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.
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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.
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.
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According to a2zgov, 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 metal technology.
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 high-ranking society.
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 Roman Empire.
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 defeated.
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 cultures|
|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|
|500-600-t.||Frankish Merovingians and Carolingians subjugated the western Germanic territories|
|843||by the Treaty of Verdun, the Frankish kingdom is divided into three; the eastern part will later become Germany|
|962||Otto I the Great is crowned German-Roman emperor|
|1076-1122||The investiture dispute between the emperor and the church|
|1152-90||the county administration is expanded under Frederik 1. Barbarossa|
|1273||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|
|1356||The Golden Bull strengthens the power of the Electors|
|1400-t.||the county administration is being phased out, and the estate assemblies are being strengthened by convening country days|
|1517||Martin Luther’s 95 indulgences herald the Reformation|
|1525||The German Peasant War|
|1555||the Augsburg peace of religion|
|1618-48||religious conflicts trigger the Thirty Years’ War|
|1648||at the Peace of Westphalia, the German principalities gained real independence from the emperor|
|1740-63||The Austrian War of Succession (1740-48) and the Seven Years’ War (1756-63) establish Prussia’s position as a leading German state|
|1792-1815||The Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars; Prussia and Austria are among France’s main opponents|
|1806||The German-Roman Empire dissolves|
|1815||after the Congress of Vienna, the German Confederation is established as a loose state union of German states|
|1848||The March Revolution; The Frankfurt Parliament is trying in vain to unite Germany into one federal state|
|1864||Prussia and Austria conquer Denmark in the Second Schleswig War; the victory strengthens Bismarck’s efforts to unite Germany|
|1866||The Prussian-Austrian War; The German Confederation is dissolved and the North German Confederation is formed|
|1867||Austria and Hungary are united in the dual monarchy|
|1870-71||The Franco-German War. After the peace, the German Empire is established|
|1880’s||Germany becomes a colonial power, industrialization picks up speed and social legislation is implemented; active alliance policy facing France|
|1914-18||World War I; Germany is one of the Central Powers|
|1918||November Revolutions; the emperor abdicates|
|1919||The Treaty of Versailles imposes large war damages on Germany; The Weimar Republic is proclaimed|
|1923||France occupies the Ruhr area; hyperinflation; at the beer hall coup, Hitler is trying to take power|
|1933||NSDAP forms government; Hitler becomes Chancellor|
|1934||military rearmament; political terror and the persecution of minority groups intensify|
|1938-39||Austria, Bohemia and Moravia are incorporated into Germany|
|1939||World War II begins with Germany’s attack on Poland 1/9|
|1945||Germany capitulates 8/5; the country is divided into an American, a British, a French and a Soviet occupation zone|
|1948-49||The Berlin blockade|
|1949||Division of Germany; in the three western zones West Germany (BRD) is created, and in the Soviet zone East Germany (GDR) is formed|
|1953||The June uprising in the GDR is crushed by the Soviet military|
|1955||The BRD joins NATO and the GDR becomes a member of the Warsaw Pact|
|1957||BRD participates in the formation of the EC|
|1961||The Berlin Wall is being built|
|1970’s||attempts at reconciliation between West and East Germany; political terrorism in the FRG; in the GDR, the Stasi is being expanded|
|1973||BRD and DDR are admitted to the UN|
|1980’s||economic inequality between the FRG and the GDR is growing|
|1989||The Berlin Wall is falling|
|1990||GDR dissolves, Germany is reunited|
|1999||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, 962-1138)
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 way.
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 and 1530.
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 (1699).
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 and Austria.
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 status quo.
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 grave.
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 France 1799-1801.
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 Austria.
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 states.
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 Schleswig-Holstein.
Austria demanded that the German Confederation move against Prussia, which in response withdrew from the Confederation. The result was the Prussian-Austrian War.
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 customs institutions.
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 German Catholicism.
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 political influence.
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 organizational strength.
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 state.
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 kingdom’s finances.
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 policy.
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 tensions.
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 situation.
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 necessary.
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 photograph.
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 hope.
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 and government.
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 hetz.
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 hyperinflation.
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 armaments restrictions.
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 government.
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 camps.
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 navy.
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 enemy.
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 began.
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 conspiracy).
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 Community.
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 bloc.
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 “socialist nation”.
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 in 1971.
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 foundation.
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 imports.
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 as PDS.
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|
|843-876||Louis II the German|
|876-882||Louis III the Younger|
|876-887||Charles III the Great (Emperor 881-87)|
|887-899||Arnulf (Emperor 896-99)|
|900-911||Louis 4. The child|
|The Saxon family|
|936-973||Otto I the Great (Emperor 962-73)|
|The German-Roman Empire (962-1806)|
|The Saxon (Ottonic) princely house|
|962-73||Otto I the Great (Emperor 962-73)|
|973-83||Otto II (Emperor 967-983)|
|983-1002||Otto III (Emperor 996-1002)|
|1002-24||Henry II the Holy (Emperor 1014-24)|
|The Frankish (Salian) princely house|
|1024-39||Konrad 2. (Emperor 1027-39)|
|1039-56||Henry III (Emperor 1046-56)|
|1056-1105||Henry IV (Emperor 1084-1105)|
|1106-25||Henry V (Emperor 1111-25)|
|1125-37||Lothar II (Emperor 1133-37)|
|1138-52||Konrad 3. (modkonge 1127-35)|
|1152-90||Frederik I Barbarossa (Emperor 1155-90)|
|1190-97||Henry VI (Emperor 1191-97)|
|1198-1208||Philip of Swabia|
|the house Welf|
|1198-1214||Otto 4. (Emperor 1209-14). Co-king of Philip of Swabia from 1198|
|1212-50||Frederik II (Emperor 1220-50)|
|1254-73||interregnum. Richard of Cornwall and Alfonso 10. of Castile were elected kings of the period, but not really recognized in Germany|
|late medieval dynasties|
|1273-91||Rudolf I of Habsburg|
|1292-98||Adolf of Nassau|
|1308-13||Henry VII (Emperor 1312-13)|
|1314-47||Louis IV of Bavaria (Emperor 1328-47)|
|1314-26||Frederik III the Beautiful (Counter-King)|
|1346-78||Charles IV of Luxembourg (Emperor 1355-78)|
|1410-37||Sigismund of Luxembourg (Emperor 1433-37)|
|the Habsburg house|
|1440-93||Frederik III (Emperor 1452-93)|
|1493-1519||Maximilian I (Emperor 1508-19)|
|1519-56||Charles V (Emperor 1519-56)|
|1556-64||Ferdinand 1. From Ferdinand I until 1806 the titles of king and emperor were combined|
|the Wittelsbach house|
|the Habsburg-Lorraine house|
|1745-65||French 1. Stephan|
|The German Empire (1871-1945)|
|The house Hohenzollern|
|1925||Walter Simons (Vice President)|
|1925-34||Paul von Hindenburg|
|President of the Council of State (1949-60 President)|
|party leaders in SED|
|Federal Republic of Germany|
|1984-94||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 side.
|Heads of government|
|The German Empire (1871-1945)|
|1871-90||Otto von Bismarck|
|1890-94||Leo von Caprivi|
|1894-1900||Chlodwig to Hohenlohe-Schillingsfürst|
|1900-09||Bernhard von Bülow|
|1909-17||Theobald von Bethmann Hollweg|
|1917-18||Georg von Hertling|
|1918||Max of Baden|
|1932||Franz von Papen|
|1932-33||Kurt von Schleicher|
|1990||Lothar de Maizière|
|Federal Republic of Germany|
|1966-69||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 integration.
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 German economy.
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.