/jerr"meuh nee/, n.
a republic in central Europe: after World War II divided into four zones, British, French, U.S., and Soviet, and in 1949 into East Germany and West Germany; East and West Germany were reunited in 1990. 84,068,216; 137,852 sq. mi. (357,039 sq. km). Cap.: Berlin. Official name, Federal Republic of Germany. German, Deutschland. Formerly, Deutsches Reich. Cf. East Germany, West Germany.

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Introduction Germany
Background: As Europe's largest economy and most populous nation, Germany remains a key member of the continent's economic, political, and defense organizations. European power struggles immersed the country in two devastating World Wars in the first half of the 20th century and left the country occupied by the victorious Allied powers of the US, UK, France, and the Soviet Union in 1945. With the advent of the Cold War, two German states were formed in 1949: the western Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) and the eastern German Democratic Republic (GDR). The democratic FRG embedded itself in key Western economic and security organizations, the EC, which became the EU, and NATO, while the communist GDR was on the front line of the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact. The decline of the USSR and the end of the Cold War allowed for German unification in 1990. Since then Germany has expended considerable funds to bring eastern productivity and wages up to western standards. In January 2002, Germany and 11 other EU countries introduced a common European currency, the euro. Geography Germany -
Location: Central Europe, bordering the Baltic Sea and the North Sea, between the Netherlands and Poland, south of Denmark
Geographic coordinates: 51 00 N, 9 00 E
Map references: Europe
Area: total: 357,021 sq km water: 7,798 sq km land: 349,223 sq km
Area - comparative: slightly smaller than Montana
Land boundaries: total: 3,621 km border countries: Austria 784 km, Belgium 167 km, Czech Republic 646 km, Denmark 68 km, France 451 km, Luxembourg 138 km, Netherlands 577 km, Poland 456 km, Switzerland 334 km
Coastline: 2,389 km
Maritime claims: continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation exclusive economic zone: 200 NM territorial sea: 12 NM
Climate: temperate and marine; cool, cloudy, wet winters and summers; occasional warm foehn wind
Terrain: lowlands in north, uplands in center, Bavarian Alps in south
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Freepsum Lake -2 m highest point: Zugspitze 2,963 m
Natural resources: iron ore, coal, potash, timber, lignite, uranium, copper, natural gas, salt, nickel, arable land
Land use: arable land: 33.88% permanent crops: 0.65% other: 65.47% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land: 4,850 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards: flooding Environment - current issues: emissions from coal-burning utilities and industries contribute to air pollution; acid rain, resulting from sulfur dioxide emissions, is damaging forests; pollution in the Baltic Sea from raw sewage and industrial effluents from rivers in eastern Germany; hazardous waste disposal; government established a mechanism for ending the use of nuclear power over the next 15 years; government working to meet EU commitment to identify nature preservation areas in line with the EU's Flora, Fauna, and Habitat directive Environment - international party to: Air Pollution, Air
agreements: Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Sulphur 85, Air Pollution- Sulphur 94, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds, Antarctic- Environmental Protocol, Antarctic- Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Seals, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling signed, but not ratified: Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol
Geography - note: strategic location on North European Plain and along the entrance to the Baltic Sea People Germany
Population: 83,251,851 (July 2002 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 15.4% (male 6,568,699; female 6,227,148) 15-64 years: 67.6% (male 28,606,964; female 27,695,539) 65 years and over: 17% (male 5,546,140; female 8,607,361) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.26% (2002 est.)
Birth rate: 8.99 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate: 10.36 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate: 3.99 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female 15-64 years: 1.03 male(s)/female 65 years and over: 0.64 male(s)/ female total population: 0.96 male(s)/ female (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate: 4.65 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.) Life expectancy at birth: total population: 77.78 years female: 81.09 years (2002 est.) male: 74.64 years
Total fertility rate: 1.39 children born/woman (2002 est.) HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: 0.1% (1999 est.) HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/ 37,000 (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths: 600 (1999 est.)
Nationality: noun: German(s) adjective: German
Ethnic groups: German 91.5%, Turkish 2.4%, other 6.1% (made up largely of Serbo- Croatian, Italian, Russian, Greek, Polish, Spanish)
Religions: Protestant 34%, Roman Catholic 34%, Muslim 3.7%, unaffiliated or other 28.3%
Languages: German
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write total population: 99% (1977 est.) male: NA% female: NA% Government Germany
Country name: conventional long form: Federal Republic of Germany conventional short form: Germany local short form: Deutschland former: German Empire, German Republic, German Reich local long form: Bundesrepublik Deutschland
Government type: federal republic
Capital: Berlin Administrative divisions: 16 states (Laender, singular - Land); Baden-Wuerttemberg, Bayern, Berlin, Brandenburg, Bremen, Hamburg, Hessen, Mecklenburg- Vorpommern, Niedersachsen, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Rheinland- Pfalz, Saarland, Sachsen, Sachsen- Anhalt, Schleswig-Holstein, Thueringen
Independence: 18 January 1871 (German Empire unification); divided into four zones of occupation (UK, US, USSR, and later, France) in 1945 following World War II; Federal Republic of Germany (FRG or West Germany) proclaimed 23 May 1949 and included the former UK, US, and French zones; German Democratic Republic (GDR or East Germany) proclaimed 7 October 1949 and included the former USSR zone; unification of West Germany and East Germany took place 3 October 1990; all four powers formally relinquished rights 15 March 1991
National holiday: Unity Day, 3 October (1990)
Constitution: 23 May 1949, known as Basic Law; became constitution of the united German people 3 October 1990
Legal system: civil law system with indigenous concepts; judicial review of legislative acts in the Federal Constitutional Court; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal
Executive branch: chief of state: President Johannes RAU (since 1 July 1999) elections: president elected for a five-year term by a Federal Convention including all members of the Federal Assembly and an equal number of delegates elected by the state parliaments; election last held 23 May 1999 (next to be held 23 May 2004); chancellor elected by an absolute majority of the Federal Assembly for a four-year term; election last held 27 September 1998 (next to be held 22 September 2002) head of government: Chancellor Gerhard SCHROEDER (since 27 October 1998) cabinet: Cabinet or Bundesminister (Federal Ministers) appointed by the president on the recommendation of the chancellor election results: Johannes RAU elected president; percent of Federal Convention vote - 57.6%; Gerhard SCHROEDER elected chancellor; percent of Federal Assembly - 52.7%
Legislative branch: bicameral Parliament or Parlament consists of the Federal Assembly or Bundestag (656 seats usually, but 666 for the 1998 term; note - the number of seats will be reduced to 598 for 2002 elections; elected by popular vote under a system combining direct and proportional representation; a party must win 5% of the national vote or three direct mandates to gain representation; members serve four-year terms) and the Federal Council or Bundesrat (69 votes; state governments are directly represented by votes; each has 3 to 6 votes depending on population and are required to vote as a block) elections: Federal Assembly - last held 27 September 1998 (next to be held 22 September 2002); note - there are no elections for the Bundesrat; composition is determined by the composition of the state- level governments; the composition of the Bundesrat has the potential to change any time one of the 16 states holds an election election results: Federal Assembly - percent of vote by party - SPD 40.9%, Alliance '90/Greens 6.7%, CDU/CSU 35.1%, FDP 6.2%, PDS 5.1%; seats by party - SPD 294, Alliance '90/Greens 47, CDU/CSU 245, FDP 43, PDS 37; Federal Council - current composition - NA
Judicial branch: Federal Constitutional Court or Bundesverfassungsgericht (half the judges are elected by the Bundestag and half by the Bundesrat) Political parties and leaders: Alliance '90/Greens [Claudia ROTH and Fritz KUHN]; Christian Democratic Union or CDU [Angela MERKEL]; Christian Social Union or CSU [Edmund STOIBER, chairman]; Free Democratic Party or FDP [Guido WESTERWELLE, chairman]; Party of Democratic Socialism or PDS [Gregor GYSI]; Social Democratic Party or SPD [Gerhard SCHROEDER, chairman] Political pressure groups and employers' organizations; expellee,
leaders: refugee, trade unions, and veterans groups International organization AfDB, AsDB, Australia Group, BDEAC,
participation: BIS, CBSS, CCC, CDB, CE, CERN, EAPC, EBRD, ECE, EIB, EMU, ESA, EU, FAO, G- 5, G- 7, G- 8, G-10, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IEA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO, ITU, MONUC, NAM (guest), NATO, NEA, NSG, OAS (observer), OECD, OPCW, OSCE, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNIKOM, UNMIBH, UNMIK, UNMOVIC, UNOMIG, UPU, WADB (nonregional), WEU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO, ZC Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Wolfgang Friedrich ISHINGER consulate(s): Wellington (America Samoa) consulate(s) general: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Francisco FAX: [1] (202) 298-4249 telephone: [1] (202) 298-8140 chancery: 4645 Reservoir Road NW, Washington, DC 20007 Diplomatic representation from the chief of mission: Ambassador Daniel
US: R. COATS embassy: Neustaedtische Kirchstrasse 4-5, 10117 Berlin; note - a new embassy will be built near the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin mailing address: PSC 120, Box 1000, APO AE 09265 telephone: [49] (030) 8305-0 FAX: [49] (030) 238-6290 consulate(s) general: Duesseldorf, Frankfurt am Main, Hamburg, Leipzig, Munich
Flag description: three equal horizontal bands of black (top), red, and gold Economy Germany -
Economy - overview: Germany's affluent and technologically powerful economy turned in a relatively weak performance throughout much of the 1990s. The modernization and integration of the eastern German economy continues to be a costly long-term problem, with annual transfers from west to east amounting to roughly $70 billion. Germany's ageing population, combined with high unemployment, has pushed social security outlays to a level exceeding contributions from workers. Structural rigidities in the labor market - including strict regulations on laying off workers and the setting of wages on a national basis - have made unemployment a chronic problem. Business and income tax cuts introduced in 2001 did not spare Germany from the impact of the downturn in international trade, and domestic demand faltered as unemployment began to rise. The government expects growth to gain pace in the second half of 2002, but to fall short of 1% for the year again. Corporate restructuring and growing capital markets are setting the foundations that could allow Germany to meet the long-term challenges of European economic integration and globalization, particularly if labor market rigidities are addressed.
GDP: purchasing power parity - $2.174 trillion (2001 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 0.6% (2001 est.)
GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $26,200 (2001 est.) GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 1% industry: 28% services: 71% (2000) Population below poverty line: NA% Household income or consumption by lowest 10%: 3.6%
percentage share: highest 10%: 25.1% (1997) Distribution of family income - Gini 30 (1994)
index: Inflation rate (consumer prices): 2.4% (2001)
Labor force: 41.9 million (2001) Labor force - by occupation: industry 33.4%, agriculture 2.8%, services 63.8% (1999)
Unemployment rate: 9.4% (2001)
Budget: revenues: $802 billion expenditures: $825 billion, including capital expenditures of $NA (2001 est.)
Industries: among the world's largest and most technologically advanced producers of iron, steel, coal, cement, chemicals, machinery, vehicles, machine tools, electronics, food and beverages; shipbuilding; textiles Industrial production growth rate: 0.2% (2001 est.) Electricity - production: 537.328 billion kWh (2000) Electricity - production by source: fossil fuel: 63.08% hydro: 3.65% other: 3.27% (2000) nuclear: 30% Electricity - consumption: 501.716 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports: 42.5 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports: 44.5 billion kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products: potatoes, wheat, barley, sugar beets, fruit, cabbages; cattle, pigs, poultry
Exports: $560.7 billion (f.o.b., 2001 est.)
Exports - commodities: machinery, vehicles, chemicals, metals and manufactures, foodstuffs, textiles
Exports - partners: EU 56% (France 11%, UK 8%, Italy 8%, Netherlands 6%, Belgium/Luxembourg 5%), US 10%, Japan 2% (2000)
Imports: $472.9 billion (f.o.b., 2001 est.)
Imports - commodities: machinery, vehicles, chemicals, foodstuffs, textiles, metals
Imports - partners: EU 52% (France 10%, Netherlands 9%, Italy 7%, UK 7%, Belgium/Luxembourg 5%), US 9%, Japan 5% (2000)
Debt - external: $NA
Economic aid - donor: ODA, $5.6 billion (1998)
Currency: euro (EUR); deutsche mark (DEM) note: on 1 January 1999, the European Monetary Union introduced the euro as a common currency to be used by financial institutions of member countries; on 1 January 2002, the euro became the sole currency for everyday transactions within the member countries
Currency code: EUR; DEM
Exchange rates: euros per US dollar - 1.1324 (January 2002), 1.1175 (2001), 1.0854 (2000), 0.9386 (1999); deutsche marks per US dollar - 1.69 (January 1999), 1.7597 (1998), 1.7341 (1997)
Fiscal year: calendar year Communications Germany Telephones - main lines in use: 50.9 million (March 2001) Telephones - mobile cellular: 55.3 million (June 2001)
Telephone system: general assessment: Germany has one of the world's most technologically advanced telecommunications systems; as a result of intensive capital expenditures since reunification, the formerly backward system of the eastern part of the country, dating back to World War II, has been modernized and integrated with that of the western part domestic: Germany is served by an extensive system of automatic telephone exchanges connected by modern networks of fiber-optic cable, coaxial cable, microwave radio relay, and a domestic satellite system; cellular telephone service is widely available, expanding rapidly, and includes roaming service to many foreign countries international: Germany's international service is excellent worldwide, consisting of extensive land and undersea cable facilities as well as earth stations in the INMARSAT, INTELSAT, EUTELSAT, and INTERSPUTNIK satellite systems (2001) Radio broadcast stations: AM 51, FM 787, shortwave 4 (1998)
Radios: 77.8 million (1997) Television broadcast stations: 373 (plus 8,042 repeaters) (1995)
Televisions: 51.4 million (1998)
Internet country code: .de Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 200 (2001)
Internet users: 28.64 million (2001) Transportation Germany
Railways: total: 44,000 km (including at least 20,300 km electrified); most routes are double- or multiple-track note: since privatization in 1994, Deutsche Bahn AG (DBAG) no longer publishes details of the track it owns; in addition to the DBAG system there are 102 privately owned railway companies which own approximately 3,000 to 4,000 km of track (2001 est.)
Highways: total: 656,140 km paved: 650,891 km (including 11,400 km of expressways) unpaved: 5,249 km (all-weather) (1998 est.)
Waterways: 7,500 km note: major rivers include the Rhine and Elbe; Kiel Canal is an important connection between the Baltic Sea and North Sea (1999)
Pipelines: crude oil 2,240 km (2001)
Ports and harbors: Berlin, Bonn, Brake, Bremen, Bremerhaven, Cologne, Dresden, Duisburg, Emden, Hamburg, Karlsruhe, Kiel, Luebeck, Magdeburg, Mannheim, Rostock, Stuttgart
Merchant marine: total: 388 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 5,758,942 GRT/7,132,525 DWT ships by type: cargo 132, chemical tanker 10, container 219, liquefied gas 3, passenger 3, petroleum tanker 7, railcar carrier 2, refrigerated cargo 1, roll on/roll off 4, short- sea passenger 7 note: includes some foreign-owned ships registered here as a flag of convenience: Chile 1, Finland 5, Iceland 1, Netherlands 3, Switzerland 1 (2002 est.)
Airports: 625 (2001) Airports - with paved runways: total: 325 over 3,047 m: 11 2,438 to 3,047 m: 55 914 to 1,523 m: 67 under 914 m: 127 (2001) 1,524 to 2,437 m: 65 Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 300 under 914 m: 238 (2001) over 3,047 m: 2 2,438 to 3,047 m: 4 914 to 1,523 m: 51 1,524 to 2,437 m: 5
Heliports: 59 (2001) Military Germany
Military branches: Army, Navy (including naval air arm), Air Force, Medical Corps, Joint Support Service Military manpower - military age: 18 years of age (2002 est.) Military manpower - availability: males age 15-49: 20,854,329 (2002 est.) Military manpower - fit for military males age 15-49: 17,734,977 (2002
service: est.) Military manpower - reaching males: 482,318 (2002 est.)
military age annually: Military expenditures - dollar $38.8 billion (2002)
figure: Military expenditures - percent of 1.38% (2002)
GDP: Transnational Issues Germany Disputes - international: none
Illicit drugs: source of precursor chemicals for South American cocaine processors; transshipment point for and consumer of Southwest Asian heroin, Latin American cocaine, and European- produced synthetic drugs

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Republic, north-central Europe.

Area: 137,846 sq mi (357,021 sq km). Population (2002 est.): 82,259,000. Capital: Berlin. The majority of the people are German. Language: German (official). Religions: Lutheranism, Roman Catholicism. Currency: euro. The land is generally flat in the north and hilly in the northeast and central region, rising to the Bavarian Alps in the south. The Rhine River basin dominates the central and western part of the country; other important rivers are the Elbe, Danube, and Oder. Germany has a developed free-market economy largely based on services and manufacturing. It is one of the richest countries in the world. Exports include motor vehicles and iron and steel products. The chief of state is the president, and the head of government is the chancellor. Federal power is centred in the bicameral Parliament. Germanic tribes entered Germany с 2nd century BC, displacing the Celts. The Romans failed to conquer the region, which became a political entity only with the division of the Carolingian empire in the 9th century AD. The monarchy's control was weak, and power increasingly devolved upon the nobility, organized in feudal states. The monarchy was restored under Saxon rule in the 10th century, and the Holy Roman Empire, centring on Germany and northern Italy, was revived. Continuing conflict between the Holy Roman emperors and the Roman Catholic popes undermined the empire, and its dissolution was accelerated by Martin Luther's revolt (1517), which divided Germany, and ultimately Europe, into Protestant and Catholic camps, culminating in the Thirty Years' War (1618–48). Germany's population and borders were greatly reduced, and its numerous feudal princes gained virtually full sovereignty. In 1862 Otto von Bismarck came to power in Prussia and in 1871 reunited Germany in the German Empire. It was dissolved in 1918 after the German defeat in World War I, and the Weimar Republic was declared. Germany was stripped of much of its territory and all of its colonies. In 1933 Adolf Hitler became chancellor and established a totalitarian state, the Third Reich, dominated by the Nazi Party. Hitler's invasion of Poland in 1939 plunged the world into World War II. Following its defeat in 1945, Germany was divided by the Allied Powers into four zones of occupation. Disagreement with the Soviet Union over their reunification led to the creation in 1949 of the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) and the German Democratic Republic (East Germany). Berlin, the former capital, remained divided. West Germany became a prosperous parliamentary democracy, East Germany a one-party state under Soviet control. In 1952 Germany became a founding member of the European Coal and Steel Community, the forerunner of the European Union. The East German communist government was overthrown peacefully in 1989, and Germany was reunited in 1990. After the initial euphoria over unity, the political and economic integration of the former East Germany into the federal republic resulted in heavy financial burdens for the wealthier western Germans. However, the country continued to move toward deeper political and economic integration with western Europe through its membership in the European Union.
(as used in expressions)
Germany East
Germany West

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▪ 2009

357,093 sq km (137,874 sq mi)
(2008 est.): 82,143,000
Berlin; some ministries remain in Bonn
Chief of state:
President Horst Köhler
Head of government:
Chancellor Angela Merkel

      Chancellor Angela Merkel's 2008 New Year's speech was an optimistic reminder that Germany in 2007 had seen economic improvement and that 2008 was promising a continuation of this trend. Internal political strife, increased violence among teenagers, and the international credit crunch were counterbalanced by further decreases in unemployment, an expansion of early-education programs, and a serious step forward in alleviating cross-border tax evasion.

Domestic Affairs.
      Domestic events in early 2008 shocked many Germans as the year began with reports of a retiree admitted to the hospital because of an unprovoked attack by a group of teenagers. This alleged incident was a continuation of events that occurred in late 2007; in general, the past two years had seen six instances across Germany in which groups of teenagers committed random violent acts on people walking on the street or in parks at unusual hours. This left many people reconsidering for the first time their understanding of physical safety in modern Germany.

      In the political arena these occurrences fed into the identity crisis of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), which had already faced problems in 2007 related to redefining the party's conservative agenda and uniting voters and party members under the same umbrella in respect to terrorism and domestic security. The apparent willingness of groups of teenagers to commit acts of violence as a recreational activity induced Minister for the Interior Wolfgang Schäuble of the CDU to call for tougher jail sentences. The debate reached monumental dimensions in those states with elections in 2008: Hessen, Bavaria, and Lower Saxony. Even within the CDU there was dissent, as many members agreed with the opposition Social Democratic Party (SPD) that instead of harsher prison sentences, there was a need for intervention before a teenager became violent. The debate was not helped by police and social service workers who opposed any attempts to increase prison sentences for teenagers. Statistically, they argued, the number of violent acts committed by teenagers was on the decrease, though the individual acts had become more violent. The fact that violence committed by nonnational teenagers had increased was particularly worrying.

      Germans had grappled with integration issues for years, and there was little agreement among the parties in 2008 as a new law that required immigrants to demonstrate that they could speak rudimentary German came into force. Both the new law and the recent increase in violence opened the doors for serious discussions of what integration should mean—a debate that as yet remained without a solution.

      This debate caused even more problems for the SPD, which was struggling to redefine its identity within the political spectrum. As the new centre-left party the Left argued that immigrants needed more help and the Christian Democrats demanded more social integration, the Social Democrats seemed to have a hard time defining where their position lay between these two disparate stances. In 2007 the Social Democrats had agreed to a new party program, but they were unable to win any of the state elections in Hessen, Bavaria, and Lower Saxony, while the Left increased its vote totals and won seats in two of the three state parliaments. Embattled SPD leader Kurt Beck suddenly resigned in September and was replaced in October by his predecessor, former vice-chancellor Franz Müntefering. At the same time, it was announced that Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier (Steinmeier, Frank-Walter ) would stand against the CDU's Angela Merkel as the SPD's official candidate for the chancellorship in the 2009 elections to the Bundestag (the lower house of parliament). Although it was believed that the SPD and the Left would work together in coalition should they achieve enough seats in 2009, the two parties were likely to field their own candidates in the presidential campaign to challenge Pres. Horst Köhler of the CDU.

      The CDU's push for an increase in free child-care facilities and the attendant encouragement of fathers to take on more child-care responsibilities (and thus allow mothers to return to work sooner) was going well. An increase in births in 2007 and 2008, the first rise in 10 years, was considered an indication that the policy was working. Other CDU initiatives were less successful. The laws allowing the state to gather data by using private e-mail and phone conversations without actual proof of wrongdoing failed in the Constitutional Court, as did a widespread smoking ban. The use of biometric data on passports and increased rights for police to fight terrorism were expected to be debated in the court over the course of the next year.

      The Constitutional Court itself saw a new development in 2008 when, for the first time, a judge appointed to the Constitutional Court, University of Würzburg law professor Horst Dreier of the SPD, publicly failed to garner approval from the other parties. Twice before in German history had a judge failed to achieve acceptance by the opposition, but this was the first time that the debate had been carried out publicly rather then internally between the two main parties in government.

Foreign Affairs.
      Internationally 2008 saw Germany take a stand on several contentious issues, especially when Chancellor Angela Merkel, as a protest against human rights infringements in China, announced in March that she would not attend the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in Beijing in August. The announcement that U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama (Obama, Barack ) planned to present a major speech in front of the Brandenburg Gate during his July visit to Berlin met with widespread puzzlement in Germany, where many people were still unfamiliar with his name. When he gave the speech, however, it met with approval from the huge crowd that turned out to hear him. In the weeks following Obama's visit, Germany's relationship with the U.S. was in the forefront of political debate.

      During the year Germany followed the lead set by the U.K., France, and the U.S. in recognizing Kosovo as an independent state, providing Myanmar (Burma) with emergency aid, and playing a role in the EU's dealings with Iran. In the conflict between Georgia and Russia, however, Germany was slightly more proactive and visible as it led the EU investigation groups being sent to Georgia. These situations brought to the surface one of the greatest issues relating to Germany's role in the world as other Western countries, such as the U.K. and the U.S., demanded that Berlin take on more military responsibility in international conflicts. After World War II it was clear in the collective German mind that there would never again be a German military presence, and by 2008 younger Germans found it difficult to even contemplate that military force might be a solution in any conflict. Moreover, the suggestion that Germany should provide troops, as opposed to giving financial aid or noncombatant support within the remit of a peacekeeping force, triggered immediate public disapproval. Political leaders not only shared that view but also recognized that any German politician who agreed to provide combat soldiers would automatically lose public support. In October, after months of pressure from NATO, the Bundestag agreed to send 1,000 additional troops to Afghanistan and to extend the mission there by 14 months, but Berlin still resisted transferring German forces from the relative peace in northern Afghanistan to the war-torn south.

The Economy.
      From an economic point of view, 2008 started positively, with a budget surplus of some €7.3 billion (about $10.8 billion) in the first half of the year. A budget that would leave Germany debt free by 2011 was approved, and unemployment was on a steady decrease throughout the year, from almost 4 million to 3.2 million out of work. The international credit crunch that followed the U.S. banking crisis, however, pushed Germany into recession in November, and the government abandoned the balanced budget in favour of a €50 billion (about $70 billion) stimulus package.

      In the spring a financial scandal involving Liechtenstein took on aspects of an espionage novel when German tax officials acquired a CD-ROM through secret service contacts. This CD contained information on German tax evaders who had used Liechtenstein as a tax haven. (See Liechtenstein .) German officials hoped to use the data to convict some 600 tax evaders, including the Deutsche Post minister, who resigned after his name was found on the CD. Other persons whose names were found on the CD sued the state for compensation on the basis that the information had not been come by legitimately. The court case, as well as the whole affair, was likely to keep German officials occupied for years and could cast a long shadow over relations with Liechtenstein.

      Spring 2008 also saw the threat of strikes in the rail industry. The increased price of oil and a rising environmental consciousness had led to a greater use of commuter trains by German workers. The threat of a strike was averted, but high oil prices remained a problem through much of the year. Nevertheless, the euro remained steady in the face of decreasing value of the U.S. dollar and the British pound.

      German automobile manufacturers had not moved with the times, counting on a perennial desire among consumers for ever-faster cars, and had sacrificed fuel economy and environmental friendliness for speed. The industry was therefore hit hard by the EU Commission's plans for stricter rules governing automotive CO2 emissions. The banking failures affecting the U.S. economy added another component to the economic problems in Germany, which had to provide state loans to some of its own banks that had been undermined by the repercussions of the subprime mortgage crisis in the U.S. In September a German mortgage provider, Hypo Real Estate, showed weakness for the first time. A rescue packet was designed and prepared by other financial institutes initially, but national measures throughout Europe soon followed.

Nicola Corkin

▪ 2008

357,046 sq km (137,856 sq mi)
(2007 est.): 82,249,000
Berlin; some ministries remain in Bonn
Chief of state:
President Horst Köhler
Head of government:
Chancellor Angela Merkel

      A 3% increase in the value-added tax (VAT) at the beginning of 2007 cast a dark shadow over Germans' expectations; it was the largest tax increase imposed since World War II. By the end of the year, however, the public's attitudes toward the government, the economy, and the future in general were more positive than in previous years. Germany saw domestic debates on education, discussions on antiterrorist measures and the rights of the citizen, and a repositioning of the parties on the left-right continuum. In the international arena, the German presidency of the EU and of the Group of Eight (G-8) went well, but the country was shocked by the abduction in February of a German woman and her 20-year-old son in Iraq.

Domestic Affairs.
      A well-known television presenter divided Germany in the spring with a remark on the need for women to concentrate on family matters—for their own, the nation's, and, most important, their children's well-being. The economic activity rate of women in Germany, 48.9%, was among the lowest in Europe and was sometimes seen as a potential cause for economic stagnation and for the pension worries of recent years. Meanwhile, the debate on the reform of the education system centred on increased spending on day-care facilities. The education system and work conditions were often considered detrimental to having both parents working, but in 2007 some 8% of fathers made use of their more remunerative right to parental leave and took over some of the child-care responsibilities while their partners returned to work. This new initiative, and the increased government funding of day-care facilities, led to uncertainty within the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU). The CDU minister for family matters had initiated these social programs, and some observers and CDU members were asking, “What are conservative values today?”

      Minister for the Interior Wolfgang Schäuble of the CDU seemed to offer the answer to this conservative “identity crisis” when he proposed domestic security measures through a fingerprint database that would contain all citizens' information and would be made accessible to all governmental institutions. The suggestion was subsequently watered down. There also were proposed laws on shooting down terrorist-controlled planes and on the legalization of the searching of suspects' computers through the Internet. While all of these proposals were within the traditional conservative realm of topics, they resulted in warnings from the opposition and from Pres. Horst Köhler of the danger to individual rights and caused unrest within the grand coalition and the CDU itself. The minister of justice—a member of the centre-left Social Democratic Party (SPD), the junior partner in the grand coalition—expressed displeasure at the conservative security proposals.

      The recent success of the new leftist party Die Linke had caused the SPD to consider the need for redefinition even before 2007. For many left-wing voters, the SPD had become too conservative in its social security proposals. During the previous coalition government, when the SPD held the majority, reforms had been set in motion that would lead to a less-generous social security network, and the electorate found the SPD representing ideas that many voters felt to be contrary to the labour tradition. Die Linke, a party founded in 2005 by members of the Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS) and other disaffected leftists, was able to fill the vacuum thus generated and to unite many former SPD votes under its banner. Nevertheless, in the elections in Bremen, the only state balloting held in 2007, there remained an SPD majority, although financial mismanagement and scandals had reduced the party's lead in that region. Within the Bundestag (the lower house of parliament), which had last held elections in 2005, the SPD remained the second largest party (behind the CDU), followed by the Free Democratic Party (FDP) and Die Linke, which therefore achieved the status of the fourth strongest party in its first parliamentary elections. The success of the SPD to regain voters from the left would be judged in 2008, when several more states were due to hold parliamentary elections. The party's future was further disrupted in November when Vice-Chancellor Franz Müntefering of the SPD unexpectedly resigned to care for his ailing wife. His replacement as vice-chancellor, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, had often clashed with Chancellor Angela Merkel over foreign policy.

      German distrust in public figures, inside and outside politics, was widespread in 2007. Cycling had always been considered a clean sport, and German fans had revered their cyclists. The discovery of an increasing number of doping cases within the sport magnified public disenchantment. Thus, the decision by public broadcasting organizations to boycott the Tour de France had little impact, and the announcement by many politicians that they would boycott the cycling road race world championships, held in Stuttgart in September, was considered hypocritical, given the public's mistrust of government officials. The country also faced a different kind of moral dilemma as the government debated the release or parole of the last four former Red Army Faction (also called the Baader-Meinhof Gang) terrorists still being held after more than 20 years in prison; two of the four were released.

      Many blamed Bavarian Minister-Pres. Edmund Stoiber's ultraconservative public outbursts—especially those directed toward former East Germany—for much of the public distrust of politicians. In January Stoiber announced that in September he would step down as premier and as the head of the CDU's partner party, the Christian Social Union (CSU). Throughout the year Stoiber's stance resulted in a steady decline of support and heavy criticism within the CSU, and he resigned as promised. In October the Bavarian state parliament elected Vice Minister-Pres. Günther Beckstein to replace Stoiber; Economics Minister Erwin Huber took over as CSU party chief. General disillusionment permeated public life, and many citizens saw Stoiber as a symbol of the insincerity they criticized. Intriguingly, the role that German politicians played in the international arena in 2007 did much to alleviate this situation, and toward the end of the year, Germans displayed the highest trust in public figures and politics that had been observed in years.

Foreign Affairs.
      The international scene was dominated in 2007 by Germany's presidency of the European Union in the first half of the year and the G-8 summit held in Heiligendamm in early June. The agenda for the EU presidency was focused on climate change as well as the future of Europe and the EU after the defeat of the constitutional treaty. Generally, Germany's presidency, which ended in June, was considered a success. At the end of the German presidency, surveys recorded the highest level of trust in years toward the EU, around 60%. Some problems remained concerning Polish disagreement in regard to voting rights and the general anti-German sentiment perceived to be displayed in Poland, but the presidency closed with an agreement on a new reform treaty and on climate-change goals within the EU. The reform treaty differed from the constitutional treaty, which had been defeated in 2005, in that it presented a simplified and slimmed-down reform proposal for the EU.

      The G-8 summit was also dominated by the topic of climate change. In respect to cutting carbon dioxide emissions, the summit did not produce clear goals for the post-Kyoto Protocol era, but it did achieve a tentative agreement on cutting carbon dioxide emissions in half by 2050. This was not considered an unmitigated success domestically, and there was significant internal unrest due to a lack of definite targets. But the summit was considered a success in that the U.S. and some less-developed countries (LDCs) agreed to consider climate change a threat. The “ Heiligendamm Process,” an institutionalization of the dialogue between the G-8 members and the five largest emerging economies, came out of the meeting by building a bridge between developed countries and LDCs through which the problem of climate change, and possibly other areas of conflict, could be addressed. Most notable was the close working relationship between Germany and the U.K. in regard to both the G-8 summit and the EU reform treaty, which was considered a possible blueprint for future interactions between the two countries.

 A domestic climate summit in Berlin, which brought together politicians as well as industry leaders, was also not totally successful. Energy security in Germany was very much bound up with the topic of nuclear energy. The idea of potentially having to increase the use of nuclear energy, or even build a new nuclear energy reactor, seemed inconceivable to many Germans—even though this might be the only way to reach the ambitious emission goals (a reduction of 40% by 2020, relative to 1990). Nevertheless, renewable energy was the route that Germany was attempting to take, against the recommendations of industry. Chancellor Merkel was confident that the level of cuts in carbon dioxide emissions could also be achieved without increased or sustained use of nuclear energy. At the same time, there were voices in the parliament demanding less-stringent energy requirements for the building industry in order to ensure German competitiveness.

The Economy.
      The concentration on environmental concerns also influenced the economy, with the renewable-energy sector showing the largest upswing. For the first time in years, the overall economy posted a definite positive trend, despite the increase in the VAT at the beginning of the year. Unemployment decreased to some 3.5 million (with a slight cyclical increase of unemployment in the summer). Germany not only met the predicted 2% growth rate but also exceeded it significantly. In the early part of 2007, growth stood at 3.1%. It fell slightly to 2.4% midyear, partly because of the mortgage crisis in the U.S., but rose again thereafter, with a predicted average of 2.8% for the year.

      Unlike people in many other developed countries, most Germans traditionally used great caution in their financial dealings, and any form of insecurity could lead to low spending by individuals, often increasing economic weakness. Thus, the perceived upward economic trend in 2007 triggered a higher rate of spending, which in turn bolstered the positive trend. Though the 3% VAT increase had led economists to surmise that 2007 would be a year of low spending and halted economic growth, by year's end, analysts predicted that strong growth would enable Germany to move its general government deficit into surplus in the near future. Despite this assessment, other analysts were worried that the economic uplift was not the result of the reforms implemented in the past few years but rather a cyclical improvement. The economic program passed by the parliament for the second half of 2007 stressed public spending rather than cutting public debt.

      The mortgage crisis in the U.S. influenced the German economy surprisingly little, aside from a stock market slowdown at the beginning of August, which was resolved within a few weeks. The threatened insolvency of two affected financial institutions was avoided through government intervention, however, which was potentially an example of the current political climate regarding intervention into markets if financial stability was threatened. The future outlook for industries connected with producing energy-saving technologies was especially good after the government decided on further subventions in these areas in August.

      Demographically, Germany was in trouble; the population growth rate in 2007 was estimated at –0.033%. As Germans had fewer children, the resulting decrease in the number of taxpayers—along with the increasing number of retirees—was likely to cause economic problems. Moreover, owing to movement of the population from the less prosperous areas into the more prosperous ones and the low economic activity among German women, many services provided by the state, such as local schools, were threatened.

Nicola Corkin

▪ 2007

357,023 sq km (137,847 sq mi)
(2006 est.): 82,442,000
Berlin; some ministries remain in Bonn
Chief of state:
President Horst Köhler
Head of government:
Chancellor Angela Merkel

Domestic Affairs.
 The biggest domestic event in Germany in 2006 was undoubtedly the country's hosting of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (soccer) World Cup (FIFA World Cup 2006 ), eventually won by Italy. (See Sports and Games: Sidebar.) Although the run-up to the event was in part overshadowed by concerns about an apparent rise in violence toward foreigners, particularly in the east of the country, such concerns turned out to be unfounded. Not only was Germany's hosting and organization of the event widely praised, but there were also suggestions that at least some German citizens increasingly felt able to take a degree of pride in their identity, which for a long time had been overshadowed by the legacy of Germany's past.

      Away from football, attention in the political sphere focused upon the reform attempts of the grand coalition of Germany's two largest parties, the Christian Democratic Union/ Christian Social Union (CDU/CSU) and the Social Democratic Party (SPD). This coalition government had been formed after the incredibly close election result of September 2005. The list of policy challenges facing the coalition was extensive and included reform of Germany's generous but expensive health insurance system; an overhaul of the federal system; changes to the corporate tax system; reform of the so-called Hartz IV legislation on unemployment benefits, introduced by the previous government; pension reform and the potential raising of the retirement age from 65 to 67; and the need to bring Germany's annual budgetary deficit back within the criteria stipulated by the European Union.

      The grand coalition enjoyed a substantial majority in the Bundestag, the lower house of Parliament, as well as control of the Bundesrat, the chamber of federal state government representatives. As a result, smaller opposition parties—the Free Democrats, the Greens, and the Left—had little hope of overturning the federal government's legislative proposals. Reaching agreement between the two coalition partners proved far from easy, however, and during the summer months the contentious debate within the government over proposals for the reform of the health insurance system threatened the survival of the coalition. Tensions became apparent not just between the two parties but also within them, especially within the CDU/CSU as Chancellor Angela Merkel came under pressure from the party's so-called regional “barons”—those premiers of Germany's constituent federal states that belonged to the CDU/CSU.

      This debate, fought out largely in public during the summer, had clear negative implications for the popularity of both the chancellor and the CDU. Opinion polls in late summer and early autumn showed the party continually slipping in popularity, while the SPD gradually began to gain support after having suffered a dip in popularity in the early part of the year. Opinion polls also suggested that a growing number of German citizens did not believe that the grand coalition would last its full term in office. The chancellor's personal popularity rating also fell, having started the year as Germany's most popular chancellor ever—largely as a result of her perceived foreign policy successes—as questions were raised over her management of both the squabbling government coalition and her own fractious party.

      Nevertheless, after a tardy introduction of the coalition's reform plans, by the autumn a number of measures had been agreed upon. The slow start occurred because important elections were being held in three states in March—Baden-Württemberg, Rhineland-Palatinate, and Saxony-Anhalt. Defeat for the ruling administrations in any of these states could have spelled problems for the introduction of necessary reforms, particularly if they had further weakened the SPD after its poor state election results in 2005. The ruling majorities were maintained in each case, however, so after a four-month “honeymoon period,” by the end of March the grand coalition was tackling serious reform issues.

      Among the decisions taken was the first part of the federal reform package, a piece of legislation requiring some 20 constitutional amendments, which was passed by both houses in July. The second part of the package, aimed at reforming Germany's federal fiscal equalization system, was due to be negotiated in 2007. Agreement was also reached on a reform of the corporate tax system and an increase in tax rates for Germany's highest earners.

 An unpopular measure was the agreement to raise the official retirement age for German workers from 65 to 67 as a consequence of demographic pressures. The measure was to be phased in over the course of the next three years, though it would not apply to all categories of workers. The most difficult domestic policy issue for the government, however, proved to be the health insurance reform. Negotiations began in March and concluded in late September, with an uneasy compromise struck between the two coalition partners, which overrode dissension in the party ranks. The main sticking points were the very different conceptions of the two parties over how the insurance system should be funded and what role private health insurers were to play in the financing of the health care system.

      In the state elections held in September in Mecklenburg–West Pomerania and Berlin, concern was once again raised by the electoral successes of the right-wing National Democratic Party (NPD). In Mecklenburg–West Pomerania, Chancellor Merkel's home state, the NPD achieved 7.3% of the vote and easily cleared the 5% barrier necessary to take up seats in Parliament. Mecklenburg–West Pomerania was one of Germany's poorest regions, with an unemployment rate hovering around 18%, nearly twice the national average. The NPD also held state parliamentary seats in Saxony, and the German People's Union (DVU), another party of the right, was represented in Brandenburg and in Bremen.

      Security concerns were heightened in August when two undetonated explosive devices were found on trains in the west of the country. This discovery was followed by the arrest of a suspect based upon closed-circuit television footage. This unleashed a new debate in Germany about the balance between the safeguarding of civil liberties and the importance of ensuring security, a debate that grew to incorporate the political row over the introduction of an antiterrorism database for use by the German security services.

Foreign Affairs.
      Both Chancellor Merkel and Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier (SPD) were well received on the international stage. Merkel was praised for the rapprochement she attained with the United States while still maintaining a critical approach on issues such as the perceived human rights abuses in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Her first visit to Washington in January was warmly greeted in the United States, and the improvement in personal relations with U.S. Pres. George W. Bush, over the days of Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, was clearly evident. Merkel's approach made it clear that she was prepared to raise sensitive issues with the U.S. administration, but she did so in the context of emphasizing the importance of the relationship between the two states. Bush paid a reciprocal visit to Germany in July, prior to the Group of Eight summit in St. Petersburg, and visited Merkel's parliamentary constituency in the east.

      A change in tone was also evident in the German government's relationship with Russia. Schröder's relationship with Russian Pres. Vladimir Putin had been warm and cordial. Merkel established a more-formal relationship with the Russian leader, although the relationship with Russia remained intense, not least because of the agreement, originally signed under the Schröder government, to build a pipeline under the Baltic Sea to supply natural gas to Germany.

      The intended construction of this pipeline was just one of many sources of tension between Germany and Poland over the course of 2006. One Polish minister went so far as to liken the omission of Poland from the deal to the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, which led to the division of Poland between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany during World War II. Other sources of tension included an exhibition that opened in August in Berlin and featured the experiences of European expellees, including Germans deported from Poland, following World War II; an insulting reference to the Polish president in a German newspaper; and a proposal, later dropped, by one of the junior partners of the Polish coalition government to reduce the safeguards protecting the rights of the German-speaking minority still resident in Poland.

      During 2006 the German military embarked on two new overseas deployments, an issue that was still deeply controversial in Germany. The first mission was to head the EU's rapid-reaction force deployed to Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Gabon to assist the 17,000-strong UN peacekeeping force in overseeing presidential elections in the DRC. The second action was far more controversial: the first German deployment to the Middle East since the end of World War II. Following the approval by the Bundestag in mid-September, two frigates, four fast patrol boats, two supply ships, and two helicopters of the German navy were sent to patrol the Lebanese coast following the cessation of hostilities between Israel and the Hezbollah militia present in southern Lebanon. Their objective was to prevent arms shipments from reaching Hezbollah. Of crucial importance to the debate over the deployment was the possibility, however slight, of German forces' being placed in a position where they might end up firing upon Israelis. The question of military deployment near Israel proved particularly sensitive, demonstrating that the legacy of World War II continued to influence the debate over Germany's global role.

      Alongside the U.K. and France, Germany—as one of the so-called EU-3—played a major role until autumn in trying to find a diplomatic solution to the continuing crisis generated by Iran's uranium-enrichment program. The failure to reach a diplomatic solution, however, led in October to the European Union's decision to pass the brief back to the UN Security Council. Inside the EU, Chancellor Merkel developed a reputation as a mediator, largely on the basis of her achievement in helping the EU's budgetary negotiations for the next multiannual perspective reach a successful conclusion in December 2005. A positive development for Germany came from the EU's decision to end the threat of legal action against Germany for its ongoing breach of the budget-deficit criteria after it became clear in the autumn of 2006 that Germany's annual budget deficit would come down below the 3% of gross domestic product specified by the EU's criteria on fiscal responsibility.

The Economy.
      One of the key reasons for the suspension of action against Germany because of its budget deficit was the ongoing revival of the German economy, which gathered pace throughout 2006. After a stuttering start to the year, the economic recovery of Germany, and of the euro zone more generally, strengthened throughout the second and third quarters. In addition, tax revenues proved higher than anticipated, which also contributed to reducing the budget deficit.

      The grand coalition was criticized for its 2006 budget, which required extensive reworking in order to balance. In fact, this budget was technically unconstitutional, because borrowing exceeded investment, but it was justified by the government on grounds of exceptional circumstances. Further criticism focused on the fact that rather than trimming state spending, for example through the Hartz IV reform, there was a focus upon increased tax revenues; another move by the grand coalition was to announce a three percentage point increase in the rate of value-added tax to be implemented in January 2007. This move was expected to encourage an upturn in consumer spending in the latter part of the year as consumers moved to make large purchases before the new rate took effect. Consumer spending remained relatively flat, however, with economic growth being once again led by exports and industrial productivity. Nevertheless, the strengthening economic revival led to an upward revision of predicted growth rates for 2006, as well as increasingly optimistic assessments for 2007.

Rosanne Palmer

▪ 2006

357,023 sq km (137,847 sq mi)
(2005 est.): 82,443,000
Berlin; some ministries remain in Bonn
Chief of state:
President Horst Köhler
Head of government:
Chancellors Gerhard Schröder and, from November 22, Angela Merkel

      Events in Germany in 2005 were dominated by the decision to call an early federal election in September, 12 months ahead of schedule. The election followed disastrous regional election results for the Social Democratic Party (SPD) in May and the continued unpopularity of the Social Democrat–Green federal government. Germany's weak economic performance, high unemployment rates, and unpopular welfare-state reforms were the key factors in public discontent. The election outcome—a hung Parliament—left Germany in limbo for several weeks while the shape of a new government coalition was hammered out.

Domestic Affairs.
      In January the payment scheme for unemployment benefits was altered, which caused discontent among those on benefits and contributed to the unpopularity of the federal government. Germany also faced a number of commemorative events marking the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe, including a trip by the federal president in January to the site of the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland. Measures were put in place to prevent neo-Nazi groups from disrupting such events after deputies of the far-right National Democratic Party boycotted the Saxony state parliament in protest against commemorations of the liberation of Auschwitz.

      During the year Germany was involved in a number of high-profile trials relating to global terrorism. Metin Kaplan, a Muslim radical, was jailed for life in Turkey for conspiring to overthrow the Turkish secular system. Kaplan, known as the caliph of Cologne, was extradited to Turkey from Germany to face charges in 2004 after Turkey banned the death penalty. The case of the Moroccan Mounir al-Motassadeq was also finally resolved following a year-long retrial. Motassadeq, who was convicted in 2003 of having been an accessory to the September 11 attacks in the United States, had had his 15-year sentence overturned in 2004 because the German courts had been unable to directly question suspects held by the U.S. In the retrial, with fresh evidence from the U.S., Motassadek was found guilty of belonging to a terrorist organization and given a seven-year sentence, though he was not convicted of charges relating directly to the September 11 attacks.

      In February the SPD, with help from a local ethnic Danish party, narrowly managed to avoid defeat in the Schleswig-Holstein state elections and to stay in office. Real damage to the SPD was done, however, by the party's disastrous defeat in the North Rhine–Westphalia state election on May 22. The rout was attributed largely to high unemployment, the sluggish economy, and the unpopularity of welfare-state and labour-market reforms.

      The cumulative effect of the SPD's poor regional election results in 2004 and 2005 left the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), holding a strong position in the Bundesrat, the upper chamber of Parliament. The ruling SPD–Green Party coalition was seriously short of room for legislative maneuvering. In effect, there came into being an informal “grand coalition” in which negotiations between the two large parties were needed in order to realize legislative progress.

      The SPD defeat in North Rhine–Westphalia, Germany's largest state economy but an area that suffered from industrial decline and high unemployment rates, was what finally provoked Chancellor Gerhard Schröder to seek early elections. In order for early elections to be called, the chancellor had to engineer—and lose—a vote of confidence in the Bundestag and thereby prove that his government lacked the support of a stable parliamentary majority and could not stand. Schröder's tactic was highly unusual and controversial. It could have been blocked at either of two points: by the German president, who had the responsibility to dissolve the Bundestag, or by the Federal Constitutional Court (FCC), which could declare the move unconstitutional. In fact, the issue was referred to the FCC by two backbench deputies in protest against Schröder's move, but neither Pres. Horst Köhler nor the FCC would intervene, which probably reflected the perceived popular and parliamentary will. The confidence vote in the Bundestag took place on July 1; 296 deputies voted against the government and 151 in favour, with 148 abstentions. The stage was set for the critical federal election to take place on September 18.

      The campaign revolved around the state of the economy, the need for labour-market and tax-system reform, and the personalities of the chancellor candidates, Schröder for the SPD and Angela Merkel (Merkel, Angela ) (see Biographies) for the CDU/CSU. In the opinion polls the CDU/CSU enjoyed substantial leads for most of the year. The biggest question for most people seemed to be whether Merkel (who would be the country's first woman chancellor) would be able, as the CDU/CSU had usually done, to form a coalition with the liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP).

      The SPD election campaign managed to gather momentum, however, despite the unpopularity of the Socialists' reform measures and the fact that it was being squeezed on the left by a new Linke (“Left”) party, which brought together the former communists of eastern Germany's Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS) and disaffected traditional social democrats from the west, led by former finance minister Oskar Lafontaine and the PDS's Gregor Gysi. The SPD's impetus was driven largely by the personality of Schröder, who enjoyed consistently high personal popularity ratings.

      The Union parties' cause was not helped by the image of Merkel herself, who repeatedly showed as less popular than Schröder in opinion polls and was apparently uneasy in the media spotlight. Nor was her candidacy advanced by two political colleagues whose presence seemed only to divide party and electors. The outspoken CSU leader Edmund Stoiber had been the Union's unsuccessful candidate for chancellor in 2002; he stirred up problems for the Union by making critical statements about the eastern electorate. Paul Kirchhof, Merkel's choice for finance minister, was an academic who mired the Union in controversy with his ideas for the introduction of a flat-rate income tax.

      The two candidates went head to head in a television debate on September 4. Schröder, the more accomplished media performer, was generally adjudged to have been the winner, but Merkel put in a stronger performance than many expected. Two weeks before the election, a large number of voters were still undecided. Opinion polls in the week before the election were still indicating a comfortable victory for the Union parties, although the gap was narrowing.

      Exit polls revealed the thinness of the CDU/CSU's margin. There was a mere 1% difference between the CDU and the SPD, a scant majority for the Union parties. Both Merkel and a jubilant Schröder claimed a mandate to be chancellor.

      The CDU/CSU received four seats more than the SPD (226 to 222). The FDP showed strongly (61 seats), but the Union and the FDP were unable to form a parliamentary coalition with a workable majority. The Linke received 54 seats and the Greens 51, so a number of coalition permutations were possible. The two main parties began the delicate task of looking for a workable alliance. Three possibilities dominated—a grand coalition of CDU/CSU and SPD, a “traffic light” coalition of SPD (red), Green, and FDP (yellow), and a “Jamaica” coalition of CDU/CSU (black), Green, and FDP (named for the colours of the Jamaican flag). During the course of the campaign, the SPD had ruled out an arrangement that included the Linke, even though together the SPD, the Greens, and the Linke could muster more than 50% of the vote.

      During the three weeks that followed the election, it gradually became clear that the only way forward would be the formation of a grand coalition. Serious negotiations were delayed by the continued insistence of both Merkel and Schröder that they be chancellor in the new government. Schröder finally ceded to his rival, and on October 10 it was announced that Germany would indeed have its first female chancellor. Merkel would, however, lack the strong popular mandate that she had anticipated. The cabinet seats were effectively divided up between three parties (the CDU shared posts with the CSU). The SPD was given eight cabinet portfolios (foreign affairs, finance, justice, economic cooperation and development, labour, health, transport, and environment) and the CDU/CSU six (economy; interior; defense; family; consumer rights, nutrition, and agriculture; and education) as well as the posts of chancellor and state secretary in the Chancellery. Negotiations over the detailed government program continued through the end of the year and focused in particular on labour-market reform, improvement of economic performance, and cuts in government expenditure.

The Economy.
      The country continued to suffer from weak growth and high unemployment in 2005. In January unemployment reached the psychologically important figure of five million for the first time, though the number fell slightly in subsequent months. Real growth was elusive and remained export-driven, and domestic demand, badly affected by weak consumer confidence, remained feeble. The effects of the limitations imposed by the euro zone's Growth and Stability Pact continued to have a negative impact, and the government remained unable to use its own spending to encourage domestic demand.

      “Co-determination,” the German system of industrial relations, came under attack once again. The traditionally strong German trade unions began to be undermined as large companies threatened to move jobs outside Germany. Volkswagen AG was embroiled in a succession of scandals concerning leading figures in the company, which resulted in three major resignations, including that of Peter Hartz, director of personnel at VW and a close economic adviser to Chancellor Schröder. A further scandal embroiled VW's operations in India, with accusations of bribery relating to the setting up of a plant in the country. Sportswear manufacturer Adidas sought to reposition itself in the global market by divesting itself of Salomon, its winter sports branch, and moving to purchase Reebok in order to secure a stronger footing in the American sportswear market.

Foreign Affairs.
      Together with the U.K. and France, Germany led negotiations with Iran throughout the year about the cessation of Iran's nuclear fuel enrichment program. Failure of the talks and the reopening of the nuclear plant at Esfahan, which had been sealed by the International Atomic Energy Agency, would likely lead to the question's being referred to the UN Security Council. At the UN Germany continued to press for reform of the Security Council and lobby for a permanent seat on the Council.

      Both houses of the German Parliament, the Bundestag and the Bundesrat, approved the draft EU Constitution, although the charter was rejected a few weeks later in referenda in France and The Netherlands. Arguments over the EU budget for the period 2007–13 continued in 2005 and focused largely on reform of the Common Agricultural Policy and the anomaly of the budget rebate received by the U.K.; Germany wanted to see the rebate abolished. Relations with the U.S. were boosted somewhat in February as U.S. Pres. George W. Bush visited Germany during his tour of Europe, which was aimed in part at mending fences with those European states, such as Germany, that had been critical of the U.S.-led coalition's intervention in Iraq in 2003. Papering over their differences, the German and U.S. leaders made much of Germany's troop contributions in Afghanistan as evidence of its commitment to the global war on terrorism.

 The prospects for a consistent foreign policy after the election were uncertain. Foreign policy was an area in which the ideas of the grand coalition partners diverged markedly. The union parties wanted to concentrate on rebuilding relations with the U.S.; Schröder was sharply critical of the U.S. attitude toward Iran. The SPD would welcome Turkey into the EU; the union parties would not. Schröder's SPD government had developed close ties between Germany and Russia; Merkel wanted to loosen these ties somewhat. In terms of policy making and control of the foreign-policy apparatus, from late November the Foreign Ministry was in the hands of the SPD, yet Chancellor Merkel too had a key role to play in Germany's relations with the rest of the world.

Rosanne Palmer

▪ 2005

357,023 sq km (137,847 sq mi)
(2004 est.): 82,561,000
Berlin; some ministries remain in Bonn
Chief of state:
Presidents Johannes Rau and, from July 1, Horst Köhler
Head of government:
Chancellor Gerhard Schröder

      The state of the German economy and the federal government's reform program were the dominant—and closely intertwined—topics of 2004. The government's economic woes were compounded by shattering results in state and European Parliament elections for the dominant coalition partner, the Social Democratic Party (SPD). The slight stirrings of economic growth remained stubbornly weak, just as the unemployment rate remained stubbornly strong at just over 10% (more than four million unemployed). Foreign affairs continued to be dominated by the German position on Iraq—and the consequences for Germany's relationship with the U.S. In the European Union tensions arose from a variety of sources, not least the row over the voting procedures set out in the draft constitutional treaty, as well as the German government's continued inability to bring its budget deficit under the ceiling set by the euro zone's Stability and Growth Pact.

Domestic Affairs.
      The domestic landscape was marked by continued voter disenchantment with the Schröder government's reform package, known as Agenda 2010. The reforms had a number of objectives aimed at kick-starting the sluggish economy and reducing the financial burdens imposed by Germany's generous welfare system. Displeasure was registered in a number of highly visible ways, notably in the thrashing voters dealt the SPD in state elections and in street demonstrations over the summer, particularly in eastern Germany.

      The SPD registered almost universally poor results in the state elections, barely managing to retain its position as the largest party in the Brandenburg state poll, recording a mere 16% of the votes in Thuringia, and faring even worse—10.6%—in Saxony. Elections in the eastern part of the country were marked by a huge rise in support for what were effectively protest parties. The Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS), successor to East Germany's ruling communist party, achieved 28% of the vote in Thuringia, 30% in Brandenburg, and 24% in Saxony. The PDS was widely perceived as a party that gave expression to the discontent of eastern Germans with regard to the difficulties they faced after reunification, including their lesser wage rates, benefits, and pensions, and a rate of unemployment that in places was double the national average.

      Observers within and outside Germany expressed greater alarm, however, over the looming possibility of a far-right resurgence in the east. In the Brandenburg election the right-wing German People's Union (DVU) won 6 seats in the state parliament, while in Saxony the German National Democratic Party (NPD) managed to win 12 seats. A measure of suspicion surrounded the politics of these two parties, particularly the NPD, which was associated with historical revisionism and incitement to racial hatred and which the government had previously sought to ban. It remained to be seen whether support for the rightists would be sustained in the future or would fade away as quickly as previous far-right resurgences had done as soon as economic conditions improved. In general the vote was perceived less as support for far-right policies and more as an expression of general voter discontent, especially as the Agenda 2010 reforms caused further economic hardship in the east.

      For the SPD the outlook continued to be bleak as thoughts turned to the 2006 federal election. The Socialists received just 21.5% in the elections to the European Parliament, their worst showing ever in a nationwide poll. Because of a low voter turnout (43%), the results had to be treated with caution, but they were borne out by national opinion polls that suggested a gap of as much as 20 points opening up between the Christian Democratic Union/ Christian Social Union (CDU/CSU) and the SPD. A key indicator would be the state election in spring 2005 in North-Rhine Westphalia, traditionally a region of strong SPD support.

      Even among the ruling Social Democrats, there was a groundswell of discontent against the reform program. Grass-roots supporters felt that the measures contradicted the fundamental SPD principles, and long-term supporters were turning away. The rumbles of discontent led Schröder to step down as chairman of the party in February, though this move did not affect his position as chancellor. He was replaced by Franz Müntefering, whose immediate task was to stabilize the party and win back disaffected voters. Schröder argued that it was not the reform package that was the problem but the way in which it had been communicated—or, rather, not communicated—to the citizenry. One government response was the launch of a public-relations offensive in the form of a “little red book” that laid out the basics of the reform package and was handed out at railway stations.

      The CDU/CSU opposition found itself in a stronger position in 2004, though it too was hit by a general decline in the confidence of voters in the ability of both major parties to deliver. CDU leader Angela Merkel backed the reforms, but her position in the run-up to the 2006 federal elections remained somewhat insecure. Two powerful regional leaders, Roland Koch of Hesse and Edmund Stoiber of Bavaria (the candidate for chancellor in 2002), were positioning themselves to challenge her for the top nomination. Both had been involved in disputes with Merkel over Christian Democratic policy on reforms. A minor victory for the CDU/CSU came with the acceptance of the candidate it had backed to be the new president. Horst Köhler, previously the head of the International Monetary Fund, was inaugurated on July 1. Although the president's role is mainly ceremonial, he is in a position to influence national debate. Over the summer Köhler argued that the government had to have the courage to press on with the reform process despite its unpopularity.

      Elsewhere in the domestic arena, plans were announced to reduce the size of the German armed forces. This came as part of a general restructuring designed to meet contemporary demands such as rapid response, peacekeeping, and conflict resolution and to move away from the Cold War confrontational model. This move immediately reignited public debate about conscription and the role of “Zivis,” those young people who choose voluntary civil service instead of military service and upon whom many charities and social institutions depended.

      In July a new immigration law was passed that paved the way for highly qualified foreign workers to become long-term residents in Germany. The new measures were criticized by business leaders as being insufficient to counteract the effects of an aging German population. Equally, the new legislation came in for popular criticism in light of the country's stubbornly high unemployment rate. The legislation suffered an arduous parliamentary passage, with the opposition demanding that tougher measures against terror suspects be included—an issue that became of even greater importance following the Madrid bombings in March.

The Economy.
      In 2003 the German economy shrank by 0.1%; in 2004 the first stirrings of growth, predominantly export-driven, could be discerned, though they remained worryingly weak. Domestic growth continued to be undermined by customers' reluctance to spend. In addition, the unemployment rate crept up again after having fallen slightly toward the end of 2003. It was clear that so far the government's reform package had failed to make much of an impact upon the weak economy. Even the tax cuts planned for 2005, rushed forward by the Schröder government to take effect on Jan. 1, 2004, had not prompted increased consumer spending.

      Despite growing acceptance of the need for economic and welfare state reform, ordinary Germans were reluctant to accept the potential economic hardships or additional costs that such reforms brought. Suspicions remained about the introduction of Anglo-American-style reforms in the shape of market forces. The chancellor had effectively bet his political career on Agenda 2010's bringing about an economic recovery by the next federal elections. So far, however, the reforms had failed to deliver more than electoral setbacks and street demonstrations as citizens reacted to the immediate impact of the reforms upon their pay packets. The most unpopular elements included an increase of health care charges and the cutting of traditionally generous long-term unemployment benefits. On one Monday in August, triggered by the lowering of long-term unemployment benefits, 20,000 people demonstrated in Leipzig, with a further 15,000 on the streets in Berlin. The Schröder government remained largely firm in the face of such protests, and by autumn the momentum of the protesters had begun to fade, though disapproval continued to be registered in the state polls.

      A principal objective of Agenda 2010 was to save the social security system from bankruptcy. The reforms did very little to tackle one of the most notorious brakes on the German economy, however: labour relations. The year 2004 saw a succession of threatened strikes and deals between unions and employers. In January and February there were a number of brief stoppages across the country orchestrated by Germany's largest and most influential union, IG Metall.

      The unions' threats, however, were staunchly countered by the employers. The Munich-based manufacturing giant Siemens AG threatened a large-scale transfer of jobs to Hungary if IG Metall did not allow a greater use of flexible working hours. Siemens was not the only firm to challenge the restrictions of the 35-hour workweek, although it was one of the more successful. Elsewhere, the head of the Federal Labour Agency, which played a key role in the implementation of the reform package, lost his post in January after a vote of no confidence from the supervisory board and a failure to retain the backing of the government. Florian Gerster had been responsible for implementing cost-cutting measures and reforming the procedures used by the agency to find jobs for the unemployed. Rumours abounded that Gerster's sacking was more the result of resentment over his reformist policies than his alleged failure to put contracts up for bid correctly.

      Economic issues were also a source of tension within the European Union, as Germany and France continued to break the budget-deficit ceiling of the EU Stability and Growth Pact. Harsh exchanges with the European Commission led to a case heard before the European Court of Justice that challenged the legality of the EU finance ministers' decision in November 2003 not to punish member states that continued to breach the ceiling. For its part the German government argued that encouraging economic growth should take precedence over attempts to cut the deficit. France's position was similar, and both countries were criticized by other member states, particularly those that had fought hardest to meet the budget-deficit criteria. In the event, the finance ministers' ruling was overturned by the court, although it looked increasingly like a case of the European Commission's winning the battle but losing the war. Plans that featured more flexible means of assessing the budget deficits were developed to take account of periods of slow growth as well as recession. (See European Union: Sidebar (Criteria for Joining the Euro Zone ), above.)

      A clash between Anglo-American and German business cultures came to the fore in the spring. Six former directors of the telecommunications firm Mannesmann faced charges of breach of trust with regard to bonuses voted to five of them in the wake of Mannesmann's takeover by Vodafone AirTouch in 2000, the largest-ever corporate takeover at the time. The bonuses, totaling about $71 million, were of unprecedented size by German standards and were widely portrayed as evidence of corporate greed, particularly in light of the job losses that had followed the takeover. The defendants were acquitted on July 22, despite criticism of the size of the bonuses and the sloppiness of the paperwork, but the debate over the desirability for Germany of Anglo-American-style corporate governance (notably highly paid superstar CEOs) continued into the new year.

Foreign Affairs.
      Germany's foreign relations in 2004 were characterized by continued shakiness in its relationship with the United States. The European Union was beset by disputes and problems on a number of fronts, notably ratification of the draft constitutional treaty and the budget-deficit dispute. Germany's close relationship with France was well tended by Chancellor Schröder and French Pres. Jacques Chirac. The countries' friendship in the post-World War II period was cemented by the invitation extended to Schröder to join the 60th anniversary commemoration of the D-Day landings, the first time such an invitation had been extended to a German leader. The German chancellor's participation was generally accepted by veterans groups.

      Many of the problems in the EU had to do with the issues of enlargement and the process of enacting a constitution. Ten new members joined the EU on May 1. Amid popular fears of a flood of cheap labour arriving from the east, Germany and some other existing member states placed restrictions on the movement of workers for a transitional period of up to seven years. Tensions with other member states were heightened when the EU “big three”—Germany, France, and the U.K.—held a summit in Berlin in February and advanced a series of proposals. Italy, in particular, took umbrage at what it saw as an attempt to dominate the European agenda and rejected the proposals out of hand. The issue of Turkey's membership in the EU was also controversial in Germany, which has a large ethnic Turkish minority. The government supported Turkey's accession, but the CDU/CSU opposed it.

      The U.K., France, and Germany also reached informal consensus on a defense agreement for Europe that included plans for more structured cooperation and the creation of a military headquarters within NATO. Despite the U.K.'s strong transatlantic orientation and insistence that any defense solution for the EU be compatible with the NATO structure, the potential deal was greeted with suspicion in Washington as possibly undermining NATO. Even NATO officials seemed unclear as to how the new proposals would fit into current structures.

      Berlin's relations with Washington remained on shaky ground because of Germany's staunch opposition to the U.S.-led intervention in Iraq. Chancellor Schröder and U.S. Pres. George W. Bush met in February, and the leaders sought to soft-pedal their differences by firmly emphasizing their common ground in the “war on terrorism” and particularly the role being played by Germans in Afghanistan. This did not mean, however, that the U.S. eased its ban on German firms' bidding on Iraqi reconstruction projects. Relations with the U.S. dipped again during clashes at the UN over the timetable for the handover of power to the Iraqis and the possibility of an enhanced role for NATO in Iraq. Germans were critically aware, however, that their country's hope for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council would depend in no small measure on the state of their relations with the U.S.

Rosanne Palmer

▪ 2004

357,021 sq km (137,847 sq mi)
(2003 est.): 82,604,000
Berlin; some ministries remain in Bonn
Chief of state:
President Johannes Rau
Head of government:
Chancellor Gerhard Schröder

      For Germany 2003 marked the cautious beginning of an economic-reform process that the country had debated for two decades. The momentum of Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's 2002 reelection victory quickly evaporated, however, as Germans entered the new year in a deep economic crisis, with spiraling public debt and stubbornly high unemployment that was eating its way into the middle class. In the past, German governments had blamed the country's economic weakness on outside influences, but by early 2003 there was a growing public understanding that what some Europeans called “the German disease” was homemade. Even a healthier world economy, an increasing number of Germans realized, would not lift the economic fortunes of their country, whose problems were structural rather than cyclic. Internationally Germany at first stood alone after it categorically rejected any participation in a possible U.S. military campaign against Iraq. The move angered Germany's U.S. allies and isolated the country from fellow Europeans, including the French, who had so far not ruled out their support for military action. In foreign affairs most of the year was therefore consumed by damage control. First, Germany lobbied France, Russia, and other nations to join its antiwar stance, and later in the year it worked on mending fences with the Americans.

Domestic Affairs.
      The German government suffered a serious setback on February 2 when its bigger component, the Social Democratic Party (SPD), lost elections in two of Germany's 16 federal states. In both Hesse and Lower Saxony, which held elections on the same day, the party suffered double-digit percentage losses. The ballot marked a triumph for Germany's centre-right opposition, which also emerged strengthened in the upper house of the national parliament, the Bundesrat. With a majority in the Bundesrat, where the states were represented, the opposition could block government moves. The defeat in Lower Saxony was an additional embarrassment to Chancellor Schröder because it prompted a change to a conservative government in his home state. In both regions voters said their decision had been influenced by frustration with the federal government. Opinion polls revealed that to many the primary bones of contention were education and the economy. In preelection rallies Schröder and other leaders of the SPD and Greens had tried to shift the campaign's focus to the looming war in Iraq. While the government's pacifist stance had helped it to win the national election four months earlier, it did not score many votes this time around.

      Along with Germany's pressing economic problems, the sorry state of its schools and universities was an issue of public concern in 2003. Germany's education system, like its economy, was once considered one of the best in Europe, but in recent years educational standards had continuously slipped. A growing number of elite students left for foreign universities, often in the U.S., and many never returned, which created a harmful brain drain. Germans also realized that the quality of their primary and secondary schools had worsened. At German schools classes were held only in the morning. Students were generally home by lunchtime, after an average of three hours of classes in elementary school and less than five in high schools. A shortage of teachers caused frequent cancellations of classes.

