Central European region, physically comprised between the Baltic and the North Sea, and the physical regions of ancient Gaul, the Alps and Sarmatia.
Little is known of its prehistory given the nature of its first inhabitants. Originally nomads, scattered among Slavic and other nations, they were engaged in continuous migration. And with these migrations, especially of the Cimbri and the Teutons, contacts began with Roman Italy.
From the notes of Julius Caesar, which have come down to us, it was possible to learn how powerful Ariovisto, head of the Swabians, was at that time, who tried to occupy Gaul but was defeated by Caesar in 58 BC. Caesar then invaded Germany twice; Augustus subsequently fortified the western bank of the Rhine and Agrippa transplanted there the Ubii, an ancient Germanic people, founder of the city of Cologne.
Part of the Germans was subjugated by Tiberius, between the Rhine and the Weser. Terrible enemy of the Romans was Arminius, prince of the Cherusci, to whom the massacre of the legions of Varus was owed (in 9 after Christ) then avenged by Germanicus, grandson of Tiberius.
From the year 16 to 68, between the Rhine and the Danube, the Romans created the “Campi Decumati”, ie the countries of the tithe.
In the first and second centuries, the Romans lost their lands beyond these two rivers. The Germanic peoples, under pressure from the Huns, abandoned their offices and moved to the richest lands of the West.
The internal history of Germany did not present significant events until the time of Charlemagne, who brought together all the Saxons, led by Vitichingo, for 32 years.
Germany, which became part of the Holy Roman Empire, was divided into large fiefdoms and kept by the descendants of Charlemagne. In 843, with the treaty of Verdun, stipulated between the heirs of the empire of Charlemagne, the first clear political division was brought between western France, properly France, where Latin civilization prevailed, and eastern civilization, or Germany, where Germanic civilization not only prevailed but also reached very high levels.
In 887 Germany rebelled against Emperor Charles the Great and proclaimed his independence; then he named his king who was Arnulf of Carinthia.
Under the pressure of threats of invasion by the Magyars, 4 powerful Ducati were formed, from which the emperors were always elected. They were: Swabia, Bavaria, Saxony and Franconia. The alliances of the governments of these Duchies began, which lasted two centuries, until we reached the Sveva House in 1138 with Corrado III and then Frederick I, called Barbarossa, who tried in vain to tame the Italian “Municipalities” by going down six times in Italy and destroying several cities. But the Lombard League definitively defeated him in the famous battle of Legnano in 1176 and forced him to the peace of Constance.
The fourth Swabian emperor and king of Sicily, Frederick II, was, not only by birth, but also by culture, more Italian than German. He was a fierce opponent of both the Papacy and the Italian Municipalities; dying in 1250 he left Germany at the mercy of rival parties. The result was an interregnum that lasted from 1254 to 1273 with two German princes fighting for power, which passed into the hands of Rudolf of Habsburg. Meanwhile, in addition to the 4 duchies, other powerful families had risen to the fore: the Habsburgs of Austria, the Luxembourg and the Nassau. After 1292 it was these three families who fought over the throne.
Under Charles IV of Bohemia, who published the “Golden Bull”, with which the rules for the elections of the emperors were established, the great Germanic Leagues were strengthened and wars against the Turks began. Fighting against them, Albert II of the House of Austria died in 1439, leaving the throne to Frederick III, who was the last crowned emperor in Rome.
In 1519 Charles V of Habsburg became emperor, king of Spain for three years. He had to fight religious struggles because two years earlier Martin Luther rose against the Church of Rome. These struggles and wars against Francis I of France greatly weakened the country. The successors of these two sovereigns then continued them until the peace of Cateau-Cambresis was reached in 1559.
Meanwhile the Protestants, harassed by the emperor Mattìa, gave rise to the victorious “Thirty Years War”, at the end of which, with the Peace of Westphalia of 1648, they obtained freedom of worship. The empire, however, came out of this long war very battered. Other wars occurred against the Turks and against the hegemony of Louis XIV of France, until in 1714 the Peace of Rastadt was reached.
Charles VI of Habsburg made use of the “Pragmatic Sanction”, with which his daughter Maria Teresa decreed his successor to the throne, skipping the dictates of the “Salic Law”. At her death, the “War of Succession of Austria” broke out, ending with the peace of Aachen in 1748, which recognized as emperor Francis of Lorraine, husband of Maria Teresa. Frederick II of Prussia, with this peace, obtained Silesia for his state.
