History of Germany

Discover the fascinating history of Germany

From 843 to 1806, area now known as Germany was a medieval empire. Known as the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, the empire managed to expand its influence quite successfully with the help of the Catholic Church, the Hanseatic League and the Teutonic Order. However, in 1530 attempts at a Protestant Reformation failed leading to inter-German strife and a period of battle known as the Thirty Years War. Though it did manage to regain peace in 1648, war had weakened the country making it an easy target to be overrun and dissolved in 1806 during the Napoleonic Wars. At this point Austria became divided from the rest of the country.

After the fall of Napoleon, Germany was restructured and divided into 39 states. Before long, Germany began to be shaped by the Industrial Revolution which led to industrialization and poverty. Following the lead of France, both German intellectuals and commoners began a series of Revolutions in Germany. Initially, the monarchs yielded to the liberal demands but King Frederick William IV rejected the crown based on the fact that he would have no power. This resulted in the demise of the national assembly. Before long, King Wilheim I and the parliament had conflicting ideas regarding military reforms and a prime minister was elected. War was successfully waged on Denmark, Austria and France.

The German Empire was proclaimed in Versailles in 1871 after the defeat of the French. This was the first time modern Germany was unified as a nation state. Germany was somewhat re-united once more, with the exception of Austria. Colonies were established and it seemed as if Germany was destined for years of peace. However, William II forced Bismarck out of parliament and took an imperialistic course which led to friction with neighboring countries. Most of the alliances that had been made in the past were not renewed. On the 28th of July 1914, Germany saw the beginning of World War I. They took the side of the Central Powers who lost against the Allied Powers. In 1918, the German Revolution erupted and all ruling princes as well as the emperor abdicated. In 1919, the Treaty of Versailles was signed and the high-demands of this treaty were seen as been humiliating for Germany and as a continuation of war through bureaucracy.

During the 1920s, Germany thrived as the Weimar Republic. However, the Great Depression brought severe economic hardship - especially because of the harsh peace conditions that had been dictated by the Treaty of Versailles. As a result, German voters began to support anti-democratic parties. On the 30 of January 1933, Adolf Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany. Nearly a month later, the basic rights of the people were abrogated under an emergency decree and Hitler's government gained full legislative power. A totalitarian state was established and the Third Reich began.

Over the next few years, Nazi government outlawed all opposing parties, turned trade and industry towards production that would aid war and founded the Gestapo state police. Support for these actions was maintained by lowering of the unemployment rate through public works projects and deficit spending. Not long after this, Hitler started promoting a policy of expansionism whereby he wished to create a "Greater Germany" and unify with Austria. In 1939, Germany launched a Blitzkrieg against Poland which ultimately led to World War II. During this time many atrocities - both to conquered countries, prisoners and certain targeted racial and religious groups - occurred. Though Germany initially gained much territory and seemed unstoppable, there efforts came to a screeching halt in 1945 when faced with the armies of the Soviet Union, Great Britain, France and the United States.

Yet again, Germany was divided. They suffered notable territorial losses. West Germany and West Berlin came under the control of the Western allies and East Germany and East Berlin was controlled by the Soviet Union. The Berlin Wall was built by East Germany to maintain this separateness. After much unrest and talk, people from East Germany were allowed to cross to West Germany and the degradation of the then current political state of affairs began to deteriorate. Eventually the Berlin Wall was broken down and Germany became reunited.

 



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