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Germany

Germany[]

History[]

While various "Germanic" peoples have occupied northern-central Europe for thousands of years, the modern political entity known as "Germany" is extremely young, created almost single-handedly by the imperialistic Prussian politician Otto von Bismarck some 140 years ago. During its brief existence Germany has had a profound effect - for good and for bad - on human history.

Climate and Terrain[]

Germany encompasses a variety of terrains, from snow-covered mountains in the south to rolling hills in the west to the flatlands of the east to the coast in the north. It is crossed by several major rivers which provide water for crops and transport for goods. Its hills and mountains are poor with natural resources and its plains are not very fertile. Germany has a temperate climate and abundant rainfall, ideal for European-style agriculture.

Pre-History[]

For centuries northern-central Europe has been occupied by Germanic people, roughly defined as people who speak Germanic languages (rather than say the Romanic languages of Italy, France and Spain). Evidence suggests that Germanic tribes lived in northern Germany as far back as the Bronze Age. It appears that during this period Southern Germany was originally populated by peoples of Celtic origin; they were however eventually "Germanized" as the Germanic tribes' influence spread south. At first a new culture called Celti-German came but eventually this region was fully Germanized.

The Romans[]

The first historical information on the Germanic tribes comes to us from about 50 BC, when the Roman general Julius Caesar encountered and fought various tribes while conquering the province of Gaul (an area roughly encompassing modern France). Caesar established the eastern border of Gaul at the Rhine River, beyond which most of the "barbaric" German tribes lived.

The Romans and Germanic people maintained an uneasy peace (punctuated by various raids and border skirmishes) for some forty years until approximately 10 BC, when the Roman armies invaded Germanic territory from two directions, crossing the Rhine to the west and the Danube to the south. This proved to be a catastrophic miscalculation: the barbarians were astonishingly tough opponents and a number of Roman legions were destroyed. The humiliated Romans retreated to the previous borders of the Danube and the Rhine, no further incursions were attempted for several centuries, and the two sides coexisted more or less peacefully until 350 AD.

During that period there was a good deal of commerce between the Romans and the Germans, with the Germans trading raw material in exchange for Roman manufactured and luxury goods. Over time the Germans learned advanced agricultural techniques from the Romans, and they even began using Roman money.

Enter the Huns[]

As the fourth century progressed, the Germanic tribes began to come under increased pressure from "Hunnish" tribes migrating into Germanic territory from further east. This pushed the Germanic people into Roman territory. Over the next fifty-odd years parts of Rome were overrun by the Visigoths, Suebi and Vandals. The city of Rome itself was sacked several times, and several Roman emperors died fighting the invaders. The Romans eventually came to terms with some of the invaders, granting them territory and some measure of protection from the advancing Huns.

With the death of Attila in 435 the Hun Empire collapsed, and the Germanic tribes no longer needed Rome's protection. A number of tribes declared their independence from Rome, and within a short period a Visigoth kingdom was established in southwest Gaul, a Burgundian kingdom was declared in southeast Gaul, a Frankish kingdom was established in the north, and the Lombard kingdom was created on the Danube – and the Western Roman Empire ceased to exist.

The Franks[]

Once established in north-western Gaul, the Franks (the Germanic peoples in Roman Gaul) began to expand eastward across the Rhine and back into non-Romanized Germanic territory, where the non-Romanized Germanic tribes remained as stubbornly independent as ever. The subjugation of the tribes spanned three centuries of war, conquest, rebellion, treachery, punishment, and more war. Religion was one of the great impediments to peace: the Franks had become Christian and they sought to spread the gospel into the barbarian lands. The Germanic tribes were pagans but quickly abandoned their religion.

The Franks themselves were not a unified monolithic entity: they spent as much time fighting themselves as they did battling external foes. The earliest line of rulers, the Merovingians, remained in power until the middle of the seventh century, when they were overthrown by the Carolingians, former stewarts of the Merovingians. The Carolingians were blessed with a series of extremely able kings who, allied with the Catholic Church, extended Frankish power across much of central Europe.

Charlemagne and the Holy Roman Empire[]

The greatest of the Carolingians, Charlemagne (742-814) was a brilliant military leader and a canny politician. He continued his father's and grandfather's subjugation of the Germanic tribes, and he extended his empire into southern France and then Italy. In exchange for protecting Rome from the Saracens and the Byzantines, the Pope crowned him Emperor. Today Charlemagne is considered to be one of the founders of France and of Germany, not to mention the first man to unite Western Europe since the Romans.

