The Wehrmacht was the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1945. It consisted of the Kriegsmarine and the Luftwaffe; the designation "Wehrmacht" replaced the used term Reichswehr, was the manifestation of the Nazi regime's efforts to rearm Germany to a greater extent than the Treaty of Versailles permitted. After the Nazi rise to power in 1933, one of Adolf Hitler's most overt and audacious moves was to establish the Wehrmacht, a modern offensively-capable armed force, fulfilling the Nazi regime's long-term goals of regaining lost territory as well as gaining new territory and dominating its neighbors; this required the reinstatement of conscription, massive investment and defense spending on the arms industry. The Wehrmacht formed the heart of Germany's politico-military power. In the early part of the Second World War, the Wehrmacht employed combined arms tactics to devastating effect in what became known as a Blitzkrieg, its campaigns in France, the Soviet Union, North Africa are regarded as acts of boldness.
At the same time, the far-flung advances strained the Wehrmacht's capacity to the breaking point, culminating in the first major defeat in the Battle of Moscow. The operational art was no match to the war-making abilities of the Allied coalition, making the Wehrmacht's weaknesses in strategy and logistics apparent. Cooperating with the SS and the Einsatzgruppen, the German armed forces committed numerous war crimes and atrocities, despite denials and promotion of the myth of the Clean Wehrmacht; the majority of the war crimes were committed in the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia and Italy, as part of the war of annihilation against the Soviet Union, the Holocaust and Nazi security warfare. During the war about 18 million men served in the Wehrmacht. By the time the war ended in Europe in May 1945, German forces had lost 11,300,000 men, about half of whom were missing or killed during the war. Only a few of the Wehrmacht's upper leadership were tried for war crimes, despite evidence suggesting that more were involved in illegal actions.
The majority of the three million Wehrmacht soldiers who invaded the USSR participated in committing war crimes. The German term "Wehrmacht" stems from the compound word of German: wehren, "to defend" and Macht, "power, force", it has been used to describes any nation's armed forces. The Frankfurt Constitution of 1849 designated all German military forces as the "German Wehrmacht", consisting of the Seemacht and the Landmacht. In 1919, the term Wehrmacht appears in Article 47 of the Weimar Constitution, establishing that: "The Reich's President holds supreme command of all armed forces of the Reich". From 1919, Germany's national defense force was known as the Reichswehr, a name, dropped in favor of Wehrmacht on 21 May 1935. In January 1919, after World War I ended with the signing of the armistice of 11 November 1918, the armed forces were dubbed Friedensheer. In March 1919, the national assembly passed a law founding a 420,000-strong preliminary army, the Vorläufige Reichswehr; the terms of the Treaty of Versailles were announced in May, in June, Germany signed the treaty that, among other terms, imposed severe constraints on the size of Germany's armed forces.
The army was limited to one hundred thousand men with an additional fifteen thousand in the navy. The fleet was to consist of at most six battleships, six cruisers, twelve destroyers. Submarines and heavy artillery were forbidden and the air-force was dissolved. A new post-war military, the Reichswehr, was established on 23 March 1921. General conscription was abolished under another mandate of the Versailles treaty; the Reichswehr was limited to 115,000 men, thus the armed forces, under the leadership of Hans von Seeckt, retained only the most capable officers. The American historians Alan Millet and Williamson Murray wrote "In reducing the officers corps, Seeckt chose the new leadership from the best men of the general staff with ruthless disregard for other constituencies, such as war heroes and the nobility". Seeckt's determination that the Reichswehr be an elite cadre force that would serve as the nucleus of an expanded military when the chance for restoring conscription came led to the creation of a new army, based upon, but different from, the army that existed in World War I.