      A state election on September 21 in Bavaria was another disappointment for the SPD. The Socialists were never expected to win in the deeply conservative region. With good schools, economic growth, and a jobless rate of 6.6%—well below the national average of 10.4%—Bavaria had also retained an image of success that had eluded the rest of the country. Even so, the SPD suffered its worst defeat since World War II, scoring less than 20% of the vote while the ruling Christian Social Union (CSU) was supported by nearly 60.7% of voters. It was a day of sweet revenge for the conservative state governor Edmund Stoiber, who had lost to Schröder in the national vote a year earlier. The comeback bolstered Stoiber's claim to challenge Schröder again in the next federal election.

      While giving Germany's conservatives a boost, the state ballots also revealed the deep divisions among them. Stoiber's leadership claim was rivaled by national party chair Angela Merkel, who also reserved for herself the right to stand in the next election. Although the next national vote was not to be held until 2006, the chancellor and Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer had already announced that they would run again.

      The Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its Bavarian sister party, Stoiber's CSU, also fought about whether they should block or support the government's economic reforms. In September a prominent party official, Friedrich Merz, threatened to step down as deputy parliamentary leader in protest against a compromise on health reforms agreed to by the CDU with the government. Merz's threat was later withdrawn, but it showed the leadership disputes that had plagued the opposition since its longtime leader, former chancellor Helmut Kohl, was ousted by Schröder in 1998. Worse, it cast uncertainty over Schröder's chances of reforming the economy, which depended on the opposition's cooperation.

The Economy.
      In 2003 the German government proposed a series of economic reforms. Europe's biggest economy was in a sorry state. Unemployment stubbornly hovered around 10%, growth was anemic, and social spending had reached close to 30% of GDP, the highest rate of any country in the world except Sweden. The growing struggle to finance this generous welfare system continuously threatened to send public deficits past the European Union's budget-deficit limits for members of the euro zone. In March unemployment jumped to a five-year high of 11.3%. The government blamed the weak world economy and the war in Iraq. Still, in a widely anticipated speech on March 14, Schröder unveiled his so-called Agenda 2010, a sweeping package of economic and welfare reforms.

      “We must find the courage to expect of ourselves and our country the changes that are needed to bring it back to the peak of economic and social development in Europe,” Schröder told Parliament in the address. Among other things, he proposed cuts in jobless benefits, a loosening of labour market restrictions, a simpler tax code for small companies, more flexibility from industrywide wage agreements, an adjustment of the pension formula to reduce benefits, more competition between health care providers, and a reduction of benefits covered by the state medical insurance scheme. In the area of fiscal policy, Schröder's plans included supporting municipalities and the construction sector with subsidized loans worth €15 billion (about $17 million), boosting the revenues of municipalities, and reforming local taxes, as well as reducing interest income and introducing a capital-gains tax. German industry welcomed the plan as a step in the right direction but charged that Schröder's proposals did not go far enough. Keenly aware that some of his plans would anger the unions and raise questions about his credentials as a Social Democrat, Schröder had not touched two key parts of Germany's economic system: sectorwide wage agreements and workers' co-determination. This omission was harmful, some critics said, because both practices were leading obstacles to higher growth and employment.

      Party traditionalists also attacked Schröder's reform plan. A dozen SPD deputies signed a petition calling for an inner-party referendum on Agenda 2010, which they saw as a betrayal of the SPD's long-standing commitment to social justice. Schröder, who was both chancellor and SPD chairman, responded with a “back me or sack me” strategy. He rejected major changes to the reform plan and scheduled a series of regional party meetings, as well as a special SPD congress on June 1. After repeated threats to resign, Schröder won an overwhelming endorsement for the changes from the party conference. The SPD's coalition partner, the Greens, approved the reform plan two weeks later, and the German cabinet formalized Agenda 2010 in August.

      Germany's powerful unions rejected the reforms as well. Addressing traditional May Day rallies, Schröder faced booing and whistling. The unions had another battle to fight, however. A labour strike in June for a shorter workweek in eastern Germany drew sharp public criticism, as Germans felt that the action could damage their already feeble economy. IG Metall, the country's largest industrial union, insisted that the strikes were necessary to put eastern workers on par with their western counterparts by shortening their workweek from 38 to 35 hours, which was standard in much of western Germany. In addition, the union said, a shorter workweek would create some 15,000 jobs.

      The walkouts forced automakers across the country, such as BMW, Volkswagen, and DaimlerChrysler, to shut down assembly lines for lack of parts. The strike hit car companies at a time when they were already struggling with a stagnant economy and a stronger euro. In opinion polls a majority of Germans said they had no sympathy for the strikers. Even most Social Democrats, many of whom were card-carrying unionists, agreed. After four weeks of strikes, IG Metall gave up. The defeat was one of the worst setbacks since the 1950s for Germany's organized labour, which was already reeling from a steady loss of members. In July IG Metall's longtime chairman Klaus Zwickel stepped down earlier than expected out of protest that his deputy, who was responsible for the failed strike, was to become his successor.

      The end of the strike coincided with another market-friendly move by the government. In late June Schröder announced that he would accelerate a sweeping tax cut to accelerate lacklustre consumption in Germany. The government said that it would bring the tax cuts, worth €18 billion (about $20.5 billion), forward by a year. They had originally been scheduled for 2005 and came on top of tax cuts planned to go in effect in 2004. Together their two rounds of tax cuts would bring the top income-tax rate down to 42% from 48.5% and the bottom rate to 15% from 19%.

      The cuts presented a fresh challenge to Germany's already-strapped state budget. By the summer the country was on track to exceed the EU's deficit limit for the third year in a row. Schröder, along with his French counterparts, increasingly challenged that limit. He repeatedly warned the EU against becoming fixated on curbing deficits and ignoring member countries' need for economic growth. In August Germany tipped into recession after having recorded two consecutive quarters of economic contraction. In September Schröder and French Pres. Jacques Chirac proposed a multibillion-euro spending plan to beef up Europe's infrastructure and spur their flailing economies.

      In the fall the government worked on pushing Agenda 2010 through Parliament. A first milestone came on September 26, when the lower house approved the relaxation of job-protection rules and an overhaul of the health care system. The new law would create large savings in Germany's public health care by forcing patients to pay more for drugs and treatments. In mid-December, however, opposition leaders forced Schröder to modify his plan. Under the new agreement, the tax cuts would be distributed evenly over 2004 and 2005. Compromises were also reached on a number of other provisions of Agenda 2010.

Foreign Relations.
      In international relations 2003 was largely consumed by German efforts to come in from the cold after Berlin's lone rejection of military action against Iraq. The move had angered the U.S. and isolated Germany from its European allies at a time when the European Union was working on a common foreign policy.

      Help came on January 22 during a trip Schröder took to Paris to celebrate 40 years of Franco-German cooperation. For months France had left open the option to join the U.S. in a military campaign. It had also backed an initial resolution of the UN Security Council authorizing a possible war on Iraq. Now France joined Germany in an outright rejection of a military campaign. The agreement was a historic turning point; over the years the U.S. had had periodic spats with its European allies, but never before had Europe's two most powerful countries teamed up to challenge Washington's top foreign priority, in this case the removal of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. The German-French understanding also split European nations between those that embraced the U.S. plans and those that opposed them. The U.S. was dismayed. In January, U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld dismissed Germany and France as part of an “old Europe” that was losing in importance to a “new Europe,” consisting of the new Western-allied countries such as Poland and Hungary, which supported the Iraq invasion. Foreign Minister Fischer returned the insult by telling Rumsfeld at a security conference in Munich that he was “not convinced” by U.S. reasoning for intervention. France and Germany actively lobbied other nations to join the antiwar camp. In February Russia's foreign minister began to echo France in threatening to veto a second UN resolution. Late that month Schröder traveled to Moscow to lobby Russian Pres. Vladimir Putin to side with the Franco-German alliance. Russia eventually did so, boosting the international opposition to U.S. plans. Also in February Merkel went to Washington. U.S. leaders expressed their bitterness about Germany's stance and talked about moving U.S. military bases from Germany to friendlier and cheaper countries in Eastern Europe.

      When hostilities began in Iraq in late March, Germany was awash in peace demonstrations. Tens of thousands protested what they saw as an American violation of international law and demanded that Schröder deny the U.S. overflight rights and use of its military installations in Germany.

      In April the leaders of France, Germany, Belgium, and Luxembourg held talks on boosting defense cooperation and reducing Europe's military reliance on the U.S. Participants said the plans were not directed against NATO but aimed to strengthen the European pillar in the transatlantic alliance. Also in April Schröder made his first attempt to patch up differences within Europe and with the U.S. by speaking out in support of the removal of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. (See Biographies (Hussein, Saddam ).) In a speech to Parliament, the German leader said he hoped the war would end swiftly with “a victory for the allies.” A month later, during a visit to Berlin by U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, he backed a U.S. push to lift sanctions against Iraq. Soon afterward Schröder shook hands with U.S. Pres. George W. Bush at a meeting of the Group of Eight in Évian, France. A more formal meeting of the two leaders came in September in New York, where Bush lobbied UN member states for financial and military help in Iraq. Yet differences continued about Iraq's postwar affairs. Germany, along with France and Russia, rejected U.S. pleas to share among states the burden of Iraqi reconstruction. An American draft resolution before the UN called for a multinational force to help bring order to Iraq. Germany and others wanted the UN to play a greater role than foreseen in the U.S. proposal. They also argued that Washington should hand over political authority to Iraqis as soon as possible.

Cecilie Rohwedder

▪ 2003

357,021 sq km (137,847 sq mi)
(2002 est.): 82,506,000
Berlin; some ministries remain in Bonn
Chief of state:
President Johannes Rau
Head of government:
Chancellor Gerhard Schröder

      A worsening economy and stubbornly high unemployment were the dominant issues for most of 2002 in Germany. Gerhard Schröder was reelected chancellor nonetheless, eking out a narrow victory that was perhaps due more to his personal popularity than to his political successes. He also benefited from his handling of the worst floods in over a century and his countrymen's fear of a war with Iraq.

      While the year was marked by a stream of bad economic news—ranging from slow growth to corporate bankruptcies and a growing budget deficit—the campaign also showed that voters had little interest in attacking the structural causes of Germany's economic problems. In the run-up to the national election in September, neither of the two main candidates proposed the deep reforms that Europe's most populous nation would have needed to rekindle its economy. In an apparent effort to shift the focus of his campaign away from economic issues, Chancellor Schröder made an unprecedented move in foreign relations: he publicly and forcefully ruled out any German involvement in an American-led military campaign against Iraq, regardless of whether the United Nations and U.S. allies supported such a venture. His categorical rejection of a military engagement angered the U.S. government and marked the first time in post-World War II history that Germany had parted ways with its allies and the UN. Schröder's step led election-time Germany into controversy and international isolation, which the government tried to redress after the balloting. Schröder's reelection chances also benefited from his personal popularity. Throughout his first four-year term, his personal approval ratings remained far higher than those of his conservative challenger, the archconservative premier of Bavaria, Edmund Stoiber (see Biographies (Stoiber, Edmund )), whose stiff manner and sharp rhetoric put off many voters. In an intensely personalized campaign, Stoiber continued to lose support and eventually, the election.

Domestic Affairs.
      On September 22, 62.5 million voters reelected Germany's incumbent coalition government of the centre-left Social Democratic Party (SPD), led by Chancellor Schröder, and the environmentalist Greens under Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer. Election night was a thriller, keeping Germans glued to their television sets until the wee hours of the morning. In the end the Social Democrats and the conservative Christian Democratic Union–Christian Social Union (CDU-CSU) tied at 38.5% of the vote each.

      The small parties decided the election. The Greens, Schröder's coalition partner, scored higher than Stoiber's potential coalition partner, the business-friendly Free Democrats. Before the September ballot the Greens had been largely dismissed as a phenomenon of an earlier generation whose main issues—pacifism and the environment—were now passé or had been absorbed into the programs of the mainstream parties. The devastating floods that destroyed large parts of eastern Germany in early August revived the environment as a political issue, however. Similarly, American sabre rattling awakened the long-standing Green supporters in the peace movement. Nor did it hurt that Foreign Minister Fischer was the most popular politician in Germany. On campaign billboards voters were urged to cast a “Joschka-vote.” The Free Democrats lost ground for reasons of their own making. The problems began in May, when, with an eye to the three million Muslim voters in Germany, party vice-chairman Jürgen Möllemann sharply criticized Israel and accused Michel Friedman, a Jewish leader and popular television personality, of provoking anti-Semitism through his behaviour. Möllemann also supported a Syrian-born critic of Israel as a new member of the Free Democratic faction in a state parliament. Politicians, including his own party leaders, were quick to distance themselves from Möllemann but not before the election campaign had acquired an ugly tinge of anti-Semitism.

      The principal loser was the Party of Democratic Socialism, the renamed communist party of the former East Germany. For the first time in years, the neocommunists failed to muster the 5% of all votes required for the party to be represented in the Bundestag (lower house of parliament). One problem was that, 13 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the party had become irrelevant, and eastern Germans stopped voting for it. Others were the resignation of party figurehead Gregor Gysi and the fact that Schröder trumped the neocommunists' traditional antimiltarism with his strong opposition to military intervention in Iraq.

      For Germany's conservatives the ballot was a setback but not a disaster. The race was closer than many Germans had initially predicted. The CDU had not entirely recovered from its thundering defeat in 1998, when a 16-year run of conservative rule under Helmut Kohl was terminated. Since then it had offered few new faces or policies. In 1999 the Christian Democrats had also endured a crippling party-financing scandal that disgraced Kohl, followed by a spell of divisive infighting among its new leadership. These internal battles ended only when party chair Angela Merkel ceded the nomination for the election to Stoiber in January 2002.

      Election day marked a comeback for Schröder from a lag in the polls and a tough year. The government suffered through two food scandals, in January and July, that threatened its “agricultural turnaround” aimed at boosting organic farming and consumer protection. The Social Democrats were at the centre of a large financial scandal in Cologne in March, which cost the party some of its moral high ground vis-à-vis the scandal-ridden CDU. Partly as a result, the SPD was defeated in the April election in the eastern state of Saxony-Anhalt, its share of the vote falling by 16% from four years earlier. Voters punished Schröder for Germany's economic problems, which were even more pronounced in the depressed east. Another incident that shook public confidence in the government in April was the shooting spree by a 19-year-old student at a high school in Erfurt that left 17 people dead in 10 minutes. Shocked Germans feared a wave of American-style school massacres.

      Summer brought hardly better news for Schröder. In June Germany lost in the World Cup soccer final to Brazil, which further dampened the country's mood. In July the chancellor was forced to fire Defense Minister Rudolf Scharping, who was implicated in a corruption scandal that subsequently cost the jobs of several other Social Democrats and Greens. Relief for Schröder—if not for people living along the Elbe—came only when the river rose and flooded towns and vast areas of land. The flood focused public attention away from economic performance and political scandals and onto the chancellor himself. His compassionate and decisive demeanour on television consoling victims and promising state aid to the damaged region surely gained back a number of voters, especially in the east.

The Economy.
      The year started on a sour note with the introduction of the euro, Europe's common currency. Germans already disliked the new money before it arrived. In opinion polls a majority said they wanted to keep their old currency, the Deutsche Mark. With the exception of a few money truck robberies, the gigantic currency swap just after New Year's went smoothly, but when the euro bills and coins went into circulation, they quickly became even more unpopular. Many retailers, restaurants, and other businesses used the switch to raise their prices. Public outrage was so strong that Germans dubbed the euro the teuro, a play on the German word teuer, “expensive.”

      March saw several high-profile bankruptcies, starting with the collapse of construction giant Philipp Holzmann AG. After years of extending the company's credit lines, the banks finally balked. The episode was particularly embarrassing for Schröder because, in a grand gesture almost three years earlier, he had promised to save Holzmann by pressuring banks and pledging government aid. In April, just before the vote in Saxony-Anhalt, Schröder tried the same trick by rescuing a manufacturer of train cars near the eastern town of Halle. Neither was Stoiber immune from such embarrassments. In April the conservative Bavarian media magnate Leo Kirch went bankrupt after years of financial cliff-hanging. Kirch had long been receiving oversized loans from Bavarian banks, including public banks under Stoiber's sway. The insolvency wave also swept away Babcock Borsig AG, an old industrial group in Germany's Ruhr valley, and nearly drowned MobilCom AG, a newer telecommunications operator. Days before the election in September, the chancellor mounted yet another rescue mission by organizing a large financial package for the company. The plan preserved MobilCom's sizable long-distance business as well as 5,500 jobs at the company, but it did not ensure MobilCom's long-term survival and further undercut Schröder's reputation as an economic reformer.

      That reputation had largely vanished already. In the first two years of his tenure, Chancellor Schröder had embarked on a series of tax-cutting reforms, launched an austerity program, encouraged Germans to buy private pensions, and published a policy plan jointly written with British Prime Minister Tony Blair for economic liberalization. His reformist zeal slowed in the middle of his term, and in some areas, such as labour law, he even backtracked.

      Economic indicators were dire. Growth was close to zero in 2002, a worse showing than the year before, and Germany registered the lowest growth rate in the European Union. By election time, unemployment stood at 10% of the labour force and had reached close to 20% in some depressed regions of eastern Germany. Business investment had fallen for seven consecutive quarters, and consumer spending was flat. Germany's share of world trade was falling and its international competitiveness was sinking. The country also came close to breaching the EU's budget-deficit limit for members of the euro zone. In February Germany received its first warning letter from Brussels, telling Berlin to rein in the deficit. Even German schools and universities, long the country's pride, were failing: in January it was reported that in an international study German secondary-school students ranked a mere 25th out of 32 countries in reading, math, and scientific literacy. (See Education .)

      Stoiber went on the attack in April, after the Saxony-Anhalt election, with an economic recovery plan he called “3 × 40,” which would lower the top tax rate to 40%, social welfare contributions to 40%, and public spending to 40% of gross domestic product. His government team included, as minister for economics, labour, and eastern Germany, Lothar Späth, a former state governor and chief executive of the eastern technology group Jenoptik. In comparison, the chancellor's team looked spent and unexciting. Stoiber's problem, though, was that most Germans did not feel any need for change. Generous welfare payments and long-term unemployment compensation—along with union-negotiated job security, salaries, and benefits—still shielded Germans from true economic hardship. Gauging this mind-set, Stoiber did not propose changes that anyone found very meaningful.

      In July Schröder began again to talk of the economy. The chief executive of communications colossus Deutsche Telekom resigned under heavy pressure from the government, which feared it was losing the votes of small shareholders in the partly privatized company. In the same month, the chancellor created a commission to reform the rigid labour market. The group, known as the Hartz Commission after the Volkswagen executive who chaired it, offered several proposals in August on improving job-seeking and job-offering procedures, especially at the bureaucratic unemployment offices. The report did not, however, touch on the deeper issues: German industry's overprotected and inflexible workforce, high labour costs, and stifling red tape.

Foreign Relations.
      Perhaps the most significant development in 2002 happened in the realm of foreign relations. In an apparent effort to revive his faltering election campaign, Chancellor Schröder proposed “a German way” in August. The slogan was mainly directed against U.S.-style capitalism—what many Germans saw as a “hire and fire” culture—but it was also a criticism of U.S. policy toward Iraq. After U.S. Vice Pres. Dick Cheney outlined the case for a military strike in a televised speech in late August, the chancellor went a step farther by declaring that Germany would not engage in military adventures against the Arab state. Encouraged by a surge in SPD ratings, Schröder sharpened his rhetoric further. In the second of two television debates with Stoiber in early September, he said Germany would say “no” to military intervention even if a strike had blessing from the UN. He put Stoiber on the spot by asking whether he supported war in Iraq—“yes or no?” Stoiber, who was opposed to the chancellor's stance but did not want to come off as a hawk, appeared helpless. He replied that he opposed the use of force in general but that one could not exclude any theoretical possibility. That ambivalence may have cost Stoiber the election.

      Beyond Germany's borders, Schröder's words hit like a bombshell. The U.S. government was outraged. Just as it was beginning to build international support for a war, one of its closest allies was publicly thwarting its efforts. Suddenly, a decade of cozy U.S.–German relations seemed empty. Observers agreed that Schröder's move was a slap in the face of the UN, a shock to Germany's European allies, and a shot in the arm for Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. Schröder's position surprised even France, Germany's closest friend in Europe, which had not been consulted beforehand and distanced itself from the German view. The government's stance was something of a watershed for Germany itself. No postwar German leader had ever risked his friendship with the U.S. or publicly opposed an American strategic imperative. No other leader had put Germany on an isolationist course, at odds with its allies and the UN (where Germany was still seeking a permanent seat on the Security Council). No leader had ever questioned the country's postwar policy of international integration and cautious rhetoric.

      A further blow to German-American relations came days before the election when Minister of Justice Herta Däubler-Gmelin compared the tactics of U.S. Pres. George W. Bush with regards to Iraq to those of Adolf Hitler. Schröder quickly apologized for her remarks in a letter to Washington, but senior American officials said relations had been “poisoned” and did not congratulate Schröder on his reelection soon afterward. Earlier in 2002 Germans themselves had been the victims of international terrorism. An explosion in April at a synagogue in Djerba, Tun., killed 16 people, including 11 German tourists. During the year, it also became increasingly clear that much of the planning for the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the U.S. had taken place on German soil, notably in an important terrorist cell in Hamburg. Many Germans would probably agree with the American newspaper that wrote that Schröder “traded allies for votes.”

Cecilie Rohwedder

▪ 2002

357,021 sq km (137,847 sq mi)
(2001 est.): 82,386,000
Berlin; some ministries remain in Bonn
Chief of state:
President Johannes Rau
Head of government:
Chancellor Gerhard Schröder

      For Germany, 2001 was marked by increased involvement in world affairs but a slowdown in the pace of economic growth and reform. As the country's Social Democratic government entered the second half of its four-year term, Chancellor Gerhard Schröder lost the lustre that he had acquired as a market reformer. In some respects the year was more remarkable for what did not happen than for what Germany accomplished in its economic-reform process. The government passed an overhaul of the pension system but shied away from further reforms in an apparent effort to preserve the support of Germany's powerful trade unions for the 2002 election. Partly as a result, Germany's became the slowest-growing economy in Europe and job creation diminished, taking Schröder's personal approval ratings down with it. At the same time, the chancellor gained in stature as a statesman as Germany embarked on a more active and assertive foreign policy course after more than half a century of restraint. Throughout the year Europe's most populous nation assumed a greater leadership role in European affairs and grew more active in other international trouble spots such as Macedonia and the Middle East. In the wake of the terrorist attacks in the United States in September, Germany said it would support the American response with both diplomatic and military means if necessary. In the past the country had shirked military intervention, especially outside Europe.

Domestic Politics.
      An issue inherited from the previous year dominated the early days of 2001; bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, or “mad cow” disease), an animal infection that could kill humans, occupied public and political attention. Millions of Germans stopped eating beef, which helped bring Europe's beef market to the brink of collapse. Mad cow disease also claimed political victims in Germany when in January the country's health and agriculture ministers stepped down amid accusations of having mishandled the crisis. BSE faded from the public limelight when another animal illness, foot-and-mouth disease, spread across Europe. The disease did not appear in Germany, but the meat crisis created an adverse political atmosphere as Chancellor Schröder's government, just past its midterm mark, acquired an aura of instability. (See Special Report. (Trouble on the Hoof: Disease Outbreaks in Europe ))

      Only a day before the cabinet resignations over mad cow disease, Schröder had been obliged to make a public statement in support of Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, a member of the Green Party who was under fire for his militant past. A series of photographs published in the newsmagazine Stern in January showed Fischer using violence against a police officer during a political protest in the early 1970s. Fischer appeared before a special question period in the parliament and apologized for his actions. The affair lingered for weeks, even though Fischer was one of Germany's most popular politicians. Fischer was subsequently forced to testify in the terrorist trial of a former friend, and his court appearance then prompted a perjury probe to investigate whether he had given false testimony in the trial. The inquiry was eventually dropped, and the revelations about Fischer's past did not cloud his first meetings in Washington, D.C., in February with the new U.S. administration.

      The government's midterm wobbles did not affect two key regional elections in Baden-Württemberg and Rhineland-Palatinate in March. Both of these prosperous regions in the western part of the country reelected their incumbent governments, run respectively by the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and Chancellor Schröder's centre-left Social Democratic Party (SPD).

      A principal reason for the government's strength despite political mismanagement, scandals, and a worsening economic outlook was the persistent weakness of the Christian DemocraticUnion–Christian Social Union (CSU) opposition. Throughout 2001, as for most of the year before, the CDU-CSU was haunted by the fallout of a major financing scandal that broke in late 1999 and led to the fall from grace of former chancellor Helmut Kohl, once one of Europe's most respected elder statesmen. In the spring Kohl agreed to pay a fine that closed the criminal case against him. It ended an important chapter in the affair, but the former leader's reputation and the party's fortunes did not fully recover.

      The new postscandal party leadership spent much of 2001 involved in political infighting, which was dominated by the question of who would be the candidate to challenge Schröder in the 2002 election. The most prominent combatants were CDU chair Angela Merkel, a Protestant, childless, once-divorced woman from the former East Germany, and Edmund Stoiber, the Catholic, ultraconservative CSU chief and prime minister of Bavaria. Another competitor was Friedrich Merz, the CDU-CSU floor leader in the Bundestag (lower house of parliament) who clashed with Merkel over political strategy and claimed his own right to run for chancellor.

      The Christian Democrats scored only one political victory, when they ousted the long-standing SPD government in the city-state of Hamburg in a September election. The real winner, however, was Ronald Schill, a former judge who campaigned on a law-and-order platform and won almost 20% of the vote for his own—newly founded—party. Otherwise, the strife within the opposition yielded Schröder several political victories, including the passage of his pension package and parliamentary approval for military participation in the autumn mission of NATO in Macedonia.

      The federal government enacted several minor reforms in 2001. They included a new recycling law and a measure that improved the legal standing for same-sex couples, which resulted in a series of so-called gay marriages. Berlin also moved to attract talented foreign workers, proposing legislation that would allow it for the first time to compete with the U.S., Canada, and other industrialized nations for highly skilled professionals, scientists, and technicians from the less-developed world. Faced with a growing shortage of skilled labour and an aging workforce, Germany decided to move toward a radical break with past immigration policies. The new measures included the creation of the country's first-ever immigration law and the granting of permanent immigration status for qualified foreigners. Passage of the law was delayed past year's end, however, by a debate about a stricter security regime, notably for foreigners in Germany, after the terrorist attacks in the U.S.

      Germany closed a chapter in the unending struggle with its own history. In May a fund created by several thousand large and small German companies said it would begin making payments to compensate slave labourers who worked in German factories under the Nazi regime. The announcement came after the companies felt they had sufficient protection against future lawsuits, especially from the U.S. Two years of haggling, much of it about legal details, had left many of the hopeful beneficiaries bitter and dissatisfied with what was originally intended to be a gesture of German goodwill and generosity.

The Economy.
      One of Germany's most pressing economic problems, a makeover of its overburdened 120-year-old pension system, was finally addressed in 2001. In May the parliament reformed the retirement law in an effort to deflect the demographic time bomb ticking in the country's pay-as-you-go pension scheme, where ever-fewer workers supported a rapidly rising number of pensioners. After years of bipartisan bickering and a last-minute protest by the trade unions, Germany introduced a dramatic change in its retirement regime. Under the new law the government would for the first time support private provisions while at the same time cutting state pension benefits. Economists and the business community welcomed the reform as an important step toward addressing the problems of Germany's graying population, stretched public finances, and high labour costs, but they warned that the reform had been so diluted by political compromise that it would not provide lasting relief for the state system. The Schröder government also abolished a restriction, dating from the time of Adolf Hitler, on retail store discounts and, under pressure from the conservative opposition, provided tax relief for small and medium-sized enterprises that tax reforms in 2000 had neglected.

      Another item on Schröder's reform agenda gained prominence because it did not materialize—a renovation of the labour market. Burdened with rigid regulations and high labour costs, German companies were reluctant to hire new workers. As a result, few new jobs were being created, and Germany's unemployment rate was among the highest in Europe. The stubbornly high number of jobless presented a growing political problem for Schröder because he had explicitly tied his political future to job creation. Yet the government did little to make hiring easier or cheaper for businesses; in several respects it made it harder. Soon after entering office Schröder undid the reform efforts of the previous government by boosting sick pay and worker protection against layoffs. Later he imposed restrictions on employers trying to hire workers on fixed-term contracts. In 2001 he expanded labour's role in management and instituted a right to part-time work.

      The new regulations were an apparent effort by Schröder to reconcile labour unions with pension reform and to court the traditionalist left wing of his SPD. His jockeying alienated German industry, however—especially small companies, which complained that the new labour laws added red tape and cost. The move dealt a major blow to Schröder's image as a market reformer and threatened one of his biggest political assets—the hard-won support of Germany's business community, which traditionally sided with the Christian Democrats or the small, pro-market Free Democrats. Another blow to Schröder's reform credentials came from his reluctance to reform Germany's expensive and inefficient health care system despite continually rising contributions to public health insurance.

      The unsolved structural problems in the German economy became more visible with the economic slump that ended nearly a decade of unprecedented growth and productivity gains across the industrialized world. Heavily dependent on exports, Germany was hit hard by the slowdown, especially that in the U.S., one of its most important markets. The September terrorist attacks in the U.S. put additional strain on the world's third largest economy.

      The outlook steadily worsened throughout 2001. The government and economists were forced into several downward adjustments of their growth forecasts for the year. By the fall Germany—already the slowest-growing economy in Europe—began to fear a recession. At the same time, inflation hit an eight-year high and unemployment continued to rise. In March Schröder promised to push the number of jobless to under three million Germans. One month later he adjusted that pledge to under 3.5 million. By the autumn that goal also appeared impossible to reach, and the chancellor merely said there would be fewer unemployed Germans than when he took office in 1998.

      Schröder's perceived inaction yielded him lower approval ratings and negative newspaper headlines. “Do something, Chancellor,” said Bild, Germany's leading tabloid, in a large summer headline. “For the first time in Schröder's term, voters feel like they're back in the paralyzing stagnation of the Kohl era,” echoed the news magazine Der Spiegel in September. Schröder responded to the growing pressure by announcing a “calm hand” policy, free of short-term activism, fresh debt, and costly economic stimuli.

      With his image as a reformer stained, Schröder was certain to face a tougher-than-hoped-for leap into the election year of 2002. Throughout 2001 he repeated well-worn and ambiguous campaign slogans, such as “Innovation and justice” and “Security in change.” It was uncertain whether he could continue to walk a tightrope between needed reforms and reassurance of his left-leaning core clientele. The months to come also held another challenge for which Germany meticulously planned throughout 2001—the introduction of the euro, Europe's common currency, as legal tender in January 2002.

Foreign Relations.
      The government's weakening domestic performance was offset by Schröder's growing standing as a statesman in a newly self-confident Germany that took greater responsibility in world affairs than it had in decades past. Following the terrorist attacks in the United States in September, Schröder jumped ahead even of the U.S. in defining what had happened as a “conflict of cultures” and a “declaration of war on the free world.” He announced an international coalition against terror and promised “the unlimited, I stress, the unlimited solidarity of Germany.” That promise put a strain on the pacifist Greens, the junior member of Schröder's governing coalition, which had long opposed the use of military force. Leading Greens said they supported the military strikes against Afghanistan that began in October, but many more warned against military “adventures” and restrictions on civil liberties once domestic security was tightened to prevent terrorist activity on German soil. Germany had served as an operational base for several of the suspects in the raids on the U.S.

      Tensions within the government grew so strong that in November, Schröder called a confidence vote in parliament. He won the vote along with the freedom to assist as he saw fit the international coalition against terror. The terrorist attacks effectively ended the transatlantic tensions that had been simmering for months and came to the fore in the early months of the administration of George W. Bush. Like other Europeans, Germans were dismayed by the Americans' insistence on building a missile defense shield, the U.S. rejection of an international treaty against global warming, and other policies perceived as selfish and unilateralist. Even before the terrorist strikes, the German government had grown more active in international affairs. A long list of foreign visitors went to Berlin, and unlike in previous years, they went not only for money but also for German mediation, support, and political intervention. Schröder nurtured his close relations with Russian Pres.Vladimir Putin. Early in the year he celebrated Orthodox Christmas with the Russian leader, and he was the first to lobby him face-to-face for support in the battle against international terrorism.

      Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Fischer became an active interlocutor in the struggling Middle East peace process. The government also scored a success when in August the parliament approved the participation of German troops in NATO's Macedonia mission. An hour after the vote, the first soldiers left their air base in Bavaria for Macedonia, and a few weeks later Germany took command of the NATO mission. The country's readiness to assume leadership in the Balkan conflict was another sign of its effort to expand its international responsibilities, both military and diplomatic.

      Schröder also stepped up his involvement in the process of European integration. In April he presented a blueprint for the future of Europe that sketched out a restructuring of the European Union's (EU) governing institutions to advance political unity. He proposed to widen the executive role of the European Commission, strengthen the European Parliament by giving it full control over the EU finances—including the large agriculture budget—and make the secretive Council of Ministers more transparent. The ideas also served Germany's self-interest because they preserved the powers of its federal states and duplicated the structure of Germany's two-house parliament on a European level. Partly as a result, the German proposals met with a cool response from France and the U.K.

Cecilie Rohwedder

▪ 2001

357,021 sq km (137,847 sq mi)
(2000 est.): 82,207,000
Berlin; some ministries remain in Bonn
Chief of state:
President Johannes Rau
Head of government:
Chancellor Gerhard Schröder

      In many ways the Federal Republic of Germany experienced the end of an era in 2000. The move of the seat of government from Bonn to Berlin was completed, and the 10th anniversary of German unification was celebrated. Perhaps the most striking change came with the strengthening profile of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD)–Green government. Whereas the socialist-environmentalist alliance, formerly perennially in opposition, had appeared ill at ease during its first two years in power, 2000 saw the team put in place by Chancellor Gerhard Schröder in the fall of 1998 come into its own. The passage of landmark economic legislation strengthened the government's credibility, as did the slight upturn in the economy. The relative absence of the opposition Christian Democratic Union (CDU), which was struggling with party-financing scandals and a leadership crisis that left the party crippled and self-absorbed rather than taking the lead on the issues of concern to the electorate, further enhanced the presence of the “Red-Green” coalition. It was also the end of an era in terms of world affairs as Germany began to emerge from its self-imposed policy of containment and into greater responsibility in its dealings with other world powers, NATO, the European Union (EU), and the United Nations.

Domestic Affairs.
      The domestic political scene was dominated during the year by the uproar surrounding CDU financing. News of the scandal affecting the second largest political party came to light in late 1999. Helmut Kohl had left the chancellorship in 1998 after 16 successful years in office, retiring as something of a national hero, so his rapid fall from grace was both a disappointment and an embarrassment to the nation. The events attracted unprecedented media attention by German standards. Kohl refused to name the party's secret financiers, who, he acknowledged, had anonymously provided some DM 2 million (about $1.2 million) in funding between 1993 and 1998. One major casualty of the scandal was party chief Wolfgang Schäuble, Kohl's longtime protégé, who had taken over the CDU in 1998. On February 16 Schäuble announced his intention to give up leadership of the party as well as his position as whip of the CDU faction in the Bundestag (second house of parliament) after it came out that he had personally accepted a briefcase containing more than DM 100,000 (DM 1 equaled about $1.62 in 1993) in cash in the early 1990s from arms dealer Karlheinz Schreiber. Schäuble had earlier denied even knowing Schreiber.

      A succession of revelations and rumours throughout the early months of the year kept the story bubbling in the media. Kohl steadfastly refused to name the donors of the illegal funds, asserting that his word of honour was more precious than the law. Kohl gave up his ceremonial chairmanship of the CDU but refused to yield his seat in the Bundestag, where his obduracy soon began to impede the party's desire to put the scandal in the past and get down to the business of legislating. Awkward questions were raised as well by Kohl's planned participation in ceremonies in October commemorating the 10th anniversary of German unification. Ultimately he chose not to attend after the issue had been debated within the party and examined minutely in the media for months on end.

      The CDU's troubles detracted attention from pressing policy issues, such as reforming the Bundeswehr (armed forces) to keep pace with post-Cold War defense requirements. This issue, together with the related political, economic, social, and foreign policy dimensions, was studied by an independent 21-member commission appointed by Schröder and headed by former president Richard von Weizsäcker. The commission's report, released on May 23, concluded that “the Bundeswehr has no future in its current structure” because it had produced a surplus of manpower but a shortage of operational forces. The commission recommended that the size of the conscript pool be reduced and that the Bundeswehr be reduced in size over a 10-year period from a peacetime force of about 320,000 to 240,000.

      Defense Minister Rudolf Scharping disagreed with some aspects of the report, including the overall target size of the force and the reduction in the number of conscripts. Proponents of universal military service argued that democracy depended on the armed forces' representing a broad cross section of German society. In addition, they pointed out, approximately 50% of the professional military found its way into the Bundeswehr through conscription. Scharping's proposal to maintain a peacetime armed force of 255,000 was accepted by the cabinet in June, with the Greens, who favoured abolishing conscription altogether, dissenting. At a conference of business leaders on May 4, Schröder and Scharping proposed partial privatization of the military. They stressed the importance of modern management methods and said that projected savings would be reinvested in the Bundeswehr to ensure its readiness to meet NATO responsibilities.

      Another issue closely related to belt-tightening was the question of continuing subsidies for the development of eastern Germany. A report by the Ifo Institute, a prominent think tank for political and economic research, argued that unification had not yielded economic reunification of the two Germanies, even 10 years and many billions of Deutsche Marks later. Growth in the east had been stagnant since 1996. On the eve of the 10th-anniversary celebrations, in a paid advertisement in a major newspaper, the rhetoric of a 1996 speech by ex-communist politicians from the former East Germany was replayed with heavy irony: “German unity will be completed when the special judicial treatment of the east Germans ends, when wages in the east and west are the same, when there are as many east German homeowners on the island of Sylt as west Germans on the island of Rügen [popular vacation resorts], when an east German can be elected premier of a west German state—and no one in east or west finds this the least bit remarkable.”

      Economic imbalance was also a factor in the higher incidence of right-wing extremism in eastern Germany than in the west. To cope with the backlash against the presence of foreigners in Germany, Interior Minister Otto Schily announced the creation of a national commission to root out the causes of xenophobia. Schröder made far-right extremism a top theme during a 40-stop tour he made in eastern Germany in late August and early September, although he was careful not to single out easterners as the sole perpetrators—anti-Semitic attacks in Düsseldorf in July and October were just two examples of right-wing violence in western Germany.

      Likewise, efforts continued in Germany to cope with the country's Nazi past. A joint public and private foundation called Remembrance, Responsibility and the Future was created in July to supplement existing restitution arrangements for forced labourers and other victims of Nazism with up to $5 billion in funds. Many forced labourers had been impressed into service in Eastern Europe and were not Jewish, factors that had excluded them from sharing in about $100 billion in compensation that Germany had already paid out since World War II. The creation of Remembrance, Responsibility and the Future capped nearly two years of international negotiations under pressure from the U.S. that class-action suits might be filed on behalf of victims of Nazism.

The Economy.
      Following the passage of a landmark tax-reform bill in July, Schröder exclaimed, “The term German disease now belongs to the past. This is a good day for Germany's reputation in the world.” Efforts to change the tax system had been under way since 1990. The victory was all the sweeter considering that the chamber in which the coalition received the majority of votes, the Bundesrat, was the one in which it had lost its majority in 1999. Furthermore, it was the same body in which the SPD had used its majority in previous years to block the tax-reform bills of the Kohl government. The SPD managed to have its way by offering inducements to defect and vote for the SPD-Green bill to state governments of Bremen (ruled by an SPD/CDU coalition), Berlin (ruled by a CDU/SPD coalition), and Brandenburg (ruled by an SPD/CDU coalition). In the end, the Schröder government won in a vote of 41–28, even though it needed only 35 votes. The law, which was scheduled to take effect on Jan. 1, 2001, created DM 50 billion (about $22 billion) in tax breaks through the year 2005. Bundesrat passage came only after an overnight session of cajoling, in which the coalition managed to wring out concessions. The bill was touted as a key to attracting more investment in Germany by harmonizing the tax-rate structure with those of other industrialized nations. The bill lowered the top personal income tax rate to 42%, down from 51%, and the corporate tax rate to 25%, down from 40%. The decision to eliminate the tax on sales of corporations (set to start in 2002) was welcomed by industry as a step that would make sweeping corporate restructuring possible. German business leaders had viewed this tax—set at about 50%—as punitive.

      The second item on the landmark reform agenda was pension reform. The projections were compelling: if in 2000 there were 47 retirees for every 100 members of the workforce, by 2050, it was projected, there would be 104 retirees for every 100 workers. The challenge posed by these demographic trends, one that the SPD-Green government had inherited from its predecessors of the Kohl era, was to find the right balance and timing for increasing pension contributions and reducing pension payments. Reaching agreement within the SPD and Green coalition was a feat in itself, accomplished only after an all-night session ending November 14. During December the coalition tinkered with draft legislation to make it more acceptable to the opposition, but by the end of the year it was still too early to schedule a vote for this long-sought piece of legislation.

      The unemployment rate, while still high at over 9%, dropped in August to its lowest level since 1995. The reduction in unemployment, however, was registered primarily in the former West German states. The rates in eastern and western Germany remained critically far apart; in August the unemployment figures were 17% in the east but only 7.4% in the west.

      The sustained weakness of the Deutsche Mark and the euro was troubling. The new European currency had been launched on Jan. 1, 1999, at an exchange rate of about $1.17 to the euro amid boasts by European statesmen that it would rival the U.S. dollar in strength and stability. It traded at well under $0.90 for much of the year. Rather than try to talk up the euro, Schröder affected disinterest in September, for which the market rewarded him with an all-time low. As signs of U.S. economic weakness became evident in December, the euro showed signs of modest recovery.

      The “Green Card”—the English-language term that Germans used to name a plan to provide visas to 20,000 foreign computer engineers urgently needed to augment the country's high-tech labour force—attracted much attention during the year. Germany had a high unemployment rate, and fully 9% of the population of the country was already defined as foreigners, so this was a question that occasioned intense economic and social debates. The law passed in the parliament in July, however, and within the first month, 1,360 work permits were granted to computer specialists from India, Russia, Ukraine, the Baltic states, and Romania. They were hired primarily by smaller German companies.

      Two ecological issues figured prominently in the German economy during the year. First was the “eco-tax,” a law that had entered into force in April 1999 and called for taxes on gasoline to rise by 6 pfennigs a litre (about 10 cents a gallon) each year until 2003. Steep fuel-price rises in 2000 reignited opposition. Demonstrations, especially among truckers, put pressure on the coalition to backtrack on the eco-tax, but the government held its ground, insisting that the revenues would finance important ecological projects designed for the long-term well-being of Germany. Second, after nearly two years of tumultuous debate, the government decided in June that the commercial use of nuclear power in Germany would end within 20 years. The timetable was disappointing to the Greens, who had fought for a much earlier end to nuclear power.

Foreign Affairs.
      The question of enlarging the EU came to a boil in May following an address by Joschka Fischer, who spoke, however, not as German foreign minister but as a private citizen. His message was that Europe needed to be closer to its citizens. Fischer proposed a second chamber, a senate, for the European Parliament that would represent the national legislatures of member states. In addition, he urged reforms of the European Commission, suggesting that instead of commissioners being appointed by national governments, they should be actual members of national governments or people directly elected to the position of commissioner by national electorates.

      In September Günter Verheugen, EU commissioner for enlargement, mused about the possibility of putting the question of EU expansion to the German people in the form of a referendum. This was controversial because the constitutionality of referenda had been long debated in the Federal Republic of Germany (they were often used during the Nazi period). Verheugen opened up the question of the right of a citizen of an EU member state to participate directly in EU decisions—a right Germans had not enjoyed, for example, in the voting on the single European currency, although the electorates in France and other European countries did express their will.

      Greater German participation in world affairs was at the heart of Schröder's speech before the UN at the Millennium Summit in September. He reiterated in plain terms his country's wish to assume a seat on the UN Security Council, stating that “should the number of permanent members be increased Germany would be prepared to shoulder this responsibility.” This marked the continuation of Germany's persistent pursuit of more responsibility in the UN, a policy in keeping with Germany's leading role in Europe and engagement in humanitarian support in the world's crisis zones and poorer areas.

The Society
      The move of the central government to Berlin was completed in late September, just before the 10th anniversary celebrations of the reunification, when the Bundesrat settled into a renovated 100-year-old palace near Potsdamer Platz. The Bundestag had moved into its spectacular new domed building in 1999. At the end of October parliament finally approved a budget for the controversial memorial to Holocaust victims, desogned by New York architect Peter Eisenman, to be constructed in the capital near the Brandenburg Gate. Meanwhile in Hanover, Expo 2000, Germany's first-ever world's fair, completed its five-month run of culture, technology, environmentalism, and fun for the family, attracting some 18.1 million visitors.

      In late November Germany's first case of an animal infected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE; or mad-cow disease) was reported by the Agriculture Ministry amid a series of similar acknowledgments by health officials in other European countries. When a second German case surfaced a few days later and with public confidence in beef thoroughly shaken, Chancellor Schröder called for a Europe-wide ban on meat-based animal feeds.

      In early December the Bundesrat ratified a law that gave same-sex couples full legal standing. Beginning in 2001 gay and lesbian couples in Germany would be able to register their relationships and enjoy the same inheritance and tenant rights as heterosexual couples.

Suzanne Crow

▪ 2000

357,022 sq km (137,847 sq mi)
(1999 est.): 82,100,000
Berlin; some ministries remain in Bonn
Chief of state:
Presidents Roman Herzog and, from July 1, Johannes Rau
Head of government:
Chancellor Gerhard Schröder

Domestic Affairs.
      The last year of the 1990s marked the first time in 16 years and only the second time in 50 that the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) was able to form a national government. It was almost as if the electorate had deliberately given the SPD and its ecological adjunct, the Greens, the chance to break their own necks politically by exposing them to the opportunity. The series of state and city elections in the autumn served as a sort of examination of the parties' performance during their first year in power; their grades were almost uniformly disastrous. Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's coalition government lost three out of four state governments (Saarland, Thuringia, Saxony) to the Christian Democratic Union and was forced into a coalition with the CDU in the fourth (Brandenburg)—this after having lost the state of Hesse in the spring. Thus sacrificing its majority in the Bundesrat, or Federal Council, the SPD crippled any broad political initiative for the midterm.

      In view of the bewildering complex of problems facing Germany in 1998–99, the SPD could hardly have come to power at a worse time. The problems sprang from a conjunction of historical events: the unification of Germany, consolidation of the European Union (EU), the collapse of the communist bloc, the costliness of the consequences thereof (chiefly economic globalization), and the abrupt cessation of Cold War investment strategy, which had created in the western part of the country an illusion of self-made prosperity and unilateral achievement of a model welfare state.

      In order to maintain its high standards of social welfare in the aftermath of the Cold War, Germany had priced itself out of international competition. Both foreign and domestic investment in Germany fell sharply; it made little business sense to invest in a country where profits were sure to be gobbled up by the cost of labour, the highest in the world. (In 1998 the work hour in western Germany cost DM 47.98 [DM 1 =  about U.S. $0.55], a rise of 2.3% over 1997 and DM 15 more than the cost in Japan or the United States.) Foreign and especially domestic investment capital fled Germany. The Germans dismantled plants on their own soil and moved their factories and capital to foreign countries, especially the U.S. Thus, while German export volume and profits continued to increase, unemployment rose and the country was degenerating as a production location. The predicament was exacerbated by the accession of a bankrupt and derelict East Germany to the Federal Republic in 1991. In many ways the SPD (let alone the Green party) was the least qualified by nature and political persuasion to undertake the unwelcome task of stopping the social giveaway and beginning to take away.

      The efforts of the Red-Green coalition to set this state of affairs to rights were all but eclipsed early in 1999 by the NATO punitive action against Yugoslavia over the Serb repressions in Kosovo. German participation in the NATO effort had its own dynamic and rationale and was generally supported by the populace, but once the overt hostilities ceased at the end of the first quarter of the year, public attention again focused on domestic policy. Any credit earned by the government in the Kosovo crisis was quickly dispelled. Both coalition parties were split, the Greens between the so-called Realos and the Fundis (realists and fundamentalists) and the SPD between the modernizers on the one side and the die-hard socialist ideologues on the other. In sum, the government had its own built-in triad of oppositions.

      The result of this extraordinary situation was a great deal of vagarious disputation in all echelons to the almost perfect exclusion of effected and effective legislation. Schröder the man was scrutinized; it was observed that no postwar German chancellor had spent as much time as he had in front of television cameras, but, many asked, to what avail? His style offended, too. As remarked at a party meeting in the autumn, he preached penury while wearing tailor-made cashmere suits and smoking DM 60 Havana cigars.

      A number of stabs at reform were made. First, an Alliance for Work, a national association of government, trade unions, and employers, was created for the promotion of employment. Under this general aegis a number of more or less unpopular initiatives were started and stopped. Then followed an “austerity package,” a list of across-the-board cuts in government expenditure aimed at saving DM 30 billion over the next two years. Everyone was agreed on the necessity for a radical cutback in government spending—with the exclusion of one's own person, department, or constituency. The uproar over the austerity package was therefore general, since no government department could be excluded. It was this aspect that alienated the SPD, the trade unions in particular, and the electorate in general. In a poll taken in October, approval of the government's performance dropped to 19%.

      The unkindest cut of all was the strictures announced by Minister of Health Andrea Fischer (Greens). Doctors, nurses, and pharmacists went out on strike. Patients, too, expressed towering indignation over the fact that economizing in the public health sector inevitably meant rationing medical treatment and promoted a strictly financial approach to a moral-humanitarian problem. They pleaded for a treatment-oriented policy instead. The German public health system was accountably the best in the world; it was also the most expensive, costing the government DM 500 billion a year. The cost of medicaments in Germany was twice as high, product for product, as it was in France and three times higher than in Spain. Curtailment was in order.

      The thorniest of all the long-term problems facing the government was the pension fund. The proportion of contributors to beneficiaries was actuarily scheduled to undergo a reversal within the next 40 years, the percentage of people 65 years old and older increasing from 22% to 55% of the adult population against a decrease of 42% of the number of contributors. This would necessitate a fivefold increase in the amount of the individual contribution over the period. Clearly, the pension fund would become increasingly dependent on pensioner contribution. Against this backdrop, the demand in October by Klaus Zwickel, chairman of Germany's largest trade union, IG Metall, for a reduction in the age limit for pensioners from 65 to 60, adding another five years at full pension to the overload, was perceived as grotesque and unaccountably ill-timed.

      Perhaps this atmosphere of desperation accounted for the antic behaviour of Minister of Finance Oscar Lafontaine, a former SPD leader (former minister-president of the Saar, one-time chancellor-candidate and sometime party chairman). Lafontaine was already notorious for his Robin Hood approach to economic problems—tax the rich minority and spend for the poor majority (entrepreneurs accounted for only 5% of the adult population). He also advanced the idea of “harmonizing” the tax structures of all member nations of the EU by way of removing low taxation as a prime factor in international competition. On March 11 Lafontaine abruptly resigned his ministry and all other offices, including the SPD chairmanship and his parliamentary mandate. He then went into seclusion and wrote a book titled Das Herz schlägt links (“The Heart Beats Left”), a fit of petulance in which he denounced Schröder as a “neo-liberal,” a turncoat who had betrayed his party, his comrades, his socialist principles, and, above all, the voters. Appearing as it did in the wake of the disastrous series of state and city electoral defeats, Lafontaine's attack was not only acutely embarrassing, but was also the foreboding voice of the die-hard socialist opposition within the SPD. A great many people had voted for Schröder because they did not consider him a socialist (he was, after all, a member of the board of trustees of Volkswagen), while a great many socialists voted for the SPD despite Schröder's candidacy. The heart beats left, perhaps, but the mind thinks right: Schröder was reckoned to be electable; Lafontaine, who had fared badly as the SPD candidate in the 1990 national elections, was not.

      To be sure, Schröder had little to show for his first year in office. The whopping national debt of DM 2.5 trillion he had inherited in 1998 had not dwindled, but had grown by some 6.5%. His austerity package foresaw the allotment of 18% of an only slightly diminished budget (DM 478 billion) for the year 2000 (as against 11% for 1999) to make the necessary interest payments. The unemployment rate of 10.1% was exactly where it was the year before. The annual number of bankruptcies remained constant at an estimated 27,800.

      To make matters worse, Schröder was faced with something like a grand coalition in the Bundesrat, a neat turning of the partisan tables. As a result of the fall elections, the Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union had been put in the same blocking position as that enjoyed by the SPD in its last years as opposition, presaging the bigger thing to come—or so they said. The CDU/CSU leadership was made up of professional politicians with good track records. Schröder had enjoyed no chance of transforming the SPD into a smoothly functioning political machine (as Tony Blair had so masterfully done with the British Labour Party). As a result, the SPD found itself deep in an identity crisis with both its membership and the electorate. The rank naiveté of many a coalition minister was exposed as both government and chancellor underwent on-the-job training. The Green minister for environment, Jürgen Trittin, for example, was bent on forcing the shutdown of all atomic plants in Germany within a five-year period, forgetting or ignoring that atomic energy accounted for a full third of Germany's energy production. Industry, alarmed at this affront to the country's cherished high-tech tradition, countered that such a shut-down could not be rationally accomplished within 20 years.

Foreign Policy.
      The outstanding political performance of the year was that of Rudolf Scharping, former leader of the SPD, one-time chancellor-candidate and triumvir with Schröder and Lafontaine. As minister of defense, Scharping upstaged the chancellor in the “Kosovo War,” literally saving Germany for NATO during the divisive high-altitude bombing of Yugoslavia Scharping saw and forcefully demonstrated that Serbia's ethnic cleansing of Kosovo replicated German's quintessential historic shame, namely, the Nazis' ethnic cleansing of the Jewish section of German citizenry. With this argument, in a strongly disinclined Red-Green coalition but with the help of Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer (Greens), Scharping carried the day for NATO in Germany. His action set what could become a crucial precedent in international statecraft (arrangements included an occupation zone for 6,000 German troops in KFOR [NATO's peacekeeping force in Kosovo] under the command of four-star Gen. Klaus Reinhard—the first time a German had assumed a NATO command in a foreign country). Scharping, again seconded by Fischer, then argued for active German military participation in the UN expeditionary force in East Timor, thereby setting another precedent—the commitment of Germany as a power to be reckoned with in the United Nations and the world at large.

The Society.
      In the unending struggle with its recent and remote history, Germany strove to make a clean slate, at least formally, before the end of the millennium. In prosecuting those accused of crimes committed during the 40-year reign of the German Democratic Republic (GDR; East Germany) and its turbulent aftermath, the Berlin State Court Prosecutor's Office had investigated 22,000 cases over a nine-year period, bringing 587 to trial, of which 211 resulted in convictions. In the majority of cases sentences were suspended. One reason for this meagre showing was a juridical complication: only those cases were prosecuted that were punishable under both GDR and West German law. Still, the range of prosecution was impressive, beginning with GDR Communist leader Erich Honecker and other Politburo members and ending with functionaries implicated in the doping of East German athletes. On November 8 Germany's highest appeals court upheld the sentences to prison terms of Egon Krenz and two other former Politburo members responsible for shooting persons trying to flee across the Berlin Wall. The 10th anniversary of the fall of the Wall was duly celebrated the following day.

      An obligation to compensate for crimes committed in Germany's more remote past was imposed by negotiations in Washington, D.C., to reach a settlement for the survivors of Nazi slave-labour camps, since these camps had been under the direction of German companies. Some 1.5 million survivors (of 12 million forced workers) were estimated to be still alive. The Schröder government was praised by U.S. Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Stuart Eizenstat as “enormously helpful and a real champion of this initiative.” For the Germans, however, it was a no-win situation. As Count Lamsdorf, former chairman of the Free Democratic Party (FDP) and Germany's chief negotiator, put it, no sum the Germans could offer would satisfy the “dramaturgy” of the claimants. Lamsdorf was right: the moral-humanitarian aspects of the case would categorize any leeway in negotiations as so much unconscionable haggling. By early December, 60 large companies and banks in Germany had agreed to a figure of DM 8 billion, and they and the government were resisting calls to raise the figure to DM 10 billion.

      Memories of the same period resurfaced amid the celebrations when the Reichstag in Berlin, again to be the seat of the German government, formally opened in April. The 105-year-old Reichstag building, which had been set afire by the Nazis in 1933, underwent a spectacular renovation under the guidance of British architect Sir Norman Foster. (See Architecture (Architecture and Civil Engineering ).) In the months following, the Reichstag saw the election of a new president, SPD notable Johannes Rau (in May), and the inaugural session of the Bundestag after leaving Bonn (in September).

      The cultural highlight of 1999 in Germany was the award of the Nobel Prize for Literature to novelist Günter Grass, 27 years after Heinrich Böll had received one. (See Nobel Prizes .)

George Bailey

▪ 1999

      Area: 357,022 sq km (137,847 sq mi)

      Population (1998 est.): 82,148,000

      Capital: Bonn; capital designate: Berlin

      Chief of state: President Roman Herzog

      Head of government: Chancellor Helmut Kohl and, from October 27, Gerhard Schröder

      Germany in 1998 was dominated by the national election in September. The election campaign engrossed the nation for much of the year. By far the most important electoral issue was the country's critical economic situation, unemployment having increased to 11.2% by the end of 1997. The centre-right coalition, consisting of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), Christian Social Union (CSU), and the Free Democratic Party, claimed that an economic turnaround and upswing was in process, whereas the "Red-Green" (Social Democratic Party [SPD] and assorted ecologists) opposition asserted that any such phenomenon was merely seasonal if it existed at all.

      The two facts that could not be denied in the nine-month campaign were that Helmut Kohl had been chancellor for 16 consecutive years, the longest tenure since that of Otto von Bismarck, and that he was 63.5 kg (140 lb) overweight. In an age of round-the-clock television exposure, the chancellor's appearance was to many a constant reminder that he was set on overstaying his leave in public office. He commanded great respect even among his political opponents, yet his considerable stature as a statesman marshaled against his candidacy as a politician. Like Winston Churchill, Kohl was a wartime leader, albeit the Cold War. As with Churchill, once the war was over, he was dumped by the electorate.

      Kohl's gift for the simplification of complex issues was eminently suited to the political culture that the confrontation with the Soviet Union had imposed on international affairs. The same gift enabled him to see through the myth of the Soviet state, providing the insight that the behemoth was little more than a political fiction whose credibility and credit had run out. This perception provided the basis for his decision to snatch German reunification from a disintegrating communist bloc and a crippled Soviet Union.

      The irony of the situation was complex. Kohl's prodigious feat involved the introduction of free elections in eastern Germany, but this resulted in his removal from office because he could not possibly satisfy the soaring expectations born of the very act of enfranchisement. There had been no great need for money in East Germany, because there was little to buy, but after reunification there was more to buy and, thus, a greater need for money. Consequently, the gulf between those with and those without financial means became much wider.

      An economy of scarcity marked by widespread equality with full employment was rapidly replaced by an economy of supply-side abundance and widespread individual want. Within a very short time, the eastern Germans felt themselves the victims of capitalistic exploitation, a second-class citizenry almost one-fifth of whom were unemployed. In this sense Helmut Kohl was the architect and engineer of his own political demise. His electoral defeat was the worst in his party's history. (See Sidebar (National Election )).

      The underlying truth of the situation was that much of West Germany's and West Berlin's exemplary prosperity had been subsidized by the strategic prerequisite of financing the Cold War. The subsidies involved in this strategy were enormous, involving decades of deficit spending and the consequent accumulation of a huge national debt. The victory over communism was an economic victory. The bill covering the enormous expense involved in securing the victory was political. The Cold War beggared Eastern Europe and enriched Western Europe, but eight years after its end it cost Kohl his fifth term in office and the leadership of a party, the CDU, that he left in disarray and dejection.

      Victory over communism had not, however, been the CDU's main concern. The main thrust of CDU policy under Kohl and Konrad Adenauer before him was the consummation of European union. Their common conviction was that Germany's only future lay in a united Europe. It was the Christian Democrats who saw to it that West Germany's financial contribution to the EU was larger than that of any other member nation, achieving under Kohl a whopping 30% of the EU's total budget. It was Kohl who worked tirelessly to achieve the Maastricht Treaty and its stipulation of a maximum of deficit spending not to exceed 3.5% of gross domestic product as the prerequisite to membership in an economic and monetary union (EMU) to go into effect on January 1, 1999—proof that the Christian Democrats had learned something about deficit budgeting.

      In 1998 Germany fairly exploded with entrepreneurial élan. In a scramble of international takeovers, BMW and Volkswagen bought Rolls-Royce Ltd. The publishing house of Bertelsmann bought out Random House and therewith became the U.S.'s largest book publisher and also acquired the prestigious Berlin Verlag, reinforcing its position as the world's largest publishing group. (See Sidebar (Bertelsmann—the German Giant ).) Other German publishers followed suit, Axel Springer Verlag AG acquiring the publishing group Econ and List and Holzbrinck, the third German publishing giant, forming a new group with Weltbild of Augsburg. The great concerns were positioning themselves for unbridled global competition in anticipation of the disappearance of Germany's price-control mechanism for books. Against this giantism, the smaller publishers were powerless.

      In September the business coup of the year took place with the merger of Daimler-Benz and the Chrysler Corp.; DaimlerChrysler AG was born into fifth place among the automakers of the world. At DM 99 billion, the German automobile industry accounted for 20% in value of all German exports during the year (DM 1.78 = $1). Meanwhile, other German industrial giants were shaking off their classical designations by diversifying. Moving away from bulk steel production, Mannesmann switched to the manufacture of automobile components and spare parts. It had long since become the chief contributor to the telecommunications industry. Hoechst, a successor of I.G. Farben, refined its chemical production to include medicaments and insecticides. Allianz, Germany's largest insurance conglomerate, took over the French insurance group AGF. Adidas bought out the French firm Salomon to become the second largest supplier of sports articles in the world. As 1998 ended, it clearly had been a year of superlatives in German industry, the value of exports increasing from DM 117 billion in 1997 to an estimated DM 141 billion.

      Germany's largest firms were subject as such to the economy of scale, in which increases in per capita productivity were equated with proportionate decreases in the number of places of work. Increased automation and electronic innovation were further curtailing the need for human hands in the workplace. The result was that, despite concerted efforts of the government, unemployment in 1998 could be reduced only to 10.2%, a decrease of only 1% from 1997. At the same time, the number of bankruptcies remained roughly constant at an estimated 33,000.

      The supreme irony of Germany's employment dilemma was the reversal of the alliance between workers and their unions. In the conditions of a global economy, labour unions demonstratedly reduced the competitiveness of their members, which thus exposed the union movement as the chief formal cause of unemployment. The need for flexibility, as expressed in the willingness of the individual to assume more initiative and greater responsibility for his or her own welfare, was touted by the new Red-Green coalition as the panacea for the scourge of systemic unemployment.

      Soon after the election it was announced by the Federal Institute for Labour in Nürnberg that there had been an upswing in the German economy. Unemployment declined in the first half of 1998 to 3,965,000, and eastern Germany's percentage of total exports doubled to 6%.

      In more than one sense, the previous government, but with a healthier majority than four votes in the Bundestag (federal parliament) and at least a simple majority in the Bundesrat (federal council), would have been in a better position to plan and carry out the painful demolition of much of the German social welfare overhead. The Social Democrats would have to jump over their own shadows to do so. Their coalition partners the Greens, with their agenda of an immediate shutdown of nuclear power plants, would not be much help. (The Social Democrats reckoned that the effective withdrawal from atomic energy would take about 25 years.) The great bugaboo for any party or coalition, however, was the simple fact that there was no financial basis for any action. Federal, state, and city governments were all virtually bankrupt and in heavy debt. The national debt—DM 2.5 trillion by the end of 1998—required an allotment of 11% of the budget to make the necessary interest payments. The problem, consequently, was the raising of revenue.

      The new government's first discussion on tax reform resulted in its resolve to reduce the "incidental costs" (for health care, unemployment insurance, payment for sick leave, 30 vacation days per annum) of German labour to less than 40% of their present total, a reduction that would render German labour globally competitive and decrease government expenditure proportionately. Beyond that there was talk of the pet project of the Greens, an "ecological tax" formulated to reward observers and punish offenders of ecological strictures. There was also talk of a reduction of the income tax to a span of 20-40%, effective in three stages by 2002. These were, however, only tentative steps to address the problem and were also a reminder that SPD campaign strategy involved blocking the conservative coalition's attempts at meaningful tax reform. A more definite measure was brought into prospect by Chancellor Schröder on the first day of the talks. This was the decision to subsidize as a top priority the apprenticeship for employment of 100,000 young people. Schröder, a self-made man, was determined to dispel the apparition of a permanent underclass, a noncitizenry of dropouts unable to cope in today's world.

      Much would depend on whether Schröder could exercise his flexibility politically within the policy constraints of his coalition. Any German government, however, was going to find itself harnessed by the rules and regulations of the EU. The economic sovereignty of the member nations would be curtailed by the introduction of the euro and monetary union. Schröder's coalition would also find itself subordinated to no small extent to a larger European unification, particularly in foreign policy, and one that favoured the German states rather than the federal government. For example, the collection of taxes would be the prerogative of the states.

      The global economic crisis that began in Asia in 1997 complicated matters still further, but it highlighted the necessity to distinguish between the commercial movement of capital and financial speculation based on the purchase and sale of securities or foreign exchange in different markets and to regulate the distinction.

      Traditionally, the SPD was a party dedicated to social justice through a political approach to economics. The CDU/CSU, by contrast, was dedicated to entrepreneurial freedom in the economic approach to politics. The final irony of 1998, ushering in a new era, was that the political fate of the SPD would be determined by the party's performance in the economic field of the open market.


▪ 1998

      Area: 357,022 sq km (137,847 sq mi)

      Population (1997 est.): 82,143,000

      Capital: Bonn; capital designate: Berlin

      Chief of state: President Roman Herzog

      Head of government: Chancellor Helmut Kohl

      The all-important task facing the Federal Republic of Germany in 1997 was the implementation of decisions taken the year before in light of the discovery that Germany, by dint of its advanced social welfare policies and labour legislation, had all but priced itself out of international competition. Indeed, in terms of attractiveness as an industrial location, Germany had disqualified itself as an effective competitor even within the bounds of the European Union (EU).

Politics and the Economy.
      The reasons for this predicament were clear enough. Germany had been caught squarely within a complex of developments converging on Europe from all sides: the disappearance of customs barriers within the Common Market, programmed but unprepared for; the sudden collapse of the entire communist bloc on its eastern border, unexpected and uncomprehended; and the precipitous self-annexation of East Germany (the German Democratic Republic; GDR) to the Federal Republic, unforeseen and confounding in its consequences. The end result of this series of upheavals was an astronomical drain on the financial stability of the federation (over DM 700 billion in seven years), not least because the West German government in its euphoria had been rash enough to exchange East Germany's entire cash holdings in East Marks for West Marks at the rate of one to one (a rate of four to one would have been generous). This was before it was discovered that East Germany's total debt was more than DM 400 billion (West).

      The main challenge was to render Germany competitively attractive as an industrial location by radically reducing taxes so as to attract investment capital, foreign and domestic, within the EU and thus lower the rate of unemployment, which had reached a high of 11.2% (as against 10.6% for the previous year). While Chancellor Helmut Kohl may have announced the "tax reform of the century" in the spring of 1996, the big economic story in Germany in 1997 was the legislative flop of the century: the tax reform coming to nothing in a series of tortuous negotiations, blocked at every turn by the Social Democratic Party (SPD), which enjoyed a majority in the Bundesrat (Federal Council), Germany's second legislative chamber. The same fate befell the second most important measure in abeyance, the reform of the pension fund, which faced actuarial occlusion—i.e., the reversal of the ratio of wage earners to pensioners, from 78% versus 22% to 45% versus 55%—in less than four decades.

      It became obvious by midyear that the whole process of reform had been foreclosed by the federal elections looming in the fall of 1998. The SPD meant to make an electoral issue of the failure (which they could guarantee) of the governing coalition to pass a tax law before the election. This standoff forced the coalition to abandon the effort to enact revisionary tax legislation altogether rather than accept a compromise with an intransigent opposition. There remained, then, the fallback position of enacting only those measures whose passage was exempted from approval by the Bundesrat. Under this heading the so-called solidarity surcharge, a decrease of 2% from 7.5%, was passed on September 30 to the exasperation of the helpless opposition. Providing relief of approximately DM 30 a month for the average family, it was little enough, but it was a step in the right direction, a demonstration of the government's earnest intention to lower taxes—if election results permitted. It was also evidence that the coalition was not at odds with itself, as the SPD insisted.

      The disadvantage of the solidarity surcharge was its title, which led to the false impression that only the western Germans were being taxed in obligatory solidarity with their eastern cousins. On the other hand, the reduction by only 2% was interpreted as a slap on the wrist of eastern Germany for its failure to put the gift of the surcharge to good use.

