Beware sensitive issues. No offence is intended to anyone with this fanfiction.

I should like to stress that the root of evil in Germany is Prussia – Winston Churchill

It wasn't until they were well into a new century that Ludwig finally realised a crucial truth, the crucial truth, behind his brother's continued existence. After it got out, and it did get out, not because of Italy this time but Poland, the others asked Germany how he could have missed it. They were brothers. They lived in the same house. And Ludwig had assumed that it had been Russia who had changed Gilbert. He'd forgotten for twenty years that the former nation of Prussia had a talent for deceit, that extended beyond hiding beer cans in his room.

It had begun during the war, with a portrait and an Austrian corporal. It had been unearthed with the theft of three words made of iron.

Hitler would bring the German nations power and wealth and pride. The land taken by the Allies would be his once more. They would be feared and envied and worshipped. And Hitler could rouse humans and nations both with his talk of glory and blood and iron and war until they were screaming themselves hoarse. Hitler mentioned Old Fritz a lot. Gau East Prussia, as he was then, lost count of the times he was made to describe the campaigns or select facts about the man himself. Gilbert liked to talk about Friedrich and their glory days and this only endured the Austrian to him.

Gilbert often though of his brother while in the camp. He wondered if they'd lied to him, it was 1942 after all and how easy would it be to say that Prussia was on the Eastern Front where there were hundreds and hundreds of miles in which to lose letters. When he lay in a shuddering heap of stick-thin limbs, months after his nine cell-mates had succumbed to starvation, he'd watch every slicked-back blonde head looking for Ludwig.

They never told him what precisely gave him away. They caught him because it was common knowledge where Prussia would be on 17th August. This year it was down a mineshaft, outside of Bernrode, sat between two great stone coffins with a bottle of wine, two glasses and a bunch of blue cornflowers. He was most of the way through the bottle, one glass for Old Fritz and the rest for him, and was just getting into the swing of things when they came for him. One look at them and he knew it was over. So he gulped down the last of the wine and he took the Iron Cross from around his neck and left it in the cornflowers with his king.

There was fighting in Auschwitz but of a different kind to the one that was raging in Europe. Their weapon was information, photos of the gas chambers and notes buried in secret. Gilbert kept up his diaries when he could and scraped holes in the earth with his bare hands to hide them.

When the rebellion failed, Mengele gave an impromptu lecture about Zyklon B. He talked about hydrogen cyanide and Prussian blue dye while Georg Fischer died under his hands and Gilbert watched, shackled heavily into a chair on the other side of the room. Georg had been born in Bavaria but when he died he was one of Gilbert's people and the scalpel drew white-hot lines of pain across them both.

All religions are equal and good and as long as those practising are an honest people and wish to populate our land, may they be Turks or Pagans, we will build them mosques and churches – Friedrich II of Prussia

"Hey Old Fritz. I know I've graced you with my awesome presence earlier than usual but I figured you wouldn't mind. They're moving you soon, so that you'll be safe. And your father too... Sorry about that by the way. I'll see what I can do about getting you different rooms or something... The war's going well. You should see me and West, stomping France into the ground and Poland's pretty much down for the count now. Well, Russia got some of that too, but the boss says it's only a matter of time before we go after him. All of the awesome me is back too... The boss talks about you a lot. Asks me a lot of stuff, but why shouldn't he... I kinda wish you were here, Friedrich. More than usual I mean. The boss has ideas... Not that I'm afraid! The awesome me is never afraid! I just think that I have to do something. Watch over me in heaven, Old Fritz... please."

"Like, yeah, we're working on it, so back off, okay?"

Ludwig heaved a great sigh. He had no idea why Gilbert had gone to Poland when he'd heard the news. There were meetings and investigations to be done and the Chancellor was waiting for them. The last thing Germany needed was a scandal because his brother had been watching too many detective shows again.

If he looked to his right he could see the gates of Auschwitz with only empty air were the words 'Arbeit Macht Frei' should have been.

The Allies had dissolved Prussia but Gilbert still lived. They called him the GDR, they called him East Germany, they called him Kaliningrad. When they found him at the end of the war they'd called him coward and deserter. Shamefully hiding amongst the people he'd sent on a death march, only managing to blend in because the Russian campaign had starved him.