In the 1920s, Seeckt and his officers developed new doctrines that emphasized speed, combined arms and initiative on the part of lower officers to take advantage of momentary opportunities. Though Seeckt retired in 1926, the army that went to war in 1939 was his creation. Germany was forbidden to have an air force by the Versailles treaty; these officers saw the role of an air force as winning air superiority and strategic bombing and providing ground support. That the Luftwaffe did not develop a strategic bombing force in the 1930s was not due to a lack of interest, but because of economic limitations; the leadership of the Navy led by Grand Admiral Erich Raeder, a close protégé of Alfred von Tirpitz, was dedicated to the idea of reviving Tirpitz's High Seas Fleet. Officers who believed in submarine warfare led by Admiral Karl Dönitz were in a minority before 1939. By 1922
Oberkommando des Heeres
The Oberkommando des Heeres was the High Command of the German Army during the Era of Nazi Germany. It was founded in 1935 as a part of Adolf Hitler's re-militarisation of Germany. From 1938 OKH was, together with OKL and OKM, formally subordinated to the OKW, with the exception of the Waffen-SS. During the war, OKH had the responsibility of strategic planning of Armies and Army Groups, while the General Staff of the OKH managed operational matters; each German Army had an Armeeoberkommando, Army Command, or AOK. Until the German defeat at Moscow in December 1941, OKH and its staff was de facto the most important unit within the German war planning. OKW took over this function for theatres other than the German-Soviet front. OKH commander held the title Oberbefehlshaber des Heeres. Following the Battle of Moscow, after OKH commander Field Marshal Walther von Brauchitsch was excused, Hitler appointed himself as Commander-in-Chief of the Army. Hitler had been the head of OKW since January 1938, using it to pass orders to the navy, air force, army.
After a major crisis developed in the Battle of Moscow, Walther von Brauchitsch was dismissed, Hitler appointed himself as head of the OKH while still retaining his position at the OKW. At the same time, he limited the OKH's authority to the Russian front, giving OKW direct authority over army units elsewhere; this enabled Hitler to declare that only he had complete awareness of Germany's strategic situation, should any general request a transfer of resources between the Russian front and another theater of operations. The Supreme Commander of the Army was the head of the OKH and commander-in-chief of the German Army during the years of the Nazi regime. Supreme Commanders of the Army were: The Chiefs of the OKH General Staff were: Although both OKW and OKH were headquartered in Zossen during the Third Reich, the functional and operational independence of both establishments were not lost on the respective staff during their tenure. Personnel at the sprawling Zossen compound remarked that if Maybach 2 was destroyed, the OKH staff in Maybach 1 would scarcely notice.
These camouflaged facilities, separated physically by a fence maintained structurally different mindsets towards their objectives. On 28 April 1945, Hitler formally subordinated OKH to OKW, giving the latter command of forces on the Eastern Front. German general staff Glossary of World War II German military terms Maybach I and II Oberste Heeresleitung, the German Empire's highest army command during World War I "Not the Stuff of Legend: The German High Command in World War II" – lecture by Dr. Geoffrey Megargee, author of Inside Hitler's High Command, available at the official YouTube channel of the U. S. Army Heritage and Education Center
Gerd von Rundstedt
Karl Rudolf Gerd von Rundstedt was a Field Marshal in the Wehrmacht of Nazi Germany during World War II. Born into a Prussian family with a long military tradition, Rundstedt entered the Prussian Army in 1892. During World War I, he served as a staff officer. In the inter-war years, he continued his military career, reaching the rank of Colonel General before retiring in 1938, he was recalled at the beginning of World War II as commander of Army Group South in the invasion of Poland. He commanded Army Group A during the Battle of France, requested the Halt Order during the Battle of Dunkirk, he was promoted to the rank of Field Marshal in 1940. In the invasion of the Soviet Union, he commanded Army Group South, responsible for the largest encirclement in history, the Battle of Kiev, he was relieved of command in December 1941, but was recalled in 1942 and appointed Commander-in-Chief in the West. He was dismissed after the German defeat in Normandy in July 1944, but was again recalled as Commander-in-Chief in the West in September, holding this post until his final dismissal by Adolf Hitler in March 1945.
Rundstedt was aware of the various plots to depose Hitler, but refused to support them. After the war, he was charged with war crimes, but did not face trial due to his age and poor health, he was released in 1949, died in 1953. Gerd von Rundstedt was born in Aschersleben, north of Halle in Prussian Saxony, he was the eldest son of Gerd Arnold Konrad von Rundstedt, a cavalry officer who served in the Franco-Prussian War. The Rundstedts are an old Junker family that traced its origins to the 12th century and classed as members of the Uradel, or old nobility, although they held no titles and were not wealthy. All the Rundstedt men since the time of Frederick the Great had served in the Prussian Army. Rundstedt's mother, Adelheid Fischer, was of Huguenot descent, he was the eldest of four brothers, all of whom became Army officers. Rundstedt's education followed the path ordained for Prussian military families: the junior cadet college at Diez, near Koblenz the military academy at Lichterfelde in Berlin.