Upon Charlemagne's death, his only son Louis I (Louis the Pious) assumed the throne. Louis had more than one son, and they soon deposed of him and fought bloody wars about the empire. Many years would pass before any single person would again rule so large a portion of Europe.

The Rise of Germany (Part I)[]

Louis the Pious' son, Louis the German, inherited the eastern portion of the Frankish Empire, in what would become Medieval Germany. Much of his reign was spent fighting the Slavs, the Vikings and his brothers, inheritors of the middle and western portions of Charlemagne's empire (the areas which would later become France and the Benelux countries). Louis the German ruled for some 50 years (ca. 825-876), providing political stability to his war-torn kingdom. When not engaged in battle with his neighbors, Louis was an early patron of German letters who promoted the creation of monasteries in his kingdom.

The Middle Ages[]

In the two centuries following Louis' reign, power devolved to local authorities, resulting in a patchwork of smaller mostly independent duchies who became independent political units in everything but name. Following the death of the last Carolingian German king, the German dukes elected first a Frankish duke to be king, but when he proved incompetent the title went to a Saxon duke.

The Saxons remained in power for some centuries. They successfully held off the attacks of the eastern barbarians (though an attempt to expand German power east proved disastrous). By the late 10th century Otto I had invaded and conquered much of the Slavic lands in the east. Pope John XII crowned him Emperor, beginning a powerful alliance between the German state and the Church that lasted over a century.

This alliance was not permanent, however. Eventually, the popes grew to resent the German kings' increasing power over the Church's property and personnel. Reformers within the Church decried the corruption of bishops and abbots who purchased their positions from kings and duchies (the sin of "simony"), claiming that only the pope should make such appointments. Matters reached a peak in 1075, when King Henry IV demanded that Pope Gregory VII abdicate; Gregory responded by excommunicating Henry. Facing a civil war, Henry was forced to beg the pope for forgiveness. The pope gave it, but Henry was badly weakened and was unable to quash the rebellion, which dragged on for some 20 years. Although Henry IV survived, the German monarchy was permanently weakened by the struggle.

During this period German power continued to grow in Central Europe, as German kings and duchies conquered and colonized non-German territory to the east and west. King Frederick I (Frederick Barbarossa), who reigned from 1152–1190, campaigned to reconquer Lombardy and Italy. Although unsuccessful against the Lombards, he (and his heirs) did make substantial gains in Italy. Frederick died in 1190, while leading the ill-fated Third Crusade towards the Holy Land. According to legend he drowned while bathing.

The Fall of Germany (Part I)[]

Frederick's heirs were unable to unify the increasingly fragmented Germany, and when Frederick II, Barbarossa's grandson, died in 1250, the crown was left vacant for some time. Although others would eventually claim the crown, none would again wield true monarchical power.

By the late 14th century the dissolution of Germany was all but complete.

The Rise of Germany (Part II)[]

Germany would remain divided for some five long centuries. By the 18th century Austria (under the Habsburgs) and the kingdom of Prussia were the two dominant powers; at the beginning of the 19th century both were engaged in the desperate struggles of the Napoleonic wars that convulsed Europe. In the Congress of Vienna in 1814 which followed Napoleon's defeat, many of the states which comprised the old German empire were joined together in the German Confederation. Austria and Prussia both sought to dominate the Confederation; their incessant squabbling and jockeying for position left the new state weak and divided.

In 1861 King William I of Prussia appointed Otto von Bismarck Prime Minister of Prussia. Three short years later Bismarck led his country into war with Denmark, adding Schleswig-Holstein to the growing Prussian State. In 1866 Prussia went to war against Austria, after Bismarck's cunning machinations left the Habsburg Empire isolated and vulnerable. Prussia easily defeated its once mighty competitor, driving Austria from the Confederation.

In 1870 Prussia went to war with France, utilizing its incomparable railroad network to launch a lightning assault that the French were totally unprepared for. The French were crushed and the Prussians claimed the disputed territories of Alsace-Lorraine. Having decisively beaten the only two land powers who might have stopped them, Bismarck and the Prussians announced the formation of the German Empire, the direct ancestor of modern Germany. Germany would dominate central Europe for the next 50 years.

