Europe

Germany

 

Warning: This documentary is not for children.

Source: https://www.nationsonline.org/oneworld/History/Germany-history.htm and the Library of Congress

Ununited Germany. In its long history, Germany has rarely been united. For most of the two millennia that Central Europe has been inhabited by German-speaking peoples, such as the Eastern Franks, the area now called Germany was divided into hundreds of states, many quite small, including duchies, principalities, free cities, and ecclesiastical states. Not even the Romans united what is now known as Germany under one government; they managed to occupy only its southern and western portions. In A.D. 800 Charlemagne, who had been crowned Holy Roman emperor by Pope Leo III, ruled over a territory that encompassed much of present-day Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Switzerland, but within a generation its existence was more symbolic than real.

Medieval Germany. Medieval Germany was marked by division. As France and England began their centuries-long evolution into united nation-states, Germany was racked by a ceaseless series of wars among local rulers. The Habsburg Dynasty’s long monopoly of the crown of the Holy Roman Empire provided only the semblance of German unity. Within the empire, German princes warred against one another as before. The Protestant Reformation deprived Germany of even its religious unity, leaving its population Roman Catholic, Lutheran, and Calvinist. These religious divisions gave military strife an added ferocity in the Thirty Years’ War (1618–48), during which Germany was ravaged to a degree not seen again until World War II.

Peace of Westphalia. The Peace of Westphalia of 1648 left German-speaking Europe divided into hundreds of states. During the next two centuries, the two largest of these states—Prussia and Austria—jockeyed for dominance. The smaller states sought to retain their independence by allying themselves with one, then the other, depending on local conditions. From the mid-1790s until Prussia, Austria, and Russia defeated Napoleon at the Battle of Leipzig in 1813 and drove him out of German territory, much of the area was occupied by French troops. Napoleon’s officials abolished numerous small states; as a result, in 1815, after the Congress of Vienna, German territory consisted of only about 40 states.

Revolutions for Unification and Democracy. During the next half-century, pressures for German unification grew. Scholars, bureaucrats, students, journalists, and businessmen agitated for a united Germany that would bring with it uniform laws and a single currency and that would replace the benighted absolutism of petty German states with democracy. The revolutions of 1848 seemed at first likely to realize this dream of unity and freedom, but the monarch who was offered the crown of a united Germany, King Friedrich Wilhelm IV of Prussia, rejected it. The king, like the other rulers of Germany’s kingdoms, opposed German unity because he saw it as a threat to his power.

Otto von Bismarck. Despite the opposition of conservative forces, German unification came more than two decades later, in 1871, following the Franco-Prussian War, when Germany was unified and transformed into an empire under Emperor Wilhelm I, king of Prussia. Unification was brought about not by revolutionary or liberal forces but rather by a conservative Prussian aristocrat, Otto von Bismarck. Sensing the power of nationalism, Bismarck sought to use it for his own aims, the preservation of a feudal social order and the triumph of his country, Prussia, in the long contest with Austria for preeminence in Germany. By a series of masterful diplomatic maneuvers and three brief and dazzlingly successful military campaigns, Bismarck achieved a united Germany without Austria. He brought together the so-called “small Germany,” consisting of Prussia and the remaining German states, some of which had been subdued by Prussian armies before they became part of a Germany ruled by a Prussian emperor.

Prussian hegemony. Although united Germany had a parliament, the Reichstag, elected through universal male suffrage, supreme power rested with the emperor and his ministers, who were not responsible to the Reichstag. The Reichstag could contest the government’s decisions, but in the end the emperor could largely govern as he saw fit. Supporting the emperor were the nobility, large rural landowners, business and financial elites, the civil service, the Protestant clergy, and the military. The military, which had made unification possible, enjoyed tremendous prestige. These groups were pitted against the Roman Catholic Center Party, the Socialist Party, and a variety of liberal and regional political groups opposed to Prussia’s hegemony over Germany. In the long term, Bismarck and his successors were not able to subjugate this opposition. By 1912 the Socialists had come to have the largest number of representatives in the Reichstag. They and the Center Party made governing increasingly difficult for the empire’s conservative leadership.

