Germany - national flag
The flag was officially adopted in 1949, but was first introduced in 1848
for the German Confederation. During the Weimar Republic 1919-33, it was for
the first time a unified official flag of Germany.
What does the flag of Germany look like? Follow this link, then you will see
the image in PNG format and flag meaning description about this country.
The three colors originate from uniforms and banners from the wars of
independence against Napoleon and symbolize bourgeois-liberal efforts towards
German national unification and a democratic form of government.
See song and lyrics about Germany
The black-red-golden colors have a heraldic tradition dating back to the
1200's. The German-Roman Empire carried as a weapon and curses a black eagle on a
golden shield with red tongue, beak and claws.
Germany - prehistory
Germany - prehistory, Stone Age
From the older Paleolithic, finds from the cultures clactonia and acheuléen
are known; human bones and skull remains from Bilzingsleben, Heidelberg and
Steinheim can be linked to this.
In the Middle Paleolithic, the moustéri culture meets the "leaf tips"
peculiar to the area. To this culture also belong the known finds of skull and
skeletal parts of man from the Neanderthal.
AbbreviationFinder: Check three-letter abbreviation for each country in the world,
such as DE which represents the official name of Germany.
The Late Paleolithic is represented by finds from the cultures
of aurignacia, gravetti and magdalenia. Important sites from the end of the
period are Meiendorf, Stellmoor and Ahrensburg in northern Germany.
Mesolithic, approximately 9000-5500 BC, is characterized by microlitres and by hunting
the forest wildlife, by the Baltic Sea fishing and sea fishing in the
Ertebølle-Ellebek culture, and by the ice age fauna, e.g. bones from reindeer,
disappearing from the finds.
From approximately 5500 BC occurs in the southern areas the
oldest Neolithic culture, the so-called band ceramic culture, which is followed
by several other Stone Age cultures, such as Rössen, ribbon ceramic and
Michelsberg culture. In the northernmost areas, the development is more
reminiscent of the Danish, as the oldest Neolithic culture is the funnel-cup
culture, just as megalithic tombs are built here.
At the end of the Neolithic, string ceramics culture and bell goblet culture
met in many areas, with the latter playing an important role in the spread of
In the beginning of the Bronze Age from approximately 2350 BC metal is relatively
rare, and copper and bronze appear side by side. With the advent of the
Aunjetitz culture in Central Germany, this relationship gradually changed, and
bronze appeared in significant quantities, just as rich tombs are known.
The early Bronze Age of southern Germany with the so-called eye circle is
undergoing its own development. In northern Germany, the development can largely
be compared with the southern Scandinavian, and the Bronze Age here only begins
approximately 1700 BC
In the Middle Bronze Age, burial in high becomes very common. With the advent
of the urnmark culture in 1200-tkKr. the burial customs are radically changed,
as fire pits are now exclusively built, often in large areas under flat
ground. The Urnemark culture is found especially in southern and central
Germany, but also further north there are now only fire pits.
In the urnmark culture, there was an extensive production of bronze objects,
a significant part of which was undoubtedly produced for sale/exchange.
With the Hallstatt culture from around 700 BC. the iron was introduced in
southern and central Germany. Rich tombs and princely seats, centers with
connections to Etruscan and Greek territory, such as Heuneburg, constitute
characteristic features of this culture.
In the northern areas, however, the Iron Age does not begin until approximately 500
BC with the Jastorf culture comparable to the early Iron Age in Jutland. From
approximately 500 BC Celtic culture came to play an important role in southern and
central Germany, from which rich princely tombs are known as
the Eberdingen-Hochdorf tomb. In fortified cities (oppida), such
as Manching, extensive production and trade took place in a culturally
Germany - history
With Caesar's conquest of Gaul in the middle of the 1st
century. BC came Germania, which the Romans called the area into the Roman
Empire's sphere of interest. When Augustus tried to stretch the kingdom's border
to the Elbe, the Romans were definitely defeated in the Teutoburg Forest in the
year 9 AD. Only the areas west of the Rhine and west of the later border wall, Limes,
as well as the areas south of the Danube were therefore incorporated into the
kingdom. The rest of present-day Germanywas divided between Germanic tribes. The
Romans came to dominate the country both in peaceful coexistence and during
endless wars that were to try to keep the Germans out of the territory of the
When the Roman Empire no longer existed in the West, the area became part of
the Frankish sphere of interest, and in the 500's. the Frankish royal family
conquered the Merovingians much of later Germany. In the north, however, the
Frisians and Saxons were independent until into the 700's. The Merovingians
became during the 600-t. repressed by the Carolingians, and under Charlemagne,
the Frankish Empire achieved its greatest extent, including the Saxons were
By the Treaty of Verdun in 843, the Frankish Empire was divided into three
kingdoms, of which the East Frankish Empire later in the High Middle Ages was to
become Germany. Until 911, however, the country was ruled by kings of the
Carolingian family, but even after the Saxon Duke Henry I was elected king in
919, the kingdom retained its Frankish character.
|ca. 500000-approx. 35000 BC
||older and middle Paleolithic
|approx. 35000-approx. 9000 BC
||younger Paleolithic; the aurignacien, gravettien and magdalénien
|approx. 9000-approx. 5500 BC
||Mesolithic; use of microliters
|approx. 5500-approx. 2350 BC
||neolithic; ribbon ceramic culture, agriculture is
introduced; funnel cup culture in the northernmost areas; string ceramic
culture and bell-cup culture
|approx. 2350-approx. 700 BC
||Bronze Age; The Aunjetitz culture, high grave and urn field culture
|approx. 700-approx. 1st century BC
||Iron Age; The Hallstatt culture with connection to the
Mediterranean; Celtic La Tène culture and fortified cities (oppida)
|1st century BC
||Roman conquests; The Rhine and the Danube form the border between
the Roman Empire and Germania
||Frankish Merovingians and Carolingians subjugated the western
||by the Treaty of Verdun, the Frankish kingdom is divided into
three; the eastern part will later become Germany
||Otto I the Great is crowned German-Roman emperor
||The investiture dispute between the emperor and the church
||the county administration is expanded under Frederik 1. Barbarossa
||Rudolf I of Habsburg's accession to the throne ends almost 20 years
of political instability and dissolution of the kingdom, and the
dominance of the Habsburgs begins
||The Golden Bull strengthens the power of the Electors
||the county administration is being phased out, and the estate
assemblies are being strengthened by convening country days
||Martin Luther's 95 indulgences herald the Reformation
||The German Peasant War
||the Augsburg peace of religion
||religious conflicts trigger the Thirty Years' War
||at the Peace of Westphalia, the German principalities gained real
independence from the emperor
||The Austrian War of Succession (1740-48) and the Seven Years'
War (1756-63) establish Prussia's position as a leading German state
||The Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars; Prussia and Austria are
among France's main opponents
||The German-Roman Empire dissolves
||after the Congress of Vienna, the German Confederation is
established as a loose state union of German states
||The March Revolution; The Frankfurt Parliament is trying in vain to
unite Germany into one federal state
||Prussia and Austria conquer Denmark in the Second Schleswig
War; the victory strengthens Bismarck's efforts to unite Germany
||The Prussian-Austrian War; The German Confederation is dissolved
and the North German Confederation is formed
||Austria and Hungary are united in the dual monarchy
||The Franco-German War. After the peace, the German Empire is
||Germany becomes a colonial power, industrialization picks up speed
and social legislation is implemented; active alliance policy facing
||World War I; Germany is one of the Central Powers
||November Revolutions; the emperor abdicates
||The Treaty of Versailles imposes large war damages on Germany; The
Weimar Republic is proclaimed
||France occupies the Ruhr area; hyperinflation; at the beer hall
coup, Hitler is trying to take power
||NSDAP forms government; Hitler becomes Chancellor
||military rearmament; political terror and the persecution of
minority groups intensify
||Austria, Bohemia and Moravia are incorporated into Germany
||World War II begins with Germany's attack on Poland 1/9
||Germany capitulates 8/5; the country is divided into an American, a
British, a French and a Soviet occupation zone
||The Berlin blockade
||Division of Germany; in the three western zones West Germany (BRD)
is created, and in the Soviet zone East Germany (GDR) is formed
||The June uprising in the GDR is crushed by the Soviet military
||The BRD joins NATO and the GDR becomes a member of the Warsaw Pact
||BRD participates in the formation of the EC
||The Berlin Wall is being built
||attempts at reconciliation between West and East Germany; political
terrorism in the FRG; in the GDR, the Stasi is being expanded
||BRD and DDR are admitted to the UN
||economic inequality between the FRG and the GDR is growing
||The Berlin Wall is falling
||GDR dissolves, Germany is reunited
||Berlin will once again be the seat of government and the Bundestag
The western border of the kingdom was determined through several treaties
that were concluded with the West Frankish Empire in the 800's, eg the Settlement
in resp. Meersen 870 and Ribémont 880 and of later treaties in 900-t. The point
of contention was Lorraine affiliation. The eastern frontier was created
through wars against slaves and Magyars; the latter was decisively defeated by
Otto I the Great at the Battle of Lechfeld in 955.
Domestically, the problem consisted of the 900's. Among other things, in
getting the tribal dukes to recognize a centralist kingdom. Otto succeeded in
part, and on that basis he was able to go to Rome and in 962 be crowned
German-Roman emperor. This event was often interpreted by posterity as one of
the possible anniversaries of the creation of Germany.
Germany - history - the Middle Ages
Germany - History - The Middle Ages, The Ottoman and Salian Emperors,
The Pope's coronation of Otto 1. to the emperor of St. Peter's certainly
strengthened Otto in relation to the great men, but the balance of power did not
change decisively. The ducal, count, and margrave families of great men, who
chose the German king from among them, still together possessed far more land
than the crown; originally their possessions appear to have been royal counties,
but already during the Carolingians they had actually become hereditary, and the
German Empire thus divided into a number of independent territories.
