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Deutsches Reich 1871-1918
WW1 European Alliances 1914

 

 

Czech–German Relations

Czech–German relations date back some 1,500 years. Today, the two countries share 815 km of common borders. The Czech Republic has an embassy in Berlin, 3 general consulates (in Bonn, Dresden and Munich), and 6 honorary consulates (in Dortmund, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Nürnberg, Rostock and Stuttgart). Germany has an embassy in Prague. Both countries are full members of NATO and of the European Union.

Deutsches Reichsadler 1889Bohemia and Moravia (the bulk of the modern Czech Republic) were settled in the 6th century by the Czechs, during the post-Roman migration of peoples. Later German settlers came to constitute a minority in the Czech lands and relations between the two communities were generally amiable during this period. After the extinction of the Czech Přemyslid dynasty, the Kingdom of Bohemia came to be ruled by the House of Luxembourg, the Jagiellonians, and finally the Habsburgs.

During the Thirty Years' War, the Protestant Czechs sought to resist Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand II's attempt at reintroducing Catholicism. After the Czechs' defeat at the Battle of White Mountain in 1620, the Czech nobility and the educated Protestant population were slaughtered and exiled, the Czech lands were made a hereditary possession of the Austrian Empire and German was made the official language. The Czech language decreased in prominence, as the government and aristocracy operated in German, and became endangered until the Czech National Revival in the late 19th century.

Tensions deteriorated between the Czechs and the Germans, and during World War I, Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk convinced American President Woodrow Wilson to establish a Czechoslovak state in Central Europe on the principle of national self-determination, after 300 years of Austrian domination. The Czech portion of the newly-formed state consisted of the bulk of the historic Kingdom of Bohemia, which left a significant German minority (30% of the total population) in the nation's borderlands.

 

The German Empire

In the German Empire, there were 43,016 native Czech speakers; and 64,382 native Moravian speakers. Hultschiner Ländchen: Hlučín Region, on the Czech-Polish border in Silesia, from which most of Germans were deported following WWII.

The German Empire (German: Deutsches Kaiserreich, officially Deutsches Reich) was the historical German nation state that existed from the unification of Germany in 1871 to the abdication of Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1918, when Germany became a federal republic.

German Empire Coat of Arms 1848The German Empire consisted of 26 constituent territories
(most ruled by royal families) including:

  • 4 Kingdoms
  • 6 Grand Duchies
  • 5 Duchies (6 before 1876)
  • 7 Principalities
  • 3 Free Hanseatic Cities
  • 1 Imperial Territory

Although Prussia became one of several kingdoms in the new realm, it contained most of its population and territory, thus remaining a powerhouse with a major say in imperial affairs. Its influence also helped define modern German culture.

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, now 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.

Germany became a great power, boasting a rapidly growing rail network, the world's strongest army, and a fast-growing industrial base. In less than a decade, its navy became second only to Britain's Royal Navy. After the removal of Chancellor Otto von Bismarck by Wilhelm II, the Empire embarked on a bellicose new course that ultimately led to World War I. When the great crisis of 1914 arrived, the German Empire had two allies, Italy and the Austro-Hungarian Empire; Italy, however, left the alliance once the First World War started in August 1914.

German Empire Flag
In the First World War, German plans to capture Paris quickly in autumn 1914 failed, and the war on the Western Front became a stalemate. The Allied naval blockade caused severe shortages of food. Germany was repeatedly forced to send troops to bolster Austria and Turkey on other fronts. However, Germany had great success on the Eastern Front; it occupied large Eastern territories following the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. German declaration of unrestricted submarine warfare in early 1917 was designed to strangle the British; it failed, because of the use of a trans-Atlantic convoy system. But the declaration (along with the Zimmermann Telegram) did bring the United States into the war. Meanwhile, German civilians and soldiers had become war-weary and radicalised by the Russian Revolution.

