History of Germany

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According to the traditional view, the history of Germany begins with the emergence of the Roman-German monarchy in 10/11. Century, even if this was a long way from developing a “state of the Germans ”. The German language is the 8th century as an independent, in a variety of dialects divided and evolving comprehensible language. The inhabitants of the empire were mainly descendants of Teutons and Celts , but also of Roman settlers in the west and of west Slavic tribes in the east , the so-called Wends or Elbe Slavs .

Today's flag of Germany
Situation of the Federal Republic of Germany

The Roman-German Empire developed in the early Middle Ages from Eastern Franconia , which in turn emerged as a result of the crisis in the Frankish Empire in the 9th century. The ruling family of the Ottonians was able to attain the western (“Roman”) imperial dignity in the 10th century and laid the foundation for the so-called Holy Roman Empire since the late 13th century . Ottonen as well as the subsequent Salier and Staufer based themselves in different ways on the imperial church . The medieval Roman-German emperors saw themselves in the tradition of the ancient Roman Empire ( imperial idea ), with repeated tensions between the universal powers of the empire and the papacy . Already towards the end of the Hohenstaufen dynasty (12th / 13th century) the kingship lost power. The Roman-German kings were never absolute rulers anyway, rather the aspect of consensual rule of the kingship in association with the greats was emphasized. In contrast to the Western European monarchies of England and France, centralized imperial rule never developed in the Roman-German Empire. The power of the many sovereigns increased further in the late Middle Ages , with the Golden Bull of Charles IV establishing an electoral monarchy . This form of decentralized rule ultimately established the tradition of German federalism . In the late Middle Ages, there was also the rise of urbanism .

The early modern state-building process took place particularly at the level of the individual territories. Reformation , Counter-Reformation and the Thirty Years' War in the 16th and 17th centuries led to demographic shifts and changed religious and political constellations beyond Germany . In addition to the Habsburg monarchy , which had been the emperor almost entirely since the 15th century, the Hohenzollern and Prussia rose to become the second major German power.

In the course of the coalition wars against the French Revolution , the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation perished in 1806. After Napoleon I's domination over the European continent, which resulted in the Wars of Liberation, restorative efforts resulted in a political reorganization in the form of the German Confederation under joint Austrian and Prussian leadership. The liberal efforts directed against this in the revolution of 1848/49 were put down, but the impetus aimed at national unity in Germany was then transferred to the founding of the German Empire by the Prussian military in wars against both Austria and France . In terms of social history, the 19th and early 20th centuries were characterized by the industrial revolution and high industrialization , high population growth and a process of urbanization .

German world power ambitions under the sign of Wilhelminism contributed in the age of imperialism to the emergence of the First World War , which ended in what was perceived as a shameful German defeat. The Revolution of 1918/19 brought the Weimar Republic for the first time a democratically authored German community appears never regained but lasting political stability, but in 1933 by the Nazi dictatorship was replaced. The violent suppression of all opponents of the regime internally and systematically pursued expansion policy towards the outside - combined with the unleashing of the Second World War and the systematic persecution and extermination of European Jews - made the Nazi era until 1945 the catastrophic low point in German history to let.

After the Wehrmacht surrendered , the four victorious powers divided Germany and Berlin : one eastern and three western occupation zones were formed, and the eastern areas of the German Empire were placed under Polish and Soviet administration. The Federal Republic of Germany emerged from the three western zones in 1949 , and the German Democratic Republic (GDR) from the Soviet zone . The division of Germany was cemented in 1961 with the construction of the Berlin Wall and the inner German border , which was militarily secured and strictly guarded by the GDR .

After the peaceful revolution in the GDR, which brought about the end of the SED dictatorship in 1989 and which resulted in a vast majority of unity supporters in the first free elections to the People's Chamber in March 1990, the way was clear for negotiations on German reunification . The consent of the four former victorious powers to the implementation of German unity was largely determined by the involvement of the old Federal Republic in the European integration process that began in 1951 and by the expectation that the commitments regarding a continuation of this course even after the expansion to include the five new federal states by the united Germany would be respected. Confirmation was provided by the German side with the introduction of the euro as well as with the eastward expansion of the EU .

Prehistoric time

The at least 35,000 year old Venus vom Hohlefels was made from the ivory of a woolly mammoth and was found at the southern foot of the Swabian Alb . It is one of the oldest representations of a person.

The oldest evidence of representatives of the Homo genus on the territory of today's Federal Republic is the 500,000 to 600,000 year old lower jaw of Mauer , the type specimen of Homo heidelbergensis . Somewhat more recent finds come from the Bilzingsleben site and from Homo steinheimensis ; Well-known finds are also the Schöninger spears , which are considered to be the oldest hunting weapons of mankind. The early Neanderthals ( Homo neanderthalensis ) emerged from Homo heidelbergensis 300,000 or 130,000 years ago and later the classical Neanderthal man ( Homo neanderthalensis ), which - if the climatic conditions permitted it - also lived in Germany for almost 100,000 years. Since Central Europe became a cold steppe (tundra) during the maximum expansion phases of the glaciers in the cold periods and the polar glaciation penetrated far to the south, this area is likely to occur in the period between 270,000 and 250,000, then from 160,000 to 140,000 and again from 70,000 to 60,000 have been uninhabited today. This should also apply to the maximum glaciation during the last glacial period , i.e. 22,000 to 19,000 years ago.

However, by this point the Neanderthal had already disappeared. Traces of modern humans ( Homo sapiens of the Cro-Magnon epoch ) who immigrated from Africa via the Balkans were found in the caves of the Swabian Alb , such as the 35,000 to 40,000 year old Venus vom Hohlefels , the world's oldest known depiction of a person (next to the about the same as Venus vom Galgenberg ). The second oldest remains of a Homo sapiens were found in 1914 by quarry workers in the Rhineland: the approximately 14,000 year old double grave in Oberkassel ; The burial in the Bavarian Klausen Cave is even older, dating from around 20,000 BC. Took place.

The between 13,350 and 14,000 year old remains of the 20 to 25 year old woman and the 50 year old man from the double grave of Oberkassel

When the steppe animals became extinct, changed around 12,000 BC. The way of life dramatic. The hunters and gatherers who had lived on the herds were replaced by new immigrants from south-eastern Europe, and the population fell sharply. The Magdalenian population disappeared, as can be shown genetically. It was followed by the des Azilien , who had immigrated from the south and who knew how to hunt animals that inhabited the forests. This belonged to the said double grave. The only known warehouse is Rietberg near Gütersloh. In the following 500 years there was no reference to settlement sites. Around 11,500 BC By contrast, well over 700 sites are known in Central Europe. For the time being, the last time the cold steppe returned, so that reindeer hunters again in northern Germany, this time of the Ahrensburg culture , between 10,760 and 9650 BC. Could exist.

In the warmer phase that followed, hunters and gatherers were already producing around 5800/5600 BC. Chr. Pottery forth before they v between about 5500 and 5000. Were replaced by the earliest rural cultures. In this epoch , known as the Neolithic Age , agriculture, livestock farming and permanent settlements as well as a different type of ceramics developed, but northern Germany remained dominated by hunters, gatherers and fishermen for another thousand years. The area of ​​today's Germany was populated one after the other by the band ceramic , the string ceramic and the bell beaker culture , the naming was based on the archaeological finds.

The use of metals not only revolutionized technical possibilities, but also changed societies significantly. Some finds from the Bronze Age have been preserved, such as the Nebra sky disc found in Saxony-Anhalt , a metal plate with gold applications, which is considered the oldest representation of the sky (its age is estimated at 3700-4100 years).


During the Bronze and Iron Ages , various Indo-European speaking ethnic groups and tribes formed in these regions . These originated from immigrated Indo-European tribes or their descendants, who mixed with the " indigenous people " who had lived since the end of the last ice age and later continuously with migrating peoples or settlers. This dynamic development is called ethnogenesis and is above all a social process. The descendants of the in northern Europe and northern Germany settled in the field of Nordic Bronze Age groups were in ancient times by Greek historians as Celts in the West or the Scythians described in the east. The term Germanic was only established among Roman authors . The southern parts of Germany, on the other hand, were populated by cultural groups that have been known as Celts since the Iron Age.

The Teutons are mentioned for the first time by ancient Greek and Roman authors, probably beginning with Poseidonios in the 1st century BC. The Germanic peoples themselves were, however, an inconsistent group of different tribes, which also had no overarching sense of community. Even the term "Germanen" (Latin Germani ) is an ethnographic , less precise collective term used by ancient authors who also associated it with a " barbarian image ". For methodological reasons, “Teutons” must therefore not be misunderstood as a term for a unified people.

During the expansion of the Roman Empire into late antiquity , Romans settled in what is now southern and western Germany, and their troops occupied southern and western Germania along the Danube and the Rhine until around the 5th century. The legionaries came from very different regions of the Roman Empire, such as B. Hispania, Illyria, Syria, Gaul, Africa. In the civilian population of the Roman provinces, a strong Celtic component can be seen, for example on stone monuments and the names that can be deduced from them. This is confirmed by a note in the (important, but also problematic) ethnographic text Germania by Tacitus , which reports that people from Gaul settled in the Dekumatland .

The historically recorded Germanic tribes of the early Roman Empire in the first century are divided into three cultural groups: the so-called Rhine-Weser Germanic peoples , the North Sea Germanic peoples and the Elbe Germanic peoples . Due to the macro-political influences of the ongoing conflict with the Roman Empire as well as inner-Germanic political, social and economic changes, from the 2nd century these cultural groups led to the (not biological, but understood as a historical-social process) "development process" of new and larger ones Tribal associations. These tribal groups, especially the Alemanni or Alemanni , the Bavarians , the Franks and the Saxons seemed constitutive for the medieval education in Germany and nominally to modern times as so-called "German tribes," or they will attach such importance.

Since the imperial crisis of the 3rd century , the pressure exerted on the borders of the Roman Empire by the great Germanic tribal associations of the Alemanni and the Franks, which had newly formed in Germania Magna , increased. In the provinces on the Rhine and Danube, Germanization began, which particularly affected the Roman army. This was partially supported by the settlement of Germanic federations in the area of the Roman Empire .

During the migration , members of other ethnic groups, such as the Sarmatians or Huns , remained in the area of ​​what is now Germany. After almost all Germanic peoples had emigrated from the areas east of the Elbe, they were settled by Slavs , whose land only became part of German history again through the eastern colonization of German immigrants from the 11th to the 14th centuries and later as part of the integration into the Roman-German Empire has been.


Germanic tribes, including all ethnic groups on the right bank of the Rhine, around 100 AD (excluding Scandinavia)

Around 500 BC BC the area of ​​today's southern Germany was Celtic and that of today's northern Germany was populated by Germanic people. Some Celtic and Germanic tribes are first mentioned by the Greeks and Romans , probably beginning with Poseidonios in the 1st century BC. In the following time among others with Caesar and Tacitus . The Teutons themselves, however, were an inconsistent group of different tribes, which also had no overarching sense of community. Even the term "Germanen" (Latin Germani ) is an ethnographic , less precise collective term used by ancient authors who also associated it with a " barbarian image ". For methodological reasons, “Teutons” must therefore not be misunderstood as a term for a united people.

The Teutons migrated southward over the centuries, so that around the birth of Christ the Danube was the approximate settlement boundary between the Celts and Teutons. As a result, Celtic place and water names as well as Celtic loanwords entered the Germanic vocabulary. After the conquest of Gaul by Caesar in the Gallic Wars of the first Roman emperor was in the reign of Augustus campaigns carried out in the right-Rhine region, although the Romans after the Battle of Varus in the year 9 finally retarded n. Chr. Its troops back to the Rhine and since Tiberius at left individual military operations. From about 50 BC Until the early 5th century AD, the areas west of the Rhine and south of the Danube belonged to the Roman Empire , from around 80 to 260 AD also part of Hesse ( Wetterau ) and most of today's Baden- Württemberg south of the Limes . The Roman areas in present-day Germany were divided into the provinces Germania superior , Germania inferior and Raetia . Cities such as Trier , Cologne , Bonn , Worms and Augsburg , which are among the oldest cities in Germany , go back to the Romans . The Romans introduced innovations in house building and handicrafts. To secure the borders, the Romans settled friendly Germanic tribes in the provinces. Settlers from all parts of the Roman Empire, especially Italy, immigrated and settled west of the Rhine and south of the Danube. The Roman historian Tacitus provided a first history of the whole of Germany in 98 .

After Marcus Aurelius had to face heavy defensive battles against Teutons in the course of the Marcomannic Wars in the 2nd century, the Germanic pressure on the Roman northern border increased considerably during the Imperial Crisis of the 3rd century , while at the same time the New Persian Sassanid Empire threatened the Roman eastern border in the east . The newly formed tribal groups of the Alemanni and Goths repeatedly made incursions into the empire, which was going through the height of the crisis around the middle of the 3rd century. Although Roman troops probably won a victory in a campaign by Maximinus Thrax in the Harz region in 235 , the areas on the right bank of the Rhine had to be given up in 259/60 ( Limesfall ). At the end of the 3rd century, the situation for the empire had stabilized again, mainly due to the reforms of Diocletian and Constantine , which also successfully secured the borders. Nevertheless, in the course of late antiquity there were repeated military clashes between Romans and Teutons.

The expansion of the Franconian Empire from 481 to 814

After the Huns invaded East Central Europe around 375, the situation changed fundamentally. The so-called migration of peoples , which reached its peak in the 5th century and ended in the late 6th century, set the peoples in the east, especially the Germanic peoples, in motion and, at the latest after the crossing of the Rhine in 406, the western Roman Empire was in considerable distress. Germanic peoples advanced into western Roman territory and finally took possession of large parts of the western empire (mostly by force, but also partly by treaty). The western empire had in fact melted into Italy in 476, when the last emperor in the west, Romulus Augustulus , was deposed. However, several aspects of migration are controversial in modern research. The Germanic tribes that immigrated to Roman territory (which were often ethnically quite heterogeneous) moved as far as North Africa and established their own empires. The Vandal Empire in North Africa, the Burgundy Empire in Southeast Gaul, and the Ostrogoth Empire in Italy went under as early as the 6th century, while the Visigoth Empire in Hispania and the Lombards Empire in Italy (where these 568 invaded) persisted into the 8th century. The Franconian Empire of the Merovingians , established around 500, would prove to be the most durable and important . In addition, numerous smaller rulers existed up to the 6th century, such as those of the Heruli , Rugians and Gepids , while the Anglo-Saxons who invaded Britain around the middle of the 5th century founded several small empires before a more permanent regime was established there in the 7th century ( Heptarchy ).

middle Ages


In historical research it is still controversial to this day as to when it is possible to speak of Germany and when it is possible to speak of the German people. In the older, strongly nationally influenced research, the equation of Germans with Germans in the medieval empire was postulated. This approach is very problematic and has been rejected in recent research, because it also presupposes a conscious self-identity. In modern research, on the other hand, ethnogenesis is not understood as a biological, but rather as a social process, in the course of which an identity is only slowly developed within the framework of a complex development process. In addition, a language community cannot simply be equated with an ethnic community. The evaluation of the contemporary sources does not give the picture of “German tribes” that consciously united in their own empire ( Eastern Franconia ) in the 9th century . Rather, the Franconian Empire served as a point of reference well into the 11th century.

Only in the 11th century did the term rex Teutonicorum ("King of the Germans") appear for the East Franconian / Roman-German ruler, albeit as a foreign designation by anti-imperial circles, because the Roman-German rulers never called themselves that. For the medieval Roman-German rulers, the German-speaking areas were an important part of the empire, which also included Imperial Italy and the Kingdom of Burgundy . Due to the imperial idea , which included the connection to the ancient Roman Empire and a component of salvation history, the associated claim to rule was not national, but (at least theoretically) universal.

In the following period, the Reich served as a loose political framework and the German language as a connecting cultural component. A “German identity” - the idea of ​​belonging to a specific, demarcated community - did not develop in general awareness until the end of the 13th century. While in England and France, with their centrally organized royal rule, there was a tendency towards “national kingdoms” ( Benedict Anderson explaining the term nation as “ imagined , limited and sovereign community”), the universal imperial idea dominated in the particular basic structures of the Roman-German Empire , although terms such as German land are well documented in later sources. Only in the late Middle Ages did German scholars such as B. Alexander von Roes and Lupold von Bebenburg thought about the role of "the Germans" in the structure of Europe and a political identity (biological categories did not play a role here), which happened from a position of political weakness of the Reich, whereby the considerations continue remained strongly linked to the imperial idea. Only now did the process of a slow political identity formation actually begin.

Early middle ages

In the 7th century, Slavic groups immigrated to the former settlement areas of Germanic tribes that had been abandoned by them during the migration of the peoples as far as the Elbe-Saale line . For this reason, Slavic was spoken in almost the entire area east of the Elbe from the early Middle Ages to the High Middle Ages ( Germania Slavica ) , and the Slavic Sorbs still live in Lusatia .

Merovingian (around 500–751)

A considerable part of western (essentially formerly Roman Gaul) and parts of western central Europe were conquered by the Franconian Empire from the early 6th century , while today's north-western Germany was ruled by the Saxons . The Franconian Empire had been founded by the Merovingians and was to prove to be the most important Germanic-Romanic successor empire of the fallen Western Roman Empire. Childeric I laid the foundation for this, which his son Clovis I followed . Attempts by the Merovingians to further expand their domain east of the Rhine met with some success: Alemanni and Thuringians came under Frankish domination as early as the 6th century. Internal power struggles and the increasing power of the Hausmeier , however, prevented a strong central kingship from developing in the Merovingian Empire. Dagobert I was able to strengthen the kingship again before the Merovingians in the late 7th century (at least according to the traditional doctrine, but based on later and partisan sources) were in fact disempowered by the Carolingians , who had also held the Franconian royal dignity since 751.