The Fall of Germany (Part II)[]

The story of World War I is well known. At heart, that war was a horrible failure of diplomacy as lesser men tried to emulate Bismarck's tactics. In the years leading up to that cataclysmic event, the Great Powers of Europe found themselves almost helplessly falling into two armed camps, each side linked together by a labyrinthine of diplomatic agreements which left little room for actual diplomacy. Country A was treaty-bound to Country B, who had promised to come to Country C's aid if it went to war with Country D, who was similarly allied to Countries E, F, and G.

In 1914 the entire house of cards came tumbling down following a blatant attempt to engulf Serbia by Austria-Hungary. Using the assassination of an Austro-Hungarian nobleman by a Serbian anarchist as an excuse, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia. Russia honored its treaty with Serbia and declared war on Austria-Hungary, and Austria-Hungary's ally Germany mobilized its forces to attack Russia, which caused France (still smarting from the loss of Alsace-Lorraine 40 years earlier) to mobilize against Germany. England, France and Russia's ally, had little choice but to also declare war on Germany and Austria-Hungary.

Although it enjoyed great initial success early in the war, crippling Russia and overrunning half of France, Germany and its allies were unable to deliver the final killing blow to its enemies, and the war degenerated into a hideous stalemate which lasted for four horrible years of trench warfare. Britain's command of the seas and the United States' entry into the war finally broke Germany's will to resist. Sick of war, under pressure on all fronts and seeing no chance of victory, the German people revolted. The Kaiser fled to the Netherlands; the Germans declared a Republic, and on November 11, 1918 they signed an Armistice agreement. By war's end some 15 million people had been killed and much of Europe was a stinking wasteland of mud, corpses and unexploded ordnance.

The victors were not overly kind to Germany following the war. France took back the disputed territories of Alsace-Lorraine, and the allies imposed huge war reparations on the already-destitute country, which was forbidden to maintain a significant military. (Austria-Hungary fared no better: the empire was dismembered on ethnic lines into Austria, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and Yugoslavia, and the Ottoman Empire was similarly hacked into pieces.)

Germany was prostrate, bankrupt, and under threat of occupation if it did not pay huge sums of money to its neighbors (who it should be noted in fairness were not in much better shape themselves and who desperately needed the money to rebuild). Many wondered if Germany would ever be able to recover from the catastrophe of World War I.

The Rise of Germany (Part III)[]

Again, the events leading up to World War II are well-known. Trading upon the anger and humiliation felt by the German people, Adolf Hitler and his fascist Nazi (National-Socialist) party gained control of the German government. The Germans rebuilt their country, economy and military with astonishing rapidity, while Jews, homosexuals, Gypsies and other minorities were persecuted with increasing ferocity.

While Germany's former enemies watched supinely, Hitler united Germany with Austria, then gobbled up Czechoslovakia. Isolated by France, England and the US, Stalin's Communist Russia helped Germany dismember helpless Poland. This caused France and England to declare war against Germany, but neither country had the military power to launch an offensive war against Hitler's growing army.

In 1940 Germany invaded France via the Netherlands, Belgium and the Low Countries. France's defenses were outflanked, and the German tanks made short work of the inferior French and British armaments. In a little over a month France had surrendered and the British had been driven off of the continent.

In 1941 Germany turned its attention to the East. The mighty German war machine carved a bloody swath into the belly of the Soviet Union, destroying entire Soviet armies hurled into its path to stem the assault. By late 1941 Germany seemed on the verge of destroying Soviet Russia and achieving undisputed mastery of continental Europe.

The Fall of Germany (Part III)[]

Despite its early astonishing successes, Germany was unable to destroy the Soviet Union. Crippled by Stalin's purge of the officer's corps some years before and ill-equipped and ill-trained, the Soviet army fought heroically to stem the German advance. Though it cost them huge, terrible casualties to do so, the Red Army halted the Germans before they could capture Leningrad or Moscow, buying Stalin time to train and equip a huge military force with which to launch his counter-offensive.

In the Western Front, things were looking no better for Germany. The United States had entered the war (following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor), and American and British forces began to undermine German power first in Africa and then Italy. As the Russian forces ground their way west against extraordinary German resistance, the Americans and British invaded France, opening up another front against Hitler's forces. Bled white and unable to defend fronts, the German army finally collapsed. Hitler committed suicide, and in May 7-8 1945 Germany surrendered.

Germany paid heavily for its transgressions. Millions of Germans died in the war, including a staggering number of German Jews who were murdered by their German countrymen. The Soviet Union (which itself suffered tens of millions of casualties) expanded its borders westward into Polish territory and Poland was in turn awarded German eastern territory, including all of Prussia, where fifteen million Germans were driven from their homes into what remained of Germany. Germany herself was divided and occupied by the Allies, Russia occupying Eastern Germany while France, the United Kingdom and the United States occupied Western Germany and half of Berlin.