Unable to meet the cost of joining a cavalry regiment, Rundstedt joined the 83rd Infantry Regiment in March 1892 as a cadet officer. The regiment was based at Kassel in Hesse-Kassel, which he came to regard as his home town and where he maintained a home until 1945, he undertook further training at the military college at Hannover, before being commissioned as a lieutenant in June 1893. He made a good impression on his superiors. In 1896 he was made regimental adjutant, in 1903 he was sent to the prestigious War Academy in Berlin for a three-year staff officer training course. At the end of his course Rundstedt was described as "an outstandingly able officer... well suited for the General Staff." He married Luise “Bila” von Goetz in January 1902 and their only child, Hans Gerd von Rundstedt, was born in January 1903. Rundstedt joined the General Staff of the German Army in April 1907 serving there until July 1914, when he was appointed chief of operations to the 22nd Reserve Infantry Division.
This division was part of XI Corps, which in turn was part of General Alexander von Kluck's First Army. In 1914 this Army was deployed along the Belgian border, in preparation for the invasion of Belgium and France, in accordance with the German plan for victory in the west known as the Schlieffen Plan. Rundstedt served as 22nd Division's chief of staff during the invasion of Belgium, but he saw no action since his Division was held in reserve during the initial advance. In December 1914, suffering from a lung ailment, he was promoted to Major and transferred to the military government of Antwerp. In April 1915, his health recovered, he was posted as chief of staff to the 86th Infantry Division, serving as part of General Max von Gallwitz's forces on the Eastern Front. In September he was once again given an administrative post, as part of the military government of German-occupied Poland, based in Warsaw, he stayed in this post until November 1916, until he was promoted by being made chief of staff to an Army Corps, XXV Reserve Corps, fighting in the Carpathians.
Here he saw much action against the Russians. In October 1917 he was appointed chief of staff to LIII Corps, in northern Poland; the following month, the October Revolution led to the collapse of the Russian armies and the end of the war on the eastern front. In August 1918 Rundstedt was transferred to the west, as chief of staff to XV Corps in Alsace, under General Felix Graf von Bothmer. Here he remained until the end of the war in November. Bothmer described him as "a wholly excellent staff officer and amiable comrade." He was awarded the Iron Cross, first class, was recommended for the Pour le Mérite, but did not receive it. He thus ended World War I, although still a major, with a high reputation as a staff officer. Rundstedt's Corps disintegrated in the wake of defeat and the German Revolution, but while most officers were demobilised, he remained in the Army at the request of General Wilhelm Groener, who assumed leadership of the shattered Army, he rejoined the General Staff, but this was abolished under the terms of the Treaty of Versailles, signed in June 1919.
In October Rundstedt was posted to the staff of Military District V, based in Stuttgart, under General Walter von Bergmann. He was there when the attempted military coup known as the Kapp Putsch took place in March 1920. Bergmann and Rundstedt, like most of the Army leadership, refused to support the coup attempt: Rundstedt described it as "a failure and a stupid one at that." This was not an indication of any fondness
West Germany the Federal Republic of Germany, referred to by historians as the Bonn Republic, was a country in Central Europe that existed from 1949 to 1990, when the western portion of Germany was part of the Western bloc during the Cold War. It was created during the Allied occupation of Germany in 1949 after World War II, established from eleven states formed in the three Allied zones of occupation held by the United States, the United Kingdom and France, its capital was the city of Bonn. At the onset of the Cold War, Europe was divided among the Eastern blocs. Germany was de facto divided into two countries and two special territories, the Saarland and divided Berlin; the Federal Republic of Germany claimed an exclusive mandate for all of Germany, considering itself to be the democratically reorganised continuation of the 1871–1945 German Empire. It took the line. Though the GDR did hold regular elections, these were not fair. From the West German perspective, the GDR was therefore illegitimate.