      The chronic increase in unemployment was due preeminently to changes in the economic and social structure in Germany, particularly in the eastern region. The throwing open of the EU to unrestricted economic competition ruled out the immobility characteristic of mass organizations and collectives. The emphasis had shifted from mass to mobility, to swift and imaginative adaptation to changes in customs and clientele. In an address on September 30, Gerhard Schröder, one of the tandem of SPD candidates for chancellor, made it clear "that we cannot load anything more on our social system." For the Socialists it was a matter of defending what they had achieved, but even this required rapid innovation on the part of enterprises, more flexibility of organization for wage work, reform of training and retraining, and a more production-effective state. Here, however, Schröder's reliance on the state as the prime regulatory factor stuck out like a sore thumb. The new spirit of small, flexible enterprises was turned against big business as well as big government. What characterized the large multinational corporations was their subjection to the economy of scale, where spectacular increases in per capita productive capacity dictated spectacular decreases in the number of places of work. Another sign of the times was the privatization during the year of two large concerns, Deutsche Telekom, the telephone company, and Lufthansa, the German airline, as well as the breakup of the postal monopoly formerly enjoyed by Deutsche Bundespost.

      Like most enterprises in 1997, German trade unions continued to lose membership. The Textile and Clothing Union (GTB) had lost more than 70% of its membership (from 700,000 to 200,000) in less than seven years. On October 28, in its 103rd year, the GTB announced its dissolution and the transfer of its remaining membership to IG Metall, which, despite dwindling numbers, remained the largest (2,752,226 members) of the unions. In mid-October the chemical union, IG Chemie-Papier-Keramik (694,897), the miners union, IG Bergbau und Energie (364,331), and the small leather-workers union, Gewerkschaft Leder (21,904), announced their merger into the IG Bergbau, Chemie und Energie conglomerate, a million strong—for the moment. Across the board Germany's unions lost an average 5% of their membership during the year. The single exception was the Police Union, with an increase of 0.3% (to 199,421).

Pains of Reunification.
      The great complicating factor in Germany was that the Federal Republic was founded twice—as a "part-state" in 1949 and then again as the reunited whole nation in 1990. The circumstances of the two travails were entirely different. In the first there was the exhilaration of deliverance from the worst war humanity had ever known coupled with a new departure in German history amply financed by the world's richest nation. The Germans responded by creating the "economic miracle." In the second there was the financial and administrative responsibility for reclaiming an East Germany devastated by almost half a century of communist economic mismanagement.

      In 1997—seven years after embarking on this mission, complicated as it was by the process of uniting the whole of Western Europe (with 30% of the EU's contributions to Brussels coming from Germany)—the Germans produced a miraculous muddle. This fiasco was particularly dismaying to the eastern Germans, who had entered the period with vaulting hopes of economic opportunity, social justice, and a high standard of living. Instead, after seven years of massive subsidies, tax breaks, and venture capital investment, the new states fashioned from the former East produced hardly 3% of Germany's exports. The financial misery of eastern German hospitals had become legendary—a total deficit of more than a billion Marks. The eastern states were bedeviled by an unemployment rate of 18%. More ominously, they proved to be a millstone around the neck of the republic as a whole, making for a record unemployment rate throughout Germany and the highest national debt in the history of the federation.

      Matching the two foundings of the state, Germany had the legacies of two tyrannies to deal with, adjudicate, and otherwise dispose of—that which ended in 1945 and that which ended in 1990. The process of retroactive judgment and punishment for crimes committed under the misrule of the GDR was broadly gauged and costly. In August, Egon Krenz, Erich Honecker's successor as GDR leader, was sentenced to 6 years' imprisonment on charges of manslaughter in three cases that occurred under his brief (seven-week) authority as head of state. At the same time, on like charges concerning the notorious order to open fire on citizens emboldened to "flee the republic," two top GDR communist leaders, Günter Schabowski and Günther Kleiber, were sentenced to three years' imprisonment each. This was part of the ongoing process of bringing to justice those responsible for the deaths of at least 753 people at the Berlin Wall and the intra-German border over a 28-year period. By mid-1997 six GDR generals had likewise been sentenced to terms of imprisonment ranging from 6 years to 22 months (suspended in this one case). A number of officers of lesser rank, noncommissioned officers, and soldiers were brought to trial, all in connection with the deaths of refugees at the border. By autumn the number of these trials had risen to 65, at which some 80 persons were sentenced to various terms in prison. In most cases, however, sentences were suspended. On September 30 the District Court of Frankfurt am Main, in a trial that had lasted a full two years, exonerated seven former GDR judges of complicity in sentencing the philosopher Robert Havemann to 2 years of house arrest in 1979 on trumped-up charges. The prosecution immediately appealed the court's decision.

      All this was wearisome and expensive enough, but it was also true that with the ending of the Cold War, subsidies and emergency investments came to an abrupt halt. The Meteor Theatre in East Berlin entered receivership in midyear, following the Schiller Theatre, one of West Berlin's largest and most prestigious theatres, two years earlier.

      Also accountable for the financial straits of the nation was the Klondike atmosphere throughout eastern Germany and particularly in the former East Berlin. Indeed, Berlin as a whole had become the world's largest construction site, much of it the result of breakneck investment. A good example was the multibillion-dollar complex at the Berlin Wall's Checkpoint Charlie undertaken by the Central European Development Corp., an American enterprise headed by Ronald S. Lauder of the cosmetics concern. On September 29 Lauder announced his departure from the firm, and the project was curtailed drastically, with construction halted on two of the five blocks, with 116,000 sq m (1,250,000 sq ft) of space. A Lauder partner avowed that it made no sense to continue construction under prevailing circumstances. Buildings already completed in the area had failed to attract tenants in any numbers if at all. The investors concerned had calculated, wrongly, that the political renommé of Checkpoint Charlie would constitute an attraction, and they had jumped the gun in anticipating the transfer of the federal government from Bonn in 1999. The number of bankruptcies in Germany in 1997 increased by 14% over 1996; the average was more than twice as high in the eastern states as it was in former West Germany.

      Still, the government had succeeded in lowering the costs incidental to employment by reducing the amount payable on sick leave to 80% of the employee's regular income, saving employers DM 10 billion-DM 12 billion a year. The cancellation of the notorious tax on capital investment on January 1 saved another DM 4 billion-DM 8 billion. The repeal of the property tax brought still another DM 9 billion worth of relief. These measures had, it was argued, removed much of the objection to exorbitant employment costs.

      The major political parties, the Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union (CDU/CSU), the SPD, and the Greens, were all split, for and against an unhampered market economy and the downsizing of government at every level. Traditional party lines in each case were lopped off at the middle. The increasingly evident slogan was "nothing sacred." Chancellor Kohl became as likely a target within his own party as Oskar Lafontaine of the SPD and Joschka Fischer of the Greens within theirs. The introduction of the Euro, the coin of the common currency-to-be, was another divisive issue. While Kohl staked his political future on the fulfillment of the Maastricht Treaty to the letter, other CDU/CSU political leaders, such as Saxony's president, Kurt Biedenkopf, and Bavaria's president, Edmund Stoiber, called for postponement.

Foreign Affairs.
      The intractable refugee problem continued to cause concern, and in midyear statisticians linked the rising crime rate in the cities to the increase in the number of foreigners entering Germany. (There was one respect in which government intervention was welcome: the protection of the citizen against the rising crime rate.) The SPD's Schröder, in a statement that alienated many of his followers, said that any refugee convicted of a crime should be forthwith deported. As if in answer, a 10.6% decrease in the number of applicants for asylum in Germany was registered in 1997.

      George Bush belatedly reaped his reward for having been the only ally of Germany who unreservedly welcomed German reunification. The former U.S. president was invited to attend the official celebration of the Day of Unity on September 30 as guest speaker. Mikhail Gorbachev was not. Said Erwin Teufel, president of Baden-Württemberg, "We don't owe the United States of America much—we owe them everything!" "Though much has changed in the past few years," said Helmut Kohl, who followed Teufel as speaker, "the axis of our foreign policy has not shifted." The chancellor added that Germany was regarded in all the capitals of Europe and in the U.S. as an "element of stability" in the international political scene. This could not be said of the prospective SPD-Green coalition, the Greens presenting in mid-October a position paper calling for the reduction of the Bundeswehr (armed forces) by more than half, an increase in the price of gasoline from DM 1.66 to DM 4 per litre (about $9.55 per gallon), and the dissolution of NATO. The SPD lost no time in denouncing the program as a "rejection of reality."


▪ 1997

      Germany is in central Europe, on the North and Baltic seas. Area: 356,974 sq km (137,828 sq mi). Pop. (1996 est.): 81,891,000. Cap. designate, Berlin; seat of government, Bonn. Monetary unit: Deutsche Mark, with (Oct. 11, 1996) a free rate of DM 1.53 to U.S. $1 (DM 2.41 = £1 sterling). President in 1996, Roman Herzog; chancellor, Helmut Kohl.

      The year 1996 in Germany was a time of agonizing reappraisal of past, present, and future. It marked approximately five years after unification, the time set as a test period for most of the prophecies and projections made when East Germans declared themselves "one people" with West Germans and ended almost half a century of enforced separation. It also marked three years after an equally important event, the lowering of customs barriers between the member nations of the European Community by common consent, which allowed unrestricted movement to the classic elements of a market economy—persons, capital, effects, and performance—throughout Western Europe, with the sole exception of Switzerland. The throwing open of the entire area of the Common Market (i.e., the European Union) suddenly revealed the German labour force for what it was—the most coddled and costly in the world. The corollary of this revelation was that Germany as an industrial location, by dint of its advanced social welfare policies and labour legislation, had effectively priced itself out of international competition.

The Economy.
      The simple facts were that it cost considerably more to "buy German" than it did to buy goods elsewhere in the world (as Germany was one of the world's largest industrial export nations, its competition was necessarily global) and that the difference in quality that a "made in Germany" label implied was no longer considerable. The conjunction of events—unification, consolidation of the Common Market, and liberation of Eastern Europe—augured ill for Germany. It was not only that the Germans were obliged to finance the integration of an economically devastated East Germany (the total amount of financial aid to East Germany from 1991 to 1995 was DM 615 billion); they were also obliged to make economic allowance for the ravished countries of Eastern Europe in a "German Marshall Plan" for the East. This added to the flow of German investment capital out of Germany itself, particularly to the Russian Federation. Worse still, the opening to the East undermined the German labour market even more than the opening to the West within the Common Market had done. The Czechs, Hungarians, and Poles, each with a highly qualified labour force, were willing to work for a fraction of the German standard wage (i.e., a third in the Czech Republic and a half in France).

      As a result of all these factors, the number of bankruptcies in Germany rose sharply: 12,893 from January to May 1996—an increase of 11% over the same period of the previous year. Worst of all, however, was the number of Schwartzarbeiter—illegal immigrants working at low wages in construction. In the centre of Berlin, at the Potsdamer Platz construction site, where most of the building was being done by subcontractors, only every fifth worker was German; the rest were typically English, Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese, all legally employed but at lower than standard German wages. (An ironic note: in the theatre, including television, western Germans were underbid by German colleagues from the east willing to work at one-third of the going wage in one of the few nonunion trades in Germany.)

      The most alarming result of this combination of crises was the abrupt rise in unemployment, 10.6% nationally and as high as 16% or more in the eastern German Länder (states). This was accompanied by a drop in production figures from a 2.15% annual increase in 1992 to a 1.2% decrease in 1993 and, after an interim rise, to no more than an 0.08% increase in 1996.

      Another result of the German dilemma was a whopping national debt of DM 870 billion, the accumulation of decades of deficit spending. The alarm had sounded five years earlier, but in 1996, when 11.8% of the budget had to be allotted to interest payments on the debt, the folly of deficit spending became the subject of every substantial political discussion. With it came the realization that Germans could no longer keep themselves in the style to which they had become accustomed.

      It was generally agreed that budgetary expenditure would have to be cut, but there immediately arose a hue and cry against any tampering with the elaborate network of social welfare provisions painstakingly developed during the post-World War II period. It was precisely there, however, that cuts would have to be made. Because of the many "incidental costs" accruing through labour legislation and collective bargaining, the cost to the employer of each employee was more than 1.8 times the base pay. The main areas of government support included health care, unemployment insurance, full payment for sick leave, up to 30 vacation days per annum, early retirement, and the four-week Kur ("cure"), a treatment available once every three years for a chronic condition and usually given in a sanatorium, where "patients" sweated through morning calisthenics and mud baths only to repair to high-calorie meals later.

      In mid-June, when the German government announced its package of economic measures containing 50 items of government outlay to be more or less radically cut, the German Trade Union Federation, under Dieter Schulte (see BIOGRAPHIES (Schulte, Dieter )), cried havoc and took to the streets in a mass rally in Bonn. The Social Democratic Party (SPD) and the Greens denounced most of the package, and the Bundesrat (the country's second legislative chamber), where Social Democrats were in the majority, proclaimed its opposition in advance. On September 13, however, the Bundestag (federal parliament) brought the full weight of its four-vote majority to bear and passed the three articles that fell under constitutional exemption from the consent of the Bundesrat. These included a measure to gradually raise the retirement age for women from 60 to 65 years, beginning in the year 2000, and a measure to reduce the length of a Kur from four to three weeks and increase the period between "cures" from three to four years. The measure that caused an immediate uproar was that to reduce the amount payable on sick leave to 80% of the employee's regular income (employees could avoid the reduction in payments by relinquishing their vacation rights at a ratio of one day of vacation to five days of sick leave).

      This law was immediately seized upon by a number of the largest German firms and industry federations. The employers announced that they would cut sick-pay benefits accordingly when the law went into effect on October 1. The reaction of the trade unions was likewise immediate. There were massive strikes, demonstrations, and threats of more to come. The sum targeted for reduction—six weeks of fully paid sick leave a year—was a sacred cow, hallowed and untouchable. It had been set in 1957 by a collective bargaining agreement, after unions staged a general strike that lasted 16 weeks.

      In this new struggle, however, the employers were not united. A number of Germany's largest firms, such as Volkswagen AG and Bayerische Motoren Werke (BMW) AG, refused to apply the law because it violated standing agreements with the trade unions. As the employers saw it, the law was meant to provide a guideline in future negotiations with the unions. Many employers who had chosen to apply the law without further ado saw themselves obliged to desist. "First the government passes a law," fumed Dieter Hundt, the president of the federal Union of German Employer Groups, "and then certain members of the government admonish us not to apply the law." On October 8 employers in the metal industry began negotiations with the IG Metall union. Others announced they would apply the law. Meanwhile, the unions themselves were losing membership at an alarming rate—typically, the civil service union had lost some 25% of its clientele over the past five years.

      It was, according to the German press, a confrontation that could be settled peaceably only by the Federal Constitutional Court. Unfortunately, the capacity of the court was vastly overburdened by a constant flood of constitutional complaints.

      For the future the big problem was the pension fund, projected to double within the next 40 years. Trends in German actuarial tables pointed to an increase in the ratio of people aged 65 and older to the remainder of the adult population (aged 15-64) from about 22% to 55% by the year 2035. It was a matter, then, of trying to avoid passing the buck to future generations for bills the present generation could not or would not pay.

      The interlocking nature of the problems made matters worse. The plethora of taxes in Germany strongly discouraged investment and consequently hampered employment. From 1990 to September 1995 foreigners invested only DM 18 billion in Germany, while the Germans invested DM 196 billion in foreign countries. Indeed, in 1990, 1991, 1993, and 1994, Americans liquidated many of their investments in Germany rather than adding to them. For example, Adam Opel AG, a branch of General Motors Corp. that manufactured cars in Germany, broke ground in Poland in October for a factory with a 10-year tax-exemption guarantee. In addition to rampant German taxation, there were other deterrents, such as compulsory "contributions" to social programs and the host of incidental expenses attendant to a bureaucracy.

      Tax reform was thus Germany's cardinal problem. In the "tax haven" of eastern Germany, for example, only 20% of the auditing offices were staffed by fully trained professionals. For that matter, fewer than half of the auditing offices were staffed at all. Indeed, throughout Germany hardly more than half the auditors required were affordable in the budgetary alteration of a fiscal policy that could not be changed—except for the worse—in the prevailing atmosphere of austerity. Because the lack of funding kept auditing offices from being staffed properly, Germany sustained an estimated annual loss of DM 30 billion in unrecovered taxes. On the other hand, an investigation in early 1996 revealed that the main item of official travel expenses—itself the largest category in the sum total of expenses—was that of tax inspectors.

      On April 26 Chancellor Helmut Kohl (who in October became the longest-ruling German leader since Bismarck) announced the "tax reform of the century," in which direct returns would be reduced by an estimated 23% and the procedure of filing returns simplified. There would be fewer exceptions and exemptions. The minimum level of taxable income would be raised from DM 12,000 to DM 24,000 per annum. This reform would go into effect on Jan. 1, 1999.

Foreign Affairs.
      This was also a year of reckoning, both geopolitically and culturally. U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher made a point of visiting Stuttgart on September 6 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the speech delivered by his predecessor James F. Byrnes that signaled the about-face in U.S. policy toward Germany from the punitive Morgenthau Plan to the outright endowment of the Marshall Plan. This marked the beginning of German-American friendship and the resultant "economic miracle."

      But was this not, asked some Germans in 1996, the beginning of Germany's political wardship to the United States? Was not Germany a vassal state of the American superpower? German foreign policy was always U.S. foreign policy—even after unification. When the Americans bombarded Iraq with cruise missiles in mid-1996 to rap the knuckles of a recalcitrant Saddam Hussein, did not the Germans stand to in unquestioning loyalty—as sharply distinct from most of the other members of the NATO alliance? Other Germans, however, regarded such a show of solidarity as strictly in keeping with Germany's position as most important U.S. ally on the Continent.

      Culturally the German-American relationship was more problematic. Had not Germany been "coca-colonized" by American pop culture? The fact was that American television programs made up the bulk of Germany's TV entertainment programs (American television productions constituted some 80% of all European television fare, while European TV productions made up less than 8% of American television fare). German youth ran about in the T-shirts of American basketball stars.

      The other side of the story was that in 1996 there were 132 full-repertory opera houses in Germany and well over 100 symphony orchestras—the largest and richest musical establishment in the world. One-third of the opera singers in Germany were Americans. The remaining two-thirds were equally divided between native Germans and all other foreigners. (See also Wilson, Robert .) Most of the opera houses doubled as theatres in accordance with the traditional German formula for edifying entertainment based on the tripod of music, legitimate stage, and ballet. German theatre had always been heavily if not totally subsidized, however. With unification and the end of the Cold War, subsidies largely ceased—to be replaced by closings, fusions, and mergers—and the number of theatres and opera houses dwindled.

Party Politics.
      "The social state," ran the Bonn pronouncement after the passage of the economic measures package, "is being reduced in order to preserve its budgetary viability." The failure of even the social democratic model of the welfare state (beginning with Sweden) on the heels of the Soviet disaster wreaked electoral havoc with the German Social Democratic Party. In the Baden-Württemberg parliamentary elections in March, the SPD polled 25.1% of the vote, the worst showing in that state in the party's history. In Berlin the SPD's election results had dwindled steadily over the postwar period from 61% to 23% of the vote.

      The fact that the causes of the virtual bankruptcy of federal, Land, and city governments had little to do with the political party in power merely made matters worse for the Social Democrats. The SPD had staked its claim that a political approach to economics was a guarantee of social justice. This placed before the SPD an awesome assignment: inventing a new and cogent sociopolitical philosophy. It was a challenge that made the triumvirate of the SPD leadership—Oskar Lafontaine of the Saarland, Gerhard Schröder of Lower Saxony, and Rudolf Scharping, head of the party's parliamentary group—look considerably less adept than they actually were, frequently at odds among themselves, and with no chance of taking advantage of the government's continuing discomfiture.

      In Bremen, Hessen, North Rhine-Westphalia, and Lower Saxony, the SPD had entered ruling coalitions with the Greens as pilot models for a national government. The Greens were younger and more fervent and tended to split over issues of foreign policy, but in Joschka Fischer they had a prominent leader and one of the best speakers in Parliament. As for the coalition's junior partner, the Free Democrats had just managed to clear the 5% barrier (the minimum percentage of the vote required for qualifying for representation) and remain in the national government.

The Refugee Problem.
      It was close attention to economic issues that made Germany unprecedentedly prosperous and a magnet to the have-not countries of Eastern Europe and to Africa and the Middle East as well. In the Federal Republic, however, there were other motives for the formation of policy or, more often, the triggering of ad hoc political action. Germany remained bedeviled by its past, with the deep-seated urge to make compensation for the abomination of the Third Reich. This led to extremely loose immigration and refugee-accommodation laws, which led in turn to an influx of some 300,000 refugees from former Yugoslavia (more than the number accepted by all other European nations put together) and more than 100,000 Kurdish refugees.

      The sum of such experience provided the insight that the way to keep refugees out of Germany was to participate in international police action at the geographic source of the refugees. Even the SPD and the Greens saw the light. Germany had in 1995 abandoned its long-standing noncombatant role in foreign military engagements and thus finally became a NATO member in the full sense of the term.

      The repatriation of Kurdish, "Yugoslav," African, and Arab refugees was and would remain a thankless task with moral recriminations from all sides. Surely it would be better to order such matters in concert. A united Europe would be in a far better position to solve the problem than would Germany alone, but here too was a crucial complication in the form of the Maastricht Treaty and its stipulation of a maximum of deficit spending (3.5% of gross domestic product) as the basic qualification in the impending economic and monetary union (EMU). The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development lost no time in informing the German government that its package of economic measures was nothing more than "a modest step in the right direction." The passage would prove to be the most difficult of all diplomatic feats—that of reversing a precedent, of undoing what had already been done, of taking away what had already been given. The EMU was the key to European unification, and European unification was Germany's highest goal, indeed its key to salvation.


▪ 1996

      Germany is in central Europe, on the North and Baltic seas. Area: 356,974 sq km (137,828 sq mi). Pop. (1995 est.): 81,912,000. Cap. designate, Berlin; seat of government, Bonn. Monetary unit: Deutsche Mark, with (Oct. 6, 1995) a free rate of DM 1.43 to U.S. $1 (DM 2.26 = £1 sterling). President in 1995, Roman Herzog; chancellor, Helmut Kohl.

      For the Federal Republic of Germany the year 1995 brought the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II and a long moment of contemplation and reflection about its identity as a democratic nation. Was May 8 the day of unconditional surrender or the day of liberation? Was the so-called zero hour of the year 1945 really a fresh start in every respect? And what now was the balance in Germany between a self-restraint imposed by its history and the growing creative impulses of a country that had such size and influence?

      The days of remembrance of the concentration camps and of the victory over the Nazi regime started with the commemoration of the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz on January 27. At these ceremonies, in Germany as well as elsewhere, many believed that the Germany that came into being after 1945 was prepared to remember its past and never to forget. January 27 was henceforth to be an official day of remembrance in Germany.

      The 50th anniversary of the end of the war was given greater resonance by the 100th birthday of Ernst Jünger, a militarist who won the medal Pour le Mérite in 1918 but later broke with the Nazis. The celebration, which was attended by Pres. Roman Herzog and Chancellor Helmut Kohl, was seen to poignantly reflect the breaks and continuities of a full century as well as the most recent 50 years of German history.

Domestic Affairs.
      Germany skidded into 1995 on unusually heavy rainfall that had begun in December, continued into January, and led to the so-called floods of the century. Numerous rivers—among them the Rhine, the Moselle, the Main, the Danube, the Fulda, and the Saar—overflowed their banks and flooded vast regions containing many villages and cities. Even the federal capital of Bonn was partly underwater, but the political life of Parliament and government agencies continued unimpeded. There were some significant developments in the structure of the political parties that could have considerable short- and long-term consequences. For the Free Democratic Party (FDP), the centrist coalition partner of the ruling conservative Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union (CDU/CSU), the downturn that began in 1994 continued. At the state elections in Bremen and North Rhine-Westphalia (both on May 14) as well as in Berlin (October 22), the loss of votes was so severe that the party did not reach the 5% threshold needed to send members to the parliaments. Only in Hessen on February 19 did they qualify for parliamentary representation. Thus, to a great extent the party lost its parliamentary basis on both the federal and the state levels. This shock was accompanied by major shake-ups in the party. The leader of the FDP, Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel, had to resign because of these repeated failures, and Wolfgang Gerhardt from Hessen was chosen leader at the party conference in June. The FDP lost its status as the third strongest political force in Germany to the Greens/Alliance '90, the party of the environmental movement.

      A further shock to the ruling coalition came in December when the minister of justice, Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, resigned after her party, the FDP, abandoned its opposition to proposed legislation that would have allowed electronic surveillance of suspected criminals. As she would probably be replaced by another FDP member, the coalition was expected to survive.

      Under the leadership of figures like Joschka Fischer (see BIOGRAPHIES (Fischer, Joschka )), the Greens were able to improve their results in every election, and in North Rhine-Westphalia, the most populous federal state, they became the coalition partner of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), which had lost its overall majority. Nevertheless, conflicts and clashes among the leadership weakened the SPD more than the loss of their majority in North Rhine-Westphalia. The internal criticism of Rudolf Scharping's style of leadership began early in January and escalated over the summer into a power struggle between Scharping, the party leader, and Gerhard Schröder, the prime minister of Lower Saxony, who also was the SPD's official spokesman for economic affairs. The differences of opinion were aired publicly and raised questions not only about party leadership but also about the SPD's economic positions. Schröder had for the time being been stripped of his political power in the national party, but the conflict that had reached so deeply into the SPD had by no means come to an end. On November 16 Oskar Lafontaine was chosen SPD leader at the party conference in Mannheim. Scharping remained leader of the parliamentary delegation.

      The ruling CDU/CSU benefited from these quarrels within the opposition, which tended to cover up Kohl's weaknesses.

      The Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS), the successor party to the communists in the former East Germany, had also won representation in the Bundestag (lower house of Parliament) because of its continuing strength in the new federal states. But the PDS broke with Stalinist ideas and structures in its party conference in late January; the reformist wing of the party gained a clear majority, and the communist minority in the party could not win a single seat on the party's executive committee.

      There was an unusual consensus evident among the parties in the Bundestag when a bill was passed in June with an overwhelming majority—more than two-thirds voted for a joint motion—that after decades of confrontations settled the question of the legality of abortion. Abortion within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy was no longer a crime, but the woman had to undergo counseling at an appropriate centre before an abortion could be performed. The asylum laws were once again a significant political issue. Turkish actions against the Kurdish minority in Turkey resulted in a growing criticism among Germans of the practice of too quickly deporting asylum seekers to their native countries. The protest against the asylum policy of the government led more and more church groups to give sanctuary to people whose petitions for asylum had been rejected. A judgment of the Federal Constitutional Court on the constitutionality of the asylum laws was expected in the spring of 1996.

      Dissatisfaction on the part of foreigners resident in Germany, most of whom were Turkish, led to the formation of the Democratic Party of Germany in the fall of 1995. The party intended to campaign for changes in the country's electoral system and citizenship law.

      Two decisions by the Constitutional Court caused a great deal of public discussion for many weeks. On May 23 it ruled that former East German spies and their bosses generally cannot be prosecuted for treason—only some clearly defined exceptions to this ruling were possible. Then, in August, on the grounds that education and cultural affairs lie within the responsibility of the federal government, the court declared unconstitutional a requirement of the Bavarian state government that a crucifix had to be displayed in every classroom in Bavarian elementary schools. Especially in conservative, heavily Roman Catholic, and traditional Bavaria, the court order provoked excited debates over whether Christianity itself would disappear from public life along with its symbol.

      On December 13 the Bavarian state Parliament, in response to the ruling, passed a law requiring that crucifixes be displayed in all classrooms in the state as a reflection of "the historical and cultural character of Bavaria." The law, which was open to constitutional challenge, required school principals to reach an "amicable agreement" with parents who objected to the new law.

      Another symbol, this one of German history, disappeared from public view at least temporarily: the Reichstag building. This building, which was built under Kaiser Wilhelm II and burned shortly after the Nazis gained power, was wrapped in silver polypropylene fabric by installation artist Christo and his wife, Jeanne-Claude. (See BIOGRAPHIES (Christo and Jeanne-Claude ).) The Bundestag had finally approved the action after it had been planned for years. Contrary to all skepticism about public acceptance of the work, the project became an immense success. More than two million visitors went to view the wrapped building.

      The annual award of the peace prize of the German book trade at the Frankfurt Book Fair led to fierce criticism soon after the recipient was named in May. The prize was awarded to 73-year-old Annemarie Schimmel, a professor emeritus of Oriental studies at the University of Bonn, on the grounds that she had fostered understanding between the Islamic and the Christian worlds through her extensive academic and journalistic writings. Critics accused her of showing too much understanding for Islamic fundamentalism and of endorsing the death sentence passed on novelist Salman Rushdie by the Iranian ayatollahs. Although the candidate repeatedly denied these accusations, in early September 100 distinguished writers and scientists—among them Günter Grass (see BIOGRAPHIES (Grass, Gunter Wilhelm )) and Jürgen Habermas—wrote in protest against the award.

The Economy.
      The economic recovery, which had already progressed markedly in 1994, continued in 1995. Gross domestic product grew by 2.8% in 1994, and the annual economic report issued by the government on January 27 forecast a growth of 3% for 1995 and a noticeable increase in exports based on a strengthened competitiveness. Labour demanded a share of the profits of the thriving economy, which led to long and tough wage negotiations. IG Metall, Germany's largest trade union, demanded a pay increase of 6% in addition to the 35-hour workweek that in 1990 had been agreed on for 1995. The employers rejected these demands without making a concrete counteroffer. Numerous warning strikes and demonstrations followed, and 88.36% of the trade union membership eventually voted in favour of industrial action. In early March the two parties reached agreement on a contract that would be valid for the next two years. Wages would increase by nearly 4% over the life of the contract, and the workweek in the steel and engineering industries was reduced to 35 hours beginning in October 1995. These pay increases set a guideline for the wage negotiations in most other industrial sectors. For example, the wage settlement for the public sector signed in May was 3.2% plus a one-time payment of DM 140, and in September the huge Volkswagen company agreed to an increase of 4% as of January 1996. The demands of the unions for a reduction in working hours were aimed at reducing the persistent unemployment rate. The employers, on the other hand, had called for flexibility in setting work time. In the automobile industry, as in other sectors, settlements were reached in which job security was to be maintained through such flexible arrangements. Unemployment was somewhat lower in January, at 3.8 million, than in the previous year, but the unemployment rate was still about 10% and fell during the year by only a few tenths of a percent.

      At the end of January, Chancellor Kohl met with representatives of the industry and the unions to discuss unemployment and employment policies. The participants agreed to raise DM 3 billion to provide jobs to 180,000 of the long-term unemployed over the next four years. In connection with this concern over long-term unemployment, various charitable organizations and the Catholic and Protestant churches also called for action against the increasing poverty within affluent German society. The fall in unemployment was greater in the new federal states in the east than in the west, though the unemployment rate in the east was much higher, as was the rate of economic growth.

      Despite notable gains of their economies, the new federal states were still dependent on capital transfer from the former West Germany. The audit office of the European Union caused quite a stir in February when it charged that the enormous funds were not always being spent wisely but were sometimes wasted.

      Growth in important sectors of the economy came under pressure from the appreciation of the Deutsche Mark. At the same time, the Deutsche Mark increased in value against other hard currencies and became increasingly important as a reserve currency and more attractive to foreign investors. This international strength coupled with a decline in inflation and positive developments in the money supply led the Deutsche Bundesbank to lower the discount rate and the repurchase rate in March. These, and the Lombard rate, were lowered in August. In December the Lombard rate and the discount rate were lowered again, to 5% and 3%, respectively. The principal economic discussion of the year was over the means to secure and improve Germany's economic condition. Topics revolved around modernization, taxation, the public sector, and working hours. The key items were simplification of the tax system and tax relief, consolidation of the federal and state budgets, the welfare state, a lean public sector, and flexible work time.

Foreign Affairs.
      Relations with Russia, and especially the personal relationship between Chancellor Kohl and Russian Pres. Boris Yeltsin, were strained by the deployment of Russian troops in Chechnya. Despite the fact that Kohl avoided serious criticism of the Russian policy, he nevertheless distanced himself several times from the Russian actions. In a unanimous resolution of the Bundestag on January 20, all parties joined in passing a resolution holding that Russia's right to territorial integrity could be maintained only within the framework of the Russian constitution and the principles of international law and human rights. With its partners in the European Union, the government in Bonn agreed that sanctions should not be imposed on Russia because of its actions in Chechnya. Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev, who had planned to visit Germany for political talks, was disinvited by his German counterpart, Volker Rühe, because of Grachev's remarks about human rights abuses in Chechnya.

      In an official state ceremony in Berlin on May 8, Germany commemorated the end of the Nazi regime. Representatives only of the four former allied nations had been invited as foreign guests: French Pres. François Mitterrand, U.S. Vice Pres. Al Gore, British Prime Minister John Major, and Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin. Vehement protests issued from Poland, where World War II had begun with the German invasion in 1939, because it had not been invited. In compensation, the Polish foreign minister, Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, was invited as the only foreigner, to address a joint meeting of the Bundestag and the Bundesrat (the second chamber of the Parliament). U.S. Pres. Bill Clinton, President Mitterrand, Prime Minister Major, and Chancellor Kohl were all invited by President Yeltsin to a ceremony in Moscow that marked the same occasion.

      The principles of future German foreign policy were set out on March 13 by Pres. Roman Herzog in an address to the German Society for Foreign Affairs. He held that within the framework of a strengthened partnership with the U.S. and the completion of European unity, Germany must be not only an object but a subject of international politics. The "Berlin Republic," as he called the new and larger Germany that resulted from unification, must be prepared to articulate its own economic and security interests, and it must also be prepared to use military power in concert with other democracies. The principles, which mirrored the attitude of the ruling coalition, were put into action for the first time on June 30, when the Bundestag voted to deploy German troops in Bosnia and Herzegovina under NATO command. For the first time since the Bundeswehr (the German armed forces) was founded 40 years earlier, German soldiers were active in battle conditions outside the territory of NATO members. Some members of the SPD and Green deputies voted in favour of this decision, despite the fact that these parties disapproved of an operational mission in former Yugoslavia and wanted to accept a mission only under UN auspices. The question of using Bundeswehr troops outside the territory of NATO member states had provoked wide discussion within the SPD ever since the Federal Constitutional Court judged that German troops could take part in international peacekeeping missions without restrictions, as long as Parliament voted in favour of them. The question could now be considered resolved.

      An unresolved question was touched upon when Kohl warned the other members of the EU on November 24 that they would be expected to bear much of the cost of rebuilding former Yugoslavia.

      The events in connection with the planned sinking of the oil rig Brent Spar in June and the protests against the French underground nuclear tests on Mururoa atoll showed that German foreign policy, and foreign policy generally, was no longer a matter only of parliaments and governments. The protests and appeals for a boycott against the Royal Dutch/Shell Group led by the international environmental group Greenpeace, which had an especially strong backing in Germany, met with such an enthusiastic response that important politicians of all parties, including Chancellor Kohl, joined in. Kohl's appeal not to sink the rig in deep water was opposed by British Prime Minister Major. Shell abandoned the sinking because of the pressure and opted for disposal ashore. Greenpeace also started a campaign against the resumption of French nuclear testing, and numerous politicians again joined the protests. The federal government tried not to take sides too openly and took care—in spite of its support for the protests—not to annoy the French government, particularly after Jacques Chirac became president. The desire of both sides was to avoid friction in the special relationship between France and Germany.

      Kohl's visit to South Africa and Namibia in mid-September awakened memories of a time long earlier when Germany was a colonial power in present-day Namibia, where there still was a strong German presence and influence. The chancellor promised both countries a privileged place on the list of recipients of German aid to less developed countries. Kohl, who was accompanied by the minister for economic cooperation and development, Carl-Dieter Spranger, emphasized that Germany would help not only with financial aid but also with assistance in the development of a system of education, particularly vocational training on the German model. (ROBERT SIGEL)

▪ 1995

      Germany is in central Europe, on the North and Baltic seas. Area: 356,959 sq km (137,823 sq mi). Pop. (1994 est.): 81,966,000. Cap. designate, Berlin; seat of government, Bonn. Monetary unit: Deutsche Mark, with (Oct. 7, 1994) a free rate of DM 1.54 to U.S. $1 (DM 2.45 = £1 sterling). President in 1994, Richard von Weizsäcker and, from July 1, Roman Herzog; chancellor, Helmut Kohl.

      Germans limped into 1994 only to emerge from it with their confidence largely rebuilt. The worst recession since World War II had battered the country in 1993 and appeared still to be raging in the new year. Unemployment hit record heights, provoking widespread disenchantment with politics and with the government in particular. As Germans headed for a marathon series of 19 different elections, few gave Chancellor Helmut Kohl (see BIOGRAPHIES (Kohl, Helmut )) much chance of winning a fourth term in the autumn.

      By the spring, however, the economy was recovering much earlier and more vigorously than expected. Amid spreading optimism, the political mood of the country shifted markedly. Having trailed well behind in the opinion polls, Kohl watched his personal fortunes improve as his Christian Democratic Union (CDU) advanced, overtaking the Social Democratic Party (SPD) challengers. In October the recently written-off chancellor won the general election, but with a heavily reduced majority. Pledging continuity, the Kohl government set out to complete the unfinished business of unification and to push German support for the European Union (EU).

Domestic Affairs.
      Most Germans began 1994 expecting a change of government in Bonn at the general election on October 16. Opinion polls showed some three-quarters of the population had a negative view of the centre-right coalition government. After 12 years in power, Kohl was much less popular than the SPD leader, Rudolf Scharping. The ruling CDU with its Bavarian affiliate party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), held a bit more than 30% support in opinion polls, against some 40% for the SPD.

      The electoral calendar was charged as never before, with 19 elections scheduled—at local, state, national, and European levels. Two new protest parties sought to exploit the spreading dissatisfaction. The anti-European Free Citizens' Federation focused mainly on the elections to the European Parliament in June and on German concerns about losing the Deutsche Mark to an eventual Eurocurrency. The antiestablishment Instead Party sought to expand from its local success in the city-state of Hamburg into a national force.

      On January 24 the CDU/CSU nominated Roman Herzog (see BIOGRAPHIES (Herzog, Roman )), Germany's leading constitutional judge, to be its candidate to succeed Richard von Weizsäcker as the nation's president. The nomination to this sensitive post came after Kohl had suffered intense political embarrassment with his first nominee, the little known eastern German lawyer Steffen Heitmann, who withdrew amid controversy in late 1993.

      On March 13, in the state of Lower Saxony in the first of the 19 electoral tests, Kohl's CDU suffered its worst performance in the region in 35 years, while the SPD narrowly won an absolute majority of seats in the state legislature. The liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP), Kohl's coalition ally in the federal government, fell below the 5% of votes needed to qualify for parliamentary representation. This was the beginning of a series of state defeats that was to rock this small but influential party in the run-up to the general election.

      Shortly after this confidence-boosting start, Scharping made the first of three key blunders that were to undermine his challenge to Kohl. In announcing plans for an income tax surcharge to help pay for unification, Scharping confused the pay levels at which the tax would begin, exposing himself to government accusations that he did not understand economics.

      An arson attack in late March on the synagogue in the city of Lübeck served as a reminder that right-wing violence was still present. Ignatz Bubis, head of the German Jewish community, said he had expected something similar for some time. The leader of the far-right Republicans, Franz Schönhuber, caused a furor by blaming Bubis for inciting people to anti-Semitic violence.

      Scharping's tax confusion began rapidly to erode the SPD's popularity, while the CDU benefited from the multiplying signs of economic recovery. During April, opinion polls showed the gap between the rival main parties narrowing until, by the end of the month, the CDU/CSU had pulled equal with the SPD for the first time in 1994. Another poll showed over two-thirds of Germans seeing improving economic trends. Controversy was provoked by a Federal Constitutional Court ruling that the possession of small quantities of marijuana and hashish was no longer a punishable offense.

      On May 23 Herzog was chosen by a special electoral assembly to be Germany's next president, defeating the SPD challenger, Johannes Rau. The victory was an important political boost for Kohl. Scharping made his second big political error by publicly criticizing the outcome, thus being seen as a poor loser. In his victory speech, Herzog said he would represent Germany "as it really is: freedom-loving, tolerant, and open to the world."

      By the end of May, opinion polls were showing the CDU comfortably ahead of the SPD and Kohl pulling away from Scharping. In particular, the chancellor's popularity in the east, only recently at a low ebb, was recovering strongly. The June 12 elections to the European Parliament provided further evidence of Kohl's comeback, as the CDU/CSU increased its vote share to 38.8%, and the SPD fell to 32.2%. A key psychological boost for Kohl, the outcome was most damaging to Scharping. The European elections confirmed the continuing weakness of the FDP, which again fell below the 5% barrier, as well as the popularity in the east of the former communists, renamed the Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS). The hopes of the anti-European protest parties, notably the Republicans and the new Free Citizens' Federation, failed to materialize.

      At the state election in Saxony-Anhalt on June 26, the SPD just failed to beat the CDU. With an eye to the general election campaign, the SPD refused a left-right "grand coalition" with the CDU, forming instead a minority administration with the Greens/Alliance '90 that could survive only by being "tolerated" by the PDS. This was Scharping's third big strategic miscalculation, as it exposed the SPD to relentless accusations from the centre-right that it was collaborating with former communists. While the SPD's action provoked little controversy in eastern Germany, opinion polls showed it to be deeply unpopular in the much larger western sector. Scharping said that the SPD would not repeat the Saxony-Anhalt experience.

      The SPD was by now on the defensive, as opinion polls showed declining popular confidence in the party's ability to solve Germany's main problems. The situation at the beginning of the year was reversed, with the CDU/CSU winning between 40% and 45% support in the opinion polls. On July 1 von Weizsäcker, after 10 years in office, stepped down as president amid enthusiastic tributes from all sides, and Herzog took over.

      The political agony of the Free Democrats continued over the summer as they were ejected from one state parliament after another. This raised doubts about whether the chancellor would be able to reform his coalition government even if his own party emerged strongest from the general election. In the eastern states of Brandenburg and Saxony on September 11, the FDP dropped below the 5% barrier, while the strength of the PDS was confirmed. In the Bavarian state election on September 25, the CSU defended its absolute majority, while the FDP lost all its seats. At the Free Democrats' congress in Gera in December, party leader Klaus Kinkel was subjected to an almost unprecedented vote of confidence, which he barely survived.

      The German general election on October 16 confirmed the extent of the turnabout in the political fortunes of the chancellor from his unpromising start to 1994. Although the centre-right coalition won, its majority was slashed from 134 to 10 in the 672-seat Bundestag (lower house of Parliament) in Bonn. The CDU/CSU was slightly down, with 41.5% of the vote; the SPD was up at 36.4%; the FDP succeeded nationally with 6.9% where it had failed at the state level; and the Greens/Alliance '90 returned to the Bundestag with 7.3%. The eastern German PDS won four directly elected seats, enough for them to be exempted from the 5% rule even though the party nationally captured only 4.4%. (For tabulated results, see Political Parties, above.)

      The results of the general election became official on November 15 when Kohl was formally elected by the Bundestag—by one vote over the required majority. The narrowness of the new majority and the fact that the Bundesrat (upper house) was solidly under the control of the opposition SPD prompted speculation that governing Germany would be more difficult.

      On May 29 Erich Honecker, the former communist leader of East Germany, who was forced to resign shortly before the fall of the Berlin Wall, died at the age of 81 in Santiago, Chile, after a long battle against liver cancer. (See OBITUARIES (Honecker, Erich ).)

The Economy.
      The year in Germany began on a sour economic note; unemployment broke the four million mark in January, while surveys showed a majority of firms intending to shed more labourers as they continued radical cost-cutting programs. The corporate community was still reeling from the shock of the near collapse at the turn of the year of Metallgesellschaft AG, one of Germany's biggest industrial conglomerates, after it ran into problems financing its huge oil-futures trading contracts in the United States. The need for a DM 3.4 billion rescue package sparked intense criticism of Germany's leading financial institution, Deutsche Bank AG, for not having spotted the impending problems earlier, in its role as head of Metallgesellschaft's supervisory board.

      The corporate crisis fueled an energetic debate about the traditionally close links in Germany between banks and industry and whether these clubby boardroom contacts impeded the process of proper control and supervision of management. The damage to Deutsche Bank's image continued as the Metallgesellschaft affair dragged through the summer, marked mainly by criticism from prominent U.S. economists who argued that the German bank had mismanaged the crisis and was itself largely responsible for the huge losses suffered by Metallgesellschaft.

      On January 11 the chemical workers' union set the stage for one of the most moderate pay rounds in the history of the Federal Republic. The settlement, which was well below inflation and contained important innovations on flexible working arrangements, marked a breakthrough, helping German companies' efforts to regain competitiveness after the cost explosion that occurred during the unification boom at the beginning of the 1990s. This first step was followed in early March by a momentous compromise deal by Germany's biggest trade union, IG Metall, which represented engineering workers. The pay deal, about half the expected rate of inflation, was struck just 48 hours before workers were due to strike and was hailed as proof of the resilience of Germany's industrial relations system based on consensus and compromise. For the first time, this pace-setting union agreed to reduce working time without full pay compensation and to give firms a flexible margin in working time arrangements. With unemployment rising at about 30,000 a month in the engineering sector, Klaus Zwickel, head of IG Metall, said, "We wanted job security and we were prepared to give up money for this."

      Before Deutsche Bank had a chance to get over the worst of the Metallgesellschaft controversy, it found itself at the centre of another storm after one of Germany's leading private property developers, Jürgen Schneider, disappeared, leaving about DM 5 billion in debts. While an international arrest warrant was issued, the bank, as Schneider's largest creditor, found itself under attack for having neglected its controlling duties. The influential role of the big banks in Germany came in for renewed criticism, while Kohl, with his eye on the election campaign, called upon the banks to look after the interests of hundreds of small businessmen facing ruin because of the Schneider empire's collapse.

      Such scandals could not detract, however, from the increasing evidence of economic improvement as firms began to reap the fruits of recovery in their main export markets and made extensive efforts to improve production efficiency. After recording its first-ever loss in 1993, Daimler-Benz AG, Germany's leading industrial corporation, declared its fortunes to have turned. At the world's biggest industrial trade fair, in Hanover in late April, Kohl's hailing of an economic spring was supported by the heads of Germany's main industry associations, who agreed that the "leitmotiv of this year's fair is optimism." On April 26 Germany's six leading economic research institutes, presenting their spring report, raised their forecast of national gross domestic product (GDP) growth to 1.5% in 1994, to reflect the improved conditions.

      April also saw the first slight fall in unemployment, coming much sooner than most observers had expected. Subsequent job market data over the summer confirmed that the recovery was well under way, as unemployment began clearly to turn down, confounding gloomy predictions early in the year that it would continue rising toward 4.5 million. By June, in its most optimistic report for some time, the Deutsche Bundesbank, Germany's central bank, had declared the recession over and said economic growth was turning out to be surprisingly strong. Unemployment had dropped to 3.5 million by the autumn, and the six research institutes, in another report in October, raised their GDP growth forecast for 1994 to 2.5%, saying Germany was enjoying a robust recovery, amid signs that firms were beginning to invest strongly again in new machinery. The institutes' report warned, however, of the massive tax increases in the pipeline and said the priority of the new government had to be, primarily by cutting back public spending, to reduce the weight of the state in the economy, after it had expanded so much during unification.

Foreign Affairs.
      In his New Year's message, Kohl said Germany wanted to take a full part in UN peacekeeping and peacemaking missions, highlighting an issue that was to preoccupy the foreign policy debate for much of the year. German frustration was particularly acute over the Serbs in former Yugoslavia. The government in Bonn had to perform a delicate balancing act, supporting tougher military action against the Serbs while knowing its own constitution prevented Germany from taking any active role in such a policy.

      There was also much anxiety at the growing influence of the Russian nationalist extremist Vladimir Zhirinovsky (see BIOGRAPHIES (Zhirinovsky, Vladimir )), dubbed the Russian Hitler by the German press. With his eye on the large numbers of Russian troops still in eastern Germany, Kohl said the extremist's success sent a warning to the West not to be lax in backing Russia's reform efforts.

      At the NATO summit in January, Kohl argued strongly for eventual membership for the Eastern European countries, a theme that dominated the chancellor's visit to Washington, D.C., at the end of the month, when he emphasized to Pres. Bill Clinton the vital importance of a stable Eastern Europe. On a reciprocal visit to Germany in July, Clinton praised the "truly unique relationship" between Germany and the U.S.

      The strains underlying the traditionally carefully presented relations between France and Germany suddenly broke to the surface in March when the French ambassador to Bonn was summoned to the Foreign Ministry to explain publicized remarks that demonstrated deep distrust about Germany's role in Europe and, notably, its leanings toward the east. This diplomatic row took place against a background of irritation in Bonn government circles that Kohl had not been invited, as a sign of reconciliation, to the D-Day celebrations to be held by the World War II allies in Normandy, France, in June.

      In April the German government found itself embroiled in another sensitive diplomatic issue as Russia objected to plans for the final send-off of its troops from eastern Germany, saying it wanted to take part in the celebrations for the departure of the American, French, and British allied forces scheduled for September 8 in Berlin. Pres. Boris Yeltsin pressed the Russian case during a three-day visit, but Kohl refused to budge from his decision to have separate ceremonies. He agreed, however, to hold the Russian ceremony in Berlin on August 31 and to attend it himself with Yeltsin.

      On May 18, in a two-year review of German foreign policy, Klaus Kinkel, the foreign minister, expressed shock at the "devastating image" of his country abroad, where the activities of the extreme right were given extensive coverage, notably in the U.S. In early July a visit by the Chinese premier, Li Peng (Li P'eng), provided much embarrassment, as the guest failed repeatedly to turn up at engagements and then cut short his trip, expressing anger at protests and references to China's human rights record.

      On July 12 the Federal Constitutional Court made a historic judgment, permitting German troops to participate fully in international security missions for the first time since World War II. The only condition was that such operations had to have the backing of the Bundestag. In a significant gesture, German soldiers paraded down the Champs-Élysées in Paris during the Bastille Day celebrations on July 14. They were part of the recently formed Eurocorps, a combined force of German, French, Spanish, Belgian, and Luxembourgian troops. The gesture was partly meant to make up for Kohl's not having been invited to the D-Day anniversary.

      On July 1 Germany assumed the rotating EU presidency for six months, setting its priorities as encouraging the opening to the east and easing the accession of new members due to join on Jan. 1, 1995. Later in the year a paper on European union by Kohl's CDU sparked controversy by calling for a hard core of countries, notably France and Germany, to push ahead with integration, regardless of whether other members could, or wanted to, keep up. Reflecting German determination to see the momentum of European integration maintained, the paper provoked much irritation among Germany's partners, notably Britain and Italy, who were deemed outside the hard core. In the autumn German and Polish troops took part in the first joint maneuvers as the German defense minister, Volker Rühe, said he expected Poland to be in NATO by the year 2000.


▪ 1994

      Germany is in central Europe, on the North and Baltic seas. Area: 356,733 sq km (137,735 sq mi). Pop. (1993 est.): 81,187,000. Cap. designate, Berlin; seat of government, Bonn. Monetary unit: Deutsche Mark, with (Oct. 4, 1993) a free rate of DM 1.62 to U.S. $1 (DM 2.46 = £1 sterling). President in 1993, Richard von Weizsäcker; chancellor, Helmut Kohl.

      Economic difficulties in Germany in 1993 fueled widespread popular disillusionment with the mainstream parties in government and the opposition. The protest vote rose sharply in the two elections in the western states. Public disenchantment was strengthened by a rash of scandals, which claimed senior victims from all the main parties. The government's hope of an upturn in the economy in the second half of the year failed to be realized. Foreign affairs were dominated by the controversy over Germany's new international security role; while the opposition Social Democratic Party (SPD) argued for a strict interpretation of the Constitution to ban German participation in any military actions outside the NATO area, the government kept pushing for a broader role. Late in the year, Germany became the last of 12 members of the European Community (EC) to complete its ratification process for the Maastricht Treaty, but Chancellor Helmut Kohl found it hard to inject new momentum into a Community in some disarray. For all these reasons, the celebration of German unity on October 3 was muted, and political leaders warned against faintheartedness, pessimism, and a return to nationalist thinking.

The Economy.
      The sharp economic downturn that had begun the previous year struck Germany in 1993 with a harshness far exceeding even the gloomiest forecasts. Within two months of the beginning of the year, the government conceded that western Germany was in the worst recession since World War II, while the east still showed no signs of nearing self-reliant growth. Unemployment shot up as the key sectors of German industry slashed their workforce to reduce costs. Unable to avoid the problem of paying for unification, the federal government in Bonn was obliged to make two efforts at belt-tightening, calling upon Germans to adapt to the harsh new times.

      In its New Year report, the Federation of German Industry said its members were facing a "crisis of confidence" as successive associations in the steel, auto, chemical, and machine-tool sectors came out with grim predictions of plunging outputs and sharp job cuts. The sense of shock in Europe's most powerful economy was captured by Helmut Werner, the chairman-elect of the luxury car maker Mercedes-Benz, who attacked the very ethos of Germany's postwar industrial thinking by denouncing "overengineering." He said Germany was in danger of pricing itself out of markets by trying to produce perfect products, regardless of cost, in the misguided belief that people would always pay more for a "Made in Germany" label. This call for a fundamental change in thinking to emphasize lower-cost production, coming from a symbol of German industry, soon began to be echoed by other manufacturers.

      By early February the new economics minister, Günter Rexrodt, finally had broken with the government line that things were not as bad as they seemed; he spoke of the "worst recession since the war." The strains within the economy broke to the surface on February 18 when engineering-sector employers in eastern Germany, egged on by their western counterparts, scrapped the existing wage contracts—the first time this had happened in modern German history. Pointing to the extremely difficult economic situation, the employers tore up a 1991 contract under which basic wages in eastern Germany were increased annually and were to reach full parity with western levels during 1994. On April 1 engineering workers in the east were due to get a 26% pay raise, which would bring their wages to 87% of the western level. With productivity roughly one-third of western levels, many firms operating in the east said such a wage increase would put them out of business. The employers offered instead a wage rise of up to 9% and no equalization commitment. IG Metall, Germany's most powerful trade union, said the very principle of collective bargaining was at stake and prepared for strikes.

      The workers began striking in early May—their first legal industrial action in 60 years. The conflict escalated until a deal was finally struck on May 14, with the unions claiming victory. Although equalization with wage levels in the western states was delayed until the end of 1996 and the pay settlement was a little less than the original 26%, the unions expressed satisfaction that the principle of wage contracts had been preserved. Employers described the settlement as a "painful compromise." The workers in IG Metall had little time to celebrate, however, because on May 25 their leader and Germany's best known unionist, Franz Steinkühler, resigned over dubious stock dealings.

      One of the factors eroding popular confidence in the main parties was the seemingly endless arguments about possible new ways of financing the rising costs of unification. Virtually every week produced a suggestion about a new tax or contribution increase, which then disappeared without a trace, leaving a mood of growing uncertainty. In March the government finally agreed on the so-called Solidarity Pact, by which it hoped to restore order to public finances. This compromise postponed the real pain, however, since the reintroduction of a special income tax surcharge would take place only in 1995. Even before the much-debated Solidarity Pact reached the statute books, it was overtaken by events. Finance Minister Theo Waigel conceded that the federal deficit in 1993 would be nearer DM 70 billion than the DM 43 billion originally forecast in December. With the recession hitting tax revenues and sharply increasing unemployment payments, the government faced a spending crisis. The question of real cuts, which the Solidarity Pact had evaded, was back on the agenda as the government braced itself for more argument and protest over its next belt-tightening project, the so-called Consolidation Program.

      Watching these developments with alarm was the Bundesbank, Germany's powerful, independent central bank. Its calls for strict control of public finances became increasingly urgent, and it made plain that the government's failure to cut spending radically was a major factor in preventing a lowering of Germany's high interest rates. This battle between the Bundesbank and the government in Bonn, as it tried to enforce fiscal rectitude through its tight monetary policy, became one of the dominant tests of strength, even if conducted largely behind the scenes. The repercussions, moreover, went far beyond the country's borders because the interest rates of all countries in the European exchange-rate mechanism (ERM) were effectively dictated by Germany's. Desperate to give relief to their own recession-struck economies, other European governments piled pressure on the Bundesbank to cut rates quickly, but with little success. The tension within the system built up, eventually leading to currency speculation in August and the widening of the ERM's currency bands from 2.5% to 15%, for which the Bundesbank received much of the blame. In late April, Rexrodt revised the government's forecast of a 1% decline in western German gross domestic product in 1993, saying it now expected a 2% drop.

      In mid-August, in its second attempt to control ballooning public spending, the Bonn government gritted its teeth and agreed on a DM 22 billion savings package. With the Bundesbank effectively blocking increased borrowing, for the first time the Consolidation Program included wide-ranging cuts in social benefits. The gravity of the situation was underlined in early September when Kohl, presenting to the Bundestag (parliament) his "Report on Safeguarding Germany's Economic Future," said, "Old habits must be questioned and new priorities created." The scheme called for a new flexibility and dynamism in a society grown complacent during years of prosperity. By November unemployment in western Germany had reached a postwar high of 2,490,000, or 7.8%, up from 2 million at the end of 1992; in the east 1,150,000 people were out of work.

      At the beginning of October, at an imposing ceremony in Frankfurt pointing to the power of the institution, the Bundesbank's president during the past two turbulent years, Helmut Schlesinger, handed over the post. His successor, Hans Tietmeyer, was a man regarded as more European in orientation and more politically sensitive than the inflexible Schlesinger.

Government and Politics.
      The year opened on a sour note for the government with the resignation on January 3 of Economics Minister Jürgen Möllemann, overcome by a scandal concerning his promotion of a relation's product with several big supermarket chains. His departure provoked a shake-up at the top of the smallest governing coalition party, the centrist Free Democratic Party (FDP), where Möllemann had been one of the front-runners to succeed Otto Graf Lambsdorff as chairman. The field was now left effectively clear for Klaus Kinkel, the foreign minister, to take over the job as FDP leader. Rexrodt, a businessman turned politician, became the new economics minister.

      The municipal elections in the state of Hessen on March 7 offered dramatic evidence of popular disgruntlement over politics and politicians. While the main parties, the SPD and the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), both lost support, there was a sharp rise in the protest vote, with the Greens receiving 11% and the far-right Republicans getting 8.3%. In Frankfurt, the major city with the highest proportion of foreigners in Germany, the Republicans polled 10%. The results sparked anguished soul-searching among the political establishment.

      A number of political scandals claimed several important victims in May. Björn Engholm, leader of the SPD, resigned from all his political offices on May 3 after admitting that he had lied to a parliamentary investigating committee. Engholm had won power as prime minister of Schleswig-Holstein after the exposure of a dirty-tricks campaign by his conservative rival before the 1987 election. At the time, Engholm said he learned of the smear tactics just before the election, but now it turned out that he had known earlier. Engholm's departure came at a disastrous time for the SPD, which remained severely at odds with itself over most important issues and completely unable to capitalize on the centre-right government's difficulties. On May 6 Günther Krause, the CDU transport minister, resigned because of a series of minor scandals. These began with revelations that taxpayers had financed his house move in 1991 and that a cleaning woman he employed had been paid partly out of state funds. Krause's exit removed from the Cabinet the most prominent eastern German politician, who at one time had been a rising star enjoying Kohl's patronage.

      Max Streibl, the conservative prime minister of Bavaria, announced on May 12 that he would be stepping down, a victim of the so-called Amigo affair, in which he had accepted free holidays and flights from a Bavarian aircraft manufacturer. This sparked a bitter struggle for his job between the two leading personalities in the Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU)—Waigel, the federal finance minister, and Edmund Stoiber, the CSU chairman. In the end Stoiber prevailed, obliging a deeply disillusioned Waigel to go back to the task of trying to restore order to Germany's public finances. The scandals had by now touched all the main parties. Political Verdrossenheit (listlessness) dominated opinion polls and public discussion.

      In an unexpectedly high turnout in mid-June, SPD members elected Rudolf Scharping, the prime minister of Rhineland-Palatinate, to replace Engholm as party leader. No sooner had the main opposition party begun to put its house in order than the government was plunged into turmoil again after a botched attempt to arrest two suspected members of the Red Army Faction movement. One suspected terrorist and a member of the elite GSG-9 antiterrorist squad died in the shoot-out at Bad Kleinen. On July 4 CDU Interior Minister Rudolf Seiters resigned and was replaced by Manfred Kanther. Two days later Germany's state prosecutor, Alexander von Stahl, was dismissed.

      In mid-September Kohl, having said he wanted Germany's next president to come from the east, threw his weight behind a virtual unknown, Steffen Heitmann, the CDU justice minister from Saxony. The new president, who would replace Richard von Weizsäcker, was to be elected by a special Federal Assembly in May 1994. With some plain speaking about Germany's need to put its past behind it, Kohl's openly conservative candidate rapidly became the focus of national controversy. Although it was a partner in the governing coalition, the centrist FDP refused to support Heitmann and in October nominated its own candidate, Hildegard Hamm-Brücher. Heitmann withdrew from the race on November 25. Public annoyance with the continued political squabbling was again demonstrated at elections in the city-state of Hamburg on September 19. Support for the main parties again plunged, while a curious protest grouping, the Statt Partei ("Instead Party"), formed just three months previously, won 5.6% of the vote and eight seats. The Greens jumped from 7 to 13%.

Other Domestic Affairs.
      On January 12 a Berlin court dropped manslaughter charges against Erich Honecker, the former communist leader of East Germany, in connection with the shoot-to-kill policy that had claimed hundreds of lives at the Berlin Wall and on the inner-German border. A Berlin court had ruled it would be inhumane to continue to detain Honecker, aged 80 and diagnosed as terminally ill with liver cancer. On January 13 Honecker flew to join his wife and daughter in Santiago, Chile. On September 16 three former East German ministers were jailed for between four and a half and seven and a half years for their part in the shootings at the Berlin Wall. The former head of the Stasi secret police, Erich Mielke, was also declared physically unfit to be tried. In late October, however, Mielke was sentenced to six years' imprisonment in a separate case concerning the killing of two policemen in 1931.

      Bundestag deputies had to run the gauntlet of several thousand protesters on May 26 as the government parties, supported by the opposition SPD, finally ended years of wrangling and amended the constitution to tighten Germany's open-door law on asylum. Germany had taken in 440,000 asylum-seekers in 1992, 79% of the EC total, mostly from Eastern Europe. The economic and social strains of the uncontrolled influx were blamed for the rise of the extreme right as well as for acts of racist violence. The new law enabled asylum-seekers from "safe" countries, which included most of Eastern Europe, to be sent back immediately. It came into effect on July 1 and brought about an immediate drop in the number of entries.

      Any hope that this long-awaited political action would banish the spectre of xenophobic violence was brutally shattered in the early hours of May 29 when five Turks—two women and three children—died after the house in Solingen in which they lived was set afire. The worst incident of violence against foreigners since World War II, the attack provoked waves of protests among Germany's 1.8 million-strong Turkish community. In a speech to the Bundestag in June, Kohl spoke for the first time of a possible loosening of Germany's strict citizenship laws, enabling dual citizenship in special cases. At year's end four youths were arrested in connection with the attack. Earlier in December two young neo-Nazis were convicted of a similar 1992 firebombing in which a woman and two children died.

      In the autumn health officials tried to stop panic over fears that large numbers of people may have contracted AIDS from contaminated blood plasma. Germans who had received blood during operations since 1982 were advised to undergo an AIDS test. A scandal ensued, affecting the Health Ministry, and at least two private companies were accused of selling contaminated blood products.

Foreign Affairs.
      On a visit to Bonn in early January, UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali appealed for Germany to find a way around its constitutional restrictions and play a full part in international security missions. German medical troops were already involved in a UN humanitarian mission in Cambodia, and the German air force was taking part in mercy flights to Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. The question of doing more in areas outside the purely humanitarian became ever more pressing and controversial as the government considered letting German airmen take part in airborne warning and control system (AWACS) aerial surveillance missions over Bosnia.

      The AWACS issue became the focus of stormy debate. The Defense Ministry and the majority CDU/CSU, opposed at every step of the way by the SPD, sought to force back the restrictions and gain the needed two-thirds parliamentary majority. The FDP said that because participation in such military missions contravened the constitution, German airmen would have to pull out. Because Germans made up one-third of the 18 AWACS crews, however, their departure would have jeopardized the entire mission. NATO stepped up the pressure; NATO Secretary-General Manfred Wörner called German approval decisive. Amid considerable political confusion in Bonn, the governing parties finally agreed only to disagree, and the issue was referred to the Constitutional Court. On April 8, in a preliminary ruling, the judges rejected the objections of the FDP and SPD, saying that they would "tolerate" German participation, but they refused to give a formal constitutional ruling on the matter, handing it back to the parties.

      No sooner were German airmen on the AWACS missions than the UN appealed for further military help, this time in Somalia. In late April, again over SPD opposition, the Bundestag approved a humanitarian mission. A month later an advance team arrived at Beledweyne, a so-called pacified area well away from Mogadishu and the fighting. There Germans were to help with logistics and supplies for other nations' troops. As the violence escalated in Somalia and the U.S. notably took a more aggressive stance, the debate in Germany became clamorous, and popular opinion began to swing against keeping troops there in such changed circumstances. The SPD appealed to the Constitutional Court, but the government strongly backed the mission, and more troops flew out in late July, eventually bringing the German contingent to 1,700.

      While anxious about Somalia, German public opinion reflected great frustration at the lack of much tougher policies towards Serbia over Bosnia. At the EC summit in Copenhagen in June, the chancellor argued unsuccessfully for sending arms to the Bosnian Muslims. Later, in August, Germany supported the U.S. in its campaign to win alliance support for air strikes against Serbia, but this initiative foundered on French and British opposition.

      In October, Germany became the last of the 12 EC members to complete ratification of the Maastricht Treaty after the Constitutional Court rejected several objections. In giving their ruling, however, the judges said that the movement toward European economic and monetary union could not be automatic, as Kohl had originally viewed it, and that future moves would be acceptable only if explicitly approved by Parliament. At a special EC summit in late October, the chancellor tried again to revive some momentum in the European unification process, which had fallen into considerable disarray over the year. Kohl acknowledged, however, that he had misjudged popular enthusiasm, and he began to talk more about the continued importance of the nation-state within the European process. At the special summit, Frankfurt was named as the site for the future European central bank. (JOHN EISENHAMMER)

* * *

officially  Federal Republic of Germany , German  Deutschland  or  Bundesrepublik Deutschland 
Germany, flag of   country of north-central Europe, traversing the continent's main physical divisions, from the outer ranges of the Alps northward across the varied landscape of the Central German Uplands and then across the North German Plain.

      One of Europe's largest countries, Germany encompasses a wide variety of landscapes: the tall, sheer mountains of the south; the sandy, rolling plains of the north; the forested hills of the urbanized west; and the plains of the agricultural east. At the spiritual heart of the country are the magnificent east-central city of Berlin, which rose phoenixlike from the ashes of World War II and now, after decades of partition, is the capital of a reunified Germany, and the Rhine River, which flows northward from Switzerland and is celebrated in visual art, literature, folklore, and song. Along its banks and those of its principal tributaries—among them the Neckar (Neckar River), Main (Main River), Moselle (Moselle River), and Ruhr—stand hundreds of medieval castles, churches, picturesque villages, market towns, and centres of learning and culture, including Heidelberg, the site of one of Europe's oldest universities (founded in 1386), and Mainz, historically one of Europe's most important publishing centres. All are centrepieces of Germany's thriving tourist economy, which brings millions of visitors to the country each year, drawn by its natural beauty, history, culture, and cuisine (including its renowned wines and beers).

      The name Germany has long described not a particular place but the loose, fluid polity of Germanic-speaking peoples that held sway over much of western Europe north of the Alps for millennia. Although Germany in that sense is an ancient entity, the German nation in more or less its present form came into being only in the 19th century, when Prussian Prime Minister Otto von Bismarck (Bismarck, Otto von) brought together dozens of German-speaking kingdoms, principalities, free cities, bishoprics, and duchies to form the German Empire in 1871. This so-called Second Reich quickly became Europe's leading power and acquired colonies in Africa, Asia, and the Pacific. That overseas empire was dismantled following Germany's defeat in World War I and the abdication of Emperor William II. Economic depression, widespread unemployment, and political strife that verged on civil war followed, leading to the collapse of the progressive Weimar Republic and the rise of the Nazi Party under Adolf Hitler (Hitler, Adolf). After gaining power in 1933, Hitler established the Third Reich and soon thereafter embarked on a ruinous crusade to conquer Europe and exterminate Jews, Roma (Gypsies), homosexuals, and others.

      The Third Reich disintegrated in 1945, brought down by the Allied armies of the United States, the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union, France, and other countries. The victorious powers divided Germany into four zones of occupation and later into two countries: the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) and the German Democratic Republic (East Germany), separated for more than 40 years by a long boundary. In East Germany this boundary was, until the fall of its communist government in 1989, marked by defenses designed to prevent escape. The 185 square miles (480 square km) of the “island” of West Berlin were similarly ringed from 1961 to 1989 by the Berlin Wall running through the city and by a heavily guarded wire-mesh fence in the areas abutting the East German countryside. Although Berlin was a flashpoint between the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War, the city declined in national and international significance until 1989–90, when a popular and peaceful uprising toppled the East German government and soon after restored a united Berlin as the capital of a reunified Germany.