"Bruder! Put Poland down!"

Prussia had both his fists in Poland's coat. His bare fists. Ludwig sighed again and began stripping off his gloves, readying himself for Gilbert's whining. Well, if he forgot to bring gloves in December...

"In a minute, West!"

Gilbert first realised what he was when he started to choke on the smell of bitter almonds. When his eyes started to weep of their own violation. When he began to feel them, across Poland and Germany and Romania and Belgium.


"You better find it soon, you fucking-"


"Why? Do you, like, want it back? Maybe you stole it, huh?"

They were not united by any ties of nationality or blood, but by experience. When the rest of the world found out, the older nations discussed it in hushed tones. Only Gilbert, they said, who had been an order of wandering knights before he became a nation, could have done this.

Germany blinked, speechless at what he had found. Gilbert had gone to hit Poland. He had grabbed Gilbert's sleeve to stop him. The coat and the shirt-sleeve underneath it had torn right off. These things he understood. He did not understand the markings running down his brother's pale arm. They read: A00000.

The bag was whisked off Gilbert's head and he blinked rapidly in the sudden light. Ludwig wasn't there. There weren't any of his people either. That made sense, there were higher-ups that would consider themselves Prussian instead of German and Hitler wouldn't want to piss off the military aristocracy.

"Prussia," the Fűhrer himself at this trial, "do you know why we have brought you here?"

"Do we have to go through this bullshit? I smuggled people out of Germany and into Switzerland. I hide them in my own house, right under the Party's nose. I gave them guns and bullets and sometimes I pulled the trigger myself. We all know why I'm here."

The Austrian corporal sighed, calmer than Prussia would have expected the man to be. It wasn't a good sign.

"You've betrayed me. You've betrayed the Reich," he walked over to the portrait hanging on his wall, "Your duty-"

"Duty meant something different in Old Fritz' time," fuck this, Gilbert Belischmidt was going out his own way. He winked at the old man's picture and grinned, "When he had his cock up my arse for example," a roar of anger and gasps of shock. "They didn't call him the King in Prussia for nothing you know!"

Gilbert was still laughing when they sentenced him to rot in Auschwitz.

"Prussia?" Germany's fingers brushed the dark ink. Gilbert turned, with eyes as red as blood and skin as pale as ash, and he spoke like a man releasing a great and heavy burden,

"Not Prussia, West, Holocaust."

The Holocaust is a central event in many people's lives, but it also has become a metaphor for our century. There cannot be an end to speaking and writing about it – Aharon Appelfeld

Historical Notes

Friedrich II of Prussia (Old Fritz)

Exploited as a symbol by the Nazi regime, Friedrich II remains a controversial figure in Germany. Hitler apparently had a portrait of him that he even took with him to his bunker in Berlin. But Old Fritz seemed to be quite accepting of religion and race, and there's strong historical evidence to suggest that he was gay. During the Second World War the bodies of Old Fritz and his father were kept in a mineshaft to protect them. They were then moved to Burg Hohenzollern by the US Army in 1945. He was 'King in Prussia' until 1772 when he'd recovered Prussia's lost territory and changed it to 'King of Prussia'.

'Arbeit Macht Frei'

These words adorned the entrance to several concentration camps including Auschwitz. It means 'work will set you free'. The Auschwitz sign was stolen last month, causing Poland to declare a state of emergency. It was recovered two days later.


If a prisoner successfully escaped from Auschwitz the guards would select ten random people from the escaper's cell block and starve them to death.


Used to gas prisoner in the concentration camps, Zyklon-B produces hydrogen cyanide. Some people can detect the gas by a faint smell of bitter almonds. Hydrogen cyanide was first derived from blue dye, the colour Prussian Blue. In English it was historically known as Prussic acid.

The rebellion

Resistance groups had developed in Auschwitz by 1943. In October 1944, a group of these attacked their guards using stones, axes, hammers and home-made grenades. They managed to blow up one of the crematoriums and hundreds of prisoners escaped. Sadly they were all recaptured and the participants were executed.

Deanoning from the kink meme. The prompt was that Prussia has become the embodiment of the Holocaust and the fact is only discovered in the present day. Again, no offence meant.