Three southwestern states of West Germany merged to form Baden-Württemberg in 1952, the Saarland joined the Federal Republic of Germany in 1957. In addition to the resulting ten states, West Berlin was considered an unofficial de facto 11th state. While not part of the Federal Republic of Germany, as Berlin was under the control of the Allied Control Council, West Berlin politically-aligned itself with West Germany and was represented in its federal institutions; the foundation for the influential position held by Germany today was laid during the Wirtschaftswunder of the 1950s when West Germany rose from the enormous destruction wrought by World War II to become the world's third-largest economy. The first chancellor Konrad Adenauer, who remained in office until 1963, had worked for a full alignment with NATO rather than neutrality, he not only secured a membership in NATO but was a proponent of agreements that developed into the present-day European Union. When the G6 was established in 1975, there was no question whether the Federal Republic of Germany would be a member as well.
Following the collapse of communism in Central and Eastern Europe in 1989, symbolised by the opening of the Berlin Wall, there was a rapid move towards German reunification. East Germany voted to dissolve itself and accede to the Federal Republic in 1990, its five post-war states were reconstituted along with the reunited Berlin, which ended its special status and formed an additional Land. They formally joined the Federal Republic on 3 October 1990, raising the number of states from 10 to 16, ending the division of Germany; the reunion did not result in a brand-new country. The expanded Federal Republic retained West Germany's political culture and continued its existing memberships in international organisations, as well as its Western foreign policy alignment and affiliation to Western alliances like UN, NATO, OECD and the European Union; the official name of West Germany, adopted in 1949 and unchanged since is Bundesrepublik Deutschland. In East Germany, the terms Westdeutschland or westdeutsche Bundesrepublik were preferred during the 1950s and 1960s.
This changed once under its 1968 constitution, when the idea of a single German nation was abandoned by East Germany, as a result West Germans and West Berliners were considered foreigners. In the early 1970s, starting in the East German Neues Deutschland, the initialism "BRD" for the "Federal Republic of Germany" began to prevail in East German usage. In 1973, official East German sources adopted it as a standard expression and other Eastern Bloc nations soon followed suit. In reaction to this move, in 1965 the West German Federal Minister of All-German Affairs Erich Mende issued the Directives for the appellation of Germany, recommending avoiding the initialism. On 31 May 1974, the heads of West German federal and state governments recommended always using the full name in official publications. From on West German sources avoided the abbreviated form, with the exception of left-leaning organizations which embraced it. In November 1979 the federal government informed the Bundestag that the West German public broadcasters ARD and ZDF had agreed to refuse to use the initialism.
The ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 country code of West Germany was "DE", which has remained the country code of Germany after reunification. ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 are the most used country codes, the "DE" code is notably used as country identifier extending the postal code and as the Internet's country code top-level domain.de. Accordingly the less used ISO 3166-1 alpha-3 country code of West Germany was "DEU", which has remained the country code of reunified Germany; the now deleted codes for East Germany, on the other hand, was "DD" in ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 and "DDR" in ISO 3166-1 alpha-3. The colloquial term "West Germany" or its equivalent was used in many languages. "Westdeutschland" was a widespread colloquial form used in German-speaking countries without political overtones. On 4–11 February 1945 leaders from the United States, the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union held the Yalta Conference where future arrangements as regards post-war Europe and strategy against Japan in the Pacific were negotiated.
The conference agreed that post-war Germany would be divided into four occupation zones: a French Zone in the far west.
The Berghof was Adolf Hitler's home in the Obersalzberg of the Bavarian Alps near Berchtesgaden, Germany. Other than the Wolfsschanze, his headquarters in East Prussia for the invasion of the Soviet Union, Hitler spent more time at the Berghof than anywhere else during World War II, it was one of the most known of his headquarters, which were located throughout Europe. Rebuilt, much expanded, renamed in 1935, the Berghof was Hitler's vacation residence for ten years. In late April 1945, the house was damaged by British aerial bombs, it was again in early May by retreating SS troops, looted after Allied troops reached the area. In 1952, the Bavarian government demolished the burnt shell; the Berghof began as a much smaller chalet called Haus Wachenfeld, a holiday home built in 1916 by Kommerzienrat Otto Winter, a businessman from Buxtehude. This was located near the Platterhof, the former Pension Moritz where Hitler had stayed in 1922–23. By 1926, the family running the pension had left, Hitler did not like the new owner.
