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The German Empire is a union of states in Central Europe that is made up of several independent monarchies and republics that was formed in the aftermath of the Franco-Prussian War in 1871. It is a staunch ally of the Anglo-Dutch Union and a major player in world politics and an economic superpower. It is a member of the North Seas Alliance and holds a seat on the League of Nations high council.
On 10 December 1870 the North German Confederation Reichstag renamed the Confederation as the German Empire and gave the title of German Emperor to the King of Prussia as President of the Confederation. During the Siege of Paris on 18 January 1871, King Wilhelm I of Prussia was proclaimed German Emperor in the Hall of Mirrors at the Palace of Versailles.
he 1871 German Constitution was adopted by the Reichstag on 14 April 1871 and proclaimed by the Emperor on 16 April, which was substantially based upon Bismarck's North German Constitution. The new empire had a parliament called the Reichstag, which was elected by universal male suffrage. However, the original constituencies drawn in 1871 were never redrawn to reflect the growth of urban areas. As a result, by the time of the great expansion of German cities in the 1890s and first decade of the 20th century, rural areas were grossly overrepresented.
Legislation also required the consent of the Bundesrat, the federal council of deputies from the states. Executive power was vested in the emperor, or Kaiser, who was assisted by a chancellor responsible only to him. The emperor was given extensive powers by the constitution. He alone appointed and dismissed the chancellor, was supreme commander-in-chief of the armed forces, and final arbiter of all foreign affairs. Officially, the chancellor was a one-man cabinet and was responsible for the conduct of all state affairs; in practice, the State Secretaries (bureaucratic top officials in charge of such fields as finance, war, foreign affairs, etc.) acted as unofficial portfolio ministers. The Reichstag had the power to pass, amend or reject bills and to initiate legislation. However, in practice the real power was vested in the emperor and chancellor.
Although nominally a league of equals, in practice the empire was dominated by the largest and most powerful state, Prussia. It stretched across the northern two thirds of the new Reich, and contained three fifths of its population. The imperial crown was hereditary in the House of Hohenzollern, the ruling house of Prussia. With the exception of the years 1872–1873 and 1892–1894, the chancellor was always simultaneously the prime minister of Prussia. With 17 out of 58 votes in the Bundesrat, Berlin needed only a few votes from the small states to exercise effective control.
The other states retained their own governments, but had only limited aspects of sovereignty. For example, both postage stamps and currency were issued for the empire as a whole. Coins through one mark was also minted in the name of the empire, while higher valued pieces were issued by the states. But these larger gold and silver issues were virtually commemorative coins and had limited circulation.
While the states issued their own decorations, and some had their own armies, the military forces of the smaller ones were put under Prussian control. Those of the larger states, such as the Kingdoms of Bavaria and Saxony, were coordinated along Prussian principles and would in wartime be controlled by the federal government.
The evolution of the German Empire is somewhat in line with parallel developments in Italy which became a united nation state shortly before the German Empire. Some key elements of the German Empire's authoritarian political structure were also the basis for conservative modernization in Imperial Japan under Meiji and the preservation of an authoritarian political structure under the Tsars in the Russian Empire.
One factor in the social anatomy of these governments had been the retention of a very substantial share in political power by the landed elite, the Junkers, resulting from the absence of a revolutionary breakthrough by the peasants in combination with urban areas.
Although authoritarian in many respects, the empire had some democratic features. Besides universal suffrage, it permitted the development of political parties. Bismarck's intention was to create a constitutional façade which would mask the continuation of authoritarian policies. In the process, he created a system with a serious flaw. There was a significant disparity between the Prussian and German electoral systems. Prussia used a highly restrictive three-class voting system in which the richest third of the population could choose 85% of the legislature, all but assuring a conservative majority. As mentioned above, the king and (with two exceptions) the prime minister of Prussia were also the emperor and chancellor of the empire – meaning that the same rulers had to seek majorities from legislatures elected from completely different franchises. As mentioned above, rural areas were grossly overrepresented from the 1890s onward.
