Deutsches Reich

Deutsches Reich 1893
Deutsches Reich 1925

Das Deutsche Reich war ein deutscher Nationalstaat von 1871 bis 1945. The term German Reich was also used before, in order to suggest the holy Roman realm of German nation (962-1806). One differentiated in19. and 20. Century with the German Reich three periods: those of the German empire (1871-1918), the Weimar Republic (1919-1933) and „the third realm “(1933-1945).

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the German Reich went out out of to north Germans the federation, which under Prussian supremacy. In the German revolution of 1848 Prussia had still fought the efforts for establishment of realm. Prussia was later and its chancellors Otto von Bismarck driving Kraft of the realm agreement. For this purpose Prussia began first of the three “realm agreement wars” against Denmark ( GermanDanish war) and manifested themselves as a representative of German interests. Against resistances of the Austria-Hungarian monarch Prussia for king stressed WilliamI. the emperor crown of the future German Reich. Under a pretext Prussia 1866 began the war against its German domestic competitors. Prussia defeated Austria Hungary (with Königgrätz), whereupon bathing, Bavaria, Hessen and Württemberg to a South German federation united. The GermanLinguistic area (Germany) was thus actually three-divided, which the French emperor Napoléon III. very convenient, there for it nothing came to it was appropriate a competitor around the intra-European hegemony become large to let. North and South German states had due to the danger of oneFrench intervention already secret protection and Trutzbündnisse finally.France recognized the threat, which proceeded from this strong union of German states, particularly since Prussia and its allied ones had already twice demonstrated its common military power. By the Emser telegram and by thoseCandidacy of the Hohenzollern for the Spanish succession to the throne felt provocative France and began 1870 a preventive war, the French-German war. It ran for France catastrophically and already 1871 occupied the troops north Germans of the federation Paris. Strengthened of the euphoria of theVictory and Prussian dominance announced the Prussian king William I, now German emperor, the German Reich, to 18. January 1871 in the mirror hall of Versailles.


residents of Munich the agreement represents the last according to international law undisputed status of the German Reich;the Annexion of Czechoslovakia and their renaming in protectorate Böhmen and Mähren was already disputed and only under the aspect of the appeasement politics was waited.

The history of the German Reich is divided into three sections:

  1. 1871 - 1918 German empire
    1871- 1890 time of realm chancellor Otto von Bismarck
    1890 - 1918 wilhelminische epoch and the First World War
  2. 1919 - 1933 Weimar Republic
  3. 1933 - 1945 the time of the national socialism (see also:Third realm “, portal: National socialism and the Second World War; since 1938 with Austria and briefly after the resident of Munich agreement also the Sudetenland); 1943 -1945 state designation „largeGerman realm

as in the year 1868 the Spanish queen Isabella II. , offers the hereditary prince Leopold of the king house Hohenzollern Sigmaringen is fallen(which is related to the Spanish king house) its services as a future king on. However France felt to prevent this due to the forthcoming Prussian seizure of power in Spain threatened and tried militarily. It came to the French-German war. Bismarck usedthis around its goal, the agreement of the German states of interspersing by a common enemy. It achieved its goal and in such a way became after the triumphalen victory over France (with Sedan) to 18. January 1871 in the lock Versailles with of Paris thatGerman Reich based.

With the end of the Second World War 1945 the German Reich was placed under crew by British, French, American and Soviet troops. The areas east of or and Neisse as well as those west this line of convenient cities Stettin and Swinemünde (altogether about a quarter of the surface of 1937) were separated the regulations of the Potsdamer of agreement in accordance with of the realm and, like it in the Potsdamer agreement were called “provisional”, under Polish and/or. Soviet administration posed. The residents German population in these areas, as far as it in the course of the war happening toward the west had not already fled, into that the following years one drove out to a large extent.

With the re-establishment of the Republic of Austria still in the year 1945 and the establishment of the Federal Republic of Germany and German1949 the German Reich heard democratic republic actually to exist but de not jure on. Itself from this de jure - Fortexistenz resulting in consequences are described in the section state State of questions.

Emergence of the term

the use of the word realm in the titleattached to the holy Roman realm of German nation (962 - 1806). This was broken 1806 in view of of secularization and napoleonischer supremacy (dictation). Before the habsburgische emperor had laid down the title of the Roman-German emperor. It had all realm officialsand - organs dismiss from their obligations in relation to „the German Reich “. With the act the holy Roman realm of German nation ended to the resignation of the emperor crown.

The later epoch of the wilhelminischen empire was designated than second realm. This word choice interpreted oneSuccession to „the first (Germans) realm “on, without expressing it explicitly. This restraint was tactically and diplomatically required. The Kaisertum Austria and its emperors regarded themselves as successors of the holy Roman realm and thus indirectly as illegitim would have been designated.

InGerman condition history are exchangeable the terms realm and federation. The preamble of the Bismarck condition of 1871 said for example that the Prussian king and the South German princes would have closed an eternal federation.

The national socialism used the term realm exaggerated and pseudoreligiously.Thus the term was brought to the post-war period in the run increased with the national socialism in connection.

State-legal questions

the Federal Constitutional Court placed to 31. July 1973 with the examination of the basis-of-relations treaty with the GDR firmly (2 BvF 1/73):

The German Reichexisted away, legal capacity still possesses, is however authorized to act as total state for lack of organization, in particular for lack of institutionalized organs themselves not.
With the establishment of the Federal Republic of Germany a new West German state was not created, but a part of Germany organized again (…).The Federal Republic of Germany is thus not „legal successor “of the German Reich, but when state identically to the state „German Reich “, - regarding its spatial expansion however „part-identically “, so that the identity does not stress excludingness to that extent. (…) It limits state-legallytheir jurisdiction on „the area of application of the Basic Law “

the Federal Republic of Germany can be regarded thus not as a succession state, but is rather as state identical to the State of German Reich and not its to successors. Thus a state-legal identity becomes, the 1866 with the federation, under the designation Federal Republic of Germany began north Germans continued.

Of it that, from a political-historical perspective regards, the realm with the defeat remains in the Second World War in the year 1945 however unaffected went down.

With the regaining more fully nationally Sovereignty by the locking explanation of the two-plus four-contract of 1990 became (extended) the Federal Republic of Germany finally what the German Reich (of 1871) had before already been: (small) a German national state, (as a substantial component of the European peace order) the postwar order with itsBorders recognized.

See also


  • Sebastian Haffner: From Bismarck to Hitler. Droemer Knaur, Munich 2001, ISBN 3-42677-589-1

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