Nevertheless, the imperial coronation of Otto is a landmark event in medieval
history. The Western empire was revived, and in a decisive way the German
kingdom was linked to the Roman Empire.
Thus the German king was endowed with a special status among the princes of
Europe. In his self-understanding, the emperor was the God-chosen world ruler
and protector of the universal church. The period was also marked by a great
deal of German missionary work among the pagan slaves and Scandinavians as well
as a prosperous Eastern policy.
The imperial coronation also led to a greater orientation of Germany towards
Italy and the papacy; Otto and his successors intervened directly in the
church's internal affairs and, among other things, more popes set aside. Within
the German monarchy, Otto, like his father, Henry I, had tried to attach the
clergy to him in order to counterbalance the noble families. Through an
extensive allotment of royal privileges and donations, an actual national church
was created, where all significant episcopal sees and monasteries were occupied
by clergy loyal to the emperor.
The Saxon duchy and thus the Ottomans became extinct in 1024 with Henry II
.; he was succeeded by Konrad II of the Salian House, who in 1027 took over the
imperial dignity. The Salian emperors continued the policy of the Ottomans, but
under Henry IV there were serious disagreements between reform circles within
the church and the part of the clergy that joined the emperor.
In the end, the pope and emperor were also involved in this controversy,
the Investiture Controversy, over who had the supreme authority in
ecclesiastical affairs. The ecclesiastical investment law, ie. the right to
appoint bishops and abbots to their offices through the handing over of the
ecclesiastical signs of dignity, scepter and ring, was since the 900-t. been
advocated by the German kings, who had thereby had almost unrestricted power
over ecclesiastical affairs in the kingdom.
It was now strongly opposed by the Reform Pope Gregory VII, who claimed that
it was up to the Pope to appoint bishops and abbots only after free canonical
elections. It got so far that the pope shone Henrik in band, which received
great support from opposition greats in the kingdom.
To break this alliance, Henrik went to Canossa in 1077, after which the pope
released him from the band. A more lasting solution to the conflict first came
about at the Concordat of Worms 1122, where the emperor agreed in principle to
have only to equip the bishops and abbots with the secular investment, namely
the so-called regalia. Thus, the national church system was formally brought to
an end, and the German bishops instead became royal vassals in the county system
that was under construction.
The High Middle Ages and the Staufi emperors, 1138-1250
The expansion of the county system and the strife between the princely
houses Hohenstaufen and Welf came to mark the time during the Staufian kings and
emperors who followed Konrad III's accession to the throne in 1138.
In particular, Konrad's son Frederik 1. Barbarossa endeavored to control the
territorial lords through the county obligations; in principle, the most
powerful of the great men, the princes, received their territories as the county
of the king, to whom they also relinquished the county seat. However, Frederik's
Italian policy kept him away from Germany for long periods, which gave free rein
to the Welsh Duke Henrik Løve, who opposed Frederik.
It was not until 1181 that the duke was sentenced by a federal court to his
county and had to go into exile in England. At the same time, Frederik succeeded
in securing a strong Italian power base, when his son Henrik (6th) in 1186
married Konstance (1154-98), heir to Sicily.
However, Frederik died suddenly in 1190 during the 3rd Crusade to the Holy
Land, and the German noble families succeeded in weakening the royal house
through a diminution of the de facto heredity in the royal elections that had
become the norm.
With Frederik II, Frederik I's grandson, in 1212 they again had a strong
staufisk king on the throne. He was largely oriented towards Sicily, but
continued his efforts to limit the power of the German territorial lords through
the expansion of the lordship.
A useful instrument in this connection was the kingdom's rapidly growing
cities, which Frederik particularly favored; a number of them were given the
status of free imperial cities directly under the emperor, and became economic
and administrative centers of power. Like his predecessors, Frederick II was
soon captured by his Italian policy; he was repeatedly in conflict with the
popes and was repeatedly banned.
The Late Middle Ages and the Habsburg Dominance, 1250-1517
The period immediately after Frederik II's death in 1250 was marked by great
political instability. The period was not really royal, although it is often
referred to as an interregnum.
But the vacuum of power which nevertheless arose was soon exploited by the
territorial princes and kingdoms to secure a firm grip on power within their own
territories; the royal cities were often organized in federations, eg
the hanseatic cities, whose importance grew strongly at this time.
The situation stabilized in the election in 1273 of Rudolf I of Habsburg as
the new German king. Thus, for the first time, the crown passed to the
Habsburgs, who were to shape the country's history until 1806. Rudolf was
elected by seven electors, who were among the most powerful men in the kingdom.
These seven princes, three of whom were archbishops and four secular
dignitaries, had gradually gained a monopoly on the royal elections through a
narrowing of the electoral assembly. The monopoly was used to maintain the
territorial power of the great men. When Rudolf died, Adolf of Nassau
was elected new king in 1292 in an attempt to avoid Habsburg dominance. At the
same time, so much discontinuity was created in the succession to the throne
that it had to decisively weaken any royal attempt to strengthen the central
power, unlike England and France, where development largely went the opposite
The German Empire thus remained an electoral kingdom, with the individual
territorial lords having a keen interest in maintaining a weak kingdom. Even
when the pope in 1338 tried to assert his influence on the royal election, the
electors were strong enough to resist the demand.
Their position was further strengthened when Emperor Charles IV of
Luxembourg with the Golden Bull in 1356 granted the Electorate a not
insignificant influence in government affairs; Karl's goals were to keep
the Habsburgs out of power, which succeeded until Frederik III in 1440 was
elected king (as Frederik IV).
Thereafter, the Habsburgs more permanently secured the crown, not least
because of the family's large territorial possessions comprising the Austrian
heritage lands, Burgundy and the Netherlands.
Power and territories were further expanded and fortified through the
targeted Habsburg marriage policy. The relationship between the pope and the
imperial power was regulated once and for all by the Vienna Concordat of 1448.
At the same time, the feudal principalities were changing in favor of a
strengthening of the estate assemblies through the so-called land days, which
gained greater influence in the individual parts of the country. The obligation
of the princes and sheriffs to resp. to govern and advise was
institutionalized; the vassals were divided into estates, first and foremost the
great men, the clergy, and the citizens, all of whom stood in a county
relationship with the territorial lord.
Around 1500, it also became common to hold Reichstag days, reserved for the
Reich princes and clergy as well as the Reich-Immediate cities
(see Reichstag). The position of the cities was expressed in that they joined
together in alliances. At the same time a separation of the church and the
empire took place; Maximilian I thus took in 1508 the title of emperor without
papal coronation, which happened in good understanding with the papacy. Thus, a
new era took its beginning.
Germany - History - 1517-1701
Germany - History - 1517-1701, World Empire and Reformation, 1517-55
In the first half of the 1500's, Germany was marked by both internal and
external wars, popular uprisings both in cities and in the countryside, and
religious and social strife. In 1519, Charles V became German-Roman emperor. He
was already king of Naples, Sicily, Spain and the Spanish possessions in
first and foremost America, and thus Germany became seriously part of
the Habsburg world empire and involved in the many resource-intensive wars with
especially France and the Ottoman Empire.
Economically, 1500-t was. in many ways a heyday in Germany, as the sharply
increased international trade in goods, not least with the colonies, and the
import of silver from South America together with a large population growth gave
significant price increases of food.
This benefited the landowners and the larger peasants in particular, but
reduced the living conditions of the part of the population who had to buy food,
especially the growing proletariat in the cities. The price increases also
encouraged landowners to increase production by pressuring farmers, homesteaders
and farm workers for more work, higher taxes and by putting more land under the
manors, which caused considerable social unrest.
For the Hanseatic cities, this development reinforced the internal
division; an ever-increasing share of international trade passed Lübeck in
particular, with the Dutch preferring the direct sea route through the Øresund
to the Baltic Sea region's most important grain exporting city, the Hanseatic
city of Danzig (now Gdańsk), instead of the Hamburg-Lübeck route.
The social tensions were greatly amplified by the religious movements that
emerged in the 1500's. Martin Luther's publication in 1517 of his 95 theses on
indulgence became the prelude to the Reformation. His rejection of canon law and
the authority of the pope shook the medieval social order, and the deliberate
use of the art of printing by the many different Reformers in the service of
religious and political propaganda caused the ideas of the Reformation to spread
rapidly throughout the kingdom. "Flying Writings" in the thousands were printed
in currently staggeringly large editions, especially in the period between 1520
While the first of many wars between Charles V and France's Francis I.fought
(1521-25), erupted in southern Germany violent popular uprisings, which quickly
spread to Central Germany. The uprisings, formerly called the "Peasant War",
were not only - and perhaps not primarily - peasant uprisings, but also urban
uprisings. The revolts were especially directed at the rising taxes and the
abuses of the landowners; the peasants invoked Luther's thoughts, as he had
expressed them in "On the Freedom of a Christian." The rebels made very
far-reaching demands, the realization of which would have undermined the entire
existing social order. The most widely used program was "The Twelve Articles",
which was written in March 1525 in the free city of Memmingen by theologian
Christoph Schaeppeler and lay preacher Sebastian Lotzer. It was in countless
prints spread out over most of Germany.
Martin Luther himself quickly distanced himself from the rebels and instead
supported the princes, who after several defeats finally in the late spring and
in the summer of 1525 were able to defeat the rebel armies decisively (see
also The German Peasant War). In the same year, Charles V of France had
defeated Francis I of France at the Battle of Pavia, capturing the Habsburgs for
control of all of Italy and freeing large troops to fight the said uprisings.
In a number of principalities, first in the Electorate of Saxony and in Hesse
and later Brandenburg, Prussia, Mecklenburg, Pomerania, Duchy of Saxony and
Württemberg; and in large cities (especially in the free cities),
Nuremberg, Augsburg, Hamburg and the Baltic cities, a reformation was
carried out in these years.
