Westphalia, the western part of the province, lay between the Lower Rhine and Weser Rivers,  2.) Angria, or Engern in German, which lay on either side of the Weser River, and  3.) Eastphalia, the eastern part of the province, which lay between the Weser and Elbe Rivers.  The Saxons in these areas were known as Westphlians, Angrians, and Eastphalians.  Around the 12th century, the name Engern disappeared and the area around the Weser became part of Westphalia.

Christianity was introduced in Westphalia in the 7th century, and by the early 1100's, Westphalia contained numerous principalities - e.g., church districts, dioceses, and monasteries.  By 1600, most Westphalians were of Catholic faith, though the Lutheran and Protestant faiths were also practiced.

In 1744, Ostfriesland, where the village of Riepe is located, became part of the Kingdom of Prussia.

1806 - 1871

Prior to 1806, the Kingdom of Prussia was ruled by kings and was not part of Germany.  In 1806, Napoleon Bonaparte conquered Europe, destroyed Germany as an empire, and Prussia was forced to concede its possessions to France.  Westphalia's lands were reorganized - combined with other lands and divided into new territories which were renamed.  During this period, the Westphalians were obliged to change their nationality several times.  The new structure, The Kingdom of Westphalia, was established by Napoleon for his brother, Jerome.  In1813, the kingdom collapsed, and by 1815, when Napoleon and the French were out of power, Prussia regained possession and control of the land.  In 1815, Ostfriesland became part of the Kingdom of Hannover, and in 1866, the Kingdom of Hannover (Hanover) was incorporated into Prussia.

1871 - 1918

Germany was reestablished as an empire, King Wilhelm I became Emperor, and Prussia became a province of Germany.

1918 - present

Prior to WWII, Prussia was the largest and most important state in Germany, both industrially and politically.  The region that was Prussia was primarily low-lying, level land, with mountainous areas in parts of the north and southeast.  The principle industries were agriculture, cattle breeding, iron and coal mining, and manufacturing.  The area around the Ruhr River was particularly rich with valuable iron and coal mines.  Numerous factories in this area supplied mining equipment and machinery.  Linen and other textile products were also manufactured.

Westphalia remained a Prussian province until 1945.  In 1946, Westphalia was once again reorganized.  Combined with the province of Lippe, the area was divided into the Land of North Rhine-Westphalia and Land of Lower Saxony.  After 1945, Prussia again was divided among the four Allied occupation zones (British, French, U.S. and Soviet).  In 1947, Prussia was formally abolished as a state by the Allied Control Council for Germany, and the land, once again, was reorganized.  Most of the former provinces became part of the new states of the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic.  Russia acquired the northern part of East Prussia, and Poland acquired the remainder of East Prussia, as well as other parts.



Copyright © 2000-2010 Anne S. Riepe.  All rights reserved.
Last modified:  Friday, February 05, 2010 08:53 PM