Carolingian (751-911)

The division of territory in the Treaty of Verdun (843)

Pippin the Younger was the first Carolingian to ascend the Frankish royal throne in 751. The most important Carolingian was Pippin's son Charlemagne , who ruled from 768 (since 771 alone) to 814 and was even able to renew the Roman imperial dignity in the west since 800. Karl led campaigns against the Saxons (which could only be defeated after very hard and changeable battles in the Saxon Wars ), against the Longobards in Italy, the Avars on the southeastern border and against the Moors in northern Spain, which considerably expanded the borders of the Franconian Empire . From a cultural point of view, the empire also experienced a lively upswing, which is referred to as the Carolingian educational reform (often more imprecise as the Carolingian renaissance ). The Charles Empire, for which the Merovingians in particular laid the foundation, united the area of ​​continental Europe between the Atlantic, Pyrenees, the Baltic Sea and the southern edge of the Alps. After Charles's death in 814, it was divided into three parts among his grandchildren in the Treaty of Verdun in 843 . The west of France was to form the basis above all for the development of the Kingdom of France . The East Franconian Empire is closely linked to the history of the Holy Roman Empire (so-called only in the late Middle Ages) and in fact represents the nucleus of later Germany, but without a German identity having developed during this period.

With the partition of the Franconian Empire in 843, its disintegration began. The son of Charlemagne, Louis the Pious , was still able to maintain its unity. He chose his eldest son Lothar I as his successor . He received the Middle Kingdom and the dignity of Emperor, Charles the Bald the western part and Ludwig the German the eastern part. After the death of the sons of Lothar I, the former Middle Kingdom was divided between Charles the Bald and Ludwig the German. After Ludwig's death in 876, the East Franconian Empire was also divided up between his three sons Karlmann, Ludwig the Younger and Karl the Fat . In 880 the border with the West Frankish Empire was established, which was to separate the German Empire from France almost unchanged throughout the Middle Ages. The East Franconian King Karl the Fat was able to reunite the Franconian Empire for a short time after the death of his brothers and the West Franconian king, but was ousted in 887 by his nephew Arnulf von Kärnten , a son of Karlmann, after his powerless rule in the east . With Arnulf's son Ludwig the child , the last East Franconian Carolingian died in 911 . In order not to endanger their own power, the dukes elected the supposedly weak Franconian Duke Konrad I as their king (911–918).

Ottonen (919-1024)

The empire around 1000

Conrad I (911–918), who could not preserve the Carolingian tradition, was followed by the Saxon Duke Heinrich I from the Liudolfinger family ("Ottonen"). Until the end of the Middle Ages, the empire was shaped by the electoral monarchy and the influence of the great . In more recent research, the importance of the Ottonian period for the formation of Eastern Franconia is emphasized, but it is no longer considered the beginning of actual “German” history. The complex process associated with it dragged on at least until the 11th century.

Henry I defended the empire against incursions by Hungarians and Slavs. In addition to the Franconian legacy, a common identity of its own was increasingly emerging. Heinrich I named his son Otto I as his successor . He first tried to subordinate the newly created tribal duchies to his power. To secure his power, he relies more and more on the church ( imperial church system ). In 955 Otto defeated the Hungarians in the battle of the Lechfeld . In 950 Bohemia and from 963 on Poland became temporarily dependent on the Roman-German rulers. Otto expanded his territory to include parts of Italy. After marrying Adelheid of Burgundy , he called himself King of the Lombards for a short time . In 962 Otto finally achieved his recognition as King of Italy and then the imperial coronation by the Pope. In southern Italy he came into conflict with the Byzantine emperor . His son Otto II finally married the imperial niece Theophanu , but southern Italy remained with Byzantium. Otto II suffered a crushing defeat against the Saracens in 982 . The areas east of the Elbe ( Billunger Mark and the Nordmark ) were largely lost again for about 200 years in the great Slav uprising . His son Otto III. died before he could realize his plan to move the power base to Rome . At the Congress of Gniezno in 1000 he recognized the Polish ruler Boleslaw I. Chrobry as co-regent in the empire. The last Otton king Heinrich II had to assert himself in several wars against Poland (King Boleslaw I. Chrobry) and Hungary (King Stephan I. ). Under him the imperial church system was further expanded.

High Middle Ages

Salier (1024–1125)

In 1024 the German princes elected Salier Konrad II as king. He acquired the Kingdom of Burgundy in 1032 and stabilized the royal power. His successor Heinrich III. deposed three rival popes at the Synod of Sutri , appointed the reformer Clement II pope and had himself crowned emperor by him in 1046. Shortly afterwards he issued a ban on simony . However, there was also an opposition in the empire to Heinrich's self-confident exercise of power, which was the beginning of a crisis in the Salian monarchy. During the reign of Henry IV the so-called investiture controversy escalated , in which the church reformers accused the emperor of simony. Heinrich declared Pope Gregory VII deposed, at the same time an opposition formed in the German part of the empire. Now the Pope banished the king. In order to break the excommunication, Henry IV went to Canossa . In 1084 he deposed Pope Gregory again and settled in Rome with antipope Clement III. crown emperor. His son Heinrich V finally allied himself with the princes against him and deposed him. A longer war was prevented by the death of the father in 1106. Under Heinrich V, the Worms Concordat reached an agreement with the church in 1122 . The position of power of the Salian monarchy had suffered not insignificantly.

In the 11th century, Regnum Teutonicum ("German Kingdom") established itself as an antithesis to Regnum Italicum ( Imperial Italy ). However, the term was used less by the Roman-German kings, who always emphasized the universal character of the empire, but rather by its political opponents (such as the papacy) in a derogatory manner.

Staufer (1138–1254)

With Heinrich's death the Salier period ends and the princes elected Lothar III. from Supplinburg to the king. After Lothar's death in 1138, the Hohenstaufen Konrad III. King. This recognized Lothar's son-in-law, the Guelph Heinrich the proud , his duchies. Konrad's successor Friedrich I ("Barbarossa") tried to balance things out by enfeoffing his cousin, the Guelph Heinrich the Lion, in 1156 with the duchies of his father, Saxony and Bavaria . Heinrich the Lion took part in the Wendenkreuzzug in 1147 and subjugated the Slavs in Mecklenburg and Pomerania by 1164 .

Hildegard von Bingen , miniature from the Rupertsberg Codex of Liber Scivias , which was written before 1179. Hildegard receives divine inspiration, which she passes on to her writer. The original has been missing since 1945.

In the Treaty of Constance in 1153, Frederick I achieved the imperial coronation, which took place in 1155. At first he defeated the Lombard cities, which were striving for more independence , but could not prevail over them permanently. When Alexander III. Became Pope, the battle between Emperor and Pope began again. After the defeat at Legnano , Friedrich had to recognize Alexander as Pope and the Lombard League. In 1180, Friedrich Heinrich the Lion, who no longer supported his Italian policy, withdrew his duchies. In the end, Frederick, who emphasized the honor Imperii , had to make several political concessions to the greats of the empire. From 1187 Frederick I prepared the Third Crusade , set out for the Holy Land in 1189 and drowned on the way in 1190 in Lesser Armenia .

Friedrich's son Heinrich VI. became king of Sicily thanks to his marriage to the Norman princess Konstanze in 1194. When Henry VI. 1197 died, there was a double election of the Staufer Philip of Swabia , the brother of Heinrich VI., And the Guelph Otto IV. , A son of Henry the Lion. After the assassination of Philip in 1208 Otto IV became king. However, because of Otto's move to Italy, the Pope supported the Hohenstaufen Frederick II , the son of Henry VI, who was elected the opposing king in 1212. In 1214 the battle of Bouvines brought the decision for Frederick, who obtained the imperial crown in 1220. Friedrich ruled his empire from his homeland Sicily, where he also had much more political power than was the case in the German part of the empire. He left the government in Germany to his son Heinrich . In 1235 he installed his brother Conrad IV instead of Heinrich . Because of Frederick's Italian policy and the political power of both sides, there was a power struggle with Pope Gregory IX. who banished the emperor in 1227. Nevertheless, Frederick managed to surrender Jerusalem in the Holy Land . The conflict continued when Innocent IV succeeded Gregory. Innocent even declared the emperor to be deposed in 1245. Friedrich II died in December 1250. After his death, the Pope's fight against the Hohenstaufen raged on. Conrad IV was able to assert himself in the Kingdom of Sicily, but died in 1254. In 1268 the last Staufer, the sixteen-year-old son of Conrad IV, Konradin , was publicly executed against Charles of Anjou in Naples in the battle for his Sicilian inheritance .

Late Middle Ages

The late Middle Ages (approx. 1250 to 1500) are no longer understood as a period of decline in the more recent research, contrary to the older doctrinal opinion . The period up to the late 14th century was strongly influenced by the electoral monarchy: three large families, the Habsburgs , the Luxembourgers and the Wittelsbachers , had the greatest influence in the empire and the greatest domestic power . Crises such as famines due to overpopulation (see also late medieval agricultural crisis ), outbreaks of the plague ( Black Death ), to which around a third of the population fell victim, persecution of Jews at the time of the Black Death and the occidental schism . But in the late Middle Ages, the cities and trade with the expanding Hanseatic League also flourished , there was fundamental political structuring and the transition to the Renaissance began .

Interregnum and beginning power kingship (1254–1313)

After the fall of the Hohenstaufen the royal power fell. The monarchy only relied on a small imperial , which especially during the 14th century by Empire Pawn machinations was largely lost. The king now had to try to expand his household power and make politics with it. The imperial cities have now proven to be a new power factor . A group of powerful imperial princes (the later electors ) elected both Richard of Cornwall from England and Alfonso of Castile as king in a constitutionally remarkable double election . This gave the voters the opportunity to further expand their own power, although research emphasizes that the electors were by no means disinterested in the interests of the Reich. However, both elected were too weak to assert themselves in the empire and were more interested in the imperial crown. Richard was very rarely in the empire, Alfons never entered it. Even then, contemporaries spoke of the " interregnum ", the period without a king, but this period is judged more differently in recent research, especially since the empire did not collapse.

The interregnum ended in 1273 with the election of Rudolf von Habsburg . From that time on, the electors were the exclusive electoral body and also claimed rights of participation. Rudolf paved the way for the House of Habsburg , on which it became one of the most powerful dynasties in the empire. He was able to consolidate the royal power again and effectively use room for maneuver, but he did not succeed in becoming emperor. His two successors, Adolf von Nassau and Albrecht I , were in conflict with the electors because of their expansionary domestic power policy. In 1308, Heinrich VII of Luxembourg was elected king. In 1310 he was able to expand his power to include Bohemia, and the House of Luxembourg rose to become the second great late medieval dynasty alongside the Habsburgs. Based on the Staufer, he again pursued an Italian policy and was crowned emperor in Rome in June 1312. He died in Italy in August 1313.

Ludwig IV the Bavarian and Charles IV (1314–1378)

Golden Bull of Charles IV

After Heinrich's death, the Wittelsbacher Ludwig the Bavarian won a double election in 1314 against the Habsburgs. In 1327 Ludwig moved to Italy and was crowned emperor in Rome the following year, albeit without the involvement of the Pope, who refused Ludwig the papal approbation . In the battle of the emperor against the papacy, the last battle of the two universal powers of the Middle Ages, the electors in the Kurverein von Rhense confirmed in 1338 that a king chosen by them did not have to be confirmed by the pope. An opposition to Ludwig's domestic power policy led by the Luxembourgers was formed in 1346. Charles IV , from Luxembourg, was elected the anti -king by his supporters with the support of the Pope.

Ludwig's death in 1347 prevented a longer war. Charles IV relocated his dominion to Bohemia. Among other things, he won the Mark Brandenburg to his home power complex. In the Treaty of Namslau in 1348, Casimir the Great of Poland recognized that Silesia belonged to Bohemia - and thus to the Holy Roman Empire - but later tried to contest this with the Pope. The first German-speaking university was founded in Prague in 1348 . In 1355 Karl was crowned emperor. He renounced the continuation of the Italian policy and gave up some imperial rights in the West; He pledged the imperial property to a large extent, so that the subsequent kings could finally only rely on their property. The Golden Bull of 1356 represented a kind of basic law until the end of the Holy Roman Empire and regulated the electoral modalities (including the majority principle). Their main goal was to prevent anti-kings and throne battles. Karl believed that he had cemented the power of the House of Luxembourg, mainly due to its strong domestic power, but the subsequent Luxembourg kings were no longer able to effectively dispose of it.

Beginning of the rise of the Habsburgs (1378–1493)

The Holy Roman Empire around 1400

Under the successor of Charles, the royal power finally declined. Wenceslaus , the older son of Charles IV, was deposed in 1400 by the four Rhenish electors for inactivity. After the death of the successor Ruprecht von der Pfalz from the House of Wittelsbach in 1410, a Luxembourger was re-elected with Wenzel's brother Sigismund , who was already King of Hungary. Sigismund was an educated and intelligent ruler, but he did not have a sufficient power base in the empire. Although he achieved the imperial coronation in 1433, he was not able to stabilize the kingship. An imperial reform failed due to the self-interest of the rulers. However, by convening the Council of Constance , he was able to end the Western Schism .

With the death of Sigismund, the house of Luxemburg became extinct in the male line. The Habsburgs succeeded Albrecht in 1438 . From 1438 to 1740 and from 1745 to the end of the empire in 1806, the House of Habsburg was to provide the Roman king. Under the long reign of Friedrich III. (1440–1493) laid the foundation for the later Habsburg world power politics. At the same time, the empire went through a structural and constitutional change, whereby in a process of "designed compression" ( Peter Moraw ) the relationships between the members of the empire and the kingship became closer.

Early modern age

Maximilian I (1486-1519)

Maximilian I acquired the possessions of the House of Burgundy , which included the rich Low Countries , for his house through marriage and claimed large parts of them in the war against France ( Peace of Arras ). In 1495, the Worms Reichstag decided on imperial reform. Maximilian's son Philip the Fair was married to the heiress of Spain in 1496. In 1508 Maximilian accepted the imperial title without papal coronation. He actually ended the procession of the Roman-German kings to the coronation of emperors in Rome (his grandson Charles V was still crowned by the Pope in Bologna). The reason was various smoldering conflicts with France and Venice, whose troops had blocked many Alpine passes. As a result of his marriage policy , in addition to the Spanish crown, Bohemia and Hungary came from the Jagiellonian to the domain of the Habsburgs.

Reformation and Counter-Reformation (1517-1618)

Martin Luther, portrait by Lucas Cranach the Elder Ä. , 1529

The Reformation began in 1517 with the publication of his 95 theses against the indulgence trade by Martin Luther .

In 1519 the Habsburg Charles V was elected king and called himself "chosen emperor" after his coronation in 1520; only ten years later he was crowned as the last German ruler by the Pope as part of a reconciliation, this time not in Rome, but in Bologna. Under Karl, Habsburg rose to become a world power . In terms of foreign policy, he was involved in constant wars in defense of the Ottomans as well as against France and the Pope. As a result, his position in the empire itself was weak and he could not prevent the spread of the Reformation.

Between 1522 and 1526, Luther's teaching was introduced in a number of countries and cities in the empire. The Reformation was carried out by sovereigns who also became regional bishops . The brother of the emperor, Ferdinand , wanted to revoke the tolerance of the Lutherans. The Protestant rulers protested against this. Hence the term Protestants for followers of the Protestant faith.

The poor situation of the peasants had already led to regional uprisings in the 15th century , and during the Reformation the German Peasants' War broke out from 1524 to 1526 . In 1525 a peasant army led by Thomas Müntzer was destroyed near Frankenhausen .

In the Schmalkaldic War of 1546/1547, the Catholics under the leadership of the Emperor battled the Protestants for the first time. The Kaiser won the war, but could not enforce the Augsburg Interim .

When the princes rose against him across religious borders, Charles V renounced Spain in 1556 in favor of his son Philip II and made his brother Ferdinand his successor in the empire. The new king had already negotiated the Augsburg Religious Peace in 1555 , the principle of which Cuius regio, eius religio was later formulated.

Under the influence of the Reformation, the Catholic Church began internal reform. The resulting Counter-Reformation consisted on the one hand in the persecution of doubters of the official papal teaching by the Inquisition , on the other hand new orders emerged , of which the Jesuits played a leading role in the re-Catholicization .

Nevertheless, the religious policy of Ferdinand's son and successor Maximilian II was comparatively tolerant, while the Huguenot Wars were raging in France at the same time . The decentralized rule in the empire proved to be advantageous here, as different denominations could exist in the respective territorial lords, but at least initially there was no sharp contrast to the empire, while in France the kingship endeavored to exclusively enforce the Catholic denomination. Maximilian's son Rudolf II , on the other hand, withdrew more and more from reality in his residence in Prague, while the religious conflicts came to a head. The Cologne War broke out when the local archbishop converted to Protestantism. The Eighty Years War led to the division of the Netherlands into the Republic of the Seven United Provinces , which was now independent from the Empire, and the Spanish Netherlands , which remained under Habsburg rule and later formed Belgium .

The Protestant princes united to form a union in 1608 under the leadership of Friedrich von der Pfalz . Accordingly, the Catholic princes in 1609 concluded under the leadership of Bavaria Duke Maximilian I to league together.

Thirty Years War (1618-1648)

Emperor Rudolf's successor Matthias left his government largely to his chancellor Melchior Khlesl , who sought a compromise with the Protestants at the imperial level. In the Habsburg hereditary lands, on the other hand, the Counter Reformation was reinforced, especially in Bohemia, since Matthias' presumptive successor Ferdinand was elected king there in 1617. In 1618, therefore, the Prague lintel occurred , in which two imperial councilors were thrown out of the window by representatives of the Bohemian clergy in Prague Castle.

After the death of the emperor, the leader of the Union, Friedrich von der Pfalz, was declared King of Bohemia in 1619. The new Emperor Ferdinand II moved to Bohemia with the army of the Catholic League. The Bohemian army was defeated in the Battle of the White Mountain in 1620. After Frederick's flight, Tilly occupied the Palatinate and Upper Palatinate . The Bavarian Duke Maximilian I received the Palatinate electoral dignity .

