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The German Imperium
German Empire is called Germany in the period when it had an emperor. That was in the years 1871 to 1918, i.e. until the end of the First World War. The actual name of the German state, however, was only "German Empire".
At that time Germany consisted of several federal states. Of these, Prussia was by far the largest: two thirds of all Germans lived in Prussia. The Prussian king was always automatically the German Kaiser. Other parts of Germany were Bavaria, Saxony and over twenty other federal states, which were then called "federal states".
The emperor appointed the head of the government, the imperial chancellor. Until 1890 this was Otto von Bismarck. However, a parliament, the Reichstag, and the Bundesrat were responsible for laws. The Federal Council was an organ that represented the federal states.
During the period of the German Empire, industrialization really took off. Many people moved from the countryside to the city to work. Large factories were built. Many new things were invented, like the cinema and the car. Society changed.
How did the empire come about?
For a long time Germany consisted of individual states. They worked together in the German Confederation. The states of Austria and Prussia argued over who should be in charge. In 1866 there was even a war about it, the German War.
Prussia won the war and founded a federal state, the North German Confederation. All states north of the Rhine were its federal states. Later there was another war, this time against France. The German states in the south joined the North German Confederation. It was given a new name, German Empire. Since then, the Prussian king has also been allowed to call himself German Emperor.
How big was the empire?
Many areas belonged to the empire that are no longer German today. Since then Germany has lost many areas in the east, the so-called eastern areas. Almost all of them are in Poland today.
Alsace-Lorraine was previously in the east of France. But in the war against France in 1870 and 1871, Germany conquered and annexed it. People lived there who spoke German but did not necessarily want to belong to Germany. In the forty years in which Alsace-Lorraine was part of Germany, they had not succeeded in getting them excited about Germany.
In addition, Germany had colonies at that time, especially in Africa. Germany later received some areas in Asia, for example Tsingtao in China. During this time, riots by the people who lived there were brutally suppressed. The people in the colonies hardly had any rights. It took a long time for Germany to earn money in these areas. So it was not only unfair that Germany ruled these areas, it was also expensive.
How did the empire end?
In 1914 the First World War broke out. Scientists still argue today who was to blame for how much. But everyone agrees that German politicians did a lot wrong. They got involved in war because they feared that if a war breaks out in a few years anyway, the other countries will have accumulated more weapons than we have.
Four years later, German politicians had to realize that they couldn't win the war. Some soldiers did not want to continue fighting either. They didn't want to senselessly risk their lives. This led to uprisings against the leadership. Many people were dissatisfied because they had less and less to eat during the war.
On November 9, 1918, the Chancellor was afraid that a revolution like the one in Russia would take place. That is why he claimed that the emperor no longer wanted to be emperor. The Chancellor handed over his power to the head of the Social Democratic Party, Friedrich Ebert. Ebert made sure that there were elections for a new parliament.
A few months later there was a new constitution for Germany: the Weimar constitution. It said that Germany is a republic. The head of state was no longer an emperor, but a president. Even if a lot has changed: This Weimar Republic was otherwise the same state as the Kaiserreich. It also meant that she should pay the debt of the war.
On the map of the German Empire you can see that Prussia occupied the largest part. Prussia is blue here.
Women's rights activists like Helene Lange demanded that girls also receive a good education.
A lot was invented and developed in Germany back then. Here you can see a Zeppelin airship.
In Nuremberg in 1916: children play on the street.
In the empire there was a lot of traditional, but also more modern art. The magazine “Jugend” was interested in this.
There is also an article on “German Empire” for beginners on MiniKlexikon.de and other search results from Blinde Kuh and Ask Finn.
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