The church and monastery estates were confiscated, and publicly employed
priests were hired in the evangelical areas, who eagerly preached obedience to
the authorities, ie. their own employers. Likewise, a number of dioceses,
including the Archdiocese of Bremen, secularized, and the episcopal sees
occupied with princes' sons.
At the Reichstag in Augsburg in 1530, the Protestants presented the Augsburg
Confession, which explained the evangelical faith and church order and was to
legitimize the evangelical estates in relation to the kingdom. The Catholic
majority of the Reichstag, however, rejected the confession, after which the
Protestant princes in 1531 organized themselves into the Schmalkaldic
League. The following years were a prosperous time for the evangelical princely
states and cities; and reformations were carried out in more and more places.
The Confederacy suffered because Philipp of Hesse was put out of the game and
because the Evangelical Saxon Duke Moritz switched to the imperialists' side
against the promise of curiosity, defeat of Charles and the Catholic forces in
the Schmalkaldic War (1546-47), but then France's Catholic King Henry II allied
with the German Protestant princes - not least Moritz of Saxony, in 1555 a
compromise was reached, the Augsburg religious peace.
Here Catholicism was maintained as the official religion of the German-Roman
Empire; at the same time the evangelicals (but not the Reformed ones) were
recognized, but so that the acceptance applied to the right of the individual
prince or kingdom to choose religion on behalf of himself and his subjects
("ciius regio, eius religio"). A subject could choose to emigrate if he/she
did not accept the government's choice of denomination.
From religious peace to the Thirty Years' War, 1555-1648
In 1556, Charles V handed over the imperial throne to his brother Ferdinand
I, and had already ceded the Italian, Dutch and Spanish possessions to his son
Philip II, and thus the entire Habsburg world empire ceased to exist.
Under Ferdinand and his successors Maximilian II, Rudolf II and Matthias,
Germany experienced a number of relatively quiet years despite the Counter -
Reformation, which a number of scholars today - perhaps more correctly - call
"Catholic reform", and conflicts between evangelicals and Reformed, which had
widespread in southwestern Germany and Switzerland.
The continuing political-religious tensions became clear when the southern
German Protestants organized themselves in the Evangelical Union in 1608, and
the Catholics the following year established the Catholic League under the
leadership of Maximilian I of Bavaria.
On the basis of strong, destabilizing inflation triggered tensions when
the revolt of the Protestant Bohemian estates in Prague in 1618 became the
beginning of the Thirty Years' War, in which Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands,
France and Spain were also involved.
The war, which was not only about religious contradictions, but also about
the power structure and position of the German-Roman Empire in Europe, raged
fiercely in Germany. Not least the civilian population was hit hard; large areas
were depopulated and the economy laid in ruins.
The Weak Empire, 1648-1701
The war ended with the Peace of Westphalia in 1648. Here the Augsburg
religious peace was confirmed with a division into Catholic and Protestant areas
corresponding to the situation in 1624, and now Calvinism was also
recognized. The peace also meant that Alsace was ceded to France, and
Bremen-Verden, Wismar and Forpommern to Sweden.
Most significant, however, was the sharp weakening of the German Empire; the
individual German princes became fully sovereign in their territories and could
in future enter into alliances with foreign powers.
The imperial power was further curtailed, as all decisions now required the
consent of the Reichstag, where Reich princes, clerical princes and large
cities had seats. Thus, Germany again took a step in a decentralized direction,
unlike large parts of the rest of Europe. In addition, the reconstruction of the
destroyed Germany took a long time, because the trade routes continued to
shift to the west.
Although the imperial power now had only limited power in the German-Roman
Empire itself, the second half of the 1600's. a period of prosperity for
Emperor Leopold 1.
However, the political influence was no longer grounded in the German Empire,
but in the Habsburg hereditary lands of Austria (including Bohemia) and Hungary,
not least after the victories over the Ottomans at Vienna (1683) and Karlowitz
Germany - history - 18th century
Germany - history - 18th century, Prussia conquers the leadership position
At the entrance to the 1700-t. the emperor presided only at the very formal
level over the more than 300 German states. Only a few, such
as Prussia, Saxony, Bavaria and the imperial heritage Austria, differed from
the others by virtue of their size.
The states each pursued their own goals, both in their relations with each
other and in European big politics. The many German-German conflicts in the
1700's. therefore came to be confused to resemble the classic cabinet wars of the
period, in which princely interests, state reason, and territorial claims were
decisive driving forces. This was especially true of the rivalry between Prussia
1700's ts Germany
On 18/01/1701 crowned the hohenzollernske Elector, Frederick third of
Brandenburg, King of Prussia under the name Frederik 1 st. The coronation took
place with the consent of the German-Roman emperor, the Habsburg Leopold II,
who wanted the elector's support in the Spanish Succession War.
On 17 August 1786, Frederik II of Prussia died, leaving behind a state that
now spoke among Europe's great powers in line with Russia, Austria, France and
Great Britain. The development marked by these two events was probably the main
theme of 1700's German history, namely the increasingly obvious rivalry between
Prussia and Austria over the leadership of German territory and the right to
represent common German interests in relation to the rest of Europe. states.
The two major European wars at the beginning of the period, namely the
Spanish War of Succession (1701-14) and the Great Nordic War (1701-21), did not
really concern common German interests to a greater extent. Nevertheless,
several of the German states took part in these major European clashes, and much
of the war took place on German territory.
In turn, the overall result of these wars was that the non-German powers such
as France and Sweden, which had had a foothold on German territory since the
days of the Thirty Years' War, had now been largely expelled from the area.
The first major armed clash between the two German main powers was the
Austrian War of Succession 1740-48, in which the newly succeeded Frederik II of
Prussia succeeded in depriving Austria of raw material Silesia, thereby
significantly strengthening Prussia's position.
The second great test of strength, the Seven Years' War 1756-63, merely
confirmed this result. This war, which briefly threatened to erase Prussia from
the map, became in fact Austria's last serious attempt to put an end to
Prussia's growing dominance, even though Emperor Joseph II. in the mid-1770's
sought to annex Bavaria, leading to the bloodless Bavarian War of
Succession 1778-79 between Prussia and Austria, which almost ended with the
In 1785, Frederik II consolidated his position as the leading German prince
by putting himself at the head of a German princely union, whose purpose was
probably formally to secure the rights of individual princes, but was actually
directed at the Austrian Habsburgs' plans to incorporate Bavaria into Austria.
Prussia had thus in effect taken over France's traditional role as guarantor
power for the small German states and also the leading role in German
territory. With the death of Frederik II, the Westphalian state system, which
had formalized and cemented the political division in Germany, also went to the
Germany - History - 1792-1866
Germany - history - 1792-1866, Germany and the French Revolution
The rivalry between Prussia and Austria continued over Poland, where by the
second partition of Poland in 1793, Prussia succeeded in preventing Austria from
acquiring Polish territory.
By the third and final partition of Poland in 1795, however, it was Austria
who, together with Russia, decided which territories Prussia could gain on this
occasion. The events of the French Revolution brought the two powers together
against revolutionary France, but military defeats to the French led to the
conclusion of Prussia and several northern German princes in 1795.
Austria and the southern German states continued the war, but Napoleon's
victories in Italy forced Austria to cede the left Rhine to France. Negotiations
on a German new system, with compensation to the southern German states
that had had to cede territory, was interrupted by Austria's resumed war against
Austria's defeat in the war opened up for French intervention in German
reorganization in 1803, after which the clergy were abolished and their
territories given as compensation to the princes who had had to surrender land
to France, the so-called mediation.
The German-Roman Empire was now deprived of all semblance of authority, and
when Austria joined the coalition against France in 1805, several German princes
made common cause with France, which promoted Napoleon's rapid victory over
On July 12, 1806, the Rhine League was formed by 16 German states in close
proximity to France, and as a result, Francis II, who in 1804 had also
proclaimed himself emperor of Austria, now abolished the German-Roman
Empire. The creation of the Rhine League led to further mediation of small
principalities, counties and dioceses.
Prussia protested against the French presence in Germany, but had
to relinquish half of its territory at the Peace of Tilsit 7.8.1807. Austria
chose to enter into an alliance with Napoleon, who married Marie-Louise,
daughter of Emperor Francis II, and in 1810 Napoleon incorporated the entire
German North Sea coast as well as Lübeck into France.
The German Confederation
After Napoleon's defeat in Russia, Prussia and later Austria rose against
France, and after the French defeat in the "Peoples' Battle of Leipzig in
October 1813, Germany was evacuated. At the Peace of Paris on 30 May 1814,
Germany received its western border from 1792.
The Congress of Vienna reorganized Germany's conditions. The area of
Prussia doubled, and on June 8, 1815, the German Confederation was
established, which included the now 35 remaining German lands as well as four
free cities. Until 1866, the alliance became a loose framework for the German
In the period up to 1830, the scattered expressions of German unity efforts
were severely cracked down on. The July Revolution of 1830 in France affected
the internal political development of a number of German states, which were
given new constitutions. A significant change was the separation of Hanover from
Great Britain in 1837.
From the 1840's, proponents of German national unity and of the implementation
of constitutional and liberal reforms spoke out, especially in southern
Germany. The German unity movement was not least carried forward in academic
circles, and in 1847 a Landtag was convened in Prussia, which came up with
proposals for an amended federal constitution.
The February Revolution of 1848 swept across Germany in a matter of weeks. On
March 31, 1848, the so-called Pre-Parliament met in Frankfurt. It passed an
election law for a national assembly, which met 18/5 and 29/6 decided to
establish a central government with a head of state, the Austrian Archduke
Johan, at the helm, while the Bundestag was dissolved.
The German National Assembly took up the constitutional discussions, but came
up against the wind due to the reaction's victory in Prussia and Austria, a
republican uprising in Baden and the frustration over the lack of liberation of
Schleswig and Holstein from Danish supremacy.