The Danish king Christian IV entered northern Germany with his army in 1625. But he was defeated by the imperial army under Tilly and the Bohemian nobleman Wallenstein . Pomerania , Jutland and Mecklenburg were occupied by the Catholic army.

After the end of the Danish-Lower Saxon War , the emperor issued the edict of restitution in 1629 . Concerned about his considerably increased power, the imperial estates achieved the deposition of their general Wallenstein at the Regensburg Electoral Congress in 1630.

Now the Swedish king Gustav II Adolf intervened in the war and advanced far into southern Germany. A year after the Magdeburg Blood Wedding , Tilly fell at Rain in 1632 . The emperor then reinstated Wallenstein . The King of Sweden fell at the Battle of Lützen in 1632.

Wallenstein was deposed again in 1634 and murdered soon after. In order to drive the Swedes from German soil, the emperor concluded a separate peace with the Protestant Saxon elector in 1635, the Peace of Prague .

The Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation 1648

Catholic France intervened on the Swedish side in 1635, but neither side could win the war. Large parts of the empire were devastated. The pre-war population was only reached again around 1750. The new emperor Ferdinand III. Since 1637 he tried harder to negotiate peace, but Germany had long since become a plaything for foreign powers, which further prolonged the suffering of the population. The negotiations that had been going on since 1642 led to the Peace of Westphalia on October 24, 1648 .

The peace treaty included the cession of parts of Lorraine and Alsace to France, Sweden received Pomerania and the Elbe duchies of Bremen and Verden as imperial fiefs. The Netherlands and Switzerland officially left the empire. The position of the imperial estates and the territories was strengthened and the Augsburg Religious Peace was confirmed. When the sovereign changed their denomination, the same was no longer required of the population. In comparison to the Peace of Prague, the emperor's power was again restricted, and in the future his assertiveness was mainly based on the position of his dynasty.

The Holy Roman Empire consisted of 382 different territories after the end of the war. This imperial structure was described by the contemporary constitutional lawyer Samuel Pufendorf as a “monster” or “absurdity preserved by divine providence”. Pufendorf was also one of the first to use the term “Germany”.

Absolutism (1648–1789)

Elector Friedrich Wilhelm von Brandenburg, oil painting by Govert Flinck , 1652

The heads of state reacted to the destruction and population losses of the Thirty Years' War by promoting controlled economic and social policy. Associated with the mercantilist economic system was the emergence of the absolutist form of rule based on the model of the French King Louis XIV.

The rise of Brandenburg-Prussia began under Elector Friedrich Wilhelm in 1640 . His successor Friedrich III. completed in 1701 with the coronation of Frederick III. a self-coronation as King Friedrich I in Prussia . The elevation of status was possible because the Duchy of Prussia was outside the Holy Roman Empire. In return for a payment of two million thalers and the dispatch of a contingent of troops for the imperial army , the Habsburg emperor Leopold I recognized him as king inside and outside the empire. The rise of the Brandenburg-Prussian state, later simply called Prussia , led to the dualism with Austria , which was to determine Germany's domestic policy until 1866.

Under Emperor Leopold I, the empire was exposed to the twofold threat from the Ottomans and France's urge to expand under Louis XIV. In 1683, with the support of some German princes and the Polish king Jan III Sobieski , who won the battle on Kahlenberg near Vienna against Kara Mustafa , the emperor was able to avert the Second Turkish siege of Vienna and drive the Turks out of Hungary.

To prevent a two-front war against France, its reunions were temporarily recognized in the Regensburg standstill in 1684 . As part of the French reunification policy , the free imperial city of Strasbourg and other Alsatian areas were incorporated into France's territory, although these areas were imperial estates.

The election of the Saxon Elector Friedrich August I in 1697 as King of Poland resulted in a personal union between Saxony and Poland , which was interrupted by the Great Northern War and the War of the Polish Succession , but lasted until 1763. There was also a personal union between Great Britain and Hanover from 1714 to 1837 .

The extinction of the Spanish Habsburgs triggered the War of the Spanish Succession in 1701 , which, after some successes , took a turn unfavorable for the Habsburgs with the death of Joseph I in 1711. The Austrian heir to the throne for Spain was named Charles VI. now even emperor, his allies Great Britain and the Netherlands wanted to prevent Austrian domination in Europe and made peace with France. However, the war also shook the forces of France and brought the Spanish possessions in the Netherlands and Italy to Austria. The Austrian house of Habsburg had become a major European power under Leopold I and Joseph I.

The extinction of the male Austrian Habsburgs with Emperor Karl VI. led to the War of the Austrian Succession in 1740 . The Wittelsbacher Karl VII. Was elected as the new emperor, Friedrich II. Invaded the Habsburg crown land of Silesia.

Charles VI Daughter Maria Theresa was able to defend the imperial crown for her husband Franz I with British help against Prussian claims to hegemony , but she finally lost Silesia to Prussia in the Seven Years' War in 1763.

Sweden lost almost all possessions in the empire through its defeat in the Great Northern War (1700–1721) against Russia, Denmark, Saxony-Poland and Prussia. The three partitions of Poland in 1772, 1793 and 1795 resulted in considerable territorial gains for Austria and Prussia.

The Enlightenment found its way into Prussia under Frederick the Great (the old Fritz ), who ruled according to the principles of enlightened absolutism . The rather reserved Josephinism in Austria under Emperor Joseph II worked in the spirit of the Catholic Enlightenment . Joseph's brother and successor Leopold II had to reverse some of the reforms in the Austrian hereditary lands.

The "long 19th century" (1789–1914)

As a historical epoch, the 19th century is excessively long, as it begins in 1789 with revolutionary events for the history of Germany and does not end until 1914. It all started with the French Revolution and Napoleon Bonaparte's temporary domination over Europe; the end is marked by the outbreak of the First World War , the “ great catastrophe of the 20th century ”. For Germany, this long century was the epoch in which freedom and unity of the nation were presented to the German princes as civil demands and initially failed in the revolution of 1848/49 , in which the industrial revolution produced new economic, social and political structures and in which With the help of the Prussian military under Bismarck's political leadership, the German Empire came about.

From the end of the Old Kingdom to the failure of Napoleon I.

The Holy Roman Empire on the eve of the French Revolution in 1789

In its early phase, the French Revolution was greeted with enthusiasm in Germany, too, with the slogans of freedom, equality, brotherhood , the declaration of human and civil rights and a constitution that divided powers. French enlighteners such as Voltaire , Montesquieu and Rousseau were known and valued in educated circles . The radicalization of the revolutionary events in France up to the reign of terror with the continuous use of the guillotine against "enemies of the people" and suspects quickly led to the overwhelming rejection of this development. The noble emigrants who fled revolutionary France stirred up the counter-revolutionary mood at courts abroad. In the Pillnitz Declaration , Emperor Leopold II and King Friedrich Wilhelm II of Prussia threatened military intervention in favor of the French King Louis XVI. The subsequent coalition wars against the French revolutionary army did not bring any resounding success. Rather, General Napoleon Bonaparte, who emerged from its ranks, succeeded in seizing the leadership of the republic through military success and political skill, crowning himself Emperor of the French and establishing satellite states such as the Kingdom of Westphalia (1807-1813) to rearrange political conditions in Germany in his sense.

While the French were united as a nation in one state, the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation offered more of a picture of state fragmentation into the territories of various sizes of the more than 300 imperial estates . As a cultural nation only united by language, literature and intellectual life, the Germans were far from forming a state nation. For Goethe , Germany could not really be captured: "Where the learned begins, the political ends."

Napoleon on horseback
(S. Meister, 1832, oil on canvas, Städtisches Museum Simeonstift Trier )

With the Treaty of Lunéville in 1801, which annexed the whole of France on the left bank of the Rhine and resulted in compensation claims for German imperial estates, Napoleon became the “arbiter over Germany”. The Reichsdeputationshauptschluss 1803, through which the Catholic princes in Germany lost almost all of their possessions in the course of secularization and mediatization, was consequently also subject to his political design requirements . Area increases were achieved above all in Prussia, Bavaria, Württemberg and Baden. Shortly after Napoleon made himself Emperor of the French in 1804, Franz II declared himself hereditary Emperor of Austria , since he had become insignificant as the Roman-German Emperor .

Napoleon's victory in the Battle of the Three Emperors at Austerlitz in 1805, the founding of the Confederation of the Rhine under French protectorate in 1806 and the defeat of Prussia by Napoleon in the battle of Jena and Auerstedt as well as his subsequent entry into Berlin set new framework conditions for the French period in Germany. The special formation of the Confederation of the Rhine marked the end of the dissolution of the Old Empire, as Franz II, as the Roman-German Emperor, now also formally abdicated. The Confederation of the Rhine, over which Napoleon commanded both militarily and foreign policy, followed the French model with the introduction of the Civil Code , and the longer it became, the more it became an instrument of French hegemony in the service of Napoleon. In the Peace of Tilsit, Prussia lost the possessions west of the Elbe and almost all the territorial gains from the partitions of Poland : it was almost halved. These weaknesses also prepared the ground for the Prussian reforms under Stein and Hardenberg , which were intended to awaken new forces and develop new resources , especially for the military ( Scharnhorst and Gneisenau ), for the economy and for the education system ( Wilhelm von Humboldt ).

Because Napoleon treated Germany primarily as an imperial recruiting base for the Grande Armée and allowed it to be financially and economically exploited, initial admiration for the Corsican or relative indifference turned into aversion, bitterness and hatred for the French occupying power. The imposition of the continental blockade on England by Napoleon, which created an extensive smuggling system, which in turn was repressed by military means, further increased general discontent. One was constantly exposed to controls and harassment, suffered from high prices and supply shortages.

Only after Napoleon's failed Russian campaign in 1813 could a coalition of other European powers defeat Napoleon's remaining troops and end French supremacy in Germany and Europe. The signal for the beginning of the wars of liberation was given by the Prussian general Ludwig Yorck von Wartenburg by concluding the Tauroggen Convention on December 30, 1812 without the order of his king, who was hesitant for several weeks . The Prussian-Russian alliance became official at the end of February 1813. Austria did not enter the war against Napoleon until August 1813, but made a significant contribution to his defeat in the Battle of Leipzig . Now the Confederation of the Rhine also renounced Napoleon, and by the end of the year all of Germany was liberated.

German Confederation and "Holy Alliance" (from 1815)

The 39 federal states of the German Confederation

When the European powers set about reorganizing the legacy of Napoleon's era in Germany at the Congress of Vienna , they sought to maintain a balance between a fragmentation that, as a power vacuum, could have aroused the desires of the western and eastern neighboring powers, France and Russia, and a nationally united German superpower, which for its part could have gone on an expansion course. As a new creation that was acceptable to all, the German Confederation was created , not a federal state , but a confederation of 41 sovereign members with a permanent delegates' congress, the Bundestag , as the only joint organ , which meets in Frankfurt am Main . With the kings of England, the Netherlands and Denmark, foreign princes with territorial property were also represented in the German Confederation; the rulers of Austria and Prussia, on the other hand, also commanded areas outside the Confederation.

Clemens Wenzel von Metternich
Friedrich Wilhelm III.

The emphatically restorative character of the resolutions of the Congress of Vienna was particularly evident in the Holy Alliance initiated by Tsar Alexander I , in which the European rulers showed each other solidarity and mutual assistance and agreed to govern their peoples in a fatherly Christian and peaceful manner. "The Holy Alliance is not an instrument of real politics of the European powers, but it becomes a symbol of the conservative, anti-revolutionary restoration and stabilization policy." In political practice, the two great powers were within the German Confederation, Austria with Metternich at the head and Prussia, especially decided on restoration course. So solved Friedrich Wilhelm III. To the general disappointment of all reform supporters, von Prussia did not make repeated promises to make Prussia a state with a constitution, while in southern Germany a number of constitutional states emerged. Many of the volunteers who had gone into the wars of liberation for freedom and unity of the fatherland had imagined it differently.

The mood of protest was concentrated in the student fraternities and was expressed in public manifestations, for example at the Wartburg Festival in 1817, where demands for national unity and constitutional freedom were also expressed against the police state and feudal society. The murder of the writer August von Kotzebue , who ridiculed the fraternities and supplied the Russian government with reports on Jacobin tendencies at German universities, by the theology student Karl Ludwig Sand, as well as another attack with a radical fraternity background, became the occasion for the von Metternich Karlovy Vary resolutions 1819. These led to the prohibition of fraternities, to the surveillance of universities also with regard to teaching hostile to the state, to extensive censorship of printed matter and to the “enforcement competence against recalcitrant or revolutionary member states ” of the German Confederation. "As every free movement was strangled and suppressed, no political life, no public sphere and responsibility could develop, no great goals and no concrete tasks, no free interplay of the various forces."

German life was pushed into the interior , in the veneration of art, science or history, at least in a far-reaching depoliticization. Citizens who did not want to uphold their political protest in the underground or who did not want to deepen it theoretically, increasingly devoted themselves to private life in the home and family. Smallness, manageability and cosiness were part of the Biedermeier atmosphere and shaped the way we lived together. The family's Sunday walk together became just as common in the middle-class milieu as the Christmas tree , Christmas carol singing and home music in small groups.

Pre-March and Revolution 1848/49

Cheering revolutionaries after the barricade fighting in Berlin on March 19, 1848
Frankfurt National Assembly 1848/1849 in the Paulskirche
German unification plans 1848–1850

The July Revolution of 1830 in France also had an impact further east. The unsuccessful November uprising of 1830–1831 in Poland against Russian domination led to a stream of Polish emigrants heading west. In Germany, the political life that had become frozen in the meantime dissolved. A clear manifestation of renewed public advocacy for freedom and unity was the Hambach Festival in 1832, where, under the sign of black, red and gold flags, and to the cheering of the crowd, confessions to a unified, democratic-republican Germany were made. Although there were no lack of repressive reactions, it showed, as was the case with the professors' resistance of the Göttinger Sieben in 1837, that the continuing regime of the Carlsbad resolutions did not carry through everywhere.

In the Rhine crisis of 1840, triggered by French ambitions for German territories on the left bank of the Rhine, citizens and rulers came together in a striving for national self-assertion. The Cologne Cathedral construction ceremony in 1842 staged Friedrich Wilhelm IV. Let make of Prussia "as a commitment to German size and reconciliation of the denominations in the character of a common cultural heritage", but without the willingness to be constitutional less "paternal Regiment" in question. In addition to unfulfilled political demands among the bourgeoisie, social grievances were also the cause of the destabilization of the order of the German Confederation in Vormärz . The population growth between 1815 and 1848 from 22 to 35 million people (+59 percent) was not matched by an even remotely proportional increase in agricultural production, resulting in a desolate supply situation. Pauperism is a term and a description of the situation for the misery of this time. Potato rot and poor grain harvests made the situation even worse from 1845 onwards.

When the February Revolution of 1848 , again starting in Paris, made waves in Europe, there was therefore widespread dissatisfaction and willingness to revolt against the existing conditions. In Vienna, Metternich was forced to resign on March 13, while the Imperial Court temporarily relocated to Innsbruck . In Berlin, Friedrich Wilhelm IV responded to barricade fights and revolutionary deaths in the March Revolution with an appeal that advocated representatives of the people on the basis of the estates, which ended with the formula: "Prussia will henceforth be absorbed into Germany." The governments in Germany appointed liberal " March governments ", who in turn sent new envoys to the Bundestag. 500 liberals and democrats from all over Germany formed a pre-parliament on March 31 in Frankfurt am Main , which advised the renewed Bundestag.

The Bundestag had an all-German parliament elected, the Frankfurt National Assembly . It was supposed to work out a draft constitution for a German federal state, but in June 1848 a provisional Reich government, the Provisional Central Authority , which was also recognized by the states. In addition, the National Assembly enacted imperial laws and commissioned the construction of the first all-German fleet . In the meantime, Germany was in a war with Denmark over Schleswig-Holstein .

The German federal state should originally have the borders of the German Confederation, plus the Prussian eastern provinces and Schleswig. That would have meant a greater German solution because large parts of Austria belonged to the federal territory. This widely welcomed solution turned out to be impossible when the Austrian monarchy regained strength in autumn 1848. In March 1849 it was abundantly clear that centralized Austria would not allow only parts of it to join a German federal state. In addition, the Prussian King Friedrich Wilhelm IV gave only vague signals as to whether he would accept a German imperial crown of a small Germany. Inwardly he refused her anyway, because he would rather be proclaimed emperor by the other princes.

Nevertheless, the National Assembly elected the Prussian king as emperor. In April 1849 there was a provisional, then a final rejection. The king, like other princes, illegally forbade his subjects from membership in the National Assembly. Some of the MPs continued anyway; many of them have been persecuted for it. The May uprisings in Dresden , in the Rhine Palatinate and in Baden in connection with an imperial constitution campaign were put down; the last revolutionaries surrendered on July 23rd in the fortress of Rastatt .

The remaining income and essential reception aspects of the failed revolution of 1848-49 were mainly on the constitutional level: On the one now who came in Prussia constitutionalisation going. On the other hand, with the Paulskirche constitution, which came into effect for a short time on March 28, 1849, standards were set for the first time for Germany, for example with regard to basic rights and federal statehood, which were later implemented in the Weimar Constitution of 1919 and in the Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany of 1949.

Whether the defeat of German liberalism in 1848/49 resulted in a special German path that led Germany away from the liberal traditions of the West and ultimately into the break in civilization of the Nazi era is controversial in historical studies.

Industrialization and Prussian-Austrian dualism (1850–1866)

With the double failure of the Frankfurt National Assembly only on the Austrian, then at the Prussian reaction also inspired by the revolution liberal constitutions were now obsolete and were in the ensuing Reaktionsära replaced by obrigkeitsgefälligere models. The rivalry between the two great powers for leadership in Germany became a permanent conflict for a decade and a half. Economic and political prerequisites and development processes played an important role that ultimately favored Prussian ambitions.