      Since World War II, Germany has made great efforts to both commemorate the victims and redress the crimes of the Holocaust, providing strong material and political support for the state of Israel and actively prosecuting hate crimes and the propagation of neo-Nazi doctrine (anti-Semitism); the latter became an issue in the 1990s with the rise in Germany of anti-immigrant skinhead groups and the availability of Hitler's Mein Kampf over the Internet. Clearly, modern Germany struggles to balance its national interests with those of an influx of political and economic refugees from far afield, especially North Africa, Turkey, and South Asia, an influx that has fueled ethnic tensions and swelled the ranks of nationalist political parties, particularly in eastern Germany, where unemployment was double that of the west.

      The constitution of the republic, adopted in 1949 by West Germany, created a federal system that gives significant government powers to its constituent Länder (states). Before unification there were 11 West German Länder (including West Berlin, which had the special status of a Land without voting rights), but, with the accession of East Germany, there are now 16 Länder in the unified republic. The largest of the states is Bavaria (Bayern), the richest is Baden-Württemberg, and the most populous is North Rhine–Westphalia (Nordrhein-Westfalen).

      Matters of national importance, such as defense and foreign affairs, are reserved to the federal government. At both the state and federal levels, parliamentary democracy prevails. The Federal Republic has been a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) since 1955 and was a founding member of the European Economic Community (see European Union). During the four decades of partition, the Federal Republic concluded a number of agreements with the Soviet Union and East Germany, which it supported to some extent economically in return for various concessions with regard to humanitarian matters and access to Berlin. West Germany's rapid economic recovery in the 1950s (Wirtschaftswunder, or “economic miracle”) brought it into a leading position among the world's economic powers, a position that it has maintained.

      Much of Germany's post-World War II success has been the result of the renowned industriousness and self-sacrifice of its people, about which novelist Günter Grass (Grass, Günter), winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1999, remarked, “To be a German is to make the impossible possible.” He added, more critically,

For in our country everything is geared to growth. We're never satisfied. For us enough is never enough. We always want more. If it's on paper, we convert it into reality. Even in our dreams we're productive.

      This devotion to hard work has combined with a public demeanour—which is at once reserved and assertive—to produce a stereotype of the German people as aloof and distant. Yet Germans prize both their private friendships and their friendly relations with neighbours and visitors, place a high value on leisure and culture, and enjoy the benefits of life in a liberal democracy that has become ever more integrated with and central to a united Europe.

Land (Germany)
  Germany is bounded at its extreme north on the Jutland peninsula by Denmark. East and west of the peninsula, the Baltic Sea (Ostsee) and North Sea coasts, respectively, complete the northern border. To the west, Germany borders The Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg; to the southwest it borders France. Germany shares its entire southern boundary with Switzerland and Austria. In the southeast the border with the Czech Republic corresponds to an earlier boundary of 1918, renewed by treaty in 1945. The easternmost frontier adjoins Poland along the northward course of the Neisse River and subsequently the Oder (Oder River) to the Baltic Sea, with a westward deviation in the north to exclude the former German port city of Stettin (now Szczecin, Poland) and the Oder mouth. This border reflects the loss of Germany's eastern territories to Poland, agreed to at the Yalta Conference (February 1945), mandated at the Potsdam Conference (July–August 1945) held among the victorious World War II Allies, and reaffirmed by subsequent governments.

 The major lineaments of Germany's physical geography are not unique. The country spans the great east-west morphological zones that are characteristic of the western part of central Europe. In the south Germany impinges on the outermost ranges of the Alps. From there it extends across the Alpine Foreland (Alpenvorland), the plain on the northern edge of the Alps. Forming the core of the country is the large zone of the Central German Uplands, which is part of a wider European arc of territory stretching from the Massif Central of France in the west into the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Poland in the east. In Germany it manifests itself as a landscape with a complex mixture of forested block mountains, intermediate plateaus with scarped edges, and lowland basins. In the northern part of the country the North German Plain, or Lowland, forms part of the greater North European Plain, which broadens from the Low Countries eastward across Germany and Poland into Belarus, the Baltic states, and Russia and extends northward through Schleswig-Holstein into the Jutland peninsula of Denmark. The North German Plain is fringed by marshes, mudflats, and the islands of the North and Baltic seas. In general, Germany has a south-to-north drop in altitude, from a maximum elevation of 9,718 feet (2,962 metres) in the Zugspitze of the Bavarian Alps to a few small areas slightly below sea level in the north near the coast.

      It is a common assumption that surface configuration reflects the underlying rock type; a hard resistant rock such as granite will stand out, whereas a softer rock such as clay will be weathered away. However, this assumption is not always borne out. The Zugspitze, for example, is Germany's highest summit not because it is composed of particularly resistant rocks but because it was raised by the mighty earth movements that began in the middle of the Tertiary Period (some 37 to 24 million years ago) and created the Alps, Europe's highest and youngest fold mountains. Another powerful force determining surface configuration is erosion, mainly by rivers. In the late Carboniferous Period (some 290 million years ago), an earlier mountain chain, the Hercynian (Hercynian orogenic belt), or Variscan, mountains, had crossed Europe in the area of the Central German Uplands. Yet the forces of erosion were sufficient to reduce these mountains to almost level surfaces, on which a series of secondary sedimentary rocks of Permian (Permian Period) to Jurassic (Jurassic Period) age (290 to 144 million years old) were deposited. The entire formation was subsequently fractured and warped under the impact of the Alpine orogeny. This process was accompanied by some volcanic activity, which left behind not only peaks but also a substantial number of hot and mineral springs. Dramatic erosion occurred as the Alpine chains were rising, filling the furrow that now constitutes the Alpine Foreland. The pattern of valleys eroded by streams and rivers has largely given rise to the details of the present landscape. Valley glaciers emerging from the Alps and ice sheets from Scandinavia had some erosive effect, but they mainly contributed sheets of glacial deposits. Slopes outside the area of the actual ice sheets—those under tundra conditions and unprotected by vegetation—were rendered less steep by the periglacial slumping of surface deposits under the influence of gravitation. Winds blowing over unprotected surfaces fringing the ice sheets picked up fine material known as loess; once deposited, it became Germany's most fertile soil-parent material. Coarser weathered material was carried into alluvial cones and gravel-covered river terraces, as in the Rhine Rift Valley (Rhine Graben).

      The detailed morphology of Germany is significant in providing local modifications to climate, hydrology, and soils, with consequent effects on vegetation and agricultural utilization.

The Central German Uplands
      Geographically, the Central German Uplands form a region of great complexity. Under the impact of the Alpine orogeny, the planed-off remnants of the former Hercynian mountains were shattered and portions thrust upward to form block mountains, with sedimentary rocks preserved between them in lowlands and plateaus. The Central German Uplands may be divided into three main parts: a predominantly lowland country in the south, an arc of massifs and plateaus running from the Rhenish Uplands to Bohemia, and a fairly narrow northern fringe, composed of folded secondary rocks.

Southern Germany
 In southern Germany Hercynian massifs are of restricted extent. The Black Forest (Schwarzwald) was once continuous with the Vosges massif in what is now France, but they were broken apart through the sinking of a central strip to form the Rhine Rift Valley, which extends 185 miles (300 km) in length. The Black Forest reaches its greatest elevation at Mount Feld (Feldberg; 4,898 feet [1,493 metres]) in the south and declines northward beneath secondary sediments before rising to the smaller Oden Forest. For the most part, however, southern Germany consists of scarplands, mainly of Triassic (Triassic Period) age (248 to 206 million years old). The work of erosion on eastward-dipping strata has left the sandstones standing out as west- or northwest-facing scarps, overlooking valleys or low plateaus of clays or Muschelkalk (Triassic limestone formed from shells). The sequence of Triassic rocks ends south and east against the great Jurassic scarp of the Swabian Alp (Schwäbische Alb), rising to more than 3,300 feet (1,000 metres), and its continuation, the lower Franconian Alp (Fränkische Alb). Large parts of the plateaus and lowlands in the eastern region are covered with loess and are farmed, but the massive Bunter Sandstone fringing the Black Forest and the Keuper scarp are mainly wooded. West of the Rhine there are again wide stretches of forested Bunter Sandstone, with more open country in the Saar region and along the foot of the Hunsrück upland.

The barrier arc
      The open land of southern Germany ends against a great barrier arc of Hercynian massifs and forested sandstone plateaus. In the west the Rhenish Uplands (Rheinisches Schiefergebirge (Middle Rhine Highlands)) consist mainly of resistant slates and shales. The complex block is tilted generally northwestward, with a steep fault-line scarp in the south. The intensely folded rocks are planed off by erosion surfaces that give the massif a rather monotonous appearance, broken only by quartzite ridges, especially in the south, where the Hunsrück rises to 2,684 feet (818 metres) and the Taunus to 2,884 feet (879 metres).

 The valleys are quite different. They range from narrow forested slots—a great hindrance to passage—to the spectacular gorge of the Rhine, the most important natural routeway through the barrier arc. The most dramatic section of the gorge runs from Bingen to the vicinity of Koblenz; hilltop castles look down over vineyards to picturesque valley towns. In this section is the Lorelei rock, from which a legendary siren is said to have lured fishermen to their death on the rocks.

      Until highways were constructed over the plateau tops, access to the uplands was difficult. The landscape gained some variety from past volcanic activity responsible for the eroded volcanic necks of the Siebengebirge (Seven Hills) near Bonn, the flooded craters and cinder cones of the Eifel Upland, and the sombre basalt flows of the Westerwald. Westward the Rhenish Uplands continue into Belgium as the Ardennes. In the Carboniferous Period (354 to 290 million years ago), when the Hercynian uplands were still young folded mountains, great deltaic swamps developed to the north and south; these were the basis of the great Ruhr coalfield and the smaller Aachen and Saar fields.

      The eastern end of the barrier arc is buttressed by the great and complex Bohemian Massif, which Germany shares only marginally. On the southwestern fringe of the massif, German territory includes the remote and thinly populated Bohemian Forest and the Bavarian Forest. Along part of the Czech border are the Ore Mountains (Erzgebirge), where the centuries-old mining tradition still continued during the period of the German Democratic Republic before ending in the 1990s. The Bohemian Massif is prolonged northwestward by the long spur of the Thuringian Forest (Thüringer Wald), which separates the scarplands of northern Bavaria from the Thuringian Lowland. The barrier arc is completed by the great eroded cone of the Vogelberg, rising to 2,536 feet (773 metres), the volcanic Rhön mountains, and the forested Bunter Sandstone plateaus of northern Hessen. The Rhine Rift Valley continues northward through Hessen, with a series of discontinuous basins filled with Tertiary sediments that allow a slightly difficult traverse to the North German Plain.

The northern fringe of the Central German Uplands
      North of the upland barrier there are a number of regions, generally of folded limestones, sandstones, and clays, that mark the transition to the expanse of the North German Plain. Balanced on either side of the plateau of Hessen are two basins of subdued scarpland relief, the Westphalian Basin to the northwest and the Thuringian Basin to the southeast, both partially invaded by glacial outwash from the North German Plain. Hessen and the Westphalian Basin are succeeded northward by the hills of Lower Saxony. The breakthrough of the Weser River into the North German Plain at the Porta Westfalica, south of Minden, is overlooked by the giant monument of Emperor William I (built in 1896). North of the Thuringian Basin is one of the smaller Hercynian massifs, the Harz, which reaches an elevation of 3,747 feet (1,142 metres) in the Brocken.

      Less than 90 miles (145 km) wide in the west, the North German Plain, or Lowland, broadens eastward across the whole of northern Germany. Although relief is subdued everywhere, the landscape is varied and beautiful. Unconsolidated Tertiary (Tertiary Period) deposits, gravels, sands, and clays, with overlying glacial drift, have buried the previous landscape of secondary rocks. These make only two brief appearances, in the chalk cliffs of the island of Rügen in the Baltic Sea and in the cliffs of Triassic Bunter Sandstone of the island of Helgoland, located some 40 miles (65 km) northwest of Cuxhaven in the North Sea. In Tertiary times large swamps developed, and the underlying deposits of lignite (brown coal) are mined in Saxony, in Lower Lusatia (Niederlausitz), and west of the city of Cologne.

 The North German Plain is divided into contrasting eastern and western portions, the division marked approximately by the Elbe (Elbe River) valley. The northern and eastern regions were molded by southward-moving ice sheets in the last (Weichsel (Weichsel Glacial Stage), or Vistula) glaciation. The advancing ice sheets pushed up material that remains today as terminal moraines, stretching across the country in a generally southeast-to-northwest direction and rising to some 500 feet (150 metres) above the general level. Within the terminal moraines the decay of the ice sheets typically left behind sheets of till (ground moraine). They are studded with ponds, often resulting from the decay of buried “dead ice,” and littered with boulders of all sizes brought by the ice from Scandinavia. In a region otherwise lacking in stone, these boulders were used as building material and are to be found forming the walls of the oldest churches. Outside the moraines, meltwater laid down sheets of outwash sands, which, offering poorer soils, are frequently forested. In the moraine country there are large, long, and branching lake systems, usually believed to have been formed by water moving under the ice sheets.

      The unique character of the region east of the Elbe is further enhanced by the fact that the ice sheets of the last glaciation coming from the north blocked the river's natural flow to the Baltic, forcing it to escape laterally around the margin of the ice toward the North Sea; the river cut a deep trench as it did so. The landscape in the western portion of the plain tends to be monotonous. Much of it was formerly heath; the few patches that have escaped afforestation, agricultural improvements, or damage caused by military training have a wistful beauty, especially when the heather is in bloom. At 554 feet (169 metres), Wilseder Hill (Wilseder Berg), a fragment of a former moraine, is the highest elevation in the Lüneburg Heath (Lüneburger Heide), a plateau extending on a morainic belt between Hamburg and Hannover. Toward the maritime northwest, large areas of peat bogs have been reclaimed for agriculture. The southern edge of the plain extending to the Thuringian Basin is marked by a belt of mainly loess, which supports highly productive agricultural activity.

The coasts
      The western and eastern coastlines vary considerably in their forms. The coast of the North Sea continues the type familiar in the northern Netherlands; an offshore bar, crowned with sand dunes, has been shattered and left as the chain of the East Frisian Islands off the coast of Lower Saxony and the North Frisian Islands off the Schleswig-Holstein portion of the Jutland peninsula. These islands form a favourite vacation area in summer. The sea has encroached upon the land behind the islands, forming tidal flats (known as Wattenmeer), which become exposed at low tide. The coast is broken by the estuaries of the Elbe, Weser, and Ems (Ems River) rivers and by drowned inlets such as the Jade and Dollart bays. Much of this area is now protected within three adjoining national parks (Schleswig-Holstein, Hamburg, and Lower Saxony Wadden Sea national parks).

      Along the Baltic (Baltic Sea) coast, the boulder-clay plains shelve rather tamely beneath the sea. However, the typically varied relief of minor moraines, depressions, and other glacial features gives diversity to the coastline. In Schleswig-Holstein long inlets (fjords), carved by water moving beneath the ice sheets, extend to the sea. Farther east the coast gains in complexity; there are peninsulas and sea inlets known as Bodden, and sandy beach bars dominate the landscape. Several islands line the shore, including Usedom, Hiddensee, Poel, and Rügen, Germany's largest island.

The Alps and the Alpine Foreland
      Very small portions of the outer limestone (or calcareous) Alps extend from Austria into Germany. From west to east these are the Allgäuer Alps, the Wetterstein Alps—with Germany's highest mountain, the Zugspitze—and the Berchtesgadener Alps. Like the North German Plain, the Alpine Foreland is fundamentally a depression filled with Tertiary gravels, sands, and clays, which are derived from the Alpine orogeny. In contrast to the North German Plain, however, the Tertiary deposits are more visible on the surface. Along the foot of the limestone Alps but particularly in the Allgäuer Alps in the west, the older Tertiary deposits (flysch, molasse) were caught up in the later stages of the Alpine folding, forming a pre-Alpine belt of hills and low mountains consisting mainly of sandstone. The Tertiary sands and clays also emerge at a much lower elevation in the northeast, forming a subdued landscape.

      Glaciers emerging from the main Alpine valleys formed lobes stretching some 20 to 35 miles (30 to 55 km) into the plain. Crescentic moraines mark the points where the lobes came to rest; within the moraines are irregular deposits of till and many lakes. Outside the moraines, floodwaters deposited sheets of outwash gravel, which extend as river terraces along the courses of tributaries flowing north to the Danube. The Alps and the Bavarian lakes are among Germany's most favoured tourist areas.

 Most German rivers follow the general north-northwestward inclination of the land, eventually entering the North Sea. The major exception to the rule is the Danube (Danube River), which rises in the Black Forest and flows eastward, marking approximately the boundary between the Central German Uplands and the Alpine Foreland. The Danube draws upon a series of right-bank Alpine tributaries, which, through reliance on spring and summer snowmelt, make its regime notably uneven. Further exceptions are the Altmühl and the Naab, which follow a southerly direction until becoming north-bank tributaries of the Danube, and the Havel (Havel River), which flows south, west, and north before emptying into the Elbe River. River flow relates mainly to climate, albeit not in a simple way; for example, in all but Alpine Germany, maximum river flow occurs in winter when evaporation is low, though in the lowlands the peak rainfall is in summer.

 The most majestic of the rivers flowing through Germany is the Rhine (Rhine River). It has its source in east-central Switzerland and flows west through Lake Constance (Constance, Lake) (Bodensee), skirting the Black Forest to turn northward across the Central German Uplands. Below Bonn the Rhine emerges into a broad plain, and west of Emmerich it enters The Netherlands to issue into the North Sea. The Rhine belongs to two types of river regimes. Rising in the Alps, it profits first from the extremely torrential Alpine regime, which causes streams to be swollen by snowmelt in late spring and summer. Then, by means of its tributaries—the Neckar (Neckar River), Main (Main River), and Moselle (Moselle River) (German Mosel)—the Rhine receives the drainage of the Central German Uplands and the eastern part of France, which contributes to a maximum flow during the winter. As a result, the river has a remarkably powerful and even flow, a physical endowment that caused it to become the busiest waterway in Europe. Only in occasional dry autumns are barges unable to load to full capacity to pass the Rhine gorge.

      The Weser (Weser River) and Elbe (Elbe River) rise in the Central German Uplands, crossing the North German Plain to enter the North Sea. The northward-flowing Oder (Oder River) (with its tributary, the Neisse) passes through the northeastern part of the country and a small section of Poland before emptying into the Baltic Sea. The navigation of these rivers is often adversely affected in the summer by low water and in the winter by ice, which increases eastward.

      River courses in the northern lowlands have a notably trellised pattern—rivers follow the ice-margin stream trenches (Urstromtäler) carved outside the fringes of the retreating ice sheets before breaking through the next moraine ridge to the north. This pattern greatly facilitated the cutting of canals linking the Rhine River with Berlin and the Elbe and Oder rivers.

      Germany has relatively few lakes. The greatest concentration comprises the shallow lakes of the postglacial lowland of the northeast. The largest natural lake in the region is Lake Müritz (44 square miles [114 square km]) in the Weichsel glacial drift of Mecklenburg–West Pomerania. In addition to Dümmer and Steinhude in Lower Saxony, a few small lakes of glacial origin dot Schleswig-Holstein. The remainder of Germany's lakes are concentrated at the extreme southeastern corner of Upper Bavaria, many of these in outstandingly beautiful surroundings. Germany shares Lake Constance (Constance, Lake), its largest lake (having the proportions of an inland sea), with Switzerland and Austria.

      Most of Germany has temperate brown and deep brown soils. Their formation is dependent on relief, hydrologic conditions, vegetation, and human intervention.

      Germany's finest soils are developed on the loess of the northern flank of the Central German Uplands, the Magdeburg Plain, the Thuringian Basin and adjoining areas, the Rhine valley, and the Alpine Foreland. They range from black to extremely fertile brown soil types, and most of them are arable land under cultivation. The till (ground moraine) of the North German Plain and Alpine Foreland has heavy but fertile soil. Other productive soils include those based on fluvial deposits in river valleys (e.g., those in the Rhine floodplain from Mainz to Basel, Switzerland). Brown soil covers much of the Central German Uplands and is used for agriculture and grazing. With increasing elevation, soils are suitable only for grazing or forestation. In the northern plains the soil types are sand, loam, and brown podzols, which are heavily leached of mineral matter and humus by deforestation and grazing. Along the North Sea littoral in the northwest there are some extensive areas of sand, marsh, and mudflats that are covered with rich soil suitable for grazing and growing crops.

      Because of the preponderance of mountainous and forested areas, the remainder of German soil types range from sand to loam, from loam to clay, and from clay to rocky outcrops. Timber production thrives where the land is all but unarable, and viticulture in the southern hill regions flourishes in an otherwise inhospitable type of soil.

Thomas Henry Elkins William H. Berentsen

      Germany is favoured with a generally temperate climate, especially in view of its northerly latitudes and the distance of the larger portions of its territory from the warming influence of the North Atlantic Current. Extremely high temperatures in the summer and deep, prolonged frost in the winter are rare. These conditions, together with a more-than-abundant and well-distributed amount of rainfall, afford ideal conditions for raising crops. As throughout western Europe in general, however, Germany's climate is subject to quick variations when the moderate westerly winds from the Atlantic Ocean collide with the cold air masses moving in from northeastern Europe. Whereas in the open coastlands near the North and Baltic seas the maritime component prevails, continental elements gain in importance moving toward the east and southeast.

      Seasonal weather is subject to great variations from year to year. Winters may be unusually cold or prolonged, particularly in the higher elevations in the south, or mild, with the temperatures hovering only two or three degrees above or below the freezing point. Spring may arrive early and extend through a hot, rainless summer to a warm, dry autumn with the threat of drought. In other years, spring—invariably interrupted by a frosty lapse in May, popularly known as die drei Eisheiligen (“the three ice saints”)—may arrive so late as to be imperceptible and be followed by a cool, rainy summer. One less-agreeable feature of the German climate is the almost permanent overcast in the cool seasons, only infrequently accompanied by precipitation; it sets in toward the latter part of autumn and lifts as late as March or April. Thus, for months on end, little sunshine may appear.

      Despite the country's generally temperate climate, there are specific regional patterns associated with temperature, frequency of sunshine, humidity, and precipitation. Germany's northwestern and lowland portions are affected chiefly by the uniformly moist air, moderate in temperature, that is carried inland from the North Sea by the prevailing westerly winds. Although this influence affords moderately warm summers and mild winters, it is accompanied by the disadvantages of high humidities, extended stretches of rainfall, and, in the cooler seasons, fog. Precipitation diminishes eastward, as the plains open toward the Eurasian interior and the average temperatures for the warmest and coldest months become more extreme. The hilly areas of the central and southwestern regions and, to an even greater degree, the upland and plateau areas of the southeast are subject to the more pronounced ranges of hot and cold from the countervailing continental climate. The mountains have a wetter and cooler climate, with westward-facing slopes receiving the highest rainfall from maritime air masses. The Brocken in the Harz mountains receives annual precipitation of some 60 inches (1,500 mm) at an altitude in excess of 3,700 feet (1,100 metres). The sheltered lee slopes and basins have, by contrast, rainfall that is extremely low—Alsleben receives about 17 inches (432 mm) annually—and hot summers—July mean temperatures above 64 °F (18 °C)—that necessitate crop irrigation. Southeastern Germany may intermittently be the coldest area of the country in the winter, but the valleys of the Rhine, Main, Neckar, and Moselle rivers may also be the hottest in the summer. Winters in the North German Plain tend to be consistently colder, if only by a few degrees, than in the south, largely because of winds from Scandinavia. There is also a general decrease of winter temperature from west to east, with Berlin having an average temperature in January of 31.5 °F (−0.3 °C).

      One anomaly of the climate of Upper Bavaria is the occasional appearance of warm, dry air passing over the northern Alps to the Bavarian Plateau. These mild winds, known as foehns (Föhn), can create an optical phenomenon that makes the Alps visible from points where they normally would be out of sight, and they also are responsible for the abrupt melting of the snow.

      Annual mean precipitation varies according to region. It is lowest in the North German Plain, where it fluctuates from 20 to 30 inches (500 to 750 mm); in the Central German Uplands it ranges from nearly 30 to about 60 inches (750 to 1,500 mm) and in the Alpine regions up to and exceeding 80 inches (2,000 mm).

Plant and animal life
      Since Germany is a somewhat arbitrary south-north slice across central Europe, it does not have vegetation and animal life greatly different from that of neighbouring countries. Before being settled, Germany was almost totally forested, except for a few areas of marsh. There is now little truly natural vegetation; both the cultivated areas and the country's extensive forests, which account for about one-fifth of the total land area, are man-made.

 After the ice age the loess areas were covered by oak and hornbeam forests, which are now largely gone. The sandy areas of the North German Plain were originally covered by a predominantly mixed oak-birch woodland. They were cleared and replaced by heather (Calluna vulgaris) for sheep grazing, with associated soil erosion. In the 19th century artificial fertilizer was introduced to improve some of this land for agriculture, and large stretches were forested, mainly with Scotch pine (Pinus sylvestris). The Central German Uplands are traditionally the domain of the beech (Fagus sylvatica), a tree with a leaf canopy so dense that few plants can survive beneath it. Although beech trees survive well on the poor soils covering the limestones and the Bunter Sandstone, many have been replaced by pine in the lowlands and spruce in the uplands. Other conifers, such as the Douglas and Sitka spruces, Weymouth pine, and Japanese larch, also have been introduced. In the highest elevations of the Alps, mixed forests and pasture provide grazing for cattle. German forests have suffered greatly from acid rain pollution, generally blamed on emissions (of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide) from power plants, industrial operations, and motor-vehicle emissions. Damage has also been severe in southeastern Germany near the Ore Mountains, which border on the Czech Republic and its lignite-burning industries.

      The vast tracts of forest and mountainous terrain, with only scattered habitation, contribute to a surprising variety of wildlife. Game animals abound in most regions—several varieties of deer, quail, and pheasant and, in the Alpine regions, the chamois and ibex—and their numbers are protected by stringent game laws. The wild boar population, which soared after World War II because of restrictions on hunting, has now been reduced so that it no longer represents a danger to people or crops. The hare, a favoured game animal, is ubiquitous. Although the bear and wolf are now extinct in the wild, the wildcat has had a resurgence since World War II, especially in the Eifel and Hunsrück regions and in the Harz mountains. The lynx reappeared in the areas near the Czech border, and the elk and wolf are occasional intruders from the east. The polecat, marten, weasel, beaver, and badger are found in the central and southern uplands, and the otter and wildcat are among the rarer animals of the Elbe basin. Common reptiles include salamanders, slow worms, and various lizards and snakes, of which only the adder is poisonous.

      Germany has several internationally recognized bird reserves. The tidal flats of Lower Saxony (Niedersächsisches Wattenmeer) and Schleswig-Holstein along the North Sea coast, the lakes of the Mecklenburg plains, and glacially formed lakes of the North German Plain are vital areas for the European migration of ducks, geese, and waders. The nature protection park at Lüneburg Heath is a haven for various species of plants, birds, insects, and reptiles. The rare white-tailed eagle can be found in the lakes of the North German Plain, whereas the golden eagle can be seen in the Alps. White storks have decreased in number, but they can still be seen, perched on enormous piles of sticks on chimneys or church towers in areas where unpolluted and undrained marsh is still found. One newly designated reserve area is now within a national park in the lower Oder River valley, which is flooded annually. The park was established as part of an effort to preserve Germany's unique ecosystem and its hundreds of species of native birds and plants.

People (Germany)
 The German-speaking peoples—which include the inhabitants of Germany as well as those of Austria, Liechtenstein, and the major parts of Switzerland and Luxembourg; small portions of France, Belgium, The Netherlands, and Italy; and the remnants of German communities in eastern Europe—are extremely heterogeneous in their ethnic origins, dialectal divisions, and political and cultural heritage, in which the split between Protestantism and Roman Catholicism has played a significant role since the Protestant Reformation and Catholic Counter-Reformation in the 16th century.

      Throughout its history Germany has been characterized by a lack of clearly defined geographic boundaries. Both the area occupied by the German peoples and the boundaries of the German state (at such times as it existed) have fluctuated constantly. The German (Germanic peoples) people appear to have originated on the coastal region of the Baltic Sea and in the Baltic islands in the Bronze and early Iron ages. From about 500 BC they began to move southward, crushing and absorbing the existing Celtic kingdoms; from 58 BC they clashed with Rome along the line of the Rhine and Danube rivers. With the fall of the Roman Empire, German peoples, predominantly under Frankish (Frank) tribal leadership, closely settled a large area west of the Rhine River in what is still German territory; they also penetrated deeply into Belgium and areas that later became France. The Merovingian and Carolingian empires made no distinction between what are now France and western Germany, and thus it is understandable that Charlemagne (Karl der Grosse) is recognized as an important figure in the history of both countries.

      The weakness of Charlemagne's successors was revealed in their inability to handle the waves of invaders that poured into the empire at the end of the 9th century. In despair, people turned to local leaders able to offer protection. In the German heartland the old tribal divisions still retained their validity, and the tribes looked for defense to an army of their own people, led by a duke. Indeed, the names of these dukedoms are still used for some of the German states (Länder), notably Bavaria, Thuringia, and (Lower) Saxony (Lower Saxony). In the 10th and 11th centuries they were brought under the power of a single monarch, but this precocious centralization did not survive. The dukedoms were progressively subdivided until Germany became notorious for its Kleinstaaterei—its swarm of frequently tiny states, each with its court borne on the backs of the peasantry. The states, and particularly their boundaries, were of considerable social and economic significance, introducing contrasts that are still somewhat perceptible.

      The rise of France extinguished most of Germanic control west of the Rhine, a process facilitated by German divisions; German dialects remain in use in France only in Alsace and parts of Lorraine. However, driven by population pressure during the Middle Ages, Germans cleared large areas of forest for the expansion of cultivation and extended their settlements far to the east. From about 800 in the south and about two centuries later in the centre and north, the Germans moved east in an advance that divided into three prongs: down the Danube through Austria, north of the Central German Uplands through Silesia, and along the Baltic shore. Between the prongs were the partially isolated Slavic areas of Bohemia and Poland; this development held the potential for conflict that lasted into the 20th century. Islands of German people were at various times established beyond the continuously settled area as far as the Volga. Many of their descendants later moved farther east into Asia under harsh decrees and policies instituted by Soviet leader Joseph Stalin (Stalin, Joseph). Over the centuries these groups tenaciously retained their German language and culture.

      The German Empire created in 1871 did not include all German-speaking peoples. In particular, the Germans of the Austro-Hungarian (Austria-Hungary) Empire were excluded from the new Reich, and Switzerland, with its majority of German speakers, retained its independence. After World War I large numbers of Germans who had lived under German or Austrian rule found themselves under French rule—Alsace and Lorraine, German since 1871, were returned to France—or in the states created by the Treaty of Versailles (Versailles, Treaty of) in 1919, notably Poland and Czechoslovakia. The presence of German ethnic minorities in these countries was later used by Adolf Hitler (Hitler, Adolf) as a pretext for military occupation. After World War II the German populations were largely expelled from Czechoslovakia and Poland, making the distribution of German-speaking people more nearly coincidental with the boundaries of the German state, although Austria and German-speaking Switzerland still remained outside.

Ethnic groups
      The Germans, in their various changes of territory, inevitably intermingled with other peoples. In the south and west they overran Celtic peoples, and there must at least have been sufficient communication for them to adopt the names of physical features such as rivers and hills; the names Rhine, Danube, and Neckar, for example, are thought to be of Celtic (Celt) origin. Similarly, in occupying the Slavic lands to the east, Germans seem to have taken over and reorganized the Slavs along with their established framework of rural and urban settlements, many of which, along with numerous physical features, still bear names of Slavic origin. The same is true of family names. In addition, large numbers of immigrants added to the mixture: French Huguenots at the end of the 16th century, Polish mine workers in the Ruhr at the end of the 19th, White Russians in Berlin after the communist revolution of 1917, and stateless “displaced persons” left behind by World War II.

      Prior to the 1950s there were few ethnic minorities in Germany, except Jews, whose population was decimated during the Holocaust. A population of Slavic-speaking Sorbs (Sorb) (Wends), variously estimated at between 30,000 and an improbable 100,000, have survived in the Lusatia (Lausitz) area, between Dresden and Cottbus, and a small number of Danish speakers can still be found in Schleswig-Holstein, even after the Versailles boundary changes there. Of the so-called “guest workers” (Gastarbeiter) and their families who immigrated to Germany beginning in the mid-1950s, the largest group is of Turkish ancestry. Distinct both culturally and religiously, they are scattered throughout German cities. Even more culturally distinct groups have been added by asylum seekers from countries such as Sri Lanka and Vietnam, and the opening of the eastern frontiers brought many more immigrants, including several thousand Jews seeking religious and ethnic tolerance and economic opportunity. By the beginning of the 21st century nearly one-tenth of the population—some eight million people—were non-Germans.

      The dialectal divisions of Germany (Germanic languages), once of conspicuous significance for the ethnic and cultural distinctions they implied, persist despite leveling and standardizing influences such as mass education and communication and despite internal migration and the trend among the younger, better-educated, and more-mobile ranks of society to speak a standard, “accentless” German (German language). The repository of dialectal differences now lies more with the rural populace and the longtime native inhabitants of the cities.

      Standard German itself is something of a hybrid language in origin, drawn from elements of the dialects spoken in the central and southern districts but with the phonetic characteristics of the north predominating. Indeed, the pronunciation of standard German is an arbitrary compromise that gained universal currency only in the late 19th century. Even today the most “accent-conscious” of the well-educated speak with the coloration of their native district's dialect, especially so if they are from the southern regions.

      The three major dialectal divisions of Germany coincide almost identically with the major topographic regions: the North German Plain (Low German), the Central German Uplands (Central German), and the southern Jura, Danube basin, and Alpine districts (Upper German). Of the Upper German dialects, the Alemannic branch in the southwest is subdivided into Swabian, Low Alemannic, and High Alemannic. Swabian, the most widespread and still-ascending form, is spoken to the west and south of Stuttgart and as far east as Augsburg. Low Alemannic is spoken in Baden-Württemberg and Alsace, and High Alemannic is the dialect of German-speaking Switzerland. The Bavarian dialect, with its many local variations, is spoken in the areas south of the Danube River and east of the Lech River and throughout all of Austria, except in the state of Vorarlberg, which is Swabian in origin.

      The Central German, or Franconian, dialect and the Thuringian dialect helped to form the basis of modern standard German. The present-day influence of Thuringian is of greatest significance in Thuringia, Saxony, and Saxony-Anhalt states. East Franconian is spoken in northern Bavaria, South Franconian in northern Baden-Württemberg. The Rhenish Franconian dialect extends northwest from approximately Metz, in French Lorraine, through the states of Rhineland-Palatinate and Hessen. Moselle Franconian extends from Luxembourg through the Moselle valley districts and across the Rhine into the Westerwald. Ripuarian Franconian begins roughly near Aachen, at the Dutch-Belgian border, and spreads across the Rhine between Düsseldorf and Bonn into the Sauerland.

      The dialect known as Low German, or Plattdeutsch, historically was spoken in all regions occupied by the Saxons and spread across the whole of the North German Plain. Although it has been largely displaced by standard German, it is still widely spoken, especially among elderly and rural inhabitants in the areas near the North and Baltic seas, and is used in some radio broadcasts, newspapers, and educational programs. Tiny pockets of Frisian (Frisian language), the German dialect most closely related to English, persist. Foreign immigration, more widespread education, the influence of the United States, and globalization also have helped create a polyglot of languages in major German cities.

 The Reformation initiated by Martin Luther (Luther, Martin) in 1517 divided German Christians between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism (Protestant Heritage). The Peace of Augsburg (Augsburg, Peace of) (1555) introduced the principle that (with some exceptions) the inhabitants of each of Germany's numerous territories should follow the religion of the ruler; thus, the south and west became mainly Roman Catholic, the north and east Protestant. Religious affiliation had great effect not only on subjective factors such as culture and personal attitudes but also on social and economic developments. For example, the willingness of Berlin to receive Calvinist religious refugees (Huguenots (Huguenot)) from Louis XIV's France meant that by the end of the 17th century one-fifth of the city's inhabitants were of French extraction. The Huguenots introduced numerous new branches of manufacture to the city and strongly influenced administration, the army, the advancement of science, education, and fashion. The Berlin dialect still employs many terms of French derivation.

      Population movements during and after World War II brought many Protestants into western Germany, evening the numbers of adherents of the two religions. In the former West Germany most people, whether or not they attended church, agreed to pay the church tax levied with their income tax; the revenue from this tax has been used to support community centres, hospitals, senior citizens' centres and group homes, and the construction of church buildings in the former East Germany. The centrality of religion in Germany has meant that religious leaders, especially the Roman Catholic hierarchy, sometimes exercise considerable influence on political decisions on social issues such as abortion.

      In East Germany (German Democratic Republic) Protestants outnumbered Roman Catholics about seven to one. Although the constitution nominally guaranteed religious freedom, religious affiliation was discouraged. Church membership, especially for individuals who were not members of the ruling Socialist Unity Party (SED), was a barrier to career advancement. Similarly, youth who on religious grounds did not join the Free German Youth (Freie Deutsche Jugend) lost access to recreational facilities and organized holidays and found it difficult, if not impossible, to secure admission to universities. Not surprisingly, formal church affiliation was relatively low, amounting to only about half the population, compared with nearly seven-eighths in West Germany. However, Protestant (Lutheran) churches did act as rallying points for supporters of unofficial protest groups, leading ultimately to the demonstrations that toppled the communist government in 1989.

      Lutherans and Roman Catholics in Germany now are about equal in number. Small percentages of Germans belong to what are known as the free churches, such as Evangelical Methodists, Calvinists, Old Catholics, Jehovah's Witnesses, and (by far the largest) Eastern Orthodox. The number of people professing no religion (Konfessionslose) has sharply increased and now represents about one-fifth of all Germans. Because of large-scale Turkish immigration, Muslims now account for some 5 percent of the total population. Only a few thousand German Jews (Jew) survived the Holocaust. During the 1990s, however, Germany's Jewish population quadrupled, the result of significant immigration from eastern Europe (especially Russia). There are now some 100,000 Jews in the country, and Berlin, with Germany's largest concentration of Jews, has experienced a modest rebirth of its once thriving Jewish community.

Settlement patterns
Rural settlement
      The most striking feature of the rural settlement pattern in western Germany is probably the concentration of farmyards into extremely large villages, known as Haufendörfer. These villages are surrounded by unenclosed fields divided into often hundreds of striplike units. The Haufendorf is particularly characteristic of Hessen and southwestern Germany, areas that have a tradition of partible inheritance. During periods of population pressure, land holdings—as well as farmhouses and farmyards—were repeatedly divided on inheritance, becoming progressively smaller and more fragmented. As a result, villages became increasingly huddled and chaotic. In areas with a tradition of undivided inheritance (e.g., Bavaria and Lower Saxony), the holdings—the individual field parcels and the farmhouses—remained larger.

      During the period of high medieval (feudalism) prosperity in the 11th to 13th centuries, population pressure brought about the advance of peasant settlements into the forests, where isolated farms and hamlets were the usual settlement form, and the colonization (colonialism, Western) of the predominantly Slavic lands beyond the line of the Elbe and Saale rivers. Because this was an organized colonization under the control of the lords and their agents, the haphazard structure of the western Haufendorf could be streamlined into a few well-planned forms. Thus farmhouses in the eastern regions were customarily arranged along either a single village street (Strassendorf) or an elongated green, on which stood the church (Angerdorf); long unfenced strips of land were allotted at right angles to the road or green.

      The evolution of rural (rural society) settlement has not been uniform. Instead, there have been phases of advance and retreat. In particular, the decline of medieval prosperity, accompanied by the Black Death that decimated much of Europe's population in the 14th century, led to a stage of retreat, in which many hundreds of villages—the so-called “lost villages”—were abandoned in western Germany. In eastern Germany lords often appropriated deserted farms and added them to their own land, thus initiating that characteristic feature of the area beyond the Elbe, the large Junker estate farm (Gut).

      The organization of agriculture and settlement in eastern and western Germany diverged considerably after World War II. In western Germany federal and state governments provided large subsidies to improve the existing structure. Land consolidation created larger holdings, and in some places farmers were moved to new farmsteads dispersed outside the villages. An increased average size of holding was associated with a massive movement of people out of agriculture. But instead of leaving for the cities, as occurred in the 19th century, people mostly remained in their existing homes and commuted to work. Part-time “Sunday” farming remained, but on a reduced scale. Land was actually left uncultivated by the new urban workers (social fallow). Some of this land was cultivated by the few remaining full-time farmers, but marginal areas were abandoned, being either afforested or reverting to rough grass and scrub.

      In East Germany (German Democratic Republic) the Junker estates were confiscated and either divided among peasants or turned into state farms. This development was only the first stage in a process of collectivization; from 1958 to 1960, private holdings were regrouped under heavy political pressure into vast “cooperative” farms. New buildings marked the introduction of mechanized cultivation or large-scale animal husbandry, and multistory apartments and community centres reflected a politically inspired attempt to create a new concept of rural life. After unification rural settlement patterns and agriculture were once again transformed in eastern Germany, with a decline of about three-fourths in agricultural employment. Few private farms were reestablished, however, and very large areas were fallowed.

Urban settlement
 Since medieval times Germany has been politically fragmented, with numerous states competing with one another to develop lucrative market centres and to create capitals, large and small. As a result, the country inherited a profusion of towns and cities. Most of these remained frozen within their circuit of walls until the 19th century, with only the larger princely capitals (e.g., Berlin and Munich) developing distinctive government quarters in the early modern period. The great urban explosion (Industrial Revolution) came late in the 19th century. Because industrialization was linked largely to the development of the railways, urban expansion was not confined to areas near the coalfields, such as the Ruhr region, but was distributed among many cities. Typically, the new urban workers were herded into dismal five-story apartment blocks built on a monotonous grid of straight-line streets. Today, especially in eastern Berlin and cities such as Dresden, Halle, and Leipzig, these blocks present an urgent problem of urban renewal.

      World War II was followed by a period of rapid urban growth as evacuees returned to the bombed cities. After 1949, however, contrasting government policies led to divergent urban development in eastern and western Germany. In West Germany many people abandoned the old city cores in favour of suburbs and urbanized villages within commuting range. Thus, in many agglomerations, notably in the Ruhr region, population loss was associated with peripheral gain. By contrast, the East German government pursued a policy of population concentration, whereby people were moved into concentrated peripheral settlements of 50,000 to 100,000, consisting of uniform prefabricated high-rise housing blocks built at the immediate outskirts of larger towns and cities. Economic growth and change in postwar Germany led to the loss of a considerable heritage of historic buildings, compounding the losses suffered during the war. However, during the last decades of the 20th century, virtually all western German towns and cities began to restore historic buildings from a variety of eras and architectural styles. The same process occurred much more slowly in the east prior to unification, but preservation efforts increased beginning in the 1990s.

Demographic trends
      After World War II Germany received more than 12 million refugees and expellees from former German territory east of the Oder and from areas with substantial German ethnic populations in central and eastern Europe. These numbers were swollen by the ranks of “displaced persons”—non-Germans unwilling to return to their former homelands. After Germany was partitioned in 1949, the demographic histories of the two parts of the country diverged, with West Germany becoming the prime target of continuing migration flows. Although immigrants, principally ethnic Germans, continued to drift in from the east, their numbers were overshadowed by a mass desertion of some two million people from East Germany (German Democratic Republic). Because these immigrants from East Germany were mostly young and highly skilled, their arrival was a major gain to the booming West German economy but a grievous loss to the much smaller East Germany. In 1961 the East German government blocked further desertion of its people by building strong defenses along the inner-German border and around West Berlin (including the Berlin Wall). East Germany enjoyed relative demographic tranquillity for most of the following three decades. After the disintegration of communist regimes throughout central and eastern Europe, however, the population of West Germany began to surge again, because of flows first from newly liberalized Hungary and Czechoslovakia and then from East Germany after the inner-German boundary was opened and the Berlin Wall fell on November 9, 1989. In 1989–90 alone nearly 700,000 East Germans poured into West Germany; thereafter the stream continued, though from 1994 to 1997 net immigration occurred at a sharply reduced rate before increasing again because of ongoing economic problems in eastern Germany.

      The arrival of these new migrants caused some resentment among western Germans because of the pressures placed on an already overburdened housing market and on social services. Because the new arrivals were mainly young and skilled, they fueled a postunification boom in western Germany and continued to drain the economy and society in the east, which still faces economic and social problems. Several hundred thousand eastern Germans also commuted to jobs in western Germany.

      To spur economic growth, West Germany began as early as the mid-1950s to encourage workers to migrate from other countries. At first these migrants were to be “guest workers,” coming to work for a limited period of time only, but increasingly they sent for their families; thus, even when economic recession occurred in 1973 and the further immigration of workers was discouraged, the number of foreign residents continued to grow, reaching more than seven million people—nearly one-tenth of the total—by the beginning of the 21st century. Because of higher birth rates among the foreign-born population, non-Germans have accounted for a majority of natural population growth since the 1950s. The Turks represent the largest group of foreign residents, followed by Yugoslavs (Serbs and Montenegrins), Italians, Greeks, Poles, Croats, Austrians, and Bosnians. Immigrants typically were employed in the heaviest, dirtiest, and least-remunerative jobs, and in times of economic difficulty they generally were the first to lose their jobs and the last to be reemployed. Their children—of whom more than four-fifths have been born in Germany—are among the last to be considered for an apprenticeship or training place. Immigrants also inhabit the least-desirable housing. Turks, in particular, have formed distinctive quarters in the poorest “inner city” areas. Although the East German state prided itself on its nonreliance on guest workers, some Poles, Vietnamese, Angolans, Cubans, and Mozambicans were imported, ostensibly for “education and training.”

      With the opening of the eastern frontiers and a more liberal attitude of the Soviet Union (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) toward emigration, the influx of ethnic Germans became a veritable flood. Nearly 400,000 came in 1989, followed by more than 200,000 annually between 1991 and 1995; subsequently the number of immigrants fell but remained substantial. These new immigrants were less easily assimilated into western German culture than those from eastern Germany; many had difficulties with the German language and lacked marketable skills. With some apprehension, united Germany realized that a further million ethnic Germans could arrive from eastern Europe in the future, and there was a further fear that the freedom to travel and political or economic problems might produce a flow of untold millions of non-German residents of the former Soviet Union. Partially in response to these concerns, Germany's relations with Russia focused on attempting to improve the lot of ethnic Germans living in Russia, thereby diminishing the likelihood of mass emigration to Germany.

      West Germany's constitution guaranteed the right of asylum to those forced to flee their native countries because of political oppression. This privilege was regarded as compensation for the asylum granted to 800,000 German victims of political and ethnic persecution during World War II. Criticism of this constitutional provision mounted in the 1980s with the arrival of asylum seekers from non-European countries such as Sri Lanka, Iran, Lebanon, Ghana, and India, together with stateless Palestinians; it was difficult to distinguish those hoping to better themselves economically or to avoid compulsory military service from genuine victims of oppression. The issue of asylum became even more pressing when the eastern borders were opened, admitting a flood of foreigners—most prominently Poles, Romanian Roma (Rom) (Gypsies), and Bosniacs (Bosnian Muslims). Between 1990 and 1993, one million people sought asylum in Germany, and, as antagonism toward immigrants increased, there was a surge of violent attacks against foreigners. Although the government and citizen groups condemned such xenophobic sentiment and behaviour, foreigners continued to be subjected to discrimination and sporadic violence. Beginning in 1991, legislation brought Germany in line with the more restrictive policies practiced by other members of the European Community (since 1993 the European Union) regarding immigration from outside the Community. But while cooperation with neighbouring states reduced the flow of illegal immigrants and somewhat abated the problem, Germany nevertheless became embroiled in a domestic debate over the rights of noncitizen residents, including the right to naturalization, which had become somewhat easier for long-term residents in the late 1990s.

Population structure
      Germany is the most populous European country west of Russia. Its population density is high in comparison with most other European countries, though it is exceeded by Belgium and The Netherlands. Germany has one of the world's lowest birth rates, and its life expectancy—some 75 years for males and 80 for females—is among the world's highest. Over the last several decades Germany has witnessed years of both positive and negative population growth. From the mid- 1970s to the mid-1980s the country's population dropped; however, Germany experienced significant population growth—largely because of immigration—over the following decade. Thereafter the country's population growth was slight. To stem long-term population decline, governments at all levels have attempted to develop policies aimed at encouraging an increase in the birth rate, in particular by subsidizing child care and providing benefits and other tax incentives to families.

      As in most industrialized countries, the proportion of the population under age 15 is quite low, accounting for about one-sixth of the total; in contrast, the proportion of those over age 60 has increased dramatically, representing more than one-sixth of the population. That women predominate in the older population is largely a reflection of their higher life expectancy and of the significant losses of men during World War II, but the discrepancy has become less pronounced with time. In eastern Germany the disproportion of elderly citizens increased significantly after the desertion of the young before the erection of the Berlin Wall and after its destruction in 1989.

Population distribution
      Because Germany has for centuries had a profusion of states (each with towns and cities), its population is more widely dispersed than that of countries, such as France, in which centralization occurred early. It is possible, however, to discern two major population axes. The main axis runs from the Rhine-Ruhr region southward through the Rhine-Main (Frankfurt (Frankfurt am Main)) and Rhine-Neckar ( Heidelberg- Mannheim- Ludwigshafen) agglomerations, the great cities of southern Germany, and to Basel (Switzerland) and the Alpine passes. This is the main axis not only for Germany but also the European Union (EU). The second axis runs from the Rhine-Ruhr region eastward north of the Central German Uplands through Hannover, Braunschweig, and Magdeburg to the great urban concentration of Saxony. Some major cities stand in isolation outside the two axes, notably Augsburg and Nürnberg to the south and Bremen, Hamburg, and the capital city of Berlin, the last three forming islands in the thinly populated North German Plain. Before unification, population redistribution from the agglomeration cores in western Germany was accompanied by a marked drift of population from the north to the booming cities and attractive environment of southern Germany. In eastern Germany, early gains by migration were experienced in areas of planned industrial development (Eisenhüttenstadt, Rostock, Schwedt, Hoyerswerda). After initial postwar recovery, the cities of the south lost population, reflecting industrial decline, rationalization of production, and unattractive environments. East Berlin and its satellite towns were the principal targets of migration until western Germany became accessible in 1989.

      The German constitution, the Basic Law (Grundgesetz), guarantees the right to own property, freedom of movement, free choice of occupation, freedom of association, and equality before the law. However, the constitution modified the operation of the unfettered free market by means of its “social market economy” (Soziale Marktwirtschaft). With a “safety net” of benefits—including health protection, unemployment and disability compensation, maternity and child-care provisions, job retraining, pensions, and many others—paid for by contributions from individuals, employers, and public funds, Germany has an economic order supported by most workers and businesses.

      In the social market economy the government attempts to foster fair play between management and labour and to regulate the relationship between the capitalist participants in the market, particularly with regard to competition and monopolies. Works councils have been established, and workers have representation on the boards of businesses. The social market economy was created by policy makers with a vivid memory of market distortions and social tensions caused by the giant industrial trusts before 1939. Legislation against monopolies appeared in 1958 and has been criticized as ineffective. For example, it has proved impossible to restrict the indirect coordination, through which individuals, banks, and other financial institutions build up “diagonal” share holdings linking a range of firms that are nominally independent. Moreover, where a whole branch of industry has experienced difficulties (e.g., the Ruhr coal industry), even the federal government has encouraged concentration. The emergence of very large monopolistic firms has been unavoidable because, in an increasingly international economy, large firms that enjoy economies of scale are better positioned to survive. With globalization (globalization, cultural), governments are less able to regulate businesses at the national level or even at the transnational level of the EU.

      The social market economy is regulated not exclusively by the federal government but by a plurality of agencies. For example, there are numerous insurance institutions that deliver social benefits. The most important institution in post-World War II Germany is the Frankfurt-based Deutsche Bundesbank (German Federal Bank). With memories of the runaway inflation of 1922–23, the West German government decided that it should never again have a license to print money and that the central bank should be independent of political control. Consequently, Germany's adoption of the euro, the EU's single currency, in 1999 raised some concerns in the country that the European Central Bank would be subject to political influence and manipulation. The Chambers of Trade, at every level of the administrative hierarchy, are also influential, and the state governments play a significant economic role (e.g., the government of North Rhine–Westphalia is intimately concerned with the survival of the Ruhr coal industry). Federal and state governments also participate in the ownership of some enterprises, notably public utilities. The Basic Law, however, prevents the arbitrary intervention of the central government.

      As Germany has numerous economic actors, a high degree of coordination has been required to achieve adequate growth, balanced foreign trade, stable prices, and low unemployment. A variety of consultative bodies unite federal and state governments, the Deutsche Bundesbank, representatives of business and of the municipalities, and trade unions. The Board of Experts for the Assessment of Overall Economic Trends, established in 1963 and known as the “five wise men,” produces an evaluation of overall economic developments each year to assist in national economic decision making. Moreover, the federal government submits an annual economic report to the legislature that contains a response to the annual evaluation of the Board of Experts and an outline of the economic and financial policies it is pursuing.

      Although the free market operates in Germany, the federal government plays an important role in the economy. It is accepted as self-evident that it should underwrite the capital and operating costs of the economic and social infrastructure, such as the autobahn network, waterways, the postal system and telecommunications, and the rail system. The federal government, the states, and the cities also contribute to the regional and local rapid transit systems. Government collaborates with industry in bearing the costs of research and development, as, for example, in the nuclear power industry. Federal intervention is particularly strong in the defense industry. The coal industry is perhaps the most notable example of subsidization, and agriculture has traditionally been massively protected by the state, though the sector is now governed by EU institutions. Regional planning is another significant field of government intervention; the federal government fosters economic developments in rural and industrial “problem” regions. States and cities also intervene with schemes to foster regional or local development.

      Germany has a varied tax system, with taxes imposed at the national, state, and local levels. Because of the generous system of social services, tax rates on corporations, individuals, and goods and services are all relatively high in comparison with other countries. Germany employs a system of tax equalization, through which tax revenues are distributed from wealthier regions to less-prosperous ones. After unification these transfers were resented among many western Germans.

Modern economic history: from partition to reunification
The West German system
 After the devastation of World War II, West Germany rebounded with a so-called “economic miracle” that began in 1948. The subsequent combination of growth and stability made West Germany's economic system one of the most respected in the world, though it began to suffer strains beginning in the 1990s, exacerbated by the costs of unification. Germany's remarkable economic performance was largely a result of effective economic management, but temporary factors were especially important in spurring economic growth in the immediate post-World War II era. In particular, a large force of unemployed workers—returned servicemen and displaced persons—were available and eager to rebuild their own lives and willing to work hard at a rate of remuneration that left a considerable investment surplus in their employers' hands. In addition, the country reaped benefits from the joint economic planning for the American, British, and French zones of occupation that culminated in the vital and essential currency reform that introduced the deutsche mark in June 1948 and the U.S.-financed Marshall Plan (1948–52), which helped to rebuild war-torn Europe.

      From 1951 to 1961 West Germany's gross national product (GNP) rose by 8 percent per year—double the rate for Britain and the United States and nearly double that of France—and exports trebled. Despite some occasional economic downturns (e.g., during the oil crisis of 1973–74), West Germany's economy followed an upward trend. Indeed, when East and West Germany reunited in 1990, West Germany's economy was enjoying a cycle of business expansion that had lasted since the early 1980s and continued into 1992. By that time Germany had one of the largest economies in the world and was a leader in world trade. All this was achieved while maintaining low inflation.

The East German system
      East Germany (German Democratic Republic) also had experienced an economic miracle of sorts. Unlike the other Soviet-style states of eastern Europe, East Germany had been part of an advanced capitalist economy before the war, which gave it a considerable advantage in reconstruction. Even though it had emerged from World War II and the postwar Soviet demolitions economically ravaged, its surviving industrial infrastructure, inherited skills, and high level of scientific and technical education enabled it to develop the economy and to advance the standard of living to a level markedly higher than those of most other socialist countries, though living standards were still well below those of western Europe. East Germany became the principal supplier of advanced industrial equipment to the communist countries, though it became apparent after unification that it produced poor quality goods and caused environmental devastation.

      East Germany had a command economy, in which virtually all decisions were made by the governing communist party, the Socialist Unity Party (SED). The system of planning was inflexible and eventually caused ruinous economic conditions. Power, influence, and personal connections (Beziehungen, or “vitamin B”) drove economic decisions, and all groups, including trade unions, were expected to collaborate to achieve the SED's economic objectives.

      East Germany's industrial sector lacked quality controls and technological innovation. The cynicism, apathy, and inertia that were common among workers and enterprise managers contributed to low rates of East German technological change. Despite excellent training, workers were not rewarded with increased earnings for ingenuity; the result was a general malaise.

      Supply and distribution were controlled by state-owned companies, and the centralized provision of services through nationalized concerns and local administrations was a generally recognized weakness. This was partially addressed by a “gray market” for goods and services in short supply (e.g., automobiles and automobile and house repairs), particularly when payment was made in hard currency; for example, repairmen offered much faster service for an extra fee or favours, and sales clerks also kept certain goods “under the counter.” By the 1970s and '80s, particularly as contacts with the West increased, this gray market grew in significance.

Economic unification and beyond
      The implementation of Mikhail Gorbachev (Gorbachev, Mikhail)'s glasnost (political liberalization) and perestroika (economic restructuring) policies in the Soviet Union fueled sentiment in Germany that reunification could become a reality, and the basic steps toward German economic unity were accomplished with astonishing speed. The unexpected opening of the frontier between East and West Germany and the breaching of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989, were a heavy blow to the East German (German Democratic Republic) economy, as the relatively small numbers of migrants, who in previous years had left the country by way of Hungary or Czechoslovakia, rose dramatically. Exacerbating the problem was the fact that most of those who left were the younger, more active members of the population and those with marketable skills. The economic unification, achieved by July 1, 1990, swept away all customs barriers and introduced the deutsche mark as the sole currency in Germany.

      Following Germany's official reunification on October 3, 1990, the western German economy continued to grow rapidly until 1992, after which it began to experience an economic slowdown before growth resumed in the mid-1990s. During the decade following 1992, the German economy grew at an average annual rate of 1.4 percent—among the lowest rates in western Europe. Many economists attributed the slowdown to rigid labour policies, high taxes, marginal incentives for investment, and generous incentives for workers to retire, miss work, or be unemployed. The slowdown was also related to unification, which wholly revealed the economic deficiencies of East Germany—the extent of its technological backwardness, its low productivity, and the faltering state of its manufacturing plants. Disillusionment in eastern Germany rose sharply as manufacturing output and employment declined rapidly. The federal government's insistence that eastern German firms compete immediately in the free market led to economic devastation in the east. By spring 1991, mass demonstrations against unemployment occurred regularly in Leipzig, and there was concern that economic despair would cultivate the rise of political extremism. Indeed, the Berlin office of the Treuhandanstalt (a government-owned but independent trust agency for the privatization of eastern German industry with wide powers of disposal) was firebombed, and in April 1991 its head was murdered by the West German Red Army Faction.

      The Deutsche Bundesbank believed that the government had introduced the deutsche mark into eastern Germany too precipitately, with practically no preparation or possibility of adjustment, and at too favourable a rate. The effect of currency conversion and subsequent wage pressure deprived industry in the east of one of its few advantages, low labour costs. The favourable exchange rate and relatively high wages and salaries did, on the other hand, help achieve a sociopolitical goal—encouraging eastern Germans to remain in the east rather than migrating to the west, where people feared being overwhelmed by migrants. There were commercial bankruptcies in eastern Germany, and the eastern economy was further decimated by the tendency of easterners to buy the better-presented and technically superior consumer goods from western Germany or abroad rather than the generally drab products of eastern German industry; by the end of the decade, however, high-quality goods produced in eastern Germany bolstered the economy, and there was a wave of regional consciousness that favoured the patronage of local products.

      Economic unification caused particularly severe hardships for eastern German workers; unemployment rose sharply and industrial output fell by two-thirds in the years after unification. Decline was greatest in the food-processing sector, metallurgy, building materials, machinery and vehicles, electronics and related equipment, and textiles. Eastern German agriculture also was devastated, with employment dropping by some three-fourths. Although the eastern economy later rebounded, at the beginning of the 21st century more than one-sixth of its labour force was unemployed—more than double the rate for western Germany. Unemployment also rose disproportionately for women. As a result of job losses, migration from east to west continued throughout the 1990s and into the early 21st century.

      The slowness of economic recovery in eastern Germany was the result of a variety of factors. The haste of change, especially regarding the currency conversion and the breakup of the great industrial combines, and the fact that East Germany had no effective government for a period of three months following the economic union in July 1990 hampered economic reconstruction efforts. Even after political unification, progress was disappointing. Firms removed from ministerial control and transformed into limited companies found themselves unable to compete in the free market, burdened not only with outdated plants but with debt, because the East German government had appropriated their profits while requiring them to borrow their capital. The federal government had assumed that the reconstruction of eastern German industry would essentially come about by the takeover of plants by Western, predominantly western German, firms. In reality, however, the Treuhandanstalt set up to dispose of some 10,000 formerly nationalized firms made extremely slow progress, partly as a result of an excessively legalistic approach and partly because of the shortage of experienced administrators afflicting the reconstituted public service in the east. Western German firms were under no great financial pressure to move in, and, with the help of the additional labour available from eastern German migrants, they expanded production at their existing plants without having to become involved in the difficulties of actually setting up a branch in the east. Protesters warned that eastern Germany was turning into an internal colony; however, this overly pessimistic outlook was exaggerated, and about 1992 some economic revival began to occur.

      Land ownership was a significant barrier to establishing plants in eastern Germany. Following the principles of the German constitution, after unification, former owners were assured that they could repossess their property or at least be compensated for their losses. However, this did not apply to property expropriated by the Soviet military administration (1945–47), including many large estates that not everybody would be happy to see returned to their original aristocratic owners. Where a plant had originally been owned by a family or firm in western Germany but had received additional investment from the East German government and had perhaps expanded over land originally in a number of hands, western German firms were deterred from moving in, there being a lack of clear title to ownership.

      The production-focused East German communist system had ignored environmental considerations. Firms seeking to take over electrical generation based on brown coal, any part of the chemical industry, or any other plant where dangerous chemicals had been used in processing faced enormous costs in attempting to meet federal government standards. Firms were also discouraged from taking over plants, because the inevitable reductions in surplus labour would involve the payment of unemployment compensation. As a result, the few western German firms setting up in the east preferred to establish a completely new plant on a green-field site, allowing them to avoid these excessive costs.

      The federal government initially believed that the costs of unification could be borne by borrowing and without increases in taxation. Despite these assurances by Chancellor Helmut Kohl (Kohl, Helmut) at the 1990 all-German elections, by 1991 additional taxation was required. If people in the east were disillusioned by the economic results of union, those in the west grew increasingly resentful of the cost of paying for it.

      During the 1990s Germany made a number of dramatic changes in its energy sector (e.g., higher taxes, lower subsidies for coal mining, and privatization of huge eastern German energy firms). In 2000 the government announced a plan to phase out the nuclear power industry by about 2025; in 2007 it tentatively planned to phase out coal mining within about a decade. Massive reconstruction projects in the east (Aufbau Ost), funded largely by higher taxes in the west, helped to improve infrastructure in the eastern regions. Telecommunications systems were upgraded, and there were generous subsidies to encourage capital investment.

      Quite apart from the costs and problems associated with unification, Germany and its economy faced a number of interrelated problems at the beginning of the 21st century. High unemployment—which regularly exceeded four million people—became the chief political issue. Extremely high wages—among the world's highest—generous social services, and high taxation also dampened the economy. Unification caused the public debt to grow dramatically, and at the beginning of the 21st century some one-fifth of the annual federal budget went toward interest payments on the accrued national debt.

      Although unification was more than a decade old, at the beginning of the 21st century its effects still weighed heavily on the German economy and its political institutions. However, in large measure unification gave way to other issues, such as globalization, the introduction of the euro as the single currency of the EU in 2002, and the enlargement of the EU to central and eastern Europe. Germany's domestic economic problems and opportunities are complexly bound up with global and regional processes over which it has only varying levels of influence and control—a somewhat unsettling situation for a society that became very prosperous by following accustomed patterns and having firm control of the major levers of its own economy.

Agriculture, forestry, and fishing
 As in other sectors of the economy, the division of Germany was reflected in a dramatic divergence of agricultural development. West Germany remained essentially a country of small family farms; in the 1980s only about 5 percent of holdings had more than 124 acres (50 hectares), though they accounted for nearly one-fourth of the total agricultural area. By the beginning of the 21st century, however, large farms represented about half of the total agricultural area in western Germany and some two-thirds in eastern Germany. The change in western Germany is reflective of a rationalization of agriculture, with many small landholders leaving farming and the remaining farms often increasing in size. The larger farms in the west are mainly concentrated in Schleswig-Holstein and eastern Lower Saxony, with smaller groupings in Westphalia, the lowland west of Cologne, and southern Bavaria. Small farms predominated in the central and southern parts of West Germany. The process of steady enlargement decreased the total number of holdings by more than three-fourths from 1950 to the end of the 20th century. The number of people employed in agriculture also declined substantially, from about one-fifth of the total workforce in 1950 to less than 3 percent by the end of the 20th century. Wage labourers virtually disappeared from all but the largest farms, and smaller farms were cultivated on a part-time basis.

      By contrast, in the east, following conquest by the Soviet army at the end of World War II, many large estates were split up or retained as state farms. From 1952 to 1960 virtually all the small farms in East Germany (German Democratic Republic) were united, under strong political pressure, to form agricultural cooperatives. Agricultural production was increasingly concentrated into extremely large specialized units; by the mid-1980s state-run or cooperative crop-producing enterprises averaged more than 11,000 acres (4,450 hectares). Despite a marked decrease in agricultural employees, modern machinery and technological innovation led to increased production. After unification agricultural employment in eastern Germany plunged by about three-fourths.

 In areas of high natural fertility, wheat, barley, corn (maize), and sugar beets are the principal crops. The poorer soils of the North German Plain and of the Central German Uplands are traditionally used for growing rye, oats, potatoes, and fodder beets. Technological changes have altered much of the traditional spatial pattern of German agriculture. Sugar beets, formerly confined to deep fertile soils such as the loess lands on the northern fringe of the Central German Uplands, are now much more widespread. With the availability of chemical fertilizers, light soils have become more highly valued because of their suitability for machine cultivation; for example, fodder corn is now widely grown on the North German Plain, replacing potatoes. The two most widespread forms of agricultural land use are cereal cultivation (including corn for its grains) and permanent pasture; both are important sources of animal feed. Dairying formerly was concentrated in the area of mild climate in the northern coastal lowlands and in the Alpine foothills, but it is now widespread in all areas where small farms predominate. East Germany concentrated milk production into vast specialist holdings in arable areas where food was available and urban markets accessible. In both the western and eastern sectors, chickens, eggs, pigs, and veal calves are concentrated into large battery units, divorced from immediate contact with the soil. Besides concern for the plight of the animals under this system of concentrated production, Germans are distressed by the groundwater pollution associated with it.

      In the areas surrounding western German cities, crops such as fruits, vegetables, and flowers are grown. The warm lowlands of the southwest favour tobacco and seed corn. They also support vegetables, as do the Elbe marshes south of Hamburg and the marshy Spreewald south of Berlin. Fruit grows abundantly in southern Germany; other important areas of specialization include the “Altes Land” on the Elbe south of Hamburg, the Havel lake country near Potsdam, and the Halle area. Vineyards are located in the west, especially in or near the valleys of the Rhine, Moselle, Saar, Main, and Neckar rivers, although the slopes of the Elbe valley near Dresden also produce wine grapes.

      At the time of reunification, western Germany produced some four-fifths of its food requirements, and increased productivity and guaranteed prices resulted in vast surpluses (especially of butter, meat, wheat, and wine). At the beginning of the 21st century, Germany's production of major agricultural products (e.g., grains, sugar, oils, milk and meat) exceeded domestic consumption, resulting in both exports and continued surpluses.

      Some three-tenths of Germany's total land area is covered with forest. In the Central German Uplands and the Alps, forests are particularly plentiful, but they are notably absent from the best agricultural land, such as the loess areas of the North German Plain. The western part of the North German Plain also has little forest cover, but there are substantial wooded stretches farther east. Conifers predominate in the forest area; spruce now accounts for much of the plantings because of its rapid growth and suitability for building purposes and for the production of paper and chipboard. Domestic production covers about half of the demand for wood from temperate forests, but producers face severe competition from Austria, Scandinavia, and eastern Europe. The federal government, states, and municipalities own about half the forest in western Germany, with the remainder in private hands; eastern German forests are primarily publicly owned.

