War Stories – Franco-Prussian War Impacts the Wierzba’s from Lipusz
The countries of Central and Eastern Europe have seen numerous wars throughout the past five hundred years. Some of the most unforgettable wars include the Thirty Years’ War, the Napoleonic Wars, the Crimean War, the Austro-Prussian War, World War I and World War II. Each of these wars helped to change the landscape of Europe. Besides political and military ramifications throughout Europe, each of these wars impacted society. Societal impacts can be found in plague, starvation, economic changes or disasters, and military conscription.
One such war that had impacted the lives of my ancestors residing in Prussian Poland, was the Franco-Prussian War. Although the war was not fought in Prussian Poland, it did change the lives of my ancestors. I cannot be sure if war directly caused my ancestors to leave Prussian Poland, but the war may have added to their reasoning to leave for America. Many of my ancestors arrived in America in 1872, which was a year after the Franco-Prussian War ended.
The Franco-Prussian War took place from July 1870 until February 1871, along the border of the western German states and France. The war would change the power ownership in Europe. The biggest power in continental Europe at this time was France, which wanted to reclaim its past glories of the Napoleonic years. A rising power in Central and Eastern Europe was Prussia, which wanted to unite the German states under one German country that would be guided by the Prussian government. Prussia’s Prime Minister Otto von Bismarck would add fuel to the fire and expand tensions that were rising between the governments of Prussia and France. The Prussian government would ultimately start the war.
The Prussian military overwhelmed the French forces and in turn united the German States to form the country of Germany. During the war, at least one of my ancestors were conscripted into the Prussian Army and would become a casualty of war. Stanisław Wierzba was the brother of my great-great grandfather Wincenty Wierzba. Stanisław was married to Emilia Halwes and had 2 or 3 children living when he was sent off to war. During the fighting Stanisław Wierzba became a casualty on September 26, 1870. More information can be found here: Stanislaw Wierzba Franco-Prussian War Casualty 9-26-1870
Almost two years later, in June 1872, Stanisław Wierzba’s brothers and their families arrived in America. War’s can have very meaningful impacts on families and friends, even over 150 years ago in the villages of the Lipusz Parish.
More can found about the Franco-Prussian War on the websites below:
Also, the book titled the Franco-Prussian War, written by Michael Howard, is a very thorough and informative book detailing the war. I highly recommend this book if you’d like to learn more about the war and its political, historical, and military ramifications for Europe.