In the discussions on a future Germany, the contradictions
between Little Germans who wanted Austria excluded and Great Germans who wanted
Austria with its non-German countries were revealed. Just over half of the
members offered the Prussian king imperial dignity on 27.3.1849, but he
refused. Austria and later Prussia withdrew their delegated homes, while in May
1849 Prussian troops defeated Republican uprisings. Prussia moved the National
Assembly to Stuttgart, where the remnants were dissolved in June.
The German Confederation resumed its activities in May 1851, but its
activities were limited by the constant rivalry between Prussia and Austria,
supported by a number of medium-sized southern and middle German
states. Prussia's power and influence were strengthened, however, and Prussia's
Chancellor of 1862 Otto von Bismarck succeeded in postponing the showdown by
establishing Austrian participation in the war against Denmark in 1864, after
which there was a showdown between the two powers over the administration of
Austria demanded that the German Confederation move against Prussia, which in
response withdrew from the Confederation. The result was the Prussian-Austrian
After the defeat of Austria and its allies, the German Confederation was
dissolved, and in 1867 Prussia took the lead in a North German
Confederation. Austria was thus pushed out of Germany, and Prussia's
all-dominating role in German politics was a fact.
Germany - History - 1866-1914
Germany - history - 1866-1914, the Empire in the making
Germany was now divided into three territories: firstly the
Prussian-dominated Northern German Confederation and secondly the four states
south of the Main River, Bavaria, Baden, Württemberg and Hesse-Darmstadt; they
were linked to the Northern German Confederation through military agreements and
Due to French resistance and strong anti-Prussian currents, the southern
German states of 1866-71 were not yet ready to become part of a unified German
nation-state. Thirdly, there were the losing Great German Austrians who slipped
out of the German national project after the war.
The North German Confederation created a number of political and economic
structures that continued to function in the German Empire after 1871. At the
constitutional level, a national parliament was established with far-reaching
legislative powers, elected by the entire adult male population.
However, it was limited by the Federal Federal Council, which also had
legislative functions, by the Chancellor, who was not accountable to Parliament,
and by the Prussian King, who had the supreme executive power, military command
and foreign policy.
In the field of economic policy, the first chancellor of the federation, Otto
von Bismarck, carried out a series of liberal reforms in 1866-71, bringing him
into alliance with the national liberal bourgeoisie on the unification of
northern and southern Germany.
The German empire
The national unification came after the German victory in the Franco-German
War 1870-71, where under the impression of the national opposition between
German and French, Bismarck succeeded in getting the southern German states to
join the new nation-state, the German Empire, officially the German
Empire. The Empire was proclaimed in the Mirror Hall of Versailles 18.1.1871
with Prussia's King William 1. as emperor.
In domestic politics, the first year of the empire until 1878-79 was a
liberal era, marked by Bismarck's collaboration with the National Liberals on
free trade policy and liberal economic reforms, which were carried out during
the economic Gründerboom 1870-73. Another liberal feature was
the Cultural Struggle, aimed at the Catholic clergy and political Catholicism,
which, however, in the long run only strengthened the inner cohesiveness of
The liberal era was replaced by a conservative period, when in 1879 Bismarck
met the demands of heavy industry and junkers for tariff protection as a
safeguard against the economic crisis. The customs legislation was implemented
in collaboration with the National Liberals, the German Conservatives and the
former "enemies of the state" from the Cultural Struggle in the Catholic Center
Party and led to a split of liberal Germany as the left liberals lost their
This conservative so-called rye and iron alliance was already initiated with
the adoption of the Socialist Act in 1878, an exception law, aimed at the German
Social Democracy and the labor movement, which in the long run could not
prevent the German Social Democracy from increasing its parliamentary and
In parallel with the repressive measures, Bismarck implemented from the
mid-1880's the groundbreaking social insurance legislation - the world's first
public workers' insurance - aimed at integrating German workers into the nation
In foreign policy, the period up to 1890 was marked by Bismarck's alliance
policy, which after the Franco-German War and the German annexation of
Alsace-Lorraine was determined by the antagonism of France and was to prevent
the dreaded Franco - Russian forceps over Germany.
In addition, the alliance policy should also convince that the new Germany
"in the middle of Europe" would not upset the European balance of
power. Therefore, in the 1870's and 1880's, Bismarck entered into a series of
alliances and agreements with Austria-Hungary, Russia and Italy, which isolated
France, without Germany committing itself to take sides in the conflicts between
Russia and Great Britain and between Russia and Austria. Hungary in the Balkans.
Also, the deteriorating relations with Russia after the Berlin Congress in
1878, Bismarck managed to bridge with a treaty in 1887, in which Russia
committed itself to neutrality in the event of a French attack on Germany.
Bismarck's cautious policies also made it easier for the new nation-state of
1884 to participate in the imperialist hunt for overseas colonies. In 1884,
present-day Namibia became a German colony like German Southwest Africa; the
same year, Cameroon and Togo were acquired in central Africa and the following
year territories in East Africa and the Pacific, without creating tensions with
British world power.
The Wilhelmine era
The period began with William 2.s enthronement in 1888 and Bismarck's
departure in 1890 and lasted until the empire's demise in the first World
War. In 1885-95, industry overtook agriculture, and industrialization gained
momentum especially in 1895-1914, when Germany took over Britain's status as the
leading industrial nation and became especially dominant in the new electrical
and chemical production.
The industrial society created conflicts which became apparent when
Bismarck's successor as Chancellor, Leo von Caprivi, was overthrown in 1894 by
the emperor and the conservative Prussian junkers, when he, among other
things, attempted a breach of customs protection.
The following chancellors found it increasingly difficult to hold on to the
conservative alliances, which was also due to the fact that the Social Democrats
and the left- liberals' demands for parliamentarism and the abolition of
Prussian three-class suffrage and customs protection created a polarization in
the right wing around the emperor and the conservative bastions in Prussia.
The growing real significance of the National Reichstag became clear when
Chancellor Bülow resigned in 1909 after becoming a minority on a reform of the
In foreign policy, Bismarck's alliance system collapsed after 1890 and was
replaced by a "new course" that did not place as much emphasis on renewing the
treaty with Russia and therefore paved the way for the dreaded Franco-Russian
rapprochement in 1892.
Germany began its participation in the imperialist Weltmachtpolitik,
which especially with the forced naval construction of 1898 initiated the
German-British confrontation. German foreign policy was increasingly determined
in the circle around the emperor and the top army and naval leadership based on
a belief in their own strength and the desire for "a place in the Sun".
This more aggressive foreign policy isolated Germany (and its permanent
alliance partner Austria-Hungary), especially in the context of the Moroccan
crises of 1905-06 and 1911, and paved the way for the two entrenched defensive
alliance systems, the Triple Entente and the Central Powers. Contributing to
sharpening the major political contradictions were large nationalist interest
groups such as the Altyske Forbund, which from the right put pressure on the
government and emperor for a more irreconcilable nationalist and imperialist
The seemingly paradoxical mixture of great power ambitions and the feeling of
being isolated "in the middle of Europe" with the alliance partner
Austria-Hungary was the reason why the German government after the assassination
in Sarajevo in July 1914 gave the dual monarchy full support for an ultimatum
and punishment against the Serbs regardless of the risk of a war against Russia.
Despite disagreements over the use of military or diplomatic means, the
military leadership and the government agreed that a war against Russia was
inevitable in the long run. Germany's unwillingness to restrain Austria-Hungary
and the Entente's unwillingness to rein in Russia led to the Russian
mobilization following the Austro - Hungarian attack on Serbia.
Subsequently, military logic came to dominate the situation, and Germany
declared war on Russia on August 1, 1914, in order to realize von Schlieffen's
plan for a two-front war against France and Russia. On 3/8, Germany declared war
on France, and in response to the German invasion of Belgium, Britain entered
the war the following day.
Germany - History - 1914-1933
Germany - history - 1914-1933, World War I 1914-18
Domestically, the outbreak of World War I led to an inner peace. The
deadlocked trench war placed great demands on the war economy, and in 1916 the
Riksdag passed the so-called Law on Aid to the Fatherland, which gave the
government far-reaching opportunities in terms of mobilization of labor,
intervention in the economy, etc.
Disagreement over the goals of the war and about a possible democratization
of society after the war, however, soon led to great domestic political
The real power lay after 1916 with the military leadership, whose
uncompromising pursuit of a "peace of victory" despite military progress in the
first years of the war led to an increasingly hopeless military and political
Although in the spring of 1918 Germany was able to impose the revolutionary
regime in Russia on the Brest-Litovsk peace, the introduction of the
unrestricted submarine war the year before had led the United States into the
war on the Allied side. In 1918, after a last desperate offensive, the military
leadership had to admit that the collapse of the central powers, the British
blockade and revolutionary unrest on the home front made a ceasefire absolutely
Under the impression of the desperate situation, a new government was formed
at the same time under the leadership of the moderate Prince Max of Baden, who
made contact with the Social Democrats and the Allies in order to bring about a
truce and peace.
Gustav Stresemann. Stresemann's personality brought together many of the
conflicting tendencies that characterized German foreign policy in the
1920's. His policies united a moderate policy of understanding with geopolitical
tactics and ambitions for a revision of the Treaty of Versailles. Undated
Germany. In step with the decline of political culture, poster art, along
with other modern methods of propaganda, rose to new heights. First of all, the
great mass movements put new forms of artistic expression in the service of
politics. These posters from 1930-32 are at the top from the left SPD and
Zentrum. They show both the main enemies as Nazism and Communism. A poster from
the Communist Party KPD can be seen at the bottom left, while at the bottom
right. encouraged to vote for Hitler in the 1932 presidential election, our last
The November Revolution, which broke out on 9.11.1918, and the ceasefire
agreement on 11.11. 1918 was the beginning of a period of revolutionary
upheaval. On the one hand, the revolution marked a breakthrough for the
political and social opposition in the empire, the trade union movement,
the SPD and the progressive liberal forces. On the other hand, the policy of the
trade union movement and the SPD meant that in the Weimar Republic
there remained a certain continuity in relation to the empire.
