A brief history of Germany


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Höferle Consulting slide deck to highlight German history during in-depth cross-cultural training programs.

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A brief history of Germany

  1. 1. A brief history of Germany
  2. 2. Germany's founding myth early settlements in what today is Germany can be dated back more than 500,000 years; Germanic tribes migrating into the territory from 750 BC until the time of Roman Emperor Augustus; mixing with Celtic tribes 1st century BC: Caesar Augustus begins invading the barbarian territories northeast of the Empire which later are called "Germania" by historian Tacitus AD 9: Three Roman legions led by General Varus are defeated by Cheruscan tribe leader Arminius (Hermann) in the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest Roman occupation remains for another 250 years while tribes become familiar with the Roman system of gov't, trade, warfare 3rd century sees emergence of large tribes (Alemanni, Bavari, Franks, Saxons, Thuringii, Frisians, Sicambri) who around 260 break through the Limes into Roman lands Germanic tribes conquer Rome in 410
  3. 3. Carolingian Empire after the fall of Rome migration throughout Europe fundamentally changes demographics and ethnic structure Frankish King Karl the Great (Charlemagne/Karolus Magnus) succeeds in unifying the tribes, converting pagans to Christians, imposing order on the whole continent and thereby establishing the Carolingian Empire December 25, 800: Charlemagne is crowned Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire by Pope Leo III in Rome => foundation of Europe 843: Treaty of Verdun splits Charlemagne's empire into three parts among his heirs: Western Franconian Kingdom, Lotharingia and Eastern Franconian Kingdom under King Ludwig Germanicus => Centuries of struggles over who is bestowed the Emperor's crown and thereby executing secular powers over the Vatican and the Church
  4. 4. Charlemagne Charlemagne's coronation in Rome 800AD Charlemagne's crown
  5. 5. Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation East Franconian Kingdom is referred to as "regnum teutonicum" (lat. = kingdom of the Teutonians) starting with Emperor Otto I (962). => 1st mention of a "German" nation While the western kingdom develops into a centralized nation (France), the east remains a loose confederation of small sovereign fiefdoms.
  6. 6. The Middle Ages During the Middle Ages German feudal princes consolidate their landholdings, which are granted by the Holy Roman Emperor Gradually these principalities become more independent, uniting only to elect one of their own as Emperor By the 16th century the title had become hereditary and is passed to a single dynasty, the Austrian House of Habsburg The Thirty Years' War (1618-48) between Catholics and Protestants greatly reduces the Emperor's powers Thus "Germany" remaines a patchwork of small autonomous principalities, duchies, kingdoms and free cities owing a loose allegiance to the Emperor this fragmentation of Germany lasts until 1806 when Napoleon dissolves the Holy Roman Empire
  7. 7. Two Germans change the world Martin Luther Johannes Gutenberg
  8. 8. Invention of the printing press around 1439: Johannes Gensfleisch zur Laden zum Gutenberg, a goldsmith and printer in Mainz, invents movable type printing introduction of a process for mass-production of printed works prints the Bible ("Gutenberg Bible" or "42-line Bible") His technology is a key factor in the European Renaissance and a major catalyst for the later scientific revolution helps a fellow German spread his message ...
  9. 9. The Reformation 1517: Martin Luther publicises his 95 theses, challenging the practices of the Church (indulgence sales) As a Priest and theology professor, Luther teaches that salvation is a free gift of God and only received through faith in Jesus His theology challenges the authority of the Pope => excommunication His translation of the Bible into German helps standardise the language, thus creating a common German identity
  10. 10. 30 Years' War (1618-48) war starts over religious conflicts between Protestant and Catholic states within the Holy Roman Empire gradually war develops into a more general conflict involving most European powers one of the most destructive conflicts in European history entire regions destroyed by foraging troops; famine and deseases spread war kills between 15-30% of population in German states leads to further balkanization of Germany
  11. 11. Holy Roman Empire 1648
  12. 12. Peace of Westphalia peace treaty signed in 1648 ends the 30 Years' War Peace of Westphalia results from the first modern diplomatic congress initiates a new order in central Europe based on the concept of state sovereignty introduction of the principle "cuius regio, eius religio" (lat. = "whose the region is, his the religion") grants religious freedoms for the first time consolidates territories, but NOT Germany
  13. 13. The rise of Prussia 1701: Kingdom forms as a poor Northeastern German territory from 1740 onwards, the dualism between the Catholic Austrian House of Habsburg and the Protestant Kingdom of Prussia dominates German history King Frederick II "the Great" defeats Austria after years of struggle over territories and dynastic succession Prussia gradually becomes the dominant state in the Holy Roman Empire; strong martial tradition (Teutonic Knights; "Junker" class) => discipline, militarism, efficiency, aristocratic Protestant Prussian-German soldiers (mercenaries) fight alongside British troops in American Revolutionary War, while Baron von Steuben helps organize the American Army Napoleon defeats Austria and in 1806 dissolves the Holy Roman Empire Battle of Waterloo 1815: Prussian troops under General Blücher lead Allies to victory over nationalist France