 Fishing in western Germany began to decline markedly from the 1970s because of overutilization of traditional fishing grounds and the extension of the exclusive economic zone to 200 miles (320 km) offshore. The greatly reduced deep-sea fleet now uses freezer vessels and accompanying catchers; Bremerhaven, Cuxhaven, and Hamburg are the home ports and processing centres. During the 1990s, high-seas catches by German fishermen declined by about half. The North Sea herring fishery has almost disappeared, and now the German appetite for pickled herring is satisfied mainly by imports. There are well over 100 fishing ports on the North Sea and Baltic coasts. Fishing for shrimp and mussels is important on the mud flats fringing the North Sea. Prior to unification East Germany had a substantial deep-sea fishing fleet, but most of it has since been scrapped; its shore base for fish processing was at Sassnitz on the island of Rügen.

Resources and power
      Germany, which has relatively few domestic natural resources, imports most of its raw materials. It is a major producer of bituminous coal and brown coal (lignite), the principal fields of the latter being west of Cologne, east of Halle, south and southwest of Leipzig, and in Lower Lusatia in Brandenburg. Other minerals found in abundance are salt and potash, mined at the periphery of the Harz mountains. The mining of most metallic minerals ceased for economic reasons in western Germany before unification; in the 1990s the centuries-old mining and processing of copper ores in the Mansfeld area of eastern Germany and the mining and processing of uranium ores for the benefit of the Soviet Union in the Ore Mountains also stopped. There are small reserves of oil and natural gas in northern Germany.

      As in all industrialized countries, water supply is a constant problem. The filtration of water on riverbanks (e.g., those of the Rhine) is one source. It is supplemented by reservoirs in the uplands. For example, the Harz mountains provide water to much of the North German Plain as far as Bremen, and the Ore Mountains supply the central German industrial region.

      Oil is Germany's principal source of energy. As domestic production is quite limited, most crude oil is imported. Many petroleum products also are imported, transported from Rotterdam by product lines, barges, and rail. Until the mid-1950s the refining of oil took place at the coast, notably at Hamburg and Rotterdam; however, refineries have been developed at inland locations close to markets, mostly on rivers such as the Rhine and Danube, which are served by pipelines from Wilhelmshaven, Rotterdam (Netherlands), Lavéra (near Marseille, France), Genoa (Italy), and Trieste (Italy). Eastern Germany receives oil delivered by pipeline from Russia to a refinery at Schwedt on the Oder, which supplies the central German industrial region; there is also a pipeline from Rostock that provides industry with oil. German supplies of natural gas are significant, but most gas is imported. Principal sources are the Friesian and North Sea fields of The Netherlands and the Norwegian North Sea. Gas is imported from Russia via a pipeline from the Czech Republic, with a branch serving eastern Germany and Berlin.

      Bituminous coal, Germany's second most important source of energy, is available from the Ruhr field and from the smaller Saar, Aachen, and Ibbenbüren fields, though extraction is costly and often subsidized. In the last half of the 20th century, however, output shrank by some two-thirds. Coal now has two major uses: the generation of electricity and the production of metallurgical coke. A striking feature of the German economy is the significance of brown coal ( lignite). This low-grade, waterlogged fuel can be worked economically in vast open pits, which are mined with massive machines. About seven-eighths of all the coal is fed straight to electric-power generating stations that are situated on the field itself. A relatively small quantity of the coal is pressed into briquettes for domestic heating. Electricity generation is also the principal use of the main fields in eastern Germany; however, during partition lignite was a major basis of the chemical industry as well as a source of gas and briquettes for urban consumption. After unification many eastern German pits closed, particularly those producing the most sulfurous coal. The shortfall in energy output led the federal government to subsidize additional imports of gas from Russia.

      The largest producers of electric energy are the thermal plants that are located primarily in the Ruhr and the Rhenish brown-coal fields and in the brown-coal fields of the east, especially in Lower Lusatia. During partition all western German plants were required to significantly reduce the emissions of the dust, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxide formerly emitted into the atmosphere. Plants in the east were not similarly regulated and thus contributed to general atmospheric pollution; after unification a number of them were closed and others were upgraded.

      Nuclear power plants rival thermal plants in significance; in western Germany they are typically located on the coast or on rivers far from the coalfields. Plants in eastern Germany, built on the Soviet (Chernobyl) model, were closed for safety reasons. In 2000 the German government committed to phasing out all of the country's nuclear power plants within about 20 years, though the future of nuclear power, as well as the number of years that existing plants would function, was unclear.

      The canalization of such rivers as the Main, Neckar, and Moselle, together with hydroelectric power plants in the Alps, produce relatively minor amounts of electric power; pumped storage schemes in mountain areas are important in meeting peak electricity demands. Before unification, East and West Germany had distinct transmission grids without interconnection. The West German network was linked to that of neighbouring countries, allowing it to import surplus power from the French nuclear system and, during the Alpine snow melt, especially from Austria. West Berlin formerly was forced to generate its own power, adding to urban pollution. The eastern and western German grids were connected in the 1990s, and West Berlin was connected to the network in 1994.

      Industrial employment in western Germany declined steadily from a postwar peak. However, deindustrialization was not as precipitous in Germany as it was in some other European countries. Western German industry benefited from the willingness of banks to take a long-term view on investment and of the federal government to underwrite research and development. German industrial products are viewed with great prestige on world markets and are in strong demand overseas. By contrast, unification revealed that most of eastern German industry was incapable of competing in a free market.

      Germany is one of the world's leading manufacturers of steel, with production concentrated in the Ruhr region; however, since the peak output of the early 1970s, a number of plants have closed. (The steel industry in eastern Germany was largely abandoned after unification, though some production was reestablished at a renovated plant at Eisenhuettenstadt.) Germany's principal industries include machine building, automobiles, electrical engineering and electronics, chemicals, and food processing. Automobile manufacturing (automotive industry) is concentrated in Baden-Württemberg, Lower Saxony, Hessen, North Rhine–Westphalia, Bavaria, the Saarland, and Thuringia. Leading automobile manufacturers in Germany include Audi, BMW, DaimlerChrysler (formerly Daimler-Benz), Ford, Opel, and Volkswagen. Following unification, production of the environmentally unfriendly Trabant and Wartburg cars in eastern Germany ceased. Volkswagen, Opel, and Daimler-Benz were quick to establish assembly or parts production in the east. Shipbuilding, once a major industry, has declined significantly.

      Since the late 19th century Germany has been a world leader in the manufacture of electrical equipment (electronics). As the home of internationally known firms such as Siemens, AEG, Telefunken, and Osram, Berlin was the industry's principal centre until World War II, after which production was largely transferred to Nürnberg-Erlangen, Munich, Stuttgart, and other cities in southern Germany. The output of these centres made Germany one of the world's leading exporters of electrical and electronic equipment.

      In East Germany electrical and electronic production was concentrated in East Berlin, with Dresden forming a second important centre. The country was a major supplier of equipment (e.g., computer-controlled robots) to the communist world. Although eastern German plants were outdated in comparison with those in the west, both Dresden and Erfurt achieved some success in developing microelectronics production following unification.

      With the discovery of synthetic dyestuffs in the late 19th century, Germany became a world leader in the chemical industry. Most of the western German chemical industry is concentrated along the Rhine or its tributaries, notably in Ludwigshafen, Hoechst (near Frankfurt), and Leverkusen (together with a row of other plants along the Rhine in North Rhine–Westphalia). Chemical plants also operate in the Ruhr region. The majority of East German chemical plants were on the two brown-coal fields of Lower Lusatia and Halle-Leipzig; after unification some plants were closed because of environmental reasons, and others were upgraded.

      Germany is also particularly strong in the field of optical and precision industries. The once-mighty textile industry has suffered from overseas competition but is still significant. Principal centres are in North Rhine–Westphalia (Mönchen-Gladbach, Wuppertal) and southern Germany. After unification many textile plants were closed in eastern Germany, where employment in the sector plunged by some nine-tenths.

The central banking system
      Germany's central bank, the Deutsche Bundesbank, is headquartered in Frankfurt am Main, which is the country's main financial centre and also the base of the European Central Bank, the EU's chief financial institution. Before the circulation of the euro, the common currency of the EU, in 2002, the Bundesbank issued the deutsche mark (the country's former currency) and oversaw its circulation. As the EU's most powerful national central bank, the Bundesbank played a pivotal role in the planning of and preparation for the euro. One of its primary roles now is to implement the monetary policies of the European System of Central Banks to help maintain the euro's stability.

      Upon the establishment of the Bundesbank, its preeminent characteristic was its independence from government control, instituted to prevent a recurrence of the severe inflation experienced in 1922–23, when the government resorted to the printing press for finance. The federal bank maintained a policy of careful control of credit and concern for the international exchange rate of the deutsche mark, which had made West Germany the leading financial power in post-World War II Europe. The Bundesbank demonstrated its genuine independence in 1991 when it insisted that additional government expenditure for the eastern sector be covered by unwelcome tax increases rather than by borrowing. Individual Land (state) central banks are the Bundesbank's representatives at state level.

The private banking sector
      There are hundreds of commercial banks, of which the most important are the Deutsche Bank (Deutsche Bank AG), the HypoVereinsbank, the Dresdner Bank (Dresdner Bank AG), and the Commerzbank (Commerzbank AG), though mergers have tended to shrink the number of major banks. Apart from conducting normal banking business, German banks provide financing for private businesses. As a result, the stock exchanges in Frankfurt, Düsseldorf, and other cities are less influential in providing finance for industry than parallel institutions in other countries.

Public and cooperative institutions
      Germany has several types of public financial institutions, including credit and personal checking institutions and cooperative banks. Under public law, credit institutions operate as savings banks, and the state banks act as central banks and clearinghouses for the savings banks and focus on regional financing. The state-owned Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (“Development Loan Corporation”) channels public aid to developing countries.

      The cooperative banks are headed by the DZ Bank (Deutsche Zentral-Genossenschaftsbank, or “German Central Cooperative Bank”), which serves as a central bank for some 1,500 industrial and agricultural credit cooperatives.There are also public and private mortgage banks, installment credit institutions, and the now-privatized postal check and postal savings systems, which were once operated by the federal postal service.

      In East Germany (German Democratic Republic) the state bank was subordinate to the Ministry of Finance and designed to be a tool of central planning. It was part of a unified system that embraced not only central and local government but also banks, insurance companies, and industries, all of which were directed in their use of funds.

      With economic union on July 1, 1990, East Germany came under the central banking system of the Deutsche Bundesbank, which effected the conversion of the eastern system to the West German mark. Progressively, the western German commercial banks, insurance companies, and all the other financial institutions moved in. The ruined East German economy, the unemployment assistance fund, and the bankrupt state and local administrations all required massive financial transfusions from the federal government and the West German states. In stages, consumer subsidies have been removed, while wages, social insurance payments, and taxes have been progressively raised toward western levels.

      One of the world's leading exporters, Germany has consistently maintained a surplus with its trading partners. More than half of its trade is with members of the EU. Germany's principal export markets are France, the United States, the United Kingdom, Italy, and The Netherlands. Trade with eastern and central Europe has increased, and Germany has replaced the former Soviet Union and Russia as the primary trading partner for most countries in the region. Major exports include transport equipment (including automobiles), electrical machinery, and chemicals, as well as some food products and wine. Imports fall into remarkably similar categories, but in addition they include raw materials and semifinished products for industry. Germany's major sources of imports include France, The Netherlands, Italy, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Belgium.

      Before unification East Germany specialized as a supplier of advanced industrial equipment, electronics, ships, and rail rolling stock to the communist bloc countries. Following economic unification, the countries of the former communist bloc were virtually unable to pay for equipment in hard currency, with disastrous consequences for eastern German industry. However, unlike the other former communist countries, eastern Germany, as part of united Germany, automatically received the benefits of full EC membership, though its factories also immediately faced overwhelming competition from western producers.

      As is the case in many other countries with an advanced economy, Germany's service sector (i.e., trade, transport, banking, finance, and administration) is a leading employer. This is abundantly clear in urban centres throughout western Germany, with their concentration of retailing, banking, and insurance. The transformation of eastern Germany along these lines is in progress, and the sector's importance has grown considerably there. For example, while the economies of most eastern and western German states were still dominated by manufacturing in the early 1990s, by the end of the decade a majority of states, and the country as a whole, had economies with a higher level of output by private firms providing services (even excepting trade and transport, which are categorized separately). In short, the German economy, for years one of the world's most manufacturing-oriented economies, has become dominated by services. This is particularly well illustrated by Berlin, where manufacturing's importance has declined sharply; indeed, the city has become an increasingly significant centre for both public and private international and national service-sector institutions.

      Although foreign tourism to Germany is substantial, receipts from German tourists abroad exceed the receipts from foreign visitors to the country. In comparison with many of its neighbours, Germany does not rely heavily on tourism for income. The Alps and the Rhine and Moselle valleys are leading destinations, though urban areas (e.g., Frankfurt, Munich, and Berlin) also attract many visitors, and local festivals in places such as Bayreuth also entice tourists. Tourism to eastern Germany, particularly to the beaches along the Baltic Sea, has increased significantly since unification.

Labour and taxation
      Germany's highly urban and industrialized character is reflected in its employment patterns. Services, including trade and finance, account for the largest share of employment. At the turn of the 21st century, about one-fifth of workers were employed in manufacturing, and fewer than 3 percent were employed in agriculture-related industries.

      Prior to World War II most German labour unions were organized along partisan lines. After the war, however, trade unions (organized labour) were reconstituted to represent an entire industrial branch rather than simply a single trade or skill, thus avoiding interunion jostling within plants, and an independent German Trade Union Federation (Deutscher Gerwerkschaftsbund; DGB), which represents nearly all the country's unionized industrial employees, was established. The federation is an agglomeration of mostly blue-collar unions (though there are some white-collar unions), the largest of which are the United Service Industries Union (Vereinte Dienstleistungsgewerkschaft), the Metalworkers' Union (IG Metall), the Public Services and Transport Workers' Union (Gewerkschaft Nahrung-Genuss-Gastätten), the Mining, Chemical, and Energy Union (Industriewerkschaft Bergbau, Chemie, Energie), and the Federation of Civil Servants (DBB–Beamtenbund und Tarifunion).

      Although Germany's social economy allows collective bargaining, unions are generally viewed as partners rather than opponents of business. The common interests of management and labour are expressed in works councils. Labour also has a right of codetermination (Mitbestimmungsrecht) through representation on managerial boards. About one-third of all German workers belong to a trade union. German's average labour costs are among the highest in the world.

      Taxes are the major source of revenue for all levels of government. Five types of taxes—value-added, wage, assessed income, energy, and corporate—account for nearly four-fifths of all revenues. The federal government and the states each receive more than two-fifths of the principal taxes, leaving the remainder for local councils. A host of lesser taxes are specific to either the federal level (such as the tax on tobacco and alcohol and customs duties), the states (tax on beer and motor vehicle licenses), or the local authorities (tax on real estate, trade, and public entertainment). The states also benefit from property taxes. Because the taxing potential of the states is unevenly distributed, the economically weaker or smaller states share in the tax revenue of the richer or more populous states through a process of “horizontal financial equalization,” which became an especially controversial matter after unification, when the poorer eastern German states became entitled to subsidies from western Germany. The federal corporate tax rate is about 25 percent, and, when local taxes are included, the overall tax burden reaches about 40 percent. Germany imposes a value-added tax of 16 percent to most goods and services. To spur economic growth, the German government reduced personal and business taxes in the late 1990s.

      The federal government is obligated to transmit certain revenues to the EU. Germany's disproportionately large payments to the EU have become a significant domestic and EU-wide political issue. As one of the world's richest countries, Germany feels obliged to supplement its regular contributions to the United Nations with complex international aid programs of its own.

Transportation and telecommunications
      Germany has a dense network of communication facilities. Its geographic location in the heart of Europe also makes Germany responsible for facilitating the transit traffic serving neighbouring countries.

 The Rhine (Rhine River) has the great advantage of having a remarkably even flow, with a spring-summer high water from the Alpine snowmelt supplemented by autumn-winter rains in the Central German Uplands. It is navigable from its mouth to above Basel, Switzerland, with the support in its upper course of the French Grand Canal d'Alsace. Typically, river transport is accomplished by using push units propelling several barges. Since World War II the Rhine (Rhine River) tributaries have been opened up for travel and transport. Navigation on the Moselle (Moselle River) has been improved to the Saar region and Lorraine, on the Neckar (Neckar River) to Stuttgart, and on the Main (Main River) to provide a major European link to the Danube (Danube River). Canals through the Ruhr region allow access to the northern German ports of Emden, Bremen, and Hamburg; waterway connections eastward to Berlin were once inadequate, especially at the crossing of the Elbe, but are being improved.

  Hamburg, which handles some one-third of the overall tonnage by weight, is Germany's principal port, accommodating the largest share of containers, as well as various ores and a wide range of general cargo. But because the largest tankers can no longer reach the Hamburg refining centre, Wilhelmshaven has become the prime destination for Germany's oil imports, as well as a major port in general. The Weser ports ( Bremen and Bremerhaven) also handle a significant amount of total tonnage and containers; Bremen has an important general cargo trade. Although Hamburg, the Weser ports, and Emden are able to transship heavy goods to the interior by waterway, they play a less important role in this area than Rotterdam (in The Netherlands) and other ports located at the mouth of the great Rhine waterway and closer to the Rhine-Ruhr area than the northern German ports are. Because the Elbe River leads to the port of Hamburg in what was West Germany and the Oder River to Szczecin (Stettin) in Poland, East Germany (German Democratic Republic) developed a new deep-sea port at Rostock, which was served by motorway and rail but had no waterway link. Some commodities needing fast service continued to arrive at special East German quays at Hamburg. Hamburg has regained much of its former Elbe trade since unification, but Rostock remains busy. Ferries for passengers, road vehicles, or railcars link Germany with Scandinavian destinations.

      During the country's partition, the rail system was divided as well. In West Germany the Deutsche Bundesbahn (German Federal Railroad) reconstructed the old system, converting it to electric and diesel traction. The configuration of the country placed the emphasis on north-south routes. The burdened Rhine valley lines and the difficult routes through Hessen were augmented by a superbly engineered (and extremely expensive) high-speed track that permitted speeds up to 155 miles (250 km) per hour.

      East Germany retained the old name of Deutsche Reichsbahn (“German Imperial Railroad”) for its system. Postwar reconstruction was slow, with efforts centring on rail links with the country's eastern European neighbours and the port of Rostock. The once-important east-west routes across the inner-German boundary were either removed or neglected. The Berlin outer-ring railroad was completed, enabling mainline and local traffic to avoid West Berlin. Unification revealed the dilapidated state of the system. Within Berlin, the trains, buses, and trams of the public transport were totally divided. Yet, when the border reopened, both the S-Bahn (Stadtbahn), an elevated railway system, and the U-Bahn (Untergrundbahn), the subway, were immediately able to resume service from east to west. (Two U-Bahn lines had continued to cross through areas of East Berlin but were not permitted to make stops at intermediate stations.)

      A lengthy and costly process of fully restoring a unified system, both within Berlin and nationally, began in late 1989 and resulted in significant progress for eastern Germany's railway network. Deutsche Bundesbahn and Deutsche Reichsbahn were officially merged under the name Deutsche Bahn in 1994. The railway operated under state ownership into the 21st century, although plans were made to privatize at least a portion of it. High-speed passenger rail service now links major German urban centres with one another and with other European destinations.

      Germany completed the first section of the autobahn, near Berlin, in 1921, and several other countries quickly followed with their own versions of high-speed expressways. In the 1930s Hitler exploited the autobahn for economic, military, and propaganda purposes, but during World War II this German innovation—regarded as a model for modern expressways—was battered. The West German government greatly extended the system from 700 miles (1,125 km) in 1950 to more than 5,000 miles (8,000 km) by the time of unification. With powerful German automobiles able to cruise at their top speeds without speed limits, the autobahn gained an aura of automobile-centred romanticism throughout the world in the second half of the 20th century. However, road construction has encountered serious opposition from the country's environmentalist movement, and in inhabited areas the roads sometimes have been narrowed rather than widened to reduce traffic speed. Because the growth of the system has been slower than the growth of traffic, congestion is a serious problem, especially on motorways in industrial areas. Attempts to divert shipment of goods to the railways have not prevented a steady rise in the transport of goods by road. Western German motorways have direct transfrontier connections with the similar systems of Denmark, The Netherlands, Belgium, France, and Austria.

      With a lower growth rate of motor traffic (and an official policy of giving preference to the railroads), postwar construction of motorways was less advanced in East Germany. There were some improvements in central Germany, and new links to the ports of Rostock and Hamburg were constructed. The Berliner Ring, a circle of expressways around the city, was completed in 1979. With reunification, many transboundary roads were reopened and road surfaces improved. However, the construction of new roads has been hindered by conflicts between those seeking greater accessibility for automobiles and those seeking to protect the landscape and reduce air pollution.

Air transport
      Germany's major long-distance airline is Lufthansa, though there also are a number of other carriers that service European and North American destinations. Frankfurt's airport, one of the world's busiest, is the country's largest; airports in Düsseldorf, Munich, and Berlin (Tegel) are also of major importance. During the period of partition, passenger traffic from West Germany to West Berlin was restricted to the airlines of France, the United Kingdom, and the United States. After unification Berlin was opened to German carriers (and indeed to carriers of other countries). East Germany discouraged internal air traffic and the growth of regional airports, using the rail and Berlin subway systems to serve its major international airport, Berlin-Schönefeld, south of the city. During the late 1990s, expansion of Schönefeld began, and it was expected to become united Berlin's only commercial airport by about 2010, after major expansion projects.

      After World War II West Germany developed an advanced telecommunications system. By contrast, the East German telephone system was completely insufficient; people requesting a telephone often were faced with a wait of up to 12 years. The deficiencies of the telecommunications system were a major impediment to the restructuring of the administration and the economy following unification, but by the late 1990s rapid reconstruction of the system using current technology made eastern Germany a world leader in advanced telecommunications infrastructure.

      The leading German telecommunications company is Deutsche Telekom AG. During the late 1990s the entire sector was liberalized, increasing the number of telecommunications firms and competition for Deutsche Telekom from companies such as Vodafone and VIAG Interkom. The adoption of telecommunications services by German consumers has been widespread, particularly for cellular services. By 2001 more than one-third of the population used the Internet regularly.

Thomas Henry Elkins George Hall Kirby William H. Berentsen

Government and society

Constitutional framework
      The structure and authority of Germany's government are derived from the country's constitution, the Grundgesetz (Basic Law), which went into force on May 23, 1949, after formal consent to the establishment of the Federal Republic (then known as West Germany) had been given by the military governments of the Western occupying powers (France, the United Kingdom, and the United States) and upon the assent of the parliaments of the Länder (states) to form the Bund (federation). West Germany then comprised 11 states and West Berlin, which was given the special status of a state without voting rights. As a provisional solution until an anticipated reunification with the eastern sector, the capital was located in the small university town of Bonn. On October 7, 1949, the Soviet zone of occupation was transformed into a separate, nominally sovereign country (if under Soviet hegemony), known formally as the German Democratic Republic (and popularly as East Germany). The five federal states within the Soviet zone were abolished and reorganized into 15 administrative districts (Bezirke), of which the Soviet sector of Berlin became the capital.

      Full sovereignty was achieved only gradually in West Germany; many powers and prerogatives, including those of direct intervention, were retained by the Western powers and devolved to the West German government only as it was able to become economically and politically stable. West Germany finally achieved full sovereignty on May 5, 1955.

      East Germany regarded its separation from the rest of Germany as complete, but West Germany considered its eastern neighbour as an illegally constituted state until the 1970s, when the doctrine of “two German states in one German nation” was developed. Gradual rapprochements between the two governments helped regularize the anomalous situation, especially concerning travel, transportation, and the status of West Berlin as an exclave of the Federal Republic.

      As a condition for unification and its integration into the Federal Republic, East Germany was required to reconstitute the five historical states of Brandenburg, Mecklenburg–West Pomerania, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, and Thuringia. As states of the united Germany, they adopted administrative, judicial, educational, and social structures parallel and analogous to those in the states of former West Germany. East and West Berlin were reunited and now form a single state.

      With the country's unification on October 3, 1990, all vestiges of the Federal Republic's qualified status as a sovereign state were voided. For example, Berlin was no longer technically occupied territory, with ultimate authority vested in the military governors.

      Germany's constitution established a parliamentary system of government that incorporated many features of the British system; however, since the Basic Law created a federal system (federalism), unlike the United Kingdom's unitary one, many political structures were drawn from the models of the United States and other federal governments. In reaction to the centralization of power during the Nazi era, the Basic Law granted the states considerable autonomy. In addition to federalism, the Basic Law has two other features similar to the Constitution of the United States (Constitution of the United States of America): (1) its formal declaration of the principles of human rights and of bases for the government of the people and (2) the strongly independent position of the courts, especially in the right of the Federal Constitutional Court to void a law by declaring it unconstitutional.

      The formal chief of state is the president. Intended to be an elder statesman of stature, the president is chosen for a five-year term by a specially convened assembly. In addition to formally signing all federal legislation and treaties, the president nominates the federal chancellor and the chancellor's cabinet appointments, whom the president may dismiss upon the chancellor's recommendation. However, the president cannot dismiss either the federal chancellor or the Bundestag, the lower chamber of the federal parliament. Among other important presidential functions are those of appointing federal judges and certain other officials and the right of pardon and reprieve.

      The government is headed by the chancellor, who is elected by a majority vote of the Bundestag upon nomination by the president. Vested with considerable independent powers, the chancellor is responsible for initiating government policy. The cabinet and its ministries also enjoy extensive autonomy and powers of initiative. The chancellor can be deposed only by an absolute majority of the Bundestag and only after a majority has been assured for the election of a successor. This “constructive vote of no confidence”—in contrast to the vote of no confidence employed in most other parliamentary systems, which only require a majority opposed to the sitting prime minister for ouster—reduces the likelihood that the chancellor will be unseated. Indeed, the constructive vote of no confidence has been used only once to remove a chancellor from office (in 1982 Helmut Schmidt (Schmidt, Helmut) was defeated on such a motion and replaced with Helmut Kohl (Kohl, Helmut)). The cabinet may not be dismissed by a vote of no confidence by the Bundestag. The president may not unseat a government or, in a crisis, call upon a political leader at his discretion to form a new government. The latter constitutional provision is based on the experience of the sequence of events whereby Adolf Hitler (Hitler, Adolf) became chancellor in 1933.

      Most cabinet officials are members of the Bundestag and are drawn from the majority party or proportionally from the parties forming a coalition, but the chancellor may appoint persons without party affiliation but with a certain area of technical competence. These nondelegate members speak or answer questions during parliamentary debates.

      The Bundestag, which consists of some 600 members (the precise number of members varies depending on election results), is the cornerstone of the German system of government. It exercises much wider powers than the 69-member upper chamber, known as the Bundesrat, or Federal Council. Bundesrat delegations represent the interests of the state governments and are bound to vote unanimously as instructed by their provincial governments. All legislation originates in the Bundestag; the consent of the Bundesrat is necessary only on certain matters directly affecting the interests of the states, especially in the area of finance and administration and for legislation in which questions of the Basic Law are involved. It may restrain the Bundestag by rejecting certain routine legislation passed by the lower chamber; unless a bill falls within certain categories that enable the Bundesrat to exercise an absolute veto over legislation, its vote against a bill may be overridden by a simple majority in the Bundestag, or by a two-thirds majority in the Bundestag should there be a two-thirds majority opposed in the Bundesrat. To amend the Basic Law, approval by a two-thirds vote in each chamber is required.

      The powers of the Bundestag are kept in careful balance with those of the Landtage, the state parliaments. Certain powers are specifically reserved to the republic—for example, foreign affairs, defense, post and telecommunications, customs, international trade, and matters affecting citizenship. The Bundestag and the states may pass concurrent legislation in such matters when it is necessary and desirable, or the Bundestag may set out certain guidelines for legislation; drawing from these, each individual Landtag may enact legislation in keeping with its own needs and circumstances. In principle, the Bundestag initiates or approves legislation in matters in which uniformity is essential, but the Landtage otherwise are free to act in areas in which they are not expressly restrained by the Basic Law.

Regional and local government
      Certain functions (e.g., education and law enforcement) are expressly the responsibility of the states, yet there is an attempt to maintain a degree of uniformity among the 16 states through joint consultative bodies. The state governments are generally parallel in structure to that of the Bund but need not be. In 13 states the head of government has a cabinet and ministers; each of these states also has its own parliamentary body. In the city-states of Hamburg, Bremen, and Berlin, the mayor serves simultaneously as the head of the city government and the state government. In the city-states the municipal senates serve also as provincial parliaments, and the municipal offices assume the nature of provincial ministries.

      The administrative subdivisions of the states (exclusive of the city-states and the Saarland) are the Regierungsbezirke (administrative districts). Below these are the divisions known as Kreise (Kreis) (counties). Larger communities enjoy the status of what in the United Kingdom was formerly the county borough. The counties themselves are further subdivided into the Gemeinden (roughly “communities” or “parishes”), which through long German tradition have achieved considerable autonomy and responsibility in the administration of schools, hospitals, housing and construction, social welfare, public services and utilities, and cultural amenities. Voters may pass laws on certain issues via referenda at the municipal and state levels.

      The German court system (judiciary) differs from that of some other federations, such as the United States, in that all the trial and appellate courts are state courts while the courts of last resort are federal. All courts may hear cases based on law enacted on the federal level, though there are some areas of law over which the states have exclusive control. The federal courts assure the uniform application of national law by the state courts. In addition to the courts of general jurisdiction for civil and criminal cases, the highest of which is the Federal Court of Justice, there are four court systems with specialized jurisdiction in administrative, labour, social security, and tax matters. The jurisdiction of the three-level system of administrative courts extends, for example, to all civil law litigation of a nonconstitutional nature unless other specialized courts have jurisdiction.

      Although all courts have the power and the obligation to review the constitutionality of government action and legislation within their jurisdiction, only the Federal Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht) in Karlsruhe may declare legislation unconstitutional. Other courts must suspend proceedings if they find a statute unconstitutional and must submit the question of constitutionality to the Federal Constitutional Court. In serious criminal cases the trial courts sit with lay judges, similar to jurors, who are chosen by lot from a predetermined list. The lay judges decide all questions of guilt and punishment jointly with the professional judges. Lay judges also participate in some noncriminal matters.

      Judges on the Federal Constitutional Court are chosen for nonrenewable 12-year terms. The Bundestag and Bundesrat each select half of the court's 16 judges; in each case, a nominee must win two-thirds support to secure appointment. The court sits in two eight-member Senates, which handle ordinary cases. Important cases are decided by the entire body.

      Judges play a more prominent and active role in all stages of legal proceedings than do their common-law (common law) counterparts, and proceedings in German courts tend to be less controlled by prosecutors and defense attorneys. There is less emphasis on formal rules of evidence, which in the common-law countries is largely a by-product of the jury system, and more stress on letting the facts speak for what they may be worth in the individual case. There is no plea bargaining in criminal cases. In Germany, as in most European countries, litigation costs are relatively low compared with those in the United States, but the losing party in any case usually must pay the court costs and attorney fees of both parties.

      Although codes and statutes are viewed as the primary source of law in Germany, precedent is of great importance in the interpretation of legal rules. German administrative law, for example, is case law in the same sense that there exists no codification of the principles relied upon in the process of reviewing administrative action. These principles are mostly the law as determined by previous judicial rulings. Germans see their system of judicial review of administrative actions as implementation of the rule of law. In this context an emphasis is placed on the availability of judicial remedies.

      Unification brought about the integration and adaptation of the administration of justice of East and West Germany; however, this was complicated by the large number of judges who were incapacitated by the union. Many judges were dismissed either because they owed their appointment as judges primarily to their loyalty to the communist government or because of their records. To fill the many vacancies created in the courts of the new states, judges and judicial administrators were recruited from former West Germany. Indeed, a large number were “put on loan” from the western states and many others urged out of retirement to help during the transition.

Political process
The electorate
      National elections to the Bundestag are held once every four years. All German citizens at least age 18 are eligible to vote (this was reduced from age 21 in 1970). The Basic Law established a mixed electoral system, consisting of elements of both plurality (plurality system) and proportionality. Half of the Bundestag's members are elected to represent single-seat constituencies, and half are elected through proportional representation. Voters cast two ballots. Constituency representatives are elected by the distribution of votes on the first ballot; the candidate winning the most votes secures election to the Bundestag. Voters cast ballots for political parties at the regional level with their second vote (Zweitstimme), which determines overall party representation. A party must win at least 5 percent of the national vote (or win at least three constituencies) to secure representation, and the number of seats it is allocated is based on its proportion of second votes. The system is designed to simultaneously provide a link between citizens and elected representatives and a legislature that reflects a consensus of opinions in the country. Bundesrat members are appointed by the state governments, and the body exercises its authority to protect the rights and prerogatives of the state governments. Each state is allocated between three and six members of the Bundesrat, depending on population.

      The quadrennial general and provincial elections as well as local elections are attended with the greatest interest and involvement by the electorate. The public is kept informed on political issues through intense media coverage, and political affairs are frequently debated among German citizens. Although voting is not compulsory, the participation rate is high, with about three-fourths of eligible voters casting ballots. Since elections in the states are staggered throughout the life of each Bundestag, they act as a bellwether of public opinion for the incumbent federal government. German citizens, along with German residents who are citizens of other EU countries, also elect representatives to the European Parliament.

      The sheer proliferation of Germany's political parties contributed to the downfall of the Weimar Republic in 1933, but they have shown an increasing tendency toward consolidation since the early days of the Federal Republic. Smaller parties generally either have allied themselves with the larger ones, have shrunk into insignificance, or simply have vanished. Reunified Germany has, in effect, only two numerically major parties, the Christian Democratic Union (Christlich-Demokratische Union; CDU) and the Social Democratic Party of Germany (Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands; SPD), neither of which can easily attain a parliamentary majority. In addition, there are four numerically small but important parties: the Christian Social Union (Christlich-Soziale Union; CSU), the Bavarian sister party of the CDU; the Free Democratic Party (FDP), which has served as a junior coalition partner in most German governments since World War II; Alliance '90/The Greens (Green Party of Germany) (Bündnis '90/Die Grünen), a party formed in 1993 by the merger of the ecologist Green Party (Green Party of Germany) and the eastern German Alliance '90 (Green Party of Germany); and the Left Party, formerly the Party of Democratic Socialism (Partei des Demokratischen Sozialismus; PDS), the successor of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED), which later allied itself with left groups in western Germany. Fringe political parties, such as The Republicans (Republicans, The) (Die Republikaner) and the German People's Union (Deutsche Volksunion; DVU), have scored some limited success at the local and state levels but have not won representation at the national level. The 5 percent threshold for elections has proved a highly effective instrument in excluding radical parties of whatever stripe and in preventing the formation of splinter parties. However, the proportional element of the electoral system has necessitated the formation of coalition governments. Since 1966 all federal governments have been composed of at least two parties. Dissent within the major parties is contained in the wings and factions of each respective party.

The Christian Democratic parties
      The CDU is a centre-right party that endorses conservative social values and the social market economy. In government for much of Germany's post-World War II history, it headed governments from 1949 to 1966 and from 1982 to 1998 (in alliance with the FDP and CSU); it returned to power in 2005 in a coalition with the CSU and the SPD. The CDU is a successor of the old Catholic Centre Party and kindred bourgeois parties, either Protestant or nonsectarian. In a country in which one's religion often determined one's politics, the party's strongest constituencies are still in the Roman Catholic districts, although the sectarian Christian aspect is of only incidental emphasis, chiefly among older voters. The party strongly endorses Germany's leading role in the EU, its membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), a free market economy, and vigorous material assistance to the countries of the former communist bloc, especially the onetime Soviet republics. It is established in all states except Bavaria, where the more conservative CSU functions as its counterpart in effectively a permanent coalition.

      A branch of the CDU (known as CDU-Ost) existed in East Germany (German Democratic Republic) throughout that country's history. However, it was only tolerated to preserve the facade of a multiparty system. With the overthrow of the ruling communist regime in East Germany's first free elections, on March 18, 1990, it was this rump party that took power by a large mandate, with Lothar de Maizière as minister president presiding over the six-month transitional period to unification.

The Social Democrats (Social Democratic Party of Germany)
      The SPD, in government from 1966 to 1982 (1966–69 with the CDU and 1969–82 with the FDP) and from 1998 (1998–2005 with the Greens and from 2005 with the CDU-CSU), is the heir to the Marxist parties of the 19th century. In East Germany, which historically was the stronghold of the socialist movement in Germany, the SPD was subsumed by the formation of the SED in 1946. Ostensibly a combination of the old Communist Party of Germany (Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands; KPD) and the Socialist Party, the SED was in fact simply the ruling communist party. In West Germany the SPD's early postwar leadership, drawing strength from its record of opposition to Nazism, adhered to a rigorously orthodox Marxism, opposed vehemently the communist movement from which it had split in the early 20th century, and rejected West Germany's rearmament and the country's integration into the Western military defense system. In 1959, however, the SPD, in the so-called “Bad Godesberg Resolution,” discarded its doctrinaire approach; nationalization of industry was dropped in favour of gradualist reform, and appeals to class warfare were abandoned. The party broadened its base to attract increasingly greater segments of the middle class. The SPD was cautious about unification, fearing that it would unleash enormous financial and emotional costs. Unlike the CDU, the SPD did not initially gain a windfall of votes in eastern Germany.

The Free Democrats (Free Democratic Party)
      Because neither the CDU-CSU nor the SPD have generally been able to win enough votes to capture a majority of seats in the Bundestag, the balance of power has often rested with the FDP. The successor of the older German liberal parties, the FDP has generally adopted free trade, pro-business, and anticlerical positions. The party now serves as a liberal, bourgeois alternative to the CDU and SPD and often exercises a power far beyond the 6 to 10 percent support it regularly receives in national elections. For example, FDP leader Hans-Dietrich Genscher (Genscher, Hans-Dietrich), Germany's foreign minister from 1974 to 1992, was often viewed as the architect of German unification.

      The ecologist Green Party was formed in West Germany in 1979 and merged with the eastern German Alliance '90 in 1993. It has been the only completely new party to win national representation in the post-World War II era. Formed by mainly younger groups of environmentalists, opponents of nuclear power, and pacifists, the Greens successfully broke the 5 percent barrier in the 1983 election. On the heels of the accident at the nuclear power plant in Chernobyl, Ukraine, in 1986, the Greens captured in excess of 8 percent of the overall vote and sent 22 delegates to the Bundestag. However, internal disputes between the “realists” (Realos), who took a pragmatic approach to environmental policies, and the “fundamentalists” (Fundis), who eschewed compromise in favour of ideological purity, and dissension over individual issues weakened the cohesion of the party's constituent factions. In 1990 the Green Party failed to surpass the 5 percent threshold. Its union with Alliance '90 enabled it to enter the Bundestag in both 1994 and 1998, and from 1998 to 2005 it served as a junior partner in an SPD-led coalition. In office, the party continued to face internal dissension between the realists and fundamentalists, though the former have been dominant since the early 1990s.

The Left Party
      The Left Party formed as an alliance between the PDS and the disillusioned members of the SPD and of the Green Party who had established the Electoral Alternative for Labour and Social Justice (Wahlalternative Arbeit und soziale Gerechtigkeit) in western Germany. The PDS was the successor party to East Germany's former ruling party, the SED, which controlled the entire government apparatus until the system's demise in 1989–90. After unification the SED lost most of its supporters and members. The PDS won 11 percent of the vote in eastern Germany in the first all-German election in 1990, giving it 17 seats in the Bundestag. During the 1990s the party gained strength in eastern Germany, where unemployment remained stubbornly high and economic conditions lagged. Although it did not surpass the 5 percent threshold in 1994, the PDS won enough constituency seats to gain Bundestag representation, and in 1998 it captured 5.1 percent of the vote, including some 20 percent in the former East German territories. The PDS largely remained a regional party, but it scored successes in eastern German states and even formed a coalition government with the SPD in Berlin in 2002. In 2002 it again failed to cross the 5 percent threshold, but in 2005 the PDS and its left allies in western Germany—together known as the Left Party—captured nearly 9 percent of the national vote and won more than 50 seats in the Bundestag.

Fringe parties
      Of Germany's small fringe parties, only the rightist Republican Party (Republicans, The) and the DVU, together with a handful of regional and special-interest bodies, are now visible in national or regional elections. With their tiny memberships, none of these parties has been able to surmount the 5 percent barrier in national elections. The National Democratic Party of Germany, the oldest of the country's right-wing parties, was formed in 1964 and gained little support in national elections, though it was able to enter several state parliaments in the late 1960s. In the 1980s and '90s, the Republicans and the DVU won seats in several state legislatures, with the Republicans' support particularly concentrated in Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg, and Berlin. The DVU, originally formed in 1971, achieved its electoral breakthrough in the 1990s, when it won representation in Schleswig-Holstein and fared particularly well in eastern Germany, where it won 13 percent in Saxony-Anhalt's state election in 1998. Although the rightist parties have distinct policies and have been unable to coalesce around a united platform, they share an antipathy toward Germany's liberal immigration policies and have generally been regarded as neofascist in orientation.

      Germany has been a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) since May 1955. Until unification West Germany was the only NATO country with territory bordering two members of the Warsaw Pact, the Soviet bloc's anti-Western defense alliance, and NATO strategy was founded on West Germany's vulnerability to an armed invasion. The dissolution of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact and the admission of Poland and the Czech Republic to NATO have eased Germany away from this “frontline” status.

      The German contribution to the Western defense system takes the form of its combined arm of defense known as the Federal Armed Forces (Bundeswehr). Constituting the largest contingent of NATO troops in Europe, the German military forces are divided into an army, navy, and air force. From its inception the Federal Armed Forces was envisioned as a citizens' defense force, decisively under civilian control through the Bundestag, and its officers and soldiers trained to be mindful of the role of the military in a democracy. Conscription for males is universal, with the military liability beginning at age 18 and ending at age 32. The period of compulsory active service is nine months. Conscientious objection (conscientious objector) is guaranteed under Article 4 of the Basic Law; conscientious objectors must perform 10 months of socially useful service. After unification the exercise of conscientious objection nearly doubled.

      Germany maintains a separate Coast Guard and Federal Border Force. As a concession to Bavaria's once-special position within the old German Empire, this force, although maintained by the federal government, is still known there as the Bavarian Border Patrol.

      After unification the former East German People's Army (Volksarmee) was integrated into the Federal Armed Forces. The special troops who had guarded the Berlin Wall and the boundary with West Germany, together with the factory militia, were disarmed and dissolved. At the beginning of the 21st century there was much discussion about the future of the German military, particularly regarding development of a pan-European defense force (the Eurocorps), expansion of the role of German forces in international activities (e.g., in air actions against Yugoslavia in 1999), and reorganization and downsizing of German forces.

      Germany has no national police force other than the Federal Border Force, which handles emergencies outside the jurisdiction of state police forces. Law enforcement remains a province reserved to the states, and each state maintains its own police force, which is charged with all phases of enforcement, except where its function is assumed by a municipal force. In the event of a national emergency, the federal government may commandeer the services of various state police units, along with the standby police reserve that is trained and equipped by each state for action during civil emergencies.

      The federal government investigates certain actions, particularly those related to the internal security of the state and crimes that transcend state boundaries. National agencies include the Munich-based Federal Intelligence Service (Bundesnachrichtendienst), which combats external threats; the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (Bundesamt für Verfassungsshutz; BfV), headquartered in Cologne, which compiles information regarding threats posed to security by domestic groups; and the Federal Criminal Investigation Office (Bundeskriminalamt), headquartered in Wiesbaden, which provides forensic and research assistance to federal and state agencies investigating crime. The BfV is particularly noteworthy for tracking the activities of extremist groups and publishing statistics annually.

      The People's Police of East Germany was dissolved upon unification, and its members were integrated into the police forces of the new states. The loathed Ministry for State Security (Ministerium für Staatssicherheit, popularly known as Stasi) was also dissolved, and its files were removed into Western custody.

Health and welfare
      Germany's system of social benefits is among the world's most elaborate and all-embracing. A pioneer in establishing social welfare benefits (social welfare program), imperial Germany in the 1880s became the first country to provide health and accident insurance, workers' and employees' benefits and pensions, and miners' insurance. (Under German labour law, a categorical distinction is made between hourly wage earners and salaried employees.) Ostensibly, the programs were introduced both to meet the needs of workers and to stem the influence of socialism. The German welfare system has served as a model for similar programs in other countries.

Insurance and services
      Health and retirement insurance are compulsory for all hourly workers and salaried employees earning below a certain level of income. Differing rules and rates apply to each group. Employees above a certain salary level or self-employed persons are generally exempt from most obligatory payment systems; however, although the former usually participate in a firm's retirement plan, almost all self-employed persons and people in higher salary brackets are covered by private insurance as comprehensive as the government-sponsored plans. As Germany became more prosperous, a larger proportion of its citizens subscribed to these somewhat more expensive but also more generous private plans. By the end of the 20th century some nine-tenths of the population was covered by compulsory health insurance, and the country ranked among the world's highest in terms of the proportion of health care costs covered by the government—about 90 percent of all incurred costs. Contributions average about one-tenth of wages or salaries.

      Medical care in Germany is excellent, and even rural areas are well served. Hospitals are usually operated by municipalities or religious organizations or as proprietary institutions owned by one or more physicians. The conquering of tuberculosis, once endemic in Germany but now rarely encountered, was a triumph of the health system. The extensive health care system that operated in East Germany—where universal free health care, medication, child care, nursing, and pensions were funded by an obligatory state insurance system—was reorganized from the exclusive management of the system by the trade unions to alignment with the various employment, health, and retirement insurance systems of western Germany.

      Accident and retirement insurance are tied to health care plans. The three major pension plans cover miners (the oldest, dating from Otto von Bismarck (Bismarck, Otto von)'s introductory social legislation), workers, and employees.

Additional benefits
      Germany also provides several special systems of coverage for groups such as war widows, orphans, and farmers. Unemployment insurance is funded through deductions from wages and salaries. Allowances are made for families with one or more children. Additional public allowances are granted to persons suffering disabilities from wartime injury, whether as military personnel or as civilians. Some small indemnification has been made to property owners whose holdings lay in former German territories now outside the country.

War reparations
      Under agreements concluded with 12 European countries, Germany has paid compensation to the nationals of those countries who were victims of Nazi oppression (Holocaust) or to their families and successors. In particular, the government has assumed the immense financial responsibility of making restitution to the Jewish victims of Adolf Hitler (Hitler, Adolf)'s Germany. Claims for property confiscated during the Third Reich have been honoured, and Jewish refugees and expellees from that era, the vast majority of whom reside abroad, have been paid indemnifications and pensions. Massive reparations have been paid to Israel in the name of the Jewish people at large. East Germany ignored all such claims until 1990, when the transition government of Lothar de Mazière undertook similar restitution. In 2000 the German government, more than 3,000 German companies, the Evangelical Church in Germany, and a number of other institutions and governments established a multibillion dollar fund to compensate those forced to perform labour during Nazi internment. These roughly one million rapidly aging people, living primarily in central and eastern Europe, were among the last large groups of victims of the Nazi era who had received no previous payments or support from Germany. The fund was intended both to provide some restitution to the forced labourers and to shield German companies from potential individual lawsuits.

      Western Germany's standard of living is among the highest in the world. The distribution of wealth compares favourably with that of other advanced countries. Powerful incentives to save are offered by the state not only in the form of housing subsidies and tax concessions but also through bonus saving schemes. For those whose income does not exceed a certain level, savings of up to a fixed amount kept in a bank or savings institution for six or seven years are granted a generous bonus by the government. The accumulation of capital assets is encouraged under a plan whereby workers below a certain earning level who agree to pay into a longer-term savings agreement, such as a home-savings contract, are given a “worker savings grant” by the state.

      Earning power for both workers and employers assures an adequate income to meet the cost of living. There is no exaggerated difference between the compensation for blue-collar workers and white-collar employees. Although upper levels of management earn generous incomes and benefits, chief executive officers in Germany earn only six to seven times the average worker's pay (as opposed to a vastly higher ratio in the United States). Because a major portion of tax revenue is derived from excise levies and the value-added tax—as in most EU countries—low- and medium-income workers collectively bear a greater relative tax burden.

      The absorption of the eastern German (German Democratic Republic) population and economy had no more than a marginal effect on living standards in the regions of the western sector despite a rise in unemployment, a housing shortage, and tax increases. Even the exorbitant costs of unification, which brought about a tax increase, seemed to cause few changes in western Germany. The deutsche mark held its strength and grew even stronger. By contrast, the introduction of the mark in East Germany in July 1990—far from being the “magic bullet” hoped for—tended to have a depressing effect. The eastern population with its much lower earning power suddenly had to pay Western prices for food and other commodities. The wholesale shutdown of former state factories and enterprises caused vast unemployment in industrial cities in Thuringia, Saxony-Anhalt, and Saxony and resulted in much hardship and discontent that persisted long after unification.

      During its 40 years, the East German government produced a society in which employment was guaranteed and in which most of the requirements of life were often provided free or at low cost. The demands of work were different than in West Germany and were relatively lax; competitiveness, initiative, and individuality were not qualities highly prized or rewarded. The working population was even more ill-suited than workers in Poland, Czechoslovakia, or Hungary for the plunge into a free market economy—largely because eastern German workers needed to learn new technologies, were under new management, had to accommodate the rules and culture of West German labour unions, and were forced to compete with their western German counterparts. But, unlike other former Soviet bloc countries, East Germany had a prosperous neighbour that bailed it out; as a result, in many ways eastern Germany maintained and in some ways improved its living standards.

      German housing stock is generally of good quality, though there is a considerable discrepancy between eastern and western Germany. In the territory of the former West Germany, the stock is modern, some three-fourths of its dwellings having been built since the end of World War II. In contrast, eastern German (German Democratic Republic) housing stock is significantly older, about half of it having been built prior to the end of the war. Home ownership rates also vary considerably; more than two-fifths of dwellings are owner-occupied in western Germany and about one-third in eastern Germany. In principle, under the communist government of East Germany, every citizen and family had the right to adequate accommodations. Rents everywhere, together with charges for heating and electricity, were held at extremely low levels. The need for new housing after the war was solved by erecting massive apartment blocks of cheap material, places that are now generally out of favour with people who have the means to choose their style of housing. With the exception of a few showpieces, the great majority of urban housing constructed between 1871 and 1914 seemed to have gone unpainted or unrefurbished since before World War II. After unification, the government devoted significant resources to modernizing eastern Germany's stock and alleviating the housing shortages caused by the extensive immigration of the 1990s.

      The private sector provides most of the capital for new housing. However, the federal government's building savings policy offers loans to those who save for a prescribed period to build or purchase a home. Much of the housing built with government subsidies is allocated to “social housing”—dwellings provided at “cost rent” far below the market rental value to families with many children, people with disabilities, the elderly, and persons with low incomes. Stringent definitions of tenants' rights, including injunctions against arbitrary or unfair evictions and protection against precipitous rent increases, balance the rights of tenants and landlords.

      The rebuilding of the cities in the 1950s and '60s, coupled with increased automobile ownership, invariably led to the desertion of older city centres by many residents. Easier access and parking near town centres, improved public transportation, large-scale refurbishing of historic buildings, and the creation of pedestrian zones offering special entertainments, festivals, and attractions were among the attempts to reverse this trend and lure the public back downtown in the evening. Nonetheless, suburbanization has continued, particularly in eastern Germany since unification.

      The physical appearance of villages and towns throughout western Germany was improved on a grand scale beginning in the 1970s through extensive renovation programs undertaken by the states; grants, subsidies, and matching funds were made available to restore the exteriors of historic monuments and older buildings to pristine condition. The process also occurred in eastern Germany after unification.

      Schooling is free and compulsory for children age 6 to 18. Although the control of education rests with the states, there is a national commission that strives for uniformity of curriculum, requirements, and standards. Some books and study materials are free, and financial assistance and other forms of support are available in cases of hardship.

      Preschooling, to which the notably German contribution in modern times is enshrined in the universal word kindergarten, can begin at 3 years of age. Some four-fifths of children attend kindergarten. All children attend the Grundschule (“basic school”) from age 6 until about age 10. Somewhat less than half continue elementary schooling in a junior secondary school called the Hauptschule (“head school”) until about age 15 or 16. Afterward students are assigned to a Berufsschule (“vocational school”) that they attend part-time in conjunction with an apprenticeship or other on-the-job training. This program makes it possible for virtually every young person in the vocational track to learn a useful skill or trade, constantly adapted to the actual demands of the employment market.

      Children who receive a commercial or clerical education, somewhat less than one-third of the school-age population, attend an intermediate school called the realschule (roughly meaning practical school) and earn an intermediate-level certificate that entitles them to enter a Fachschule (“technical” or “special-training school”), the completion of which is a prerequisite for careers in the middle levels of business, administration, and the civil service.

      Approximately one-third of all children are chosen to study at a Gymnasium (senior secondary school, equivalent to a grammar school in the United Kingdom), in which a rigorous program lasting for nine years (levels 5 to 13) prepares them—with emphasis variously on the classics, modern languages, mathematics, and natural science—for the Abitur or Reifezeugnis (“certificate of maturity”), the prerequisite for matriculation at a German university. The traditional structure of the German Gymnasium has mainly shifted from being built around a single branch of studies to offering a “reformed upper phase” with a choice of courses.

      Many so-called Gesamtschulen (equivalent to British comprehensive schools), which were established beginning in the 1960s, are now operated in each state, though conservative areas were generally resistant to them. These Gesamtschulen are intended as an alternative to the previously rigid division into three levels, often criticized for forcing the choice of a child's future at too early an age, a choice that, once entered upon, was almost impossible to change. These schools offer a large range of choices and permit pupils more freedom in seeking the level best suited for them.

      German universities, famed in history and noted for their enormous contributions to learning, especially in the 19th and early 20th centuries, have been severely strained by the swelling numbers of students and changing social conditions that have taxed the traditional structures of the universities beyond their capacities or accustomed functions. Today it has become all but impossible for students to take as long as they wish to complete their studies or to move from university to university. Lecture rooms, seminars, and libraries are greatly overburdened. In response, a small number of specialized private universities were founded, and there has been considerable debate about the financing of education, particularly whether tuition charges should be introduced.

 To meet the rapidly rising demand for higher education, the number of universities also has increased. Entirely new academic universities have been added to the ranks of the ancient institutions, and the status of institutes and colleges of technology, education, and art have been upgraded to university rank. At the same time, new specialized or technical institutions such as the Fachhochschule, a higher technical college specializing in a single discipline, such as engineering, architecture, design, art, agriculture, or business administration, have been created. Little difference in prestige is attached to whether a student has studied at Heidelberg (Heidelberg, University of), founded in 1386, or at the multimedia university at Hagen, Westphalia, established in 1976, where teaching is largely by correspondence through regional study centres. Among Germany's leading universities are the Humboldt University of Berlin (founded 1809–10), the Free University of Berlin (Berlin, Free University of) (founded 1948), the University of Cologne (Cologne, University of) (founded 1388), the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University of Frankfurt (founded 1914), the University of Göttingen (Göttingen, University of) (founded 1737), the University of Leipzig (Leipzig, University of) (founded 1409), and the University of Tübingen (founded 1477). At the beginning of the 21st century Germany had more than 300 universities or institutions of equivalent rank (about half of which were Fachhochschule).

      The rough equivalent of a bachelor's degree is a Diplom, though some consider the degree a closer equivalent to the American master's degree. A fairly large number of students also earn degrees in education (by way of the Lehramtspruefung) and in technical schools. A small number of institutions have begun offering an American-style bachelor's degree.

      There is an extensive range of possibilities for extended education or extramural studies. About 1,000 Volkshochschulen (adult education centres) enroll some six million adults for complete courses or individual subjects, whether in preparation for or furtherance of a career or out of personal interest. The government has also promoted the retraining and further vocational education of workers.

Problems of transition
      Integration of the former East German (German Democratic Republic) educational system brought a host of problems. As the focus of education was to inculcate the values of the communist state, even textbooks and some school materials were unsuitable for the educational aims of united Germany. English replaced Russian as the primary foreign language taught, forcing unemployment for untold numbers of Russian teachers and creating a shortage of qualified English teachers. The reorientation of primary and secondary schoolteachers to the standards and aims of the republic became an important concern and a focus of retraining.

      At the university level the issue of competence became acute. Since many of the faculty of East Germany's universities had been appointed based on their soundness in Marxism-Leninism or loyalty to the SED, upon unification their qualifications became obsolete. The federal authority for qualifying universities to confer degrees and diplomas were unable to give recognition to some institutions of university rank, while the ministers of education of the new states were subjected to great pressures to reconfirm existing appointments. Reappointment committees staffed largely by western Germans reassessed the qualifications of eastern faculty. These committees failed to rehire many easterners, and institutions in eastern Germany were flooded with westerners. Whereas the former East German research institutions had generally been separate from universities, the western system combining research and teaching was implemented nationally following unification.

Cultural life

Cultural milieu
 The birthplace of the modern printing press and of influential schools of philosophy and artistic styles, Germany has long played an important role in Western culture. The arts have been central to Germany's idea of itself; indeed, the historian Hagen Schulze has observed thatthe German nation was born in the minds of the intelligentsia, as a cultural entity without direct ties to politics. It was therefore only logical that its great heroes were not princes and military leaders as in France and England but rather a collection of poets and philosophers.…Germany's extraordinary cultural flowering made it the new Greece, said both Friedrich von Schiller (Schiller, Friedrich von) and Wilhelm von Humboldt (Humboldt, Wilhelm, Baron von)—powerless but intellectually supreme.

      That ideal fell only when the German nation began to experiment with power and expand militarily, but it remains fondly held by contemporary German intellectuals as a model worthy of emulation in a new Europe.

 During the period of partition, West Germany, as heir to Germany's older regions, was custodian of the greater portion of the country's rich cultural legacy. The majority of Germany's architectural monuments—of Roman Germany and of the medieval Romanesque and southern German Baroque styles—fell within its borders, as did many of the great libraries, archives, and facilities for the performing arts. Yet some of the greatest monuments of German cultural and historical achievement were located in East Germany, including the Wartburg of Martin Luther (Luther, Martin), the Weimar of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von), and the Leipzig of Johann Sebastian Bach (Bach, Johann Sebastian); a large share of prewar Germany's art treasures also rested in East Germany, especially in East Berlin and Dresden. After the division of Germany, many of the cultural assets originally from the eastern sector were removed to the West or to Russia, which generally refused to return them after unification. For example, it is estimated that some 200,000 works of art were taken from Germany after World War II, and German sources estimate that more than 4.6 million books were taken; Russian holdings include a Gutenberg bible and thousands of works from the Berlin Museum's East Asian collection. Nonetheless, some materials, such as a stained-glass window from the Marienkirche in Frankfurt, have been returned. Many of East Germany's artists, writers, and institutions, including entire publishing houses, relocated to West Germany or set up successor organizations there.

      Despite the political division, the German cultural and artistic tradition remained identifiably the same. In the German-speaking world, a writer or painter or composer or playwright or sculptor was German whether holding a passport from the Federal Republic or from the Democratic Republic. Moreover, in art and literature the adjective deutsch (“German”) has no strict political boundaries. For example, the Austrian composer Gustav Mahler (Mahler, Gustav), the Czech novelist Franz Kafka (Kafka, Franz), the Romanian poet Paul Celan (Celan, Paul), and the Swiss playwright Friedrich Dürrenmatt (Dürrenmatt, Friedrich) all are considered “German” because their work falls within the German cultural tradition.

      During the four decades of separation it was inevitable that some divergence would occur in the cultural life of the two Germanys. Both followed traditional paths of the common German culture, but West Germany, obviously more susceptible to influences from western Europe and North America, became more cosmopolitan. Conversely, East Germany, while remaining surprisingly conservative in its adherence to some aspects of tradition, was powerfully molded by the dictates of a socialist ideology of predominantly Soviet inspiration. The state, as virtually the sole market for artistic products, inevitably had the last word.

 Admirably enough, the cultural commissars of East Germany steadfastly protected certain cultural monuments contained within East German borders—even though their provenance was regal, aristocratic, liberal, bourgeois, or religious and the content hardly reconcilable with the aspirations of the “State of Workers and Peasants.” The Goethe House and Goethe National Museum on the Frauenplanstrasse in Weimar were carefully restored after the war and meticulously maintained; the Thomanerchor at the St. Thomas Church in Leipzig, the boys' choir made famous by Bach, continued to perform the cantatas and motets of the master in exactly the style of two and a half centuries previously; Dresden, though devastated by wartime bombing, made it an early priority to restore its opera house; and the music ensembles of East Germany, especially the Dresden Philharmonic and the Dresdner Staatskapelle, together with the Gewandhaus and Rundfunk orchestras of Leipzig, remained part of the mainstream of European music, touring in the West and freely exchanging performers, conductors, and producers. It has been remarked that during their separation the two Germanys diverged not at all in music and only slightly in literature and the theatre but sharply in architecture and the plastic arts.

Daily life and social customs
      The incursions of modern patterns of life and global forms of entertainment, from fast food to Hollywood films, have weakened the traditional arts, entertainments, and customs of regional and rural Germany, although this has occurred somewhat less so in southern Germany, where the older arts and usages have persisted concurrently with a gradual adaptation to a modern urban pattern of life; the old and the new coexist in an incongruous compatibility. In late summer in the Alpine regions, colourful and festive parades still celebrate the successful return of cattle from mountain pastures to lowland farms. The wood-carvers, violin makers, and gunsmiths of Upper Bavaria continue, under great economic pressure, to follow their trades, not because doing so is quaint but because they still believe in the work itself. Similarly, some women in the Black Forest still wear an elaborate costume known as a Tracht on festival days because they have always done so rather than to amaze tourists. However, even in more traditional communities, where the tourist industry is often highly developed, many folk usages have all but disappeared: older women now seldom wear black dresses and scarves, and the village men no longer appear in top hat and cutaway for a funeral procession.

      Popular festivals continue to abound in the west, southwest, and south, the regions that have clung most to the practices of a traditional, preindustrial age. For example, the donning of elaborate wooden masks during the pre-Lenten celebrations in the southwest remains unchanged despite being televised; hundreds of smaller towns and larger villages in the south still commemorate an anniversary from the Thirty Years' War with a parade in 17th-century costume or, in Roman Catholic areas, march in full procession on Corpus Christi (Corpus Christi, Feast of) Day. What is remarkable is not merely that these traditions survive but that the homelier and less celebrated of them remain truly genuine in the observance.

      Traditional German cuisine, though varying considerably from region to region, makes generous use of meat—pork is especially popular, both cured and fresh. Beef, poultry, game such as rabbit and venison, and both freshwater and ocean fish are also widely consumed. German dairies produce a variety of excellent cheeses, and fresh soft cheeses find their way into many dishes. Starches are supplied by bread (wheat and rye) and by potatoes, noodles, and dumplings. The necessity of preserving foods for the northern winter has led to a highly developed array of cured, smoked, and pickled meats, fish, and vegetables such as sauerkraut (fermented cabbage). German hams and sausages (Wurst) are world-famous and widely imitated, produced in an impressive variety. Mustard, caraway, dill, juniper berries, and marjoram are favoured spices and herbs. Tortes, kuchen, cookies, and other pastries produced in the Konditorei (pastry shop) or home kitchen are served as a conclusion to a meal or an accompaniment to coffee. Holidays bring an array of seasonal sweets such as stollen, gingerbread, and anise cookies. Few meals of the traditional sort, whether presented in the home or in a Gasthaus (inn) or restaurant, are unaccompanied by locally produced wine, beer, brandy, or schnapps. In the late 20th century, German cuisine became more cosmopolitan with the influence of immigrant cultures, and a meal out is now as likely to involve Italian, Chinese, Vietnamese, or Turkish foods as traditional German dishes such as sauerbraten, schnitzel, or spaetzle.

      As in many other Western countries, family life has undergone many changes. In contrast to past generations, when families had numerous children, some one-fifth of married German couples never become parents, and most of the remainder have only one or two children. Thus, German birth rates are low and below replacement levels. More people are also living together before or instead of marrying, the number of marriages is declining, and the number of divorces has increased. About one-fourth of all births now occur outside of marriage. Changing marriage patterns have also influenced gender roles. Traditionally, German families had highly differentiated gender roles within marriage—men worked outside the home and women undertook most homemaking activities and child care. During the last decades of the 20th century, however, this pattern shifted, with more than two-thirds of working-age women employed outside the home—though they still are underrepresented within the elite professions.

The arts
Government and audience support
      For several centuries Germany has enjoyed a tradition of governmental support of the arts. Before the founding of the German Empire in 1871, the many small kingdoms, principalities, duchies, bishoprics, and free cities that preceded it—as well as Austria and German-speaking Switzerland—supported the arts; they established theatres, museums, and libraries, and their leaders acted as patrons for poets, writers, painters, and performers. The institutions thus founded and the convention of generous public support have continued uninterrupted to the present.

 The quantitative dimensions of Germany's cultural life astound non-Germans. Several hundred theatres are subsidized by the federal government, the states, and the cities, and there also are many privately financed theatres. Unlike the United States, Britain, and France, in which theatre is more often than not centred in one city, no single German city predominates. Also, productions in Vienna, Austria, and in Zürich, Switzerland, are significant to Germany's artistic life, and artists and resources move easily and freely among the theatrical and operatic companies within the German-speaking regions. Only in Vienna, the capital in which the arts arouse far more intense passions than do politics, does theatre have a broader audience base than in Germany. Audiences in Germany are not limited to a small intellectual or social elite but are drawn from all ranks of society. Season tickets, group arrangements, bloc tickets bought by business firms, and theatre clubs constitute the major patronage of such production companies as the People's Independent Theatre (Theater der Freien Volksbühne), dating from 1890 in Berlin. Going to the theatre or opera in Germany is nearly as affordable and as unremarkable as attending the cinema is elsewhere. The same is also true of concert music. Every major city has at least one symphony orchestra offering many concerts and recitals each week, and many smaller cities and towns also have concerts.

      In few countries are the arts so lavishly cultivated as in Germany in terms of the proliferation of cultural amenities, the funds allotted to them, and the attendance upon them. Although this abundance and generous support has not called forth a new era of brilliance to rival that of the Weimar Republic—when Germany (especially Berlin) experienced a resurgence in the arts and a proliferation of creative talents unparalleled since German Classicism and Romanticism—there are a number of noteworthy individual talents and movements dotting the contemporary landscape.

Literature and theatre
 Arguably, German literature holds less than its deserved status in world literature in part because the lyrical qualities of its poetry and the nuances of its prose defy translation. Even the most sublime figures in German literary history—Goethe (the author of Faust), whose genius not only created poetry, novels, and drama but extended to scientific study as well, and his friend Friedrich von Schiller, poet, dramatist, and literary theorist—are doomed to remain known to the world outside the German-speaking regions largely by reputation. The same is true for a host of remarkable writers through all periods of German literary history, including Friedrich Hölderlin (Hölderlin, Friedrich), whose lyric poetry, heavily influenced by the Greek and Latin classics, invigorated early modern German writing; Hermann Broch (Broch, Hermann), whose Der Tod des Vergil (1945; The Death of Virgil) is a profound meditation on the collapse of the spirit in the scientific age; Ernst Jünger (Jünger, Ernst), whose futuristic novel Auf den Marmorklippen (1939; On the Marble Cliffs) is an allegorical critique of Nazism; and even Karl May (May, Karl), perhaps the most popular of all German writers, who in the late 19th century wrote a succession of best-selling westerns after serving a prison sentence for fraud.

 Four German poets and writers from the early 20th century won permanent niches in world literature: Franz Kafka (Kafka, Franz), whose fantastical works explored the dark side of modernism; Thomas Mann (Mann, Thomas), who explored the psychology of the modern condition in his novels; Rainer Maria Rilke (Rilke, Rainer Maria), who developed a new style of lyric poetry influenced by the work of the French Symbolists; and Bertolt Brecht (Brecht, Bertolt), known for his brilliant Marxist dramas. Three other German novelists became Nobel laureates while winning a popular following abroad in translation—Hermann Hesse (Hesse, Hermann), who celebrated Eastern mysticism, and Heinrich Böll (Böll, Heinrich) and Günter Grass (Grass, Günter), who explored the effects of World War II on German lives and psyches. Among other writers who gained widespread recognition in the last decades of the 20th century were Siegfried Lenz, Peter Weiss (Weiss, Peter), Uwe Johnson (Johnson, Uwe), Hans Magnus Enzensberger, Peter Handke (Handke, Peter), Gabriele Wohmann, and W.G. Sebald. During partition many writers fled East Germany, some after serving prison terms; the poet and songwriter Wolf Biermann was exiled in 1976 while on tour in West Germany. Among those of international significance who remained in East Germany were Stefan Heym, Anna Seghers, and Christa Wolf (Wolf, Christa).

