German Empire

German Empire
Deutsches Reich
Coat of arms (1889–1918)[1] of German Reich
Coat of arms
Motto: Gott mit uns (German)[2]
Nobiscum deus (Latin)
("God with us")
Anthem: Heil dir im Siegerkranz[3]
("Hail to Thee in the Victor's Crown")
German Empire 1914.svg
Deutsches Reich (1871-1918)-en.png
The German Empire in 1914
and largest city
52°31′N 13°24′E / 52.517°N 13.400°E / 52.517; 13.400Coordinates: 52°31′N 13°24′E / 52.517°N 13.400°E / 52.517; 13.400
Common languagesOfficial:
1880 census
62.63% United Protestant
(Lutheran, Reformed)
35.89% Roman Catholic
1.24% Jewish
0.17% Other Christian
0.07% Other
GovernmentFederal semi-constitutional monarchy (1871–1916)
Federal absolute monarchy under a military dictatorship (1916–1918)
• 1871–1888
Wilhelm I
• 1888
Friedrich III
• 1888–1918
Wilhelm II
• 1871–1890
Otto von Bismarck
• 1890-1894
Leo von Caprivi
• 1894-1900
Chlodwig zu Hohenlohe-Schillingsfürst
• 1900-1909
Bernhard von Bülow
• 1909-1917
Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg
• 1917
Georg Michaelis
• 1917-1918
Georg von Hertling
• 1918
Max von Baden
• Upper House
Federal Council
Imperial Diet
Historical eraNew Imperialism • World War I
18 January 1871
16 April 1871
15 November 1884
• WWI began
28 July 1914
3 November 1918
9 November 1918
• Armistice
11 November 1918
11 August 1919
1910[5]540,857.54 km2 (208,826.26 sq mi)
• 1871[6]
• 1900[6]
• 1910[6]
CurrencyGerman gold mark,
German Papiermark
Preceded by
Succeeded by
North German
Weimar Republic
Memel Territory
Saar Territory
Area and population not including colonial possessions

The German Empire (German: Deutsches Kaiserreich),[a][7][8][9][10] also referred to as Imperial Germany,[11] the Kaiserreich, the Second Reich,[b][12] as well as simply Germany, was the period of the German Reich[13] from the unification of Germany in 1871 until the November Revolution in 1918, when the German Reich changed its form of government from a monarchy to a republic.[14][15]

It was founded on 18 January 1871, when the south German states, except for Austria, joined the North German Confederation and the new constitution came into force on April 16, changing the name of the federal state to the German Empire and introducing the title of German Emperor for Wilhelm I, King of Prussia from the House of Hohenzollern.[16] Berlin remained its capital, and Otto von Bismarck, Minister President of Prussia, became Chancellor, the head of government. As these events occurred, the Prussian-led North German Confederation and its southern German allies, such as Baden, Bavaria, Württemburg and Hesse, were still engaged in the Franco-Prussian War.

The German Empire consisted of 25 states, each with their own nobility, four constituent kingdoms, six grand duchies, five duchies (six before 1876), seven principalities, three free Hanseatic cities, and one imperial territory. While Prussia was one of four kingdoms in the realm, it contained about two-thirds of the Empire's population and territory, and Prussian dominance was also constitutionally established, since the King of Prussia was also the German Emperor (Deutscher Kaiser).

After 1850, the states of Germany had rapidly become industrialized, with particular strengths in coal, iron (and later steel), chemicals, and railways. In 1871, Germany had a population of 41 million people; by 1913, this had increased to 68 million. A heavily rural collection of states in 1815, the now united Germany became predominantly urban.[17] The success of German industrialization manifested itself in two ways since the early 20th century: the German factories were larger and more modern than their British and French counterparts.[18] The dominance of the German Empire in the natural sciences, especially in physics and chemistry, was such that one-third of all Nobel Prizes went to German inventors and researchers. During its 47 years of existence, the German Empire became the industrial, technological, and scientific giant of Europe, and by 1913, Germany was the largest economy in Continental Europe and the third-largest in the world.[19] Germany also became a great power, it built up the longest railway network of Europe, the world's strongest army,[20] and a fast-growing industrial base.[21] Starting very small in 1871, in a decade, the navy became second only to Britain's Royal Navy. After the removal of Otto von Bismarck by Wilhelm II in 1890, the empire embarked on Weltpolitik – a bellicose new course that ultimately contributed to the outbreak of World War I.