The Rise of Germany (Part IV)[]

In the years after World War II Germany has made yet another remarkable comeback. Following the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union, East and West Germany have reunited, becoming once again an economic powerhouse unrivaled in Europe. Germany has become an enthusiastic member of the European Union, and perhaps most astonishingly, a close friend and ally of France. The German people seem to accept responsibility for their nation's horrible crimes in World War II and seem determined to make sure that they never reoccur. In short, Germany has become a powerful force for world peace and unity in the twenty-first century.

German Trivia[]

  • The German Autobahn is the oldest motorway network in the world – it has no enforced speed limit and only a maximum advisory speed of 130 kmph, which equals about 80 mph.
  • The world's oldest savings bank was established in Oldenburg in 1786.
  • There are over 1,300 beer breweries in Germany, making almost 5,000 different kinds of beer. The Germans consume the 3rd largest amount of beer per year, after the Irish and the Czechs: roughly 31 gallons per person per year.
  • The Ulm Cathedral is the tallest church in the world – its main spire measures 161.5 m (530 ft) in height.
  • Gummi Bears were invented by a German confectionist, Hans Riegel, in 1922.

Bismarck[]

History[]

Otto von Bismarck, also known as the "Iron Chancellor," is perhaps the most significant figure in German history. During his long political career Bismarck unified Germany and founded the German Empire; Germany was transformed from a weak and loose confederation of states into a powerful united country that would come to dominate continental Europe.

Early Life[]

Descended of a noble Prussian family, Bismarck certainly inherited the arrogance of the Prussian Junker class. He was a poor student who excelled at dueling and was quite a historian and linguist. However, he spent much of his time drinking with the other aristocrats in their exclusive fraternity.

Unable to accept the discipline required for military service, Bismarck instead entered the Prussian diplomatic corps, where his skill quickly brought him to the attention of the Prussian Kaiser. Appointed to the German Federal Diet (congress), Bismarck worked to increase Prussian status and power within Germany. Eventually he would rise to the rank of Prussian Prime Minister, where after years of long struggle, he succeeded in unifying Germany under Prussian rule. Bismarck would accomplish this through crafty diplomacy, aided by a series of successful wars.

Foreign Policy[]

Once Germany was unified, Bismarck's main foreign policy aim was to keep the peace in Europe, mostly by isolating France, Germany's historic enemy. In this he was largely successful. He engineered a war with France in 1870 in order to draw several German states (Bavaria, Baden, and others) into the German empire. In the war, France was quickly defeated.

Having achieved his objective of acquiring the German states, Bismarck argued for fairly lenient terms, but the German people and military wanted more, and he was forced to annex the French provinces of Alsace and Loraine. Bismarck knew that this would be trouble in the long run − before the war he had told a colleague, "Supposing we did win Alsace, we would have to maintain our conquest and to keep Strasbourg perpetually garrisoned. This would be an impossible position, for in the end the French would find new allies − and we might have a bad time." This, of course, is exactly what happened in World War I, where Germany had a very bad time indeed.

Domestic Policy[]

Although an ardent conservative and monarchist, Bismarck was the first European leader to promote a system of social security for workers. He rebuilt the German monetary system, introducing for the first time a single currency. He also helped fabricate the new country's code of civil and commercial law. His benevolence was not universal, however; while emancipating the Jews, Bismarck also enacted laws aimed at restraining Germany's Catholics.

Judgment of History[]

As a diplomat, Bismarck's greatest weakness was his single-minded desire to weaken France. He was largely successful during his lifetime, but in doing so he made France into an implacable enemy, which would have dire consequences in the next century. Domestically, Bismarck's great flaw was his indifference to the lives of the German people. As Germany grew in power and stature, the people's lives improved but little. His social security system did some good, but he enacted that mainly to avoid having to make greater concessions to the German Socialists.

Bismarck was a great leader, perhaps the greatest European leader of the 19th century. His triumphs outweighed his defeats, and he almost single-handedly turned a group of bickering kingdoms into a mighty state. Although his policies did contribute to the disasters in Germany's future, those were more so a result of his successors' inability to adjust to the changing geopolitical climate in Europe.

