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Europe

The European continent was named after beautiful Phoenician woman called Europa.

Europe

When Zeus have seen Agenor's daughter Europa gathering flowers he immediately fell in love with her.

Welcome to Germany

Germany, officially the Federal Republic of Germany is a parliamentary federation in Europe. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a temperate seasonal climate. With 81.8 million inhabitants, it is the most populous member state and the largest economy in the European Union. It is also one of the major political powers in EU and a technological leader in many fields.

The country consists of 16 states (called landes) while the capital and largest city and also a state is Berlin.

Landes of Germany
State Capital Area (km2) Population
Baden-Württemberg Stuttgart
35 752
10 753 880
Bavaria Munich
70 549
12 538 696
Berlin Berlin
892
3 460 725
Brandenburg Potsdam
29 477
2 503 273
Bremen Bremen
404
660 999
Hamburg Hamburg
755
1 786 448
Hesse Wiesbaden
21 115
6 067 021
Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Schwerin
23 174
1 642 327
Lower Saxony Hanover
47 618
7 918 293
North Rhine-Westphalia Düsseldorf
34 043
17 845 154
Rhineland-Palatinate Mainz
19 847
4 003 745
Saarland Saarbrücken
2 569
1 017 567
Saxony Dresden
18 416
4 149 477
Saxony-Anhalt Magdeburg
20 445
2 335 006
Schleswig-Holstein Kiel
15 763
2 834 259
Thuringia Erfurt
16 172
2 235 025

History

The Germanic tribes are thought to date from the Nordic Bronze Age or the Pre-Roman Iron Age. From southern Scandinavia and north Germany, they expanded south, east and west from the 1st century BC, coming into contact with the Celtic tribes of Gaul as well as Iranian, Baltic, and Slavic tribes in Eastern Europe.

Frankd Expansion

By AD 100, when Tacitus wrote Germania, Germanic tribes had settled along the Rhine and the Danube, occupying most of the area of modern Germany; Austria, southern Bavaria and the western Rhineland. In the 3rd century a number of large West Germanic tribes emerged: Alamanni, Franks, Chatti, Saxons, Frisii, Sicambri, and Thuringii. With the decline of Rome from 395, Germanic tribes moved further south-west. Simultaneously several large tribes formed, what is now Germany, and displaced the smaller Germanic tribes. Large areas were occupied by the Franks, and Northern Germany was ruled by the Saxons and Slavs.

These central and west European territories became from the 3rd to the 10th century the Frankish Kingdom or Kingdom of the Franks, occasionally called Frankland. It was inhabited by different Germanic and also Slavish tribes and ruled by the Franks. Under the nearly continuous campaigns of Charles Martel, Pepin the Short, and Charlemagne father, son and then grandson, the greatest expansion of the Frankish empire was secured by the early 9th century.

On 25 December 800, Charlemagne founded the Carolingian Empire, which was then divided in 843.

The Holy Roman Empire resulted from the eastern portion of this division. Its territory stretched from the Eider River in the north to the Mediterranean coast in the south. Under the reign of the Ottonian emperors (919–1024), several major duchies were consolidated, and the Germanic king was crowned Holy Roman Emperor of these regions in 962.

The Holy Roman Empire absorbed northern Italy and Burgundy under the reign of the Salian emperors (1024–1125). (See the map on the right)

In 1356, the edict of the Golden Bull provided the basic constitution of this empire and codified the election of the emperor by seven prince-electors who ruled some of the most powerful principalities and archbishoprics.

HolyRomanEmpire
Peace of Westfalia

When in 1517 Martin Luther publicised his 95 Theses challenging the Roman Catholic Church this initiated the Protestant Reformation. A separate Lutheran church became the official religion in many German states after 1530. Religious conflict led to the Thirty Years' War (1618–1648), which devastated German lands and the population was reduced by about 30%. The Peace of Westphalia (1648) ended religious warfare among the German states, but the empire was de facto divided into numerous independent principalities. From 1740 onwards, dualism between the Austrian Habsburg Monarchy and the Kingdom of Prussia dominated German history. Finally in 1806, the Empire was overrun and dissolved as a result of the Napoleonic Wars.

Below, right the map of Prussia during Bismarck.

 

Conflict between King William I of Prussia and its increasingly liberal parliament erupted over military reforms in 1862, and the king appointed Otto von Bismarck the new Prime Minister of Prussia.

Bismarck successfully waged war on Denmark in 1864. Prussian victory in the Austro-Prussian War of 1866 enabled him to create the North German Federation and to exclude Austria, formerly the leading German state, from the federation's affairs. After the French defeat in the Franco-Prussian War, the German Empire was proclaimed 1871 in Versailles, uniting all scattered parts of Germany except Austria. With almost two thirds of its territory and population, Prussia was the dominating constituent of the new state; the Hohenzollern King of Prussia ruled as its concurrent Emperor, and Berlin became its capital.