Locomotive construction near Borsig

From the middle of the 19th century, the industrial revolution in Germany took off . With the German Customs Union of 1834, elementary prerequisites beyond Prussia were created for the creation of a unified economic area in which political interests could also be bundled in the future. Industrial growth was fueled by a mobile capital market and large-scale markets opened up by improved transport routes and communications. The vigorously advanced railway system played a decisive role in the accelerating industrialization process , be it in the construction and expansion of the rail network or in the manufacture of locomotives, such as B. in the Borsigwerke . As a result, transport costs have been reduced by up to 80 percent and general mobility has been strengthened. Larger markets could now be opened up for mineral resources, crop yields and bulk goods. From the middle of the century, joint stock banks became the typical way of financing industry and trade. The structural change initiated by industrialization was more dynamic in Prussia than in Austria. In addition to higher population growth on the Prussian side, there was an accelerated change in the employment situation: while in Austria less than 60 percent of the population was only active in agriculture at the end of the 19th century, this ratio existed for more than half a century in the areas outside of Austria earlier. "The locational disadvantages for coal and iron, the lack of chargeable coal, the unfavorable traffic conditions and, above all, the significantly lower average productivity and purchasing power even in the agricultural sector - 40 guilders per capita and year in the monarchy, 78 guilders in the Zollverein (1852) - resulted in an unstoppable decline in the Austrian economy. "

Until around 1865, however, Austrian diplomacy remained successful in repelling Prussian ambitions for at least an equal leadership role in Germany. While Prussia sought to penetrate immediately after the failed revolution with the formation of a small German union under Prussian leadership , Austria relied on the restoration of the German Confederation with the support of Russia. With the Olomouc punctuation , Prussia refrained from a military conflict and returned to the German Confederation with Austria as the presidential power . The Austrian endeavor to create a Central European economic area through participation in Prussia's Zollverein failed due to the Prussian resistance and the fact that the German medium-sized states tended to stick to Austria politically, but benefited economically from the union with Prussia.

Otto von Bismarck, around 1862

The fact that presiding in the German Confederation was of no use to Austria's external position of power if Prussia refused was shown both in the Crimean War and in the Second Italian War of Independence , which ended for Austria with the loss of Lombardy . Even the temporary weakening of Prussia as a result of the internal conflict over army reform and the constitution , Austria could not use to strengthen its claim to leadership in the German Confederation, against the resistance of Otto von Bismarck, who was now appointed Prime Minister of Prussia . Bismarck formulated a combat-oriented program: “Prussia's borders under the Vienna Treaties are not conducive to a healthy state life; The big questions of the time are not decided by speeches and majority resolutions - that was the big mistake of 1848 and 1849 - but by blood and iron. "

The two powers waged the war against Denmark for Schleswig in 1864 together and then also agreed on the regulation of consequences: After initially having joint jurisdiction for both duchies, Holstein came under Austrian administration in 1865 and Schleswig under Prussian administration. From the beginning of 1866 Bismarck pursued a conflict-fueling policy on the Holstein question, which was aimed at Prussia's leadership in Germany. Through an alliance with Italy and the achievement of neutrality by Napoleon III. Bismarck was also able to win Wilhelm I over to the armed forces against Austria, which received no decisive military support from the other German states. In the almost six-week German War , the Prussian camp first defeated the German Central Powers connected to Austria and then also the Austrian army itself in the battle of Königgrätz . In order to avoid French intervention, Prussia contented itself with Austria's renunciation of participation in the Germans in the subsequent peace agreement Affairs, with the final dissolution of the German Confederation and the establishment of a North German Confederation under the leadership of Prussia north of the Main line . The southern German states were given the opportunity to form a southern alliance, which, however, was not realized.

North German Confederation and Empire under the sign of Bismarckian (1866–1890)

The constitution of the North German Confederation, as well as the economic and infrastructure policy carried out under Prussian leadership, anticipated the subsequent empire in some respects or aimed at it. As in the subsequent constitution of the Empire , there was a Federal Council with a strong Prussian preponderance, a Chancellor Bismarck, who combined the functions of the Prussian Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, and a Reichstag as a decision-making body on legislation and the state budget. The connection of the southern German states to the world market was essentially dependent on the use of Prussian railways and waterways. The economic and legal framework in the member states of the North German Confederation has been standardized through the Zollverein and centralized legislation.

To the France of Napoleon III. who had wanted to come to terms with Luxemburg for his neutrality in the Austro-Prussian war and for accepting Prussia's increase in power - which failed above all because of England - there were increasing tensions, which escalated with regard to the Spanish throne, when a candidate from the house Hohenzollern, Leopold von Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen , was talking about it. The Emser dispatch, edited by Bismarck, provoked France's declaration of war. In the Franco-Prussian War of 1870/71, too , the Prussian military retained the upper hand ( Battle of Sedan ) and thus created the prerequisites for the establishment of the German Empire , which with the coronation of Wilhelm I as German Emperor in the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles Palace on 18. January 1871 was consummated. Not only did the French have to accept that, but also the annexation of Alsace-Lorraine as well as the annexation of Alsace-Lorraine as well as a war compensation of five billion gold francs for the winner in the peace of Frankfurt am Main .

The German Empire 1871

The southern German states of Württemberg and Bavaria in particular were compensated for their inclusion in the empire with reservation rights. These concerned, among other things, taxes on beer and spirits as well as the postal and railway administrations. The German people only came into play with the Reichstag election of March 3, 1871, when the course had already been set. The political orientation and articulation of interests of the citizens conveyed the parties , which in Germany were shaped by ideological principles and since the revolution of 1848/49 formed a five-party system of conservatives , right and left liberals , Catholicism and socialists .

The first to emerge organized were the liberals in the 19th century who strived for freedom and unity of the nation in a society of citizens with equal rights: a nation state with a liberal constitution. The National Liberals diverged from the older Progressive Party on the attitude towards Bismarck's anti-parliamentary course in budgeting the Prussian military . In the context of the new constitutional order, the Conservatives stood up for the prerogatives of the monarch, government and rural property, for the church, the military and the nobility. Since the establishment of the General German Workers' Association (ADAV) by Ferdinand Lassalle , the interests of the growing industrial workers have been directed towards the enforcement of universal suffrage and the improvement of living, working and wage conditions through an increase in power in the state institutions. Since the Gotha Unification Party Congress in 1875 with the SDAP , the Social Democrats have formed a closed and growing political movement. The existence of a Catholic people's party, the Center , can be explained by the minority situation of Catholics in a predominantly Protestant and partly secular society in which Catholics - except in Bavaria - faced a non-Catholic “government establishment”.

Bismarck's position in the political system was strengthened by the confidence of Wilhelm I, but also by his ability to deal with the parliamentary groups in the Reichstag. This gave him a lot of political leeway, which he knew how to use with changing partners among the parties. He was concerned with the stabilization and modernization of the empire as well as the preservation of political and social hierarchies. The modernization involved, among other things, the standardization and liberalization of the economic system, freedom of trade and establishment throughout the empire, the standardization of the legal system, administrative reforms and the introduction of administrative jurisdiction, all of which were matters for which Bismarck was supported by the liberals. This also applied to his approach in the culture war against the position of power of the Catholic clergy , whose influence was pushed back on several levels by the imperial legislation, especially by the prohibition of political incitement from the church pulpit, by the abolition of the religious school supervision , the introduction of the compulsory civil marriage and the deletion of State services to the clergy ("Bread Basket Act").

Dissolution of a social democratic assembly in 1881: Wilhelm Hasenclever sitting at the table (2nd from the right); Wilhelm Liebknecht standing in front of the window; August Bebel sitting in front of Liebknecht.

When the French war indemnities, which had contributed to the economic heyday of the founding boom up to 1873, had been used up and the question of reforming the Reich's financial constitution and, soon after, the introduction of protective tariffs , the majority of the Bismarck bills, which supported Bismarck's bills, shifted more to the conservative side . And when, after the attacks on Kaiser Wilhelm I in 1878, Bismarck was concerned with suppressing the unified social democracy, which was seen as a threat to the system, through the socialist laws, he found a majority in the Reichstag consisting of conservatives and liberals. Bismarck then countered this instrument of repression, which existed until 1890, with social legislation with health insurance (1883), accident insurance (1884) and pension insurance (1889), which was intended to reduce life risks and displeasure in the workforce and have a future-oriented role.

In terms of foreign policy, after the war-in-sight crisis of 1875, in which France, Great Britain and Russia worked together against Germany , Reich Chancellor Bismarck relied on a defensive alliance with Austria-Hungary, which was not intended to alienate Russia ( reinsurance treaty 1887) and thus the precarious German central position In view of the sure opposition of France tried to stabilize by an elastic peace policy: "In every European crisis, so the situation in the late Bismarckian period presented, Berlin played the hindquarters, could slow down, calm down, wait and if possible stay out of it." German colonial policy in Africa and Oceania, which began in 1884 , where the British and French with their areas of influence were already facing each other, led to nominal landings in West , Southwest and East Africa as well as in the South Seas that exceeded the area of ​​the Reich territory several times, but never turned up economically still foreign policy as a gain and soon played hardly any role in Bismarck's politics. In an emergency, the German colonies could not be defended, but threatened to involve the empire in unmistakable conflicts.

Economic power and striving for world power (1890–1914)

Wilhelm II in army uniform

After the three emperor year 1888 not only the death of Wilhelm I, but also that of his son Friedrich III. who was close to liberal political ideas, but only held the throne for 99 days, his 29-year-old son Wilhelm II became German Emperor, who was blatantly guided by the idea of ​​" personal regiment ". Disagreements about maintaining the Socialist Law, for which Bismarck stood, became one of the main reasons for his dismissal in 1890. Since his appointment as Prime Minister of Prussia in 1862, Bismarck had been in office longer than the sum of his four successors up to the First World War ( Leo von Caprivi (1890–1894); Prince Chlodwig zu Hohenlohe-Schillingsfürst (1894–1900); Bernhard von Bülow (1900–1909) and Theobald von Bethmann Hollweg (1909–1917)).

The economic depression that followed the “ founder crash ” had social repercussions, which were evident in the increased occurrence of interest groups as well as in intra-social tendencies towards isolation and exclusion. Politically and socially discriminated against were not only the Social Democrats, but increasingly also Jews, whose opponents now described themselves as anti-Semites , gathered in anti-Semite parties, founded an anti-Semite league and drafted an anti-Semite petition. At this time court preacher Adolf Stoecker declared the Jews to be "a danger to German people's life". The following year Eugen Dühring published a book on the “Jewish question” as a race, customs and cultural question, complained in it about the “evil of Judaization and Jewish rule for modern peoples” and considered the possibilities of “de-Judgment”.

By 1890 at the latest, German economic development returned to such a pronounced phase of growth that there is even talk of a “first German economic miracle”, the leading sectors of which included large-scale chemistry , electrical engineering and mechanical engineering . In terms of its share of world industrial production, Germany was in second place behind the USA in 1913, and also in second place behind Great Britain in world trade. For the majority of the working population, the economic upswing also improved living conditions at the turn of the century. This applied not least to the growing industrial workforce, which increasingly organized and represented its interests in trade unions. By contrast, there was hardly any livelihood in domestic work and traditional handicrafts.

The large cruiser SMS von der Tann - the first German battle
cruiser ( launched in 1909)

The economically prosperous empire of this time seemed to many socially influential minds predestined to secure a “ place in the sun ” in the struggle for markets and raw materials . In combination with Wilhelm II's tendency to show off and to increase prestige, this resulted in a hyperactive, unsteady and not very substantial foreign policy, which with many demands and threatening gestures mainly caused unrest. A particularly striking aspect of German world power politics that was steadily increasing in importance and ultimately fatal was the armament of the navy , which Alfred von Tirpitz promoted with the support of, among others, the "Flottenkaiser" and the Pan-German Association . Here was navalism as a notion that world power was based on naval power, quite common at that time internationally. From a rational point of view, however, the fact that the empire in its precarious middle position between the powers France and Russia, who had brought about a balance of interests and entered into an alliance, with its defiant naval armament program, which was unmistakably directed against England, also made this established world power an enemy, is rational hard to explain.

Apart from Austria-Hungary, essentially only Italy was still available for an alliance . After the Morocco crises , the Bosnian crisis and during the Balkan wars , the idea of ​​being encircled increasingly developed in the empire. This was shown at the highest level in the War Council of December 8, 1912 , where the Chief of the General Staff von Moltke spoke of waging the war, which was considered inevitable, the sooner the better. As a result, Wilhelm II spoke out in favor of intensified war preparations with regard to the navy and army, while Chancellor Bethmann-Hollweg, who was not present, relied on diplomatic defusing of the situation for the time being.

The “short 20th century” - from the First World War to the end of the East-West conflict

While the age marked by the rise of the bourgeoisie, industrialization and the rivalry of the imperialist powers also survived the first decade of the 20th century in Germany, the following epoch of intensified global conflicts of the 20th century, in which Germany played a major role, ended , as early as the late 1980s.

First World War (1914-1918)

The alliance constellations between the European powers and the involvement of the Austro-Hungarian multinational state in the long-standing unstable conditions in the Balkans ( Balkan crisis , Balkan wars ) worked together when, after the assassination of the Austrian heir to the throne Franz Ferdinand on June 28, 1914 in Sarajevo, the kuk- On July 23, the monarchy deliberately presented Serbia with an unacceptable ultimatum. This procedure was favored by the " blank check " that Wilhelm II had issued with the German government. On July 28, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia; Germany followed on August 1 with the declaration of war against Russia and on August 3 with that against France. The internationally wrongful German invasion of Belgium, in the Allied propaganda as a desecration of Belgium was called, was the occasion for the Great Britain declared war on Germany on 4 August 1914. Thus developed within a few days of a local war, the First World War, the " seminal catastrophe of the 20th century ”( George Kennan ). In view of the truce policy announced by the emperor and the general mobilization at the beginning of the war, all activities of the peace movement initially dissipated in a wave of enthusiasm for war in large parts of the bourgeois academic classes.

For the first time in history the question of war guilt was raised and sparked discussions that lasted for decades. According to international law, the Versailles Treaty stipulates that “Germany and its allies are responsible for all losses and damage as authors”. After a phase of mutual accusation in the 1920s, the international level later came to the conclusion that Europe slithered over the brink into the boiling cauldron of war in 1914 , according to David Lloyd George in Year 1933). As a result of the Fischer controversy , the opinion arose since the 1960s that, although Germany's long-term planning of the war could not be proven, the irresponsible policy of the German government in the July crisis was decisive for the triggering of the world war. On the other hand, on the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the war, a number of publications have appeared which again focus more on the partial responsibility of Russia, Serbia and France, as well as the states involved as a whole, and generally question the sense of assigning blame.

The chateau forest near Ypres consists only of tree stumps after the intensive artillery bombing (1917)

When, after the first military successes of the German army in the east of the Schlieffen Plan related foray in the West in September 1914 positioner and grave war came to a standstill as the material battles to high losses led to the front and the war economy -notlagen supply shortage and in the domestic civilian population, the initially unanimous support for the Reich government, which had been increasingly dominated by the Supreme Army Command (OHL) under Paul von Hindenburg and Erich Ludendorff since August 1916 , crumbled . It is true that in the 1918 peace treaty of Brest-Litovsk with the Soviet government that emerged from the October Revolution in Russia, a peace that was advantageous from the OHL's point of view was concluded; Nevertheless, when the USA entered the war, the situation of the German army in the west became increasingly untenable, contrary to the war propaganda that was still optimistic in the summer of 1918 .

At the end of September 1918, the OHL surprised the German public with the demand that those responsible for politics should immediately start negotiations on an armistice. This turn led to the October reform , on the basis of which a parliamentary government was formed for the first time , but which would now also be responsible for the outcome of the war. For a short time and unique in its history, Germany was a parliamentary monarchy from October 28 to November 9, 1918 . While efforts were still being made to reach a ceasefire, the naval war command issued the order to the fleet to embark on a final battle against the Royal Navy, designed for the honorable destruction . The ship's crews in Wilhelmshaven and Kiel refused to obey this order, and the resulting Kiel sailors' uprising expanded into the November revolution of workers and soldiers, which eliminated the monarchy in Germany and led to the formation of a parliamentary republic as a result of the political struggle for direction .

Weimar Republic (1918 / 19–1933)

The German Empire 1919–1937

In the midst of the revolutionary unrest, the Republic was declared twice on November 9, 1918: by Philipp Scheidemann with parliamentary objectives, by Karl Liebknecht with a socialist orientation. Under pressure from the revolutionary workers 'and soldiers' councils , a transitional government was formed, consisting of three “people's representatives” each from the majority and independent social democrats . A Reich Councilor Congress in Berlin in December 1918 cleared the way for elections to a constituent national assembly with a large majority , for the first time including women's suffrage . But as the unrest continued - in January 1919 the Spartacus uprising was suppressed by Freikorps troops and its leading figures Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht murdered - the venue for the National Assembly was moved to Weimar . In this respect, too, the Weimar Republic was the result of initial improvisations.

The National Assembly had the task of giving the German Reich a new political order, which took place in the form of the Weimar Constitution , which came into force on August 14, 1919 , and at the same time it functioned as a parliament, voted on laws and budgetary issues, and elected a new head of state ( Reich President Friedrich Ebert ) and formed a broad government coalition, the so-called Weimar coalition , from which the Scheidemann cabinet emerged on February 13, 1919 . Under the post-war conditions, which were extremely difficult both internally and externally, it strived for social pacification and the conversion of the war economy to a peace economy. With this reorganization, socialization measures in certain economic areas were controversial, as were the possibilities and extent of personnel renewal in the areas of administration, justice and the military in order to break with the socio-political structures of the empire. In this regard, there is sometimes talk of an “unfinished revolution”. For the time being, however, the introduction of the eight-hour day , the recognition of the trade unions and the works council law were undisputed .