He moved first to the Marineheim and to a hotel in Berchtesgaden, the Deutsches Haus, where he dictated the second volume of Mein Kampf in the summer of 1926. Hitler met his girlfriend at that time, Maria Reiter, who worked in a shop on the ground floor of the hotel, during another visit in autumn 1926. In 1928, Winter's widow rented Haus Wachenfeld to Hitler, his half-sister Angela came to live there as housekeeper, although she left soon after her daughter Geli's 1931 death in Hitler's Munich apartment. By 1933, Hitler had purchased Haus Wachenfeld with funds he received from the sale of his political manifesto Mein Kampf; the small chalet-style building was refurbished and much expanded by architect Alois Degano during 1935–36, when it was renamed The Berghof. A large terrace was built and featured big, resort-style canvas umbrellas; the entrance hall "was filled with a curious display of cactus plants in majolica pots." A dining room was panelled with costly cembra pine. Hitler's large study had a telephone switchboard room.
The library contained books "on history, painting and music." A great hall was furnished with expensive Teutonic furniture, a large globe, an expansive red marble fireplace mantel. Behind one wall was a projection booth for evening screenings of films. A sprawling picture window could be lowered into the wall to give a sweeping, open air view of the snow-capped mountains in Hitler's native Austria; the house was maintained much like a small resort hotel by several housekeepers, gardeners and other domestic workers. "This place is mine," Hitler was quoted as saying to a writer for Homes & Gardens magazine in 1938. "I built it with money that I earned." The British Homes & Gardens magazine described him as "his own decorator and furnisher, as well as architect", the chalet as "bright and airy" with "a light jade green colour scheme". Old engravings hung in the guest bedrooms, along with some of Hitler's small watercolour sketches, his personal valet Heinz Linge stated that Hitler and his longtime companion Eva Braun had two bedrooms and two bathrooms with interconnecting doors, Hitler would end most evenings alone with her in his study drinking tea.
Though Hitler did not smoke, smoking was allowed on the terrace. His vegetarian diet was supplied by nearby kitchen gardens and a greenhouse. A large complex of mountain homes for the Nazi leadership, with a landing strip and many buildings for their security and support staff, were constructed nearby. To acquire the land for these projects, many neighbours were compelled to sell their properties and leave. A Kehlsteinhaus, nicknamed Eagle's Nest by André François-Poncet, a French diplomat, was built in 1937–38 on the mountaintop above the Berghof, but Hitler went there; the area became something of a German tourist attraction during the mid-1930s. Visitors gathered at the end of the driveway or on nearby public paths in the hope of catching a glimpse of Hitler; this led to the introduction of severe restrictions on access to the area and other security measures. A large contingent of the SS Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler was housed in barracks adjacent to the Berghof. Under the command of Obersturmbannführer Bernhard Frank, they patrolled an extensive cordoned security zone that encompassed the nearby homes of the other Nazi leaders.
With the outbreak of war extensive anti-aircraft defences were installed, including smoke generating machines to conceal the Berghof complex from hostile aircraft. The nearby former hotel "Türken" was turned into quarters to house the Reichssicherheitsdienst SS security men who patrolled the grounds of the Berghof, it was occupied by the Generalmajor of the Police. Whenever Hitler was in residence, members of the RSD and Führerbegleitkommando were present. While the RSD men patrolled the grounds, the FBK men provided close security protection for Hitler. Several Wehrmacht mountain troop units were housed nearby. Hence, the British never planned a direct attack on the compound. Guests at the Berghof included political figures, heads of state, diplomats along with painters and musicians; the important visitors greeted on the steps of the Berghof by Hitler included David Lloyd George, the Aga K
Invasion of Yugoslavia
The invasion of Yugoslavia known as the April War or Operation 25, was a German-led attack on the Kingdom of Yugoslavia by the Axis powers which began on 6 April 1941 during World War II. The order for the invasion was put forward in "Führer Directive No. 25", which Adolf Hitler issued on 27 March 1941, following the Yugoslav coup d'état. The invasion commenced with an overwhelming air attack on Belgrade and facilities of the Royal Yugoslav Air Force by the Luftwaffe and attacks by German land forces from southwestern Bulgaria; these attacks were followed by German thrusts from Romania and the Ostmark. Italian forces were limited to air and artillery attacks until 11 April, when the Italian army attacked towards Ljubljana and through Istria and Lika and down the Dalmatian coast. On the same day, Hungarian forces entered Yugoslav Bačka and Baranya, but like the Italians they faced no resistance. A Yugoslav attack into the northern parts of the Italian protectorate of Albania met with initial success, but was inconsequential due to the collapse of the rest of the Yugoslav forces.
