The German Empire (Deutsches Reich) is a state in Middle Europe.
In October 1918, nearly at the end of the Great War, the German Imperial Admiralty Staff headed by Admiral Franz von Hipper was arguing about attacking the British Grand Fleet for an decisive sea battle. The war-weary fraction of the command prevailed in this conflict and accepted the loss of the German Empire. Together with its ally, Austria-Hungary, Germany sent an armistice proposal to the Allied Authorities in Paris. The terms of capitulation were harsh but had to be accepted:
- Germany had to give up any of its colonies. This areas were firstly administered by the League of Nations and later on given to the Allied powers, mainly Great Britain and France.
- The Rhineland and the Ruhrgebiet, highly industrialized and the "motor" of German economy, were occupied by France for 10 years. The Saar area was also given to France to humiliate Germany.
- Alsace-Lorraine, occupied by Germany in 1871, returned to France as well as Eupen-Malmedy to Belgium.
However, the Empire was allowed to keep its Polish provinces which was highly unpopular with the Polish people.
Unlike his ally Charles I. of Austria, Emperor Wilhelm II. was able to keep his power and saved the unity of Germany. Prince Maximilian of Baden led the German recovery after the Great War which brought tremendous misery to the German people. The still loyal army could strike down several smaller uprisings, especially the General Strike of Berlin in early 1919 led by social democrats and communists.
Because of the hard terms of armistice, the rebuilding of German economy took a couple of years of hunger and poverty. The still great potential of its enterprises and scientists, however, resulted in the "Wirtschaftswunder" (economic miracle) in the mid-twenties which boosted the wounded Empire greatly.
Twenties and Thirties
Wilhelm changed the foreign policy of his Empire from an expansionist outlook to a great emphasis on the own home country. So he decided to keep Germany out of any international conflicts and stay neutral. The last time Germany would take a position not according to the Allies was the French-German conflict in former German territory Alsace-Lorraine which has been under French control again since the armistice of 1918. Wilhelm lodged a protest against the assimilation policy of France which led to the so-called "Great Compromise" of 1928 where Alsace-Lorraine was given to Luxembourg to form a new country called Alsace-Luxembourg between the old rivals where German and French were both state languages.
The same year, France returned the occupied areas along the Rhine. Due to exploitation by the French, the Ruhrgebiet was in a horrible state. German government raised more taxes under the motto: "Aufbau West" (build-up west) to pay reconstruction works on the former heart of German economy.