The World Wars. In World War I (1914–18), Germany’s aims were annexationist in nature and foresaw an enlarged Germany, with Belgium and Poland as vassal states and with colonies in Africa. However, Germany’s military strategy, involving a two-front war in France and Belgium in the west and Russia in the east, ultimately failed. Germany’s defeat in 1918 meant the end of the German Empire. The Treaty of Versailles, the peace settlement negotiated by the victors (Britain, France, and the United States) in 1919, imposed punitive conditions on Germany, including the loss of territory, financial reparations, and a diminished military. These conditions set the stage for World War II.

Weimar Republic. A republic, the Weimar Republic (1919–33), was established with a constitution that provided for a parliamentary democracy in which the government was ultimately responsible to the people. The new republic’s first president and prime minister were convinced democrats, and Germany seemed ready at last to join the community of democratic nations. But the Weimar Republic ultimately disappointed those who had hoped it would introduce democracy to Germany. By mid-1933 it had been destroyed by Adolf Hitler, its declared enemy since his first days in the public arena. Hitler was a psychopath who sensed and exploited the worries and resentments of many Germans, knew when to act, and possessed a sure instinct for power. His greatest weapon in his quest for political power, however, was the disdain many Germans felt for the new republic.

Many Germans held the Weimar Republic responsible for Germany’s defeat in World War I. At the war’s end, no foreign troops stood on German soil, and military victory still seemed likely. Instead of victory, however, in the view of many, the republic’s Socialist politicians arranged a humiliating peace. Many Germans also were affronted by the spectacle of parliamentary politics. The republic’s numerous small parties made forming stable and coherent coalition governments very difficult. Frequent elections failed to yield effective governments. Government policies also often failed to solve pressing social and economic problems.

Hitler as Chancellor. A modest economic recovery from 1924 to 1929 gave the Weimar Republic a brief respite. The severe social stress engendered by the Great Depression, however, swelled the vote received by extreme antidemocratic parties in the election of 1930 and the two elections of 1932. The government ruled by emergency decree. In January 1933, leading conservative politicians formed a new government with Hitler as chancellor. They intended to harness him and his party (the National Socialist German Workers’ Party, or Nazis), now the country’s largest, to realize their own aim of replacing the republic with an authoritarian government. Within a few months, however, Hitler had outmaneuvered them and established a totalitarian regime. Only in 1945 did a military alliance of dozens of nations succeed in deposing him, and only after his regime and the nation it ruled had committed crimes of unparalleled enormity known as the Holocaust.

The Postwar Era and Unification. In the aftermath of World War II (1939–45) and following occupation by the victorious powers (the United States, the Soviet Union, Britain, and France), Germany came to consist of two states. One, East Germany, never attained real legitimacy in the eyes of its citizens, fell farther and farther behind economically, and had to use force to prevent its population from fleeing to the West. The other, West Germany, was resoundingly successful. Within two decades of defeat, it had become one of the world’s richest nations, with a prosperity that extended to all segments of the population. The economy performed so successfully that eventually several million foreigners came to West Germany to work as well. West German and foreign workers alike were protected from need arising from sickness, accidents, and old age by an extensive, mostly nongovernment welfare system. In 1990 German unification overcame the geographic separation of the two German states, including an infamous wall between West Berlin and East Berlin, but economic integration still has not been achieved satisfactorily. In the first decade of the twenty-first century, the forces of globalization are posing a renewed challenge to the social-market economy in place throughout the nation.1

Germany People Groups from The Joshua Project

Germany. Data from The Joshua Project (https://www.joshuaproject.net)

People Reached Language Population Bible Religion Adherents Evangelical
Adyghe Unreached Adyghe

