The German Empire is a constitutional monarchy comprising twenty-eight states, ruled by the Hohenzollern dynasty. The state of Germany was proclaimed on January, 18 1871 in the Hall of Mirrors of Palace of Versailles in the aftermath of the Franco-Prussian War. As the main victor of the First World War, Germany controls a vast overseas empire with colonial holdings in Africa, Asia and the Pacific. Germany is currently the most powerful country in the world, with its influence stretching across the globe. Germany also leads Mitteleuropa, a military and economic alliance with several Eastern European nations.
Under the pressure of Prussian Chancellor Otto von Bismarck and in the turmoil of the nationalist awakening in Europe, Germany finally ended with almost one millennium of division between rival monarchies, skilfully kept by foreign powers: after having defeated Denmark, Austria-Hungary and France, the German Empire was proclaimed in the palace of Louis XIV, Versailles, on January, 18 1871: uniting all the scattered German-speaking areas (except Austria). Under the rule of Germany's first Kaiser, Wilhelm I, Prussia secured her position as a great nation, forging several alliances in order to diplomatically isolate the French, who were eager to recover Alsace-Lorraine (now Elsass-Löthringen). Germany mourned her first Kaiser on March, 9 1888; his son, Friedrich III, died of throat cancer only 99 days later, and Wilhelm II subsequently became the new emperor. Considering Bismarck's foreign policy as too cautious, the Kaiser dismissed him in 1890, replacing him by more malleable Chancellors; Bismarck died eight years later.
"Place Under the Sun"Wilhelm II followed imperialist policies which were mostly fashionable in Europe at these times, obsessed with a dream of "Place under the Sun" for Germany: claiming many more colonial possessions, and beginning a naval rivalry with Britain on the advices of admiral Alfred von Tirpitz. Worse, the Russo-German alliance was not renewed, and so the Triple Alliance (Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy) faced the Entente Cordiale (Britain and France), which secured diplomatic ties with imperial Russia.
In 1911 a rebellion broke out in Morocco against the Sultan, Abdelhafid. By early April 1911 the Sultan was besieged in his palace in Fez and the French prepared to send troops to help put down the rebellion under the pretext of protecting European lives and property. The French dispatched a flying column at the end of April 1911 and Germany gave approval for the occupation of the city. On 5 June 1911 the Spanish occupied Larache and Ksar-el-Kebir. On 1 July 1911 the German gunboat Panther arrived at the port of Agadir. There was an immediate reaction from the French and the British.
In late June, the French prime minister, Ernest Monis, was replaced by Joseph Caillaux, who favoured a policy of conciliation with Germany. The new foreign secretary, Justin de Selves, informed Berlin that France would negotiate for a German protectorate on the basis of "trying to rekindle a vital friendship". This statement not only shifted the European balance of power, but also damaged Franco-British relations. Caillaux's government received harsh criticism from many right-wingers across the country, eventually culminating in the short-lived civil war of 1915.
Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir apparent to the Austro-Hungarian throne, was assassinated in Sarajevo on 28 June 1914. Vienna accused Belgrade of involvement and imposed a set of demands on the Serbian government. These were rejected and, two days later, the Habsburg monarchy declared war. Germany backed Austria-Hungary; Russia sided with her ally Serbia; and soon all the major European powers became tangled in this spiralling chain of events.
Quickly invading Belgium and Luxembourg, German advance was stopped on the Marne in 1914, and also in Poland by the weak Russian forces. The war soon became nothing less than indecisive and bloody offensives, the worst of them being Verdun (1916).Intent on bringing about an armistice before their country weakened severely, French protesters took to the streets in 1915. A devastating civil war erupted, leaving the economy frozen and social stability crippled.The government was toppled in March, after one week of intense fighting between socialist rebels and military police. An organisation of trade unionists and workers' councils replaced both houses of Congress - the National Assembly and the Senate - and the country took to the polls on 21 March. The election resulted in dramatic losses for the social democratic and liberal parties, and huge gains for the Far Left. As no party achieved an outright majority, a coalition came to power, comprising members of the recently-formed Jacobins and the Travailleurs.
In 1917, Russia collapsed into revolution and thousands of soldiers were dismissed from the Eastern Front to the Western one. In March 1919, after three and a half years of attrition warfare, the German offensive on the Western Front finally succeeded in overrunning the Entente defences. French morale collapsed along with her army against the onslaught as the Reichswehr exploited the breakthrough and marched towards Paris and the Loire Valley. As the army capitulated the exhausted French surrendered and allowed the German army to occupy their proud nation.
Following this stunning victory, German troops were rapidly sent to the existing Italian and Turkish fronts and forced entry into the lightly defended parts of northwestern Italy. With the arrival of these veteran troops, the Central Powers defeated both the British and Italian armies, restoring Ottoman power in the Middle East and occupying Northern Italy. The war with Britain and the remaining Entente forces overseas dragged on inconclusively until 1921 when a "Peace with Honour" was secured, ending the Weltkrieg. Though a 'white peace' had been concluded with Britain, Portugal and Japan, France, Belgium, Russia and Italy almost ceased to exist and gave their colonial possessions to a victorious Germany.