Here began the power of Prussia which, unscathed from the “Seven Years War”, was also able to participate in the partition of Poland.
At the outbreak of the French Revolution, Germany fiercely resisted the principles promoted, so much so that the most important Napoleonic wars were fought on German territory. And from these wars Germany always came out defeated and increasingly weakened. This until the fall of Napoleon; but especially after Waterloo Germany rose again and in the Congress of Vienna in 1815 Austria took over its provinces and Prussia came out larger; then the “German Confederation” was founded.
In 1864 Prussia, allied with Austria against Denmark, made the annexation of Schleswig-Holstein and Lauenburg, a small duchy whose prince was Otto Bismark. In 1866 Austria was then excluded from the German Confederation as it fought against Prussia, as well as against Italy.
Prussia, ever stronger under Emperor William I, placed himself at the head of the North Germanic Confederation, made up of: Hanover, Electoral Hesse, Schleswig, Nassau and Frankfurt. At the same time the defensive “Germanic Confederation of the South” was born, consisting of: Bavaria, Baden, Wuttemberg and Hesse Darmstadt.
In 1870 Prussia fought against Napoleon III; he defeated him and took prisoner in Sedan, a small town in the Ardennes.
And on January 18, 1871 the German Empire was proclaimed, of which all the German nations joined, except Austria. As a result, the two Confederations disbanded.
Emperor William II began a policy of world hegemony which would later prove to be one of the determining causes of the First World War. And this disastrous war also decreed the ruin and the end of both empires, the Germanic and the Austro-Hungarian empires. With the treaty of Versailles of 1919 all diplomatic operations were closed and Europe had its new structure. William II abdicated and retired to the village of Doorn in the Netherlands, while the Republic was proclaimed in Germany.
On 11 February 1919 the first President of the Republic was elected and it was the Socialist Friederich Ebert, by the Weimar Assembly, which also approved the Constitution of the new state.
There were few internal conflicts for the formation of the new government, but the political struggle emerged, with some clarity, in February 1925, when Ebert died. The referendum called decreed the victory of General Paolo von Beneckendorff und von Hinderburg on April 26, 1925. He was then re-elected on April 10, 1932.
And here comes a new political party in Germany: the “National Socialist Party”, founded by the Austrian Adolfo Hitler. The main points of the party’s program were spelled out very clearly:
– revenge of Germany,
– exaltation of the Germanic race with clear and broad imperialist perspectives.
In 1925, with the Locarno Pact, Germany was granted a permanent seat at the League of Nations and as the allies evacuated Dortmund, the Ruhr area, the Cologne area and gradually the other areas occupied during the war, until complete liberation, from reach by June 30, 1930. And on January 30, 1930 Hitler was appointed Chancellor.
The elections of 1933 brought the overwhelming majority of the National Socialists to Parliament and after October 14, 1933 Germany left the Disarmament Conference and abandoned the League of Nations; and on November 12, 1933, with unified plebiscite, Hitler’s policy was approved, both domestic and foreign.
On February 13, 1934 the Federal Council of the Countries of the Republic was abolished and on August 2, after the death of President Hindenburg, an amendment to the Constitution was proposed, following which the two offices of President and Chancellor were united in one, assumed naturally by Hitler, who received the title of Fuhrer. Germany immediately embarked on a rearmament program. Also in that same year, the formation of a “First Submarine Team” was declared in Kiel, and when Italy entered the colonial conflict with Ethiopia, Germany did not adhere to the application of the sanctions.
Slowly Hitler dissociated himself from all the treaties in force, such as the Franco-Soviet Assistance Pact and the Locarno Treaty.
Immediately, free from all commitments, he occupied the Rhineland. In 1937 Germany assured Belgium that it would never harm its territorial sovereignty; in March 1938 the Austrian Chancellor Schusschnig pleaded, unnecessarily, not to join the Anschluss, that is to say the union of Austria with Germany; on September 30, 1938 the Sudetenland was annexed to Germany.
On March 14, 1939 Slovakia proclaimed itself an independent republic under the protectorate of the Reich and two days later Hitler formalized the protectorate of Germany also on Bohemia and Moravia. In May 1939 a meeting was held in Milan between the Italian and German foreign ministers; they, in the following 21 and 22 May signed in Berlin the “10-year treaty of political and military alliance”, called “Steel Pact”, by which the fate of Fascist Italy was firmly linked to those of Nazi Germany.
