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.
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.
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.