TRAVELGUIDE TO GERMANY
A SHORT HISTORY OF GERMANY
⋆ORIGINS OF GERMANY ⋆
The concept of Germany as a distinct region can be traced back to Roman commander Julius Caesar, who distinguished it from Gaul (France). He pushed the boundaries of the Roman Empire east of the Rhine River. The origins of the word Germany is from Latin (Germania).
Germany did not officially unite as a country until 1871, instead, there were a number of different German speaking regions such as Bavaria, Prussia, the Hanseatic League and Saxony.
⋆MEDIEVAL GERMANY (HABSBURG´S DYNASTY) ⋆
The region that would become Germany was characterized by a ceaseless series of wars among local rulers. The Habsburg Dynasty (1526 - 1780) united the territories only in the person of the monarch. The Protestant Reformation (1517-1648) deprived Germany of its religious unity and split the population into Roman Catholics, Lutherans and Calvinists and can be seen as a pathway into the Thirty Years War (1618-1648), in which Germany witnessed a deconstruction to a degree not seen again until World War II. The Peace of Westphalia in 1648 left German speaking Europe divided into hundreds of states. The largest of these states were Prussia and Austria. In 1794 the area was occupied by Napoleon and his troops until the Battle of Leipzig in 1813. His officials abolished numerous small states and as a result the German territory consisted of about 40 states after the Congress of Vienna (1814-1815).
⋆PRUSSIAN HEGEMONY ⋆
In 1871 Germany was unified and transformed into an empire (without Austria and the German speaking areas of Switzerland) under Emperor Wilhelm I and Bismarck, who used the power of nationalism to achieve this goal. By 1900, Germany was the dominant power on the European continent, and led the Central Powers into World War I (1914 - 1918) against France, Great Britain, Russia and the United States. The country got defeated and was partly occupied. It was forced to pay war reparations by the Treaty of Versailles (1919) and lost all its colonies.
⋆WEIMAR REPUBLIC ⋆
The German Revolution of 1918 - 1919 put an end to monarchy and resulted in the establishment of the Weimar Republic, Germany´s
first democratic system. The worldwide Great Depression after the roaring twenties hit Germany hard and unemployed people lost faith in their government.
After Adolf Hitler had become chancellor of Germany, he transformed the country into what became known as Nazi Germany. The period lasted from 1933 to 1945.
POST WORLD WAR II GERMANIES
The victorious powers occupied Germany and divided the country into four sectors. Three of them became West Germany. The eastern part became known as the German Democratic Republic (DDR).
East and West reunited in 1989 and set the foundations for modern day Germany. Today, Germany can be seen as a vibrant destination for tourists all over. It is worth visiting Germany. See: Sights of Germany.