Federal Republic of Germany - Germany - Bundesrepublik Deutschland - Deutschland
Stamp Regions: Baden, Rheinland, Wurttemberg, Bavaria, Bergedorf, Bremen, Brunswick, Hanover, Hamburg, Lubeck, Schleswig, Mecklenburg Strelitz, Mecklenburg Schwerin, Oldenburg, Prussia, Thurn & Taxis, Saxony, Schleswig Holstein, Danzig, Saar, Marienwerder, Upper Silesia, Allenstein, Marshall Islands, Memel
With the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815) feudalism fell away and liberalism and nationalism clashed with reaction. The 1848 March Revolution failed. The Industrial Revolution modernized the German economy, led to the rapid growth of cities and to the emergence of the Socialist movement in Germany. Prussia, with its capital Berlin, grew in power. German universities became world-class centers for science and the humanities, while music and the arts flourished. Unification was achieved with the formation of the German Empire in 1871 under the leadership of Prussian Chancellor Otto von Bismarck. The new Reichstag, an elected parliament, had only a limited role in the imperial government. By 1900, Germany's economy matched Britain's, allowing colonial expansion and a naval race. Germany led the Central Powers in the First World War (1914–1918) against France, Great Britain, Russia and (by 1917) the United States. Defeated and partly occupied, Germany was forced to pay war reparations by the Treaty of Versailles and was stripped of its colonies as well as Polish areas and Alsace-Lorraine. The German Revolution of 1918–19 deposed the emperor and the kings, leading to the establishment of the Weimar Republic, an unstable parliamentary democracy.
In the early 1930s, the worldwide Great Depression hit Germany hard, as unemployment soared and people lost confidence in the government. In 1933, the Nazis under Adolf Hitler came to power and established a totalitarian regime. Political opponents were killed or imprisoned. Nazi Germany's aggressive foreign policy took control of Austria and parts of Czechoslovakia, and its invasion of Poland initiated the Second World War. After forming a pact with the Soviet Union in 1939, Hitler and Stalin divided Eastern Europe. After a "phoney war" in spring 1940 the German blitzkrieg swept Scandinavia, the Low Countries and France, giving Germany control of nearly all of Western Europe. Only Britain stood opposed. Hitler invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941. In Germany, but predominantly in the German-occupied areas, the systematic genocide program known as The Holocaust killed six million Jews, as well as five million Poles, Romanies, Russians, Soviets (Russian and non-Russian), and others. In 1942, the German invasion of the Soviet Union faltered, and after the United States had entered the war, Britain became the base for massive Anglo-American bombings of German cities. Germany fought the war on multiple fronts through 1942–1944, however following the Allied invasion of Normandy (June 1944), the German army was pushed back on all fronts until the final collapse in May 1945.
(German States) Completely overshadowed by Prussia and Austria, the smaller German states were generally characterized by political lethargy and administrative inefficiency, often compounded by rulers who were more concerned with their mistresses and their hunting dogs than with the affairs of state. Bavaria was especially unfortunate in this regard; it was a rural land with very heavy debts and few growth centers. Saxony was in economically good shape, although its government was seriously mismanaged, and numerous wars had taken their toll. During the time when Prussia rose rapidly within Germany, Saxony was distracted by foreign affairs. The house of Wettin concentrated on acquiring and then holding on to the Polish throne which was ultimately unsuccessful. In Württemberg the duke lavished funds on palaces, mistresses, great celebration, and hunting expeditions. Many of the city-states of Germany were run by bishops, who in reality were from powerful noble families and showed scant interest in religion. None developed a significant reputation for good government. Hanover did not have to support a lavish court—its rulers were also kings of England and resided in London. George III, elector (ruler) from 1760 to 1820, never once visited Hanover. The local nobility who ran the country opened the University of Göttingen in 1737; it soon became a world-class intellectual center. Baden sported perhaps the best government of the smaller states. Karl Friedrich ruled well for 73 years (1738–1811) and was an enthusiast for The Enlightenment; he abolished serfdom in 1783. The smaller states failed to form coalitions with each other, and were eventually overwhelmed by Prussia. Between 1807 and 1871, Prussia swallowed up many of the smaller states, with minimal protest, then went on to found the German Empire. In the process, Prussia became too heterogeneous, lost its identity, and by the 1930s had become an administrative shell of little importance.
(German Confederation) The German Confederation (German: Deutscher Bund) was a loose association of 39 German states in Central Europe, created by the Congress of Vienna in 1815 to coordinate the economies of separate German- speaking countries and to replace the former Holy Roman Empire. It acted as a buffer between the powerful states of Austria and Prussia. It collapsed due to the rivalry between Prussia and Austria, warfare, the 1848 revolution, and the inability of the multiple members to compromise. It dissolved with Prussian victory in the Seven Weeks War and the establishment of the North German Confederation in 1866. In 1848, revolutions by liberals and nationalists were a failed attempt to establish a unified German state. Talks between the German states failed in 1848, and the confederation briefly dissolved but was re-established in 1850. The dispute between the two dominant member states of the confederation, Austria and Prussia, over which had the inherent right to rule German lands ended in favour of Prussia after the Austro-Prussian War in 1866, and the collapse of the confederation. This resulted in the creation of the North German Confederation, with a number of south German states remaining independent, although allied first with Austria (until 1867) and subsequently with Prussia (until 1871), after which they became a part of the new German state. The German Confederation was created by the 9th Act of the Congress of Vienna on 8 June 1815 after being alluded to in Article 6 of the 1814 Treaty of Paris, ending the War of the Sixth Coalition. The Confederation was formally created by a second treaty, the Final Act of the Ministerial Conference to Complete and Consolidate the Organization of the German Confederation. This treaty was not concluded and signed by the parties until 15 May 1820. States joined the German Confederation by becoming parties to the second treaty. The states designated for inclusion in the Confederation in the 1815 treaty were: Austria, Carinthia, Carniola, the Littoral, Salzburg, Styria, Tyrol and Vorarlberg Lands of the Bohemian Crown, Prussia, Bavaria, Saxony, Hanover, Württemberg, Baden, Electorate of Hesse, Grand Duchy of Hesse, Holstein and Lauenburg, held by Denmark, Luxembourg, held by the Netherlands, Brunswick, Mecklenburg-Schwerin, Nassau, Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach, Saxe-Gotha, Saxe-Coburg, Saxe-Meiningen, Saxe-Hildburghausen, Mecklenburg-Strelitz, Holstein-Oldenburg, Anhalt-Dessau, Anhalt-Bernburg, Anhalt-Köthen, Schwarzburg-Sondershausen, Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt, Hohenzollern-Hechingen, Liechtenstein, Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, Waldeck, Reuss, elder line, Reuss, younger line, Schaumburg-Lippe, Lippe-Detmold. When the 1820 treaty was concluded, the following states were also included: Hesse-Homburg, Lübeck, Frankfurt, Bremen, Hamburg. In 1839, as a compensation for the loss of the province of Luxemburg to Belgium, the Duchy of Limburg was created and it was a member of the German Confederation until its dissolution in 1866.