Scholars have proposed several theories for the Royal Yugoslav Army's sudden collapse, including poor training and equipment, generals eager to secure a quick cessation of hostilities, a sizeable Croatian nationalist fifth column. The invasion ended when an armistice was signed on 17 April 1941, based on the unconditional surrender of the Yugoslav army, which came into effect at noon on 18 April. Yugoslavia was occupied and partitioned by the Axis powers; some areas of Yugoslavia were annexed by neighboring Axis countries, some areas remained occupied, in other areas Axis puppet states such as the Independent State of Croatia were created during the invasion on 10 April. Along with Italy's stalled invasion of Greece on 28 October 1940, the German-led invasion of Greece and invasion of Crete, the invasion of Yugoslavia was part of the German Balkan Campaign. In October 1940, Fascist Italy had attacked the Kingdom of Greece only to be forced back into Albania. German dictator Adolf Hitler recognised the need to go to the aid of his ally, Italian dictator Benito Mussolini.
Hitler did this not only to restore diminished Axis prestige, but to prevent Britain from bombing the Romanian Ploesti oilfields from which Nazi Germany obtained most of its oil. In 1940 and early 1941, Hungary and Bulgaria all agreed to adhere to the Tripartite Pact and thus join the Axis. Hitler pressured Yugoslavia to join as well; the Regent, Prince Paul, yielded to this pressure, declared Yugoslavia's accession to the Pact on 25 March 1941. This move was unpopular with the Serb-dominated officer corps of the military and some segments of the public: a large part of the Serbian population, as well as liberals and Communists. Military officers executed a coup d'état on 27 March 1941, forced the Regent to resign, while King Peter II, though only 17, was declared of age. Upon hearing news of the coup in Yugoslavia, Hitler called his military advisers to Berlin on 27 March. On the same day as the coup he issued Führer Directive 25, which called for Yugoslavia to be treated as a hostile state.
Hitler took the coup as a personal insult, was so angered that he was determined, in his words, "to destroy Yugoslavia militarily and as a state", to do so "with pitiless harshness" and "without waiting for possible declarations of loyalty of the new government". Hungary had joined the Tripartite Pact on 20 November 1940. On 12 December it concluded a treaty with the Kingdom of Yugoslavia calling for "permanent peace and eternal friendship"; the Hungarian leadership was split after Germany's War Directive 25 was delivered on 27 March 1941. Regent Miklós Horthy and the military favoured taking part in the invasion of Yugoslavia and mobilized the following day. Prime Minister Pál Teleki sought to prevent German troops passing through Hungary and cited the peace treaty with Yugoslavia as an impediment to cooperation with the Germans. On 1 April Yugoslavia redesignated its Assault Command as the Chetnik Command, after the Serb guerrilla forces from World War I which had resisted the Central Powers.
The command was intended to lead a guerrilla war. Its headquarters was transferred from Novi Sad to Kraljevo in south-central Serbia on 1 April. On 2 April, the German ambassador having been recalled for "talks", the remaining embassy staff were ordered to leave the capital and to warn the embassies of friendly nations to evacuate; this sent the unmistakable message. On 3 April, Hitler issued War Directive 26 detailing the plan of attack and command structure for the invasion as well as promising Hungary territorial gains; the same day Teleki killed himself. Horthy, seeking a compromise, informed Hitler that evening that Hungary would abide by the treaty, though it would cease to apply should Croatia secede and Yugoslavia cease to exist. Upon the proclamation of an Independent State of Croatia in Zagreb on 10 April this scenario was realized and Hungary joined the invasion, its army crossing into Yugoslavia the following day; the invasion was spearheaded by the German 2nd Army with elements of the 12th Army, First Panzer Group, an independent panzer corps combined with overwhelming Luftwaffe support.