  14. 14. German Confederation 1815: an association of 39 states fills the void left by the destruction of the Holy Roman Empire Prussia & Austria remain dominant forces 1848: German Revolution fails; liberal movement to create a unified German nation stalls 1866: Prussia wins Austro-Prussian war => Confederation is replaced by North German Federation several Southern states gain independence for the first time since 10th century, among them: the Kingdom of Bavaria, Kingdom of Württemberg, Grand Duchy of Baden, Grand Duchy of Hesse
  15. 15. The German Confederation 1815 - 1866
  16. 16. German Empire (2nd Reich) Prussian Chancellor Otto von Bismarck manages to unite German states after winning wars against Denmark (1864) Austria (1866) and France (1870/71) => the first time Germany is incorporated into a modern nation-state under Kaiser Wilhelm I called the "small German solution" to the centuries long quest to become a nation, because the German-speaking parts of Austria are not included The German Empire is proclaimed in Versailles (Paris) on January 18, 1871. The Hohenzollern dynasty of Prussia rules the country from the capital of Berlin little experience of democracy, but great experience of military organization and campaigning. Result: By 1900 German industrial output matched that of Britain and USA Kaiser Wilhelm II sacks Bismarck and plays a major role in triggering World War I
  17. 17. Coronation of Wilhelm I in Versailles (1871)
  18. 18. Imperial Germany 1871-1918
  19. 19. Former Prussian territories in today's Germany
  20. 20. The Weimar Republic (1919-1933) After losing WWI, the German Revolution breaks out leading to the abdication of Wilhelm II and all ruling princes Peace treaty of Versailles (1919) is negotiated without the defeated powers und declares Germany guilty of causing WWI Versailles treaty imposes crippling reparation payments and cuts back Germany to its pre-1914 borders In 1919, the National Constituent Assembly meets in Weimar to draw up a new constitution => first democracy in Germany Young Republic doesn't stand much of a chance: Reparations, Great Depression, sandwiched between an aggressive Communist party (fueled by the Russian Revolution) and the rise of the Nationalist Socialist German Workers Party (Nazi) Many cabinets fail due to stalemates between Communists and Nazis in parliament January 30, 1933: President Paul von Hindenburg appoints Adolf Hitler as the new Chancellor of Germany ("Machtergreifung" - seizure of power by the Nazis)
  21. 21. The 3rd Reich - Nazi dictatorship
  22. 22. World War II (1939-45)
  23. 23. Holocaust
  24. 24. the end - total destruction
  25. 25. May 8, 1945 unconditional surrender ("Stunde null") after six years of "total war" Germany is utterly defeated, and economically and politically destroyed during the Holocaust some 11 million people were systematically eradicated (6 million Jews) WWII and the crimes of the Nazis resulted in appr. 35 million premature deaths in Europe expulsion of 15 million Germans from former Eastern territories and other countries the country is occupied by the four allied powers - the UK, France, the Soviet Union and the United States 1948: tensions between the Western Allies and the Soviet Union lead to a blockade on Berlin, cutting off all land routes from the West June 1948 - September 1949: Berlin Airlift (UK & US troops)
  26. 26. Formation of two German states May 23, 1949: following the increasing tension between the Western Allies and the Soviet Union, the French, British and US-controlled sectors are unified to form the Federal Republic of Germany (FDR / German: BRD = Bundesrepublik Deutschland) October 7, 1949: the Soviet sector becomes the German Democratic Republic (GDR / German: DDR = Deutsche Demokratische Republik) 1955: FDR joins the NATO, GDR enters the Warsaw Pact => Germany becomes the demarcation line of the Cold War "Wirtschaftswunder" (= economic miracle): in a wise attempt not to repeat the mistakes of Versailles 1919, the USA push other Allies to accept helping West Germany get back up on its feet => Marshall Plan lays foundation for recovery and enables FDR to recreate its industrial base GDR comes under socialist rule with command economy August 13, 1961: GDR starts building Berlin Wall
  27. 27. Rebuilding a country from ruins
  28. 28. Devided again after only 78 years of unity
  29. 29. Reunification the 1949 preamble of FDR "constitution" (Basic Law) said that "the entire German people remains invited to complete the unity and the freedom of Germany" the city of Bonn is made only the FDR's provisional capital 1989: mass demonstrations in East Germany claim more individual and economic freedom amid slow economic collapse of communist world and liberation movement of Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev (Glasnost & Perestroika), Hungary in the summer of 1989 decides to dismantle the Iron Curtain and to open borders to Austria thousands of East Germans leave their country to escape to the West, GDR gov't thinks by opening the valve it can retain power March 1990: demonstrations lead to first open & free elections in GDR => new (and last) non-communist head of GDR opens reunification talks with FDR September 12, 1990: 4 occupying powers renounce their rights October 3, 1990: Germany is formally reunited
  30. 30. a new beginning
  31. 31. the new Germany