History of Germany

History of Germany

The oldest inhabitants of Germany were the Celts in the 1st millennium BC , the Germans in the north along the Baltic Sea coast. In the 1st century BC, Germanic tribes penetrated the Rhine, central Germany and the Carpathian region. At the turn of our era, the southern part of Germany became part of ancient Rome. A defensive line of fortresses (limes imperii romani) was built against the attacks of the Germans (Marcomani) from the Rhine (Colonia Agrippina – now Cologne) to the Danube (Castra Regina – Regensburg) to Vienna. In the 4th century n. 1. the Germans were pushed out by the Huns, by nomadic raiders from Central Asia. In 410 AD, the Germanic Visigoths sacked Rome. The fall of the Western Roman Empire was accompanied in the 6th and 7th centuries by the emergence of the Germanic tribal formations of the Bavarians, Alamanni and Thuringians. Their duchies were short-lived and were gradually taken over by the Frankish Empire. Under Charlemagne (c. 742–814), his empire stretched from the North Sea to Rome and from the Elbe to the Pyrenees. In 888, the empire was divided and the East Franconian Empire was established on the territory of Germany. At the beginning of the 10th century, this empire also broke up into duchies (Saxony, Bavaria, Swabia, Franconia and Lorraine). In 919, the crown passed to Henry I of Saxony (ca. 876–936), who became the first true king of Germany. His son Otto I (912–973) is crowned Roman Emperor in 962 and becomes the founder of the Holy Roman Empire, which included Germany, Burgundy and Italy. In the 10th to 12th centuries, the empire expanded east to Austria, Lusatia and Pomerania at the expense of the Slavs. From the 11th century, the first cities were created, and at the beginning of the 13th century, the empire began to disintegrate, and in 1254, separate feudal entities (principalities, counties and imperial cities) were created. In 1273, Rudolf I (1218–91), the first representative of the Austrian Habsburg dynasty, was elected to the imperial throne. His successors retained the title of Holy Roman Emperor with one exception until 1804, but the empire as a whole was never completely dominated and unified.

According to Computer Do, in the 16th century Emperor Charles V (1500–58) inherited Luxembourg, Burgundy and Spain. But the countries were rivals rather than allies. Part of the political and economic changes at the beginning of the 16th century was also the religious reformation. Within its framework, in 1530 the Protestant monarchs united and, under the leadership of the Duke of Saxony Jan Bedrich (1503–54), formed the Schmalkaldic League and waged wars against Charles V. In 1555, the religious peace of Augsburg was concluded, by which Lutheranism was permitted. The Protestant movement inspired peasants and the urban poor and sparked the social upheaval known as the German Peasants’ War (1524–26). This revolutionary movement was rejected by Luther and brutally suppressed.

In 1618, Emperor Ferdinand II began (1578–1637) military campaign against Czech Protestants and thus dragged Europe into the Thirty Years’ War (1618–48). Within 30 years, the population of Germany decreased from the original 21 million to 13.5 million. The Peace of Westphalia (1648) confirmed the sovereignty of about 300 German principalities, bishoprics and free cities, thus preserving the fragmented character of the empire.

The weakening of the central power of the Habsburg Monarchy led to the strengthening of the influence and power of some families, such as the Hohenzollern in Brandenburg and Prussia, who acquired new territories along the Baltic coast. Under the leadership of Frederick the Great (1712–86), Prussia strengthened militarily and controlled the territory from present-day Lithuania to Magdeburg in the west. The transformation of Prussia into a European power was temporarily stopped by the invasion of Napoleon’s armies in 1806. In the same year, Francis II. Austrian (1768–1835) forced to renounce the title of Holy Roman Emperor. As early as 1806, several small German states founded the Confederation of the Rhine – a confederation dominated by France. One of the results of the Congress of Vienna (1814–15) was the creation of the German Confederation – the free union of 39 independent states under the rule of Austria. In 1834, the German Customs Union was formed, creating a single internal market. Meanwhile, the power of Prussia grew. The Prussian–Austrian War of 1866 led to the expulsion of Austria from the confederation, and the subsequent Franco–Prussian War (1870–71) secured Prussia’s dominant position in Europe. The Prussian Chancellor Otto von Bismark (1815–96) then unified Germany and proclaimed the German Empire in 1871. Germany soon became the industrial power of Europe, built a powerful military and merchant fleet and acquired the first overseas colonies.

In 1907, a military alliance of Germany, Italy, and Austria-Hungary was formed against Britain, France, and Russia. The assassination of the Austrian Grand Duke Franz Ferdinand d’Este (1863–1914) by a Serbian nationalist in Sarajevo eventually broke the shaky peace between these groupings of states, sparking World War I in 1914. It ended in 1918 with the defeat of Germany, the occupation of industrial Saarland and the Rhineland by France, territorial losses in the east and the overthrow of the empire. After the suppression of socialist revolutions, a new constitution was adopted in 1919 and the democratic Weimar Republic was established. It faced enormous economic problems, compounded by the payment of large reparations and the occupation of the Ruhr by French and Belgian troops in 1923–25, which caused hyperinflation. In November 1923, the first fascist organizations began to form as a result of the democratic government’s inability to handle the troubles. A short period of economic recovery was interrupted by the world crisis, which contributed to the fact that Adolf Hitler (1889 to 1945), leader of the National Socialist Party (NSDAP), became chancellor in 1933. In 1934, Hitler becomes the leader of the Third Reich, and in 1936, the Berlin-Rome offensive pact is formed. In 1938, Hitler occupies Austria, after the Munich Agreement he occupies the Sudetenland, and in 1939, by invading Poland, he starts World War II.

At the end of the war (1939–45), which cost the lives of about 50 million people, Germany lost all territory east of the Oder and the Neisse, and the country was divided into occupation zones: British, French, American and Russian. In 1949, the British, French and American zones were merged to form the Federal Republic of Germany. The Soviet Union responded by creating the German Democratic Republic. In 1952, the Soviets built an impenetrable cordon along the entire border. West Berlin became an isolated enclave 190 km from West Germany and at the same time the first destination for refugees from the East. The East German uprising against the communist regime in June 1953 was crushed by Soviet tanks.

In 1955, the Eastern Bloc countries, led by the Soviet Union, formed a unified military pact – the Warsaw Pact. West Germany achieved full sovereignty in 1952, became a member of the North Atlantic Military Alliance (NATO) in 1955, and a founding member of the European Economic Community in 1957.

In 1961, East Germany built the massive Berlin Wall to stop the exodus of residents to the West. The easing of tensions between East and West was interrupted in 1968 by the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, in which East German troops also took part. Cold relations between Germany and the East lasted until 1970, when treaties on the non-use of force in political matters were signed with Poland and the USSR, and the borders on the Oder and the Neuse were confirmed. Two years later, the Pact between East and West Germany opened a new path to cooperation.

In the 1980s, the pressure to carry out reforms in the Soviet bloc intensified. In 1989, a mass exodus of East Germans and a wave of demonstrations led to the dismantling of the Berlin Wall. In the spring of 1990, the first free elections were held in East Germany, and on October 3, the official unification of Germany took place.

History of Germany