Trivia[]

  • Bismarck is remembered for the following quotes:
    • "The great questions of the time will not be resolved by speeches and majority decisions − that was the great mistake of 1848 and 1849 − but by iron and blood."
    • "Laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made."
    • "One day the great European War will come out of some damned foolish thing in the Balkans."
  • Approximately 250 monuments ("Bismarck Towers") have been erected in his honor on four continents - Oceania, South America, Africa, and Europe.

Unique Components[]

Landsknecht[]

(Unique Component in Vanilla and Gods & Kings only)

The landsknecht were German mercenary pikemen of the 16th century. Created in imitation of the legendary Swiss mercenary pikemen, the landsknecht would eventually supplant them as the best mercenary infantry available in Europe, fighting in almost every major engagement in the 16th century – often on both sides. In battle landsknechts generally carried pikes of up to twenty feet in length. Some few also carried huge two-handed swords or halberds; these were used to chop the heads off of the pikes of their opponents.

Panzer[]

At the start of World War II, the German Panzer tanks were not markedly superior to their French or Russian counterparts - quite the opposite, in fact. The German "Panzers" (tanks) were inferior in firepower and in armor. What the Germans did have, was military geniuses like Heinz Guderian, Panzer Corps commander and one of the architects of the blitzkrieg, or lightning-assault doctrine of concentrated tank warfare. In France, this doctrine was astonishingly successful, as massed armies of tanks blew apart the French tanks, which, though superior in weaponry and armor, were dispersed among the French infantry and had no chance against the massed German firepower. The German Panzers had equal success early in the war against the Soviet Union, until the USSR figured out how to create and organize their own tank armies.

Trivia[]

  • The unit icon and model depict the PanzerkampfwagenVI Tiger, a very advanced heavy tank.
    • The word "Panzerkampfwagen" translates to "Armored Combat Vehicle," but the word "Panzer" simply means "armor."

Hanse[]

(Unique Component in Brave New World only)

From the Old French meaning "company of merchants," the Hanse was a voluntary confederation of merchants and traders organized in a town for the protection and facility of commerce and transport. In the mercantile ports of the Baltic and North Sea these trading guilds became extremely powerful and influential in the 13th century, with their headquarters in complexes also known as the Hanse. The largest hanse not only housed the administrative offices of the guild, but also storerooms, meeting rooms, markets, banks and, if on the waterfront, docks. The first such appears to have been built in Lübeck c. 1159 AD to facilitate trade between Western Europe and the resource-rich areas of northern Russia. The hanse would give its name to the Hanseatic League, formed around 1250 AD by several German guilds for the pacification of the Baltic trade routes, standardization of promissory notes, and commercial development of their respective cities; the League would remain a political, military (among lesser conflicts, the Dutch-Hanseatic War 1438-1441 and Hanseatic-English War 1470-1474) and economic power in the region until the late 1600s.


Bundesrat[]

(Available with Sukritact's Events and Decisions)

The German Bundesrat is a legislative body that represents the sixteen Länder (federal states) of Germany at the national level. The Bundesrat meets at the former Prussian House of Lords in Berlin. Its second seat is located in the former West German capital Bonn.The Bundesrat participates in legislation, alongside the Bundestag, the directly elected representation of the people of Germany, with laws affecting state competences and all constitutional changes requiring the consent of the body. Functioning similarly, it is often described as an upper house along the lines of the U.S. Senate, the Canadian Senate or the British House of Lords, although the German Constitution does not declare the Bundestag and Bundesrat to form houses of a bicameral parliament. Officially, it is generally referred to as a "constitutional body" alongside the Bundestag, the Federal President, the Federal Cabinet and the Federal Constitutional Court.

Jaeger[]

(Available with JFD's Germany (Bismarck) revision, Germany (Hitler) or The Germans (Arminius) installed)

Jäger is a German military term adopted in 1631 by the landgrave of Hesse when he first formed an elite infantry unit out of his professional hunters (Jäger) and rangers (Forstleute) in the Hessian Army. During the Age of Enlightenment in German-speaking states (and others influenced by them) Jäger is used to describe elite light infantry, especially skirmishers, scouts, sharpshooters and couriers. Jäger, which means "hunter" or "huntsman" in German, came by extension to denote light infantrymen whose forester background made them suitable for skirmishing as individuals rather than as a drilled and regimented body of soldiers. Often they came from families with a tradition of service to one feudal lord. Initially Jägers made use of their own precision made rifles: a more accurate weapon with a longer range than the muskets used by line troops.

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