2,100

New Testament Islam

0.1

0.1

Afghani general Unreached Dari

297,000

Complete Bible Islam

0.0

0.0

Algerian Arabic-speaking Unreached Arabic-Algerian Spoken

79,000

New Testament Islam

0.3

0.2

Arab Iraqi Unreached Arabic-Mesopotamian Spoken

310,000

New Testament Islam

1.0

0.3

Arab Moroccan Unreached Arabic-Moroccan Spoken

239,000

New Testament Islam

0.5

0.1

Arab Tunisian Unreached Arabic-Tunisian Spoken

95,000

New Testament Islam

0.2

0.1

Azerbaijani Unreached Azerbaijani-North

15,000

Complete Bible Islam

0.8

0.4

Berber Shawiya Unreached Tachawit

1,600

Portions Completed Islam

0.0

0.0

Bosniak Unreached Bosnian

438,000

Complete Bible Islam

0.4

0.1

Chechen Unreached Chechen

12,000

Complete Bible Islam

0.0

0.0

Japanese Unreached Japanese

25,000

Complete Bible Buddhism

1.5

0.5

Jew German-speaking Unreached German-Standard

118,000

Complete Bible Ethnic Religions

0.5

0.1

Kabardian Unreached Kabardian

14,000

New Testament Islam

0.0

0.0

Kazakh Unreached Kazakh

1,245,000

Complete Bible Islam

0.1

0.0

Khmer Unreached Khmer

13,000

Complete Bible Buddhism

4.0

2.0

Kurd Kurmanji Unreached Kurdish-Northern

226,000

Complete Bible Islam

0.2

0.1

Laz Lazuri Unreached Laz

1,000

Unspecified Islam

4.0

2.0

Mongol Khalka Unreached Mongolian-Halh

1,500

Complete Bible Ethnic Religions

2.0

1.4

Pashtun Northern Unreached Pashto-Northern

39,000

Complete Bible Islam

0.0

0.0

South Asian general Unreached Hindi

196,000

Complete Bible Hinduism

3.0

0.2

Tajik Unreached Tajik

26,000

Complete Bible Islam

0.3

0.1

Thai Unreached Thai

21,000

Complete Bible Buddhism

0.4

0.2

Turk Unreached Turkish

2,824,000

Complete Bible Islam

0.0

0.0

Urdu Unreached Urdu

23,000

Complete Bible Islam

0.0

0.0

Uyghur Unreached Uyghur

800

Complete Bible Islam

0.0

0.0

Yazidi Unreached Kurdish-Northern

51,000

Complete Bible Ethnic Religions

0.0

0.0

Zaza-Alevi Unreached Zazaki-Northern

31,000

Portions Completed Islam

0.0

0.0

Albanian Minimally Reached Albanian-Gheg

232,000

New Testament Islam

30.0

0.5

Arab Syrian Minimally Reached Arabic-North Levantine Spoken

843,000

Portions Completed Islam

6.0

0.1

Czech Minimally Reached Czech

33,000

Complete Bible Non-Religious

26.0

0.7

Vietnamese Minimally Reached Vietnamese

188,000

Complete Bible Buddhism

9.0

1.8

Abkhaz Superficially Reached Abkhaz

5,100

New Testament Christianity

72.0

1.5

Assyrian Superficially Reached Assyrian Neo-Aramaic

800

Complete Bible Christianity

95.0

2.0

Austrian Bavarian Superficially Reached Bavarian

6,000,000

Complete Bible Christianity

83.0

0.5

Basque Superficially Reached Basque

33,000

Complete Bible Christianity

94.0

1.0

Belarusian Superficially Reached Belarusian

5,500

Complete Bible Christianity

71.0

1.3

Bulgarian Superficially Reached Bulgarian

312,000

Complete Bible Christianity

80.0

1.9

Catalonian Superficially Reached Catalan

50,000

Complete Bible Christianity

75.0

0.5

Chaldean Superficially Reached Chaldean Neo-Aramaic

3,000

New Testament Christianity

90.0

2.0

Croat Superficially Reached Croatian

316,000

Complete Bible Christianity

92.0

0.4

Deaf Superficially Reached German Sign Language

168,000

Portions Completed Christianity

64.3

French Superficially Reached French

192,000

Complete Bible Christianity

61.0

1.0

Frisian Eastern Superficially Reached Saxon-East Frisian Low

2,100

New Testament Christianity

72.0

2.0

Frisian Northern Superficially Reached Frisian-Northern

59,000

Portions Completed Christianity

65.0

2.0

Galician Superficially Reached Galician

41,000

Complete Bible Christianity

96.0

0.3

Georgian Superficially Reached Georgian

25,000

Complete Bible Christianity

90.0

2.0

Greek Superficially Reached Greek

353,000

Complete Bible Christianity

91.0

0.4

Italian Superficially Reached Italian

873,000

Complete Bible Christianity

82.0

1.1

Lithuanian Superficially Reached Lithuanian

41,000

Complete Bible Christianity

85.0

1.1

Luxembourger Superficially Reached Luxembourgish