From 1871 to 1890, Otto von Bismarck's tenure as the first and to this day longest-serving Chancellor was marked by relative liberalism at its start, but in time grew more conservative. Broad reforms and the Kulturkampf marked his period in the office. Late in Bismarck's chancellorship and in spite of his earlier personal opposition, Germany became involved in colonialism. Claiming much of the leftover territory that was yet unclaimed in the Scramble for Africa, it managed to build the third-largest colonial empire at the time, after the British and the French ones.[22] As a colonial state, it sometimes clashed with the interests of other European powers, especially the British Empire. During its colonial expansion, the German Empire committed the Herero and Namaqua genocide.[23]

In addition, Bismarck's successors were incapable of maintaining their predecessor's complex, shifting, and overlapping alliances which had kept Germany from being diplomatically isolated. This period was marked by various factors influencing the Emperor's decisions, which were often perceived as contradictory or unpredictable by the public. In 1879, the German Empire consolidated the Dual Alliance with Austria-Hungary, followed by the Triple Alliance with Italy in 1882. It also retained strong diplomatic ties to the Ottoman Empire. When the great crisis of 1914 arrived, Italy left the alliance and the Ottoman Empire formally allied with Germany.

In the First World War, German plans to capture Paris quickly in the autumn of 1914 failed, and the war on the Western Front became a stalemate. The Allied naval blockade caused severe shortages of food. However, Imperial Germany had success on the Eastern Front; it occupied a large amount of territory to its east following the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. The German declaration of unrestricted submarine warfare in early 1917 contributed to bringing the United States into the war. In October 1918, after the failed Spring Offensive, the German armies were in retreat, allies Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire had collapsed, and Bulgaria had surrendered. The empire collapsed in the November 1918 Revolution with the abdications of its monarchs, which left the post-war federal republic to govern a devastated populace. The Treaty of Versailles imposed post-war reparation costs of 132 billion gold marks (around US$269 billion or €240 billion in 2019, or roughly US$32 billion in 1921),[24] as well as limiting the army to 100,000 men and disallowing conscription, armored vehicles, submarines, aircraft, and more than six battleships.[25] The consequential economic devastation, later exacerbated by the Great Depression, as well as humiliation and outrage experienced by the German population are considered leading factors in the rise of Adolf Hitler and Nazism.[26]

