Prussian Reforms

Much of what is Germany has its roots in the Prussian reforms of the early 19th Century. Napoleon‘s rapid defeat of Prussia in 1806/07 led to a deep-dive analysis of what went wrong, of what required reform. The Germans radically changed their agricultural system, their business laws, their military training, and most importantly their system of education.

Public eduction for all was introduced. The universities adopted the Humboldt education philosophy, which stressed free and independent inquiry and teaching. Knowledge quickly became the foundation of a modern Prussian economy and state, in many ways for contemporary Germany.

The Prussian Reforms also addressed state institutions. A system of professional civil servants and a bureaucracy was instituted. Bureaucracy then stood for efficiency and professionalism. The tax laws were simplified and made transparent. The state should function more efficiently and become a motor for positive change.

Germany today remains a rather bureaucratic country, with its scores of civil servants, rules and laws. It is a country where one simply cannot do as one pleases. From the perspective of other societies this is a limitation on freedom. Germans, though, view it as a sign of security and stability. Doing things the right way, punctuality, reliability, predictability, following the rules, bureaucracy. Germany has a 200 year history of these. They are who the Germans are as a people.