This relief depicts Hans Joachim von Zieten, sometimes spelled Johann Joachim von Ziethen, was a cavalry general of the Prussian army in the 18th century. He began his colourful military career in the infantry regiment, and during his 10 years of service there, requested promotion four times, at one point going so far as to petition the king for promotion. Several of those times he was overlooked for promotion due to his short stature, as the king was favourable to tall men. On his final request for promotion, the king wrote in the margin of his petition that Zieten was to be dismissed.
2 years later, Zieten reenlisted as a lieutenant, however he provoked his squadron commander into a duel after arguing. His punishment was a years imprisonment on the fortress of Konigsberg. Upon his freedom, he immediately rechallenged his commander to a duel once more, and was discharged again.
Ziteten managed to reinstate in the newly formed Hussar regiment. He showed talent as a cavalryman, and learnt light cavalry work from his teacher General Baronay of the Austrian army, the only army to have truly mastered it in this period. He was eventually promoted to lieutenant-colonel of the hussar regiment.
Zieten and his hussar regiment became known for their surprise attacks and military prowess, and partook in many wars and battles, in a period of time known as Zieten’s ride. He eventually took part in the Seven Years war, distinguishing himself and finally, in 1761, dragging King Frederick the Great out of a deep spiritual crisis while the army was entrenched. Until the war ended, he was repeatedly entrusted with the supreme command of the entire Prussian army when the king was absent. After the war, Zieten belonged to the elite of the kingdom, a trusted friend and a part of the monarch’s inner circle.