I'm reading A Military History of Germany by Martin Kitchen, and I was surprised at the description of 18th century Prussia.
The country is described as a North-Korea like military obsessed nation, with the following characteristics:
- Kings were obsessed with the Army, and 80% of the budget was spent on the Army
- Men were conscripted to be part of the Army at the age of 20, and the obligation never ended, so basically they were definitely taken from their homes at age 20
- Many people injured themselves to try to escape conscription, this didn't always work as even some disabled people were made soldiers
- Soldiers were treated so brutally and so inhumanly that everyone wanted to desert the army even at the cost of their lives
- Any man wandering around was considered to be a deserter, so there was absolutely no freedom of movement within the Kingdom - If they were caught wandering around they'd be arrested.
- Farmers had to give about 19 kg of each 20 kg of cereal they produced to the army as taxes, creating situations of extreme poverty
- Nobody had any genuine loyalty to the King, actually everyone despised him
- Many people wanted to desert, so this seriously restricted the Army, as it could only do very simple and inefficient manoeuvres in the open where it was possible to look over all soldiers constantly.
The problem with this description is that it creates a few paradoxes, such as:
- How could Prussia generate great intellectuals such as Immanuel Kant, when all men's lives were supposed to be devoted to the army, and only the army?
- How could people still work on farms and provide the army with food if all men were taken away from their homes?
- How could men find wives and reproduce, if they had to spend their entire life in the army?
Considering that such paradoxes aren't explained, I seriously doubt the description made in the book, and that makes the whole book suspicious. So, how accurate is 18th century Prussia's description in that book?