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German Empire

Wappen Deutsches Reich - Reichsadler 1889.svg
Flag of the German Empire.svg

The German Empire (German: Deutsches Kaiserreich), officially the German Reich, was the historical German nation state that existed from the unification of Germany in 1871 to the abdication of Kaiser Wilhelm II in November 1918, when Germany became a federal republic.

The German Empire consisted of 27 constituent territories, with most being ruled by royal families. This included four kingdoms, six grand duchies, six duchies (five after 1876), seven principalities, three free Hanseatic cities, and one imperial territory. Although the Kingdom of Prussia contained most of the Empire's population and territory, it played a lesser role.

After 1850, the states of Germany had rapidly become industrialized, with particular strengths in coal, iron (and later steel), chemicals, and railways. In 1871 it had a population of 41 million people, and by 1913 this had increased to 68 million. A heavily rural collection of states in 1815, the united Germany became predominantly urban. During its 47 years of existence, the German Empire operated as an industrial, technological, and scientific giant, gaining more Nobel Prizes in science than any other country.

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Hindenburg at Tannenberg

The Battle of Tannenberg was fought between Russia and Germany from 26-30 August 1914, during the first month of World War I. The battle resulted in the almost complete destruction of the Russian Second Army and the suicide of its commanding general, Alexander Samsonov. A series of follow-up battles (First Masurian Lakes) destroyed most of the First Army as well and kept the Russians off balance until the spring of 1915. The battle is particularly notable for fast rail movements by the Germans, enabling them to concentrate against each of the two Russian armies in turn, and also for the failure of the Russians to encode their radio messages. It brought high prestige to Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg and his rising staff-officer Erich Ludendorff.

The French war plan was to attack as soon as their army was mobilized to drive the Germans from Alsace and Lorraine. If the British joined as promised, they would become the left flank. Their Russian allies would have a massive army, more than 95 divisions, but their mobilization would inevitably be somewhat slower. Getting their men to the front would also be delayed because their railway network was far behind Western European standards; for instance, three-quarters was still single-tracked. They intended to have 27 divisions at the front by day 15 and 52 by day 23, but it would take 60 days before 90 divisions were in action. Despite their difficulties, the Russians promised the French that they would promptly engage the armies of Austria-Hungary in the south and on day 15 would invade German East Prussia.

Selected biography

Helmuth von Moltke

Helmuth von Moltke (German pronunciation: [ˈhɛlmuːt fɔn ˈmɔltkə]; 23 May 1848 – 17 June 1916), also known as Moltke the Younger served as the Chief of the German General Staff from 1906 to 1914. The two are often differentiated as Moltke the Elder and Moltke the Younger.

Helmuth von Moltke was born in Biendorf, Grand Duchy of Mecklenburg-Schwerin. Moltke served with the 7th Grenadier Regiment and was cited for bravery. He attended the War Academy between 1875 and 1878 and joined the General Staff in 1880. In 1882 he became personal adjutant to his uncle, who was then Chief of the General Staff. In 1891, on the death of his uncle, Moltke became aide-de-camp to Kaiser Wilhem II, thus becoming part of the Emperor's inner circle.

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Leipzig Opera House
Augustusplatz with Leipzig Opera House, around 1900

Did you know?

The Reichstag in Berlin.jpg
  • ...that the Reichstag building was constructed to house the Imperial Diet of the German Empire? It was opened in 1894 and housed the Diet until 1933, when it was severely damaged after it was set on fire.
  • ...that the German term Sozialstaat has been used since 1870 to describe state support programs devised by German Sozialpolitiker ("social politicians") and implemented as part of Bismarck's conservative reforms?

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Topics

Chronologie of the German Empire
Genesis (1870-1871) :
Affirmation :

German East Africa WWI Patriotic Kolonialkriegerdank donation postcard. "Askari from German East Africa"

Demise (1918-1919) :
Military

Pickelhaube

Deutsches Heer
Kaiserliche Marine
Luftstreitkräfte • Zeppelin
Arts and Culture
Scientists (Nobel Prize)

Adolf von Baeyer

Chemistry : Hermann Emil Fischer (1902), Adolf von Baeyer (1905), Eduard Buchner (1907), Wilhelm Ostwald (1909), Otto Wallach (1910), Richard Martin Willstätter (1915), Fritz Haber (1918)
Physics : Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen (1901), Philipp Lenard (1905), Ferdinand Braun (1909), Wilhelm Wien (1911), Max von Laue (1914), Max Planck (1918)
Physiology and medicine : Emil Adolf von Behring (1901), Robert Koch (1905), Paul Ehrlich (1908), Albrecht Kossel (1910)
Archeology : Deutsche Orient-Gesellschaft, German Archaeological Institute, Ernst Curtius, Robert Koldewey, Wilhelm Dörpfeld, Heinrich Schliemann, Ludwig Borchardt, Gustaf Kossinna
Economy
Friedrich Alfred Krupp, Hermann Gruson, Friedrich Bayer, Werner von Siemens
Konzern, Krupp Ag, Rheinmetall, Thyssen, AG Vulcan Stettin, Germaniawerft
Politics
Constitution of the German Empire • German monarchs • Reichstag (Reichstag building), Bundesrat • Reichskanzler
  • Political parties
Social democratic: SPD • SAPD • USPD
Political Catholic : Zentrum
Liberal : NLP • FVP • FSV • DFP
Conservative : DKP • DRP
Symbols
Flag of the German Empire • Germania

States of the German Empire

Kingdoms

Grand Duchies

Duchies

Principalities

Free and Hanseatic Cities

Imperial Territories

Colonies of the German Empire

The German colonial empire (German: Deutsches Kolonialreich) constituted the overseas colonies, dependencies and territories of Imperial Germany. Short-lived attempts of colonization by individual German states had occurred in preceding centuries, but crucial colonial efforts only began in 1884 with the Scramble for Africa. Germany lost control when World War I began in 1914 and its colonies were seized by its enemies in the first weeks of the war. However some military units held out for a while longer: German South-West Africa surrendered in 1915, Kamerun in 1916 and German East Africa only in 1918 by end of the war. Germany's colonial empire was officially confiscated with the Treaty of Versailles after Germany's defeat in the war and the various units became League of Nations mandates under the supervision (but not ownership) of one of the victorious powers.

Proposed Coat of Arms New Guinea 1914.png
Proposed Coat of Arms Samoa 1914.png
Proposed Coat of Arms Southwest Africa 1914.png
Proposed Coat of Arms Cameroon 1914.png
Proposed Coat of Arms Togo 1914.png
Proposed Coat of Arms East Africa 1914.png
German New Guinea German Samoa German South-West Africa Kamerun Togoland German East Africa

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