In the social field, the so-called Stinnes-Legien agreement led to the trade
union movement being recognized as a collective bargaining partner, the
introduction of an 8-hour working day and other social progress. In the
political sphere, the revolutionary government under the leadership of
the SPD, Friedrich Ebert, sought rapid stabilization with the holding of
elections to a constitutional National Assembly. The Revolutionary Government
thus largely took over the imperial and Prussian offices intact and failed to
reform the states' relations with the central government.
This meant that the large state of Prussia maintained its dominant
position. Ebert entered into an agreement with the top army leadership, making
the army available to the new government, but it also opened up the possibility
for the imperial officer corps to maintain autonomy in relation to the Reichstag
The Democratic Weimar Constitution was adopted on 11 August 1919 by a
majority consisting of the Weimar parties, the SPD, the DDP and
the Center. Even before its birth, however, the new republic was burdened by
the fact that on 28 June 1919 in Versailles, the democratic regime had to sign a
peace treaty so harsh that the new republic became the target of a nationalist
Germany had to cede large tracts of land, submit to armaments restrictions,
Allied control and occupation of the Rhineland, take responsibility for the
outbreak of war, and finally assume extensive war damages payments.
However, some stability was established by virtue of the powerful presidency
occupied by Ebert in 1919, by some political stability at the state level and,
above all, by the fact that the strong Prussian state was ruled for almost the
entire period up to 1932 by a stable center-left coalition.
German domestic policy was 1919-23 marked by shifting government crises,
revolutionary unrest, right-wing radical terror and nationalist hetz. In 1920,
the Republic survived the Kapp coup (see Wolfgang Kapp). The conflict with the
Allies over the payment of German war damages led in 1923 to French occupation
of the Ruhr area, a new wave of political unrest as well as a period of
At the same time, right-wing parties raged against the government's
"fulfillment policy", while right-wing radical terrorism cost several moderate
politicians their lives. In 1923, the NSDAP established in Bavaria under the
leadership of Adolf Hitler tried unsuccessfully the so-called Beer Hall Cup.
From 1924, however, some stability was established after the Ruhr occupation
had been brought to an end by American intervention. The Dawes Plan secured
Germany international credit against a stabilization of the field and a
temporary compromise on war damages payments. Between 1924 and 1928, the
republic was characterized by center-right governments at the national level and
by a certain social and political stability.
A key figure during this period was the leader of the DVP, Gustav
Stresemann, who was Minister of Foreign Affairs until 1929, and whose moderate
policy was an important prerequisite for political stability. In the first years
after the war, Germany suffered under international isolation. An attempt was
made in 1922 to break it with the Rapallo Treaty with the Soviet Union on
economic and political cooperation as well as on secret military cooperation in
order to circumvent the arms restrictions.
In 1925, Germany signed the Locarno Pact, which guaranteed Germany's western
border. Germany joined the League of Nations, and in 1929 the Young
Plan finally reached agreement on German war reparations. However, this moderate
policy was countered by the refusal to recognize the German-Polish demarcation
as well as, as mentioned, by attempts to secretly circumvent the military
With Ebert's death in 1925 and the election of the Conservative Field
Marshal Paul von Hindenburg as President, the political weight shifted to the
right. While the moderate parties suffered from voter decline, there was
progress for the more militant right-wing parties, small protest parties and
above all, from 1929, for the NSDAP, which under Hitler's leadership marked
itself as the leading force in the nationalist opposition.
In 1930, political and economic stability collapsed during the onset of the
Depression, widespread unemployment, and political radicalization. The
constitutional order of the republic was under pressure partly from conservative
forces and officer circles who wanted the powers of the Reich president used in
favor of a conservative constitutional change, partly from the political outer
wings in the form of the NSDAP and KPD.
In 1930, Hindenburg installed a presidential government led by
Chancellor Heinrich Brüning. A political showdown over its emergency
legislation led to a parliamentary election, which in September 1930 became the
first major breakthrough for the radical wing parties, first and foremost the
NSDAP. Under the impression of the political crisis, the SPD then tolerated
Brüning's presidential government.
Meanwhile, Germany was ravaged by widespread unemployment, social misery, and
paramilitary violence. In 1932, support for the Nazis was so widespread that
Hitler was able to challenge Hindenburg in the presidential election. In June
1932, the strongly conservative Franz von Papen was installed as Chancellor,
without, however, succeeding in forcing Hitler to support his government.
On July 20, 1932, von Papen deposed the Prussian government, which had long
been at the center of opposition to Nazism, on the basis of the president's
emergency powers. The subsequent parliamentary elections were a massive victory
for the NSDAP and the KPD.
Nor could the "social general" Kurt von Schleicher, who succeeded von Papen
in December 1932, secure the necessary political support for his attempt to
mobilize workers across a broad front from the NSDAP to the SPD behind a policy
that united job creation and service programs..
Following a new parliamentary election, which marked a significant setback
for the NSDAP, on January 30, 1933, it succeeded in persuading President von
Hindenburg to appoint Hitler Chancellor of a Nazi-conservative coalition
Germany - history - 1933 and onwards
Germany under Nazism
The Nazis had now been given government responsibility, and for the next five
months they deftly seized the opportunities that arose to, in a combination of
state intervention and revolutionary SA terror, secure all power and free
themselves from all political and judicial control.
On 27/2, the Reichstag burned (see the Reichstag fire), and
in response to this, a decree was implemented that put civil rights out of force
and Germany in a state of emergency; Communists, Social Democrats and other
opposition figures were arrested in the thousands. On 5 March, the last free
parliamentary elections were held, but although the center-left parties'
election campaign was prevented by Nazi terror and harassment, the NSDAP did
not succeed in gaining an absolute majority.
During March, the German Länder were unified, and on March 24, the Reichstag
passed a constitutional amendment that gave the government authority to
legislate outside the Reichstag. Almost at the same time, a law was passed
against "slander" that effectively made any criticism of the government
punishable. With a nationwide boycott of Jewish-owned businesses 1/4, the new
regime also stated its anti-Semitic goal. On 7/4 it became possible by law to
dismiss people from public service for political and racial reasons, 2/5 the
unions were dissolved, and 14/7 all parties other than the NSDAP were banned.
In February 1934, the autonomy of the states was abolished, and after the
death of President Hindenburg on August 1, 1934, a law followed that made Adolf
Hitler "leader and chancellor". This created a position of power that
was not constitutionally described and therefore legally unrestricted. Germany
had become an unrestricted dictatorship, a "leader state".
Domestic Policy 1933-39. The government's first main task was to
combat the economic crisis and unemployment, and it launched public works
such as housing, motorway construction and other infrastructure works. However,
it was the rearmament from 1934-35 that meant orders for industry, jobs and thus
greater demand for consumer and investment goods, which meant that unemployment
had already almost been overcome as early as 1936.
The second domestic policy goal was to create internal conditions for Germany
to become a great power again. For the Nazis, it meant not only rearmament and
militarization, but also an effort to overcome the division in the country and
create a strong, race-clean people. The means for this were promises,
ideological mobilization, public representation and actual social improvements,
always in combination with terror, surveillance and repression, in the form
of internment of opponents and "politically unreliable" in concentration
A cross- class Volksgemeinschaft 'community of people' was
held up as the great goal of society. However, this was to include only ethnic
Germans. A racist element was part of Nazi politics from the beginning. This led
to discrimination, segregation and eventual extermination of those who, on the
basis of pseudo-scientific biological criteria, were judged to be "racially
inferior", primarily Jews.
The law of forced sterilization in 1933 and the so-called Nuremberg
Laws of 1935 systematized the persecution of Jews and others of
"foreign race". In 1934, Hitler had put the SA leadership out of the game in a
bloody showdown (see Night of the Long Knives),
after which the SS became the backbone of the regime, and in 1938, the Nazis
staged a showdown with their conservative partners. The army command was
replaced and a Nazi foreign minister was appointed. The radicalization of the
regime that followed appeared during Crystal Night, the pogrom
against the Jews on 9.11.1938.
Foreign Policy 1933-39. As early as February 1933, Hitler made it
clear that his goal of making Germany militarily strong and re-establishing the
country's position as a great power was to be realized as soon as possible. The
government therefore launched an active and aggressive foreign policy to
liberate Germany from the Treaty of Versailles.
In October 1933, Germany left the ongoing disarmament negotiations and
withdrew from the League of Nations. In 1934, the first
rearmament initiatives were launched, including a secret build-up of an air
force was initiated. In 1935, conscription was introduced, and Germany entered
into a naval agreement with Britain that enabled the construction of a German
In 1936, Germany occupied the demilitarized Rhineland, regaining full
sovereignty over its territory. Through the Anti-Comintern Pact,
Germany allied itself with Japan in 1936, through the Steel Pact 1939 with
Italy. During the Spanish Civil War, Germany supported Franco
militarily. In September 1936, with a secret four-year plan, Hitler ordered the
German economy to be ready for war in four years.
In March 1938, Austria was incorporated into Germany (see Anschluß),
and with the Munich Agreement of September 1938, Germany was
handed over the Sudetenland from Czechoslovakia. In March 1939, the rest of
Czechoslovakia and the Memel area were invaded, after which Hitler gave orders
to prepare an attack on Poland.
When France and Britain had guaranteed Poland's independence, Hitler
hesitated, but after the conclusion of the German-Soviet Non- Aggression Pact
on August 23, 1939, he thought he had isolated Poland, so the Western
powers would wait and decided to attack the country.
German War 1939-45. On September 1, 1939, Adolf Hitler began his war
of conquest against Poland, and when Britain and France declared war on Germany
on September 3, World War II was a reality. In four weeks, the
Germans overran Poland. The western parts were incorporated into Germany, while
the remaining part of the area, which according to a secret agreement with the
Soviet Union was to fall to Germany, was established in October 1939 as the General
Government under German control.
