[America and Germany, 1866] In Germany, war was looming between the two great powers, the Kingdom of Prussia under Wilhelm I in Berlin and Franz Joseph’s Habsburg Empire of Austria in Vienna.
After many months of hard yet fulfilling work at the Mountain Men Vineyard, it was time for Emil and Lena to travel back to Germany. They had fallen in love with the Shenandoah Valley, for both of them it was hard to say goodbye. Lorenz accompanied them to New York. “I will miss both of you very much,” he said. “We will miss you too,” Emil answered, “but we need to get home.” Lorenz knew all too well. A war was looming in Germany.
War is looming in Germany
A war was looming in Germany between the two great powers, the Kingdom of Prussia and the Empire of Austria. Prussia’s Prime Minister Otto von Bismarck.a staunch conservative, demanded that the multi-ethnic state of Austria should cede primacy in Germany to the mainly German state of Prussia. He was ready to go to war against Austria. Nobody in Germany wanted this war, but Bismarck went for it. It was a fratricidal war that would also tear apart Sophie, the Prussian citizen, and Andras, the Austrian.
“I don’t dare to think of it,” said Lorenz deeply concerned, “I pray that you will not be conscripted, Emil, and I pray for Sophie and Andras. They have postponed their wedding for us, and now Andras will probably have to go to war.”
“I know you want to be there for us, Lorenz”, Lena said, “but this is Prussia, and it has not forgiven the Prussian citizens among the revolutionaries of 1848/49, you’re still on the warrant’s list. “Try not to lose hope,” Emil added, “this is certainly not our last visit. We have been thinking, Lena and I, we do not need a big house, the view from our little wine-grower’s house on the Rhine and the Seven Mountains gives us great joy every morning. We will save up so that we can visit you. She agrees with me, we just happen to be a family who is at home in two continents.”
On June 19, 1866, Prussia declared war on Austria. The American papers also reported about the events in Europe. Prussian troops marched into Saxony, Hanover, and Hesse; They annexed Hanover and quickly defeated the medium states, Austria’s allies.
In the decisive battle of Königgratz, the Austrian army was defeated. They managed to retreat to the right bank of the Danube near Bratislava. Now negotiations were going on.
Worries about family and friends in Europe
More bad news came. Andras, outspoken, had openly criticized the Austrian army’s poor leadership and bad equipment. He had been transferred on disciplinary grounds to far away Galicia. Because of his bravery and his comrades’ advocacy, he had been granted a few days. In a hurry, he had sent his faithful batman Jacob to Sophie. In the middle of the night, Sophie had left with him.
Lorenz was devastated and often sat brooding over newspapers and letters from home. His wife Annelie was worried. “I know that Lena is right,” he said gloomily, “you know what they did with the Prussian citizens among the revolutionaries – they executed them, and the arrest warrant against me is still valid. I know all this, but it does not comfort me. My family and friends in Germany have done so much for us, even Sophie’s fiancé Andras who does not even know us. And now I cannot do anything for them, it’s so frustrating.” “He may not know you, but he knows your situation very well. Andras’ family comes from Hungary, and in 1848 they revolted too, only a few years ago they were pardoned.”
Then she took one of Sophie’s letters. “Look here what she writes: ‘Andras’ parents did not keep silent, they have protested against their son’s arrest. My father-in-law was forbidden to see his son, only my mother-in-law was allowed to go with me to see Andras. We had very little time together. Jacob and his comrades picked a bunch of colorful field flowers for me, then we got married in a small field chapel. Now that you hold this letter in your hands, Andras is probably already in Galicia, and I am back on the Rhine. Everyone is supporting me, and we have a lot to do. We must not give up and hope for better times, and then we all come together.'”
Annelie dropped the letter. “You only know her as a little girl,” she continued, “I can tell from her letters that she is a strong young woman, and she and Andras are in love, they will make I through.” “I wish the world would be all right again, and you could get to know them all,” Lorenz answered.
Cheers for the Prussians
But in Germany, the victory at Königgratz had changed everything. In the peace treaty of Prague of 1866, Austria agreed to the dissolution of the German Confederation; in fact, it was expelled from Germany. Large areas in northern Germany fell to Prussia, which now had a closed state territory reaching from East Prussia to the Main, and was by far the largest state. Also in the Rhineland the mood turned: The Prussian army was hailed, the Crown Prince, Bismarck, and the generals became heroes.
Amnesty for Lorenz seemed far away.