Unification of Germany

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The borders of Holy Roman Empire from 962 to 1806
Map of the German Dialects, in: "Brockhaus" (encyclopedia), Leipzig 1908
Greater German Reich, 1943
Greater Germanic Reich

Unification or reunification of Germany may refer to these historical milestones:

  • Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation with the democratic institution of the Reichstag
    • This political entity, beginning with the coronation of Karl the Great with the captital in Aachen, was the first unification of Germanic later German dominions in Western, Central, and Southern Germania and Europe. Around 900, East Francia's autonomous stem duchies (Franconia, Bavaria, Swabia, Saxony, and Lotharingia) had reemerged. The new corporate German Nation, instead of simply obeying the emperor, negotiated with him. The Holy Roman Empire eventually came to be composed of four kingdoms: Kingdom of Germany (part of the empire since 962), Kingdom of Italy (from 962 until 1801), Kingdom of Bohemia (from 1002 as the Duchy of Bohemia and raised to a kingdom in 1198), and Kingdom of Burgundy (from 1032 to 1378). The number of territories represented in the Imperial Diet was considerable, numbering about 300 at the time of the Peace of Westphalia. Many of these Kleinstaaten ("little states") covered no more than a few square miles, and/or included several non-contiguous pieces, so the Empire was often called a Flickenteppich ("patchwork carpet"). An entity was considered a Reichsstand (imperial estate) if, according to feudal law, it had no authority above it except the Holy Roman Emperor himself. German kings had been elected since the 9th century; at that point they were chosen by the leaders of the five most important tribes (the Salian Franks of Lorraine, Ripuarian Franks of Franconia, Saxons, Bavarians, and Swabians). In the Holy Roman Empire, the main dukes and bishops of the kingdom elected the emperor. The first German Empire died out on 6 August 1806 with the laying down of the imperial crown (Niederlegung der Reichskrone) by Emperor Franz II during the Napoleonic Wars.
  • North German Confederation (1867–1870/71)
    • After the Brothers War of 1866 and the demise of the German Confederation, the North German Confederation (Norddeutscher Bund) was founded, but excluded Austria-Hungary (because the Austrian Emperor was not willing to give up Hungary) as well as Baden, Bayern, Württemberg and Hessen-Darmstadt because of their resistance to Protestant Prussia and to the Bund with its liberal economic and social policies. With the November Treaties of 1870, the southern German states, except for Austria, subsequently joined the expanding North German Confederation. With the founding of the Reich and the entry into force of the new "Constitution of the German Confederation" on 1 January 1871 (with the new last minute members Baden, Hessen-Darmstadt, Kingdom of Bavaria and Kingdom of Württemberg), the federation became part of the German Empire. The constitution of the North German Confederation from 16 April 1867 with effect from 1 July 1867 was dissolved.
  • German Empire (1871–1918)
    • During the Franco-German War, the second German Empire (Zweites Reich) was founded, when the German Princes (Fürsten), starting with Otto von Bismarck, followed by Großherzog Friedrich von Baden, proclaimed the King of Prussia Wilhelm Friedrich Ludwig von Preußen as Wilhelm I to German Emperor in the tradition of the Roman-German Emperors. The new German Empire included 26 political entities: twenty-five constituent states (or Bundesstaaten) and one Imperial Territory (Reichsland Elsaß-Lothringen). It realized the Kleindeutsche Lösung ("Lesser German Solution", with the exclusion of Austria) as opposed to a Großdeutsche Lösung or "Greater German Solution", which would have included Austria. Bismarck's Constitution of the German Empire was ratified on 16 April 1871 and became effective on 4 May 1871. It was repealed on 14 August 1919, the "Constitution of the German Reich" (so-called Weimar Constitution) was ratified on 11 August 1919, becoming effective on 14 August 1919. The Treaty of Versailles allowed the crime of the dismemberment of Germany.
  • Greater German Reich or Greater Germany (1938/1943–1945)
    • The contemporary official designation of the German national state for the period from 1871 to 1945 was Deutsches Reich. It is still used today in political science for this period. In English language publications, the inofficial terms "National Socialist Germany" or even "Nazi Germany" (sometimes NS State) are used. The correct term is Deutsches Reich and, as of 1943, Greater German Reich (Großdeutsches Reich), although this term had been used already since the unification of the Old Empire (Altreich) with Austria (Anschluß) in 1938 (but also including Sudetenland, Memelland and the Free City of Danzig), including in the official Reichsgesetzblatt. Although the Reichstag was known as the Großdeutscher Reichstag, only in 1943 was the German Reich officially renamed to "Greater German Reich". The Tehran Conference in 1943 once again planned the dismemberment of Germany.
  • Greater Germanic Reich (planned)
    • The Greater Germanic Reich of the German Nation (Großgermanisches Reich deutscher Nation), was the official state name of the political entity that National Socialist Germany attempted to establish in Europe during World War II. German ideas for the reorganization of Germany and Europe after the Endsieg (Final Victory) was based on various, only partially systematized target projections (e.g. General Plan East or Generalplan Ost) from state administration and the SS rune.png leadership sources.

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In German