Road to MitteleuropaDespite her triumph, Germany was still yet to recover - seven years of war had pushed her population to the brink of starvation, industry stagnated following the war's conclusion and the danger of inflation was becoming very real indeed. In 1924, Grand Admiral von Tirpitz became Reichskanzler and his policies started a golden age of German Weltpolitik, bringing the economy under control through regulating the markets, subsidising food imports with money gained from reparations and the sale of technology to Germany’s allies and client states.
Tirpitz’s hugely successful regime culminated in the well-executed occupation of British colonial possessions following the outbreak of the British Revolution and the establishment of Freistaat Mittelafrika, created alongside Allgemeine Ostasiatische Gesellschaft, in order to reduce the full powers of colonial governors. His only failures were his inability to stop the spreading of Syndicalism in Europe, to secure the worsening economic situation and an unsuccessful anti-Anarchist intervention in China.
Since the Grand Admiral's death in 1930, the political and economic situations in Germany have worsened. A general slowing of the world economy is decreasing industrial output and national income as other nations recover their manufacturing power, and growing nationalism in Germany’s eastern clients is starting to cause tensions as both populations and governments begin to drift away from the Reich. The Kaiser is getting old, as is the welfare state put in place by Bismarck himself, and if Germany had never been so powerful, Germany had never had such heavy burdens either.
Germany is a federal constitutional monarchy ruled by the German Kaiser (who is also King of Prussia). Although Germany has many political parties, the state policies are rather authoritarian. The Constitution of the Second German Reich has stood in place for over 60 years. The Chancellor and government are appointed by the Kaiser, but legislation needs to be approved by the Reichstag, a chamber elected proportionally by universal male suffrage, and the Bundesrat, consisting of representatives from each of the states. While the Reichstag is far from a rubber-stamp institution and has become increasingly vocal and assertive over the past thirty years, it is not yet strong enough to actually bring down a government. The relative weakness of the Reichstag has meant that a wide range of voluntarist pressure groups have sprung up, attempting to push forward a range of economic, political and sectional causes. In addition, the various states of the Reich have considerable autonomy and influence over local matters, including education, law enforcement and arts patronage. While many of the smaller states have extremely liberal constitutions, the unequal estate-based electoral system for the Prussian Landtag remains a bone of contention.
Constituent States of the Reich
The German Empire consists of 28 constituent states. These states consist of kingdoms, grand duchies, duchies, principalities, free Hanseatic cities and two imperial territories. The Kingdom of Prussia is the largest of the constituent states, covering some 60 percent of the territory of the German Empire.
The United Baltic Duchy is a quasi-independent state. Whilst not de jure a part of the Reich, Duke Adolf Friedrich is not a sovereign monarch, but is subordinate to the German Kaiser in the same manner as other monarchs of the Empire. However, the Duchy currently has much broader interior autonomy than constituent states of the Empire and the right to maintain a locally recruited defence force to ensure interior peace, as well as serve as first lines in case of a possible Russian invasion. There are plans to integrate the Duchy closer into the Empire, however.
German Political PartiesDespite having an authoritarian nature, the the German political system is favourable to be multiparty; each one is representing some part of the Kaiserreich, and in these troubled times, each one can gain much power. The current Reichstag is ruled by a Ständischer Verbund majority, confident to the Kaiser's decision.
- Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands (social-democratic with several Marxist militants), presided by Karl Kautsky and Arthur Crispien.
- Fortschrittliche Volkspartei (progressive, liberalist, democratic), presided by Walther von Rathenau and Wilhelm Külz.
- Zentrumspartei (Catholic, conservative), presided by Ludwig Kaas and Heinrich Brüning.
- Nationalliberale Partei (national-conservative, liberalist), presided by Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck and Johann Schwerin von Krosigk.
- Grossdeutsche Volkspartei (Pan-Germanist, nationalist, populist) presided by Ernst Röhm and Gregor Strasser.
- IHK-Mitteleuropa (capitalist), presided by Gustav Krupp and Hjalmar Schacht.
- Ständischer Verbund (representing the Prussian Junkers, aristocratic, agrarian), presided by Franz von Papen and Carl Friedrich Goerdeler.
- Grosser Generalstab (militarist, elitist), presided by Hans von Seeckt and August von Mackensen.
The Reichsheer is a professional army with the most modern weaponry and the best training in the world: the well-known Prussian military quality still exists, represented by the excellent German generals, all belonging to the Junker aristocratic elite. Most of the ground forces are implemented in mainland Germany, such as the Kaiserliche Marine and the Luftstreitkräfte, forming part of a defence positive created in the late 20s by Alfred von Tirpitz.
The Generalfeldmarschalls are also a subject of pride for the German army. The currently living ones are August von Mackensen, hero of the Weltkrieg; Hans von Seeckt, current Chief of Staff and hero of the German intervention in China; Erich von Ludendorff, architect of 1919 Great Summer Offensive; Wilhelm Groener, former governor of Allgemeine Ostasiatische Gesellschaft; Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck, hero of the operations in Africa during the Weltkrieg; Manfred von Richthofen, the Red Baron; and Werner von Blomberg, who helped create the conception of a Mitteleuropa alliance.