      The German theatre has long been faced with the dilemma of either being bold and innovative or relying on the rich repertoire of German classics from the 18th and 19th centuries, a limited number of established 20th-century dramas from artists such as Brecht, Carl Zuckmayer (Zuckmayer, Carl), or Max Frisch (Frisch, Max), and contemporary plays in translation from Britain, France, and the United States. While the system of public subsidies and ticket subscriptions favours a steady diet of Goethe, Schiller, Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (Lessing, Gotthold Ephraim), William Shakespeare (Shakespeare, William), George Bernard Shaw (Shaw, George Bernard), Jean Anouilh (Anouilh, Jean), Anton Chekhov (Chekhov, Anton), and Brecht, it also allows for risks and for the plays of late 20th-century dramatists such as Martin Walser and Patrick Süskind to be performed. Small experimental theatres enjoy a lively, if hazardous, existence in the major cities and often closely resemble Germany's still vibrant political cabaret.

      In East Germany (German Democratic Republic) all theatres were state-owned. The German Theatre ( Deutsches Theater) in Berlin reopened in September 1945 and was the first German theatre to perform following the Nazi collapse. The old German National Theatre (Deutsches Nationaltheater) in Weimar was the first to be rebuilt after 1945. Understandably, Berlin dominated theatrical developments, especially because of the work of Brecht (Brecht, Bertolt) at the Theater am Schiffbauerdamm. Given a haven in East Germany—a theatre and a company, along with the political and artistic latitude he required—Brecht was able to produce and perform his own works exclusively. Nevertheless, the Berliner Ensemble, as his group was named, possibly commanded more critical and popular attention in the West, where his plays are still widely performed, than on its home ground. (For further discussion, see German literature.)

Music and dance
      In the 12th and 13th centuries, German poets and musicians known as minnesingers, influenced by the troubadours and trouvères of France, composed and performed songs of courtly love for the Hohenstaufen dukes of Franconia and Swabia. Their most prominent representative, Walther (Walther Von Der Vogelweide) von der Vogelweide, is recognized for his didactic moral and religious poetry as well as for his poems of love. Later, fraternities of mostly middle-class singers developed into singing schools (Singschulen), organized as craft guilds, in free cities such as Mainz, where the first such school is said to have been founded in the early 13th century by the minnesinger Frauenlob. The schools of the Meistersingers (meistersinger), as they came to be known, spread to other German cities, notably Nürnberg. The outstanding 16th-century Meistersinger Hans Sachs (Sachs, Hans) is celebrated in the opera Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg by Richard Wagner (Wagner, Richard).

      In the mid-16th century the leader of the Protestant Reformation, Martin Luther (Luther, Martin), composed chorales, many of them based on older Latin hymns and secular tunes, for performance in religious services. The chorale, a musical form characteristic of the Protestant church in Germany, was developed in sophisticated ways in the early 17th century by the composer and musicologist Michael Praetorius (Praetorius, Michael). Heinrich Schütz (Schütz, Heinrich), widely considered the greatest German composer of the 17th century, produced sacred vocal music that melded the newer styles of his Italian teachers (notably Giovanni Gabrieli (Gabrieli, Giovanni)) with traditional German forms; his Dafne was the first German opera.

 The late Baroque period of musical history (the first half of the 17th century) was dominated by Johann Sebastian Bach (Bach, Johann Sebastian), a brilliant and prolific composer for the organ and harpsichord, who produced masterpieces of instrumental and sacred vocal music, including the six Brandenburg Concertos and the Mass in B Minor, and by the German-born English composer George Frideric Handel (Handel, George Frideric), who is best remembered for his operas and oratorios, especially the Messiah, and for the instrumental pieces Water Music and Music for the Royal Fireworks. Another major figure, Georg Philipp Telemann (Telemann, Georg Philipp) was considered Germany's leading composer during his lifetime and is arguably the most prolific and versatile composer in history.

 Germanic music until the early 20th century is understood to include the contributions of Austrian composers. Indeed, Ludwig van Beethoven (Beethoven, Ludwig van), whose work bridged the 18th and 19th centuries, is generally regarded as the pivotal transitional figure between the Classical period—best represented by the works of Austrians Franz Josef Haydn (Haydn, Joseph) and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus)—and the Romantic period. Mozart, considered by many the greatest of all musical geniuses, was the master of all genres, especially the symphony, chamber music for strings, and opera. Beethoven developed the major forms of Classical instrumental music—especially the symphony, the sonata, and the quartet—in radically new directions. The passion and heroic individualism of his music, and Beethoven's own uncompromising commitment to the purity and integrity of his art, inspired many composers and writers of the Romantic Movement. Also influential was Beethoven's contemporary the Austrian Franz Schubert (Schubert, Franz), remembered principally for his chamber music.

 Felix Mendelssohn (Mendelssohn, Felix) (Overture to a Midsummer Night's Dream), the first of the major German Romantic composers, was also a conductor and led a 19th-century revival of interest in Bach, whose music had been neglected for nearly 100 years. Other significant 19th-century German composers included Robert Schumann (Schumann, Robert) and his wife Clara Schumann (Schumann, Clara), Carl Maria von Weber (Weber, Carl Maria von), Johannes Brahms (Brahms, Johannes), who, with the Russian Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, (Tchaikovsky, Pyotr Ilyich) was one of the most important symphonic composers of the second half of the 19th century, and Richard Wagner (Wagner, Richard), who created a revolutionary new form of musical drama grounded in complicated psychological, religious, and philosophical symbolism.

      In the late 19th and the early 20th century Richard Strauss (Strauss, Richard) composed operas and operettas but is best remembered for his tone poems, especially Don Juan and Also sprach Zarathustra. His contemporary the Austrian Gustav Mahler (Mahler, Gustav) anticipated the compositional techniques of the 20th century and is generally regarded as the last great composer in the Austro-German tradition. In the early 20th century the Austrian Arnold Schoenberg (Schoenberg, Arnold) invented the atonal method of composition known as serialism, or the 12-tone technique, to which German composer Paul Hindemith (Hindemith, Paul) responded by developing a system of composition that expanded traditional tonality. Also shaped by Schoenberg, the Austrian composer Alban Berg (Berg, Alban) produced exceptional works—notably his operas Wozzeck and Lulu—in atonal style. Carl Orff (Orff, Carl), in addition to composing, created an innovative system of musical education for children.

      In the late 1920s Kurt Weill (Weill, Kurt) collaborated with Brecht to satirize the corruption of modern capitalism in Die Dreigroschenoper (The Threepenny Opera; including the standard "Mack the Knife" ) and Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny (“Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny”). In these and other works, Weill employed a “cabaret” style incorporating popular tunes, jazz, and ragtime. The rise of the Nazis in 1933 forced many German composers and musicians to flee to the United States. In the decades after World War II, Karlheinz Stockhausen (Stockhausen, Karlheinz), the most eminent of contemporary German composers, produced avant-garde electronic music that radically extended the expressive possibilities of serialism. Other significant German composers of the second half of the 20th century included Bernd Alois Zimmerman, best known for his opera Die Soldaten (“The Soldiers”), and Hans Werner Henze (Henze, Hans Werner).

      The Berlin Philharmonic, led for more than three decades by Herbert von Karajan (Karajan, Herbert von), is among the world's leading orchestras, as are the Gewandhaus Orchestra of Leipzig, formerly conducted by Kurt Masur (Masur, Kurt); the Bamberg Symphonic Orchestra; the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra; and the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra. Many German musicians, including the conductor and pianist Christian Thielemann and the violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter, and concert vocalists, including Elisabeth Schwarzkopf (Schwarzkopf, Dame Elisabeth) and Peter Schreir, enjoy international reputations. Moreover, the opera houses of Hamburg (the oldest), Berlin, Cologne, Frankfurt, and Munich are among the world's most renowned. The system of state-supported opera has allowed many young North American and British singers lacking opportunities at home to train in Germany, and some remain in the permanent companies there.

      Germany has also been proving ground for foreign rock musicians, from the Beatles (Beatles, the) apprenticeship in clubs along Hamburg's in the early 1960s to fellow Englishman David Bowie (Bowie, David)'s landmark recordings in Berlin and the collaborations of Italian producer Giorgio Moroder and American disco diva Donna Summer (Summer, Donna) in Munich's in the 1970s. German performers have also left their mark on rock, not least the influential groups Can, Faust, and Tangerine Dream, whose innovative music emerged in the early 1970s and was dubbed “Krautrock” by Anglo-American critics. A wave of other German groups followed, notably Kraftwerk, who helped lay the foundation for the modern techno music celebrated by tens of thousands of revelers in Berlin's annual . Curiously, East Germany's best-known rock performer was leftist American expatriate Dean Reed (the “Red Elvis”), who was especially popular in the Soviet Union in the 1970s and '80s.

      Dance also has been an important part of German cultural life. In the 18th century the waltz, a ballroom dance for couples, developed from regional social dances of southern Germany and Austria, such as the Dreher, Ländler, and Deutscher. The waltz quickly gained popularity in other European countries, perhaps because it appeared to represent some of the abstract values of the Romantic era, the ideals of freedom, character, passion, and expressiveness. Vienna became the city of the waltz. The early 19th century was the age of the Viennese waltz kings, most notably the composers of the Strauss family.

      Ballet in Germany was generally relegated to various court opera productions. During the French choreographer Jean-Georges Noverre (Noverre, Jean-Georges)'s appointment at Stuttgart (1760–67), Germany briefly became a significant centre for ballet. However, German theatrical dance lacked a unified movement until the 20th century.

      Modern dance was embraced in Germany, where it was known as Ausdruckstanz (“expressionistic dance”). Early modern dance pioneers such as Mary Wigman (Wigman, Mary), Kurt Jooss (Jooss, Kurt), and Hanya Holm (Holm, Hanya) had a broad influence on dance practice, particularly in the United States. The Stuttgart Ballet at the Württemberg State Theatre rose to world prominence in the 1960s under its South African-born director John Cranko (Cranko, John), and its success continued under Marcia Haydée and Reid Anderson after Cranko's death in 1973. In Wuppertal in the 1970s the choreographer Pina Bausch pioneered the innovative form known as Tanztheater (“dance theatre”), which was widely influential into the 1980s. The Hamburg Ballet is also a lively centre of world ballet. (For further discussion, see music, Western; waltz; and ballet.)

The visual arts
      Germany has a strong, rich tradition in the visual arts. In the medieval era, the reign of Charlemagne introduced German artists to the three-dimensionality of Roman art. Paintings and sculptures, often in the Gothic (Gothic art) style popularized in France and Germany, were generally made to decorate churches, and illuminated manuscripts and stained glass were also created. In the 15th century, the design of altarpieces, which combined the arts of painting, sculpture, and architecture, became a popular pursuit, and the rise of book printing led to the design of many fine woodcut illustrations. In the late 15th and the 16th centuries, a generation of German artists emerged that included Albrecht Dürer (Dürer, Albrecht), Lucas Cranach (Cranach, Lucas, the Elder), Matthias Grünewald (Grünewald, Matthias), and Hans Holbein the Younger (Holbein, Hans, the Younger), all of whom worked in a style influenced by the Italian Renaissance; their work represented a golden age in German art. During this era, the Protestant Reformation of the 1520s brought about the destruction of some art that was deemed idolatrous and led to more secular subject matter, as seen in the numerous self-portraits by Dürer.

      Subsequent generations of artists explored French and Italian variations on the Baroque (Baroque period) and Rococo (Rococo style), but German art did not develop a definite national character again until the mid-18th century, when a staid Neoclassicism, advocated by theorist Johann Winckelmann (Winckelmann, Johann) and a series of new art academies, took hold. At the turn of the 19th century, Romanticism blossomed, perhaps best exemplified in the work of Caspar David Friedrich (Friedrich, Caspar David) and Philipp Otto Runge, who in the first quarter of the century explored nature with a passionate, almost religious fervour. By the late 19th century, artists began to form groups that seceded from the conservative teachings and exhibition opportunities of the academies. Nevertheless, the staid Neoclassical style mostly dominated until the late 19th century, when secessionist groups formed in Munich (1892), Berlin (1898), and, under the leadership of Gustav Klimt (Klimt, Gustav), Vienna (1897).

      German painters of the 20th century, especially groups such as Die Brücke (Brücke, Die) (“The Bridge”) and Der Blaue Reiter (Blaue Reiter, Der) (“The Blue Rider”), developed a new Expressionist (Expressionism) current in European art. Beginning in 1916, Kurt Schwitters (Schwitters, Kurt), George Grosz (Grosz, George), Hannah Höch, John Heartfield, and others explored the more theoretical concerns of Dada, while in the 1920s artists such as Otto Dix (Dix, Otto) and photographer August Sander (Sander, August) worked in the realistic, socially critical style known as Neue Sachlichkeit (“New Objectivity”).

      These and other developments came to a halt in 1933 with the rise of the National Socialists. Hitler and the Nazi regime condemned most modern art, holding the infamous Entartete Kunst (“ degenerate art”) show in 1937 in an attempt to make a mockery of artists such as Wassily Kandinsky (Kandinsky, Wassily), Emil Nolde (Nolde, Emil), and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (Kirchner, Ernst Ludwig). Conservative, “heroic” German landscape art was instead promoted as an ideal art form.

      After World War II, German art struggled to regain a sense of direction, challenged by the emigration of many important German artists to France or the United States. In East Germany a form of Socialist Realism dominated artistic practice, a trend that would continue until reunification. In West Germany, however, many artists experimented with avant-garde movements such as Abstract Expressionism, Pop art, minimalism, and Op art. Beginning in the 1960s, Joseph Beuys (Beuys, Joseph) created sculpture, performance art, and installation art that challenged the very definition of “high art.” Incorporating materials such as fat and felt, Beuys's work represented an individual take on Pop art's goal of bringing art into the realm of the everyday experience; his example influenced a new generation of artists. Perhaps the most notable German figure of the 1970s was Gerhard Richter (Richter, Gerhard), who became known for his paintings based on photographs. Blurring the lines between the media of photography and painting, his beautifully executed works anticipated the challenge to traditional forms that would characterize postmodern art. German art was again at the centre of the international art world when Neo-Expressionism became the dominant international trend of the 1980s. Building upon German art's long-standing interest in Expressionism, artists such as Georg Baselitz (who had been making important work since the 1960s), Anselm Kiefer (Kiefer, Anselm), and Sigmar Polke combined a raw, expressive application of paint with challenging subject matter.

      At the turn of the 21st century, photography became the international medium of choice. German artists who won international art prizes and had their work featured in the world's most prominent museums included Wolfgang Tillmans, who gained attention for his portraits of youth culture; Bernd and Hilla Becher, who adopted a formalist approach and won a coveted lifetime achievement prize at the Infinity Awards in 2003; Thomas Struth, who became especially well known for his series of photographs set within major museum galleries; and Andreas Gursky, who became known for his large-scale photographs of public spaces. (For further discussion, see painting, Western; and photography, history of.)

 Throughout its history, German architecture combined influences from elsewhere in Europe with its own national character. During the medieval period, the Romanesque style dominated. In the 13th century, as the Gothic style took hold, some of Germany's most notable structures were built, including the cathedrals at Cologne (begun 1248) and Strasbourg (planned 1277). Variations on the Gothic and Renaissance styles predominated through the 15th and 16th centuries, but, after the Protestant Reformation, commissions for elaborate religious structures decreased for a time. A revival of the Gothic began in the 17th century, when an increasing amount of ornamentation became the chief characteristic of churches and palaces; this decorative bent in German design reached a crescendo in the first half of the 18th century with the influence of the French and Italian Rococo style. Such lightness evaporated by the 19th century, when a forbidding sort of Neoclassicism came to represent the Prussian military spirit of the time. The Romantically tinged Neoclassicism of Karl Friedrich Schinkel (Schinkel, Karl Friedrich), who became state architect of Prussia in 1815, embodied this era. Although radical architecture was generally suppressed during this period, some architects, inspired in part by the Jugendstil movement and figures such as Henry van de Velde (Velde, Henry van de) and Peter Behrens (Behrens, Peter), questioned by the turn of the century the validity of architecture that appeared so disengaged from modernity; such questioning opened the door for the radical experiments that characterized German architecture in the 20th century.

      Contemporary German architecture—indeed world architecture—is very much the creature of the Bauhaus school that originated in Weimar in the 1920s and is associated with the names of Walter Gropius (Gropius, Walter) and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (Mies van der Rohe, Ludwig). In the postwar years the dogmas of the Bauhaus school—the insistence on strict harmony of style with function and on the intrinsic beauty of materials, as well as a puritan disdain of decorativeness—were dutifully applied in building after building in city after city. Yet in West Germany, as elsewhere in the 1960s and '70s, the stark Bauhaus style began to yield to the more free-ranging postmodernism, which took as its precept “not just function but fiction as well.” The unremitting rectangularity of the International Style was to be softened by elements of regionalism. Leading exponents of this school include Josef Paul Kleihues, Oswald Mathias Ungers, and the brothers Rob and Leon Krier.

      Architectural developments in East Germany (German Democratic Republic) reflected the influence of Soviet ideological tenets and models. Buildings in the eastern region differ from those in western Germany in the immensity of their proportions. The major showpieces in eastern Berlin—the government buildings, apartment blocks, hotels, and public spaces along Unter den Linden, Marx-Engels-Platz, Alexanderplatz, and Karl-Marx-Allee, and the startlingly graceless Leipziger-Strasse—and their exaggerated decorations all testify to a propensity for sheer vastness. Later architecture under the communist regime is immediately recognizable not only by excessive dimensions, whether horizontal or vertical, but also by monotonously white facades seldom relieved by colour trimming. Except where ideological factors intruded (as in the destruction of the Berlin Palace), the East German government had a reasonable record for the preservation of historic buildings.

      After unification the long-deserted Potsdamer Platz in the heart of Berlin, once a focus of Berlin's economic and administrative life, came alive with the construction of an array of public and private buildings by internationally renowned architects such as Renzo Piano, Helmut Jahn, and Richard Rogers. After somewhat acrimonious artistic and political debates, an agreement was reached to construct a Holocaust memorial in the area. (For further discussion, see architecture, Western (Western architecture).)

 In contrast to the situation after World War I, when Germany helped set the pace in many newer forms of art and entertainment, most notably in the genre of motion pictures, both East and West Germany were slow in finding métiers of their own in the cinema in the early decades after World War II. Directors such as Fritz Lang (Lang, Fritz), Ernst Lubitsch (Lubitsch, Ernst), F.W. Murnau (Murnau, F.W.), and G.W. Pabst (Pabst, G.W.), who had virtually defined cinematic art in the 1920s and early '30s, had no counterparts to rescue German film from the slough of mediocrity into which it had fallen as a result of the Third Reich. Leni Riefenstahl (Riefenstahl, Leni), one of Germany's leading filmmakers of the 1930s, was tapped by the Nazi regime to produce many of its propaganda films, including Triumph des Willens (1935; Triumph of the Will). Most noteworthy German filmmakers, such as Lang, Lubitsch, and Billy Wilder (Wilder, Billy), relocated to Hollywood, where they enriched American cinema with their work, as did German actors such as Marlene Dietrich (Dietrich, Marlene), Paul Henreid (Henreid, Paul), Peter Lorre (Lorre, Peter), and Conrad Veidt.

      After World War II the studios of the giant UFA (Universum-Film-Aktiengesellschaft) in Babelsberg (a suburb of Potsdam), the centre of German film production from 1917 to 1945, were in East German hands; the industry continued as a government-owned enterprise known as DEFA (Deutsche Film-Akademie), noted for animation, documentaries, and feature films, some of which achieved recognition at international film festivals. DEFA was privatized into six divisions in 1992, and its historical film stock has been preserved by the publicly owned DEFA Foundation.

      In the 1960s West Germany's changing demographics, plus the encroachment of television, caused the collapse of its domestic film market. A group of young filmmakers, first organized at the Oberhausen Film Festival in 1962, established das neue Kino, or the New German Cinema. Relying on state subsidy to subsist, the members of the movement sought to examine Germany's unbewältige Vergangenheit, or “unassimilated past.” The New German Cinema had little commercial success outside of Germany, but it still was internationally influential. The critical acclaim afforded directors such as Rainer Werner Fassbinder (Fassbinder, Rainer Werner), Volcker Schlöndorff (Schlöndorff, Volker), Werner Herzog (Herzog, Werner), Wim Wenders (Wenders, Wim), Hans-Jürgen Syberberg, Wolfgang Petersen, and Percy Aldon helped reestablish West Germany as a serious filmmaking country, as did the work of actors such as Klaus Kinski (Kinski, Klaus), Bruno Ganz, and Hanna Schygulla. Women directors, such as Margarethe von Trotta, Helma Sanders-Brahms, and Doris Dörrie also came to prominence during the 1970s and '80s.

      Germany's reunification in 1990 cut short attempts to forge a national cinematic identity in eastern Germany, though some notable productions marked the following decade, among them Tom Tykwer's Lola rennt (1998; Run Lola Run), Katja von Garnier's Bandits (1996), Herzog's Mein liebster Feind (1999; My Best Fiend), and Wenders's Buena Vista Social Club (1999). Some noted German filmmakers also found significant success in the United States. Roland Emerich, for example, established himself in the action-adventure genre, and Wolfgang Petersen (Das Boot, 1982) became one of Hollywood's more noted practitioners of the thriller. Moreover, many of Hollywood's most prominent cinematographers, composers, and production artists have also hailed from Germany. However, at the beginning of the 21st century, though there was no shortage of German filmmaking talent, few German directors were producing German films. (For further discussion, see motion picture, history of.) (motion picture, history of the)

Arts festivals
      The arts are celebrated with a proliferation of festivals in Germany on a scale scarcely equaled in any other country. Most major cities and scores of small towns and villages sponsor festivals that celebrate all genres of music, film, and the performing arts. Among the most renowned of these is the Bayreuth Festival, which celebrates the works of Richard Wagner. Founded by the composer himself in 1876, it is still under the direction of his descendants. The oldest German festival is the Passion play, first held in 1634 and now held every 10 years in Oberammergau in southern Bavaria to celebrate the town's deliverance from the plague.

 Berlin alone has five major festivals: the Berliner Festwochen (Berlin Festival Weeks) in September and October, with five weeks of musical events; the Berliner Jazzfest in November; the Berlin International Film Festival in February; the Theatertreffen Berlin (“Berlin Theatre Meeting”), featuring productions from throughout the German-speaking world; and the Karneval der Kulturen (“Carnival of Cultures”), a festival of world cultures. Munich has an opera festival in July and August, with emphasis on Richard Strauss (Strauss, Richard). Festivals in Würzburg and Augsburg are dedicated to Mozart. Ansbach has a Bach festival, and Bonn has one celebrating Beethoven. Other noteworthy events include Documenta, an arts festival held every five years in Kassel that draws hundreds of thousands of visitors, the International May Festival in Wiesbaden, and the Festival of Contemporary Music in Donaueschingen. Expo 2000, Germany's first world's fair, was held in Hanover.

Cultural institutions
      Germany has placed great importance on supporting the country's cultural, educational, and scientific resources. A prodigious number of organizations, maintained entirely or in part by public funds, is devoted to acquainting the international public with the culture, life, and language of the German peoples and familiarizing the German public with the culture and life of other countries. Cultural representation abroad is maintained in abundance with the advanced industrial countries of the West and with eastern Europe, but special emphasis is placed upon fostering educational and cultural ties with the world's less-developed countries. For them Germany not only has assumed a major role in lending reserves of technological skill and capital for developing resources, but it also has become a major centre for the education and training of students from these countries in the professions, the sciences, and technology.

      Prominent among cultural groups is the Goethe-Institut Inter Nationes (formerly the Goethe Institut of Munich). Founded in 1951, it has some 140 branches in more than 70 countries. It operates schools in Germany and abroad that offer instruction in the German language. It also maintains lending libraries and audiovisual centres, sponsors exhibits, film programs, musical and theatrical events, and lectures by prominent personalities.

Museums and galleries
 Germany has some 2,000 museums of all descriptions, from those housing some of the world's great collections of painting and sculpture or of archaeological and scientific displays to those with exhibitions of minutiae, such as the playing-card museum in Stuttgart. Museums and galleries of great note include the museums of the Prussian Cultural Property Foundation in Berlin—i.e., the Pergamon Museum with its vast collection of Classical and Middle Eastern antiquities, located on the “Museum Island” in the River Spree, together with the Old (Altes) Museum, the New (Neues) Museum, the National Gallery (Nationalgalerie), and the Bode Museum—the Zwinger Museum and Picture Gallery (built by Gottfried Semper) in Dresden, the Bavarian State Picture Galleries and the Deutsches Museum in Munich, the Germanic National Museum in Nürnberg, the Roman-Germanic Central Museum in Mainz, the Senckenberg Museum of natural science in Frankfurt am Main, and the State Gallery in Stuttgart. Some museums are highly specialized, devoted to a single artist, school, or genre, but many combine natural science and fine arts. There are many ethnological museums, such as the Linden Museum in Stuttgart, the East German Gallery Museum in Regensburg, and the Ethnological Museum in Berlin-Dahlem. Important art treasures are scattered in the scores of smaller museums, libraries and archives, castles, cathedrals, churches, and monasteries throughout the country. The Berlin-Dahlem Botanical Garden and Botanical Museum, founded in the 17th century, is German's oldest botanical garden. Specialized exhibits, such as the 500th anniversary celebration of Albrecht Dürer in Nürnberg in 1971, the Hohenstaufen exhibit in Stuttgart in 1977, the exhibit in West Berlin in 1981 commemorating Prussia, the exhibit “Patterns of Jewish Life” in Berlin in 1992, or the Cézanne (1993) and Renoir (1996) exhibitions at Tübingen Kunsthalle, have attracted visitors from throughout the world.

      Among Germany's great libraries are the Bavarian State Library in Munich (the largest), the library of the Prussian Cultural Property Foundation (formerly the Prussian State Library), and National Library in Berlin. The German Library at Frankfurt am Main is the country's library of deposit and bibliographic centre. The Technical Library at Hannover is Germany's most important library for science and technology and for translations of works in the fields of science and engineering. The great university libraries at Heidelberg, Cologne, Göttingen, Leipzig, Tübingen, and Munich are complemented by scores of other good university libraries. A wealth of manuscripts, early printed works, and documents from the Middle Ages to the present are dispersed in smaller collections. The great research libraries are complemented by an extensive system of lending libraries operated by the states, the municipalities, the library associations of the Roman Catholic and Evangelical churches, and other public associations and institutes. Virtually all citizens are within easy access of a library.

Sports and recreation
Sporting culture
      Unity and disunity may be constant themes of German history, but in sports and physical culture Germans have long been well organized. In the early 19th century, coincident with the rise of nationalism, Friedrich Ludwig Jahn (Jahn, Friedrich Ludwig), considered the “father of gymnastics,” founded the turnverein, a gymnastics club, and invented several of the disciplines that are now part of the Olympic (Olympic Games) gymnastics program. At the same time, Johann Christoph Friedrich GutsMuths initiated school programs that helped bring physical education to the forefront of German education. Ideals of health—Gesund—and athletic prowess became important components of the German conception of self. These ideals were later critical to the Nazi (Nazi Party) conception of the ideal German.

      German athletes participated in the first modern Olympic Games in 1896 in Athens. In the aftermath of World War I, the country was not invited to the Olympic Games until the 1928 Winter Games in St. Moritz, Switzerland. However, Berlin was designated as the site for the 1936 Olympics in 1931, before the rise to power of Adolf Hitler, who transformed the Games into a stage to promote Nazi ideals, though this effort was thwarted somewhat by key victories by African American sprinter and long jumper Jesse Owens (Owens, Jesse) and other “non-Aryan” athletes. The 1936 Berlin Olympics also inaugurated the tradition of the Olympic torch relay, with the lighted torch carried from Olympia, Greece, to the Berlin stadium.

 Nazi influence on German sports was not limited to the Olympics. German Max Schmeling (Schmeling, Max), the world heavyweight boxing champion between 1930 and 1932, pulled a stunning upset of American Joe Louis in 1936 and quickly found himself an unwilling pawn of Nazi propaganda. Their rematch, won by Louis, generated enormous publicity and became the most politicized fight of the century.

      Following partition, East and West German athletes competed on the same national team from 1956 to 1964. The two countries then split their teams for the next six Olympiads, joining the front lines of Cold War athletic competition. In 1972 Munich hosted the Summer Games, which were marred when Palestinian terrorists took hostage and killed 11 members of the Israeli team.

      Germany's Olympic teams—East, West, and unified—have dominated many events, especially swimming. Indeed, in 1976 and 1980 East German female swimmers, including the famed Kornelia Ender (Ender, Kornelia), set more than 10 world records and captured 22 of the 26 gold medals. Among other renowned German Olympians are swimmers Kristin Otto and Michael Gross, figure skater Katarina Witt (Witt, Katarina), speed skaters Karin Enke (Enke, Karin) and Christa Luding-Rothenburger (Luding-Rothenburger, Christa), luger Georg Hackl (Hackl, Georg), sprinter Armin Hary, and equestrian Hans Günter Winkler (Winkler, Hans Günter).

 Football (soccer) is a passion for many Germans, and German teams excel at all levels of competition. The Bundesliga is among the world's most respected professional football leagues. The country's most famous international player was Franz Beckenbauer (Beckenbauer, Franz), a Bavarian who led his Bayern Munich club to three consecutive European Cup titles in the 1970s. Beckenbauer also was captain of the West German national team that won the 1974 World Cup, and he was the manager of the West German team that won the World Cup in 1990. In 2006 Germany hosted the World Cup. German tennis players Steffi Graf (Graf, Steffi), Boris Becker (Becker, Boris), and Michael Stich also excelled on the international circuit, winning more than 25 major titles during the 1980s and '90s. Golfer Bernhard Langer won the Masters Tournament in 1985 and 1993. The popularity of basketball grew considerably in the last part of the 20th century, and Germany began to produce world-class professional players such as Detlef Schrempf and Dirk Nowitzki.

      The government of the Third Reich militarized many German sports, equating athletic and military excellence. In the period after World War II, organized sports suffered from this tainted association, but the devotion of Germans to health and fitness continued, and the West German government quickly made efforts to democratize sporting activities by emphasizing recreation and personal development over victory. Physical education is mandatory throughout the primary and secondary grades, and summertime camps devoted to outdoor recreation, especially swimming, hiking, and mountaineering, enjoy widespread popularity. Academic study of sports and sporting cultures has also flourished in Germany.

Leisure activities
      Leisure is a major pursuit, if not an industry, in German life. As did workers in most Western industrial countries, Germans once toiled under an unrestricted six-day workweek, often 10 hours a day with breaks only on Sundays and for major feasts and festivals. Added to these traditional feasts and festivals now are several secular holidays and three to six weeks or more of paid vacation time. Moreover, the German workweek is now 40 hours or less. As a result, Germans have more leisure time than workers of most Western countries. This abundance of leisure has become a national preoccupation, and the German Leisure Association conducts research on leisure activity and dispenses information and advice.

      The German pattern of recreation is characterized by a duality of traditional and modern approaches. To a surprising extent in a country so highly industrialized, ancient feasts and practices are still observed on a wide scale in both Roman Catholic and Protestant areas, especially pre-Lenten celebrations known as Fasching in the southern regions or Karneval ( carnival) in the Rhineland. In addition to the major religious festivals—Easter, Christmas, Whitsun (which are also national holidays), and, in Roman Catholic districts, Corpus Christi Day and Assumption—there are numerous local celebrations—wine, beer, harvest, hunting, and historical festivals—the so-called Volksfeste that are deeply rooted in German custom, the most notable being Munich's Oktoberfest, held each September.

      Although the traditional observances continue unabated, Germans have adopted a wide range of more modern forms of recreation, amusement, and relaxation. Travel has become the favoured pastime of a majority of Germans. More than half of all adults take at least one annual trip for pleasure, and a great number take more than one. Many Germans now take both a winter and summer vacation. Older persons often take a paid Kur at a spa to rest and recuperate, in addition to a holiday trip for pleasure. More Germans take leisure trips abroad than the citizens of any other country.

      The weekend, a latecomer in Germany, has become firmly established. Private recreation typically includes spectator amusements and sports (especially football), active sports and physical exercise, automobile excursions, the pursuit of hobbies, visits with friends and family, and the long-favoured German pastime of walking or hiking.

      It is estimated that about one-fifth of a household's income in Germany's western regions is spent on leisure expenses. Many institutions, including the government, local communities, schools, churches, and companies, encourage citizens to channel their free time into useful, rewarding, and healthful pursuits by providing physical facilities, impetus, and other prerequisites for all phases of public recreation. Leisure in Germany is now regarded—much like education and vocational training, decent housing, a job, good public transportation, health and disability insurance, and pensions—as an entitlement and a valuable adjunct of social policy.

      In East Germany (German Democratic Republic), leisure activity was arranged very differently. The state ideal was group leisure, group holidays, and group travel, often organized by the workplace or a youth organization. Cheap holiday facilities were available, especially along the resorts of the Baltic coast. Residents of East Germany were at liberty to travel privately to any of the Warsaw Pact countries and sometimes to Yugoslavia. It is worth noting that the fall of the communist bloc was precipitated in part by the large number of East Germans who, while visiting Hungary, crossed unimpeded into Austria when the Hungarian government opened its border with the West.

Media and publishing
      Although German radio and television are not state-controlled, only public corporations were permitted to broadcast until the mid-1980s, when a dual system of public and commercial stations was established. Still, in 1986 the Federal Constitutional Court held that the public corporations comprised the “basic supply” of news and entertainment and commercial outlets were only a “supplementary supply.” Licensing and control of public broadcasting is under the Federal Ministry of Post and Telecommunications. Support for public broadcasting is provided by fees paid by the owners of radios and television sets.

      The public corporations enjoy great freedom in establishing their own broadcasting policies. Attempts to control these policies, which are often hostile to incumbent governments, have been repeatedly rebuffed; thus, in practice, German television, more than radio, enjoys remarkable latitude and independence in what it broadcasts.

      Public radio and television are arranged along national and regional lines, with a number of regional corporations that offered two to four radio programming schedules combining to form one evening television offering, ARD (Arbeitsgemeinschaft der Öffentlich-Rechtlichen Rundfunkanstalten Deutschlands). This is complemented by a second television network, ZDF (Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen), which is based in Mainz. A third channel is operated by ARD but is organized and broadcast regionally, with special emphasis placed on local and regional events and school instruction, as well as on educational, informational, and fine arts programs. The uneven quality of entertainment in both radio and television is offset by the high-quality news coverage and political and social reporting that makes the German public one of the best-informed of any country.

      Two radio stations—Deutschland Radio and Deutsche Welle—are publicly operated to provide a comprehensive German perspective of events; Deutsche Welle is beamed to Europe and overseas. There are also several regional public radio stations that provide localized programming and some 200 private radio stations that are regionally and locally focused.

      Cable television has been greatly expanded. Supplied by satellite transmissions, the cable networks offer extensive programming from public and commercial television in Germany and from abroad.

      During the years of partition, viewers in East Germany (German Democratic Republic) could freely receive radio and television broadcasts from West Germany and from West Berlin, with the result that the public in East Germany kept current on news from the West. The broadcasting facilities in the former East Germany were reorganized along lines of the western states—i.e., each of the new states has its own regional stations.

The press
      Germans are voracious readers of newspapers and periodicals. Freedom of the press is guaranteed under the Basic Law, and the economic state of Germany's several hundred newspapers and thousands of periodicals is enviably healthy. Most major cities support two or more daily newspapers, in addition to community periodicals, and few towns of any size are without their own daily newspaper. During the 1990s most German newspapers and periodicals published daily or weekly editions on the Internet, enabling access far beyond their traditional print circulation.

      The press is free of government control, no newspaper is owned by a political party, and only about 10 percent of newspapers overtly support a political party, though most offer a distinctly political point of view. Laws restrict the total circulation of newspapers or magazines that can be controlled by one publisher or group. The Bundeskartellamt (Federal Cartel Office) oversees German industry (including the media) to ensure against a company abusing its dominant position within a particular industry. Although newspaper and periodical ownership cannot be the monopoly of any one ownership, Axel Springer Verlag AG controls a significant share of the market. Other major newspaper publishers, some of which also publish magazines and other periodicals, include Gruner+Jahr AG (a Bertelsmann company), Süddeutscher Verlag, Heinrich Bauer Verlag, and Burda. The German Press Council, established in 1956, sets out guidelines and investigates complaints against the press.

      A national press exists on one level in the form of Süddeutsche Zeitung (Munich), Die Welt (Welt, Die) (Berlin), and the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, together with regional newspapers (e.g., the Stuttgarter Zeitung, the Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung (Essen), and the Frankfurter Rundschau), which also command international circulation and respect. Another level of the national press is represented by the universally circulated tabloid Bild (Hamburg), which has the largest readership of any paper and publishes several regional editions.

      Berlin has many daily newspapers, including the liberal Der Tagesspiegel, the conservative Berliner Morgenpost, and the Berliner Zeitung, which had originally been published in East Germany. The Berliner Zeitung was acquired by western press interests after unification and swiftly gained recognition as the city's preeminent newspaper. Other leading newspapers of the former East Germany were also bought by western publishers.

      The major edition of German newspapers, replete with politics and arts features, is published on Saturday. A lively Sunday press complements the daily newspapers, providing an overview, perspective, and interpretation of major news developments as well as political comment and artistic criticism; the most prestigious and influential of these is Die Zeit (Zeit, Die) (Hamburg). Others include the venerable Rheinischer Merkur (Bonn), the Bayernkurier (Munich), and the Deutsches Allgemeines Sonntagsblatt (Hamburg). Sunday counterparts of the major dailies, Welt am Sonntag and Bild am Sonntag, are run virtually as separate newspapers, competing with the other weeklies.

      The genre of the Illustrierte (pictorial) dominates the German magazine market. Some of these popular weekly glossies, such as Stern and Bunte, carry features, including investigative reporting, of a high calibre; others, however, cater to an unquenchable public thirst for the escapades of celebrities, bizarre crime, the annals of gracious living, and sundry escapist topics. Apart from a wealth of specialized journals and quality business-oriented magazines, the role of high-prestige magazines of opinion is largely subsumed by the weighty weekend editions of the quality press.

      A special niche is occupied by the weekly newsmagazine Der Spiegel (Spiegel, Der), a journalistic power in its own right, which, since its founding in the period immediately after World War II, has shaped public opinion in Germany through its editorial posture as the skeptical, nonaligned observer and guardian of the public conscience. Exhaustive in its coverage and polemical in tone, it features thorough, critical investigations of events from both the past and the present.

      Germany has some 2,000 publishing houses, and more than 50,000 titles reach the public each year, a production surpassed only by the United States. Germany traditionally was home to small and medium-size publishing houses. However, the Bertelsmann group, a multinational conglomerate based in Gütersloh, is now one of the world's largest publishers. Book publishing is not centred in a single city but is concentrated fairly evenly in Berlin, Hamburg, and the regional metropolises of Cologne, Frankfurt, Stuttgart, and Munich. Leipzig, prewar Germany's major publishing city, shared with East Berlin the major publishing houses of East Germany. Gotha in Thuringia is renowned for the production of maps and atlases.

George Hall Kirby William H. Berentsen


Ancient history
       Germanic peoples occupied much of the present-day territory of Germany in ancient times. The Germanic peoples are those who spoke one of the Germanic languages, and they thus originated as a group with the so-called first sound shift ( Grimm's law), which turned a Proto-Indo-European dialect into a new Proto-Germanic language within the Indo-European language family. The Proto-Indo-European consonants p, t, and k became the Proto-Germanic f, [thorn] (th), and x (h), and the Proto-Indo-European b, d, and g became Proto-Germanic p, t, and k. The historical context of the shift is difficult to identify because it is impossible to date it conclusively. Clearly the people who came to speak Proto-Germanic must have been isolated from other Indo-Europeans for some time, but it is not obvious which archaeological culture might represent the period of the shift. One possibility is the so-called Northern European Bronze Age, which flourished in northern Germany and Scandinavia between about 1700 and 450 BC. Alternatives would be one of the early Iron Age cultures of the same region (e.g., Wessenstadt, 800–600 BC, or Jastorf, 600–300 BC).

      Evidence from archaeological finds and place-names suggests that, while early Germanic peoples probably occupied much of northern Germany during the Bronze and early Iron ages, peoples speaking Celtic languages occupied what is now southern Germany. This region, together with neighbouring parts of France and Switzerland, was the original homeland of the Celtic La Tène culture. About the time of the Roman expansion northward, in the first centuries BC and AD, Germanic groups were expanding southward into present-day southern Germany. The evidence suggests that the existing population was gradually Germanized rather than displaced by the Germanic peoples arriving from the north.

      Solid historical information begins about 50 BC when Julius Caesar's (Julius Caesar) Gallic Wars brought the Romans (ancient Rome) into contact with Germanic as well as Celtic peoples. Caesar did cross the Rhine in 55 and 53 BC, but the river formed the eastern boundary of the province of Gaul, which he created, and most Germanic tribes lived beyond it. Direct Roman attacks on Germanic tribes began again under Nero Claudius Drusus Germanicus (Drusus Germanicus, Nero Claudius), who pushed across the Rhine in 12–9 BC, while other Roman forces assaulted Germanic tribes along the middle Danube (in modern Austria and Hungary). Fierce fighting in both areas, and the famous victory of the Germanic leader Arminius in the Teutoburg Forest in AD 9 (when three Roman legions were massacred), showed that conquering these tribes would require too much effort. The Roman frontier (limes) thus stabilized on the Rhine (Rhine River) and Danube rivers (Danube River), although sporadic campaigns (notably under Domitian in AD 83 and 88) extended control over Frisia in the north and some lands between the Rhine and the upper Danube.

      Both archaeology and Caesar's own account of his wars show that Germanic tribes then lived on both sides of the Rhine. In fact, broadly similar archaeological cultures from this period stretch across central Europe from the Rhine to the Vistula River (in modern Poland), and Germanic peoples probably dominated all these areas. Germanic cultures extended from Scandinavia to as far south as the Carpathians. These Germans led a largely settled agricultural existence. They practiced mixed farming, lived in wooden houses, did not have the potter's wheel, were nonliterate, and did not use money. The marshy lowlands of northern Europe have preserved otherwise perishable wooden objects, leather goods, and clothing and shed much light on the Germanic way of life. These bogs were also used for ritual sacrifice and execution, and some 700 “bog people” have been recovered. Their remains are so well preserved that even dietary patterns can be established; the staple was a gruel made of many kinds of seeds and weeds.

      Clear evidence of social differentiation appears in these cultures. Richly furnished burials (containing jewelry and sometimes weapons) have been uncovered in many areas, showing that a wealthy warrior elite was developing. Powerful chiefs (chief) became a standard feature of Germanic society, and archaeologists have uncovered the halls where they feasted their retainers, an activity described in the Anglo-Saxon poem Beowulf. This warrior elite followed the cult of a war god, such as Tyr (Tiu) or Odin (Wodan). The Roman historian Tacitus relates in the Germania that in AD 59 the Hermunduri, in fulfillment of their vows, sacrificed defeated Chatti to one of these gods. This elite was also the basis of political organization. The Germanic peoples comprised numerous tribes that were also united in leagues centred on the worship of particular cults. These cults were probably created by one locally dominant tribe and changed over time. Tribes belonging to such leagues came together for an annual festival, when weapons were laid aside. Apart from worship, these were also times for economic activity, social interaction, and settling disputes.

Coexistence with Rome to AD 350
      After Rome had established its frontiers, commercial and cultural contacts between Germanic peoples and the Roman Empire were as important as direct conflict. Although it was heavily fortified, the frontier was never a barrier to trade or travel. About AD 50, tribes settled along the Rhine learned to use Roman money. Germanic graves—at least the richer ones—began to include Roman luxury imports such as fine pottery, glass, and metalwork. In return, raw materials, such as amber and leather, and many slaves went back across the frontier. Germanic tribesmen also served in Roman armies.

      Border raiding was endemic, and periodically there were much larger disturbances. About AD 150 the Marcomanni, a Germanic tribe, moved south into the middle Danube region, and they even invaded Italy in 167. The emperor Marcus Aurelius and his son (Commodus) spent the next 20 years curbing their inroads, and archaeology shows that the wars were highly destructive. This migration was one manifestation of a broader problem, for between about 150 and 200 a whole series of Germanic groups moved south along the river valleys of central and eastern Europe. These migrations resulted in great violence along the entire frontier during the 3rd century. Parts of Gaul suffered greatly, and Goths (Goth), a Germanic people that originated in southern Scandinavia, ravaged the Danube region, even killing the emperor Decius in 251. Yet intensive campaigns brought the Germanic tribes back under control, so that by about 280 stability had returned to the Rhine and Danube. The Roman army and an alliance system involving, among others, Franks (Frank), Alemanni, and Goths maintained the frontier until about 370.

      In the meantime the Germanic world was being transformed. For the balance of power in Europe, the most important development was the rise of larger and more cohesive Germanic political units, at least among the Germanic peoples living on the borders of the empire. This was largely a response to the military threat from Rome. Despite their occasional successes, more Germanic tribesmen than Romans had been killed in 3rd-century conflicts, and the Germanic peoples had learned that larger groups were more likely to survive. In the 4th century there were two powerful Germanic confederations: the Alemanni on the Rhine and the Goths on the Danube, both controlled by the military elite whose power over their fellow tribesmen continued to increase. Other contacts with the empire resulted in cultural borrowings. In the 3rd century Germanic peoples began to master the potter's wheel, and there is evidence of improved farming techniques; both were adopted from Rome. The empire was also partly responsible for Germanic groups' first steps toward literary culture. A written form of Gothic (Gothic language), the oldest literary Germanic language, was created about AD 350 by Ulfilas, a Roman-sponsored Arian Christian missionary, in order to translate the Bible.

The migration (human migration) period
      The situation was transformed by nomadic, non-Germanic Hunnish (Hun) horsemen from the east who pushed Germanic peoples into the Roman Empire in several waves. First, in 376, Visigoths (Visigoth) were admitted by the emperor Valens as foederati (“allies”) to farm and defend the frontier. This procedure was not without precedent and was unusual only in the enormity of the group involved (traditionally estimated at about 80,000). The Romans were unprepared for such a large group, and their failure to accommodate the group and outright hostility toward the Visigoths led to confrontation. Two years later the Visigoths killed Valens, winning a famous victory at Adrianople (Adrianople, Battle of) (now Edirne, Turkey), though by 382 they had been subdued. Yet, as the Huns (Hun) moved west, Rome's frontiers came under increasing pressure, and further large incursions (by Germanic as well as other peoples) occurred in 386, 395, 405, and 406. Some of the invaders were defeated, but Germanic Vandals (Vandal) and Suebi established themselves in Spain and later in North Africa, and the Visigoths exploited the disorder to rebel, especially after the election of Alaric as king. Marching to Italy, they demanded better terms, and, when these were not forthcoming, they sacked Rome on August 24, 410. Even though Rome was no longer capital of the empire, the sack was a profound shock for the people of the empire.

      The Roman Empire nevertheless remained an important power in Europe, both militarily and economically. Hence Germanic groups on the run from the Huns were anxious to make peace; even the Visigoths accepted a settlement in Gaul in 418. Since Germanic peoples had no sense of either common interests or common identity, they could be played off against one another; thus the Vandals were savaged by the Visigoths between 416 and 418. Until about 450 fear of the Huns meant that the empire could, in moments of crisis, mobilize at least Visigoths, Burgundians (Burgundy) (received into Gaul after being defeated by the Huns in 439), and Franks for its defense. Soon after Attila's death in 453, however, the Hun empire collapsed, and Rome lost this diplomatic weapon. It also suffered a progressive loss of revenue as territories were either occupied or—like Britain—abandoned by the imperial government. The balance thus swung further in the Germanic peoples' favour, and they eventually declared themselves independent. In the 470s a Visigothic kingdom emerged in southwestern Gaul and later gained control of most of the Iberian Peninsula. Meanwhile, a Burgundian kingdom arose in southeastern Gaul, and Clovis (Clovis I) created a Frankish kingdom in the north. The Vandals already controlled North Africa and the Suebi part of Spain, and Gepid (Gepidae) and Lombard kingdoms dominated the Danube. A band of Germans, led by Odoacer, deposed the last Roman emperor, Romulus Augustulus, in 476 and set up a kingdom in Italy. Ostrogoths (Ostrogoth) freed by the collapse of the Hun empire struggled for a generation to find a new homeland. Their struggles sometimes brought them into conflict with the Eastern Empire, whose ruler, Zeno, sought to mitigate the situation by elevating the Ostrogothic king, Theodoric, to the office of patrician. When this solution failed, Zeno sent Theodoric against Odoacer. Theodoric ultimately defeated Odoacer and established a successful Ostrogothic kingdom in Italy that lasted from 493 to 555.

      These Germanic successor states brought the Roman Empire in western Europe to an end. The empire could have resisted any of them singly, but the Hun invasions had pushed too many Germanic groups across the frontier too quickly. Battles, however, were the exception. More often the empire unwillingly, but peacefully, granted areas for settlement, and, as Rome became increasingly weaker, the local Roman provincial population looked to the newly settled Germanic peoples for protection. This period thus continued the transformation of the Germanic world. Because of the danger from Rome and the Huns, Germanic political units again increased in size. The new Germanic groups also fell under the influence of the Roman populations they came to rule. Literate, educated Romans enabled German kings systematically to raise taxation and expand their legal powers. The successor states to the Roman Empire were thus a fusion of Germanic military power and the administrative know-how of Roman provincial aristocrats. Transformation was complete in these regions when Germanic warrior and Roman provincial elites quickly intermarried, bringing into being a new aristocracy that was to shape medieval Europe.

      Within the boundaries of present-day Germany, the Hunnish conquest drove Germanic peoples out of the region to the east of the Elbe and Saale rivers during the early 5th century. This area was subsequently settled by peoples speaking Slavic languages, and present-day eastern Germany remained Slavic for some seven centuries. To the west and south, Germanic peoples such as the eastern Franks, Frisians, Saxons (Saxon), Thuringians, Alemanni, and Bavarians—all speaking West Germanic (West Germanic languages) dialects—had merged Germanic and borrowed Roman cultural features. It was among these groups that a German language and ethnic identity would gradually develop during the Middle Ages.

Peter John Heather

Merovingians and Carolingians
      When the Western Roman Empire ended in 476, the Germanic tribes west of the Rhine were not politically united. The West Germanic tribes, however, spoke dialects of a common language and shared social and political traditions. These traditions had been influenced by centuries of contact with the Roman world, both as federated troops within the empire and as participants in the broader political and economic network that extended beyond the Roman frontier. In particular a strongly military structure of social organization, under the direction of commanders termed kings or dukes, had developed among the federated tribes within the empire and spread to tribes living outside the empire proper. Likewise, the Ostrogothic kings in Italy extended their influence over much of the Germanic world north of the Alps.

      The Franks (Frank), settled in Romanized Gaul and western Germany, rejected Ostrogothic leadership and began to expand their kingdom eastward. Clovis (Clovis I)'s eventual conversion to Catholic Christianity improved the position of the Franks in their new kingdom because it earned them the support of the Catholic population and hierarchy of late Roman Gaul. Clovis and his successors, particularly Theodebert I (reigned 534–548), brought much of what would later constitute Germany under Frankish control by conquering the Thuringians of central Germany and the Alemanni and Bavarians of the south. Generally, these heterogeneous groups were given a law code that included Frankish and local traditions and were governed by a duke of mixed Frankish and indigenous background who represented the Frankish king. In times of strong central rule, as under Dagobert I (629–639), this leadership could have real effect. When the Frankish realm was badly divided or embroiled in civil wars, however, local dukes enjoyed great autonomy. This was particularly true of the Bavarian Agilolfings, who were closely related to the Lombard royal family of Italy and who by the 8th century enjoyed virtual royal status. In the north the Frisians and Saxons (Saxon) remained independent of Frankish control into the 8th century, preserving their own political and social structures and remaining for the most part pagan. In areas under Frankish lordship, Christianity made considerable progress through the efforts of native Raetians in the Alpine regions, of wandering Irish missionaries, and of transplanted Frankish aristocrats who supported monastic foundations.

The rise of the Carolingians and Boniface
      By the end of the 7th century and the beginning of the 8th, Merovingian (Merovingian dynasty) authority throughout the Frankish world had been seriously diminished by internal divisions among rival noble factions. Although the dynasty would retain possession of the crown until 751, it was effectively replaced by a rising power, the Carolingian (Carolingian dynasty) family, which controlled the office of mayor of the palace. The Carolingians, or Pippinids as they are known in their early days, first rose to power in the second decade of the 7th century when they assisted Chlothar II in the overthrow of Queen Brunhild. Their leader, Pippin I, was rewarded with the office of mayor, and his descendants would use the office as a means to enhance their power. However, both the Merovingians and Carolingians faced the claims of rival aristocratic families, including the Agilolfings, who also held the office of mayor of the palace. The victory of Pippin II over the Agilolfing mayor at the battle of Tertry in 687 reunited the kingdom in the name of the Merovingian king Theuderic IV and signaled the rising power of the Carolingians. Pippin's son, Charles Martel, after a struggle with Pippin's widow, assumed his father's position and came to be the leading figure in the realm. His position was so secure that he was able to rule during the last three years of his life without a Merovingian king on the throne, and he also was able to divide the kingdom between his two sons as the Merovingians had traditionally done.

      The early Carolingians consolidated control over the Frankish heartland and the duchies east of the Rhine, partly by supporting the missionary (mission) activities of churchmen who espoused Roman hierarchical forms of ecclesiastical organization that favoured political centralization; looser indigenous and Irish ecclesiastical structures meanwhile lost ground. Frankish penetration followed a pattern in which communities or churches were settled on land newly won from forest or marsh and granted them by their Carolingian protectors. Thus, from Frisia in the north to Bavaria in the south, religious, economic, and political penetration went hand in hand. A distinguished part was played by Anglo-Saxon missionaries, who linked the Frankish world not only with the high culture of their homeland but also with Rome. One of the most prominent of these was St. Willibrord (Willibrord, Saint) (c. 658–739), who worked as a missionary and Frankish agent among the Frisians and later the Thuringians. Of even greater significance was Willibrord's disciple St. Boniface (Boniface, Saint) (c. 675–754), the “apostle of Germany,” who preached the Word to the pagan Germans and introduced religious reform to the Frankish church. Supported by Charles Martel, Boniface led missions into Franconia, Thuringia, and Bavaria, where he founded or restructured diocesan organization on a Roman model. In 742, with the support of the new mayors of the palace Pippin and Carloman, he played a large part in the first council of the new German church. By the time of his martyrdom at the hands of northern Frisians, all the continental Germanic peoples except the Saxons were well on the way toward integration into a Roman-Frankish ecclesiastical structure.

      Boniface's missionary activities and religious reforms also influenced political developments in the Frankish kingdom. His close contact and frequent correspondence with the pope in Rome reinforced a developing trend in the Frankish world that involved the increasing devotion to St. Peter and his vicar. When Charles Martel's son and successor, Pippin (Pippin I), sought justification for his usurpation of the Frankish throne in 750, he appealed to Pope Zacharias (Zacharias, Saint), asking whether the person with the title or the power should be king. In the following year, Pippin assumed the throne and was crowned by the bishops of his realm, including, according to one account, the pope's representative in the Frankish kingdom, St. Boniface. Three years later, Pope Stephen II (Stephen II (or III)) traveled to Pippin's kingdom to seek aid from the king against the Lombards (Lombard). While there, Stephen strengthened the alliance with the Carolingians and Pippin's claim to the throne when he crowned Pippin and, according to some accounts, Pippin's sons Carloman and the future Charlemagne.

       Charlemagne built on the foundations laid by Boniface, Charles Martel, and Pippin. Contemporary writers were vastly impressed by Charlemagne's political campaigns to destroy the autonomy of Bavaria and his equally determined efforts against the Saxons. Under their Agilolfing dukes, who had at times led the opposition to the rising Carolingians, the Bavarians had developed an independent, southward-looking state that had close contacts with Lombard Italy and peaceful relations with the Avar kingdom to the east. Charlemagne's conquest of the Lombards in 774 left Bavaria isolated, and in 788 Charlemagne succeeded in deposing the last Agilolfing duke, Tassilo III, and replacing him with a trusted agent. Thereafter Charlemagne used Bavaria as the staging ground for a series of campaigns in 791, 795, and 796 that destroyed the Avar kingdom.

      The subjugation of the north proved much more difficult than that of the south. In the wake of the missionaries, Frankish counts and other officials moved into northeastern Frisia, raising contingents for the royal host and doing the other business of secular government. As for the Rhineland, the richer it grew, the more necessary it became to protect its hinterland, Franconia (including present-day Hessen) and Thuringia, from Saxon raids. Because there was no natural barrier behind which to hold the Saxons, this was a difficult task.

      Unlike the Bavarians, the Saxons were not politically united. Their independent edhelingi (nobles) lived on estates among forest clearings, dominating the frilingi (freemen), lazzi (half-free), and unfree members of Saxon society and leading raids into the rich Frankish kingdom. Thus each of Charlemagne's punitive expeditions, which began in 772 and lasted until 804, bit deeper into the heart of Saxony, leaving behind bitter memories of forced conversions, deportations, and massacres. These raids were inspired by religious as well as political zeal; with fire and sword, Charlemagne tried to break Saxon resistance both to Christianity and to Frankish dominance. Still, the decentralized nature of Saxon society made ultimate conquest extremely difficult. Whenever the Frankish army was occupied elsewhere, the Saxons could be counted on to revolt, to slaughter Frankish officials and priests, and to raid as far westward as they could. Charlemagne in turn would punish the offending tribes, as he did when he executed 4,500 Saxons at Verden, and garrison the defense points abandoned by the Saxons. In time, resistance to the Franks gave the Saxons a kind of unity under the leadership of Widukind, who succeeded longer than any other leader in holding together a majority of chieftains in armed resistance to the Franks. Ultimately, internal feuding led to the capitulation even of Widukind. He surrendered, was baptized, and, like Tassilo, was imprisoned in a monastery for the remainder of his life. Despite this victory, it would take another 20 years before Saxony would be finally subdued.

      Charlemagne's efforts were not limited to military repression, however. He also issued two edicts concerning the pacification and conversion of Saxony, which reveal the brutality of the process as well as its gradual success. The Capitulatio de Partibus Saxoniae (c. 785; “Capitulary for the Saxon Regions”) was intended to force the submission of the Saxons to the Franks and to Christianity, imposing the death penalty for destruction of churches, refusal of baptism, and violating the Lenten fast. The Capitulare Saxonicum (797; “Saxon Capitulary”), although not necessarily abrogating the earlier decree, replaced the harsher measures of the earlier capitulary with conversion through less brutal methods. Moreover, Frankish churchmen and aristocrats loyal to Charlemagne were introduced to secure and pacify the region. Although the northern regions that enjoyed Danish support remained outside of Frankish control, most of Saxony gradually moved into the united Frankish realm and would become a great centre of political, cultural, and religious life in the 10th century.

The emergence of Germany

The kingdom of Louis the German
      After his conquest of the German lands, Charlemagne administered the area like he did the rest of his kingdom, or empire (Reich), through his counts and bishops. He established his primary residence at Aachen (now in Germany), which was not far from the conquered territories, though his decision probably had more to do with the town's hot springs than with strategic planning. His son Louis I (Louis the Pious) remained involved in the affairs of the German, Danish, and Slavic lands, but his primary focus was on the regions of his empire where the Romance, or proto-Romance, language was spoken. In 817, however, he issued the Ordinatio Imperii, an edict that reorganized the empire and established the imperial succession. As part of the restructuring, Louis awarded his young son Louis II (Louis the German; 804–876) with the government of Bavaria and the lands of the Carinthians, Bohemians, Avars, and Slavs. Becoming the king of Bavaria in 825, Louis the German gradually extended his power over all of Carolingian Germany.

      Louis the German's rise to power, however, was not a smooth one, because internal turmoil plagued the Carolingian empire in the 830s and early 840s. Although he would ultimately rescue Louis the Pious on both occasions, the younger Louis was involved in revolts against his father in 830 and 833–834. In the final settlement of the succession, Louis the German's inheritance was restricted to Bavaria by his father, who had reconciled with his oldest son and the heir to the imperial throne, Lothar (Lothar I). After their father's death, the surviving sons of Louis fell into three years of civil war, which led to the division of the Carolingian empire. During these civil wars, Louis took side with his brother Charles the Bald (Charles II) and confirmed this alliance in the famous Oath of Strasbourg in 842 (an important political and linguistic document that contains versions of the Romance language and Old High German). The success of Charles and Louis against their older brother Lothar led to a formal end to the civil wars in the Treaty of Verdun (Verdun, Treaty of) in 843, which divided the realm among the three leaders and laid out the rough outlines of late medieval France and Germany. In this settlement, Louis received the eastern kingdom, which included the lands east of the Rhine River (Bavaria, Franconia, Saxony, Swabia, and Thuringia).

      As ruler of the eastern Frankish kingdom, Louis faced the challenge of maintaining the unity of a very diverse kingdom as well as asserting his place in the wider Carolingian world and protecting the frontiers from invaders. Like his brothers, Louis sought to establish his preeminence in the old empire. On two occasions he invaded Charles the Bald's kingdom and on a third occasion supported the invasion of the kingdom by his son. Louis also invaded the territory of the heirs of Lothar and attempted to seize the imperial crown. Moreover, much of Louis's reign was taken up with campaigns against neighbouring Slavs (Slav). Although he faced attacks by the Slavs and Vikings and the challenge of powerful aristocratic families, Louis maintained stability and royal authority over the aristocracy as a result of his external focus. By 870 Louis's dominions reached almost the boundaries of medieval Germany. On the east they were bordered by the Elbe and the Bohemian mountains; on the west, beyond the Rhine, they included the districts afterward known as Alsace and Lorraine. Ecclesiastically, they included the provinces of Mainz, Trier, Cologne, Salzburg, and Bremen. Although the close kinship and rivalries of the descendants of Charlemagne still united the eastern and western Frankish lands, the eastern region was taking on the identity of Germany, and the west was emerging as France.

      Louis's long reign provided a degree of unity and continuity for the peoples of his varied kingdom and also laid the foundation for developments in later medieval Germany. His appointment of his sons as subkings over regions of the kingdom foreshadowed the later territorial dukes, and his support for and reliance on monasteries prefigured the policy of the Saxon dynasty in the 10th century. In good Carolingian tradition, he promoted missionary activity in concert with his military campaigns in the east. Louis also cultivated the German (German literature) language and literature for the first time as a source of self-conscious cultural and political identity. Under his patronage the Gospels were translated into German dialects, and the first attempts at writing German poetry with Christian and traditional themes were undertaken.

      After his death the kingdom was divided among his three sons according to Frankish tradition, but the deaths of two of them, in 880 and 882, restored its unity under Charles III (Charles the Fat). The ceaseless attacks by Danes, Saracens, and Magyars in the later 9th and 10th centuries, however, weakened the kingdom's cohesion and led to the creation of new kingdoms within the boundaries of the Carolingian realm. Incompetence in mounting effective resistance to invaders also led to revolts and civil wars, as for instance in 887 when Arnulf, an illegitimate son of Louis the German's son Carloman, led an army of Bavarians in a successful revolt against his uncle, Charles the Fat. Arnulf, however, was not equally successful in defending his eastern possessions. After his death in 899, the German kingdom came under the nominal rule of the last Carolingian king of Francia Orientalis, his young son, Louis IV (Louis the Child), and in the absence of strong military leadership it became the prey of the Magyar horsemen and other invaders from the east.

Rise of the duchies
      Because the Carolingians themselves were unable to provide effective defense for the whole kingdom, military command and the political and economic power necessary to support it necessarily devolved to local leaders whose regions were attacked. The inevitable result was the decentralization and decay of royal authority to the benefit of the regional dukes. Contrary to popular opinion, these dukes were not appointed by their peoples, nor were they descendants of the tribal chieftains of the postmigration period. The so-called Stammesherzogtümer (tribal duchies) were new political and, ultimately, social units. Their dukes were Carolingian counts, part of the international “imperial aristocracy” of the Carolingians, who organized defense on a local basis without questioning loyalty to the Carolingians. All the same, their initial success established them in the hearts of those whom they protected. In Saxony (Saxon Dynasty) the Liudolfings, descendants of military commanders first established by Louis the German, achieved spectacular successes against the Slavs, Danes, and Magyars. In Franconia the Konradings rose to prominence over this largely Frankish region with the assistance of Arnulf but became largely independent during the minority of his son. Similarly, the Luitpoldings, originally named as Carolingian commanders, became dukes of Bavaria. Thuringia fell increasingly under the protection and lordship of the Liudolfings. In Swabia (Alemannia) several clans disputed control with one another and with regional ecclesiastical lords. Throughout the kingdom the only force for preserving unity remained the church, but the bishops approved the secularization of much monastic land to sustain troops who could counter the threat of external foes, thus further strengthening the power of the dukes.

      The structural transformation of the “imperial aristocracy” into a local elite accompanied the emergence of an increasingly particularist, dynastically oriented aristocratic society that was bound together through ties of vassalage and in which local rulers exercised personal lordship over the free and half-free populations of the regions. This process did not advance as far in Germany as it did in France. Everywhere German society remained closer to older, regional varieties of social organization as well as to traditions of Carolingian government by ecclesiastical authorities and imperial deputies.

John Michael Wallace-Hadrill Patrick J. Geary

Germany from 911 to 1250
The 10th and 11th centuries

 When in 911 Louis the Child, last of the East Frankish Carolingians, died without leaving a male heir, it seemed quite possible that his kingdom would break into pieces. In at least three of the duchies—Bavaria, Saxony, and Franconia—the ducal families were established in the leadership of their regions; in Swabia (Alemannia) two houses were still fighting for hegemony. Only the church, fearing for its endowments, had an obvious interest in the survival of the monarchy, its ancient protector. Against the growing authority of the dukes and the deep differences in dialect, customs, and social structure among the tribal duchies there stood only the Carolingian tradition of kingship; but, with Charles III (Charles the Simple) as ruler of the West Frankish kingdom, its future was uncertain and not very hopeful. Only the Lotharingians put their faith in the ancient line and did homage to Charles, its sole reigning representative. The other component parts of the East Frankish kingdom did not follow suit.

      On November 10, 911, Saxon and Frankish leaders ended Carolingian rule in Germany when they met at Forchheim in Franconia to elect Conrad (Conrad I), duke of the Franks, as their king. The rejection of the Carolingian dynasty was motivated by the dynasty's inability to protect the kingdom from invaders and related internal political matters. In the early 10th century, the Germanic peoples in the lands east of the Rhine and west of the Elbe and Saale rivers and the Bohemian Forest—as rudimentary and as thinly spread as their settlements were—had to face even more primitive and pagan races pressing in from farther east, especially the Magyars (Hungarian). The Saxons, headed by the Liudolfing duke Otto—who refused to be considered a candidate for the royal crown—were threatened by more enemies on their frontiers than any other tribe; Danes, Slavs, and Magyars simultaneously harassed their homeland. A king who commanded resources farther west, in Franconia, might therefore prove to be of help to Saxony. The Rhenish Franks, on the other hand, did not wish to abdicate from their position as the leading and kingmaking people, which gave them many material advantages.

      Conrad of Franconia, elected by Franks and Saxons, was soon recognized also by Arnulf, duke of Bavaria, and by the Swabian clans. In descent, honours, and wealth, however, Conrad was no more than the equal of the dukes who had accepted him as king. To surmount them, to found a new royal house, and to acquire those wonder-working attributes that the Germans venerated in their rulers long after they had been converted to Christianity, he had yet to prove himself able, lucky, and successful.

      In this period, political affairs became the monopoly of the German kings and a few score families of great magnates. The reason for this concentration of power was that, at the very foundation of the German kingdom, circumstances had long favoured those men whom birth, wealth, and military success had raised well above the ranks of the ordinary free members of their tribe. Their estates (feudalism) were cultivated in the main by half-free peasants (peasant)—slaves who had risen or freemen who had sunk. The holdings of these dependents (serfdom) fell under the power of the lord to whom they owed service and obedience. Already they were tied to the lands on which they laboured and were dependent on their protectors for justice. For many reasons ordinary freemen tended generally to lose their independence and had to seek aid from their more fortunate and powerful neighbours; thus, they lost their standing in the assemblies of their tribe. Everywhere, except in Friesland and parts of Saxony, the nobles wedged themselves between king or duke and the rank and file. They alone could become prelates of the church, and they alone could compete for the possession and enjoyment of political power. At the level below the dukes, the bulk of administrative authority, jurisdiction, and command in war lay with the margraves and counts, whose hold on their charges developed gradually into a hereditary right. The commended men and the half-free disappeared from the important functions of public life. In the local assemblies they came only to pay dues and to receive orders, justice, and penalties. Their political role was passive. Those lords whose protection was most worth having also had the largest throng of dependents and thus became more formidable to their enemies and to the remaining freemen. Lordship and vassalage were hereditary, and thus the horizon of the dependent classes narrowed until eventually the lord and his officials held all secular authority and power over their lives. Military strength, the possession of arms and horses, and tactical training in their use were decisive. Most dependent men were disarmed, and this became part of their degradation.