Berlin daily reports that one dollar costs one million marks in New York, July 1923

The dispute over Germany's signing of the Versailles Treaty negotiated by the victorious powers of the First World War became an internal ordeal and a permanent burden on the Weimar Republic . With territorial assignments , reparation claims and disarmament requirements , the admission was also required that Germany and its allies were the "originators of all losses and all damage", which was interpreted as an official admission of guilt and in Germany was largely understood as a " war guilt lie ". In order not to weaken the German position in the peace negotiations further, documents that burdened the imperial political leadership were kept under lock and key with social democratic support. When the National Assembly finally approved the treaty under the ultimate pressure of the victorious powers, Scheidemann resigned as head of government.

Lasting political instability and anti-republican tendencies accompanied the Weimar Republic. In March 1920, the Kapp Putsch initiated by the opposition military initially drove the Berlin government to flee, but it failed due to determined resistance and a general strike by broad sections of the population. The Ruhr uprising of the Red Ruhr Army was suppressed by the Reich government. Matthias Erzberger and Walther Rathenau were murdered in 1921 and 1922 by right-wing terrorist attackers from the Consul organization as " fulfillment politicians " with regard to the Treaty of Versailles. In 1923 there was a multi-sided threatening state existential crisis : In addition to the great inflation of 1923 due to war financing, reparation obligations and financial policy decisions, in which the thrifty bourgeoisie lost all remaining money reserves, the war against the Ruhr led to separatist activities in the weakened Rhineland . In the Hamburg uprising there were communist power struggles, in Saxony ( Cabinet Zeigner ) and in Thuringia ( Cabinet Frölich II ) the KPD participated in the state governments. In Munich, which was briefly ruled by a Soviet republic in 1919 , the Hitler putsch took place on November 9, 1923 .

Locarno Conference 1925: Gustav Stresemann with Austen Chamberlain (center) and Aristide Briand (right)

The end of the war in the Ruhr and the Great Inflation succeeded in autumn 1923 through a currency reform under the brief Reich Chancellor Gustav Stresemann , who, in cooperation with Reich President Ebert, also brought the other trouble spots under control. With the help of the Dawes Plan , a relative stabilization of the Weimar Republic was achieved from 1924. In an improved financial situation, infrastructure development, housing programs and, in 1927, unemployment insurance were introduced . The talk of the “ golden twenties ” does not have its origins in politically or economically glamorous times, but refers to “the stormy development of a new attitude towards life and the eruptive release of creative intellectual powers in a short decade of imaginable freedom and great diversity intellectual and artistic creation. ”The forces that carried this awakening were opposed by broad conservative currents that were culturally pessimistic and critical of civilization towards the artistic and intellectual avant-garde, for example in painting, literature, theater or architecture.

With the reorganization of the reparation conditions in the Dawes Plan, which was followed by an influx of American credits and investments into Germany, the country's foreign policy isolation after the First World War also came to an end. In the Locarno Treaties , the German Reich assured the recognition of the western borders in accordance with the Versailles Treaty and was admitted to the League of Nations on September 8, 1926 . The foreign ministers of France and Germany, Briand and Stresemann, who shaped this process of understanding, jointly received the Nobel Peace Prize .

Mass misery at the height of the global economic crisis in 1932: the dining room of a homeless asylum in Berlin-Prenzlauer Berg

After the death of Friedrich Ebert, the election of the Reich President in 1925 , from which the 77-year-old Paul von Hindenburg emerged as the winner, who had popularized the stab in the back, was an expression of an increasing shift to the right in the political spectrum in the republic . On the other hand, after the Reichstag election in 1928, a grand coalition of the SPD, DDP , the Center , the BVP and the DVP was formed under the leadership of the Social Democratic Chancellor Hermann Müller . The coalition broke up in March 1930 in the dispute over the financing of the unemployment insurance introduced in 1927, which had been underfunded since spring 1929. In addition, the came Young Plan , which indeed lowered the annual reparations, but Germany transferred the responsibility for the transfer itself, and by the York New stock market crash in October 1929 triggered the global economic crisis , which ended the influx of American loans to Germany. Whether the rupture of the grand coalition is due to the divergent socio-political positions of its wing parties, the SPD and DVP, or to the declared intention of the Reich President and Reichwehr leadership to force the SPD out of the government has been a matter of dispute since 1957.

Ballot papers for the 1932 presidential election

Hindenburg appointed the center man Heinrich Brüning , who distinguished himself as a financial politician, as Reich Chancellor and supported him from 1930 to 1932 with all the powers that were at his disposal under the Weimar Constitution : the right to issue emergency ordinances under Article 48 of the Constitution, the possibility of dissolving the Reichstag under Article 25 with subsequent ones New elections and the appointment of the Reich Chancellor without election by the Reichstag in accordance with Article 53. After the Reichstag for the first time rejected a Briining emergency ordinance with a majority and thereby repealed it, it was dissolved, while Briining remained and continued to govern by emergency ordinance in the period up to the new elections. When the right-wing extremist National Socialist German Workers' Party (NSDAP) grew by leaps and bounds in the Reichstag elections on September 14, 1930 , the SPD decided to tolerate Brüning's emergency ordinance regime for the time being, while the opposition forces on the extreme right were in the Harzburg Front rallied. With tough austerity programs, tax increases and cuts in benefits, Brüning tried to avoid renewed inflation and to make concessions from abroad in terms of reparations, but in the wake of the banking crisis he made the economic recession worse . He irritated France and Great Britain with plans for a German-Austrian customs union .

After the Reich presidential election in 1932 , Hindenburg withdrew his support at the end of May and instead appointed Franz von Papen as Reich Chancellor, who reinforced the anti-parliamentary thrust of the presidential regime with his “Cabinet of Barons” . His authoritarian course culminated in the Prussian strike of July 20, 1932, with which he deposed the executive government under Social Democratic leadership and, in coordination with Hindenburg , took her place as Reich Commissioner for Prussia. Papen had hardly any supporters in the Reichstag; Unless the Reichstag had just been dissolved, its emergency ordinances were rejected by drastic majorities. Voting behavior became even more radicalized under the impression of ever increasing mass unemployment and social hardship in the world economic crisis. The two Reichstag dissolutions carried out in 1932 in the Reichstag elections in both July and November resulted in the NSDAP becoming the strongest force in the Reichstag and forming a negative majority of opponents of democracy with the communists, so that republican government majorities were a long way off.

Since Papen met with abrupt rejection in the Reichstag even after the November election, Hindenburg made Reichswehr General Kurt von Schleicher Chancellor by initially refusing Adolf Hitler 's office . But when his “Querfront” failed, with which he split off parts of the NSDAP and wanted to win them over to an overarching trade union initiative, Hindenburg, under the influence of his advisors, found himself ready to make Hitler , who was supposedly “framed” by Papen and Hugenberg, Chancellor on January 30, 1933 to appoint.

National Socialism and World War II (1933–1945)

Reich Chancellor Adolf Hitler welcomes Reich President Paul von Hindenburg on March 21, 1933, the day of Potsdam , on the occasion of the constitution of the newly elected Reichstag on March 5th. It was Hitler's only public appearance in cut and top hat.
Book burning on Opernplatz in Berlin on May 10, 1933
Nazi marching column with swastika flags on the way back from the Nazi party rally (presumably 1938) on the Fürth / Nuremberg city ​​limits , anti-Jewish propaganda on the town sign and children with Hitler salutes . In the background a factory building of the " Aryanized ", previously Jewish company JW Spear .
Torch-bearers on their way to Berlin for the
1936 Olympic Games, which were staged as a Nazi propaganda spectacle
Greater German Reich 1944

The era of National Socialism began on January 30, 1933 with Hitler's Reich Chancellorship . The main features of the steps leading to the dictatorship were already planned when Hitler took office and were accelerated within a few months in the process of " seizing power " by eliminating both political opponents and the initial government partners, removing obstructive constitutional provisions. A renewed dissolution of the Reichstag by Hindenburg on January 31 was followed on February 4, 1933 as a reaction to KPD strike calls by the Reich President's decree for the protection of the German people, restricting freedom of expression, the press and freedom of assembly. The Reichstag fire on 27./28. February, for which the Nazi leadership immediately blamed the communists as arsonists, provided the occasion for an even more comprehensive emergency decree before the new parliamentary elections scheduled for March 5 , which, as it turned out, put practically all protection of fundamental political rights in effect . Prepared lists immediately led to a wave of arrests against prominent Nazi opponents on the left. The Reichstag elections held under these circumstances gave the Hitler cabinet a parliamentary majority, but not the NSDAP alone. With the Enabling Act of March 24, 1933 , agreed upon when the government was formed , which received the necessary two-thirds majority after the cancellation of the communist mandates and the overwhelming approval of the Center , the government and, in particular, Chancellor Hitler, became independent of any parliamentary approval, even with regard to constitutional amendments. The process of harmonization aimed at the federal states , the administrative authorities , the trade unions and the political parties could now be accelerated. On July 14, 1933, after the ban or self-dissolution of all parties except the NSDAP, the NSDAP became the only permitted party in Germany with the law against the formation of new parties . The Nazi opponents, who had been arbitrarily arrested in large numbers since February 1933, were largely imprisoned in concentration camps.

As an attractive counter-image to the fight against and destruction of their actual opponents and supposed enemies, the National Socialists propagated a closed national community in which everyone should make themselves useful and move forward. With her and through her, the "shameful peace" of Versailles was to be erased and the German Empire rose to new strength and size. It was necessary to eliminate social class differences, to recognize the equivalence of physical and intellectual work, to bring together the " national comrades " of different origins in joint tasks. Organizations requiring participation such as the Hitler Youth , the Bund Deutscher Mädel , Reichsarbeitsdienst , military service and a large number of other institutions, among which the leisure and travel organization Kraft durch Freude (KdF) enjoyed particular popularity, served this purpose. The Reich Ministry for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda under Joseph Goebbels was the main instrument responsible for the dissemination and implementation of the Nazi worldview in all structures of state and people , which was also subject to censorship of the published opinion in writing and images. On May 10, 1933, he was the main speaker at the book burning on Opernplatz , which was organized by students from the Friedrich Wilhelms University “against the un-German spirit”. Especially among the young academics, the NSDAP supporters were already particularly well represented during the Weimar Republic, in their eyes the party stood for overcoming encrusted structures, for modernity, mobility and equality: “The high expectations of the major modernization project To be able to participate in Germany itself under the auspices of a dynamic nationalism apparently corresponded credibly to the messianic vision of a - in comparison with all other party politicians - quite unusual charismatic "leader" with an extraordinary "power of will" and the rhetorical ability to achieve great goals incontrovertible certainty. ”Since the beginning of April 1933 there was a main office for press and propaganda of the United German Student Unions , which asked each student in a circular to“ clean up ”his and his friends' libraries and to ensure that“ exclude Lich folk-conscious literature is at home in it. "

Those who, on the other hand, were not counted by the National Socialists as part of the national community, who appeared to them to be useless, held dissenting views or stood in their way, were discriminated and persecuted. This was true, as the political murders in connection with the alleged Röhm putsch , with which the SA was disempowered in favor of the Wehrmacht and the benefit of the SS , even for possible opposition within the NSDAP against Hitler's course. The Christian churches of the Catholics and the Protestants were allowed to go after the Center Party had disappeared as a political actor and unless there was isolated opposition. With the Vatican one was Concordat concluded, inter alia, the denominational schools and Catholic religious instruction assured. There was already an organized boycott against Jews in Germany in April 1933 . In 1935 they were expatriated by the Nuremberg Laws , in 1938 during and after the Reichspogromnacht , in which rioting uniformed SA and SS men destroyed more than 1,400 synagogues in Germany, often severely and sometimes fatally mistreated and robbed of their economic existence. The persecution of Gypsies against Sinti and Roma and the persecution of Germans with mental illnesses or congenital disabilities , who were subject to the law for the prevention of genetically ill offspring , claimed further victims in line with National Socialist "racial hygiene" . The Nazi propaganda described such people as "life unworthy of life". In the context of the murders of the sick under National Socialism , they were murdered en masse from 1939 in Aktion T4 and from 1943 in Aktion Brandt .

Favored by the incipient economic recovery and falling unemployment - regardless of the specific National Socialist employment programs, of which the motorway expansion is the best known - the Nazi dictatorship and its “ Führer ” found rapidly growing approval. A few days after Hindenburg's death, Hitler had himself confirmed as leader and chancellor by the German people in the “ referendum on the head of state of the German Reich ” in August 1934 . The Saar referendum in 1935, the invasion of German troops into the Rhineland in 1936, which was demilitarized in accordance with the Versailles Treaty, and the annexation of Austria in March 1938 were propagandistically celebrated as steps towards a new German greatness. According to his program laid down in “ Mein Kampf ”, Hitler was also concerned with conquering “living space” for the German people in the east through the subjugation of the Soviet Union . As early as 1936 he issued a secret four-year plan with the stipulation that the armed forces should be upgraded to operational readiness within four years and that the German economy should be ready for war. These plans were financed by hidden national debts that could only have been paid off with the profits of the war. As early as the autumn of 1938, in the dispute over the Sudetenland, Hitler wanted a military intervention with more far-reaching options, but then had to be satisfied with the Munich Agreement . With the " smashing of the rest of the Czech Republic " and the ultimatum to Lithuania to return the Memelland in March 1939, the appeasement policy and unhindered expansion of the Nazi state ended. Great Britain and France gave a guarantee of assistance in the event of a German attack on Poland .

Starved Soviet prisoners of war in Mauthausen concentration camp
Buchenwald near Weimar on April 24, 1945

With the surprising Hitler-Stalin Pact , which favored the avoidance of a two-front war , Hitler saw the attack on Poland as a manageable risk. On September 1, 1939, the German Reich began the Second World War with the attack on Poland . The Blitzkrieg was so successful from Poland via Norway and in the campaign in the west that Hitler commanded Operation Barbarossa and the war against the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941, despite the air battle for England , which failed due to the energetic resistance under Winston Churchill . The German advance was stopped by the underestimated Red Army at the onset of winter in the Battle of Moscow . But on December 11, 1941, Hitler also declared war on the German side of the USA, which had just entered the war after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor . The military eastward expansion of National Socialist Germany aimed at “living space” conquest did not provide any sparing for the local civilian population either. Rather, forced labor and starvation aimed at a radical decimation of the Slavic “subhumans”, in their place Aryan “ masters ” should rule as colonists in a future “ Greater Germanic Empire ”. In the General Plan East the "scrapping" of 31 million Slavs was planned, in the protocol of the Wannsee Conference the extermination of 11 million Jews as part of the Holocaust . Between 1941 and 1944 the number of forced laborers deported to Germany rose from three to eight million. The Auschwitz-Monowitz forced labor camp attached to the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp belonged to the Upper Silesian chemical complex, which assumed dimensions that were hardly inferior to those of the Ruhr area. Hitler had threatened to exterminate the Jews in Europe at the beginning of 1939. From September 1941 they were forced to wear the yellow star. At the Wannsee Conference in January 1942, responsibilities and organization regarding the “ final solution to the Jewish question ” were decided after the killing of the Einsatzgruppen of the Security Police and the SD had already started in July 1941. After deportation to ghettos such as Theresienstadt or the Warsaw Ghetto , the murder of Jews in occupied Eastern Europe began in the autumn of 1941 with gas chambers and incineration facilities. In addition to Auschwitz-Birkenau, Belzec , Sobibor and Treblinka belonged to the large extermination camps as part of “ Aktion Reinhardt ” . Around six million European Jews had been murdered by the end of the war, including over three million Polish Jews.

After the military front of the Nazi Reich and its allies had reached their greatest extent in the east in 1942, the change began with the lost battle for Stalingrad , which on the German side resulted in a war of forced retreats, interim offensives, Surrender bans and perseverance slogans resulted; and not only in the east, but also in North Africa and in Italy of the allied fascist leader Benito Mussolini ; after the Anglo-American invasion of Normandy in June 1944, finally also in the west. After German bombers first carried out the air raid on Gernika in the Spanish Civil War , The Blitz on London in the Battle of Britain and the air raids on Coventry , the air war in World War II shifted to major German cities from 1943 onwards. Allied air forces, including the RAF Bomber Command , wreaked havoc with high-explosive and incendiary bombs . Dresden , which had been spared until the end, was reduced to rubble and ashes in February 1945 .

The resistance against National Socialism remained limited in view of the looming defeat in the war and was controllable by the terror apparatus ( Reich Security Main Office , Gestapo ), especially since the propaganda swore to the " final victory " until the end. In the contemporary environment practically ineffective, the now famous leafleting the remained white rose , or by members of the Kreisau Circle inspired assassination attempt on 20 July 1944 , the Claus von Stauffenberg unsuccessfully Hitler committed. The public commitment of the Münster bishop von Galen against the “ destruction of life unworthy of life ” had some effect . As a rule, active members of the resistance were treated as high and national traitors and executed, sometimes without a judgment by the People's Court .

In the last months of the war, the advance of the Red Army to the imperial borders led to the flight and expulsion of the German population in the east, partly due to the displacement of Poland to the west by the Soviet Union . More than 12 million Germans were affected, over two million of whom were killed. During the Battle of Berlin , Hitler wrote his political will and shot himself on April 30, 1945. The German surrender is dated May 8, 1945. The arrest of the last Reich government under Karl Dönitz in the special area Mürwik did not take place until May 23, 1945.

Divided Germany (1945–1990)

The four zones of occupation according to the Potsdam Agreement , the free Saarland and the German eastern territories placed under Polish and Soviet administration (status: June 1947 to April 1949)

The sealed with the surrender defeat of the "Third Reich" at the end of " total war " was a historic turning point even more penetrating than the World War starting in 1918. It led to the division of Germany , and from the occupied zones of the four victorious powers in the context of the Allied Control Council finally two German states surrendered. The division of Germany also meant the de facto loss of all areas beyond the Oder and Neisse rivers that had come under German sovereignty since the medieval settlement in the east . The rift between the three Western powers and the Soviet Union, which led to the Cold War and which was caused by systemic political and economic conflicts of interest, resulted in a four and a half decades process of division with regard to the political systems and the development of civic identities in both German states. It is true that many GDR residents were still aware of the togetherness of the Germans, as was to be seen in 1989/90; the different socialization - but and living conditions in East and West also act after reunification in many areas of individual and social life by as simplistic in the image of the "wall in the head" between "Ossis" and "Westerners" to Expression comes.

