Germany is historically one of the most important of all nations.
Since emerging from its days as a Roman province, Germany (including
Prussia) has had a central role in European affairs. It has
reached the heights in art, music, literature and political
power, yet it's also reached the depths in humiliating military
defeat and partition. This presentation reviews the broad sweep
of German history.
AD-Germanic tribesmen under Hermann destroy three Roman
legions sent to conquer territory.
Empire declines: Germanic tribes (Angles, Franks, Burgundians,
Lombards) spread across Europe.
771-813-- Charlemagne conquers & unites Frankish
lands; empire divided among grandsons, later becoming France
Roman Empire of the German Nation (First Reich) begins as
a collection of 1800 political entities.
of Hansa, a medieval league of free towns in North
Germany and adjoining countries. Gutenberg invents
printing press (1450) and Protestant Reformation begins (1517)
Years War between Catholics
German population declines from 21 million to 13 million.
the Great ascends Prussian throne; dawn of German Enlightenment.
forces Austrian Hapsburgs to relinquish title of Holy
Roman Emperor; 900-year empire ends.
Confederation created as 39 sovereign states, led by Mettenhich
as repressive police state.
first German parliament elected; government (and revolution)
--Bismarck appointed Chancellor of Prussia under King
Wilhelm; "Realpolitik" policy launches wars against Denmark
Austria, and France.
Reich proclaimed (January 18) with Bismarck as Chancellor.
--Bismarck creates the first welfare state.
War I. Kaiser abdicates and German Republic
Treaty of Versailles forces onerous settlement on humiliated
Germany, Weimar Republic created, soon followed by
Socialist German Worker's Party (Nazis) emerge in postwar
Munich Putsch (the Beerhall Putsch) fails to empower
Hitler appointed as Fuhrer Chancellor. Federal Republic
ceases as Hitler accumulates dictatorial powers.
Invasion of Austria begins Anschluss (March). Hitler appeased
at peace conference (September).
-- Germany invades Czechoslovakia (March) and Poland (September
War II begins.
-- Hitler commits suicide (April 30). Germany surrenders unconditionally
to Allies (May 7). Potsdam conference divides Germany into
four occupied zones and grants German territory to Poland
-- American, British, & French zones reconstituted as West
Germany; Russian zone becomes East Germany.
-- East German states accepted into Federal Republic of Germany.