Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben was one of the heroes of the North American Independence War, lasting from 1775 to 1783. He served in the Prussian army as an officer, and for a time was one of the aide-de-camps to Friedrich the Great. In 1777, after completion of the Seven Years’ War, he joined the United States Army as General Major and General Inspector. On the order of George Washington he turned disorganised farmers’ militias into a disciplined and powerful army; an act that contributed greatly to the victory of the Independence movement in the USA. In remembrance of this, the “Steuben Parade” is held every year in New York.
Steuben was born in 1730 in Magdeburg and christened in the French Reformed Church, which used to be situated where the main post office is today. Here, a plaque remembers the great son of the city; additionally there are several busts in the museum and the city hall. The first freely elected mayor, Willi Polte, took them out of the Cultural Historical Museum archive in 1990 and restored them to the city hall; the city declared its support for its democratic military reformer.
A statue, long denied, was erected for Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben on his 266th birthday on the 17th September 1996 in Magdeburg; a 3.40 m tall bronze sculpture in the Harnackstraße near the Fürstenpalais. A street nearby is also named after him.