A racist population policy was launched with the aim of transferring the
Polish population from the areas designated for Germanization to the General
Government. Here the Polish Jews and deported Jews from Germany were locked up
in ghettos under terrible conditions. After the victory over Poland, the German
strategy concentrated on the war in the west.
With the attack on Denmark and Norway on 9 April 1940, Germany's strategic
position improved, and with the campaign against the Netherlands, Belgium,
Luxembourg and France in May, which ended with an overwhelming German victory,
Hitler almost put Britain in check. But Prime Minister Winston Churchill would
not give up, and the German airstrikes on English cities and the preparations
for an invasion of Britain failed.
It was Hitler's overarching goal of war through conquests in Eastern Europe
to create a German empire and secure its supply, strategic, and power-political
independence. At the same time, he regarded communism as his main ideological
In December 1940, preparations began for the war against the Soviet
Union. However, the attack was postponed when Germany, to help Italy in April
1941, occupied Yugoslavia and parts of Greece. By March 1941, Hitler had made it
clear that the war against the Soviet Union on the part of Germany would become
a "war of annihilation," and therefore he ordered the international rules of
warfare to be disregarded.
The goal was to exterminate communist commissioners and all Soviet Jews
as well as decimate the locals in the conquered Lebensraum and turn the
rest into German slaves. Thus, at the same time as the attack on the Soviet
Union on June 22, 1941, a relentless war of extermination against the Jews
However, the campaign against the Soviet Union developed differently than
expected. Despite great victories and conquests, the Germans did not force the
Soviet Union to its knees, they suffered heavy losses, and after a few months,
their great offensive came to a standstill. When winter came, German troops
stood close to Leningrad and Moscow without being able to conquer the cities,
and in December 1941, they were forced into retreat by a Russian
counter-offensive. However, it managed to hold the front under heavy losses.
To support Japan, on December 11, 1941, Germany also declared war on the
United States, and at about the same time, the decision to "industrialize" the
extermination of Europe's Jews and to set up extermination camps was made. The
genocide of the Jews continued with undiminished force throughout the war and
cost 6 million. Jews life (see Holocaust).
With the attack on the Soviet Union, the war became seriously sensitive for
the German people. Due to the heavy losses, more and more soldiers had to be
mobilized, while a growing number of foreign workers, including many slave and
forced laborers, were put to work in the German war economy under degrading,
often life-threatening circumstances. From the end of 1942, the Allied air war
against Germany intensified with extensive bombing raids on German cities.
The defeat at Stalingrad in early 1943 became a
psychological turning point. It was now clear that Germany could not win the
war, and pessimism began to spread among the population.
The Allied invasion of Italy and the capitulation of Rome meant another
serious defeat. In 1944, the situation gradually became desperate. The Soviet
army pushed the German army back to the old German borders, and the Western
Allies landed in Normandy. To end the war, a group of German officers tried to
assassinate Hitler on July 20, 1944 (see the July 20
It failed, and the regime brutally crushed the resistance and tightened the
grip further. In September 1944, Allied forces entered German territory, and
after a desperate German counter-offensive in the Ardennes in late 1944, the
final battle began.
In April 1945, the Soviet Army reached Berlin, and the Americans the Elbe. On
30 April Hitler committed suicide, on 2/5 Berlin surrendered, on 4/5 the German
troops capitulated in Holland, North-West Germany and Denmark, and on 8/5
Germany capitulated unconditionally.
Germany during Allied occupation, 1945-1949
After the capitulation, Hitler's successor, Grand Admiral Dönitz, and his
government were arrested, and Germany ceased to exist as a state. On June 5,
1945, the Allies took over all governmental powers. Military rule was
introduced, the country was divided into four zones, each administered by the
occupying powers, the United States, the Soviet Union, Great Britain and France,
and the Allied Control Council, established in Berlin, was
formed as a joint government.
At the Potsdam Conference in August 1945, the Allies
formulated their goals as de-Nazification, demilitarization, decartellisation of
business and democratization of Germany to prevent the country from once again
posing a threat to peace. In addition, Germany had to pay war damages. The areas
east of the Oder and Neiße were placed under, respectively. Polish and Soviet
administration and separated. The Germans, who had not already fled these areas
in the final stages of the war, were to be moved west.
Finally, in October 1945, the Allies began the Nuremberg Trials,
in which the state's leading men and institutions were convicted of war crimes
and crimes against humanity. Despite important measures such as the
de-Nazification and administrative dissolution of the state of Prussia in 1947,
the Control Council could not agree on how to organize the future of
Germany. Therefore, no central administrations were established for the whole of
Germany, and soon the development began to proceed differently from zone to
zone: the Soviet Union implemented radical social changes in the eastern zone,
while the Western powers sought to educate the Germans for democracy and the
rule of law.
The Cold War from 1946-47 left a strong mark on developments in Germany. The
German question, ie. which side Germany should belong to, made it impossible to
reach agreement on a peace treaty. In 1948, the Western powers decided that a
state consisting of the three western zones alone could be established. The
Soviet Union then withdrew from the Control Council, later from the command post
in Berlin, and in June 1948 initiated a blockade of West Berlin. Thus, Allied
cooperation on Germany had essentially ceased. At the same time, a currency
reform was implemented in the western zones, which divided Germany economically
and in terms of currency into two areas.
On July 1, 1948, the Western powers commissioned West German politicians to
draft a constitution for a Western state, which was ready in May 1949, after
which the Federal Republic of Germany could be established. In November 1948,
the common government of Berlin collapsed, and from December 1948 the city was
divided into two. Although the Soviet Union on 12.5.1949 lifted the blockade of
Berlin, the Federal Republic of Germany was established 23/5; it constituted
itself with elections and government formation in September, after which
military rule was abolished. On Soviet initiative, 7/10 an independent German
state was established in the eastern zone, the GDR, to which the Soviet Union
surrendered its powers.
West Germany 1949-1990
With the election to the Bundestag in August 1949 and the elections of the
Federal President and Chancellor in September, the Federal Republic of Germany
(West Germany) was constituted as a state. The Allied direct military rule had
been terminated and replaced by an occupation statute that came into force on
21/9. The West German government and legislation, however, remained subject to
control, exercised by a high commission representing the three Western occupying
powers. West German sovereignty was thus initially curtailed, and only from 1951
could the country pursue independent foreign policy and achieve international
recognition. With the Paris Agreements of 1954, the occupation
regime ended, except in Berlin.
Adenauer periods 1949-63. West German democracy has been called a
chancellor democracy, as the chancellor's, ie. the prime minister's position is
strong, and the federal president's weak. Konrad Adenauer from
the CDU was the first West German chancellor. It strengthened the new democracy
that it was established and developed in an economic prosperity. The devastation
of the war created a great demand for goods, and the industrial market
capacities created in connection with the armaments of the Nazi period could
quickly be set in motion again.
The West German economic model, the so-called social market economy,
contributed to a sharp recovery, the so-called economic miracle (Wirtschaftswunder)
and to social progress. Unlike the GDR, West Germany recovered relatively
quickly from the effects of the war. The dismantling of companies ceased and the
country did not have to pay a fraction of the calculated war damages claims.
The influx of skilled labor from the eastern regions was a further economic
asset. It was also a strength that the Adenauer government, along with a clear
anti-Nazi basic attitude, led a conciliatory line towards the vast majority of
citizens who had supported Nazism, thus winning them over to the new democratic
form of government.
Afnazification was halted and almost all former government employees and
Nazis were rehabilitated and reintegrated. In foreign policy, Adenauer tied West
Germany close to the West to regain German sovereignty, and he became one of the
leading figures in Western European integration, contributing to reconciliation
between Germany and neighboring countries. West Germany joined the OEEC in 1949,
the Council of Europe and the European Coal and Steel Community in 1951, it
joined NATO in 1955, and in 1957 it helped to form the EC.
The Franco-German Treaty of Friendship in 1963 linked these two countries
closely together and made them the main forces of European integration. Adenauer
considered the bond with the Western powers to be the precondition for a future
German reunification; he rejected Soviet offers to establish a united, disarmed
and neutral Germany; he refused to recognize the GDR and used the 1955 Hallstein
Doctrine to ensure that the GDR did not gain international recognition
outside the Eastern Bloc.
A reunification faded, and as the power relations of the Cold War stood, West
Germany, like the other Western Powers, could only take note of the construction
of the Berlin Wall in 1961 and strive to promote international relaxation.
In the 1960's, economic progress continued as in the rest of Western
Europe. Wage incomes and living standards rose, and the CDU continued to rule
West Germany, from 1963 with Ludwig Erhard, the architect
behind the social market economy, as chancellor. In the mid-1960's, however, some
economic stagnation coincided with domestic policy problems and crisis in the
This led in 1966 to the formation of a new government, the Grand
Coalition, consisting of the CDU/CSU and the SPD. The coalition set
itself the task of overcoming stagnation, implementing emergency legislation to
replace the powers the Allies continued to have in crisis situations, and trying
to improve relations with Eastern Europe and reach a modus vivendi with the
GDR. The domestic political situation became polarized when student rebels and
other left-wingers established a loose außerparlamentarische Opposition,
which marked itself with violent protests against the government.
The CDU/CSU was not able to normalize relations with the GDR, so the German
policy initiative slipped more and more over to the SPD, which from 1963 had
pleaded to abandon the isolationist policy and instead approach to open the GDR
through dialogue and increased interaction.
The social liberal phase 1969-82. When the federal election in 1969
gave the SPD and FDP a majority, the SPD's leader, Willy Brandt,
was elected chancellor. The reforms he had set as his goal, however, succeeded
only to a limited extent; in turn, the government's policy towards Eastern
Europe led to a breakthrough. The purpose of Eastern policy was to reconcile
West Germany with the Eastern European states that had been victims of the Nazi
war of aggression, in the same way as it had happened in the 1950's in relation
to Western Europe.