The World Wars
The German Empire allied itself with the Anglo-Dutch union in the aftermath of the Franco-Prussian war and became a staunch ally in the unions diplomatic conflicts in Africa, playing host to the Berlin conference where the future of Africa and the colonies was decided. In the beginning of the 20th century Germany and the Union formed the centerpiece of the Imperial Alliance as both powers would take the brunt of any potential Franco-Russian assault. In the beginning of 1905 Germany began its negotiations with the Japanese empire in which the Germans began there withdrawal from China in co-operation with the Japanese in order to concentrate more on Europe and Africa. A side result of the German negotiations was the decision of the Japanese to enter the Imperial Alliance, tying the Union and the Germans into the conflict between the Japanese and the Russians.
The attack by the Russian fleet on a Anglo-Dutch fishing fleet was the last straw, the Union ordered the mobilisation of its navy and the Russians responded by launching a surprise attack with the assistance of the Austrians against the Germans. Taking the Germans by surprise they forced them on the defensive for much of the war until the assistance of the Anglo-Dutch navy and air force allowed them to launch a counter attack. Although Germany was victorious in the conflict the stresses of the first world war, in particular the death of almost an entire generation of German youth meant that there was a shortage of manpower for the German industry and this meant that the remaining men available for employment were a rare commodity, giving them an increasingly important role in German society.
The result of this was an upswing in political activism amongst the German populace and an increase in support for the German Communist Party. As a result the Reichstag and the German establishment was forced to make concessions, establishing new free elections that made Germany a true democracy for the first time. In the post war economic boom and bust Germany became a major player in global politics, with the exception of the Union it maintained the largest colonies and commanded the respect of the global banking establishment. In the aftermath of the stock market crash however Germany suffered badly, much of the German army was stood down and many of its more exotic projects had there funding cut. In particular the German Air Force had its entire lighter than air fleet cut, including its flagship the Airborne Aircraft Carrier SMS Holstein. This cost the German army its one major advantage against the Russian army and it ended up costing them in the conflict that followed.
In 1931 the French grew tiered of the Anglo-Dutch occupation of Calais and launched an attack against the enclave in Calais and the Netherlands. Germany fought a valiant defense against the french and the Russians but the resulting conflict saw them outnumbered and outgunned. Germany was defeated and occupied within two years. The remnants of the German Air Force's Lighter than Air Branch and the Navy fled to Africa where they formed a resistance against the French and the Russians. The German resistance launched military strikes against the french occupiers and when the Anglo-Dutch retook Russia they used the former Russian empire as a base against the French. Operation German Freedom was launched in the summer of 1937 and represented the first time since the start of the war that the German Empire went on the offensive. The recapture of Germany was a hard fought battle and at one point seemed as if it might have been in vain as the Spanish and the Ottomans argued for Germany to be placed under the control of a joint allied command. The Anglo Dutch however ensured that Germany was restored to the control of the German people.
The Cold War
During the aftermath of WWII Germany re-emerged as a major power, Admiral Raeder and General Rommel as Chancellor and Supreme commander re-organised the German states and armed forces to make the German Empire a truly federal state. Each state would be given its own army, navy and air force and have its own parliament and head of state. Germany rebuilt considerably in the years following the World Wars to once again become a global player.
However, the new federal system meant that some of the divisions in German society became more emphasised, Catholics stayed within Catholic areas or migrated to Bavaria while Protestants remained concentrated in the north. Germany also found itself dragged into the ongoing cold war between the NSA and the Algiers Pact as the German colony of Kamerun suffered the same punishing blockade as its Anglo-Dutch neighbours. The German air fleet filled a major role in the blockade of Kamerun as its Zeppelin transports shipped in the majority of the food and supplies needed in the colony.
During the Italian war Germany recovered much of its lost international prestige, German tanks, Infantry, Zeppelins and jets made up the majority of the NSA force deployed to Italy and were used to force there way through the Sicilian lines and retake Rome. The Germans went from being regarded as an insignificant minor military power to a major player in global affairs. Its army and air force became well regarded internationally and regained the prestige they had lost in the disaster of WWII.
