Which World War destroyed Ruritania? May 31, 2009Posted by Jenny in history, literature, military history.
Tags: Anthony Hope, Breslau, Dresden, Prague, Prisoner of Zenda, Ruritania, World War One, World War Two
The post that I wrote February 8 about Ruritania has proven to be one of the most frequently visited posts of this blog, seeing multiple visitors nearly every day. I have to admit I am surprised but pleased by the interest in my discussion of the nation of castles and swordfighting created by the novelist Anthony Hope. I now pose to my readers a question: which of the two world wars could truly be said to account for the destruction of Ruritania?
As earlier noted, the Ruritanian capital of Strelsau might have been modelled on Prague or on Dresden, putting it inside either Bohemia or Saxony, and one visitor recently put forth the idea that it was based on Breslau, the city now known as Wroclaw in Poland—which would put it in Silesia. Of those three cities, Prague made it through WWII intact, while Dresden was virtually destroyed, and in a simplistic sort of way Breslau splits the difference, having been first designated a “festung” (fortress) by Hitler and then roughly half
destroyed in 1945 when it was besieged by the Soviets.
Yet it could be argued that the physical destruction of large parts of these “Ruritanian” cities in WWII was only the logical working out of the defeat of Germany and the breakup of Austria-Hungary at the end of WWI. The stylistic extravagance, the pomp and the splendor, of the Central European empires (exemplified in the coat of arms above) never came back after 1918.
The question of which world war destroyed Ruritania is in one way kind of a silly one (after all, it’s a made-up country) and in another way fairly deep, having to do with a huge chunk of 20th century history. I will leave it as an open question for the moment.