Meanwhile Hitler declared that he wanted to take back Gdansk and the famous “corridor” and in August 1939 entered into a “Pact of rapprochement and friendship” with the Soviet Union. The following September 1 the city of Gdansk decreed that it wanted to be united with Germany and this immediately invaded Poland. And it was the beginning of the Second World War, in which Germany had allies Italy and Japan.
The powerful armaments and undoubted military merits of the Germans meant that, especially in Europe, the barriers deemed stronger, such as the Maginot line in France, collapsed too easily.
Germanic troops invaded almost all of Central Europe, everywhere subjecting the populations to harsh repressions. But the fronts of war were present everywhere, even in Africa, where both Germany and Italy then lost their colonies. See Countryaah for population and country facts about Germany.
In demographic and economic terms, the western and eastern parts of Germany developed very differently up until reunification. These spatial disparities still determine Germany’s society and economy today.
Apart from Russia, Germany is the most populous country in Europe. The population only increases due to a surplus of immigration or a change of nationality. The population development in divided Germany varied considerably. The continuous growth of the population in the western federal states was mainly due to influx from outside after the Second World War. By 1953, around 10.6 million displaced persons and refugees came from the former German eastern regions and the neighboring states of Eastern and Southeastern Europe, and by 1961 also from the GDR. Since the 1960’s, the immigration of foreign workers has played the largest role.
In the area of the GDR, too, the population initially increased after the end of the war due to the influx of refugees, but then steadily decreased until the second half of the 1970’s. After the fall of the Wall in 1989, a large number of people left the East German parts of the country, mainly looking for a job.
The growth of the economic and urban agglomerations, which has continued for around 100 years, has led to a very different population distribution (Fig. 9). The oldest conurbation is the Ruhr area. Further population concentrations can be found in the Rhine-Neckar area, in the Rhine-Main area and in Saarland, in the Hanover, Munich and Nuremberg / Fürth areas as well as in the heavily industrialized south of the new federal states: Halle-Leipzig, Chemnitz-Zwickau and the area Dresden. After the Second World War, the big cities in particular grew at an above-average rate, in the most recent present mainly their peripheral areas. Megacities are next to Berlin the Hanseatic city of Hamburg and Munich; In terms of population, the big cities of Cologne, Frankfurt am Main, Essen, Dortmund, Stuttgart, Düsseldorf, Bremen, Duisburg and Hanover follow. Bonn, the former capital of the Federal Republic of Germany and seat of government until 1999, has the status of a federal city with the seat of some federal authorities.
Population composition and national minorities
At the beginning of 2001 there were 7.3 million foreigners living in Germany, that is 8.9% of the total population. Of these, 27% were Turks, 9% people from the rest of Yugoslavia, 8% Italians, 5% Greeks, 4% Poles, 3% Croats, followed by Austrians, Bosnians, Spaniards, Portuguese and members of other nationalities. Well over two thirds of all foreigners live in Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, Hesse, North Rhine-Westphalia and Berlin. In the new federal states without Berlin, the proportion of foreigners is only slightly more than 3%. Between 1990 and 1999, 1.88 million foreigners applied for asylum in Germany; the number of asylum seekers has since declined. From 1988–1997 around 1.7 million Russian Germans came to Germany as repatriates.
After Germany signed the Council of Europe Agreement on the Protection of National Minorities in May 1995, four ethnic groups have been recognized as national minorities: the Sinti and Roma, who are distributed all over the country, the Danes in southern Schleswig, the Sorbs in Lusatia and the German Frisians.
The United States superpower provided Japan with its surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, to make war enter. Surely this represented the beginning of the end for the attackers, both for them and for the other two allies.
The hated Germans stirred up rebellion everywhere; and everywhere, to drive them away, clandestine armies of partisans were formed, ready to fight to the death in order to achieve freedom
With the military catastrophe collapsed, the Nazi regime, on June 5, 1945, the powers passed into the hands of the Allies present in Berlin, which was then divided into 4 sectors. In August 1945 at the Potsdam Conference, the big three: Attlee for Great Britain, Stalin for the Soviet Union and Truman for the United States, agreed to treat Germany as an “economic unit” and to submit it to the control of a Inter-allied Council. On August 14, 1949, elections were held in western Germany, won by Christian Democrats. The First Parliament of the Second Republic met on 7 September in Bonn, considered the capital of West Germany and on 12 the liberal Professor Teodoro Heuss was elected President; on September 20 the first Chancellor was elected, the Christian Democrat Conrad Adenauer.