The Cold War between the NSA and the Algiers pact made Germany one of the major players in continental Europe, as the Union withdrew itself from global politics Germany and the other NSA members found themselves picking up the slack. As a member of the Anglo-Dutch commonwealth free trade area Germany additionally benefited from an economic boom that made it one of the most powerful nations on the continent. German troops took over from Anglo-Dutch forces in several deployments including in France and Russia where they found themselves facing off against their counterparts from the pact several times.
At the close of the Cold War the expansion in the German arms industry and the manufacturing industry meant that Germany ended the Cold War as the second largest economic power in Europe, behind only the Anglo-Dutch. Like the Anglo-Dutch however they suffered from deep internal divisions that meant that it to was poised on the brink of a civil war. Unlike the Union however Germany's divisions were entirely land based and most felt that in the event of a war the economic and military might of Prussia and the northern states would win out, just as it had done in the Austro-Prussian war of 1867.
The Anglo-Dutch Civil War
The Coronation of King Friedrich the 1st in 1989, unlike the ascension of Beatrix in the Union was not marked by much controversy. Although his support of the Social Democrats over the established social order was a point of controversy between the new king and the Court the first few years of his rule were marked by little controversy as he inherited a throne that had lost considerable amounts of its power over the years. Although the King remained commander in chief of the armed forces and the Head of State there power had waned to the extent that few people even cared about the kings decisions.
This changed though in April 1993, Friedrich had withheld from offering his full support to Beatrix as he had yet to be convinced that the Beatrixian cause had that much chance of survival. There defeat of the Americans in the winter of 1992 convinced him that there was a viable future to the Beatrixian cause, as such he decided to offer his support to the princess. The Prussian establishment erupted in fury at this decision and as a result broke away from the German Empire and declared King Sigismund as the rightful king of Germany with the backing of the catholic south. Prussia fielded the largest army of the German states along with the largest lighter than air fleet. Sigismund's alliance with the southern German states was fraught with difficulties however and so Sigismund and the Prussian establishment cut a deal with emperor Friedrich I in which they agreed to stay out of the war and were allowed by the Emperor to remain independent. The other northern states marshaled their forces to assist the Emperor's Personal Guard and with there superior tank armies forced the southern Catholics to comply with the Emperor's rule.
This was not a permanent solution to Germany's internal issues, however, and the Prussians retained there alliance with the Juhanites who supplied them with the equipment they needed to expand there military arsenal. With the assistance of the poles the Prussians and the Anglo-Dutch invaded Germany in the February of 1994. The combined federal armies were forced onto the back foot by the two front assault retreating from Bonn towards Kiel in the west and towards Berlin in the east. The advance in the west was more successful that the assault in the east as the German high command was not expecting an assault from the west and so the majority of its forces were concentrated in the east.
This allowed the high command to relocate from Bonn to Berlin and the concentrated defences in Northern Germany held of the Anglo-Dutch on their final assault on Berlin and bought the Russian army the time needed to launch their assault against the Poles and the Prussians. This distracted the Poles and the Prussians in the east and allowed the German Armies to drive the Anglo-Dutch back to the Rhine where the pre-existing automated defences were reactivated by the high command and formed a barrier against the Anglo-Dutch. Once the automated defences were activated the Germans refocused there attentions on the east where they quickly defeated the Prussians and the Poles and established the old defence lines with the Russians and Poles.
Until August of 1996 there was once again peace in Central Europe but that month the Kiel-Copenhagen ferry was shelled by a Juhanite warship. This compelled the German army into action and the Rhineland Tank armies crossed the border into the Netherlands where they launched an attack that overran the Anglo-Dutch defences and saw the Continental Union placed under German occupation. German troops spent most of the rest of the war guarding there borders and enforcing the Emperors rule over the still restless Prussian establishment.
Germany emerged from the civil war as an economic and military superpower, as part of the combined Pax Unitae enforced by the Union and Germany its economic might was enhanced considerably and it found itself at the height of world politics that it had last seen during the inter-war period.