Germany Recent History

By | June 19, 2021

German Confederation (1815-1866)

Napoleon conquered Central Europe in many wars. That finally brought the end of the Holy Roman Empire of the German nation in 1806. The last emperor, Franz II, laid down the imperial crown. But they freed themselves from Napoleon’s rule in further wars. In 1813 France suffered the decisive defeat in the Battle of Leipzig.

The Congress of Vienna reorganized Europe, with the main aim of restoring the old state. In the area of ​​the former Holy Roman Empire, however, no new unified empire came into being, instead a loose confederation of states, the German Confederation, was founded. Austria and Prussia continued to lead the way among the 38 states in this league.

The revolt against foreign rule and finally the victory over Napoleon had promoted a national movement. For the first time a national feeling arose in Germany and with it the desire for a unified German state. The demand for participation and freedom grew steadily.

In March 1848 the March Revolution finally took place. The events lasted until July 1849. The insurgents managed to get the National Assembly to meet in Frankfurt and draft a constitution (“Paulskirchenverfassungs”). Germany would have been transformed into a constitutional monarchy.

However, the Prussian King Friedrich Wilhelm IV refused, as did the imperial crown that was offered to him. The uprisings were suppressed by force mainly by Prussian and Austrian troops. The attempt to create a German nation-state had thus failed.

Industrialization began in the German states in the 19th century. Many factories were built and people’s living conditions changed greatly. The workers had to toil many hours a day and received little wages. They lived in poor conditions.

North German Confederation (1866-1871)

In 1866 war broke out between Prussia and Austria. Prussia won and occupied further territories, so that the number of ruled areas continued to decrease. The German Confederation dissolved.

The North German Confederation took its place. He was led by the largest of the German states, Prussia. Austria did not belong to this union. The North German Confederation is regarded as the preliminary stage of the German nation-state, which was then formed in 1871.

History of Germany from the German Empire to the Second World War

German Empire (1871-1918)

In 1870 the Franco-German War broke out. It was triggered by the question of who should occupy the free Spanish throne. It ended with the defeat of France, which had to surrender part of Alsace and Lorraine.

In January 1871 it was now possible to unite the German states into one empire. The Prussian Prime Minister Otto von Bismarck had been particularly committed to founding the empire. The Prussian king, who was on the throne since 1861, has now German Emperor Wilhelm I. Bismarck became the first Reich Chancellor.

According to directoryaah, the German Empire was a constitutional monarchy. There was a democratically elected parliament, the Reichstag. However, the real power lay with the emperor – and with his imperial chancellor. In his foreign policy, Bismarck endeavored to achieve a balance between the European powers. Bismarck created new social laws, but also fought against social democracy. The SPD, founded in 1875, grew stronger and stronger.

In 1888 Wilhelm I died. His successor Friedrich III. however only lived a few months, so that now Wilhelm II came to the throne. The year 1888 is therefore also called the three emperor year. In 1890 he dismissed the old Chancellor and began a different foreign policy. This was out to conquer. Wilhelm II built up a fleet of warships and now began to acquire colonies – most of which, however, were already in the hands of Spain, England or the Netherlands.

The First World War broke out in 1914, triggered by the assassination of the heir to the Austrian throne. Austria-Hungary therefore declared war on Serbia, and Germany joined the dual monarchy. Serbia was supported by Russia, Great Britain and France. The war lasted until 1918, in which millions of people died and were injured. As a loser in the war, Germany had to surrender its colonies and areas such as Alsace-Lorraine and pay high reparations under the Treaty of Versailles.

German Empire

Weimar Republic (1918-1933)

The First World War ended in 1918. Although the situation was already hopeless, the German sailors were supposed to leave for one last battle on November 9, 1918. But they refused. That was the beginning of the November Revolution, which quickly spread to Berlin and other cities. The emperor had to abdicate and Germany became a republic.

Because the new constitution was drawn up in Weimar, this period was later called that of the Weimar Republic. After the first difficult years with inflation and several coup attempts, the “Roaring Twenties” followed. People were enjoying life again, pouring into the theater and cinema, where the sound film moved in in 1926.

In 1929 this phase ended again. The global economic crisis also brought poverty and unemployment to Germans. From 1930, the German governments were no longer dependent on the majority in parliament, but on the Reich President. Paul von Hindenburg issued numerous emergency ordinances.

In order to end these unstable presidential cabinets, Hindenburg finally agreed to Adolf Hitler’s appointment as Reich Chancellor. But that meant the end of the Weimar Republic, because Hitler used his new power to establish a dictatorship. This marked the beginning of the darkest chapter in German history, the time of National Socialism.

National Socialism (1933-1945)

Adolf Hitler was appointed Chancellor on January 30, 1933. That was the so-called seizure of power. With Hitler, his party, the National Socialists (NSDAP), came to power. In the years before 1933, her party had already gained a large audience.

The National Socialists considered the “German race” to be superior and especially devalued Judaism. Their views were racist and inhuman. Politics was aimed at German world domination. The constitution was suspended by several laws.

Systematic action was now taken against the Jews. They were discriminated against, persecuted and ultimately crammed into concentration camps and murdered. Around six million Jews died in agony. All political opponents were also persecuted.

In 1939 the Second World War began with Hitler’s attack on Poland. Great Britain and France then declared war on the German Reich. First of all, the Wehrmacht achieved many military successes. They occupied large parts of Europe. In 1941 the German army marched into Russia. In 1943 it was stopped in Stalingrad. In the meantime the USA had also entered the war after Germany’s allies from Japan attacked the US fleet in Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. More and more battles were now lost for Germany. Hitler committed suicide on April 30, 1945, and Germany surrendered on May 8, 1945.