The 19 German divisions included five panzer divisions, two motorised infantry divisions and two mountain divisions. The German force included three well-equipped independent motorised infantry regiments and was supported by over 750 aircraft; the I
The German Empire known as Imperial Germany, was the German nation state that existed from the unification of Germany in 1871 until the abdication of Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1918. It was founded in 1871 when the south German states, except for Austria, joined the North German Confederation. On 1 January 1871, the new constitution came into force that changed the name of the federal state and introduced the title of emperor for Wilhelm I, King of Prussia from the House of Hohenzollern. Berlin remained its capital, Otto von Bismarck remained Chancellor, the head of government; as these events occurred, the Prussian-led North German Confederation and its southern German allies were still engaged in the Franco-Prussian War. The German Empire consisted of 26 states, most of them ruled by royal families, they included four kingdoms, six grand duchies, five duchies, seven principalities, three free Hanseatic cities, one imperial territory. Although Prussia was one of several kingdoms in the realm, it contained about two thirds of Germany's population and territory.
Prussian dominance was established constitutionally. After 1850, the states of Germany had become industrialized, with particular strengths in coal, iron and railways. In 1871, Germany had a population of 41 million people. A rural collection of states in 1815, the now united Germany became predominantly urban. During its 47 years of existence, the German Empire was an industrial and scientific giant, gaining more Nobel Prizes in science than any other country. By 1900, Germany was the largest economy in Europe, surpassing the United Kingdom, as well as the second-largest in the world, behind only the United States. From 1867 to 1878/9, Otto von Bismarck's tenure as the first and to this day longest reigning Chancellor was marked by relative liberalism, but it became more conservative afterwards. Broad reforms and the Kulturkampf marked his period in the office. Late in Bismarck's chancellorship and in spite of his personal opposition, Germany became involved in colonialism. Claiming much of the leftover territory, yet unclaimed in the Scramble for Africa, it managed to build the third-largest colonial empire after the British and the French ones.
As a colonial state, it sometimes clashed with other European powers the British Empire. Germany became a great power, boasting a developing rail network, the world's strongest army, a fast-growing industrial base. In less than a decade, its navy became second only to Britain's Royal Navy. After the removal of Otto von Bismarck by Wilhelm II in 1890, the Empire embarked on Weltpolitik – a bellicose new course that contributed to the outbreak of World War I. In addition, Bismarck's successors were incapable of maintaining their predecessor's complex and overlapping alliances which had kept Germany from being diplomatically isolated; this period was marked by various factors influencing the Emperor's decisions, which were perceived as contradictory or unpredictable by the public. In 1879, the German Empire consolidated the Dual Alliance with Austria-Hungary, followed by the Triple Alliance with Italy in 1882, it retained strong diplomatic ties to the Ottoman Empire. When the great crisis of 1914 arrived, Italy left the alliance and the Ottoman Empire formally allied with Germany.
In the First World War, German plans to capture Paris in the autumn of 1914 failed. The war on the Western Front became a stalemate; the Allied naval blockade caused severe shortages of food. However, Imperial Germany had success on the Eastern Front; the German declaration of unrestricted submarine warfare in early 1917, contributed to bringing the United States into the war. The high command under Paul von Hindenburg and Erich Ludendorff controlled the country, but in October after the failed offensive in spring 1918, the German armies were in retreat, allies Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire had collapsed, Bulgaria had surrendered; the Empire collapsed in the November 1918 Revolution with the abdications of its monarchs. This left a postwar federal republic and a devastated and unsatisfied populace, which led to the rise of Adolf Hitler and Nazism; the German Confederation had been created by an act of the Congress of Vienna on 8 June 1815 as a result of the Napoleonic Wars, after being alluded to in Article 6 of the 1814 Treaty of Paris.
German nationalism shifted from its liberal and democratic character in 1848, called Pan-Germanism, to Prussian prime minister Otto von Bismarck's pragmatic Realpolitik. Bismarck sought to extend Hohenzollern hegemony throughout the German states, he envisioned a Prussian-dominated Germany. Three wars led to military successes and helped to persuade German people to do this: the Second Schleswig War against Denmark in 1864, the Austro-Prussian War in 1866, the Franco-Prussian War against France in 1870–71; the German Confederation ended as a result of the Austro-Prussian War of 1866 between the constituent Confederation entities of the Austrian Empire and its allies on one side and the Kingdom of Prussia and its allies on the other. The war resulted in the partial replacement of the Confederation in 1867 by a North German Confederation, comprising the 22 states north of the Main; the patriotic fervour generated by the Franco-Prussian War overwhelmed the remaining opposition to a unified Germany in the four stat