The accession of the Saxons (Saxon Dynasty)
 Conrad I was quite unequal to the situation in Germany. According to the beliefs of contemporaries, his failure meant that his house was luckless and lacked the prosperity-bringing virtues that belonged to true kingship. He also had no heir. On his deathbed in 918, he therefore proposed that the crown, which in 911 had remained with the Franks, should now pass to the leading man in Saxony, the Liudolfing Henry (later called the Fowler). Henry I was elected by the Saxons and Franks at Fritzlar, their ancient meeting place, in 919. With a monarch of their own ethnicity, the Saxons now took over the burden and the rewards of being the kingmaking people. The centre of gravity shifted to eastern Saxony, where the Liudolfing lands lay.

      The transition of the crown from the Franks to the Saxons for a time enhanced the self-sufficiency of the southern German tribes. The Swabians had kept away from the Fritzlar election. The Bavarians believed that they had a better right to the Carolingian inheritance than the Saxons (who had been remote outsiders in the 9th century) and in 919 elected their own duke Arnulf as king. They, too, wanted to be the royal and kingmaking people. Henry I's regime rested in the main on his own position and family demesne in Saxony and on certain ancient royal seats in Franconia. His kingship was purely military. He hoped to win authority by waging successful frontier wars and to gain recognition through concessions rather than to insist on the sacred and priestlike status of the royal office that the church had built up in the 9th century. At his election he refused to be anointed and consecrated by the archbishop of Mainz. In settling with the Bavarians, he abandoned the policy of supporting the internal opposition that the clergy offered to Duke Arnulf, a plank to which Conrad had clung. To end Arnulf's rival kingship, Henry formally surrendered to him the most characteristic privilege and honour of the crown: the right to dispose of the region's bishoprics and abbeys. Arnulf's homage and friendship entailed no obligations to Henry, and the Bavarian duke pursued his own regional interests—peace with the Hungarians and expansion across the Alps—as long as he lived.

      From these unpromising beginnings the Saxon dynasty not only found its way back to Carolingian traditions of government but soon got far better terms in its relations with the autonomous powers of the duchies, which had gained such a start on it. Nonetheless, the governing structures that it bequeathed to its Salian successors were self-contradictory; while seeking to overcome the princely aristocracies of the duchies by leaving them to themselves, the Saxon kings came to rely more and more, both for the inspiration and for the practice of government, on the prelates (clergy) of the church, who were themselves recruited from the ranks of the same great families. They loaded bishoprics and abbeys with endowments and privileges and thus gradually turned the bishops and abbots into princes with interests not unlike those of their lay kinsmen. These weaknesses, however, lay concealed behind the personal ascendancy of an exceptionally tough and commanding set of rulers up to the middle of the 11th century. Thereafter the ambiguous system could not take the strain of the changes fermenting within German society and even less the attack on its values that came from without—from the reformed papacy.

      The Liudolfing kings won military success, and with it they gained the respect for their personal authority that counted for so much at a time when the great followed only those whose star they trusted and who could reward services with the spoils of victory. In 925 Henry I brought Lotharingia (the region between the upper Meuse and Schelde rivers in the west and the Rhine River in the east that contained Charlemagne's capital Aachen) back to the East Frankish realm. Whoever had authority in that region could treat the neighbouring kingdom of the West Franks as a dependent. The young Saxon dynasty thus won for itself and its successors a hegemony over the west and the southwest that lasted at least until the mid-11th century. The Carolingian kings of France, as well as the great feudatories who sought to dominate if not to ruin them, became, in turn, petitioners to the German court during the reign of the Ottos. The kings of Burgundy—whose suzerainty lay over the valleys of the Saône and the Rhône, the western Alps, and Provence—fell under the virtual tutelage of the masters of Lotharingia. Rich in ancient towns, this region, once the homeland of the Carolingians, was more thickly populated and wealthier than the lands east of the Rhine. Lotharingian merchants controlled the slave trade from the Saxon marches to Córdoba.

The eastern policy of the Saxons
      Greater prestige still and a claim to imperial hegemony fell to the Saxon rulers when they broke the impetus of the Hungarian (Magyar) invasions, against which the military resources and methods of western European society had almost wholly failed for several decades. In 933, after long preparations, Henry routed a Hungarian attack on Saxony and Thuringia. In 955 Otto I (Otto the Great; reigned 936–973), at the head of a force to which nearly all the duchies had sent mounted contingents, annihilated a great Hungarian army on the Lech River near Augsburg. The battle again vindicated the efficiency of the heavily armed man skilled in fighting on horseback.

      With a Saxon dynasty on the throne, Saxon nobles gained office and power, with opportunities for conquest along the eastern river frontiers and marches of their homeland. Otto I implemented an eastern policy that aimed at getting more than slaves, loot, and tribute. Between 955 and 972 he founded and richly endowed an archbishopric at Magdeburg, which he intended to be the metropolis of a large missionary province among the Slavic Wends (Wend) beyond the Elbe, who remained faithful to their traditional polytheistic religion. This would have brought their tribes under German control and exploitation in the long run, but the ruthless methods of the Saxon lay lords led to a rebellion that forced Otto to scale back his plans.

      In the 10th century there was little or no German agricultural settlement beyond the Elbe. Far too much forested land remained available for clearing and colonization in western and southern Germany. The Saxons attempted to secure their tenuous military victories in the region between the Elbe and Oder rivers by building and garrisoning forts. Beyond the Wends of Brandenburg and Lusatia, meanwhile, new Slavic powers rose; the Poles under Mieszko I and, to the south, the Czechs under the Přemyslids (Přemysl, house of) received missionaries from Magdeburg and Passau without falling permanently under the political and ecclesiastical domination of Saxons and Bavarians. The Wends, who had been subjugated by the Saxon margraves, resisted conversion to Christianity. They rebelled in 983 against the German military occupation, which collapsed along with the missionary bishoprics that had been founded at Oldenburg, Brandenburg, and Havelberg. Farther south the defenses of the Thuringian marches between the Saale and the middle Elbe remained in German hands, but only after a long and fierce struggle against Polish invaders early in the 11th century. The northern part of the frontier reverted to its position before Otto's trustees, Hermann Billung and Gero, had begun their wars. Missionary enterprises directed into Wendish territory from Bremen and Magdeburg achieved little before the 12th century.

      The Saxon ruling class and margraves must bear the responsibility for the fiasco of eastward expansion in the 10th century. The prelates, too, saw their missions as means to found ecclesiastical empires of subject dioceses that would exact tribute from the conquered Wends. The Slavic tribes across the Elbe remained unconverted and implacable foes, a standing menace to the nearby churches. The wars also left a legacy of savagery on both sides, so that from about 1140 onward the colonization of conquered Slavic lands by German settlers became the common policy of both the church and the princes.

Dukes, counts, and advocates
 Conrad I's and Henry I's kingships rested on the election by the tribal duchies' leaders and higher aristocracy. It was in the first place an arrangement between the Franks and the Saxons that the Bavarian and Swabian dukes recognized at a price by acts of personal homage, but the German kings, of whatever dynasty, had to live under Frankish law. After the death of Conrad I's brother Eberhard in 939, Otto I kept the Franconian dukedom vacant, and the Franconian counts henceforth stood under the immediate authority of the crown. In Saxony, too, Otto kept in his hands the dukedom of his ancestors, even though the beginning of the Billung line of dukes is traditionally dated to 936. The march-duchy of the Billungs (Billung dynasty), a bulwark raised against the Danes and the northern Slav tribes, gave the Billung family military command but did not give it authority over all the other Saxon princes.

      In the south the Ottonians sought to turn the tribal duchies into royal lands and to supplant native dynasties with aliens and members of their own clan. When even that policy did not stop rebellions under the banner of tribal self-interest, the Ottonians began to break up the ancient Bavarian tribal land by carving out a new duchy in Carinthia (Kärnten) where the Bavarian expansion southward had opened up new lands and sources of revenue. The first two members of the Rhine-Frankish Salian Dynasty, Conrad II (reigned 1024–39) and Henry III (reigned alone 1039–56), also bestowed vacant duchies quite freely on their own kin and on men from outside the duchies. They competed against ducal power but could neither abolish nor replace it. In the 11th century, as before, the dukes (duke) held assemblies of their freemen and nobility, led the tribal army in war, and enforced peace.

      The counts (count), who were the ordinary officers of justice (Salic Law) in serious criminal cases, obeyed the ducal summons; but, for the most part, they received their “ban,” the power to do blood justice, from the king himself. The lands and the customary rights attached to their office, and indeed the office itself, not only became hereditary but also came to be treated more and more as a patrimony to which they had an inherent right against all men, king and duke included. Even so, however, a good many lines died out, and their counties fell back into the king's hands. From Otto III's reign (983–1002) onward, kings often bestowed these counties on bishoprics (bishop) and great abbeys rather than granting them again to lay magnates. The bishops, however, could not perform all the functions of the counts; in particular, their holy orders forbade them to pass judgments of blood. They often subinfeudated their countships, and they needed officials called advocates (advocate) (Vögte; singular Vogt) to take charge of the higher jurisdiction in the territories that their churches possessed by royal grant. In the 10th and 11th centuries these advocates had to be recruited from the aristocracy, the very class whose greed for hereditary office was to be checked, because ordinary freemen could not enforce severe sentences or defend the privileges of the church against armed intrusion. Ostensibly advocates and protectors of ecclesiastical possessions, the nobles were in fact anything but reliable servants of their ecclesiastical overlords and instead posed great danger for the bishoprics and abbeys.

      Thus there arose in nearly all German lands, whether the ducal office survived or not, powerful lines of margraves, counts, and hereditary advocates who enriched themselves at the expense of the church (which meant also the crown) and in competition with one another. From the abler, more fortunate, and long-lived of these dynasties sprang the territorial princes of the later 12th and 13th centuries, absorbing and finally inheriting most of the rights of government.

      The king was the personal overlord of all the great. His court was the seat of government, and it went with him on his long journeys. The German kings, even more than other medieval rulers, could make their authority respected in the far-flung regions of their kingdom only by traveling ceaselessly from duchy to duchy, from frontier to frontier. Wherever they stayed, their jurisdiction superseded the standing power of dukes, counts, and advocates, and they could collect the profits of local justice and wield some control over it. As they came into each region, they summoned its leaders to attend their solemn crown wearings, deliberated with them on the affairs of the kingdom and the locality, presided over pleas, granted privileges, and made war against peacemakers at home and enemies abroad.

The promotion of the German church
      The royal revenues came from the king's demesne and from his share of the tributes that Poles, Czechs, Wends, and Danes paid whenever he could enforce his claims of overlordship. There were also profits from tolls and mints that had not yet been granted away. The king's demesne was his working capital. He and his household lived on its produce during their wanderings through the Reich, and he used its revenue to provide for his family, to found churches, and to reward faithful services done to him, especially in war. To swell his army, the king needed to add new vassals, and he inevitably had to grant land to some of them from his own demesne. Although the Salians inherited the remains of Ottonian wealth as an imperial demesne, they brought little of their own to make up for its diminution. The last Ottonian, Henry II (1002–24), and after him Conrad II, accordingly took to enfeoffing vassals with lands taken from the monasteries. Since the beneficiaries were often already powerful and wealthy men in their own right, no class of freeborn, mounted warriors linked permanently with the crown resulted from the loyalties established and rewards granted during but one or two reigns. In any case, the lion's share of grants went to the German church. (church and state)

      From the Carolingians the German kings inherited their one and only institution of central government: the royal chapel, with the chancery that does not seem to have been distinct from it. Service there became a recognized avenue of promotion to the episcopate for highborn clerics. In the 11th century bishops and abbots conducted the affairs of the Reich much more than the lay lords, even in war. They were its habitual diplomats and ambassadors. Unlike Henry I, Otto I and his successors sought to free the prelates from all forms of subjection to the dukes. The king appointed most of them, and to him alone, as to one sent by God, they owed obedience.

      Thus there arose beside the loose association of tribal duchies in the German kingdom a more compact and uniform body with a far greater vested interest in the Reich: the German church. By ancient Germanic custom, moreover, the founder of a church did not lose his estate in the endowment that he had made; he remained its proprietor and protecting lord. Still, the bishoprics and certain ancient abbeys, such as Sankt Gallen, Reichenau, Fulda, and Hersfeld, did not belong to the king; they were members of the kingdom, but he served only as their guardian. The greater churches therefore had to provide the rulers with mounted men, money, and free quarters. Gifts of royal demesne to found or to enrich bishoprics and convents were not really losses of land but pious reinvestments, as long as the crown controlled the appointments of bishops and abbots. The church did not merely receive grants of land, often uncultivated, to settle, develop, and make profitable; it was also given jurisdiction over its dependents. Nor did the kings stint the prelates in other regalian rights, such as mints, markets, and tolls. These grants broke up counties and to some extent even duchies, and that was their purpose: to disrupt the secular lords' jurisdictions that had escaped royal control.

      This policy of fastening the church, a universal institution, into the Reich, with its well-defined frontiers, is usually associated with Otto I, but it gathered momentum only in the reigns of his successors. The policy reached a climax under Henry II, the founder of the see of Bamberg in the upper Main valley; nonetheless, Conrad II, though less generous with his grants, and his son Henry III continued it. Bishops and abbots became the competitors of lay princes in the formation of territories, a rivalry that more than any other was the fuel and substance of the ceaseless feuds—the smoldering internal wars in all the regions of Germany for many centuries. The welter and the confused mosaic of the political map of Germany until 1803 is the not-so-remote outcome of these 10th- and 11th-century grants and of the incompatible ambitions that they aroused.

The Ottonian conquest of Italy and the imperial crown
 Otto first entered Italy in 951 and, according to some accounts, was already interested in securing the imperial crown. He campaigned in Italy at the request of Adelaide (Adelaide, Saint) (Adelheid), the daughter of Rudolph II of Burgundy and widow of the king of Italy, who had been jailed by Berengar II, the king of Italy. Otto defeated Berengar, secured Adelaide's release, and then married her. His first Italian campaign was also motivated by political developments in Germany, including the competing ambitions in Italy of his son Liudolf, duke of Swabia, and Otto's brother Henry I, duke of Bavaria. Although he would be called back to Germany by a revolt in 953, Otto accomplished his primary goals during his first trip to Italy. He gained legitimate rights to govern in Italy as a result of his marriage, and securing his southern flanks guaranteed access to the pope. Moreover, after 951, expeditions into Italy were a matter for the whole Reich under the leadership of its ruler and no longer just expansion efforts by the southern German tribes. For the Saxon military class, too, the south was more tempting than the forests and swamps beyond the Elbe. With superior forces at their back, the German kings gained possession of the Lombard (Lombardy) kingdom in Italy. There, too, their overlordship in the 10th and the 11th centuries came to rest on the bishoprics and a handful of great abbeys.

      After Otto I's victory over the Magyars in 955, his hegemony in the West was indisputable. Indeed, he was hailed in traditional fashion as emperor (imperator) by his troops after the victory, which was seen as divine sanction for Otto's ascendant position by his contemporaries. Furthermore, according to one chronicler, the Saxon Widukind, he had already become emperor because he had subjected other peoples and enjoyed authority in more than one kingdom. But the right to confer the imperial crown, to raise a king to the higher rank of emperor, belonged to the papacy, which had crowned Charlemagne and most of his successors. The Carolingian order was still the model and something like a political ideal for all Western ruling families in the 10th century. Otto had measured himself against the political tasks that had faced his East Frankish predecessors and more or less mastered them. To be like Charlemagne, therefore, and to clothe his newly won position in a traditional and time-honoured dignity, he accepted the imperial crown and anointment from Pope John XII in Rome in 962. The substance of his empire (Holy Roman Empire) was military power and success in war; but Christian and Roman ideas were woven round the Saxon's throne by the writers of his own and the next generation. Although the German kings as emperors (emperor) did not legislate matters of doctrine and ritual, they became the political masters of the Roman church for nearly a century. The imperial crown enhanced their standing even among the nobles and knights who followed them to Italy and can hardly have understood or wanted all its outlandish associations. Not only the king but also the German bishops and lay lords thus entered into a permanent connection with an empire won on the way to Rome and bestowed by the papacy.

      Otto I successfully revived the empire in the West on Carolingian precedents and secured Ottonian rule in Germany, but his greatest triumph may have come near the end of his reign when he secured both recognition from the Byzantine emperor and a marriage arrangement between his son, Otto II, and the Byzantine princess Theophano. In 973 Otto II succeeded his father as emperor. His attention, perhaps under his wife's influence, was drawn to Italy and the Mediterranean, and he campaigned in southern Italy with disastrous results, suffering a terrible defeat at the hands of Muslim armies. When Otto II died in 983, his heir, Otto III, was only three years old, and a period of regency preceded a reign of great promise unfulfilled. Inheriting the traditions of both the Western and Eastern empires, the third Otto sought to revive the Christian Roman empire of Charlemagne and Constantine (Constantine I) and planned a great capital in Rome. Otto's grand ambition is reflected in the appointment of Gerbert of Aurillac as pope, who took the name Sylvester II in imitation of Constantine's pope; in Otto's efforts to expand the empire (see Researcher's Note) and Christendom to the east; and in his discovery, with its apocalyptic overtones, of the tomb of Charlemagne in the year 1000. His premature death two years later, followed by that of Sylvester in 1003, ended this promising chapter of German history. His successor, Henry II, returned the imperial focus to Germany and contented himself with three brief Italian expeditions.

The Salians, the papacy, and the princes, 1024–1125
 During the reign of Conrad II (1024–39), the first Salian emperor, the kingdom of Burgundy fell finally under the overlordship of the German crown, and this tough and formidable emperor also renewed German authority in Italy. His son and successor, Henry III (1039–56), treated the empire as a mission that imposed on him the tasks of reforming the papacy and of preaching peace to his lay vassals. Without possessing any very significant new resources of power, he nevertheless lent his authority an exalted and strained theocratic complexion. Yet, under Henry, the last German ruler to maintain his hegemony in western Europe, the popes themselves seemed to become mere imperial bishops. He deposed three of them, and four Germans held the Holy See at his command; but lay opposition to the emperor in Germany and criticism of his control over the church were on the increase during the last years of his reign.

Papal reform and the German church
      More than any other society in early medieval Europe, Germany was divided and torn by the revolutionary ideas and measures of the so-called Gregorian Reform movement. Beginning with the pontificate of Leo IX (Leo IX, Saint) (1048–54)—one of Henry III's nominees—the most determined and inspired spokesmen of ecclesiastical reform placed themselves at the service of the Holy See. Only a few years after Henry's death (1056), they agitated against lay authority in the church and issued a papal election decree that virtually eliminated imperial involvement. The ecclesiastical reformers sought to restore what they thought was the rightful order of the world and denied the notion of theocratic kingship. Priests, including bishops and abbots, who accepted their dignities from lay lords and emperors at a price, according to the reformers, committed the sin of simony (the buying and selling of church office). The reformers argued that earthly powers could not rightly confer the gifts of the Holy Spirit and thus rejected the tradition of lay investiture (Investiture Controversy). They believed, moreover, that true reforms could be brought about only by the exaltation of the papacy so that it commanded the obedience of all provincial metropolitans and was out of the reach of the emperor and the local aristocracy.

      The endless repetition of the reformers' message in brilliant pamphlets and at clerical synods spread agitation in Italy, Burgundy, and Lotharingia—all parts of the empire. Their new program committed the leaders of the movement to a struggle for power because it struck at the very roots of the regime to which the German church had grown accustomed and on which the German kings relied. The vast wealth that Henry IV's predecessors had showered on the bishoprics and abbeys would, if the new teaching prevailed, escape his control and remain at the disposal of prelates (prelate) whom he no longer appointed. Under Roman authority the churches were to be freed from most of the burdens of royal protection without losing any of its benefits. The most fiery spirits in Rome did not flinch from the consequences of their convictions. Their leader Hildebrand (Gregory VII, Saint), later Pope Gregory VII (Gregory VII, Saint) (1073–85), was ready to risk a collision with the empire.

       Henry IV was not yet six years old when his father died in 1056. The full impact of the Gregorian demands—coming shortly after a royal minority, a Saxon rising, and a conspiracy of the southern German princes—has often been regarded as the most disastrous moment in Germany's history during the Middle Ages. In fact, the German church had proved thoroughly unreliable as an inner bastion of the empire even before Rome struck. One of its leaders, Archbishop Anno (Anno, Saint) of Cologne, kidnapped Henry in 1062 to gain control of both the young king and the regency, and another, Archbishop Adalbert of Bremen, exploited his influence over the young king by enriching his ecclesiastical possessions at imperial expense. In 1074 and 1075 Gregory proceeded against simony in Germany and humiliated the aristocratic episcopate by issuing summonses to Rome and sentences of suspension. These papal actions demoralized and shook the German hierarchy. The prelates' return to their customary support of the crown was not disinterested, nor wholehearted, nor unanimous.

The discontent of the lay princes
      Henry IV's minority also gave elbowroom to the ambitions and hatreds of the lay magnates. The feeble regency of his mother, the pious Agnes of Poitou, faltered before the throng of princes, who respected only authority and power greater than their own. The influence of the higher clergy at the court of Henry III and the renewed flow of grants to the church had estranged these princes from the empire. It is likely also that these eternally belligerent men lagged behind the prelates in the development of their agrarian resources. The prelates had a vested interest in peace, and under royal protection they improved and enlarged their estates by turning forests into arable land and also by offering better terms to freemen in search of a lord. The bishops' market and toll privileges brought them revenues in money, which many of the lay princes lacked. So far, however, the princes' military power, their chief asset, had remained unchallenged. Now, for the first time, they also had to face rivals within their own sphere of action. Henry III and the young Henry IV began to rely on advisers and fighting men drawn from a lower tier of the social order—the poorer, freeborn nobility of Swabia and, above all, the class of unfree knights, known as ministeriales. These knights had first become important as administrators and soldiers on the estates of the church early in the 11th century. Their status and that of their fiefs was fixed by seignorial ordinances, and they could be relied on and commanded, unlike the free vassals of bishops and abbots. Beginning with Conrad II, the Salian kings used ministeriales to administer their demesne, as household officers at court, and as garrisons for their castles. They formed a small army, which the crown could mobilize without having to appeal to the lay princes, whose ill will and antipathy toward the government of the Reich grew apace with their exclusion from it.

      Having come of age, Henry IV used petty southern German nobles and his ministeriales to recover some of the crown lands and rights that the lay princes and certain prelates had acquired during his minority, particularly in Saxony. His recovery operations went further, however, and a great belt of lands from the northern slopes of the Harz Mountains to the Thuringian Forest was secured and fortified under the supervision of his knights to form a royal territory, where the king and his court could reside. The southern German magnates were thus kept at a distance when Henry and his advisers struck at neighbouring Saxon princes such as Otto of Northeim and at the Billung family.

      The storm broke in 1073. A group of Saxon nobles and prelates and the free peasantry of Eastphalia, who had borne the brunt of statute labour in the building of the royal strongholds, revolted against the regime of Henry's Frankish and Swabian officials. To overcome this startling combination and to save his fortresses, the king needed the military strength of the southern German princes Rudolf of Rheinfelden, duke of Swabia; Welf IV, duke (as Welf I) of Bavaria; and Berthold of Zähringen, duke of Carinthia. Suspicious and hostile at heart, they took the field for him only when the Eastphalian peasantry committed outrages that shocked aristocrats everywhere. Their forces enabled Henry to defeat the Saxon rebellion at Homburg near Langensalza in June 1075. But, when the life-and-death struggle with Rome opened only half a year later, the southern German malcontents deserted Henry and, together with the Saxons and a handful of bishops, entered into an alliance with Gregory VII. Few of them at this time were converted to papal reform doctrines, but Gregory's daring measures against the king gave them a chance to come to terms with one another and to justify a general revolt.

The civil war against Henry IV
      Although he intended to cooperate with Henry IV at the outset of his papacy, Gregory VII was drawn into a terrible conflict with the king because of Henry's refusal to obey papal commands. Emboldened by his success in 1075 against the Saxons, Henry took a firm stand against Gregory in disputes over the appointment of the archbishop of Milan and a number of Henry's advisers who had been excommunicated by the pope. At the synod of Worms in January 1076, Henry took the dramatic step of demanding that Gregory abdicate, and the German bishops renounced their allegiance to the pope. At his Lenten synod the following month, Gregory absolved all men from their oaths to Henry and solemnly excommunicated and deposed the king. The situation quickly became desperate for Henry, who both lost much support and faced a reinvigorated revolt. In October Gregory's legates and leaders of the German opposition assembled at Tribur (modern Trebur, Germany) to decide the future of the king, who by this point had been abandoned by his last adherents. Gregory was then invited to attend a meeting at Augsburg the following February to mediate the situation. Henry hastened to meet Gregory at Canossa before the pope reached Augsburg, however, and appealed to him as a penitent sinner. Gregory had little choice but to forgive his rival and lifted the excommunication in January 1077. Despite Gregory's reconciliation with Henry, the princes elected Rudolf of Rheinfelden king at a gathering in Forchheim in March.

      The civil war that now broke out lasted almost 20 years. A majority of the bishops, most of Rhenish Franconia (the Salian homeland), and some important Bavarian and Swabian vassals sided with Henry. He thus held a geographically central position that separated his southern German from his Saxon enemies, who could not unite long enough to destroy him. With the death in battle of Rudolf of Rheinfelden in 1080 and the demise of another antiking, Hermann of Salm, in 1088, the war in Germany degenerated into a number of local conflicts over the possession of bishoprics and abbeys. Henry was also successful in the larger struggle with Gregory, invading Italy and forcing the pope from Rome in 1084. At that time, Henry elevated Wibert of Ravenna to the papal throne as the antipope Clement III (Clement (III)), who then crowned Henry emperor.

      The situation remained in flux throughout the rest of Henry's reign. In 1093 Henry was nearly toppled by a revolt led by his son Conrad, and a revived papacy under Urban II challenged the legitimacy of Clement. In 1098 the tide turned again when Henry appointed his other son, Henry, as his heir and relations with the bishops and papacy improved. Ultimately, however, Henry's reign was doomed to failure by one final revolt. Even his apparent triumph at Canossa was tempered by his loss of status as a divinely appointed ruler.

      Throughout these years the crown, the churches, and the lay lords had to enfeoff more and more ministeriales in order to raise mounted warriors for their forces. Though this recruitment and frequent devastations strained the fortunes of many nobles, they recouped their losses by extorting fiefs from neighbouring bishoprics and abbeys. The divided German church thus bore the brunt of the costs of civil war, and it needed peace almost at any price.

 The Salian dynasty and the rights for which it fought were saved because Henry IV's son and heir himself seized the leadership of a last rising against his father (1105). This maneuver enabled Henry V (1106–25) to continue the struggle for the crown's prerogative over the empire's churches against the demands of the papacy. As the struggle continued, the princes became the arbiters and held the balance between their overlord and the pope. In 1122, acting as intermediaries and on behalf of the Reich, they reached the agreement known as the Concordat of Worms (Worms, Concordat of) with the Holy See and its German spokesman, Archbishop Adalbert of Mainz, the bitter personal enemy of Henry V. By then, however, the princes had for the most part defeated efforts to restore royal rights in Saxony and to stem the swollen jurisdictions and territorial powers of the aristocracy elsewhere.

      When Henry V, the last Salian, died childless in 1125, Germany was no longer the most effective political force in Europe. The brilliant conquest states of the Normans in England and Sicily and the patient, step-by-step labours of the French kings were achieving forms of government and concentrations of military and economic strength that the older and larger empire lacked. The papacy had dimmed the empire's prestige and decreased the emperor's power, and Rome became the true home of universalistic causes. When Pope Urban II preached the First Crusade (Crusades) in 1095, Henry IV, cut off and surrounded by enemies, was living obscurely in a corner of northern Italy. The Holy See, by its great appeal to the militant lay nobility of western Europe, thus won the initiative over the empire. At this critical moment the Reich also lost control in the Italian bishoprics and towns just when their population, trade, and industrial production were expanding quickly. Germany did not even benefit indirectly from the Crusaders' triumphs, although some of their leaders (e.g., Godfrey of Bouillon and Robert II of Flanders) were vassals of the emperor. The civil wars renewed for a time the relative isolation of the central German regions.

      Internally, the crown had saved something of the indispensable means of government in the control over the church; but it was a bare minimum, and its future was problematic. The ecclesiastical princes henceforth held only their temporal lands as imperial fiefs, for which they owed personal and material services. As feudatories of the empire, they came to represent the same interests toward it as did the lay princes; at least, their sense of a special obligation tended to weaken. The king's jurisdiction continued to exist alongside and in competition with that of the local powers. The great tribal duchies survived as areas of separate customary law. Each developed differently, and the crown could not impose its rights on all alike or change the existing social order. The most tenacious defenders of this legal autonomy had been the Saxons; but it also prevailed in Swabia, where distinct territorial lordships grew fast.

      The Gregorian reform movement therefore aggravated the age-old contradictions in Germany's early medieval constitution, but its monastic culture and its intellectual interests were anything but barren. Both sides fought with new literary weapons over public opinion in cathedrals and cloisters and perhaps also in the castles of the lay aristocracy. In their hard-hitting polemical writings they attempted to expound the fundamental theological, historical, and legal truths of their cause. The agitation did something to disturb the cultural self-sufficiency of the German laity. It drove many of the southern German nobles to maintain direct connections with the Holy See, and, whether they wanted to or not, they had to fall in with the aspirations of the religious leaders. The reform movement of the 11th and 12th centuries, it might almost be said, very nearly completed the conversion of Germany that had begun five centuries before.

Germany and the Hohenstaufen (Hohenstaufen dynasty), 1125–1250

Dynastic competition, 1125–52
      The nearest kinsmen of Henry V were his Hohenstaufen (Hohenstaufen dynasty) nephews—Frederick, duke of Swabia, and his younger brother Conrad (Conrad III)—the sons of Henry's sister Agnes and Frederick, the first Hohenstaufen duke of Swabia. Some form of election had always been necessary to succeed to the crown, but, before the great civil war, nearness to the royal blood had been honoured whenever a dynasty failed in the direct line. By 1125, however, the princes, guided by Archbishop Adalbert of Mainz, no longer respected blood right. Affinity with Henry V was no recommendation to them, and hereditary succession seemed to lower the authority they vested in the government of the Reich. Instead of Frederick, they chose the duke of Saxony, Lothar of Supplinburg (Lothar II (or III)) (reigned as King Lothar III in 1125–37 and as Emperor Lothar II in 1133–37). Like the Hohenstaufen, he had risen through a lucky marriage and continuous combat into the first rank of dynasts; but, unlike them, he had served the cause of the Saxon opposition to the Salians.

      With the enormous Northeim and Brunonian inheritances behind him, Lothar II could humble the Hohenstaufen brothers after marrying his only daughter and heiress to a Welf (Welf Dynasty), Henry the Proud (Henry X), in 1134. Even without this dazzling alliance, the Welfs (Welf Dynasty)—already dukes of Bavaria and possessors of vast demesnes, countships, and ecclesiastical advocacies there, in Saxony, and in Swabia—were somewhat better off than their Hohenstaufen rivals. On the death of Lothar in 1137, however, the fears of the church and a few princes turned against the Welfs. Instead of Henry the Proud, who now held the duchies of Saxony and Bavaria and the Mathildine lands in Italy, they chose as their ruler Conrad (reigned 1138–52), who had been Lothar's unsuccessful Hohenstaufen opponent.

      The battle against the Welfs, which Conrad III put foremost on his political program, was abandoned with his death in 1152, when an election once again decided the succession and the political situation in Germany for the next 30 years. This time the princes chose Frederick I (reigned as king in 1152–90 and emperor in 1155–90), the son of Conrad's elder brother Frederick and the Welf princess Judith. Selected in part because of his connections with important families in Germany, Frederick (known as Frederick Barbarossa, “Redbeard”) was careful to maintain good relations with them and made concessions to his powerful Welf cousin Henry (Henry III) the Lion. In 1156 the duchy of Bavaria, which Conrad had tried to wrest from the Welfs, was restored to Henry the Lion, already undisputed duke of Saxony. Henry II Jasomirgott, the Babenberg (Babenberg, House of) margrave of Austria who was Henry the Lion's rival for Bavaria, had to be compensated with a charter that raised his margravate into a duchy and gave him judicial suzerainty over an even wider area. Taken out of the Lion's duchy, it was to be held as an imperial fief that might descend both to sons and daughters. A perpetual principality, it served as a model for the aspirations of many other lay princes.

      The history of Germany in the 12th and 13th centuries is one of ceaseless expansion. A conquering and colonizing movement burst across the river frontiers into the swamps and forests from Holstein to Silesia and overwhelmed the Slavic Wendish tribes between the Elbe and the Oder. Every force in German society took part: the princes, the prelates, new religious orders, knights, townsmen, and peasant settlers. Agrarian conditions in the older German lands seem to have favoured large-scale emigration. With a rising population, there was much experience in drainage and wood clearing but a diminishing fund of spare land to be developed in the west. Excessive subdivision of holdings impoverished tenants and did not suit the interests of their lords. Sometimes also, seignorial (manorialism) oppression is said to have driven peasants to desert their masters' estates. They certainly found a better return for their labour in the colonial east: personal freedom, secure and hereditary leasehold tenures at moderate rents, and, in many places, quittance from services and the jurisdiction of the seignorial advocate.

      The colonists brought with them a disciplined routine of husbandry, an efficient plow, and orderly methods in siting and laying out their villages. Very soon, even the Slavic rulers of Bohemia (now in the Czech Republic) and Silesia (now in Poland) were competing for immigrants. First and foremost, however, the princes of the Saxon and Thuringian marches sought to attract settlers for the lands that they had conquered and the towns that they had founded to open up communications and trade routes. The older regions of the Reich, moreover, had not only peasants but also men of the knightly class to spare—soldiers who needed fiefs and lordships to uphold their rank. Both could be gained beyond the Elbe under the leadership of successful princes. The Germanized east thus became the home of fair-sized principalities in the 13th century, while all along the Rhine River valley the rights of government were scattered over smaller and less compact territories. The Ascanian dynasty (Ascanian Dynasties), for instance, which under Albert I (Albert the Bear) began to advance into Brandenburg, by 1250 not only ruled over a broad belt of land up to the Oder River but, having already established its control on the Oder's eastern banks, was ready for further advances. Farther south the Wettin (Wettin Dynasty) margraves of Meissen busied themselves with settlements and town foundations in Lusatia.

      For a time Henry the Lion, as duke of Saxony (1142–80), overshadowed all these rising powers, and the Welf profited as much by the ruthless use of his resources against weaker competitors as by his own efforts in Mecklenburg. As his was the only protection worth having in northeastern Germany, the newly established Baltic bishoprics were at his mercy, and he alone could attract the traders of Gotland to frequent the young port town of Lübeck, which he extorted from one of his vassals in 1158.

      The Reich, too, possessed demesnes in the east, notably the Egerland, Vogtland, and Pleissnerland in the Thuringian march. The Hohenstaufen kings therefore took some part in opening up these regions. They, too, founded towns and monasteries on their thickly wooded lands and established their ministeriales as burgraves and advocates over them. But in this, as in many other things, they only competed with the princes. They did not and could not control the eastward movement as a whole.

Hohenstaufen policy in Italy
      In the other great field of German expansion in the 12th century— Lombardy and central Italy—the emperors and their military following alone counted. Indeed, from the very start of his reign, Frederick Barbarossa sought to recover and exploit regalian and imperial rights over the growing Lombard (Lombard League) city communes and the rest of Italy. The connection between the German crown, the empire, and dominion over Italy has sometimes been regarded as a disaster for Germany and the ever-increasing concern of the Hohenstaufen dynasty with the south as its most tragic phase. Although Frederick's policy was opportunistic, it was motivated by political necessity and personal inclination. Having bought off the Welfs, reconciled other great families with yet more concessions, and lastly endowed his own cousin, Conrad III's son Frederick, with Hohenstaufen demesnes in Swabia, he had to try to mobilize their goodwill toward the empire while it lasted. He now aimed to set up a regime (Lombard League) of imperial officials and captains who were to exact dues and to control jurisdiction that the communes had usurped from the failing grasp of their bishops. In 1158, as part of this plan, Frederick made his second Italian expedition and conquered Milan, the preeminent city in Lombardy. This was followed by an assembly and the publication of the Roncaglia decrees, which defined royal rights and attempted to establish Frederick's authority in Italy.

      For the Hohenstaufen ministeriales the rule of their masters in northern and central Italy provided a career. Because they could be deployed continuously, they became the backbone of the imperial occupation. A handful of minor dynasts also served Frederick for many years in the powerful and profitable commands that he established. The German bishops and certain abbots still had to supply men and money, and some of them threw themselves wholeheartedly into the war: for instance, Rainald Of Dassel and Philip of Heinsberg, archbishops of Cologne from 1159 to 1167 and from 1167 to 1191, respectively, as archchancellors for Italy, had a vested interest in it. The support of the lay princes, conversely, was fitful and sporadic. Even at critical moments they could not be counted on, unless they individually agreed to serve or to send their much-needed contingents for a season. The refusal of the greatest of them, Henry the Lion, in 1176 brought about the emperor's defeat at the Battle of Legnano and spoiled many years' efforts in Lombardy.

The fall of Henry the Lion
      Forced to retreat before the papacy and the Lombard League after the Battle of Legnano, Frederick cooled toward his Welf cousin, whom he could justly blame for some of his setbacks. Hitherto, the enemies of Henry—the princes, bishops, and magnates of Saxony—had been unable to gain a hearing against him at the emperor's court days. By 1178, however, the emperor was ready to help them. Outlawed (1180), beaten in the field, and deserted by his vassals, Henry had to surrender and go into exile in 1182. His duchies and fiefs were forfeited to the empire.

      His fall left a throng of middling princes face to face with an emperor whose prestige, despite reverses, stood high and whose resources had greatly increased since the beginning of his reign. The princes were nonetheless the chief and ultimate beneficiaries of the events of 1180. The final judgment by which Henry the Lion lost his honours was not founded on tribal law but on feudal law. The princes who condemned him regarded themselves as the first feudatories of the empire, and they decided on the redistribution of his possessions among themselves. During the 12th century the tribal duchies of the Ottonian period finally disintegrated. Within their ancient boundaries not only bishops but also lay lords succeeded in eluding the authority of the dukes. In their large immunities, bishops and nonducal nobles themselves wielded ducal powers. To enforce the imperial peace laws became both their ambition and their justification. Everywhere the greater lay dynasties and even some bishops tried to acquire a ducal or an equivalent title that would enable them to consolidate their scattered jurisdictions and, if possible, to force lesser free lords to attend their pleas.

      These highest magnates had interests in common, and they closed their ranks not only against threats from above but also against fellow nobles who had been less successful in amassing wealth, counties, and advocacies and who did not possess the superior jurisdiction of a duke, a margrave, a count palatine, or a landgrave. They and they alone were now called princes of the empire. To lend a certain cohesion to their varied rights, they were willing to surrender their house lands to the empire and receive them back again as a princely fief. For the emperor it was theoretically an advantage that men so powerful in their own right should owe their chief dignity and most valued privileges to his grant. It opened the possibility of escheats (reversions to the property of the emperor), for in feudal law the rules of inheritance were stricter than in folk right. In Germany, however, the political misfortunes of rulers succeeded, by and large, in ensuring that ancient caste feeling and notions of inalienable right conquered the principles of feudal law. By 1216 it was established that the emperor could neither abolish principalities nor create princes at random.

      The “heirs” of Henry the Lion had to fight a ceaseless battle to establish and maintain themselves. In Bavaria the Wittelsbachs (Wittelsbach, House of) had received the vacant duchy, but they were not recognized as superiors by the dukes of Styria or by the dukes of Andechs-Meran. In Saxony the archbishop of Cologne was enfeoffed with Henry the Lion's ducal office and with all his rights in Westphalia, while an Ascanian prince, Bernard of Anhalt, received the eastern half of Henry's duchy. Neither Bernard nor the archbishop, however, could make much out of their dukedoms, except in the regions where they already had lands and local jurisdictions. All over the empire these and regalian rights, such as mints, fairs, tolls, and the right of granting safe-conducts, were the substance of princely power. To possess them as widely as possible became the first goal of the abler bishops and lay lords.

Hohenstaufen cooperation and conflict with the papacy, 1152–1215
      Frederick's interest in Italy stemmed not only from his difficulties in Germany but also from his desire to obtain imperial coronation at the hands of the pope, who alone could bestow this dignity. Frederick enjoyed good relations with the papacy early in his reign, and in 1153 he and Pope Eugenius III (Eugenius III, Blessed) signed a treaty acknowledging each other's rights, though the pontiff died before he could crown Frederick emperor. That task fell to Adrian IV in 1155, whom Frederick had restored to the papal throne after suppressing the revolt of Arnold of Brescia and the people of Rome. Good relations would not last between the two, however. Neither side upheld the terms of the treaty of 1153, and in 1157 open conflict erupted in the so-called incident at Besançon, wherein Adrian declared that Frederick had received the empire as a beneficium, or fief, from the pope, provoking the emperor and his advisers. Adrian apologized for the use of the term, explaining it meant “favour,” but only after relations between the emperor and pope had become embittered. The incident at Besançon was the first of a series of controversies between the papacy and Frederick and the Hohenstaufen line.

      The attempt to establish a direct imperial regime in Italy in 1159 antagonized the papacy once again and led to a new struggle with Rome, the ally of the Lombard communes. Political and territorial rather than ecclesiastical interests were at stake; but the popes could only fight as heads of the universal church, defending its liberty against a race of persecutors, and they had to employ their characteristic weapons—excommunication, propaganda, and intrigue. Nonetheless, the German bishops stood by Frederick and, for the most part, followed him in maintaining a prolonged schism against Pope Alexander III. Unsuccessful in Lombardy, the Hohenstaufen shifted the centre of their ambitions after 1177 to Tuscany, Spoleto, and the Romagna. This redoubled the fears and the resentment of the popes, particularly after Frederick's death while Crusading in 1189, when his son and chosen successor, Henry VI (reigned 1190–97), became the legitimate claimant to the Sicilian (Sicily) kingdom through his wife Constance, the sole surviving heiress.

      With their backs to the wall, the popes had to make what use they could out of any opposition to the Hohenstaufen. Their chance came in 1197 when Henry VI died prematurely, leaving a three-year-old son, Frederick (Frederick II), to succeed him. To escape the chaos of a minority regime, the bulk of the German princes and bishops in 1198 elected the boy's uncle Philip of Swabia; but an opposition faction in the lower Rhenish region, led by the archbishop of Cologne and financed by Richard I of England, raised an antiking in Otto IV, a younger son of Henry the Lion. Concerned with preserving traditional papal rights regarding the imperial succession and territorial holdings in Italy as well as with the interests of his ward, Frederick, Pope Innocent III involved himself in the electoral dispute. Territorial interests in the Romagna tempted the papacy to exploit the weaknesses of the empire's constitution, the uncertainties of electoral custom, and the lack of strict legal norms in Germany. During the war for the crown, much hard-won demesne and useful rights over the church had to be sacrificed by the rivals to bribe their supporters.

Frederick II and the princes
      Henry's son Frederick II entered Germany in 1212 to advance his claim to Otto IV's throne and secured the crown in 1215. Despite promises to divide his inheritance, he kept the kingdom of Sicily and the empire together, and thus he also became locked in the inevitable life-and-death struggle with the papacy. The Hohenstaufen demesne in Swabia, Franconia, and Alsace and on the middle Rhine was still very considerable, and Frederick even recovered certain fiefs and advocacies that had been lost during the earlier civil wars. Their administration was improved, and they provided valuable forces for his Italian wars. The great peace legislation of 1235, moreover, showed that the emperor had not become a mere competitor in the race for territorial gain. But, except for brief intervals, the princes and bishops were left free to fight for the future of their lands against one another and against the intractable lesser lords who refused to accept their domination. The charters that Frederick had to grant to the ecclesiastical princes (the so-called Confoederatio cum Principibus Ecclesiasticis, 1220) and later to all territorial lords (Constitutio, or Statutum in Favorem Principum, 1232) gave them written guarantees against the activities of royal demesne officials and limited the development of imperial towns at the expense of episcopal territories. But the charters were not always observed, and until 1250 the crown remained formidable in southern Germany, despite the antikings Henry Raspe and William of Holland (William), whose election by the Rhenish archbishops in Germany in 1246 and 1247, respectively, was engineered by the papacy.

The empire after the Hohenstaufen catastrophe
      Frederick II died in 1250, in the midst of his struggle against Pope Innocent IV. His son Conrad IV left the north the next year to fight for his father's Italian possessions. William of Holland, antiking from 1247 to 1256, was thus without a rival in an indifferent Germany that had lost interest in its rulers. The bishops' cities and the towns, many of them founded on royal demesne, could not be subjugated. Their economic power challenged the age-old aristocratic order in German society, and, deprived of royal protection, they banded together to defend their autonomy. Within the nobility each rank tended to acquire some of the personal rights of its betters. The Hohenstaufen breakdown after 1250 left a gap in Swabia that no rising territorial power was able to fill. Countless petty lords and imperial ministeriales of the southwest succeeded in holding their seigniories as immediate vassals of the empire. Their independent territories often survived for centuries.

      The ministeriales elsewhere, too, ceased to be the dependable servants that they once had been. Many free nobles voluntarily joined their ranks, and the knights (knight) thus assimilated the rights of the free aristocracy. They became the governing class of the territorial principalities, the standing councillors of their masters, whose household offices and local justice they monopolized and held in fee for many generations. Without the consent of this territorial nobility, the princes (prince) could neither tax nor legislate. Even the less important ministeriales, who only administered manors for their lords, became entrenched as hereditary bailiffs, keeping surplus produce for themselves and usurping seignorial dues, so that it paid the owners to commute the labour services of their villeins into money rents and to lease out those portions of the demesne that the unfree peasants had cultivated for them. Even then, however, the hereditary officials could not be easily dislodged. Finally, the ambitions of the princes themselves did not aim above the patrimonial policies of the past. They were acquisitive and attempted to build up their territories by usurpation, inheritance, marriage treaties, and escheats. They also tried, where possible, to administer their lands with officials whom they could depose at will. Yet they did so not to found sovereign states but chiefly to provide for their families. Again and again, they divided their dominions among sons, who, in turn, founded cadet lines and set them up on a fraction of the principality.

      By 1250 there was thus no really effective central authority left in Germany. The prince-bishoprics had become fiercely contested prizes between neighbouring dynasties, themselves often vassals of the bishopric. But constant feuds, disorder, and insecurity did not, by any means, frustrate the immense energies of the Germans in the 13th century. Eastward expansion continued under the leadership of the princes and, above all, of the Knights of the Teutonic Order. Their advance into Prussia went hand in hand with the opening up of the Baltic by the merchants of Lübeck. It is possible that three centuries of complete security from foreign invasion made it unnecessary for the German aristocracy to learn the virtues of political self-discipline and subordination. Still, it would be a great mistake to judge Hohenstaufen Germany solely by its failure to achieve political and administrative unity.

K.J. Leyser

Germany from 1250 to 1493
1250 to 1378

The extinction of the Hohenstaufen dynasty
      The death of Frederick II in 1250 and of his son Conrad IV in 1254 heralded the irreversible decline of Hohenstaufen power in Germany and in the conjoint kingdoms of Naples (Naples, Kingdom of) and Sicily. Conrad's infant son Conradin, heir to Naples and Sicily, remained in Germany under the guardianship of his Bavarian mother. His uncle Manfred seized the reins of government in both Italian kingdoms and in 1258 formally supplanted Conradin by engineering his own coronation in Palermo. Manfred's defiance of papal claims to suzerainty over the kingdoms impelled the French-born Pope Urban IV to grant them to Charles of Anjou (Charles I), brother of Louis IX of France. Papal taxation of the French clergy and loans from Florentine bankers enabled Charles to raise a large mercenary army for an expedition to Italy. Manfred, deserted by his barons, was defeated and slain near Benevento in 1266. Conradin then rallied his German supporters and led them across the Alps. But Conradin's financial resources were inadequate; unpaid troops deserted, and his depleted following was routed by Charles near Tagliacozzo (1268). Conradin was captured as he fled toward Rome, convicted of lèse-majesté (a form of treason), and beheaded in the public square at Naples.

The Great Interregnum
      In Germany the death of Frederick II ushered in the Great Interregnum (1250–73), a period of internal confusion and political disorder. The antikings Henry Raspe (landgrave of Thuringia, 1246–47) and William of Holland (ruled 1247–56) were elected by the leading ecclesiastical princes at the behest of the papacy. William's title was recognized initially only in the lower Rhineland, but his marriage to Elizabeth of Brunswick in 1252 ensured his acceptance by the interrelated princely dynasties of northern Germany. The death of the Hohenstaufen Conrad IV left William without a rival in Germany. His growing strength and independence enabled him to escape from the tutelage of his ecclesiastical electors and to devote himself to purely dynastic policies. He pursued his feud with Margaret, countess of Flanders, over their conflicting territorial claims in Zeeland at the mouth of the Rhine. He renewed the attempts of his dynasty to obtain complete mastery of the Zuider Zee by thrusting eastward into Friesland; he died at the hands of the Frisians in 1256.

      Pope Alexander IV forbade the election of a Hohenstaufen but interfered no further with the succession. Hence the initiative was taken by a small group of influential German princes, lay and ecclesiastical, acting out of self-interest. None desired the election of a ruler powerful enough to threaten their growing independence as territorial princes; nor did they single out a German candidate, who might prove to be as uncontrollable as William. Archbishop Conrad of Cologne approached Richard, earl of Cornwall, brother of Henry III of England. Richard's gifts and assurances of future favour bought him the votes of the archbishops of Cologne and Mainz, the count palatine of the Rhine, and Otakar II of Bohemia. He was formally elected in 1257 and crowned king at Aachen (Aix-la-Chapelle). Three months after Richard's election, Alfonso X of Castile, who aspired to the empire in order to strengthen his foothold in Italy, was chosen in similar fashion by the archbishop of Trier, the duke of Saxony, the margrave of Brandenburg, and the duplicitous Otakar.

      The candidates were distracted by the turbulence of the aristocracy in their countries—Richard paid four fleeting visits to Germany; Alfonso failed to appear at all. Each appealed to the papacy for confirmation of his election. Their claims were summarized in Urban IV's bull Qui coelum (1263), which assumed that the exclusive right of election lay with the seven leading princes involved in the double election of 1257.

The rise of the Habsburgs and Luxembourgs

Rudolf (Rudolf I) of Habsburg (Habsburg, House of)
 When Richard died in 1272, the electoral (elector) princes were spurred into action by Pope Gregory X (Gregory X, Blessed), who desired the election of a German monarch sympathetic toward a Crusade for the recovery of the Holy Land. The princes, dreading an overly powerful king, rejected the advances of Philip III of France and Otakar. In 1273 they chose instead Rudolf (Rudolf I) of Habsburg, a minor count of Swabia who lacked the strength to regain the crown domains the electors had usurped during the Great Interregnum. Papal diplomacy persuaded Alfonso X to abandon his pretensions to the throne; but Otakar denounced the election on the ground that the duke of Bavaria had voted as lay elector in his stead. Rudolf I allied himself with the Wittelsbach family of Bavaria and with other envious neighbours of Otakar, who was defeated and slain in 1278. The duchies of Austria and Styria (Steiermark), overrun by Otakar during the Interregnum, were declared vacant and conferred jointly on Rudolf's sons Albert (Albert I) and Rudolf in 1282. These acquisitions placed the Habsburgs in the first rank of the German territorial princes and lent impetus to a gradual shift in the political centre of gravity from the Rhineland to eastern and southern Germany. The growing Habsburg power, however, disquieted the electoral princes, who frustrated the king's attempts to secure the election of his elder son Albert in 1287 and of his younger son Rudolf in 1290.

Adolf of Nassau (Adolf)
      On the death of Rudolf I in 1291, the electors averted the danger of a hereditary Habsburg monarchy by choosing Count Adolf of Nassau as his successor. Adolf, possessing only a small patrimony to the south of the river Lahn, strengthened himself financially by promising military aid to and receiving subsidies from both sides in the then current Anglo-French war. He took possession of Meissen when the cadet branch of the Wettin dynasty died out, and he used his foreign subsidies to purchase Thuringia in 1295. He was thus able to adopt a more independent attitude toward his electors. On June 23, 1298, five of the electors pronounced Adolf unfit to rule and deposed him; on the following day they elected Albert of Austria in his stead. Albert marched westward from Austria at the head of a large army, and, in a battle at Göllheim, Adolf was slain and his supporters fled.

Albert I of Habsburg
      By restoring the Habsburg Albert I (ruled 1298–1308) to the kingship, the electors placed themselves in jeopardy. The new ruler, backed by the ample resources of his Austrian dominions, was more powerful and unscrupulous than his predecessor. The electors regarded his treaty of friendship with Philip IV of France (1299) as a move to enlist French support for the election of his son Rudolf as his successor in Germany. In 1300 his attempt to seize Holland and Zeeland as a vacant fief of the empire was rightly interpreted by the electors as an effort to establish Habsburg influence on the lower Rhine. The four prince-electors of the Rhineland (the archbishops of Mainz, Trier, and Cologne and the count palatine) conspired to depose Albert. But Albert wrecked the design by decisive military action in 1301–02, and he sealed his victory over the electors by obtaining confirmation in 1303 of his election from Pope Boniface VIII in return for an unprecedented oath of fealty and obedience to the papacy. Albert subsequently renewed Adolf's claims to Meissen and Thuringia, but his authority there was still disputed when he was assassinated in 1308. Albert had temporarily tamed the electoral princes, placated the papacy, and renounced intervention in Italy; but this policy foundered at his death, and the electors were given a fresh opportunity to reassert their influence over the German monarchy.

Henry VII of Luxembourg
      The princes, released from Albert's heavy hand, sought a servant, not a master. Archbishop Baldwin of Trier sponsored the candidacy of his brother, Count Henry of Luxembourg, who was elected at Frankfurt am Main in 1308 as Henry VII. The house of Luxembourg (Luxemburg) was not a major territorial power, and Henry lost no time in exploiting his new status to extend its possessions. Under his direction the Diet of Frankfurt (1310) closed the long-disputed question of the Bohemian (Bohemia) succession by awarding the kingdom, with the consent of the Bohemian estates, to Henry's son John. Thus, in common with the Habsburgs, the main weight of Luxembourg interests gravitated eastward. But Henry, unlike his Habsburg predecessors, dreamed of a restoration of the ancient authority of the empire in Italy. His Italian expedition (1310–13) opened brilliantly, and in 1312 he was crowned Holy Roman emperor at Rome. The old fear of German domination, however, stiffened the resistance of the Italian states. Pope Clement V was alarmed by Henry's preparations to invade the kingdom of Naples, a papal fief, and threatened excommunication. A renewed collision of empire and papacy seemed imminent when Henry died in 1313.

The growth of territorialism under the princes
      The decline of Hohenstaufen influence in Germany, the Great Interregnum, and the rapid alternation of dynasties on the German throne created favourable conditions for the territorial princes, lay and spiritual, to gain power. Frederick II had purchased the support of the princes with lavish grants of crown lands, chiefly in the Rhineland and Thuringia; in 1220 he procured the cooperation of the ecclesiastical princes in the election of his son Henry as king and eventual heir to the empire by renouncing his regalian rights of building castles, issuing coinage, and imposing tolls on merchandise in their territories. Henry himself had extended similar concessions to the lay princes in 1231.

      Thereafter the direct action of royal authority was virtually precluded in the princely domains. The princes were at liberty to multiply castles and toll stations, establish mints, exploit mineral deposits, and settle all judicial cases except those transferred on appeal to the court of the emperor. The machinery of administration under the prince and his council (Hofrat) was, nevertheless, still rudimentary. Public taxation was intermittent and restricted to emergency occasions, and it was subject to the consent of the three estates of the principality (clergy, nobles, townspeople), which were consulted separately by the prince. The estates grasped the opportunity to ventilate their grievances and to press their advice upon the prince. The emerging territorial state was thus under the dual government of the prince and the estates, and its development was to be heavily influenced by a shifting balance of power between them.

Constitutional conflicts in the 14th century
      The death of Henry VII led to a disputed election and a civil war in Germany. The electors' impulse to choose another lesser count as king was checked by the houses of Habsburg and Luxembourg, which pressured the prince-electors to choose between their candidates. The pro-Habsburg majority elected Frederick the Handsome (Frederick (III)), duke of Austria. The minority withdrew their support from Henry VII's son John and transferred it to a more formidable candidate, the Bavarian duke Louis (Louis IV) of Wittelsbach, who had recently broken an Austrian invasion of his duchy.

      Electoral custom did not yet acknowledge the majority principle. The papacy, which had claimed the right to adjudicate disputed elections since 1201, was vacant. Hence the two claimants settled their differences by the sword. In 1322 Louis defeated and captured his rival at Mühldorf, but his triumph in Germany merely raised the curtain on a long and bitter dispute with the papacy.

      Pope John XXII, guided by canon law and precedent, affirmed that Louis might not legally rule until confirmed by the papacy; thus the disputed election of 1314 and the absence of papal approbation invalidated Louis's royal title and his right to govern. Louis contended, however, that election by a majority conferred a legitimate title and administrative power and did not require papal confirmation. His defiance of the pope exposed him to excommunication in 1324 and to the procedures of canon law, whereby he was required to submit entirely to the papal terms before absolution could be granted. Louis warned the electors that their rights were endangered by the subjection of the elections to papal confirmation. Six electors responded in the Declaration of Rhens (1338), proclaiming as an ancient custom of the empire that election by a majority was valid and that the king-elect assumed his administrative power immediately, without the intervention of papal approbation. Under Louis's direction the declaration was repeated at the subsequent Diet of Frankfurt as an imperial law, and offenders against it were declared guilty of lèse-majesté.

      John XXII and his successors were unyielding. In 1343 Pope Clement VI made diplomatic overtures to Charles (Charles IV) of Luxembourg, heir to the Bohemian throne, with the object of procuring his election to the German kingship in Louis's stead. The electors, led by Baldwin of Luxembourg, the archbishop of Trier, began to desert Louis one by one. The pope thereupon urged a new election. Charles assured the pope secretly that he would await papal confirmation of his forthcoming election before exercising governmental power in the Italian possessions of the empire, but, despite intense pressure by Clement, he would accept no such restriction with regard to Germany. In 1346 only two electors remained faithful to Louis: his son Louis of Brandenburg and his kinsman Rudolf, count palatine of the Rhine. The other five assembled at Rhens on July 11 and elected Charles under the title of Charles IV. The new king was spared a lengthy conflict with his rival, who died of a stroke in 1347. Shortly after his accession to the throne, however, the kingdom faced one of the greatest epidemics of all time, the Black Death (caused by bubonic and pneumonic plague), which killed perhaps one-third of the population, caused a labour shortage, and left the survivors shaken.

Charles IV and the Golden Bull
      Charles IV (ruled 1346–78) readily perceived that disputed elections exploding into civil war had been a standing malady of the German body politic since 1198 and that the stability of the German monarchy depended largely upon the degree of cooperation achieved with the territorial princes, more especially with the prince-electors (elector). In 1355 on his return from his imperial coronation as Holy Roman emperor, he promulgated, with the consent of the German assembly of estates, or diet (1356), a basic constitutional document, known as the Golden Bull (Golden Bull of Emperor Charles IV) from its pendant gold seal (bulla). Charles's double objective was to minimize areas of dispute in future elections and to strengthen his ties with the electors. Unanimity among the electoral princes had always been difficult to attain; hence the validity of election by majority vote, a principle already set forth in the Declaration of Rhens, was reaffirmed. The territories of the lay electors were declared indivisible and heritable (inheritance) only by the eldest son (primogeniture and ultimogeniture). Thus, partitions of land by family agreement and consequent uncertainty concerning the holder of the electoral vote were eliminated. In conformity with ancient custom, the archbishop of Mainz was to convene the electors and to request them to name their favoured candidate. He was to announce his own choice after the other electors had given their vote verbally so that he could cast the deciding vote in the event of a tie. The election was to be held in Frankfurt am Main, the royal coronation in Aachen.

      The membership of the electoral body was fixed at the traditional number of seven: the archbishops of Mainz, Cologne, and Trier, the count palatine of the Rhine (Rhineland-Palatinate), the king of Bohemia, the margrave of Brandenburg, and the duke of Saxony. When the throne was vacant, the count palatine would be regent in southern Germany and the duke of Saxony in the north; thus the long-standing papal claim to govern the empire during a vacancy was tacitly rejected. The question of papal confirmation of elections was ignored; neither Charles nor his electors were prepared to yield, but an open affirmation of their position would have been ill received by the papacy, which had played a leading role in Charles's election.

      The Golden Bull consolidated and extended the territorial power of the electors. Their right to construct castles, issue coinage, and impose tolls was confirmed. They could judge without appeal. Conspiracy or rebellion against them was deemed high treason. They were to meet the ruler once yearly as supreme advisory council on affairs of state. The formation of city leagues against them was specifically prohibited. On the basis of these enactments, the Golden Bull has been called the Magna Carta of German particularism. The electors in their capacity as territorial lords were its chief beneficiaries; the rest of the princes were envious and strove thenceforth to acquire an equally large measure of territorial sovereignty.

      Rudolf IV of Austria ordered his chancery to fabricate a series of imperial charters, including two from Julius Caesar and Nero, as evidence of his virtual independence of the empire. Charles IV submitted them for examination to the Italian humanist Petrarch, who declared the charters spurious. Rudolf took up arms and was bought off by the recognition of his claim to Tirol in 1364.

      The election of Charles's son Wenceslas (Wenzel) as king in 1376 (two years before Charles's death) was a striking example of the emperor's skill in securing the cooperation of the electors for his dynastic purposes. The election of an emperor's son as king of the Romans during the father's lifetime had not occurred since 1237; the prince-electors, in their anxiety to prevent any single dynasty from strengthening its grip on the succession, had checked all subsequent attempts. But unprecedented gifts, concessions, and a renewed prohibition of city leagues by Charles overcame the opposition of the electors. Pope Gregory XI had previously announced that the election would be invalid without papal confirmation. Charles, in concert with the electors, speeded the election and subsequent coronation of his son and then submitted an antedated request for confirmation to the pope, who countered these devious tactics by delaying confirmation; it was still under consideration at Gregory's death in 1378. The decline of the papacy during the Great Schism ( Western Schism; 1378–1417) precluded the vigorous assertion of its right of confirmation, which became a mere formality and was subsequently tacitly abandoned.

Decline of the German monarchy
      Charles IV's power was based primarily upon the territorial possessions of the house of Luxembourg, which he greatly extended by the purchase of the electorate of Brandenburg (1373). The German monarchy was a source of dignity and influence, but in terms of land and revenue it was outweighed by Charles's hereditary domains in the east and northeast. The Golden Bull, replete with privileges to the electors, attacked none of the fundamental problems of the monarchy: dwindling crown lands, slender revenues, and the lack of an army and of an expert bureaucracy.

      The financial problem was acute and long-standing. The succession of disputed elections between 1198 and 1257 had compelled the various claimants to purchase support by grants of royal land and revenues; the attempt by Rudolf of Habsburg to recover possession of crown lands alienated since 1245 had been opposed by his electors, who were unwilling to set an example by surrendering their own considerable acquisitions. At every election the votes of the princes had been secured by the grant or pledge of royal rights and property; thus, every king began his reign with a financial millstone round his neck and could attain freedom of action only by the possession or acquisition of extensive dynastic territories. The system of pledging crown lands led to the permanent loss of this land and its revenues and to the enrichment of the princes at the expense of the emperor. The imperial cities (Reichsstädte (imperial city)) had been heavily taxed by Rudolf, and, before his acquisition of Austria, they had furnished the bulk of his revenue. His less provident successors had pledged them in a few cases to the local territorial princes and had thus lost the right of taxation. Charles IV carefully cultivated his dynastic revenues from Bohemia, but he lavishly expended crown assets in Germany to expand his family possessions. His financial exploitation of the cities for purely dynastic purposes naturally stiffened their resistance to taxation. By 1400 the annual revenues from all the German crown possessions averaged only 30,000 florins.

      The enforcement of the public peace, a taproot of royal power in other countries, had long since slipped from the hands of the German monarchs. The German monarchy possessed no executive officials comparable to the English sheriff or justice of the peace, and it was diverted from its guardianship of law and order by recurrent conflicts with the papacy and by its absorption in purely dynastic matters. Consequently, the proclamation and enforcement of the peace fell into the hands of regional associations of cities and of the individual territorial princes. Thus the monarchy was prevented from using its function as defender of the public peace as an entering wedge to invade the jurisdiction of the municipalities and the territorial lords.

      In sum, the German rulers were being gradually deprived of their triple role as feudal suzerain, defender of the church, and keeper of the peace. The sweeping privileges granted to the princes in 1220 and 1231 had undermined the monarch's position as feudal suzerain. The rulers' bitter struggles with the papacy cast doubt on their credibility as protectors of the church. They allowed their powers as guardians of the public peace to slip into the hands of others.

The continued ascendancy of the princes
      By Charles IV's death in 1378, the division of Germany into numerous loosely defined territorial principalities had reached an advanced stage.

Southern Germany
      In southern Germany the dissolution of the Hohenstaufen duchy of Swabia gave territorial predominance to the Habsburgs, whose original possessions were scattered across Alsace, Breisgau, the Vorarlberg, and Tirol. Rudolf's acquisition of the provinces of Austria and Styria in 1282 had more than doubled the Habsburg patrimony and established its centre of gravity in southeastern Germany. The Habsburg's rivals and neighbours to the north, the counts of Württemberg, had combined with the Swabian nobles to foil the attempt of Rudolf to revive the defunct duchy of Swabia for one of his sons. (The counts, insatiably acquisitive and the inveterate enemies of the cities of the region, were finally raised to ducal status in 1495.) The margraves of Baden were chiefly preoccupied with the southward expansion of their territory on the upper Rhine at the expense of the independent small nobles and cities of Swabia.

      These three large entities contained lesser lordships, which were in constant danger of absorption by marriage, purchase, or feud. Bavaria, granted to the house of Wittelsbach as a duchy in 1180, was strengthened by the acquisition of the Palatinate in 1214; but subsequent testamentary partition restricted this important gain to the Upper Palatinate.

Central Germany
      In central Germany the margraves of Meissen of the Wettin Dynasty thrust steadily eastward and received the electorate of Saxony in 1423, when the Ascanian line of electors died out; in the west they obtained Thuringia (1263) and clung to it tenaciously despite repeated royal attempts to oust them by claiming it as a vacant fief. The landgraves of Hesse (Hessen), though surrounded by powerful neighbours, contrived to make modest territorial gains at the expense of the Wettin dynasty and the archbishops of Mainz. East and south of Hesse, the Rhine (Rhineland)-Main region was a land of great ecclesiastical princes: the archbishops of Mainz, Trier, and Cologne; the bishops of Speyer, Worms, Würzburg, and Bamberg; and the wealthy abbots of Fulda and Lorsch. It abounded in counts of the second rank, dominated by a great secular prince, the count palatine of the Rhine. The area contained four electorates and was therefore of crucial political importance.

Northern Germany
      In northern Germany the dukes of Brunswick dissipated their strength by frequent divisions of their territory among heirs. Farther east the powerful duchy of Saxony was also split by partition between the Wittenberg and Lauenburg branches; the Wittenberg line was formally granted an electoral vote by the Golden Bull of 1356. The strength of the duchy lay in the military and commercial qualities of its predominantly free population. But the vigour of its eastward expansion into the Slav lands beyond the Elbe tended to diminish its involvement in the internal politics of the Reich. As in central Germany, large areas of northern Germany were held by ecclesiastical princes, including the archbishops of Bremen and Magdeburg and the bishops of Utrecht, Münster, and Osnabrück. During the 13th and 14th centuries the major trading cities of the north, including Münster, Bremen, Hamburg, and Lübeck, joined together to form the powerful Hanseatic League, which was a powerful economic and political force not only in northern Germany but in most of the lands surrounding the North and Baltic seas.

Eastern Germany
      In eastern Germany the duchy of Mecklenburg, Germanized by a steady stream of immigrants, was drawn deeply into Scandinavian affairs and in 1363 provided Sweden with a new royal dynasty in the person of Albert of Mecklenburg. The electorate of Brandenburg, purchased by Charles IV and bequeathed to his second son, Sigismund, was dominated by a disorderly and rapacious nobility. Sigismund granted this dubious asset in 1415 to his faithful ally Frederick, burgrave of Nürnberg. The kingdom of Bohemia remained the durable territorial core of the Luxembourg dominions, and its silver mines at Kuttenberg (now Kutná Hora, in the Czech Republic), under German supervision, vastly increased crown revenues. The Czech population increasingly resented the economic and cultural influence of the German minority, and this created antagonisms profoundly disturbing to the monarchy.