Prussia
Bismarck

Bismarck's foreign policy as Chancellor under Emperor William I secured Germany's position as a great nation by forging alliances, isolating France by diplomatic means, and avoiding war.

Under Wilhelm II however, Germany, like other European powers, Bismarck took an imperialistic course and as a result of the Berlin Conference in 1884 Germany claimed several colonies including German East Africa, German South-West Africa, Togo, and Cameroon.

To the left; Foundation of the German Empire in Versailles, 1871. Bismarck is at the centre in a white uniform.

The assassination of Austria's crown prince on 28 June 1914 triggered World War I. Germany, as part of the Central Powers, suffered defeat against the Allies in one of the bloodiest conflicts of all time. An estimated two million German soldiers died and the German Revolution broke out in November 1918 resulting in abdication of Emperor Wilhelm II and all German ruling princes. Finally, Germany was forced to sign the Treaty of Versailles in June 1919, the treaty that was perceived in Germany as a humiliating continuation of the war, and which is often cited as influencial in the rise of Nazism.

The revolution came to an end on 11 August 1919, when the Weimar Constitution was signed by President Friedrich Ebert. The Weimar government was being accused of betraying Germany by signing the Versailles Treaty. By 1932, the German Communist Party and the Nazi Party controlled the majority of parliament, fuelled by discontent with the Weimar government.

After a series of unsuccessful cabinets, President Paul von Hindenburg appointed Adolf Hitler as Chancellor of Germany on 30 January 1933. On 27 February 1933 the Reichstag building went up in flames, and a consequent emergency decree withdrawing basic citizens' rights. An Enabling Act passed in parliament gave Hitler unrestricted legislative power. Only the Social Democratic Party voted against it, while Communist MPs had already been imprisoned. Using his powers to crush any actual or potential resistance, Hitler established a centralised totalitarian state within months. Industry was revitalised with a focus on military rearmament. The Third Reich was established.

In 1935, Germany reacquired control of the Saar and in 1936 military control of the Rhineland, both of which had been lost in the Treaty of Versailles. In 1938 and 1939, Austria and Czechoslovakia were brought under German control and the invasion of Poland was prepared through the Molotov–Ribbentrop pact and Operation Himmler. On 1 September 1939 the German Wehrmacht launched an attack on Poland, which was then swiftly occupied by Germany and by the Soviet Red Army. The UK and France declared war on Germany, marking the beginning of World War II.

Hitler
Berlin 1945

In what later became known as The Holocaust, the Third Reich regime had enacted policies physically eliminating many dissidents and minorities. Millions of people were murdered by the Nazis including a sizeable number of Jews, Gypsies, Jehovah's Witnesses, Poles and other Slavs, including Soviet POWs, people with mental and/or physical disabilities, homosexuals, and members of the political opposition. World War II was responsible for more than 40 million dead in Europe. The war casualties for Germany are estimated at 5.3 million German soldiers and few millions of German civilians. Losing the war resulted in large territorial losses, expulsion of about 15 million Germans, and mass rape of German women and the destruction of multiple major cities.

Above, Berlin Centre in 1945.

West Germany was established as a federal parliamentary republic with a "social market economy" and was allied with the United States, the UK and France. The country enjoyed prolonged economic growth since beginning of 1950s (Wirtschaftswunder). West Germany joined NATO in 1955 and was a founding member of the European Economic Community in 1957. East Germany was an Eastern bloc state under political and military control of the USSR via the latter's occupation of forces and by the Warsaw Pact.

While East German propaganda was based on the benefits of the GDR's social programmes and the alleged constant threat of a West German invasion, many of her citizens looked to the West for freedom and prosperity. The Berlin Wall, built in 1961 to stop East Germans from escaping to West Germany, became a symbol of the Cold War. Tensions between East and West Germany were reduced in the early 1970s by Chancellor Willy Brandt's Ostpolitik.

In summer 1989, Hungary decided to dismantle the Iron Curtain and open the borders, causing the emigration of thousands of East Germans to West Germany via Hungary. This had devastating effects on the GDR, where regular mass demonstrations received increasing support.

To the right; Occupation zones after 1945.

Ocupation zones
Unified Germany

The East German authorities unexpectedly eased the border restrictions, allowing East German citizens to travel to the West. This culminated in the Two Plus Four Treaty a year later on 12 September 1990, under which the four occupying powers renounced their rights and Germany regained full sovereignty. This permitted German reunification on 3 October 1990, with the accession of the five re-established states of the former GDR.

Based on the Berlin-Bonn Act, adopted on 10 March 1994, Berlin once again became the capital of the reunified Germany, while Bonn obtained the unique status of a Bundesstadt (federal city) retaining some federal ministries. The relocation of the government was completed in 1999. Since reunification, Germany has taken a more active role in the European Union and NATO. Germany sent a peacekeeping force to the Balkans and sent a force of German troops to Afghanistan as part of a NATO. In 2005, Angela Merkel became the first female Chancellor of Germany as the leader of a grand coalition.

To the left, map of the Unified Germany after 1990.