Occupation (from 1945)

German children from the Polish-administered areas arrived in a small town in West Germany, August 1948.

The end of war and Nazi rule liberated the large number of those persecuted by the regime, interned in camps and mortally threatened, including Jews and deported forced laborers, mainly of eastern origin and prisoners of war, as well as the variously motivated resistance and internal emigrants . For the rest of the German population, too, the terrible time of the night air raids and the destructive rage of Hitler and his followers, which ultimately even inwardly directed destruction, came to an end, who did not want to leave industrial plants, power plants or any vital facility undamaged to the Allies and who wanted to leave the scorched earth -The command ”of their leader tried to implement as thoroughly as possible. Many recipients of absurd orders and slogans to persevere now refused to sacrifice themselves and tried to save their own skin. The majority of Germans, including those displaced, bombed out, starving and raped women with their families, did not experience any liberation from National Socialism , but a general collapse and the misery that went with it.

The agreements made by the main victorious powers at the Potsdam Conference envisaged a fundamental departure from the Nazi structures for Germany in various respects: denazification through strict demilitarization and democratization , political decentralization combined with economic decartelation and new reparation demands : the dismantling of industrial plants should reduce the war damage the anti-Hitler coalition to partially offset what the Soviet Union in particular put into practice in its zone of occupation, the Soviet occupation zone . All German patents and industrial secrets were confiscated by the USA in 1945–1947, according to John Gimbel a radical robbery of German technical knowledge, worth almost 10 billion US dollars. At the end of 1950, the dismantling in the Federal Republic was stopped. Based on the plans of Jean Monnet (1946–50), France called for the Saar and Ruhr areas to be separated from Germany. The Ruhr authority was replaced in 1952 by the coal and steel union; and after the referendum carried out under the Paris Treaties , the Saarland was annexed to the then Federal Republic on January 1, 1957. In the context of denazification, those who were primarily responsible and partly responsible in the NSDAP, the state apparatus and the economy should be held accountable, removed from their positions and punished, depending on their burden. The surviving main culprits were indicted in the Nuremberg trials of war crimes and crimes against humanity and, depending on the evidence and the size of the guilt, sentenced to imprisonment or to death, some were acquitted. A denazification process was developed for the broader population in the western zones, with extensive questionnaires being used in the arbitration chamber proceedings to divide into five categories, from war criminals and accused to followers to exonerated. The proportion of people classified as contaminated in this way was low. In the Soviet Zone there was no questionnaire, but intensely and persistently propagated anti-fascism and more than half a million dismissals of former National Socialists by 1948. Nevertheless, for example, more than half of all school directors in the GDR were former NSDAP party members in the early 1950s .

August 1947: Women and girls who were taken prisoner by the Soviets in the Polte Nord homecoming camp. In Romania and Yugoslavia tens of thousands of “ethnic Germans” between the ages of 18 and 40 were seized in December 1944, the majority of them women. 16 percent of the prisoners did not survive the labor camps in the Donets Basin.

Many German forced laborers in the Soviet Union were imprisoned soldiers of the Eastern Army. In addition, the Americans left some of their prisoners to the Soviets. The last returnees came to Germany in 1955.

Emblem of the SED

Politically and economically, the occupying powers set the course in their zones in accordance with their own objectives and system logic. While a land reform for the expropriation of large landowners and the creation of smallholder livelihoods was carried out in the Soviet-occupied zone as early as 1945 , nothing like this happened in the West. To this end, the American occupying power intervened against an option provided in the constitution of the state of Hesse for the socialization mainly of basic industries.

The clearer the East-West opposition developed on a global scale, the more clearly it was reflected in the great powers' German policy. While the Soviet occupation forces enforced the compulsory unification of the SPD and KPD in their zone and ruled out free elections for the future after the first SED failures, the Western powers supported the formation of competing parties within the framework of a democratic pluralism . The founding of various parties in the Soviet Zone, on the other hand, only apparently had a democratic function. The motto brought back from Moscow by the Ulbricht group for the East German reconstruction was valid from the start : "It has to look democratic, but we have to have everything in hand."

General Dwight D. Eisenhower and Lt. General Lucius D. Clay at Gatow Airfield in Berlin

In the Truman Doctrine of 1947 the USA offered its help to all countries threatened by “ totalitarianism ”: the Marshall Plan enabled West Germany to play an important role again soon among the market economies of the western world. The merger of the American and British occupation zones to form the bizone prepared for this in 1947 , which was expanded into the trizone in April 1949 with French participation . With the London Six Power Conference in March 1948, the western side set the course for the establishment of a German state separated from the Soviet Zone, which provoked protests from the Soviet Union and resulted in its withdrawal from the Allied Control Council. The Soviet occupying power responded to the currency reform in the western zones and in the western sectors of Berlin in June 1948 with a currency reform in the Soviet Zone and in East Berlin as well as with the Berlin blockade , so that the residents of West Berlin were in danger of being cut off from all supplies. Lord Mayor Ernst Reuter succeeded in convincing the American military governor Lucius D. Clay of the desire for freedom and of the close ties between West Berliners and the Western Allies and to win them over to the establishment of the Berlin Airlift together with the British Royal Air Force .

In the Frankfurt documents handed over to the Prime Ministers of the West German states on July 1, 1948 , the Western powers formulated their demands and conditions regarding the establishment of a West German state. In two conferences until the end of the month ( Rittersturz Conference and Niederwald Conference ), the West German state leaders gave in to this request on the condition that the western state to be established was to be designed as a temporary measure and that the goal of a later reunification of all Germans in one state would be expressly retained. Therefore, after preparatory work by the Constitutional Convention on Herrenchiemsee, a parliamentary council , which met in Bonn , was commissioned to draft a constitution instead of a constitution . The Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany , ratified by the West German states except Bavaria and approved by the military governors of the Western powers , was promulgated on May 23, 1949.

In response to these events and in parallel, preparations were made in the Soviet Occupation Zone for the establishment of a separate state according to Soviet guidelines: the People's Congress movement resulted in a German People's Council dominated by SED members , which presented and resolved a draft constitution close to the SED again passed the Third German People's Congress. This laid the groundwork for the state division of Germany.

Federal Republic of Germany (1949–1990)

Federal Chancellor Konrad Adenauer with Theodor Heuss , two days after his adoption on September 14, 1959

In the elections for the first German Bundestag on August 14, 1949, the newly formed parties of the CDU / CSU , FDP and DP obtained a share of the vote that was sufficient to give the CDU chairman Konrad Adenauer , who had already been elected president in the Parliamentary Council, a majority (his own) to be elected Chancellor . The SPD around Kurt Schumacher and Carlo Schmid was then the leading opposition party for a decade and a half. The FDP chairman Theodor Heuss became the first Federal President .

The founding phase of the Federal Republic of Germany was characterized by coping with the aftermath of the war and economic reconstruction. After the rubble women had cleared away the rubble, the general supply situation had stabilized and food stamps such as black market purchases were no longer needed, politics and everyday life were about eliminating the housing shortage and establishing a functioning social market economy . Its driving force and leading advocate had been Ludwig Erhard since his time as economic director of the Bizone , now Minister of Economics in the Adenauer cabinet and later his successor as Federal Chancellor. Erhard's decision with the release of prices was put to a tough test until 1950, when the unemployment figure rose from 1948 (400,000) to over two million. Only when the price increase of the Korean crisis turned into a Korean boom , which brought the underutilized production capacities of West German industry into play, stimulated the export economy and brought about the breakthrough to sustained economic growth , did the economic miracle get under way. Full employment , growing prosperity and the breakthrough to a consumer society were the result.

The economic boom gave rise to leeway for distribution, which was also reflected in social policy. Not only higher wages and increases in incomes, but also the participation of pensioners in the growth through the introduction of the dynamic pension in 1957 ensured that workers, trade unions and social democracy no longer rely on breaking up, but on supplementing the market economy by expanding the welfare state . A strong impetus towards a compensatory social policy in the German post-war society came with the necessary integration of the millions of displaced people from Eastern Europe. Specifically aimed at the burden equalization law of 1952, which through long-term distributed, moderate property taxes of the undamaged, the penniless added u. a. with integration assistance, household contents allowance and building loans.

The main foreign policy goal of the Adenauer government after the Petersberg Agreement was the restoration of full state sovereignty over the western victorious powers in the early years of the Federal Republic . This came to fruition in the Federal Republic's strong ties to the West, determined by mutual interests , which led to the creation of the European Coal and Steel Community in 1951 and thus laid the foundation for the European Union . With the entry into force of the Paris Treaties in 1955, the desired sovereignty was achieved and in the course of this the occupation statute was terminated by the Germany Treaty . The rights of the Allies were replaced by - considerably limited - reservation rights . The Korean War had already given rise to the rearmament of the West German state, even against considerable internal resistance ( without me movement ). In 1955 the Federal Republic became a member of the Western Defense Alliance NATO . The former occupying powers kept their own military locations and facilities in the federal territory as protecting powers. In addition, the barracks and training areas for the newly founded Bundeswehr were built . In Germany policy, Adenauer strictly pursued the Federal Republic's claim to sole representation for all Germans and the state's non-recognition of the GDR. The Hallstein Doctrine was also intended to prevent its recognition by other states. Adenauer showed himself to be flexible towards the Soviet Union in order to achieve the return of the remaining German prisoners of war from Soviet labor camps in his Moscow negotiations in 1955 .

Since the early 1960s, the German public received a new, effective impetus to deal with the Nazi past with the Eichmann trial in Jerusalem and the trials taking place in German courts against those responsible in the German extermination camps of the SS, e.g. B. the Auschwitz trials initiated at the instigation of Fritz Bauer and Hermann Langbein . In the statute of limitations debate in 1965, the German Bundestag decided to extend the statute of limitations for murder and aiding and abetting murder during the Nazi era. In parts of German society (especially among students and academics), a change in consciousness and values ​​began at the same time. Compared to “new” values ​​such as emancipation , in particular women's emancipation , participation and quality of life , the functional values ​​in the industrial society such as discipline, reliability and willingness to subordinate have receded.

The education system had been in ferment since the educational catastrophe proclaimed by Georg Picht . The West German student movement of the 1960s , which rebelled against the full-time university with slogans such as: “ Under the gowns - Muff of 1000 years ”, escalated to extensive social criticism against the unprocessed Nazi past of the father generation, against the passing of the emergency laws , the Vietnam War in the USA , the capitalist system and the exploitation of third world countries by the western industrialized countries. The most important bearer of the protest movement was the so-called '68 generation . The shooting of the student Benno Ohnesorg by the policeman Karl-Heinz Kurras during the demonstration on June 2, 1967 in West Berlin against the Iranian Shah and the 1968 assassination attempt on Rudi Dutschke , the most important theoretician of the student movement, led to a radicalization of the extra-parliamentary opposition .

Schmidt in 1981 during a visit to the GDR with Erich Honecker

At the government level, too, a change began in the mid-1960s: In the grand coalition under Federal Chancellor Kurt Georg Kiesinger , the SPD first came to government; in the social-liberal coalition under Willy Brandt it became the leading political force. "Dare more democracy" was the motto of the government declaration for a process of socio-political reforms that is now beginning, including the expansion of educational opportunities through the introduction of the BAföG , the lowering of the voting age , a reform of the criminal law , the new regulation of abortions (§ 218 StGB ) as well as a works constitution law for the purpose of co-determination of employee representatives. The 1968 movement split into different political directions at the same time. Various communist-inspired subgroups were threatened by the radical decree from 1972 to 1979 , while reform-minded advocates of system change began the “ march through the institutions ”. The department store arson on April 2, 1968 in Frankfurt am Main marked the beginning of the RAF terrorism , which became a serious challenge for the government of Chancellor Helmut Schmidt . Effective crisis management was also demanded from Schmidt in terms of economic policy, especially with regard to dealing with the consequences of the oil price shock that hit the western industrialized countries that were dependent on Middle Eastern oil imports at the end of 1973. After years of lush economic growth, the Federal Republic fell into a recession in 1975 with rising unemployment figures.

Helmut Kohl as Federal Chancellor (1989)

However, there was a change of government again only in 1982, when the commonalities of the social and liberal coalition in social and economic policy were exhausted and the FDP under the leadership of Hans-Dietrich Genscher supported the election of the opposition leader Helmut Kohl as Chancellor in a constructive vote of no confidence . The new elections that followed in March 1983 not only confirmed the new Christian-liberal coalition , but also the Greens' entry into the Bundestag for the first time . They provided a reservoir is for the new left , for the women's movement , for the peace movement in the face of rearmament debate as for ecologically interested, environmentalists and opponents of nuclear power , especially in the wake of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster these topics provocative forms of occurrence and an accentuated 1986. With Equality policies for women and men became a challenge for the other parties in everyday parliamentary life. The environmental protection policy that had already begun in the Brandt government with the establishment of a federal agency for environmental affairs was continued with the creation of the Federal Environment Ministry by the Kohl government in 1986.

Monument with a plaque depicting Brandt's kneeling on Willy-Brandt-Platz in Warsaw

But above all in foreign policy, continuity has been preserved across all changes of government during the time of the Federal Republic. The connection to the west remained the firm foundation even after the construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961 and despite the subsequent efforts to achieve a modus vivendi with the eastern rulers. The new Ostpolitik initiated by the Brandt- Scheel government , which led to contractual recognition of the status quo and the like. a. towards the Soviet Union, the People's Republic of Poland and the GDR and, in return, facilitated domestic German travel and visitor traffic as well as a contractually secured status for West Berlin , was continued uninterrupted by the Kohl-Genscher government. This was also evident during Erich Honecker's visit to the Federal Republic of Germany in 1987 , the first and only one of the GDR heads of state.

Chancellor Kohl, who was always closely associated with the goal of German reunification, reacted flexibly to the situation when the Wall came down on November 9, 1989. The 10-point program presented in the German Bundestag on November 28th to overcome the division of Germany and Europe was followed by a meeting with the new GDR Prime Minister Hans Modrow in Dresden on December 19, 1989 and a mass rally in the afternoon, which Kohl felt was urgent The East Germans' desire for unity underlined. He left Dresden "with the conviction that the GDR regime was on the verge of collapse and that there was no longer any alternative to reunification in the near future."

German Democratic Republic (1949–1990)

Foundation of the German Democratic Republic at the 9th meeting of the People's Council in
Berlin in 1949

On October 11, 1949, Wilhelm Pieck was elected President of the GDR and Otto Grotewohl as Prime Minister of the GDR government by the provisional People's Chamber , which emerged from the German People's Council (elections to the People's Chamber took place for the first time on October 15, 1950, based on the unit list principle). The actual center of political power, however, was the Politburo of the SED , which retained control over all important initiatives and decisions of the People's Chamber and the government. Walter Ulbricht , who was elected General Secretary of the SED in July 1950, exercised the greatest personal influence on the structure of the power relations in the early years of the GDR . In accordance with the principle of democratic centralism , not only were the important decisions taken within the closest SED leadership circle, but also enforced with binding effect for the subordinate organizations of the party and the state. Along this line, the politically uninfluential states were dissolved as part of the district reforms in the GDR in July 1952 and replaced by 14 districts, which in turn were dominated by the associated SED branches, as were the 217 districts subordinate to the districts. The most important lever for enforcing the party line in practice was the SED's cadre policy , by means of which all important positions in state and society were filled by people who met the specific eligibility criteria according to SED guidelines.

Mao , Stalin and Ulbricht, 1949

Also following the Soviet pattern, the economy was oriented centrally with the first five-year plan in 1951; in the following year the first state- owned enterprises (VEB) and the first agricultural production cooperative (LPG) were formed. At the same time, the SED increased the pressure on all those inside and outside the SED who deviated from party guidelines by criminalizing and judging their opponents. Spying on and providing incriminating material was mainly taken over by the employees of the Ministry for State Security (MfS or “Stasi” for short) founded in 1950, the party's “shield and sword” until the end of the GDR.

Erich Honecker (left) and Leonid Brezhnev

In fact, there was resistance throughout the four decades that the GDR existed. Before 1989, however, there was only one broad popular uprising against the SED regime, namely with the uprising of June 17, 1953 , which was directed against increased pressure to perform in the workplace. The main aim of increasing labor standards was to cover the high armament costs incurred in the course of the mutual German rearmament as a result of the Korean War and the hardening of the East-West conflict. After the popular uprising was suppressed with the help of the Soviet military and tanks, millions of people decided to flee the GDR until the Berlin Wall was built in 1961 , which had serious economic and ideological consequences for this state. When the possibility of escape ceased, the SED regime was given the opportunity to push ahead with the expansion of socialist society; For the majority of the GDR residents, on the other hand, it was now a matter of adjusting to the existing conditions and to come to terms with the system.

FDJ students as harvest workers in the Leipzig district in August 1978

In the inwardly directed cultural policy, the SED leadership vacillated between phases of cautious liberalization - also with regard to Western influences - and such rigid ideological hardening, depending on current political opportunities. The hopes of reform socialism associated with more freedoms that arose with the Prague Spring 1968 were destroyed with the suppression by the Warsaw Pact states with the participation of the GDR. When Erich Honecker took over from his political foster father Ulbricht in the GDR government with Soviet support in May 1971 , the social revolution in the GDR had essentially already been carried out and the visionary utopian expectations faded. Rather, the "design of the developed socialist society" was propagated within the framework of "real socialism" ".