The high command under Paul von Hindenburg and Erich Ludendorff increasingly controlled the country, as they gambled on one last offensive in spring 1918 before the Americans could arrive in force, using large numbers of troops, aeroplanes and artillery withdrawn from the Eastern Front. This failed, and by October the armies were in retreat, Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire had collapsed, Bulgaria had surrendered and the German people had lost faith in their political system. After at first attempting to retain control, causing massive uprisings, the Empire collapsed in the November 1918 Revolution with the Emperor and all the ruling monarchs abdicating. This left a republic to manage a devastated and unsatisfied populace.

Many Germans wanted an end to the war and increasing numbers began to associate with the political left, such as the Social Democratic Party and the more radical Independent Social Democratic Party, which demanded an end to the war. The entry of the U.S. into the war in April 1917 changed the long-run balance of power in favor of the Allies.

Deutsches ReichswappenThe end of October 1918, in Kiel, in northern Germany, saw the beginning of the German Revolution of 1918–1919. Units of the German Navy refused to set sail for a last, large-scale operation in a war which they saw as good as lost, initiating the uprising. On 3 November, the revolt spread to other cities and states of the country, in many of which workers' and soldiers' councils were established. Meanwhile, Hindenburg and the senior generals lost confidence in the Kaiser and his government.

Bulgaria signed the Armistice of Solun on 29 September 1918. The Ottoman Empire signed the Armistice of Mudros on 30 October 1918. Between 24 October and 3 November 1918, Italy defeated Austria-Hungary in the battle of Vittorio Veneto, which forced Austria-Hungary to sign the Armistice of Villa Giusti on 3 November 1918. So, in November 1918, with internal revolution, the Allies advancing toward Germany on the Western Front, Austria-Hungary falling apart from multiple ethnic tensions, its other allies out of the war and pressure from the German high command, the Kaiser and all German ruling princes abdicated.

On 9 November, the Social Democrat Philipp Scheidemann proclaimed a republic. The new government led by the German Social Democrats called for and received an armistice on 11 November. It was succeeded by the Weimar Republic. Those opposed, including disaffected veterans, joined a diverse set of paramilitary and underground political groups such as the Freikorps, the Organization Consul, and the Communists (whom became infamous as the third reich: national socialists AKA nazis).

 

The Reich

Reich (/ˈraɪk/; German: [ˈʁaɪç]) is a German word literally meaning "realm". The terms Kaiserreich (literally "realm of an emperor") and Königreich (literally "realm of a king") are used in German to refer to empires and kingdoms respectively. As such, the term Deutsches Reich (often translated to "German Empire") continued to be used even after the collapse of the German Empire and abolition of the monarchy in 1918, without any imperial connotations. The term derives from the Germanic word meaning "realm" in general, but is typically used in German to designate a kingdom or an empire, especially the Roman Empire. The terms Kaisertum (roughly "Emperordom") and Kaiserreich are used in German to more specifically define an empire ruled by an emperor.

In the history of Germany specifically, it is used to refer to:

  • The early medieval Frankish Realm (Francia) and Carolingian Empire (the Fränkisches Reich and Karolingerreich)
  • The Holy Roman Empire (Heiliges Römisches Reich), which lasted from the coronation of Charlemagne as Holy Roman Emperor in 800, until 1806, when it was dissolved during the Napoleonic Wars
  • The German Empire (Deutsches Reich or Deutsches Kaiserreich), which lasted from the unification of Germany in 1871 until its collapse after World War I, during the German Revolution of 1918–1919
  • The Weimar Republic of 1919–1933 continued to use Deutsches Reich as its official name
  • Nazi Germany, the state often referred to as the Third Reich, which lasted from the Machtergreifung in 1933 until the end of World War II in Europe in 1945.
  • The current Federal Republic of Germany is sometimes regarded as the "Merkelreich" (named after Chancellor Angela Merkel), or Fourth Reich, but both terms tend to be used in Political satire. The term "Merkelreich", however, is used mainly by nationalists who oppose the European Union.

 

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