History of Germany

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Germany, a country rich in culture and heritage, yet plagued by the fallout of World War I and World War II, has progressed to become the centerpiece of the European Union and the world's third richest economy. The first German Empire dates back to the Roman Empire starting in the 8th century AD. During the Middle Ages the German Empire fended off many attacks against their soil from the Hungarians and the Slavs. Fighting and power struggles continued until the 1400's, when the modern world gradually came into existence with intellectual, economic and political changes.

During the late 1490's and early 1500's, Maximilian I put into motion his plan to reform the German Empire by creating an Imperial Supreme Court (Reichskammergericht), levying imperial taxes and increasing the power of the Imperial Diet (Reichstag) (Wikipedia). By the mid 1500's Germany was a reforming nation with revolts, uprisings and a general division of the empire based on religious beliefs and resentment. This division of factions led to the Thirty Year's War which ravaged Germany from 1618 to 1648. The war ended in 1648 with the signing of the Peace of Westphalia. As a result, German territory was lost to France and Sweden.

In the following years, imperial power declined as states gained more power. This power struggle led to a century of resistance against German rule and persecution. The French revolution sparked a new war between France and its Eastern neighbors. In 1803 Napoleon relaunched the war against the Roman Empire and abolished almost all the smaller secular states and most of the imperial free cities (Wikipedia).

The Roman Empire was formally dissolved on August 6, 1806 when the last Holy Roman Emperor Francis II resigned. At that time the Confederation of the Rhine was established under Napoleon's protection and in 1815 Napoleon was defeated at Waterloo. Following Napoleon's defeat, the territory of the former Roman Empire was broken into a loose union of 39 states with 35 ruling princes and 4 free cities.

Germany began to be industrialized in the 19th century. In 1825 the first steamship sailed on the Rhine and in 1833 the first telegraph was constructed. Railway lines were built in 1835 and in 1866 Siemens constructed the first dynamo (Wikipedia).

The industrialization led to modern warfare techniques and ultimately the nationalism, imperialist competition and militarism were primarily responsible for World War I (K. Joseph & G. Owen). It is known that Germany had been developing plans for invading every other European country since the time of Bismarck. Using the assassination of Austrian archduke Frances Ferdinand and his wife as a catalyst for the invasion of Yugoslavia, Germany formed an alliance with Austria and fuse for World War I was lit.

On August 3rd, 1914, after Russia refused to demobilize its forces that were protecting Yugoslavia, Germany declared war on France, saying that they had infringed upon Germany's territory. Germany proceeded West, taking over Belgium and mobilizing its forces on Frances eastern border. England entered the war because of the invasion of Belgium and eventually other nations followed as their interests were attacked. On November 11, 1918, the War was officially over with the signing of an armistice. During the course of the following year the Treaty of Versailles was drafted and presented to the German people on May 7, 1919. The Germans thought the treaty was too harsh and called for too many concessions on both the geographic and economic front. A war-torn Germany already had a disadvantaged post-war economy, and the Treaty of Versailles made things worse. By 1922, the German Mark was only worth 1/100th of its value in 1914 (K. Joseph & G. Owen).

In 1923, in order to attempt to stabilize the declining economy, the basis of the Mark was changed to gold instead of industrial assets. Germany also received a loan from America of $800 million that was...
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