Education to become a socialist personality played an essential role , with the aim of “ respecting work, loving the Soviet Union and defending the borders ” (if necessary with armed force). The entire education system in the GDR served to develop such personalities , not only in schools, but also in party-affiliated youth organizations: on the one hand, the pioneer organization Ernst Thälmann with the 6- to 10-year-old young pioneers and the 10- to 14-year-old Thälmann pioneers; on the other hand, the Free German Youth (FDJ) for 14 to 25 year olds, which included two thirds to four fifths of teenagers and young adults during the Honecker era. In addition to flag roll calls, ideological instructions, singing songs, target practice and tent camps, participants were also encouraged to participate in so-called youth objects. These were work assignments of various kinds, which in 1974 focused on 68,370 objects and employed 854,912 young people. With the youth consecration tied to the school framework , which - with the exception of a few with mostly strong church ties - obliged young people in the GDR to take a socialist vow, a custom that had a lasting effect was shaped in the GDR. The importance of national defense and border security for all areas of society, emphasized by Honecker, was another special feature of the GDR, in which compulsory military instruction was given in all schools from 1978 . Honecker's wife Margot Honecker , 1963–1989 Minister for Public Education , was solely responsible for managing youth welfare in the GDR , which increasingly took on repressive traits.

In the women’s and family policy in the GDR , a focus on women-oriented work-life balance was a priority, and for women in the GDR, their own work was the norm. Various measures contributed to promoting a high level of employment among women, in particular the establishment of a comprehensive childcare system with crèches , kindergartens and after-school care. Increases in child benefits , extended maternity leave and job guarantees also contributed to the fact that fertility increased by a third between 1973 and 1980. In the workplace, women as men to collectives summarized that in socialist competition , typically as brigades could get through high productivity bonuses. The cohesion of such collectives also extended to extra-company activities such as joint birthday parties, excursions, visits to exhibitions and the theater, as well as taking care of problems and concerns of individual members. In the course of the work and social life organized in this way by the state, "the collective inscribed itself as a team, as a school of communication and its limits, as a refuge of collective work experience and social control in everyday experience in the GDR."

But when it came to questions of vacation, mobility and the supply of consumer goods, people were dependent on what state planning provided for and what was produced and offered. Despite subsidy-related low prices for basic foodstuffs, public transport, rents and books, the GDR was often experienced as a misguided shortage economy . There were bottlenecks in the GDR in particular for high-end goods. But if you had access to western foreign exchange, you could get these goods in the Intershop . In some cases long waiting times were incurred for the distribution of popular vacation spots by the FDGB vacation service , for the needs-based allocation of housing and for the delivery of motor vehicles. The regular waiting period for the Trabant small car, which was still most affordable in the GDR at 13,000 marks and cost an average annual income, was 14 years in the GDR's late phase.

Achieving and helping to determine the “world level” in production was the slogan given by the GDR leadership in the pursuit of internal and external recognition. With regard to the latter, important advances were made in the first half of the 1970s when the Basic Treaty , the mutual establishment of permanent representations in Bonn and East Berlin and a transit agreement with foreign currencies were negotiated with the Federal Republic of Germany . With the admission of the two German states to the United Nations , the GDR achieved international equality, which was underlined by the co-signing of the CSCE Final Act in 1975. The GDR achieved outstanding international successes in some areas, for example at the Olympic Games, through targeted promotion of up-and-coming sporting talents and a state compulsory doping system in GDR competitive sports .

The fact that the internal social acceptance of the SED regime remained precarious was shown by the expatriation of the songwriter Wolf Biermann in 1976, which led to a broad wave of protests and in many cases strengthened resigned tendencies regarding the reformability of the system of rule. With reference to the human rights guarantees of the CSCE Final Act , more and more citizens applied for legal exit from the GDR. From around 32,000 applicants in 1984, the number grew to over 110,000 in 1988, despite waiting times for many years and social disadvantages. The situation was also unstable in other ways. For the most highly developed standard of living of the GDR population compared to all other Eastern Bloc countries was based on an increasingly dramatic national debt, which assumed hopeless features because the SED leadership under Honecker did not want to cut back on the various subsidies in order to avoid additional dissatisfaction in the To stir up the population. After the drastic cut in Soviet oil deliveries in 1981, the crisis in the GDR's state finances took on ever more dramatic features, which could only be bridged for a short time by West German foreign exchange inflows from trade and contracts as well as repeated billions in loans: “Only improvisation and the western drip of foreign currency were able to make the ailing planned economy possible to keep going halfway. ”Nonetheless, the supply situation of the population deteriorated noticeably, even for everyday goods; and the necessary investments to maintain the substance of residential buildings and industrial plants did not materialize, which the popular saying bitterly commented: "Create ruins without weapons!"

Monday demonstration on January 8, 1990 in Leipzig .

In the 1980s, opposition and resistance in the GDR increased among the generation that had grown up after the Wall was built. Protest groups dealt with human rights issues, arms escalation and environmental destruction, with the causes of impoverishment in the Third World and with the prospects of a Europe without borders. An internationally oriented peace movement , often organized in local groups under church protection , which helped to organize the Olof Palme Peace March in September 1987 , agreed with Mikhail Gorbachev when he changed the direction of Soviet policy with glasnost and perestroika and agreed to the “ socialist brother states ” independent future design persisted. The GDR leadership, which rejected any change of course and set about censoring even the Soviet media and duping their subscribers, became increasingly isolated.

The rush of problems - from financial problems, the deteriorating supply situation of the population, a growing protest movement against the fraudulent local elections of May 1989 and the masses of GDR residents pouring out across the Hungarian border, which has been open since June - had the now disillusioned and dissatisfied in the ranks of the SED Confronted government leadership apart from local violent attacks, internment and threats of violence to counter. After the triumph of the Leipzig Monday demonstrators on October 9 and the fall of the Berlin Wall as a result of the mass onslaught on November 9, 1989, SED rule came to an end. After the change of power from Honecker to Egon Krenz and Hans Modrow to Lothar de Maizière, the GDR itself, which was now shaped by civil rights activists, was absorbed into reunified Germany within a year.

United Germany since 1990

With their peaceful revolution, the East Germans not only brought about the collapse of the SED dictatorship, but after the opening of the border, with a shift in emphasis in their central slogan during the continued Monday demonstrations, the majority also clearly set course for a reunified Germany. If the GDR authorities had previously been put in their place by shouting “ We are the people !”, Now they demonstrated primarily with the phrase “ We are one people !” For German unity. Article 23 of the Basic Law of the old Federal Republic guaranteed the possibility of a closed accession of the GDR to the Federal Republic of Germany. East Germans who were in a particularly hurry to arrive in the Federal Republic of Germany could do so immediately by moving. At the beginning of 1990, the number of people using this option swelled to a level that was problematic in different ways for both countries. The Kohl government , which was already on a unification course, worked energetically towards the establishment of German unity and was reinforced by the outcome of the Volkskammer election in March 1990 , in which the Alliance for Germany triumphed with the future CDU Prime Minister Lothar de Maizière . A monetary, economic and social union was agreed and implemented on July 1st . The two plus four treaty negotiated with the four victorious powers of the Second World War formed the outer cornerstone of the unity of Germany; The unification treaty ratified by the Volkskammer, Bundestag and Bundesrat created the internal conditions for German reunification on October 3, 1990 .

Reichstag , symbol of the national unity of Germany and the " Berlin Republic "

In the first all-German federal election in December 1990 and again in 1994, the Christian-liberal coalition under Federal Chancellor Helmut Kohl, which had shaped the unification process significantly, was confirmed. With a narrow majority (338 to 320 votes), the Bundestag decided on June 20, 1991 to give up Bonn as the seat of government and to move the government and parliament to Berlin . The German Bundestag has been meeting in the completely renovated Reichstag building in Berlin since 1999 . Since September 1999, the federal government has finally settled in Berlin.

Domestically, the priority - and, like the entire unification process, associated with enormous costs - was the construction of the East during the 1990s . In the new federal states , the transport infrastructure was modernized and the renovation of buildings and industrial plants, where not ready for demolition, was promoted. The conversion to market economy structures with the help of the Treuhandanstalt was carried out at high speed and with the liquidation of the unsaleable or unprofitable operations; and the waters and regions that were ecologically particularly polluted by industrial pollutants from obsolete production facilities in the GDR were adapted to the requirements of environmental protection . The “unification boom” benefited companies in the old Federal Republic of Germany, while the traditional product offerings from the GDR era hardly found buyers. The economic restructuring process in the new federal states took time and was successful in different regions. The unemployment rates in East German federal states were sometimes twice as high as in the old states, which supported the adaptation of the new states to the administrative, legal, economic and political standards of the Federal Republic through partnerships and temporary help with qualified administrative staff.

The concentrated efforts and financial transfer payments that were used to adjust living conditions in eastern Germany, as the economic upturn caused by the reunification subsided, brought awareness of the reform backlog that had occurred in the meantime . Several reform projects of the federal government failed because of the red-green majority in the Federal Council (so-called "blockade"). The East German labor market, which for a long time was unproductive in many places, also resulted in a continued emigration of young people looking for employment in the West - a persistent demographic problem in the structurally weak regions of East Germany. In some cases there are also increased right-wing extremist tendencies. On the other hand, the socially disadvantaged situation of many East Germans is an important reason for the comparatively strong position of the “ Party of Democratic Socialism ” in the new federal states, which has merged into Die Linke .

The reunified Germany is a sovereign state. Most of the troops of the Four Powers have withdrawn, the remaining military units of the Western Allies no longer have any sovereign powers and are subject to the NATO troop statute . The approval of the former victorious powers for German reunification was tied to commitments by the German Federal Government to continue promoting the process of European integration after the Federal Republic had played a decisive role in shaping it since the 1950s. This orientation was also entered in the amended preamble of the Basic Law . With the signing of the Maastricht Treaty in 1992, the European Community (EC) was transformed into the European Union (EU), which has expanded powers . The treaty also set the course for the introduction of a common European currency, the euro . With the clear support of the Federal Government, the EU's eastward expansion was also decided, which came into force in 2004.

The solution to the German question in 1990 gave rise to new expectations and demands for Germany to play a responsible role in maintaining world peace, in the military implementation of UN resolutions, and in terms of participation in NATO military operations . After reunification, the Bundeswehr took part in foreign missions for the first time , for example after the terrorist attacks in the USA on September 11, 2001 in the war in Afghanistan . In contrast , the Schröder / Fischer government refused to participate in the Iraq war . The Federal Government has not succeeded in the meantime with the German demand for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council , which is also justified by Germany's growing international role and willingness to take responsibility.

Gerhard Schröder , first Federal Chancellor of a red-green coalition in Germany, at an election campaign event in August 2004

In the 1998 federal election , the CDU / CSU-FDP coalition was replaced under Kohl. The new federal government made up of the SPD and Bündnis 90 / Die Grünen ( red-green coalition ) launched a series of controversial reforms under Chancellor Gerhard Schröder . In general, the topic of ecology was given more weight, for example with the start of the nuclear phase-out or with legislative initiatives to reduce greenhouse gases . The government also pushed through the first steps towards pioneering changes in social, pension and health policy (see Agenda 2010 ). By means of the income from the ecological tax , it was possible to reduce the ancillary wage costs ( pension insurance contributions ). In the course of the increasing importance of the world market for the national economies in the 1990s, the so-called globalization , however, especially larger companies relocated production capacities to so-called low-wage countries, so that the unemployment rate initially remained high. The red-green coalition was only able to convince parts of its own electorate with the Hartz concept for the reorganization of unemployment and social assistance aimed at economic competitiveness .

Chancellor Angela Merkel and José Manuel Barroso in Berlin in 2007 on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the
Treaty of Rome

Since the early induced 2005 election clothed with the grown up in East Germany Angela Merkel a woman for the first time the Office of the Federal Chancellor. The red-green Schröder II cabinet was followed by a grand coalition ( Merkel I cabinet ). In 2008, Germany was drawn into a global financial and economic crisis , which was essentially triggered by the careless granting of loans, particularly in the real estate banking sector in the USA. In connection with the resulting turbulence on the global financial markets, there is also the sovereign debt crisis in the euro area , which also represents an ongoing challenge for German financial and European policy.

In 2009 the grand coalition was replaced by a black and yellow coalition made up of the Union and the FDP after the 2009 Bundestag election . Merkel kept her office as Federal Chancellor. In the federal elections in 2013 , the FDP missed entry into the Bundestag, and there was another grand coalition under Merkel as Chancellor.

On December 31, 2015, there were 211,052 recognized refugees and 447,336 asylum seekers in Germany, mainly from the Middle East and Africa ; In 2015, a total of 476,649 people had applied for asylum in Germany. This meant an increase of 135.0% compared to 2014 and was the highest annual value since the Federal Office was founded. The original forecasts for the year of 450,000 and then 800,000 were significantly exceeded. Angela Merkel has received approval, but also harsh criticism , for her policy of open borders . The refugee crisis is seen by some politicians and organizations as the biggest challenge the country since reunification. With the 2017 federal election , the grand coalition under Chancellor Merkel was continued again. The FDP succeeded in re-entering the Bundestag and the AfD succeeded in entering the Bundestag for the first time as a result of the migration debate.

Source collections

  • Rainer A. Müller (Hrsg.): German history in sources and representation. 11 vol., Reclam, Stuttgart 1995-2002 (Reclams Universal-Bibliothek, vol. 17001-17011). [Collection of sources on German history, from the early Middle Ages to the present day. Each source is briefly commented, plus a general introduction to the historical context of the respective epoch.]
  • Selected sources on German history in the Middle Ages. Freiherr vom Stein memorial edition. Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 1955ff. [source edition comprising several volumes with German translation]


An online bibliographical database that extends until the end of 2015 is provided by the annual reports for German history , among other things .

Introductory overviews

In-depth overview works

  • Encyclopedia of German History . (The respective volumes contain important epochs or historical objects and are each divided into presentation, research lines and bibliography. Suitable for the scientific introduction to a main topic.)
  • Dieter Groh u. a. (Ed.): Propylaea history of Germany. 9 vols. (So far), Berlin 1983 ff. (Representation written for a broader, educated audience, from the beginnings to 1933; volume 7 was delivered in two parts, volume 9 was later withdrawn due to concerns about the content)
  • Herbert Grundmann (Hrsg.): Handbook of German history . 9th edition, 4 volumes (the classic Gebhardt , also available as a paperback edition in 22 volumes), Stuttgart 1970 ff.
  • Alfred Haverkamp , Wolfgang Reinhard , Jürgen Kocka , Wolfgang Benz (eds.): Handbook of German history. 10th edition, Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 2001 ff. (Revision of Gebhardt; not yet completed)
  • New German History. Beck, Munich. (The emerging modern representation of German history from the early Middle Ages to the present day, which attaches less importance to the history of events than Gebhardt did)
  • Settlers German History ( The Reich and the Germans and The Germans and their Nation ). 12 volumes, paperback special edition, Siedler, Berlin 1998 (easy-to-read presentation that is aimed at a broader public, but is written by experts)
  • Brendan Simms : Struggle for Supremacy. A German History of Europe from 1453 to Today. Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, Munich 2014. (According to Simms, “a German history of Europe”, since he assigns Germany a central role - whether active or passive - in European history since the early modern period.)
  • Hans-Ulrich Wehler (Hrsg.): Modern German history. 12 volumes u. Reg.-Bd. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1996, ISBN 3-518-09240-5 . (socio-historical presentation of German history since the early modern period)


middle Ages

Early modern age

Modern times

Web links

Commons : History of Germany  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
Wikisource: Germany  - Sources and full texts


