A brief history of Germany

The notion of Germany as a distinguishable region is one which began with the Romans.

In the early part of the 1st century AD Germanic tribes were engaged in frequent clashes with Roman troops, both sides experiencing victories and defeats.

Although the Germanic tribes were able to keep the Romans at bay for decades they fell to the Franks after the Roman Empire collapsed.

In 843 the Frankish Empire was divided and from the close of the first century to beyond the medieval era the German state became known as the Holy Roman Empire.

Over the course of centuries the Empire’s Dukes and Princes became more powerful than the emperors and consequent unrest often resulted in conflict.

During the 1500’s the northern states of the Holy Roman Empire became Protestant and clashed with the still Catholic southern states. The most notable altercation of this period was the devastating Thirty Years War.

The end of the Thirty Years War in 1648 was also effectively the end of the Holy Roman Empire.

Germany was rapidly divided into many individual states including Bavaria and Prussia.

During the Industrial Revolution the German economy was modernised and strengthened and the Socialist movement gathered momentum.  Unification was finally achieved towards the end of the 19th century. Under the direction of Prussian Chancellor Otto Von Bismarck the German Empire was born in 1871 and it rapidly emerged as a major world power.

As the 20th century dawned Germany made colonial acquisitions and became a front runner in the navel race.

During the First World War Germany was at the forefront of the Central Powers but was defeated in 1918. Germany was then ordered to pay a crippling amount in reparations under the Treaty of Versailles, forced to rescind its colonies and accept being partly occupied by the winning nations.

A disappointed, embittered and soon to be impoverished nation overthrew it’s monarchy during the 1918-19 German Rebellion and instated the volatile parliamentary democracy of the Weimar Republic.

By the 1930’s the global financial depression and unprecedented levels of unemployment had brought Germany to its knees. In 1933, a time of desperation and hardship for many German citizens, leadership was handed to Adolf Hitler. With the Nazi’s at his side Hitler was able to establish a totalitarian regime where any resistance was met with imprisonment or violence.

Germany’s aggression in acquiring foreign territories led to the declaration of the Second World War in 1939. For the first few years of the War Germany was partnered with the Soviet Union and managed to score some significant victories while atrocities like the Holocaust were committed. However, the tide turned after Germany made a failed attempt at invading the Soviet Union. America then entered the War and Anglo-American bombing attacks decimated German cities.

June 1944 and the Allied invasion of Normandy marked the beginning of the end of the War.

By May 1945 Germany was defeated and over the following Cold War years the nation was divided up by the Allies.

Democratic West Germany and Communist East Germany were divided by the Berlin wall until 1989 when the Eastern Bloc collapsed. Reunification occurred the following year.

When the Eurozone was founded in 1998/9 Germany was one of its first members and to this day the nation remains the largest economy in Europe and a notable world power.