  1. ^ Seyler, Gustav A.:Die Wappen der deutschen Landesfürsten. Reprograf. Nachdr. von Siebmacher's Wappenbuch 1. Bd., 1. Abt. 2. – 5. Teil (Nürnberg 1909 – 1929)
  2. ^ Preble, George Henry, History of the Flag of the United States of America: With a Chronicle of the Symbols, Standards, Banners, and Flags of Ancient and Modern Nations, 2nd ed, p. 102; A. Williams and co, 1880
  3. ^ Fischer, Michael; Senkel, Christian (2010). Klaus Tanner (ed.). Reichsgründung 1871: Ereignis, Beschreibung, Inszenierung. Münster: Bachmann Verlag.
  4. ^ Statement of Abdication of Wilhelm II
  5. ^ "German Empire: administrative subdivision and municipalities, 1900 to 1910" (in German). Retrieved 25 April 2007.
  6. ^ a b c "Population statistics of the German Empire, 1871" (in German). Archived from the original on 5 April 2007. Retrieved 25 April 2007.
  7. ^ "German constitution of 1871" (in German). German Wikisource. 16 March 2011. Retrieved 2 April 2011.
  8. ^ Herbert Tuttle wrote in September 1881 that the term "Reich" does not literally connote an empire as has been commonly assumed by English-speaking people. The term "Kaiserreich" literally denotes an empire – particularly a hereditary empire led by an emperor, although "Reich" has been used in German to denote the Roman Empire because it had a weak hereditary tradition. In the case of the German Empire, the official name was Deutsches Reich, which is properly translated as "German Empire" because the official position of head of state in the constitution of the German Empire was officially a "presidency" of a confederation of German states led by the King of Prussia who would assume "the title of German Emperor" as referring to the German people, but was not emperor of Germany as in an emperor of a state. – "The German Empire." Harper's New Monthly Magazine. vol. 63, issue 376, pp. 591–603; here p. 593.[neutrality is disputed]
  9. ^ World Book, Inc. The World Book dictionary, Volume 1. World Book, Inc., 2003. p. 572. States that Deutsches Reich translates as "German Realm" and was a former official name of Germany.
  10. ^ Joseph Whitaker. Whitaker's almanack, 1991. J Whitaker & Sons, 1990. Pp. 765. Refers to the term Deutsches Reich being translated into English as "German Realm", up to and including the Weimar period.
  11. ^ See, for example, Roger Chickering, Imperial Germany and the Great War, 1914–1918. 3rd ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014; Cornelius Torp and Sven Oliver Müller, eds., Imperial Germany Revisited: Continuing Debates & New Perspectives. Oxford: Berghahn, 2011; James Retallack, ed., Imperial Germany 1871–1918. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008; Isabel V. Hull, Absolute Destruction: Military Culture and the Practices of War in Imperial Germany. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2005.
  12. ^ "German Empire". Britannica. Retrieved 11 April 2022.
  13. ^ Kitchen, Martin (2011). A History of Modern Germany: 1800 to the Present. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-1-44439-689-8.
  14. ^ Toyka-Seid, Gerd Schneider, Christiane. "Reichsgründung/ Deutsches Reich | bpb". (in German). Archived from the original on 26 October 2020. Retrieved 21 September 2020.
  15. ^ Sturm, Reinhard. "Vom Kaiserreich zur Republik 1918/19 – Weimarer Republik". (in German). Retrieved 21 September 2020.
  16. ^ Michael Kotulla: Deutsches Verfassungsrecht 1806–1918. Eine Dokumentensammlung nebst Einführungen. 1. Band: Gesamtdeutschland, Anhaltische Staaten und Baden. Springer, Berlin 2006, pp. 231, 246
  17. ^ J. H. Clapham, The Economic Development of France and Germany 1815–1914 (1936)
  18. ^ Germany article of Encyclopedia Britannia, Link : [1]
  19. ^ Azar Gat (2008). War in Human Civilization. Oxford University Press. p. 517. ISBN 978-0-19-923663-3.
  20. ^ Alfred Vagts, "Land and Sea Power in the Second German Reich." The Journal of Military History 3.4 (1939): 210+ JSTOR 3038611
  21. ^ Paul Kennedy, The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers: Economic Change and Military Conflict from 1500 to 2000 (1987)
  22. ^ Matthias Heine (17 September 2012). "Diese deutschen Wörter kennt man noch in der Südsee". Die Welt (in German). Retrieved 18 April 2021. Einst hatten die Deutschen das drittgrößte Kolonialreich ...
  23. ^ Steinhauser, Gabriele (28 July 2017). "Germany Confronts the Forgotten Story of Its Other Genocide". The Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660.
  24. ^ Blakemore, Erin. "Germany's World War I Debt Was So Crushing It Took 92 Years to Pay Off". HISTORY. Retrieved 17 November 2019.
  25. ^ Archives, The National. "The National Archives Learning Curve | The Great War | Why was it hard to make peace?". Retrieved 14 November 2021.
  26. ^ "How Did Hitler Happen?". The National WWII Museum | New Orleans. Retrieved 14 November 2021.

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