  1. Jürgen Richter: Paleolithic. The path of early humans from Africa to the center of Europe , Kohlhammer, 2018, p. 135.
  2. Jürgen Richter: Paleolithic. The path of early humans from Africa to the center of Europe , Kohlhammer, 2018, p. 204 f.
  3. Rebecca Miller: Le Trou Mésolithique you récent Al'Wesse Découverte de tessons de type non rubanés ou «Bereitkeramiek" (comm de Modave, Prov de Liège..). In: Notae Praehistoricae 29, 2009, 5–14, here: p. 10.
  4. See introductory Helmut Castritius: Tribal formation, ethnogenesis. In: Reallexikon der Germanischen Altertumskunde . Volume 29, Berlin / New York 2005, pp. 508-515.
  5. Walter Pohl : The Germanic peoples. 2nd edition, Munich 2004, p. 3 ff.
  6. ^ Tacitus, Germania 29.
  7. ↑ In ancient historical research, the designation is based on the Latin models, in (Germanistic) Medieval Studies, on the individual language.
  8. See introductory Walter Pohl: Die Völkerwanderung. Conquest and Integration. 2nd edition, Stuttgart [u. a.] 2005.
  9. Walter Pohl: The Germanic peoples. 2nd edition, Munich 2004, p. 3ff.
  10. Walter Pohl: The Germanic peoples. 2nd edition, Munich 2004, pp. 3 f., 10.
  11. Reinhard Wolters: The battle in the Teutoburg Forest. Arminius, Varus and Roman Germania. 1st, reviewed, updated and expanded edition, CH Beck, Munich 2017, ISBN 978-3-406-69995-5 .
  12. Fundamental to the Imperial Crisis (with further literature) is now Klaus-Peter Johne (Ed.): The time of the soldiers emperors. Crisis and transformation of the Roman Empire in the 3rd century AD (235–284). 2 vols., Berlin 2008.
  13. It is about the Harzhorn event , cf. Gustav Adolf Lehmann : Imperium and Barbaricum. New findings and insights into the Roman-Germanic disputes in north-west Germany - from the Augustan occupation phase to the Germanic procession of Maximinus Thrax (235 AD) , Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, Vienna 2011, pp. 96–112.
  14. Cf. generally on the history of late antiquity, the corresponding references in the article Late Antiquity . For an introduction see for example Alexander Demandt : Die Spätantike . 2nd edition, Munich 2007.
  15. ↑ For an introduction see Guy Halsall: Barbarian Migrations and the Roman West, 376-568 . Cambridge 2007; Walter Pohl : The Great Migration . 2nd edition, Stuttgart [u. a.] 2005.
  16. See the articles in Heinrich Beck (Ed.): On the history of the equation "Germanic-German". Berlin 2004.
  17. Cf. for example Walter Pohl: Identity and Contradiction. Thoughts on a history of meaning in the early Middle Ages. In: Walter Pohl (Ed.): The search for the origins. On the importance of the early Middle Ages. Vienna 2004, p. 23 ff.
  18. Cf. Joachim Ehlers: The emergence of the German Empire. 4th edition, Munich 2012, p. 43.
  19. Carlrichard Brühl is fundamental : Germany - France. The birth of two peoples. 2nd edition, Cologne / Vienna 1995; see. also Joachim Ehlers: The emergence of the German Empire. 4th edition, Munich 2012.
  20. ^ Johannes Fried: Imperium Romanum. The Roman Empire and the Medieval Empire. In: Millennium. Yearbook for Culture and History of the First Millennium AD Volume 3, 2006, pp. 1–42.
  21. Basically Len Scales: The Shaping of German Identity. Cambridge 2012.
  22. On the classification of Ottonian history in general Hagen Keller, Gerd Althoff: The time of the late Carolingians and the Ottonians . Stuttgart 2008, p. 18 ff.
  23. For the different research approaches see Joachim Ehlers: The emergence of the German Empire . 4th edition, Munich 2012; see. generally also Johannes Fried: The way into history . Berlin 1994, especially p. 9 ff. And p. 853 ff. Carlrichard Brühl is fundamental: Germany - France. The birth of two peoples . 2nd edition, Cologne / Vienna 1995.
  24. Gerd Althoff / Hagen Keller: Late antiquity to the end of the Middle Ages. The time of the late Carolingians and Ottonians. Crises and Consolidations 888–1024. ( Gebhardt. Handbuch der deutschen Geschichte , 10th, completely revised edition), Stuttgart 2008, pp. 26 and 434.
  25. Bernd Schneidmüller: Consensus - Territorialization - Self-interest. How to deal with late medieval history. In: Frühmittelalterliche Studien 39, 2005, pp. 225–246.
  26. ^ Martin Kaufhold : German Interregnum and European Politics. Conflict resolution and decision-making structures 1230–1280 Hannover 2000.
  27. Peter Moraw: From an open constitution to a structured compression. The empire in the late Middle Ages 1250 to 1490. Berlin 1985.
  28. Wolfgang J. Mommsen : The Urkatastrophe Germany. The First World War 1914-1918 (=  Handbook of German History , Vol. 17), Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 2002, ISBN 3-608-60017-5 .
  29. Heinrich August Winkler states with regard to the ancien régime : “France was an absolutist and comparatively centralist state; the kingdom was neither one nor the other; it wasn't a state at all. ”( The long way west. Volume 1: German history from the end of the Old Reich to the fall of the Weimar Republic. 5th revised edition, Munich 2002, p. 45).
  30. Quoted from Hagen Schulze: The birth of the German nation. In: Hartmut Boockmann u. a. (Ed.): In the middle of Europe: German history . Berlin 1984, p. 219.
  31. ^ Heinrich August Winkler: The long way to the west. First volume: German history from the end of the Old Reich to the fall of the Weimar Republic. Fifth, revised edition, Munich 2002, p. 49.
  32. Thomas Nipperdey : German History 1800–1866. Citizen world and strong state . Munich 1983, p. 19.
  33. Hagen Schulze: The Birth of the German Nation. In: Hartmut Boockmann u. a. (Ed.): In the middle of Europe: German history . Berlin 1984, p. 236.
  34. Thomas Nipperdey: German History 1800–1866. Citizen world and strong state . Munich 1983, p. 17 f.
  35. Thomas Nipperdey: German History 1800–1866. Citizen world and strong state . Munich 1983, p. 89 f .; Hagen Schulze: The Birth of the German Nation. In: Hartmut Boockmann u. a .: In the middle of Europe: German history . Berlin 1984, p. 241.
  36. Thomas Nipperdey: German History 1800–1866. Citizen world and strong state . Munich 1983, p. 100.
  37. Thomas Nipperdey: German History 1800–1866. Citizen world and strong state . Munich 1983, p. 285.
  38. Hagen Schulze: The Birth of the German Nation. In: Hartmut Boockmann u. a .: In the middle of Europe: German history . Berlin 1984, p. 249 f.
  39. ^ Heinrich August Winkler: The long way to the west. First volume: German history from the end of the Old Reich to the fall of the Weimar Republic. Fifth, reviewed edition, Munich 2002, pp. 80–82.
  40. ^ Heinrich August Winkler: The long way to the west. First volume: German history from the end of the Old Reich to the fall of the Weimar Republic. Fifth, reviewed edition, Munich 2002, p. 86 u. 89.
  41. Hagen Schulze: The Birth of the German Nation. In: Hartmut Boockmann u. a .: In the middle of Europe: German history . Berlin 1984, p. 254 and 261.
  42. Quoted from Heinrich August Winkler: The long way to the west. First volume: German history from the end of the Old Reich to the fall of the Weimar Republic. Fifth, revised edition, Munich 2002, p. 103.
  43. ^ Manfred Botzenhart: German Parliamentarism in the Revolutionary Period 1848–1850. Droste Verlag, Düsseldorf 1977, pp. 122-124.
  44. ^ Ralf Heikaus: The first months of the provisional central authority for Germany (July to December 1848). Diss. Frankfurt am Main, Peter Lang, Frankfurt am Main et al. 1997, pp. 48/49.
  45. Ernst Rudolf Huber: German constitution history since 1789. Volume II: The struggle for unity and freedom 1830 to 1850. 3rd edition, Verlag W. Kohlhammer, Stuttgart [et al.] 1988, p. 669.
  46. ^ Ernst Rudolf Huber: German constitutional history since 1789. Volume II: The struggle for unity and freedom 1830 to 1850. 3rd edition, Verlag W. Kohlhammer, Stuttgart [et al.] 1988, p. 811/812. David E. Barclay: Frederick William IV and the Prussian Monarchy, 1840-1861. Oxford University Press, Oxford 1995, p. 194.
  47. ^ Bernhard Mann: The end of the German National Assembly in 1849. In: Historische Zeitschrift, Volume 214, Issue 2 (April 1972), pp. 265–309, here pp. 291–296. Ernst Rudolf Huber: German constitution history since 1789. Volume II: The struggle for unity and freedom from 1830 to 1850. 3rd edition, W. Kohlhammer, Stuttgart [among others] 1988, pp. 858, 860.
  48. cf. Karl Dietrich Bracher : The German Sonderweg - Myth or Reality. Oldenbourg, Munich 1982; Jürgen Kocka : Bourgeoisie and Sonderweg. In: Peter Lundgreen (Ed.): Social and cultural history of the bourgeoisie. A balance sheet of the Bielefeld Collaborative Research Center 1986–1997 . Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2000, pp. 93-110; Heinrich August Winkler : The long way to the west. Volume II: German history from the “Third Reich” to reunification. 1933-1990 . CH Beck, Munich 2000, pp. 640-648.
  49. ^ Heinrich Lutz: Between Habsburg and Prussia. Germany 1815–1866. Berlin 1998 (original edition 1985), p. 94.
  50. ^ Heinrich Lutz : Between Habsburg and Prussia. Germany 1815–1866. Berlin 1998 (original edition 1985), pp. 97 and 99.
  51. ^ Heinrich Lutz: Between Habsburg and Prussia. Germany 1815–1866. Berlin 1998 (original edition 1985), p. 327 f.
  52. Thomas Nipperdey: German History 1800–1866. Citizen world and strong state . Munich 1983, p. 670 f. and 684-687.
  53. Quoted from Heinrich Lutz: Between Habsburg and Prussia. Germany 1815–1866. Berlin 1998 (original edition 1985), p. 436.
  54. ^ Heinrich Lutz: Between Habsburg and Prussia. Germany 1815–1866. Berlin 1998 (original edition 1985), p. 466 f.
  55. Michael Stürmer: The restless realm. Germany 1866-1918. Berlin 1998 (original edition 1983), p. 155.
  56. Quoted from Heinrich August Winkler: The long way to the west. First volume: German history from the end of the Old Reich to the fall of the Weimar Republic. Fifth, revised edition, Munich 2002, p. 209.
  57. Thomas Nipperdey: German History 1866-1918. Volume Two: Power State Before Democracy. 2nd edition, Munich 1993, p. 312.
  58. Thomas Nipperdey: German History 1866-1918. Volume Two: Power State Before Democracy. 2nd edition, Munich 1993, p. 337.
  59. Thomas Nipperdey: German History 1866-1918. Volume Two: Power State Before Democracy. 2nd edition, Munich 1993, p. 359 f.
  60. Michael Stürmer: The restless realm. Germany 1866-1918. Berlin 1998 (original edition 1983), p. 177.
  61. Michael Stürmer: The restless realm. Germany 1866-1918. Berlin 1998 (original edition 1983), p. 202.
  62. Michael Stürmer: The restless realm. Germany 1866-1918. Berlin 1998 (original edition 1983), p. 233.
  63. Quoted from Heinrich August Winkler: The long way to the west. First volume: German history from the end of the Old Reich to the fall of the Weimar Republic. Fifth, revised edition, Munich 2002, p. 235.
  64. ^ Hans-Ulrich Wehler : German history of society . Vol. 3: From the “German Double Revolution” to the beginning of the First World War: 1849–1914. Munich 1995, pp. 610-614.
  65. Michael Stürmer: The restless realm. Germany 1866-1918. Berlin 1998 (original edition 1983), p. 306 f.
  66. Thomas Nipperdey: German History 1866-1918. Volume Two: Power State Before Democracy. 2nd edition, Munich 1993, p. 631 f.
  67. Thomas Nipperdey: German History 1866-1918. Volume Two: Power State Before Democracy. 2nd edition, Munich 1993, p. 639.
  68. Annika Mombauer : The July crisis. Europe's way into the world war . CH Beck, Munich 2014, ISBN 978-3-406-66108-2 , p. 10 f .; Annika Mombauer: July Crisis and War Guilt - Theses and State of Research , bpb.de of April 10, 2014 ( Federal Agency for Civic Education ); Gerd Krumeich : The First World War. The 101 most important questions . CH Beck, Munich 2014, ISBN 978-3-406-65941-6 , p. 26 f.
  69. Eberhard Kolb : The Weimar Republic . 7th, revised and expanded edition, Oldenbourg, Munich 2009, p. 23.
  70. Cf. Jörn Leonhard : Der überburden Frieden. Versailles and the world 1918–1923. Munich 2018.
  71. Eberhard Kolb: The Peace of Versailles . CH Beck, Munich 2005, ISBN 3-406-50875-8 , p. 94 ff.
  72. Eberhard Kolb: The Weimar Republic . 7th, revised and expanded edition, Oldenbourg, Munich 2009, p. 95.
  73. Florian Pressler: The first world economic crisis. A short history of the great depression CH Beck, Munich 2013, pp. 132–137.
  74. Eberhard Kolb : The Weimar Republic. Oldenbourg, Munich 2013, pp. 255-258.
  75. Norbert Götz. Unequal siblings: the construction of the National Socialist Volksgemeinschaft and the Swedish Volksheim . Baden-Baden: Nomos, 2001.
  76. ^ Hans-Ulrich Wehler : German history of society . Vol. 4: From the beginning of the First World War to the founding of the two German states 1914–1949. Munich 2003, p. 686.
  77. ^ Ernst Piper : Brief history of National Socialism from 1919 to today. Hoffmann and Campe, Hamburg 2007, p. 129.
  78. ^ Ernst Piper : Brief history of National Socialism from 1919 to today. Hoffmann and Campe, Hamburg 2007, p. 222.
  79. ^ Heinrich August Winkler: The long way to the west. Second volume: German history from the “Third Reich” to reunification. Fifth, reviewed edition, Munich 2002, p. 116 ff.
  80. Edgar Wolfrum: The successful democracy. History of the Federal Republic of Germany from its beginnings to the present. Stuttgart 2006, p. 20 f.
  81. ^ John Gimbel Science Technology and Reparations: Exploitation and Plunder in Postwar Germany
  82. Edgar Wolfrum: The successful democracy. History of the Federal Republic of Germany from its beginnings to the present. Stuttgart 2006, p. 27.
  83. Tony Judt: History of Europe from 1945 to the present. Munich / Vienna 2006, p. 80.
  84. Wolfgang Leonhard : The revolution releases its children. 14th edition, Frankfurt am Main / Berlin / Vienna 1974, p. 294 (original edition 1955).
  85. Reinhard Hildebrandt: Struggle for world power. Springer-Verlag, 2013, ISBN 978-3-322-85782-8 , p. 262 ( limited preview in the Google book search).
  86. Edgar Wolfrum: The successful democracy. History of the Federal Republic of Germany from its beginnings to the present. Stuttgart 2006, p. 75 ff. “Although the concept of the social market economy is originally of German origin, it could not have been realized without the American guidelines - decartelization, global economic integration, liberalization of the foreign trade regime. The USA have made western Germany the spearhead of their global liberalization policy. "(Ibid., P. 80)
  87. Peter Longerich , "Was ist des Deutschen Vaterland?" Documents on the question of German unity 1800 to 1990 , Piper, 1990, p. 33.
  88. Edgar Wolfrum: The successful democracy. History of the Federal Republic of Germany from its beginnings to the present. Stuttgart 2006, p. 254.
  89. ^ Heinrich August Winkler: The long way to the west. Second volume: German history from the “Third Reich” to reunification. Fifth, revised edition, Munich 2002, p. 543.
  90. Klaus Schroeder: The SED state. Party, State and Society 1949–1990 Munich 2000, p. 407 ff. (Original edition 1998)
  91. "The common transition to long-term economic planning was a consequence of the formation of the Council for Mutual Economic Aid (Comecon) in 1949 (GDR accession: September 1950), which represented the first step towards multilateral cooperation between the people 's democracies and subsequently to development analogous plans and planning methods as well as their temporal and material coordination. ”(Dietrich Staritz: The foundation of the GDR. From Soviet occupation to the socialist state. 3rd revised and expanded new edition, Munich 1995, p. 196. (Original edition 1984))
  92. In this regard, Karl-Eduard von Schnitzler's statement in the “ Black Channel ” of March 1968 is often quoted , according to which someone who wants to oppose the GDR is opposing the socialist peace policy. "And we do not deal with such opposition at the ballot box and not in parliament, but in the courts of our socialist judiciary." (Quoted from Ilko-Sascha Kowalczuk: From the freedom to say I. Resistant behavior in the GDR. In : Between self-assertion and adaptation. Forms of resistance and opposition in the GDR. Edited by Ulrike Poppe, Rainer Eckert and Ilko-Sascha Kowalczuk, Berlin 1995, p. 92.)
  93. Between assertion and adaptation. Forms of resistance and opposition in the GDR. Edited by Ulrike Poppe, Rainer Eckert and Ilko-Sascha Kowalczuk, Berlin 1995, p. 14.
  94. Martin Sabrow: Socialism. In the S. (Ed.): Places of remembrance of the GDR. Munich 2009, p. 196 f.
  95. ^ Editors' collective (ed.): Dictionary on socialist youth policy. Berlin 1975. Quoted from Mary Fulbrook : A completely normal life. Everyday life and society in the GDR. Darmstadt 2008, p. 134. (Original edition: New Haven and London 2005)
  96. “Although no one was forced to join the FDJ, the sanctions for a conspicuous nonconformity were a factor that young people with serious ambitions had to consider. Membership was highest among school children, because the organization was based in the school, the groups were often led by class teachers, and meetings were evidently a routine part of the curriculum. ”(Mary Fulbrook: A normal life. Everyday life and society in of the GDR.Darmstadt 2008, p. 147.)
  97. Mary Fulbrook: A perfectly normal life. Everyday life and society in the GDR. Darmstadt 2008, p. 148.
  98. Marina Chauliac: The youth consecration. In: Martin Sabrow (Ed.): Memories of the GDR. Munich 2009, p. 161 ff.
  99. ^ Ulrich Mählert: Brief history of the GDR. 4th revised edition, Munich 2004, p. 122
  100. Mary Fulbrook: A perfectly normal life. Everyday life and society in the GDR. Darmstadt 2008, p. 173.
  101. ^ Lutz Niethammer: The collective. In: Martin Sabrow (Ed.): Memories of the GDR. Munich 2009, p. 277.
  102. Ina Merkel: DerTrabant. In: Martin Sabrow (Ed.): Memories of the GDR. Munich 2009, p. 366.
  103. ^ Ulrich Mählert: Brief history of the GDR. 4th revised edition, Munich 2004, p. 132.
  104. ^ Ulrich Mählert: Brief history of the GDR. 4th revised edition, Munich 2004, p. 137.
  105. Modification of the then common slogan: "Creating peace without weapons!" Quoted from Mary Fulbrook: A completely normal life. Everyday life and society in the GDR. Darmstadt 2008, p. 67.
  106. Ulrike Poppe: “The way is the goal.” On the self-image and the political role of oppositional groups in the eighties. In: Between Assertion and Adaptation. Forms of resistance and opposition in the GDR. Edited by Ulrike Poppe, Rainer Eckert and Ilko-Sascha Kowalczuk, Berlin 1995, p. 244 ff.
  107. Wording of the old version of Art. 23 GG valid until October 3, 1990: “This Basic Law initially applies in the area of ​​the states of Baden, Bavaria, Bremen, Greater Berlin, Hamburg, Hesse, Lower Saxony, North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate , Schleswig-Holstein, Württemberg-Baden and Württemberg-Hohenzollern. In other parts of Germany it is to be put into effect after their accession. "
  108. Federal Office for Migration and Refugees : The Federal Office in Figures 2015 - Asylum Module ( Memento of the original from May 16, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. , May 16, 2016. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.bamf.de
  109. Celebrities support Merkel's refugee policy , FAZ.net, May 16, 2016.
  110. The Berliner Kreis, a conservative group in the CDU, has sharply criticized the party's "left-wing drift" , stern.de on May 16, 2016.
  111. Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung : Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung - The refugee crisis as a challenge for Europe , May 16, 2016.