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General von Steuben Statue in Potsdam, Germany
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Bernd das Brot Team
N 52° 23.734 E 013° 03.429
33U E 367807 N 5806811
Quick Description: The Prussian officer who trained the Revolutionary Army
Location: Brandenburg, Germany
Date Posted: 10/12/2007 6:42:08 PM
Waymark Code: WM2CNA
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member silverquill
Views: 221

Long Description:

You think memorials for the Revolutionary War are only in America? Think again!

Here is statue of General Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben, a retired Prussian army captain who came to America in 1777 and soon became inspector general of the revolutionary army, turning a bunch of illiterate peasants into a well-oiled war machine. His methods were inovative, like appointing a captain who's sole duty was to curse the recruts in their native language (Steuben didn't speak English). One of his training methods became legend: Among the raw recruits there were men so abysmally untaught that they did not know left from right, and hence could not step off on the left foot as all soldiers should. To teach these lads how to march, he would tie a wisp of hay to the left foot and a wisp of straw to the right; then, setting the men to march, the sergeant would chant, “Hay-foot, straw-foot, hay-foot, straw-foot”—and so on, until everybody had caught on.

March! March.! March old soldier march!
Hayfoot, strawfoot,
Belly-full of bean soup—
March old soldier march!


Von Steuben was a Prussian Officer, and the residence of the Prussian Kings was Potsdam, which is why this statue ended up here. The statue of General Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben in Potsdam is an exact replica of one that stands in Washington D.C. It was erected in 1911 and in that same year a replica was presented by the Congress of the United States to Kaiser Wilhelm II and the German nation.

The statue depicts von Steuben in his military dress uniform surveying the troops at Valley Forge and was given as a symbol of enduring German-American friendship. From 1911 it stood in an honored spot near the imperial City Castle in Potsdam until it was knocked over by bombing near the end of World War II. In 1950, the communist East German government demolished the remains of the castle and melted the statue into salvage.

In May of 1987, an exact copy [Steuben II] of the Washington, D.C., statue was unveiled in West Berlin, directly across from the U.S. Army headquarters. Later, discussions began in the spring of 1994 to cast a second Von Steuben statue [Steuben III] to be located in the original location in Potsdam. The formal dedication of the Von Steuben statue was held on 28 November 1994, near the only surviving buildings of the City Castle, the imperial stables.


The text on the 1911 pedestal, now long destroyed, was reproduced on new plaques unveiled on April 30, 1994. It reads:

"To the German Emperor and the German people by the Congress of the United States of America as a symbol of enduring friendship. Replica of the monument for General Friedrich Wilhelm August Von Steuben. Born in Magdeburg 1730, died in the state of New York 1794. Erected in Washington in grateful recognition of his service to the American People in their struggle for liberty."

The 1994 dedication ceremony in Potsdam was attended by nearly 200 guests including numerous officials of the U.S. Army, Air Force and Navy as well as military and political officials from several other European countries. In addition, many German and American members of the current von Steuben family were also present for the ceremony.

In addition to this statue and the one in Berlin, there is another one in his birth town Magdeburg.

Type of Memorial: Statue

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