Florian considers his Prussian identity. He wonders what will happen to the forty million people who called Prussia home. “Its legacy reached back to the thirteenth century, but now lay crushed underfoot. Can history disappear if it’s written in blood?” An air horn signals that the ship is finally departing. Through a seam in the steel, Florian watches the frantic refugees who have been unable to board. He knows the “Gustloff was their only hope,” just as it was his.
Florian remains connected to his past, his culture, and his homeland. Although Prussia is part of the German Empire, he is distinctly Prussian and not German. His question is prescient; after WWII, Prussia was dissolved and reabsorbed by other European nations, essentially disappearing from the map although remaining alive in ethnic and cultural memory.