History of Germany

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Germany spent her early days as a Holy Roman Empire, ruled by the emperor Otto I in the year 962. The empire existed as a form of defense against the non-Christian tribes, and to create unity in the European political world.

Unfortunately, unity ceased to prevail. The empire soon became divided, and individual groups of dukes and nobles were formed instead.

A powerful city was never established because the royalties simply traveled to different cities in Germany to form armies and collect revenue in order to solidify their positions in the monarchy.

The Thirty Years’ War which took place between 1618 and 1648 was a religious conflict between the Catholics and Protestants and caused further division in Germany. After the war, only the German state of Prussia was able to rise to power.

During the French Revolution, parts of the Rhine and even Prussia came under French control, and the Holy Roman Empire finally collapsed in 1806. Napoleon was only defeated in 1813. Following his defeat, more territory was granted to Prussia.

Prince Otto von Bismarck became Prussia’s prime minister in 1862. After the Austro-Prussian War and the Franco-Prussian War, a strong, unified Germany was finally established. Bismarck’s governance brought Germany to greater heights.

World War I spelled disaster for Germany. By 1918, the Allies had invaded Germany and the defeated nation was forced to sign the humiliating Treaty of Versailles. Under this treaty, Germany had to surrender territories including Alsace-Lorraine to the Allies, as well as give in to huge monetary reparations.

After the humiliating defeat, extremists in Germany attacked the inexperienced Weimar government. To make matters worse, the outstanding payments demanded by the Allies further weakened the German economy. When Germany was unable to pay her reparations, France occupied the Ruhr.

The chaotic situation in Germany allowed for the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party. The Nazis believed that the Aryan race was superior and blamed non-Aryans, particularly Jews, for Germany’s plight. Despite initial failure to gain public support, Hitler’s power eventually increased to the point that he was appointed chancellor.

Hitler was self-declared Germany’s new Führer (leader) after Hindenburg’s death in 1934. Following agreements with Japan and Italy, the Axis power was formed. Years of horror ensued, with massive persecution against anyone deemed as non-Aryans.

During World War II, Germany invaded Poland and was victorious despite retaliation from France and Britain. There was more bloodshed during the Holocaust where millions of Jews were killed.

Germany continued to declare war on the United States in 1941. It all ended finally on D-Day when Allied armies from the west landed along the coast of Normandy on in 1944. The fall of Germany eventually led Hitler to suicide in April 1945.

After the war, Germany was once again divided by the United States, Britain, France, and the Soviet Union into four zones of occupation. Finally in 1989, after the demise of Communist power across Eastern Europe, the Berlin Wall collapsed and Germany was reunified on October 3, 1990.