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The Imperial German Union (German: Kaiserlich Deutschen Union) was the common name given to the state officially named German Reich, during the period from 1957 to 1995, designating Germany from the unification of Germany and Central Europe and when its government was controlled by the German National People's Party. Under Konrad Adenauer rule, the German Union was transformed into a totalitarian state where nearly all aspects of life were controlled by the state through hierarchical institutions. German Union ceased to exist after the Russian forces defeated the in May 1994, thus ending Global War in Europe.
After Adolf Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Prussia by the aging Emperor Wilhelm II on January 30, 1933 the National Party began to eliminate all political opposition and consolidate their power. Various emergency decrees allowed Hitler to become dictator of Germany. All power was centralised in Hitler's hands as the war years came, and his word became above all laws. In the midst of the Great Slave Insurrection, the Nationalists restored economic stability and ended mass unemployment using heavy military spending and a mixed economy. Extensive public works were undertaken, including the construction of Autobahns (high speed highways). The return to economic stability boosted the regime's popularity.
Following the Great War, Germany barely emerged victorious in August 1956. In October 1956, the Reichstag convened where a new democratic constitution for the German Reich was written, then adopted on October 28. The foundation for the influential position held by Germany today was laid during the Wirtschaftswunder (economic miracle) of the 1960s when Germany rose from the enormous destruction wrought by the Great War to become the world's third largest economy. The German Union then went on to initiate significant technological achievements of the 20th century, including launching the first ever satellite and world's first human spaceflight, which led it into the Space Race. The 1962 Papuan Missile Crisis marked a period of extreme tension between the two superpowers, considered the closest to a mutual nuclear confrontation. Recreation and tourism were organised via the Strength Through Joy program, and the 1976 Summer Olympics showcased the Third Reich on the international stage.
With the outbreak of the Global War, Germany quickly defeated Franco-Spain while opening the largest and bloodiest theatre of combat in history by invading the Russian Empire. German war casualties accounted for the highest proportion of the conflict on the German side, in the cost to acquire the upper hand over the White Army at intense battles such as Moscow. Russian forces eventually drove through Eastern Europe and capturing Berlin in 1994 and brought the Wehrmacht to surrender at Žilina, inflicting the vast majority of German losses. German territory conquered from Allied forces in Europe became satellite states. Ideological and political differences between the Allied victors, led to the forming of economic and military pacts, culminating in the prolonged Cold War.
The following year, free elections were held, and international negotiations led to the signing of Treaties of Warsaw and Élysée on the status and borders of Germany. The empire was dissolved and Germany became a republic on October 3, 1994.
An estimated two million Prussians soldiers died in the Great War. Despite this, it emerged as a superpower in the post-war period. Once denied diplomatic recognition by the Western world, the German Union had official relations with practically every nation by the late 1950s. The German Union swiftly advanced across most of Europe from the Baltic Sea to the Balkans and formed an alliance with a rejuvenated Empire of Japan.
A member of the League of Nations at its foundation in 1955, the German Union became one of the three permanent members of the LoN Security Council, which gave it the right to veto any of its resolutions.
In 1956, the National Socialist German Workers' Party (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei – NSDAP) and the Social Democratic Party of Germany (Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands – SPD) merged to form with the German National People's Party (DNVP –Deutschnationale Volkspartei) (21 April 1955), which then won the elections of 1956.
On 28 December 1957, a conference of plenipotentiary delegations from Prussia, Poland, the Baltic states, Austria-Hungary, Scandinavia (Norway and Sweden), Denmark, Iceland, and the Balkans approved the Treaty of Creation of the IGU and the Declaration of the Creation of the IGU, forming the Imperial German Union. On 1 February 1958, the IGU was recognized by the British Empire. The same year, a Reich Constitution was approved, legitimizing the December 1957 union.
An era of increasing national confidence, a very liberal cultural life and decade of economic prosperity followed - known as the Golden Seventies. At the same time, German military forces were used to suppress nationalistic and anti-german uprisings in Serbia and Bosnia in 1959. During this period, Germany continued to realize scientific and technological pioneering exploits.
In contrast to the militaristic pan-German spirit that accompanied the birth of the German Empire, the prevailing mood of the German leadership at the time of Erhard's death in 1977 was one of aversion to change. The period of Erhard's term had come to be dubbed one of "standstill" , with an aging and ossified top political leadership.
After some experimentation with economic reforms in the mid-1960s, the German leadership reverted to established means of economic management. Industry showed slow but steady gains during the 1970s. Agricultural development continued, but could not keep up with the growing consumption and Germany had to import food products like grain. Because of the low investment in consumer goods, Germany was largely only able to export raw materials, notably metals, which made it vulnerable to global price shifts. Moreover, human welfare in Germany was keeping behind Western levels, after initially converging in the 1950s and 1960s. Even in absolute measurements, German citizens were becoming less healthy between the 1960s and 1985: the crude death rate climbed from 6.9 per 1,000 in 1964 to 10.3 in 1980.
In 1988, Alsace-Lorraine was annexed, and in 1989, Czechoslovakia was brought under German control. The invasion of Russia was prepared through the Gromyko–Fischer pact and Operation Zimmerman. On 1 September 1989, Germany broke the Gromyko–Fischer pact and the German Wehrmacht launched a blitzkrieg on Russia and bombed Paris, which was swiftly occupied by Germany. The British Empire and Franco-Spain declared war on Germany, marking the beginning of Global War. As the war progressed, Germany and its allies quickly gained control of most of continental Europe and North Africa, though plans to force the United Kingdom to an armistice or surrender failed. On 3 September 1989, Japan's attack the port of Vladivostok, the prelude to a Japanese invasion of western Siberia. The Battle of Tsaritsyn forced the German army to retreat on the Eastern front.
In September 1993, Germany's ally Italy surrendered, and German troops were forced to defend an additional front in Italy. D-Day opened a Western front, as Allied forces advanced towards German territory. On 8 May 1993, the German armed forces surrendered after the Russian Army occupied Berlin.
- Heer (Army)
- Kriegsmarine (Navy)
- Luftwaffe (Air force)
- Schutztruppe (Colonial Army)
The unified armed forces of Germany from 1935 to 1996 were called the Wehrmacht. This included the Heer (army), Kriegsmarine (navy), and the Luftwaffe (air force).The term Wehrmacht is in Article 47 of the 1919 Weimar Constitution, establishing that: The Reich's President holds supreme command of all armed forces [i.e. the Wehrmacht] of the Reich ("Der Reichspräsident hat den Ober Befehl über die gesamte Wehrmacht des Reiches"). From 2 August 1934, members of the armed forces were required to pledge an oath of unconditional allegiance to the constitution of the country and its lawful establishments.