The normalization took place in the form of the so-called Eastern Agreements,
which from 1970 improved relations with Eastern Europe, as the parties renounced
the use of force and recognized the inviolability of the existing borders,
incl. The Oder-Neiße border and the GDR borders.
With the so-called Constitutional Treaty with the GDR in 1972, West
Germany recognized the actual existence of the East German state, without,
however, approving the division of the German nation, still refusing to
recognize GDR citizenship and considering the GDR as foreign. The accession of
both German states to the UN in 1973 was a consequence of this agreement.
From 1973, West Germany was hit by economic problems, including as a result
of the oil crisis, as well as of domestic political tensions due to terrorism,
which culminated in 1977 (see Rote Armee Fraktion). A number
of laws, including Berufsverbot of 1972, which strengthened
state power at the expense of civil society and personal rights, made West
German democracy more authoritarian.
Helmut Schmidt's period 1974-82. When a close associate of Brandt
was revealed as a GDR spy, Brandt was replaced as Chancellor by Helmut
Schmidt. During his tenure, West Germany gained a leading role in the
Western defense alliance and in the international economy. He was behind the
creation of the G7 in 1976 as well as behind NATO's so - called double decision
of 1979, which, through a threat of armaments, sought to force the Soviet Union
to negotiate arms restrictions. At the same time, he developed the relationship
with the GDR into a kind of partnership. Schmidt's policies became increasingly
unpopular internally, and after disagreement with the FDP over economic policy,
he was overthrown in 1982, and the CDU/CSU, in coalition with the FDP, was
able to return to power.
1980's. The term of office of CDU leader Helmut Kohl lasted
from 1982 to 1998. Kohl spoke of a spiritual turning point in German politics
and invested considerable energy in promoting conservative values and pushing
back the influence of the "68th generation". He sought to overcome the economic
problems of neoliberal reforms, which, however, were more moderate than in most
other Western countries. From the mid-1980's, West Germany experienced new
prosperity and sharply rising living standards for a large part of the
population, but also growing concern that German growth and technological
development were weaker than those of the Far East and the United States.
Kohl's government implemented NATO's double decision, launching the first
Pershing II medium-range missiles in West Germany in 1983 during violent
protests. In foreign policy, the Federal Republic, in close partnership with
France, sought to expand European economic cooperation into an economic,
monetary and political union.
Kohl continued his rapprochement with the GDR and in 1987 hosted the first
East German head of state visit to West Germany. The Federal Republic helped the
economically weak communist state financially, but at the same time Kohl
maintained German reunification as an important goal and established close
relations with the Soviet Union.
Yet, like most others, he was surprised when the possibility of reunification
suddenly opened up in 1989. He seized the opportunity immediately, and his
resolute policy played a crucial role in the development leading up to the
dissolution of the GDR and incorporation into the Federal Republic in October
1990. Kohl staged not wrongly as the "reunion chancellor", especially because
for political and electoral tactical reasons he was prepared to pay a high price
for implementation. The CDU also won a clear victory in the first joint German
parliamentary elections in December 1990, and in January 1991 Kohl was elected
by the Bundestag to the first chancellor of a united Germany.
The German Democratic Republic was established on October 7, 1949 in the
Soviet occupation zone. The Soviet military regime ceased when the Soviet
military administration, SMAD, was replaced in November by the Soviet Control
Commission, SKK. Until 1955, when the SKK was abolished, the GDR gained ever
greater formal sovereignty. From 1950 the state was a member of the Eastern
European Economic Cooperation COMECON and from 1955 of the newly established Warsaw
Pact. An East German army was built, but Soviet forces remained in the
GDR until 1990.
The new state, as described in the Constitution, in many ways resembled the Weimar
Republic. In reality, however, it was a so-called people's democracy,
ie. based on a collaboration between the permitted parties under the leadership
of the "working class party", and was a system without pluralism and real
opposition. This meant that the four permitted parties, the SED, the CDU, the
LDPD and the NDPD, organized in the National Front, worked together and all
participated in a government led by the SED.
The parliamentary balance of power was determined in advance, and this was
confirmed through sham democratic elections, where voters could only vote yes or
no to the national list. This system ensured the Socialist Unity Party, SED, the
leading role in state and society. Originally, the GDR was a federal state with
five states, but in connection with the 1952 decision to "build socialism", the
states were abolished and the country transformed into a centralist unitary
state divided into 14, later 15 districts.
The construction of socialism. Dramatic domestic policy changes
began in July 1952 with the SED's decision to initiate the building of socialism
in the country and thus take over the Soviet state and society model. Also the
"bourgeois" parties agreed to work with on the building of socialism.
It meant a centralist system, but also the collectivization of agriculture
and the nationalization of the enterprises that had not already been
nationalized in 1945-46. The interventions were carried out with a rather harsh
hand and resulted in tensions, unrest and increased emigration from the GDR,
while an increase in labor standards, which should contribute to the financing
of socialism, led to the June Uprising of 1953, the GDR's first
serious crisis and the first in a series of uprisings. the Soviet-dominated
GDR, which until 1954 had to pay more than 63 billion. D-mark in war damages
to the Soviet Union, only slowly overcame the consequences of the war, and the
country's development lagged far behind West Germany. Outside the Eastern Bloc,
the GDR did not find international recognition due to West German isolation.
More serious was the fact that a large number of citizens chose to leave the
country in favor of West Germany. Until August 1961, it was about approximately 3
mio. or almost 1/6 of the state's residents. As it was
mainly young, skilled and well-educated people who emigrated, the East German
economy was hit, and this was probably threatened by collapse in the late 1950's,
when it was no longer only the "reactionaries" who emigrated.
GDR sheltered by the Berlin Wall. SED responded by erecting the 150
km long Berlin Wall around West Berlin on 13 August 1961. The border with both
West Berlin and West Germany was closed. The wall consolidated the East German
state and SED's dominance, stabilized the planned economy and forced the almost
18 million. East Germans to live with the SEDs regime. Thereafter, economic
progress slowly began, living standards rose, and the East Germans seemed to
come to terms with the SED dictatorship to some extent.
The consolidation of the GDR led to the West German side beginning to take
note of the competing state. The East German demand was first full recognition
of the GDR, then normalization of relations.
Walter Ulbricht, the actual leader of the GDR until 1971, was very inflexible
in his German policy. He must have described the West German attempts at
rapprochement as "aggression in felt slippers". In 1968, East German citizenship
was introduced and a new constitution was implemented, in which the GDR was
defined as a "socialist German state". From the end of the 1960's, the SED tried
to create a special socialist identity in the GDR through the proclamation of a
Honecker's time 1971-89. Because of Walter ULBRICHTS inflexibility
in Germany policy and his relatively independent line towards the Soviet Union,
which was based on the East German economy's relatively strong position compared
to the rest of the Eastern Bloc, he eventually became too burdensome for the
Soviet Union, which therefore supported Erich Honecker to power
Honecker, who was extremely loyal to the Soviet Union, supported the Soviet
efforts to normalize relations with West Germany. The Moscow Treaty between
West Germany and the Soviet Union from 1970 set the framework for the future
relationship, which entailed a recognition of the GDR in the form of a
declaration on the inviolability of borders.
In 1971, negotiations began between West Germany and the GDR, which ended
with Honecker reluctantly accepting an agreement that did not involve full
diplomatic and international recognition of the GDR, its citizenship and
passport, but only recognition of the state's actual existence.
Agreements on increased trade relations, cultural exchange, etc. with West
Germany followed. The GDR regime tried to offset the increased contact with
strengthened ideological demarcation, e.g. in the form of the Socialist
Constitution of 1974, which was based on the notion of the "socialist nation",
and which had an "unbreakable cooperation" with the Soviet Union as its
Likewise, the Ministry of State Security (see Stasi) was
greatly expanded to prevent uncontrolled relations between East Germans and West
Germans. The security apparatus of the East German state thus became a growing
economic burden. From 1972, the GDR increasingly gained international
recognition; in September 1973 it became a member of the UN, and in 1975 it was
a co-signatory of the Helsinki Final Act. Denmark recognized the GDR in January
1973. Bilateral relations with West Germany were also expanded.
In Honecker's time, there was a change in economic policy with the aim of
promoting citizens' loyalty to the state by improving the living conditions of
the population. Instead of continuing the expansion of heavy industry, usually a
fundamental part of a planned economy, Honecker opted for a so-called unified
economic and social policy, which sought to satisfy the population's consumption
requirements through extensive housing construction and greater consumer goods
supply. Among other things, it should secured through higher wages and greater
With this, the earnings of foreign currency to finance imports became a
growing problem, especially after the second oil crisis in 1979. This worsened
the GDR's terms of trade with capitalist foreign countries drastically and
increased foreign indebtedness to such an extent that the country was already in
the early 1980's. the brink of economic ruin. However, West Germany, which was
not interested in the collapse of the GDR, saved the communist state from
economic collapse with credits and favorable trade arrangements.
When socialism proved unable to compete with West German capitalism, internal
discontent and opposition grew, and presumably the GDR could have collapsed at
any time as early as the early 1980's. It has been discussed whether reforms
could have saved the GDR on the verge of collapse, but without a break with the
SED's rule and thus, as Honecker saw it, abandonment of socialism, a reform of
the GDR would not have been possible, and the SED was not ready.
DDR collapse. In 1989, domestic political tensions grew
markedly. The criticism was spurred on by the glasnost and perestroika
movement in the Soviet Union under Mikhail Gorbachev. In
the early summer, a new wave of escape was unleashed, and in September, a real
opposition centered in the peace and environment movement as well as evangelical
church circles began to organize against the SED dictatorship, despite bans.
After the grand celebration of the GDR's 40th anniversary on October 7, 1989
had missed its propaganda target, and it had become clear that Gorbachev was no
longer behind the SED leadership, the GDR's leading politicians, Honecker,
Günter Mittag and Erich Mielke, were ousted. 18/10. When the border was opened
on 9.11.1989, the fate of the GDR was sealed.