15,000

New Testament Christianity

82.0

0.5

Macedonian Superficially Reached Macedonian

70,000

Complete Bible Christianity

66.0

0.2

Polish Superficially Reached Polish

2,000,000

Complete Bible Christianity

90.0

0.3

Romani Balkan Superficially Reached Romani-Balkan

2,200

Complete Bible Christianity

65.0

2.0

Romani German Superficially Reached German-Standard

66,000

Complete Bible Christianity

65.0

2.0

Romani Sinte Superficially Reached Romani-Sinte

81,000

Complete Bible Christianity

65.0

1.5

Romani Vlax Superficially Reached Romani-Vlax

5,100

Complete Bible Christianity

65.0

2.0

Russian Superficially Reached Russian

1,388,000

Complete Bible Christianity

67.0

1.2

Saterfriesen Superficially Reached Saterfriesisch

2,100

Unspecified Christianity

80.0

1.5

Serb Superficially Reached Serbian

329,000

Complete Bible Christianity

80.0

0.6

Slovak Superficially Reached Slovak

57,000

Complete Bible Christianity

92.0

2.0

Slovene Superficially Reached Slovene

83,000

Complete Bible Christianity

54.0

0.1

Sorb Lower Lusatian Superficially Reached German-Standard

7,300

Complete Bible Christianity

70.0

1.5

Sorb Upper Lusatian Superficially Reached German-Standard

18,000

Complete Bible Christianity

80.0

1.0

Spaniard Superficially Reached Spanish

210,000

Complete Bible Christianity

77.0

1.0

Swedish Superficially Reached Swedish

24,000

Complete Bible Christianity

52.0

0.4

Syrian Aramaic Turoyo Superficially Reached Turoyo

20,000

New Testament Christianity

95.0

0.9

Yeniche Superficially Reached Yeniche

17,000

Translation Needed Christianity

60.0

1.4

Amhara Ethiopian Partially Reached Amharic

5,900

Complete Bible Christianity

85.0

4.0

Arab Egyptian Partially Reached Arabic-Egyptian Spoken

46,000

New Testament Islam

15.0

6.0

Armenian Partially Reached Armenian-Western

42,000

Complete Bible Christianity

94.0

8.7

Black African general Partially Reached Swahili

249,000

Complete Bible Christianity

60.0

6.0

British Partially Reached English

107,000

Complete Bible Christianity

60.0

8.8

Cape Verdean Partially Reached Kabuverdianu

3,100

Portions Completed Christianity

97.8

7.5

Chinese general Partially Reached German-Standard

189,000

Complete Bible Non-Religious

8.0

5.7

Danish Partially Reached Danish

22,000

Complete Bible Christianity

85.0

3.5

Dutch Partially Reached Dutch

193,000

Complete Bible Non-Religious

47.0

4.3

Estonian Partially Reached Estonian-Standard

83,000

Complete Bible Non-Religious

45.0

4.9

German Partially Reached German-Standard

60,036,000

Complete Bible Christianity

64.0

2.4

German Swiss Partially Reached German-Swiss

34,000

New Testament Christianity

76.0

4.4

Hungarian Partially Reached Hungarian

161,000

Complete Bible Christianity

88.0

2.8

Javanese Partially Reached Javanese

2,500

Complete Bible Islam

16.0

6.0

Latvian Partially Reached Latvian-Standard

9,300

Complete Bible Christianity

60.0

7.0

Mennonites Partially Reached Plautdietsch

91,000

Complete Bible Christianity

98.0

4.0

Norwegian Partially Reached Norwegian

6,800

Complete Bible Christianity

88.0

8.0

Persian Partially Reached Persian-Iranian

237,000

Complete Bible Islam

4.0

4.0

Portuguese Partially Reached Portuguese

134,000

Complete Bible Christianity

94.0

3.0

Romanian Partially Reached Romanian

1,018,000

Complete Bible Christianity

97.0

5.4

Tamil (Hindu traditions) Partially Reached Tamil

35,000

Complete Bible Hinduism

6.0

3.0

Tigray Tigrinya Partially Reached Tigrigna

25,000

Complete Bible Christianity

90.0

10.0

Ukrainian Partially Reached Ukrainian

314,000

Complete Bible Christianity

79.0

3.8

Americans U.S. Significantly Reached English

182,000

Complete Bible Christianity

80.0

28.9

Filipino Tagalog Significantly Reached Tagalog

39,000

Complete Bible Christianity

92.0

12.3

Indonesian Significantly Reached Indonesian

19,000

Complete Bible Islam

15.0

11.0

Korean Significantly Reached Korean

16,000

Complete Bible Non-Religious

31.0

16.8