Nor were Honecker's successors, Egon Krenz and Hans
Modrow, able to give the SED renewed control of developments, for the
authority of the GDR state in the population, parts of the social elite,
had long since crumbled. In December 1989, SED was dissolved and re-established
When the citizens of the GDR at the election to the Folkekammer on 18 March
1990 had the opportunity to vote freely for the first time, the vast majority
voted for parties that were in favor of an immediate unification with West
Germany. The first non-communist government under Lothar de Maizière (CDU) then
agreed to the abolition and amalgamation of the GDR with the Federal Republic.
On 1 July 1990, an economic, monetary and social union entered into force
between the two Germanys, which introduced the D-mark into the GDR, and with the
Unity Treaty 31/8, it was decided that the GDR should be dissolved on 2 October
1990 and the following day admitted to the Federal Republic. the five newly
created Länder of Brandenburg, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia.
Germany after reunification
The new Länder were constituted after obtaining their own constitutions, and
state elections were held on 14.10.1990. The Single Treaty provided for the
incorporation of the GDR into the Federal Republic and incorporation into its
political and judicial system.
It was decided that Berlin should be the capital, and in June 1991, the Bundestag decided by
a narrow majority to move the seat of government from Bonn to Berlin. The GDR's
political and judicial system was dissolved and a number of GDR laws declared
invalid. In some areas, transitional arrangements were made to bring the legal
systems of the two areas into line. Politicians and officials who in the GDR had
violated applicable law and the international legal norms recognized by the GDR
should be punishable. The prosecution has particularly affected members of the SED's Politburo
and the GDR's National Defense Council, as well as ordinary border guards, who,
in accordance with the "shooting order", killed people who tried to climb the
wall and flee the GDR.
|Heads of State
|East Frankish Empire (843-962)
|The Frankish (Carolingian) lineage
||Louis II the German
||Louis III the Younger
||Charles III the Great (Emperor 881-87)
||Arnulf (Emperor 896-99)
||Louis 4. The child
|The Saxon family
||Otto I the Great (Emperor 962-73)
|The German-Roman Empire (962-1806)
|The Saxon (Ottonic) princely house
||Otto I the Great (Emperor 962-73)
||Otto II (Emperor 967-983)
||Otto III (Emperor 996-1002)
||Henry II the Holy (Emperor 1014-24)
|The Frankish (Salian) princely house
||Konrad 2. (Emperor 1027-39)
||Henry III (Emperor 1046-56)
||Henry IV (Emperor 1084-1105)
||Henry V (Emperor 1111-25)
||Lothar II (Emperor 1133-37)
||Konrad 3. (modkonge 1127-35)
||Frederik I Barbarossa (Emperor 1155-90)
||Henry VI (Emperor 1191-97)
||Philip of Swabia
|the house Welf
||Otto 4. (Emperor 1209-14). Co-king of Philip of
Swabia from 1198
||Frederik II (Emperor 1220-50)
||interregnum. Richard of Cornwall and Alfonso
10. of Castile were elected kings of the period, but not really
recognized in Germany
|late medieval dynasties
||Rudolf I of Habsburg
||Adolf of Nassau
||Henry VII (Emperor 1312-13)
||Louis IV of Bavaria (Emperor 1328-47)
||Frederik III the Beautiful (Counter-King)
||Charles IV of Luxembourg (Emperor 1355-78)
||Sigismund of Luxembourg (Emperor 1433-37)
|the Habsburg house
||Frederik III (Emperor 1452-93)
||Maximilian I (Emperor 1508-19)
||Charles V (Emperor 1519-56)
||Ferdinand 1. From Ferdinand I until 1806 the titles
of king and emperor were combined
|the Wittelsbach house
|the Habsburg-Lorraine house
||French 1. Stephan
|The German Empire (1871-1945)
|The house Hohenzollern
||Walter Simons (Vice President)
||Paul von Hindenburg
|President of the Council of State (1949-60 President)
|party leaders in SED
|Federal Republic of Germany
||Richard von Weizsäcker
Among those convicted was Egon Krenz, while the prosecution
of Erich Honecker was abandoned due to his poor health. It was
agreed that the East German salaries and pensions, which were significantly
lower, should be gradually raised to the West German level, but this was not
realized in 2000 either in the pension area or in the salary area, where the
East German average salaries are almost 85% of the West Germans. The GDR's
economy and productivity lagged far behind those in West Germany. The
infrastructure and housing stock were dilapidated, and large parts of the
production apparatus were low-productivity and obsolete. However, the conditions
turned out to be significantly worse than had been assumed from the western
|Heads of government
|The German Empire (1871-1945)
||Otto von Bismarck
||Leo von Caprivi
||Chlodwig to Hohenlohe-Schillingsfürst
||Bernhard von Bülow
||Theobald von Bethmann Hollweg
||Georg von Hertling
||Max of Baden
||Franz von Papen
||Kurt von Schleicher
||Lothar de Maizière
|Federal Republic of Germany
||Kurt Georg Kiesinger
When East German industry lost its markets with the collapse of communism,
and Eastern European consumers preferred Western goods, a large number of East
German jobs were closed despite the efforts of the Treuhandanstal. Since
1990, the former GDR area has therefore been dependent on large financial
subsidies from the former West Germany. In the 1990's, approximately 200 billion D-Mark
a year, so the association process became both more lengthy and financially and
socially far more costly than Kohl in 1990 envisioned. One
consequence has been that around 1.5 mill. East Germans since 1990 have moved to
the old West German states to find work and Western living conditions.
It united Germany and Europe. During the negotiations on German
reunification, the four occupying powers, including the Soviet Union, accepted
that the new Germany remained in NATO and the EC/EU.
With the 2 + 4 Treaty, Germany recognized the border with
Poland, the occupation of Berlin ceased, and the other rights and duties of the
Allies in Germany lapsed. Germany renounced the production and possession of A,
B and C weapons and agreed to significantly reduce its military forces.
The last Russian troops left Germany in 1994. Western Allied forces remained
on German soil in reduced numbers and no longer as occupying troops. In many
European countries, fears arose that the reunited Germany would gain too
dominant a position. Kohl therefore bowed to French demands to deepen European
It was formalized by the December 1991 Maastricht Treaty,
which was to lead to a European political, economic and monetary union with a
single currency, the euro, and a single European Central Bank as important
elements. Thus, Germany had to relinquish the Federal Bank's independent
position and, in the longer term, the D-mark, the very symbol of the strong
However, a united Germany has gained more weight in European politics. While
the country by advice, credits, etc. helped to stabilize the unstable situation
in the former Soviet Union, Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genschers (FDP)'s
return to power-political concepts for the Balkans with pre-1945 roots strongly
contributed to Yugoslavia's dissolution and the region's destabilization. Under
the successor, Joschka Fischer (b. 1948, Die Grünen), German policy has become
more coordinated with that of the other EU and NATO countries, and during the
1999 Kosovo conflict, Germany participated in direct hostilities for the first
time since World War II.
German domestic policy in the 1990's. The governing coalition between
the CDU/CSU and the FDP renewed its mandate in the federal elections in 1994.
At the same time, the communist PDS was represented; they
sharply criticized the social and human costs of reunification. Although Helmut
Kohl from business circles had been criticized for having postponed
necessary reforms of the tax, labor market and education system, he ran in the
federal election 1998 again as CDU/CSU's chancellor candidate.
However, the election brought a coalition of the SPD and the
Bündnis 90/Die Grünen under Gerhard Schröder (SPD)
to power. After a fumbling beginning, it implemented economically and
symbolically important reforms such as the law on payments to Nazi-era slave and
forced laborers, a tax reform with major investment-promoting tax breaks and a
relaxation of the ban on immigration from outside the EU.
Initiatives were also taken to combat xenophobia and right-wing radical
violence, which had become widespread in the former GDR in the
1990's. Revelations that Kohl, by circumventing party support legislation, had
channeled millions from German business into secret coffers in the CDU, threw
this party into deep crisis.
The incorporation of the GDR proved to be costly, which contributed to a
sharp increase in German government debt and to economic stagnation, which
caused unemployment to rise to over 4 million. from the mid-1990's (around
10%). It had not been so high since the early 1950's, and it was twice as high in
the five new states.
Although the reunification of East and West Germany has been formally
completed, the country still appears to be divided into a prosperous western and
a poor eastern Germany. Emigration has continued from the former GDR, where
unemployment is twice as high as in the West (while the average unemployment
rate in 2005 was 16.9%, it was in the West at 9.4%), while the wage level is
almost 87% of the West German. The unit does not yet seem to have become a
reality socially, culturally and mentally. The split is also seen politically,
as approximately a quarter of East Germans vote for the purely East German party PDS.
For many years, the East German states will still be dependent on billions in
transfers from western Germany. After Germany during Chancellor Schröder's reign
seemed to be moving economically forward and unemployment was declining, in 2001
the country was hit by the downturn in the world economy.
Economic growth stagnated and unemployment began to rise, reaching over 4
million in early 2002. In the elections to the Bundestag in September 2002,
however, the red-green coalition government led by Gerhard Schröder succeeded in
retaining the majority. In 2005, Schröder had to hand over the post of
Chancellor to Angela Merkel from the CDU, which became
Germany's first female chancellor at the head of a coalition government
consisting of the CDU/CSU and the SPD.
In European politics, Germany has become more reluctant, the German-French
axis is on a low ebb, while Germany has moved closer to the United States in
terms of security policy after 11 September 2001. The abandonment of the D-Mark,
which more than anything else appeared as the symbol of the rebuilt Germany, has
taken place surprisingly painlessly, and from 1.1.2002 Germany has had the euro
as its currency. Since 1999, Berlin has been the seat of government and the
political center, and the city has become the center of the state 'culture of
remembrance', which since the mid-1990's has made the memory of the victims of
Nazi crimes an important component of German national identity.