Continued dispersement of territory
      Inside the various territories the consolidation of princely authority was far from complete. The principalities were often ragged in outline and territorially dispersed because of the accidents of inheritance, grant, partition, and conquest. Everywhere lesser nobles disputed the power of the prince and formed associations in defense of their rights and fiefs. In the ecclesiastical princedoms the ascendancy of an archbishop or a bishop was contested by the cathedral chapter, which had become a preserve of the nobility. The self-governing cities fought to protect their chartered liberties and drew together in formidable leagues to resist princely encroachment. Thus the princes, in trying to enforce their authority, tended to consolidate the opposition and to excite potential or open hostility.

      In this crucial struggle the great secular potentates undermined their own strength by persisting in the Germanic custom of dividing their territory among their sons instead of transmitting it intact to the eldest. By 1378 the Bavarian lands of the house of Wittelsbach were shared between three grandsons of Louis IV. In 1379 the wide possessions of the Habsburgs were partitioned by family agreement between Albert III and his younger brother Leopold.

      The ecclesiastical princes, vowed to celibacy and elected by their cathedral chapters, could not hand on their lands to descendants. Still, their policies and aspirations were not much different from those of the secular princes, and most of them managed to install their relatives in rich canonries and prebends.

1378 to 1493

Internal strife among cities and princes
      The electors had voted for Wenceslas reluctantly during Charles IV's reign, fearful that the monarchy might become a perquisite of the house of Luxembourg. Most of the other princes shared their concern over the continued ascendancy of the dynasty.

      Wenceslas (ruled 1378–1400) inherited a variety of problems, which grew after his father's statesmanlike hand had been removed. Wenceslas's habitual indolence and drunkenness, which increased as he grew older, excited the indignation of his critics. His prolonged periods of residence in Bohemia betrayed his lack of interest in German affairs and allowed the continuous friction between princes, cities (city), and nobility to develop into open warfare.

      The collision of princes and cities was prompted by vital issues of long standing. The flight of the rural population from servile tenures on the land to the free air of the cities aggravated the population losses from the Black Death and further reduced the labour force and the revenues of territorial lords. Others who stayed on the land accepted the protection and jurisdiction of the neighbouring city as “external” citizens (Ausbürger, or Pfahlbürger) and thus withdrew themselves and their land from seignorial control. Only the most powerful cities (e.g., Nürnberg, Rothenburg) were able to extend their extramural territory to a substantial degree by force, but all strove to expand the area of their jurisdiction at the expense of local lords, partly to prevent village industries from competing with the city guilds.

      A second major issue was the insistence of territorial lords on imposing tolls (toll) on city merchandise in transit through their possessions. In theory, tolls on road and river traffic were exacted in return for the protection of merchants and their goods, but the multiplication of toll stations hampered trade and provoked innumerable disputes, which often culminated in the seizure of merchants and merchandise by exigent lords.

      The third and immediate cause of the crisis lay in the financial policy of Wenceslas himself. His Bohemian revenues, though large, were strained by the great sums payable to the electors in return for his elevation to the kingship. Hence he attempted to tap the resources of the imperial cities by demanding heavy taxes, and he threatened to mortgage recalcitrant cities to the neighbouring princes, their chief enemies.

      On July 4, 1376, an alliance of 14 imperial cities of Swabia was formed under the leadership of Ulm and Constance for mutual protection against unjust taxes and seizure from the empire. The Swabian League counted 40 members by 1385 and was linked with similar coalitions in Alsace, the Rhineland, and Saxony. Wenceslas's initial hostility to the league faded as its membership increased, and in 1387 he gave it his verbal and unofficial recognition. He feared offending the territorial princes by extending full recognition; further, a clause of the Golden Bull had declared all city leagues to be illegal. Thus he temporized and awaited the outcome of the approaching trial of strength between cities and princes. On August 28, 1388, the princes of Swabia and Franconia routed the largely mercenary forces of the Swabian League at Döffingen, near Stuttgart. The stipendiaries of the Rhenish League were put to flight by the count palatine Rupert II near Worms on November 6.

      The cities triumphantly withstood the ensuing siege operations, but their economy was injured by the forays, ambuscades, and blockades instituted by the princes. The protracted campaigns also exhausted the financial resources of the princes. When Wenceslas intervened in 1389, both parties were ready for peace. At the Diet of Eger (May 2) he ordered them to desist and declared the city leagues to be dissolved. The contestants complied. The princes were satisfied with the prospective disbandment of the cities, and the cities feared the consequences of further resistance, but neither side relished Wenceslas's opportunism. The princes disliked his political flirtation with the cities, and the cities resented his final championship of the cause of the princes.

      Wenceslas's early gestures of support for the cities rankled the electors, who in 1384 and 1387 discussed the advisability of replacing him with an imperial vicar or regent. Wenceslas, however, learned of the plan and conveyed his opposition, while the electors were unable to unite on their choice of a regent. Some electors turned to a more drastic solution—Wenceslas's deposition. In 1394 Rupert II and Archbishop Frederick of Cologne considered the election of Richard II of England but failed to win the support of their electoral colleagues. In the following year, however, Wenceslas's elevation of Gian Galeazzo Visconti, imperial vicar of Milan, to the status of duke was assailed as a dismemberment of the empire and enabled the electors to act as the indignant defenders of the integrity of the Reich against a wasteful and profligate king. Wenceslas attempted to conciliate the princes by appointing his younger brother Sigismund as German regent in 1396. But the Milanese issue enabled Rupert and Frederick to enlist the support of the archbishops of Mainz and Trier for their proposed deposition of Wenceslas. The death of Rupert in 1398 occasioned some delay, but at length the electors compiled a lengthy series of charges against the king, and in September 1399 they openly proclaimed their intention of deposing him.

      At this critical stage further proceedings were temporarily checked by serious differences concerning the choice of Wenceslas's successor. The favoured candidate of the Rhenish electors was the count palatine, Rupert III (Rupert), who was himself an elector. However, another elector, Duke Rudolf of Saxony, and a powerful group of northern German princes contended that the electors could not raise one of their own members to the kingship. The Golden Bull had declared otherwise, but Rudolf held his ground and declined to participate in the subsequent proceedings. On June 4, 1400, the four Rhenish electors invited Wenceslas to Oberlahnstein to consider measures for the reform of the empire and threatened to release themselves from their oath of allegiance if he failed to appear. The king's efforts to rally support for his cause were utterly fruitless, and he decided to stay in Bohemia. On August 20 Archbishop John of Mainz, on behalf of the four electors, publicly proclaimed the deposition of Wenceslas as an unfit and useless king and freed his German subjects from their allegiance to him. On the following day the three archbishops elected Rupert in Wenceslas's stead. Rupert's consent to his election was presumed to furnish the necessary majority required by the Golden Bull.

      Rupert (ruled 1400–10) lacked the skill and resources necessary to revive the drooping power of the German monarchy. His title was not beyond dispute while Wenceslas lived, and the territorial princes and cities were therefore slow to acknowledge him. Pope Boniface IX, maintaining that only a pope might legally depose a German monarch, withheld his approbation of Rupert. An expedition against Wenceslas in 1401 failed before the walls of Prague. Rupert then embarked upon an Italian expedition (1401–02), hoping to obtain the imperial crown from the pope and thus dispel the cloud of uncertainty that hung over his title. The enterprise was crippled by lack of financial means, Boniface's conditions were exorbitant, and Rupert returned to Germany without the coveted imperial coronation. Fortunately, he had little to fear from Wenceslas, who was fully occupied in protecting his Bohemian throne from the machinations of his ambitious younger brother Sigismund. Far more dangerous was the degeneration of Rupert's relations with the Rhenish electors. In 1405 he offended Archbishop John of Mainz by refusing him military aid in his war against Hesse and Brunswick. Consequently the archbishop united all the enemies of Hesse and Brunswick in the League of Marbach, which included 18 imperial cities. Rupert contended that coalitions of cities were prohibited by the Golden Bull, and he denounced the league as illegal. The dispute was arrested by the mediation of the archbishop of Cologne, but the memory rankled. Rupert's prospects darkened still further in 1408, when he lent his support to Pope Gregory XII against the cardinals who wished to summon a general council to end the Great Schism in the church. The archbishops of Mainz and Cologne and the vast majority of the German prelates favoured the conciliar solution and strongly approved the policy of the cardinals. Wenceslas shrewdly followed suit and in return received assurances from the cardinals that the future general council would recognize him as German king. The powerful proconciliar party in the German church proceeded to agitate openly for the restoration of Wenceslas to the throne. The threat of civil war, however, was averted by Rupert's death on May 18, 1410.

      On the death of Rupert, the movement for the reinstatement of Wenceslas immediately lost headway. The Rhenish electors, having deposed Wenceslas 10 years previously on ground of his unfitness, could not reelect him without admitting their inconsistency. Nonetheless, the house of Luxembourg was powerful and would assuredly throw its full weight against any non-Luxembourg candidate to the German throne. The four electors agreed on the expediency of selecting Rupert's successor from the Luxembourg dynasty but disagreed on the choice of candidate. The count palatine and the archbishop of Trier elected Wenceslas's brilliant but unreliable brother, Sigismund, at Frankfurt on September 20, 1410. Eleven days later, the archbishops of Cologne and Mainz elected Wenceslas's turbulent and treacherous cousin, Jobst of Moravia. Jobst died in the next year, and Wenceslas agreed to accept Sigismund on condition that he himself retained the title of German king. But Sigismund ignored the reservation and assumed the disputed title. Wenceslas's protests were greeted with indifference in Germany and quickly died away. A second election of Sigismund at Frankfurt (July 21, 1411) gave him an ample majority and removed all doubt concerning the validity of the previous election.

      Sigismund was energetic, versatile, and intelligent; but long experience never blunted his rashness in rushing into new projects, and his financial incapacity never ceased to astonish his contemporaries. His pursuit of personal power and dynastic possessions was unceasing and unscrupulous. His kingdom of Hungary and his later acquisition, Bohemia, were his primary concerns, and the interests in Germany were constantly set aside in their favour. The disastrous reigns of his predecessors, Wenceslas and Rupert, had emphasized Germany's basic problems: the weakness of the monarchy, the friction between princes and cities, and the unchecked growth of lawlessness and disorder. During his long reign (1410–37) Sigismund appeared less and less frequently in Germany and did little to correct these evils.

The Hussite controversy
      Sigismund's prolonged absences were caused in great part by the explosive Hussite controversy in Bohemia. The Czech church in Bohemia had long retained a marked individuality and much autonomy in its liturgy. This independent temper in ecclesiastical affairs was being slowly fused in the late 14th century with a rising sentiment of nationality among the Czechs. The upsurge of feeling took the negative form of a growing resentment of the German minority, which dominated the towns by virtue of its economic power and cultural influence. The luxury and immorality of the Bohemian clergy were castigated by a series of religious reformers such as Conrad of Waldhauser, Thomas of Štítný, John Milíč of Kroměříž (Milíč, John) (Kremsier), and Matthew of Janov. The teachings of Conrad and Milíč had a strongly puritanical tinge; in opposition to the wealthy sacramental church with its external means of grace, they held up the ideal of the primitive church in a condition of apostolic poverty and the exclusive authority of the Bible as the foundation stone of faith and belief. These movements met and intermingled in the person of Jan Hus (Hus, Jan).

Jan Hus (Hus, Jan)
      A graduate in divinity of the University of Prague, Hus was appointed incumbent of the Bethlehem Chapel in Prague in 1402 and immediately attracted wide attention with his sermons, which were delivered in Czech in accordance with the foundation charter of the chapel. In 1403 he strongly defended a number of extracts from the religious writings of the Englishman John Wycliffe (Wycliffe, John) calling for church reform. Czech opinion in the university solidly supported Hus, but the more numerous German masters carried the day, and the teaching of the controversial extracts was forbidden. Similarly, when Pope Gregory XII's cardinals rebelled against the pope and demanded a general council to terminate the schism in the papacy in 1408, the Czech members of the university aligned themselves with the cardinals, while the Germans stood with the pope. On matters of general policy, the masters of the university voted by “nations,” of which there were four: Bohemian, Bavarian, Saxon, and Polish, the last consisting in fact largely of Germans. Thus the Germans controlled three votes, the Czechs only one. When King Wenceslas reversed the proportion by decree, the German masters and students seceded to found their own university at Leipzig (Leipzig, University of), and the mutual enmity deepened.

      In 1410 Hus was excommunicated by Archbishop Zbyněk of Prague but refused to appear at the papal court for judgment and continued to preach. Two years later he protested against the sale of indulgences and was placed under papal sentence of excommunication. The city of Prague was subjected to a papal interdict. Hus left the capital at Wenceslas's request but preached throughout the land and vastly enlarged his following. From the lower Czech clergy who popularized Hus's doctrines, the masses learned that the German minority were intruders and foes of Bohemia and of the true religion. Lesser nobles who had lost their lands by mortgage or purchase to the prosperous German burghers of the cities were readily converted. The more self-interested members of the upper nobility were attracted by Hus's proposed reduction of the Czech church to apostolic poverty, which would bring the rich territorial possessions of the higher clergy within their grasp.

 The rising ferment in Bohemia disquieted the heir apparent, Sigismund, and he intervened with the suggestion that Hus should expound and justify his opinions to the Council of Constance (Constance, Council of) (1414–18), recently convened to heal the schism in the papacy. Hus accepted, and Sigismund furnished him with a comprehensive safe-conduct. The conciliar commission that examined Hus focused the debate on two issues: the unauthorized Bohemian practice of extending communion (Eucharist) in both kinds (bread and wine) to the laity and the points of agreement between Wycliffe and Hus. Hus declined to retract his Wycliffite opinions until they were refuted by Holy Writ, and thus he defied the authority of the council in matters of doctrine. He was arrested on November 28, 1414, and died at the stake on July 6, 1415. Sigismund's protests against the breach of his safe-conduct were silenced by the argument that excommunicates automatically lost imperial protection.

The Hussite wars
      The death of Hus enshrined him at once as a martyr and a national hero in the memory of his followers among the Czechs. They raised a storm of denunciation against Sigismund and expressed their resentment by widespread attacks on orthodox priests and churches. The Catholics retaliated in kind, and Bohemia was in a state of civil war when the death of Wenceslas (August 16, 1419) brought Sigismund to the tottering throne. The new king's talent for conciliation and compromise was useless in the heated religious atmosphere. Pope Martin V urged him on against the Hussites and promised him imperial coronation as his reward. At his prompting, Sigismund raised a motley host in Germany and launched it into Bohemia under the banner of a papal Crusade (March 1, 1420). But the invaders were thrown back from the walls of Prague, and on July 7, 1421, Sigismund was declared deposed by the Bohemian assembly of estates. The shock of defeat forced Sigismund to attempt a fuller mobilization of German resources. Under the traditional system, princes and cities had been allowed to fix at their own discretion the quota of men provided by each when a royal campaign was in prospect. Naturally, both estates used their discretionary power to reduce contributions to a minimum. In 1422, however, Sigismund himself fixed the strength of the contingents demanded from the individual princes and cities throughout Germany. The response was disappointing. In 1426 the king raised his requirements, but to no effect. Hence the yearly campaigns against the Hussites were waged largely by mercenary armies. To meet the rising costs, the Diet of Frankfurt was persuaded in 1427 to vote a general tax, the so-called Common Penny. But there was little enthusiasm in Germany for the Crusade; massive evasions of payment occurred, and the strength of local feeling hampered the coercion of defaulters.

      In 1429–30 the irrepressible Hussites swept through Saxony, Thuringia, and Franconia in a destructive foray. Sigismund, exploiting the general alarm, reverted to the older system and demanded contingents from each prince and city. The response improved, and a large army invaded Bohemia, only to meet complete disaster in 1431 at Taus (now Domažlice, in the Czech Republic). It was evident that the veteran Hussites could not be crushed by force. Sigismund therefore welcomed the opportunity to transfer the problem of reconciling the Hussites with the church to the Council of Basel (Basel, Council of) (1431–49). The Hussite extremists, the Taborites (Taborite), were inflexible. They condemned the hierarchical system of church government and affirmed the priesthood of all true believers. Hence the council conducted its long and arduous negotiations with the majority party among the Hussites—the Calixtines, or Utraquists (Utraquist), who were prepared to accept the grant of communion in both kinds as a basis of settlement. The Utraquist nobles annihilated the protesting Taborites at the Battle of Lipany (May 30, 1434) and made peace with the council by the Compact of Iglau (July 5, 1436), which conceded them communion in both kinds and reunited them with the Roman Catholic church. The Utraquist nobles extracted far better terms from Sigismund as the price of their recognition. He agreed to accept the guidance of Czech councillors in governmental affairs, to admit only Czechs to public office, to grant an amnesty for all offenses committed since the death of Wenceslas, and to allow the Czechs a large measure of autonomy in their civil and religious life. It is unlikely that the slippery Sigismund intended to honour these pledges, but they cleared the way for his triumphant return to Prague in August 1436.

      In Germany the Hussite threat had clearly revealed the inadequacies of the existing financial and military systems, but the incentive to press Sigismund's reforms to a successful conclusion faded when the Hussite peril was scotched by negotiation. The general apathy was demonstrated in 1434, when Sigismund proposed to the princes a land peace embracing the whole of Germany. The abolition of private wars and feuds by such a peace was undeniably a paramount necessity. The princes themselves, however, were among the chief offenders against law and order, and their nominal approval of the plan deceived no one. Sigismund himself, increasingly absorbed in crucial negotiations with the Hussites, did not persevere, and the project gathered dust in the imperial archives. The impulse he gave to the cause of reform did not, however, fade entirely, though Sigismund did not live to see the sequel. His death on December 9, 1437, terminated the tenure of the German throne by the house of Luxembourg and opened the door of opportunity to the Habsburg dynasty.

The Habsburgs and the imperial office

      In the absence of a male heir, Sigismund had named his son-in-law Albert (Albert II) of Habsburg, duke of Austria, as his successor. Albert was able and vigorous, and the union of the territories of the two dynasties enabled him to exert considerable leverage in German politics. Albert declared his neutrality in the current dispute between Pope Eugenius IV and the Council of Basel on the subject of conciliar sovereignty and thereby evaded an issue on which the electors were strongly divided; thus, on March 18, 1438, he was unanimously elected at Frankfurt. The electors attempted to elicit from the new king an understanding that he would grant privileges to his subjects only with their advice and consent. They also submitted a project for the division of Germany into four new administrative units (Kreise) in which the enforcement of the land peace would be entrusted to captains of princely rank. Albert judged that the princes were seeking to enlarge their power and influence under the guise of introducing reforms for the common good. The German cities also doubted the impartiality of the princes as custodians of law and order. Both proposals were therefore stillborn. The king hastened from Frankfurt to defend his kingdom of Hungary, endangered by Turkish raids on Siebenbürgen (part of Transylvania, now in Romania). The campaign was brought to a premature close by the death of the king on October 27, 1439.

      Albert II had left only an infant son, and the leadership of the house of Habsburg passed to his cousin Frederick (Frederick III), duke of Styria. Inside the electoral college the duke was vigorously supported by his brother-in-law Frederick of Saxony and was elected unanimously on February 2, 1440. The choice of Frederick tightened the hold of the Habsburgs on the German kingship. It also brought to the throne a ruler who, absorbed in dynastic concerns and in astrology, had no more than a passing interest in Germany. Under the absentee government of Frederick III, the feuds among the princes and the collisions between the princes and the cities developed into savage wars accompanied by widespread ravaging and pillage. All paid lip service to the need for peace; but who was to enforce it? Was it to be enforced by the monarchy, which lacked power and executive machinery? Was it to be enforced in the courts of the princes, whose judicial impartiality was suspect? Were complaints against the princes to be heard and decided in the king's court (Hofgericht)? Or must they be adjudicated by the council (Hofrat) of the prince concerned? The right to enforce peace effectively was a major source of power to the holder; hence the struggle between Frederick and the princes was long, bitter, and inconclusive.

      These issues were brought to a head by the rapid westward progress of the Ottoman (Ottoman Empire) Turks after their victory at Varna on the Black Sea in 1444 and their definitive conquest of Serbia in 1459. The Habsburg kingdom of Hungary and Frederick III's own duchy of Styria lay in the path of the invaders. In 1453 the fall of Constantinople extinguished the Eastern Empire and aroused fears in Germany that the Western (i.e., Holy Roman) Empire would meet the same fate. The king used the opportunity to demand financial aid against the Turks from the diet, the German assembly of estates. Under the leadership of the princes, the diet reminded him that Germany's capacity for defense was weakened by the current internal anarchy. In 1455 six electors proposed to the king the establishment of an imperial court of justice in which all three estates (electors, princes, and cities) should be represented. Frederick dismissed the scheme as an attempted invasion of his authority and stubbornly maintained his disapproval in a series of stormy interviews.

      In time an increasing number of princes became convinced that reform would make no significant progress until Frederick was removed. As early as 1460 the Wittelsbach princes urged his deposition in favour of George of Poděbrady, the able and resourceful king of Bohemia. To check the danger, Frederick began to dole out reforms with a sparing hand. In 1464 he consented to make the court of the treasury (Kammergericht) independent of his person, to staff it with representatives of the three estates, and to extend its jurisdiction into fields other than financial. It was the acquisition of Austria in 1463 on the death of his brother Albert that finally proved his undoing. The unruly Austrian nobility early took the measure of Frederick and thereafter disregarded his authority. On the east and south the duchy was imminently threatened by the expanding kingdom of Hungary under its land-hungry ruler Matthias Corvinus (Matthias I). The southern borders of the Habsburg lands were also ravaged by the Turks. Frederick's continuing irresolution and passivity encouraged Matthias Corvinus, who had already seized a portion of Bohemia, to launch a campaign against Austria. The Austrian nobility made no move against him, and Vienna fell to him in 1485. Frederick fled to Germany and made pitiful appeals for help to the princes. His misfortune provided the party of reform with a long-awaited opportunity. Led by Berthold Von Henneberg, the able and resolute archbishop of Mainz, they pressed the aging and afflicted Frederick to relinquish the kingship in favour of his son Maximilian. Solaced somewhat by the assurance of a Habsburg succession, he gave a reluctant acquiescence, and Maximilian was elected on February 16, 1486. Frederick retained the title of emperor, held since his imperial coronation at Rome in 1452—the last imperial coronation held in the Holy See. But he played no part in the government of Germany, and his death on August 19, 1493, passed almost unnoticed.

Developments in the individual states to about 1500

The princes and the Landstände
      In the various principalities the outcome of the struggle between the territorial princes and the assemblies of estates (Landstände) was not fully decided by 1500. The vigour of the conflict arose partly out of the contrasting conceptions of government held by the protagonists. The secular princes looked upon their lands as private possessions that could be divided by agreement among their sons and drew little distinction between their private and their public revenues. The three estates regarded themselves as the corporate representatives of the whole territorial community and maintained that actions by a prince affecting their interests and privileges should be subject to their consent. They therefore opposed the partition of the territory by family pact among the princes' sons. The inadvisability of breaking up the principalities into petty territorial lordships was at length conceded by the more prudent princes. By 1500 the rulers of Bavaria, Brandenburg, Saxony, and Württemberg had accepted the principles of territorial indivisibility and primogeniture.

      In financial matters the imposition of extraordinary taxes (taxation) (Notbeden) remained the crucial issue between the princes and the estates. The mounting cost of war and administration outstripped the ordinary revenues of the ruler, plunged him deeply into debt, and compelled him to seek financial aid from the estates with increasing frequency. In the absence of a clear distinction between public and private revenue, the estates often contended that the deficit was a private debt of the prince and disclaimed responsibility. Needy princes were thus forced to buy temporary solvency by concessions that later shackled them in their dealings with the estates. The estates regarded the Notbede strictly as an occasional emergency tax and insisted that it should be reasonable in amount. Indeed, the estates of Bavaria and Brunswick extracted from their respective princes in the course of the 14th century a formal recognition of their right of armed resistance to extortionate taxation. Similarly, any prince who broke his agreements with the estates was subject to the right of resistance. Thus the aims of these territorial assemblies were mixed. They sought to preserve the privileges of the three orders, to restrain the power of the prince, and to limit taxation. They were, however, also actively interested in good government, and the more enlightened rulers usually issued their ordinances only after consultation with the estates.

      The princes proceeded against these powerful and often turbulent bodies with great caution. They persistently demanded that territorial assemblies convene only at the summons of the prince. They discountenanced the widespread conviction that absentees from the assembly were not bound to pay the taxes that it voted. In consequence, the peasants, who were not represented except in the Swiss cantons, Baden, Friesland, and Tirol, remained in the grasp of the princes' tax collectors. In these directions the princes had generally made notable advances by 1500, but in the vital matter of the Notbede they were still obliged to bargain with the estates as equals. They had nowhere attained their ultimate objective: to transform the tax into a regular imposition voted automatically by the estates on demand.

      Beyond the confines of the assemblies of estates, the attempts of the princes to curb their overmighty subjects aroused vigorous resistance. The noble vassals, proud and unruly, readily combined against any prince who sought to tamper with their liberties. Wise rulers deflected the nobles' energies into useful channels by employing them as stipendiaries. Hence even the most powerful princes—the Habsburgs in Austria and the Hohenzollerns (Hohenzollern Dynasty) in Brandenburg—proceeded circumspectly, and the difficult task of bringing the nobility to heel was far from completed in 1500. The cities of the princely territories defended their independence no less stubbornly. The princes revoked their charters, influenced municipal elections, and forbade the cities to associate in self-defense. The struggle was most intense in the north and east, where the Hohenzollern dynasty of Brandenburg emerged as the chief foe of municipal freedom. In 1442 the elector Frederick II (“Iron Tooth”) crushed a federation of Brandenburg cities and deprived its leader, Berlin, of its most valued privileges. In the Franconian possessions of the dynasty, Albert Achilles (Albert III Achilles) of Hohenzollern waged a destructive war (1449–50) against a city league headed by Nürnberg. He suffered a resounding defeat in a pitched battle near Pillenreuth in 1450. The elector John Cicero took up the battle 38 years later, when the cities of the Altmark in west Brandenburg refused to pay an excise tax on beer voted by the assembly of estates. He discomfited the cities in the ensuing “Beer War” and radically revised their constitutions to his own advantage. On the other hand, the great cities of southern Germany, enriched by the Italian trade, were more than a match for the local princes: the Wittelsbach dukes of Bavaria were decisively worsted by Regensburg in 1488.

The growth of central governments
      Between 1300 and 1500 the organs of central government in the territorial states became more specialized and diversified. The parent body was the advisory council (Hofrat) of high nobles and ecclesiastics, whom the prince consulted at his discretion. Its business was not differentiated, and there was no division of labour among the councillors. It met at the summons of the prince and did not convene at regular intervals. Its membership was not fixed, and some advisers did not attend except at special invitation. Others were regional councillors who attended the prince only when he appeared in their locality. A body so unspecialized and fluctuating was ill-adapted to cope with the increasingly complex problems of central government. Hence in the 14th and 15th centuries a professional element of “daily” or permanent councillors was introduced. They were usually legists, trained in Italy or in the newly founded universities of Prague (1364), Vienna (1365), Heidelberg (1386), Rostock (1419), and Tübingen (1477). They were well versed in Roman law, which, with its centralizing and authoritative precepts, provided a congenial climate for the growth of the powers of the territorial princes everywhere save in Saxony, Schleswig, and Holstein, where the ancient customary codes were deeply rooted. Financial administration, which required specialized skills, was placed under the direction of a separate department of government, the treasury (Hofkammer). An inner ring of favoured advisers, the privy council (Geheimrat), was also instituted to counsel the prince on affairs of state. The besetting weakness of the new administrative structure was financial. Few princes followed the example of the Hohenzollern dynasty in drawing up an annual budget and requiring financial officials to submit regular accounts to the government. On the positive side, chanceries gradually created a common German language, which Luther later used to spread his message.

German society, economy, and culture in the 14th and 15th centuries

Transformation of rural life
      Despite the impressive advance of trade and industry in the later Middle Ages, German society was still sustained chiefly by agriculture (agriculture, origins of). Of an estimated population of 12 million in 1500, only 1.5 million resided in cities and towns. Agriculture exhibited strong regional differences in organization. The more recently settled areas of the north and east were characterized by great farms and extensive estates that produced a surplus of grain for export through the Baltic ports. The south and west was a region of denser population, thickly sown with small villages and the “dwarf” estates of the lesser nobility. In the northeast the great landlords, headed by the Knights of the Teutonic Order, tightened their control over the originally free tenants, denied them freedom of movement, and ultimately bound them to the soil as serfs (serfdom). In the south the heavy urban demand for grain chiefly benefited the larger peasant proprietors, who sold their surplus production in the nearest town and used their gains to acquire more land. The lesser peasantry, with their smaller holdings, practiced chiefly subsistence farming, produced no surplus, and therefore failed to benefit from the buoyant urban demand. The frequent division of the patrimony among heirs often reduced it to uneconomically small fragments and encouraged an exodus to the cities. On the other hand, landless day labourers who survived the Black Death in the mid-14th century were able to command higher wages for their services.

      In southern Germany the strain of transition in rural society was heightened by the policies of the landlords, both lay and ecclesiastical. Confronted by labour shortages and rising costs, many landlords attempted to recoup their losses at the expense of their tenants. By means of ordinances passed in the manorial courts, they denied to the peasantry (peasant) their traditional right of access to commons, woods, and streams. Further, they revived their demands for the performance of obsolete labour services and enforced the collection of the extraordinary taxes on behalf of the prince. The peasants protested and appealed to custom, but their sole legal recourse was to the manorial court, where their objections were silenced or ignored. Ecclesiastical landlords were especially efficient, and peasant discontent assumed a strong anticlerical tinge and gave rise to the localized disturbances in Gotha (1391), Bregenz (1407), Rottweil (1420), and Worms (1421). Disturbances recurred with increasing frequency in the course of the 15th century on the upper Rhine, in Alsace, and in the Black Forest. In 1458 a cattle tax imposed by the archbishop of Salzburg kindled a peasant insurrection, which spread to Styria, Carinthia, and Carniola. In Alsace the malcontents adopted as the symbol of revolt the Bundschuh, the wooden shoe usually worn by the peasants. They also formulated a series of specific demands, which included the abolition of the hated manorial courts and the reduction of feudal dues and public taxes to a trifling annual amount. On these fundamental points there was little room for compromise, and the outbreaks were stifled by the heavy hand of established authority. But the rigours of repression added fuel to peasant discontent, which finally burst forth in the great uprising of 1524–25 (see below The revolution of 1525 (Germany)).

The nobility (aristocracy)
      The lesser nobility included two distinct elements. The imperial knights (knight) (Reichsritter) held their estates as tenants in chief of the crown. The provincial nobility (Landesadel) had lost direct contact with the crown and were being compelled by degrees to acknowledge the suzerainty of the local prince. The imperial knights had been extensively employed by the Hohenstaufen emperors in military and administrative capacities and were chiefly concentrated in the former Hohenstaufen possessions in Swabia, Franconia, Alsace, and the Rhineland. With the extinction of the Hohenstaufen dynasty, they lost their function and rewards as a nobility of service. The revenues from their small estates sank in purchasing power as prices rose. Caste prejudice prevented them from seeking an alternative role in trade or industry. Resentful of the decline in their fortunes and fiercely independent, they clung grimly to their remaining privileges: exemption from imperial taxes and the right to indulge in private war. They stubbornly resisted the persistent attempts of the princes to reduce them to subject status, and in Trier and Württemberg especially they were given valuable aid by the provincial nobles. For purposes of defense or aggression, the imperial and provincial knights combined freely in powerful regional leagues, usually directed against the local princes or cities. In the course of their chronic feuds with the cities, many knights became mere highwaymen. Many others, who had been forced to sell their estates or who were encumbered with debts, took service in Germany or Italy as mercenaries (Soldritter). In eastern Germany the knights, though equally unruly, were far more affluent. The knightly estate (Rittergut) was larger and produced a profitable surplus for export. The provincial knights sat in the assembly of estates, and taxation by the prince required their consent. They were therefore well-entrenched against the encroachments of princely power.

      Urban society in 15th-century Germany was concentrated in some 3,000 cities and towns. About 2,800 of the total were extremely small, with populations varying from 100 to 1,000. Of the remainder, no more than 15 cities contained more than 10,000 inhabitants. In this restricted group three were preeminent. Cologne reached its peak in the 13th century with a population of 60,000 but sank to 40,000 by 1500 following epidemics, internal disputes, and expulsions. In 1500 Augsburg was the most populous German city, with a resident population of 50,000. Third place was held by fast-growing Nürnberg, which counted 30,000 souls. The social unity of the citizen body had been most marked in the 13th century, when the guilds (guild) joined the dominant patrician families (Geschlechter) in wresting the right to form independent city councils (Stadtrat) from the lords of the cities. In the 14th century the guild masters, methodically excluded from the councils by the patrician oligarchy, broke into open revolt in Speyer (1327), Strassburg (now Strasbourg; 1332), Nürnberg (1348), and elsewhere. In its economic aspect the ensuing conflict embodied an attempt by the guildsmen as industrial producers to free urban industry from the tight control exercised by the merchant patriciate. By 1500 the guilds almost everywhere had gained varying degrees of representation in the city council.

      In the meantime the guilds themselves had become increasingly oligarchic and exclusive as the established masters restricted the entry of new members in order to reduce competition. The ascent of journeymen and apprentices to the rank of master was obstructed by the imposition of excessive fees, and in many guilds membership became virtually hereditary. In consequence, the journeymen began to associate in fraternities of their own to press their demands for higher wages and a shorter working day. The masters denounced the fraternities as illegal, compiled blacklists of leading agitators, and formed intercity associations to enforce low wage rates. The day labourers and casual workers outside the guild structure had no protective organization and suffered heavily in periods of economic depression. The surviving tax records of the German cities, though not wholly reliable guides, nevertheless suggest wide extremes of wealth and poverty. In late 15th-century Augsburg 2,985 of a total of 4,485 households (66 percent) were recorded on the tax rolls as exempt from taxation on the ground of insufficient means. At the other extreme stood the enterprising and prosperous business dynasties of the Fuggers (Fugger Family) and the Welsers (Welser Family). Not all wealthy citizens lacked public spirit, however, and hospitals, almshouses, and charitable foundations multiplied within the city walls. The spreading problem of mendicancy was combated by stringent legislation against able-bodied beggars in Esslingen (1384), Brunswick (1400), Vienna (1442), Cologne (1446), and Nürnberg (1447).

The decline of the church
      The vigour and assertiveness of secular society in Germany was exercised increasingly at the expense of the clergy and the church. Among the upper clergy more than 100 archbishops, bishops, and abbots were temporal rulers. The prelates were usually sons of the nobility and did not allow election to church office to interfere with their aristocratic ardour for war and territorial acquisition. They were expert in the accumulation of benefices and were notoriously lax in the performance of their spiritual duties. Their influence was freely used to advance their kinsmen and partisans among the greater and lesser nobles, who dominated the cathedral chapters and ruled the abbeys. The monasteries were filled with monks and nuns who were distinguishable from the lay aristocracy only by a nominal celibacy. Among the secular princes, the rulers of Austria, Brandenburg, and Saxony wrested a right of appointment to a fixed number of bishoprics and lesser church offices from the papacy, which had been gravely weakened by the schism and the conciliar movement of the 15th century. All lay and ecclesiastical princes imposed heavy extraordinary taxes on the clergy. The steady invasion of the church by secular interests was also exemplified by the moral and material condition of the lower clergy. The Black Death of 1348–50 had decimated the ranks of the more dedicated priests, who ministered to their plague-stricken flocks instead of seeking safety by flight. The new recruits who rushed into holy orders were often self-seeking and spiritually unqualified. As the inflow continued, the problem of clerical unemployment and inadequate stipends attained greater proportions. Many were compelled by need to accept ill-paid livings. Others obtained no benefice at all and lived precariously as chantry priests or as itinerant chaplains. Their moral and intellectual defects were bitterly assailed by church reformers and by an increasingly well-informed laity. Many pious Christians, especially in the cities, began to turn away from the priesthood in their search for spiritual comfort and to seek relief in mysticism or in lay associations practicing a simple, undogmatic form of Christianity.

Trade and industry
      The most impressive achievements of the German economy between 1200 and 1500 lay in trade and industry. German trade benefited from the Hundred Years' War between France and England, which diverted northbound Mediterranean merchandise from the customary Rhône valley route to the eastern Alpine passes; from the fierce internal warfare between the Italian city-states, which weakened their supremacy in long-distance trade; and from the rapid economic development of “colonial” eastern Europe between the Baltic and the Danube. The northern German trade was chiefly based on staple commodities such as grain, fish, salt, and metals; but the southern German merchants, in their capacity as middlemen between Italy and the rest of Europe, had taken the lead by 1500. They combined trade and industry in the great Ravensburg Trading Company (1380–1530), which produced and exported Swabian (Swabia) linen and laid the foundation of the fortunes of the Höchstetter, Herwart, Adler, Tucher, and Imhof families. The most important independent concern was that of the Fuggers (Fugger Family), whose founder, Hans Fugger, began his career as a linen weaver in Augsburg. The Fuggers' accumulated profits provided capital for moneylending and banking, which they conducted with the aid of business techniques borrowed from the more advanced Italians. The wealth and prosperity of Germany, which Machiavelli remarked on in 1512, stood in sharp contrast to its political and military weakness, a disparity that contributed significantly to a profound sense of malaise and discontent on the eve of the Reformation.

Cultural life
      In the absence of a strong centralized monarchy to act as a focus, German culture continued to be regional in character and widely diffused. The mysticism of Meister Eckhart (Eckhart, Meister), Johann Tauler (Tauler, Johann), and Heinrich Suso (Suso, Heinrich), which commanded all men to look for the kingdom of God within themselves, flourished chiefly in the cities of the Rhineland, where lack of diligent pastoral care forced Christians (Christianity) to call upon their own inner resources. In the same region social and moral satire attained an urgent and vivid realism. Sebastian Brant (Brant, Sebastian) (1458–1521), born at Strassburg, spared no class in his epic on human stupidity, the Narrenschiff (Ship of Fools). But it was in the thriving cities of southern Germany, as yet little affected by Italian humanism, that late Gothic (Gothic art) culture reached magnificent heights in art, architecture, and sculpture. Albrecht Dürer (Dürer, Albrecht), born in Nürnberg in 1471, challenged his generation with his evocative engraving “Melancolia I,” in which a brooding figure with closed wings sits idly amid a chaos of scientific instruments and meditates on the futility of human endeavour. In architecture the hierarchical elaboration of the late Gothic (Western architecture) style maintained its ascendancy and even made a notable conquest in Italy with the construction of the great cathedral of Milan, begun in 1387. The sculptured carvings of Tilman Riemenschneider (Riemenschneider, Tilman) (c. 1460–1531) in the chapels and cathedrals of Würzburg and other Franconian cities revealed the anxiety, the deep piety, and the religious sensibility of Christian men engaged upon a spiritual pilgrimage that was to continue through the Reformation and beyond. His work was the pinnacle of a great flowering of sculpture, one of the greatest in German history.

Charles Calvert Bayley Lawrence G. Duggan

Germany from 1493 to c. 1760
Reform and Reformation, 1493–1555

The empire in 1493
      The reign of Maximilian I (1493–1519) was dominated by the interplay of three issues of decisive importance to the future of the Holy Roman Empire: the rise of the Austrian house of Habsburg to international prominence, the urgent need to reform the empire's governing institutions, and the beginnings of the religious and social movement known as the Reformation. The accession of the dynamic and imaginative Maximilian to the German throne aroused in many Germans, and in particular among humanists, expectations of a time when the old imperial idea—the vision of the empire as the political expression of a united Christendom in which the emperor, as God's deputy, rules over a universal realm of peace and order—might become a reality. Since the extinction of the Hohenstaufen dynasty in 1254, imperial authority had been in disarray; as weak emperors had become absorbed in struggles against foreign and domestic, secular and ecclesiastical rivals, real power in the empire had moved toward the governments of territorial states and independent cities. From their first appearance on the historical scene (briefly from 1273 to 1308, then from 1438 in a nearly unbroken line until the dissolution of the empire in 1806), Habsburg rulers had fostered imperial unity. But they had been notably unsuccessful in creating agencies for its attainment, partly because they were assiduously working to build up a power base for their own house. This, in turn, brought them into conflict with European antagonists, chiefly France. The long reign of Maximilian's father, Frederick III (1440–93), was regarded by nationalists as lamentable in its inattention to the problems pressing on the empire. The solutions proposed for them were subsumed under the name of “reform,” a highly charged word that acquired enormous additional force in the 15th century when the conciliar movement and its lay and clerical proponents exerted pressure for religious renewal. Maximilian's arrival on the throne thus generated a surge of anticipation, expressed in an outpouring of agendas for restructuring what was then coming to be called the “Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation.”

Imperial reform
      Inevitably, perhaps, Maximilian's performance with regard to the empire disappointed, but he was successful in significantly extending the dynastic might of his family. He took over the duchy of Tirol with its vast mining resources. Ambitious marriage alliances spread Habsburg entitlements west and east: in 1496 Maximilian's son Philip wed Joan, the daughter of the king and queen of Spain, thus linking Habsburg Austria to Spain and the Netherlands (the future Charles V was born of this union in 1500); and in 1516 Maximilian's grandson Ferdinand was betrothed to the heiress of Hungary and Bohemia. These connections, however, only escalated Maximilian's internal and external problems. In foreign politics his ventures ended, for the most part, in calamities for the empire. Switzerland was lost in 1499, several Italian campaigns were repulsed, and an attempt against the duchy of Burgundy brought the hostility of France and led to the fall of Milan. Even the imperial crown eluded Maximilian: his advance on Rome for this purpose was halted, and he had to be content with the self-bestowed title of Roman emperor-elect.

      These reverses strengthened a reform party among leading members of the empire's estates (Stände); especially prominent was their spokesman, the archbishop-elector of Mainz, Berthold Von Henneberg. Given the long rivalry between emperor and estates, it goes without saying that their respective plans for reforming the empire diverged on crucial points of direction and control. The estates, acting from their—to them entirely legitimate—sense of the prerogatives of particularism, favoured a central administration responsive to them; the emperor, to the contrary, insisted on organs subservient to him, modeled on bureaucratic agencies recently established in Burgundy and Austria and shored up by the authority-enhancing principles of Roman law.

      At the imperial diet held in the city of Worms in 1495, the estates, whose members had begun to see themselves as the authentic representatives of the whole country, prevailed. The four reform measures adopted on this occasion were in large part intended to limit the emperor's powers. An “Eternal Peace” outlawed private feuds, with steps taken, and agreed to by the emperor, to implement this pacification. An Imperial Chamber Court functioned as supreme tribunal for the empire, most of its judges being named by the estates. An empirewide tax, the “Common Penny,” was imposed, the collection of which fell to the estates. To these measures was added, in 1500, an Imperial Governing Council to monitor, under the domination of the electors, the empire's foreign policy. Maximilian was able to impede the operation of this body (it was reestablished in 1521), but overall the emperor's reform objectives had come to nothing.

      The historical judgment of this failure has swung widely, on one hand between scorn for Maximilian's imperial “fantasies”—for whose realization a reorganized Germany was to furnish the means—and respect for his grasp of the country's perilous geopolitical situation, and on the other hand between sympathy for the estates' single-minded pursuit of the imperatives of regional state building and disdain for the parochialism of their political vision. Most historians have found Maximilian's actions distorted by a brand of romantic idealism. (In all seriousness he proposed to Bayezid II that Turks and Christians should settle their differences by the rules of the tournament; he also cherished for a time the hope of becoming pope as well as emperor.) What is clear is that the reform effort so briskly launched at the beginning of his reign resulted in permanent confrontation between sovereign and estates, a posture in which neither party could outmaneuver the other and every matter of policy required tenacious negotiation. In light of this permanent tug of war, the notion of a universal realm ruled by a “German” emperor does seem fantastic, though it never lost its ideological force. No one in the empire possessed plenary authority, but real power was shifting to territorial rulers and their bureaucratic agents and to the magistrates of larger cities. This shift was to be of the greatest importance in determining the direction in which the Reformation established itself in Germany.

 The Reformation presents the historian with an acute instance of the general problem of scholarly interpretation—namely, whether events are shaped primarily by individuals or by the net of historical circumstances enmeshing them. The phenomenon that became the Protestant (Protestantism) Reformation is unthinkable without the sense of mission and compelling personality of Martin Luther (Luther, Martin). But in social and intellectual conditions less conducive to drastic change, Luther's voice would have gone unheard and his actions been forgotten. Among the preconditions—which are the deeper causes of the Reformation—the following stand out: (1) Everyone agreed that the Roman Catholic church was in need of correction. The lack of spirituality in high places, the blatant fiscalism, of which the unrestrained hawking of indulgences (indulgence)—the actual trigger of the Reformation—was a galling example, and the embroilment in political affairs all were symptoms of corruption long overdue for purgation. While the church continued to be accepted as the only legitimate mediator of divine grace, denunciations of its abuses, perceived or actual, became more strident in the decades before 1517. (2) A subtle change, moreover, had been occurring in people's religious needs and expectations, leading to demands for a more personal experience of the divine. Failing to meet this aspiration, the church was widely, if diffusely, rebuked for its unresponsiveness. (3) More focused criticism came from the Christian humanists (humanism), an influential group of scholars bent on restoring the fundamental texts of Western Christianity. Led by Desiderius Erasmus (Erasmus, Desiderius), the most renowned biblical scholar of the time, these men held the Catholic church up to the spiritual ideals for which it claimed to stand and, finding it wanting, set the principle of Evangelicalism against the church's secularized ambitions. (4) Still more fatefully, by 1500 the church had come under attack from European rulers whose administrative, legal, and financial hegemony could not be completed in their respective states without domination of the ecclesiastical sector. In the empire, as elsewhere, the trend in ecclesiastical politics was toward state churches (church and state) (Landeskirchen), in which governments, using “reform” as a pretext, gradually gained, while church authorities lost, a large measure of control over clerical properties, personnel, and functions. The Reformation was the culmination of this process, which, in the empire, took place in nearly all princely territories and in most independent cities, where governments brought the administration of the church under political direction. (5) In Germany this development was facilitated by an ancient feudal custom entitling a landlord to extend “protection” to churches located on his estates. Over this “owner's church” (Eigenkirche) he enjoyed the right of patronage, allowing him to appoint incumbents and manage properties. In the course of extending their sovereignty, territorial princes took over this right to patronage and fashioned of it the legal basis on which, in the Reformation, they assumed full control over the administration of the church. (6) In every segment of German society, but particularly among the poor, voices were being raised against injustice and exploitation. Wide disparities in income and discriminatory laws in cities as well as the deteriorating standard of living of small peasants and agricultural labourers caused riots and uprisings, which by the early 1500s had become endemic.

      These, then, were the forces driving events toward a crisis. In the first decade of the 16th century they coalesced into a powerful surge of religious, social, and political agitation, for which “reform” (of church and society) was the code word. Ironically, Luther, who was to channel this agitation into the Reformation, had, until his emergence as a national figure in the 1520s, nothing to do with it. For him one issue alone mattered: the imperative of faith. His personal path to the Reformation was an inner search for religious truth, to which his conscience was his guide.

      When he wrote his Ninety-five Theses against indulgences in October 1517, Luther was an Augustinian friar, a preacher in the Saxon city of Wittenberg, and a theology professor at the university founded there in 1502 by the elector of Saxony, Frederick III, called “the Wise.” His ambitious father had pushed him toward a career in law, but in 1505 the fervently devout Martin entered a monastic house. His order, that of the Augustinian eremites, was a strict reform congregation dedicated to prayer, study, and the ascetic life. Deeply troubled by the question of justification—of how a human being, a sinner, may be justified (saved) in God's sight—Luther found no comfort in monastic routine and turned to an exploration of the sources of Christian doctrine, notably St. Paul and St. Augustine. His intellectual promise having been recognized, he was sent by his order to study theology at Erfurt and Wittenberg. He was awarded a doctorate in 1512 and commenced his teaching of the Bible in Wittenberg that same year. According to his own account, it was during his close reading of Paul's Epistle to the Romans, while preparing to give a course of lectures on that text, that he discovered what struck him as the solution to the problem posed by the huge gap between human sin and divine grace. Justification is not earned as a reward for human effort through good works (a position Luther now attributed to a misguided and misguiding Roman church). To the contrary, human beings are justified without any merit of their own by God's freely given and prevenient (i.e., coming before any worthy human deeds) grace, through faith, which is a gift of God. This is the meaning Luther found in the crucial passage in Romans 1:17: “For in it [i.e., the Gospel] the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith: as it is written, ‘He who through faith is righteous shall live.'” “Righteousness”—justitia in Latin—does not refer, Luther believed, to God's activity as judge but to the justifying righteous condition he effects in the human sinner, a condition expressing itself as faith. The momentous consequences of this theological insight, which Luther appears to have taken as a unique discovery but which had in fact been espoused by a score of theologians before him, were not then apparent to him. They asserted themselves powerfully, however, once he began to lecture and preach on the—for him—paramount themes of salvation by faith alone (sola fide) and exclusive reliance on scripture (sola scriptura). It was the indulgence controversy of October 1517 that brought it all into the open.

      Few other issues could so clearly have exposed the gulf that separated this ardent friar from an urbane and pragmatic church. The indulgence offered in Saxony in 1517 had its origin in two purely financial arrangements. First, Popes Julius II and Leo X needed funds for rebuilding St. Peter's Basilica in Rome; second, Bishop Albert of Hohenzollern, forced to buy papal dispensations in order to gain the archbishoprics of Mainz and Halberstadt, agreed to promote indulgences in his domains, half the income from which was to go to Rome, the other half to him and his bankers. For Luther, the issue turned not so much on the outrageous venality of this deal as on the indulgence itself. Truly contrite sinners do not desire relief through an indulgence (which is a remission of the penance, or temporal punishment, that the sinner would otherwise owe following absolution); they crave penance. This is the gist of Luther's argument in the Ninety-five Theses, which he sent to his ecclesiastical superiors to persuade them to abandon the indulgence sale. (The story that he nailed a copy of the theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg may be the invention of a later time. See Researcher's Note.)

      Luther intended no defiance with this action. He intervened as a priest on behalf of his flock and as a conscientious theologian against a corrupting church. But the public reaction to the theses (he had written them in Latin, but they were soon translated and printed) made it evident that he had touched a nerve. Encouraged by expressions of support and goaded by opponents, Luther became more outspoken, harsher in his criticism of the church, and more focused in his attacks on the papacy. By 1520 he was well on his way to becoming the spokesman for Germany's grievances against Rome. A pamphlet he published that year, Address to the Christian Nobility of the German Nation, urged the empire's secular rulers to reform a church that would not set its own house in order. Popes and prelates are not sacrosanct, he argued; they may be brought to justice. As every Christian can read the Bible for himself, papal claims to interpretive authority are a vain boast. Luther prodded the German princes to consider the state of the church and to reform it for the sake of the faith. In this way Luther drew out, albeit reluctantly, the full consequences of his principle of “salvation by faith alone.” No church was needed to act as God's agent; grace was available without mediation. No priest, not even the pope (papacy), has special powers, for, so Luther argued, all human beings are priests, made so by their faith. It is scarcely surprising that a bull of excommunication against him (Exsurge domine) issued from Rome in June 1520.

Imperial election of 1519 and the Diet of Worms
      At any other time the Lutheran matter would probably have ended there. But 1521 was no ordinary moment in the empire's history. When he died in 1519, Maximilian had not succeeded in having his grandson and heir, Charles (Charles V), designated his successor. King of Castile and Aragon since 1516 and suzerain also over Habsburg lands in the Netherlands, Naples, and central and eastern Europe—not to mention the Spanish possessions in the New World—Charles posed a formidable problem for the electors. Should they choose a man whose vast resources might well empower him to centralize authority in the empire when this would limit their hard-won autonomy? Should they elect a prince whose international commitments would entangle Germany in European conflicts? The only other viable candidate was the king of France, Francis I, who recognized in the rapidly growing Habsburg ascendancy a serious threat to his own power. But, though Francis made tempting promises, the electors, in the end, opted for Charles—not, however, without drawing from him a 36-point “electoral capitulation” in which he swore to uphold the estates' prerogatives. In making this choice, the electors strove to secure their own privileges, but the German public tended to see in the new monarch a fulfillment of national aspirations—mistakenly, as it turned out, but giving rise, at the time, to patriotic expressions of hopes for a brighter future. Coinciding with these events in the political realm and gaining resonance from them, the Lutheran matter was inevitably drawn into the political vortex, thereby acquiring the features of a national cause.

      Delayed by disturbances in his Spanish domains, Charles reached Germany late in 1520. He was crowned king in Aachen, assuming at the same time the title of Roman emperor-elect. He then proceeded to Worms (Diet of Worms), where he was to meet with the German estates in early 1521. By then no other issue counted as much on the agenda as the Lutheran affair. Acting out of what appears to be a blend of conviction and political expediency, the estates' leaders, prompted by Frederick (Frederick III) the Wise, the elector of Saxony, demanded that the Diet of Worms reopen Luther's case by allowing the excommunicated friar to speak before the estates. Unable to resist, the emperor issued a safe-conduct, and Luther traveled to Worms, treated on his way to such extravagant public acclaim that he must have felt like a national hero. On April 17 and 18 he stood before the emperor and representatives of the estates. He refused to revoke his views on justification and other points of theology, reiterated his denial of ultimate authority to pope and church councils, and—when pressed—asserted the principle of individual responsibility in matters of faith:

As long as my conscience is held captive by the words of God, I cannot and will not revoke anything, for it is dangerous, and a great peril to salvation, to act against conscience. God help me. Amen.

      These words, and all else that transpired, were broadcast to the country in scores of pamphlets in which Luther was cast in the role of the man sent by God to cleanse the German church. While an imperial edict condemned his teachings and placed him and his adherents under the ban, Luther himself was offered a refuge in the Wartburg, Frederick the Wise's castle in the Thuringian Forest. There, fretting over his enforced absence from events, he turned to the translation of the New Testament, while the movement, of which he was now the acknowledged head, gained momentum.

      Analysis of what happened at Worms reveals the first signs of what was to become a fateful split in the self-perception of this movement. The estates saw it as a means of promoting ecclesiastical reform; on questions of faith, they were willing to compromise. Luther, on the contrary, tolerated no distinction between points of faith and aspects of church practice, and on his understanding of the former he stood rock-solid. He and his political patrons were thus pursuing different ends; for the present, however, his support in official circles was, for whatever reason, substantial.

      Luther's hold on the general public was even more impressive than his hold on the political leadership. Historians are not unanimous in explaining how this friar from the German east, utterly obscure only five years earlier, could have gained such a following by 1521 that few governments would enforce the ban against him, knowing that they would face strong resistance if they tried to do so. It is not clear whether the general population, still largely illiterate, understood the doctrine of faith alone well enough to make it the object of informed choice. More likely, the German populace took Luther not as the preeminently religious prophet he was but saw in him their best hope of achieving an amelioration of the many troubles vexing them in their respective stations, not only in religion but also, and perhaps mainly, in their social condition. Against these conditions, the products of deeply rooted legal and institutional structures, Luther—or so people seem to have understood him—raised the standard of Evangelical morality: all things were to be judged by scripture and God's law.

      Scholars have often pointed out that this view is less attributable to the Wittenberg reformer than to another theologian and preacher then beginning to be active in the Swiss city of Zürich, Huldrych Zwingli (Zwingli, Huldrych). Luther explicitly rejected the use of the—to him purely spiritual—New Testament as a norm for social reform. But Zwingli affirmed it. On the other hand, Luther's vehemence and forceful rhetoric were so compelling that, rightly or wrongly, his name came to be fused with the general hope of improvement in human affairs. His partisans, proficient in their use of the media of print and woodcut illustration, helped shape this conviction by furnishing propaganda for a strong popular drive toward Lutheranism. This drive from below, further nourished by traditional anticlerical sentiments, was met from above by the eagerness of territorial and urban governments to utilize Lutheran ideas as legitimation for the extension of political control over the church. Thus, by the mid-1520s a number of German cities and states had formally turned Lutheran, meaning that they had severed their legal and administrative ties to Rome and its prelates and were building new ecclesiastical institutions and framing new doctrines.

The revolution of 1525
      The events of the revolutionary years 1524–25 impelled Lutheran rulers to establish centrally controlled church organizations. In their own time and often since then, these events were labeled a “peasant rebellion”; but modern scholarship has made it clear that the insurrection was far more than a series of uprisings by rural bands. The tens of thousands of peasants (peasant) drawn into the movement, some of them massed in major military actions, were a symptom of the general unrest that had gripped Germany since the middle of the 15th century. Both peasants and city dwellers resented the concentration of land and economic and political power in the hands of the landed nobility and wealthy merchants, as well as the burden of the tributes, taxes, and forced labour that these elites exacted. The growth of the population heightened these resentments by causing a shortage of available land, particularly in the south, and driving up prices and rents. The particular demands pressed in the 1520s—mitigation of fiscal and labour burdens imposed on peasants by their lords, autonomy for village communes, and relief from high taxes—had been voiced before.

      New were the linkage of these demands with the grievances of restive urban groups also protesting exploitation and disenfranchisement and their formulation as an agenda of social reform on the principle of Christian communitarianism. This ideological redirection of old patterns of resistance could not have occurred without the impetus of the Reformation, specifically the incendiary preaching in towns and villages of Evangelical pastors who presented Lutheran and Zwinglian ideas as solutions to the problems at hand. The clearest evidence of the Reformation's impact on the shaping of what some modern scholars call “the revolution of the common man” are the Twelve Articles drawn up for the Swabian peasantry by an Evangelical cleric and associate of Zwingli's. Article 3 of this document asserts, “The Bible proves that we are free, and we want to be free,” while another article claims for every congregation the right to choose its minister; these articles are a strong indication of how vital the principle of Biblicism had become to people preeminently concerned with worldly life.

      In the regions involved—Franconia, Swabia, the Upper Rhine and Alsace, Thuringia, and Tirol—large forces of peasants attacked castles, monasteries, and some cities. News of these actions encouraged discontented urban groups to rise against their oligarchic town governments, and for a while it looked as though a united revolutionary front of ordinary—i.e., nonprivileged—people might be forged. Manifestos and lists of articles abounded; there was talk everywhere of judging things by “God's law” (meaning the Gospel), and some groups even laid plans for a “Christian association” across regional and urban-rural lines. But before long the forces of the propertied won the upper hand, and the insurrectionaries were put down with the ferocity customary in those days. The war's final stage was dominated by Thomas Müntzer (Müntzer, Thomas), a visionary theologian with a message of social deliverance for and by the poor. The defeat of his forces at Frankenhausen in May 1525 marked the final victory of the old order over the would-be new dispensation.

      Luther was heavily implicated in this turnabout. Realizing that his words and deeds had served to encourage popular action against rulers, he sought to separate himself drastically from the movement, going so far as to urge the rulers' soldiers to “cut [the peasants] down, hit them, choke them wherever you can.” His brush with revolution confirmed Luther in the rigorous segregation he made between “two realms,” the worldly and the spiritual, the respective laws and ideals of which must not be confounded, as, he claimed, the revolutionaries had done. The Gospel, he said, cannot be used as a standard for governing in the world, which has its own rules and ways of justice, many of them, he acknowledged, unfair and blameworthy. Luther's separation of worldly and Evangelical values, soon made binding law by Lutheran governments, brought an abrupt end to the early phase of the Reformation, during which events seemed to many to be moving toward a sweeping transformation of social, as well as religious, structures. At the same time, Lutheran (Lutheranism) governments read 1525 as a lesson on the need to control subjects, concluding that preaching in particular, and religious behaviour generally, must be controlled. To accomplish this purpose, new laws and bureaucracies were set up everywhere.

Lutheran church organization and confessionalization
      The 1525 revolution was but one of several upheavals worrying German rulers. Three years earlier a group of imperial knights (knight) led by Franz von Sickingen (Sickingen, Franz von) had declared a feud against the archbishop of Trier, claiming to derive from scripture their right to despoil Roman Catholic prelates. The ensuing “Knights' War” was quickly crushed. But about the same time a disturbance broke out in Wittenberg where, during Luther's exile in the Wartburg, a group of reforming spiritualist activists forced the city council to abolish many traditional Catholic practices. Upset by this rash move, Luther intervened to reverse it. But this incident and the knights' attack caused consternation among the heads of government, who feared loss of control. Their anxiety was deepened by the spread from Switzerland in the mid-1520s of Anabaptism (Anabaptist), a radical religious movement whose most distinctive tenet was adult baptism. The events of 1525 thus strengthened a growing resolution that firm structures and clear doctrines were needed to reassert authority in a situation of drift.

      The foreign entanglements of the Habsburgs, champions of Catholicism in Germany, helped free Lutheran states to act on this resolution. Far from seeing to the execution of the 1521 edict against Luther, Charles V left his brother Ferdinand (Ferdinand I) in charge of imperial affairs and departed from Germany after the Worms diet to deal with the many problems besetting his far-flung interests. The most perilous of these was the war with France, which implicated the emperor in a constantly shifting balance of alliances with other powers and in a seesaw of military actions in which sometimes Charles had the upper hand and sometimes Francis I did. Charles's victory at the Battle of Pavia (Pavia, Battle of) in 1525 led to the formation of a coalition against him (the so-called “Holy League of Cognac”), intended to forestall Habsburg hegemony in Europe (a scenario to be replayed many times in the following two centuries). In 1526, therefore, Charles was in no position to dictate to the German estates on the Lutheran matter. Within a year, however, the situation turned in his favour. Spanish troops captured and plundered Rome in 1527, and by 1529 Charles was dominant once more, though it had become clear that neither warring party could bring the other to its knees. At the same time a potentially fatal danger loomed in the east where the Turks (Ottoman Empire), under Süleyman I (the Magnificent), began to aim their path of conquest at the Balkans and Hungary. The death of King Louis II at the Battle of Mohács (Mohács, Battle of) in 1526 put Ferdinand in line for the Bohemian and Hungarian crowns, thereby exposing the already overextended Habsburgs on a new front. By 1529 the Turks were moving toward Buda (now part of Budapest), which they captured in September of that year, and Vienna. Facing these perils, Charles concluded peace with France, sealing his triumph in the west with his coronation as emperor at Bologna, Italy. He then returned to Germany.

      These events formed the larger political context in which Lutheran church organization took place. Forced to solicit military aid from the estates in 1526, Ferdinand postponed implementation of the Worms edict, accepting a declaration by the Diet of Speyer of that year to the effect that every estate “will, with its subjects, act, live, and govern in matters touching the Worms edict in a way each can justify before God and his Imperial Majesty.” This declaration gave Lutheran rulers the signal to proceed with their intended legal, administrative, financial, and liturgical reforms, and the years following 1526 saw the construction in every Lutheran territory of what amounted to a state church, headed by the ruling prince.

      In 1529 this process was interrupted when, following the emperor's military successes, Ferdinand demanded at a diet, also held in Speyer, that, pending a general council to decide the religious issue, Lutherans and other religious dissenters should end their separation. (It was the “protest” of a number of princes and cities against this abrogation of the earlier Speyer decree that attached to the followers of Luther and other Reformation theologians the name “Protestants.”) By then Protestants were no longer a united party. Luther and Zwingli (Zwingli, Huldrych) had met at Marburg in 1529 in an attempt to iron out differences, but they could not agree on the question of Christ's real presence in the Eucharist. While a few Lutheran princes prepared for military action, a compromise-minded group led by the humanist Philipp Melanchthon (Melanchthon, Philipp), who dreaded the prospect of fragmentation within Protestantism, drew up a moderate outline of Lutheran positions. These were presented for discussion at the Diet of Augsburg in 1530, which was attended by the emperor. The Augsburg Confession, which became a fundamental statement of Lutheran belief, assumed that reconciliation with the Catholics was still possible. This view was shared by Charles, who was pushing the pope toward the summoning of a general council to mend the religious split. Negotiations among theologians and politicians, however, came to nothing, and the end result was that, with the Augsburg Confession rejected by Catholic theologians, Lutheranism was outlawed again. The militant Protestant faction, led by Philip, landgrave of Hesse, now established a formal organization of resistance, the Schmalkaldic League (1531), and the empire moved toward armed conflict as Lutherans became not just a political party but a military force as well.

      About this time much more rigid standards of religious orthodoxy and conformity were imposed. This development has been called “confessionalization,” a concept used by some historians to define developments in the empire during the mid-16th century. Confessionalization completed the process, under way since the late Middle Ages, of meshing religious and church politics with the objectives of the state. Central to this process was the institution of a territorial religion that was based on an authorized declaration of doctrines (a “Confession”) binding on all subjects and implemented by an established church responsible to the ruler (or, in city states, to the magistrates). Tending toward exclusiveness and therefore intolerance, this system contributed to the warlike turn taken by events after 1530. More important in the long run, confessionalism promoted a social drive, also long under way, toward the inculcation of discipline and order in public and private as well as in religious and civic affairs. Through catechisms, schooling, family and welfare legislation, norms for work, and standards for personal life, state and church attempted to restructure society in accordance with the goals of what has since been called the Protestant temperament. Success was slow in coming and never more than partial. But there is no doubt that, through the confessional process, Protestantism left a deep imprint on the German character.

Religious war and the Peace of Augsburg
      After the diet of 1530, Charles left Germany for more than a decade, occupied with troubles in the Mediterranean, the Netherlands, and, once again, France. In 1535 he campaigned against Tunis to subdue the Barbary pirates (Barbary pirate) who, as a naval arm of the Ottomans and as corsairs and privateers, had been making navigation unsafe. Renewed war with France was temporarily halted in 1538 by a treaty meant to last 10 years, but in 1542 France struck again, along with several European allies, including the duke of Gelderland and Cleves (or Kleve), whose lands were claimed by Charles as part of his Burgundian inheritance. The emperor's conquest of this duchy in 1543, which considerably broadened his power base, and the peace he concluded with France in 1544 (the Peace of Crépy), followed by an armistice in 1545 with the Ottoman Empire, left him free at last to deal decisively with the German Protestants.

      The emperor's policy toward religious deviants was guided by his concept of empire. The universal realm over which he hoped to reign faced external and internal threats; its desired unity and order were assaulted by infidels from without and by national rivalries and heresy from within. He had dealt with the first and second threats; now he turned his attention to the third. Protestantism had spread rapidly in Germany. More than a religion, it was, by the 1540s, a full-fledged political movement with a growing military capacity. The number of Protestant territories had recently grown to include, among others, Brandenburg, the Palatinate, Albertine Saxony, and the bishoprics of Cologne, Münster, Osnabrück, Naumburg, and Merseburg. In Philip of Hesse the Lutherans had an able political strategist. At least provisionally, pending the settlement of all religious issues by a general council, the Protestants had won grudging recognition of their right to exist. Such a council was actually summoned by Pope Paul III—though only upon repeated prodding by the emperor—but there were few signs that the Protestant states would submit. In 1545, therefore, Charles decided on war. He found a pretext in the capture, by Lutheran princes, of the duke of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel, a Catholic who had tried to reconquer the lands from which he had been expelled by his Lutheran subjects. Claiming that this capture violated imperial law, Charles opened the conflict in 1546, in which he was joined by Maurice, duke of Saxony, an ambitious Lutheran prince to whom Charles had secretly promised the Saxon electorship. The ensuing war fell into two phases, the first of which saw the emperor victorious at the Battle of Mühlberg, in 1547. Capitalizing on this strong position, Charles in 1548 forced the estates to accept an Interim (Augsburg Interim), a temporary religious settlement on the emperor's terms. It was the political concessions Charles demanded from the estates, however—concessions that would have permanently limited their autonomy—that led to a resumption of war. Among the Protestants the lead was now taken by Maurice of Saxony, who had abandoned the emperor and had obtained material support from the new French king, Henry II, for fighting on the Protestant side. The resulting “Princes' War” was brief (1552–53) and inconclusive, and in 1555 a peace was signed at an imperial diet held, again, in Augsburg.

      The Peace of Augsburg (Augsburg, Peace of) closed one epoch of German history and opened another. It decided the religious issue but did so in a way bound to occasion future problems. It reinforced the princes' authority over their territories but failed to settle their relations with the emperor. Most important, it legalized Lutheranism, laying down the rule, later epitomized in the phrase cuius regio, eius religio (“he who governs the territory decides its religion”), that each ruler in the empire—i.e., each prince or city government—could opt for either the Roman Catholic or the Lutheran (Luther, Martin) religion (jus reformandi) and that this choice was binding on everyone under that ruler's jurisdiction. Only one faith could legitimately exist in a given state, and that faith had to be the ruler's and could be only Catholicism or Lutheranism; Calvinism, Zwinglianism, and Anabaptism were excluded. A subject unwilling to live by this choice was free to emigrate and take his belongings with him (a provision considered liberal at the time). Confiscated church properties could be kept by the governments that had taken them. An Ecclesiastical Reservation prevented ruling prelates from converting their lands along with them. These terms make it clear that the real winners of the war, and of the entire Reformation period, were the territorial princes, whose authority and power, which now encompassed the church, were greatly increased. As for the emperor (Charles V), he abdicated in frustration and retired to a monastery in Spain, leaving his Spanish and Burgundian crowns to his son Philip and the empire and the Habsburg lands in central Europe to his brother Ferdinand. These two men, as Philip II and Ferdinand I, strong-minded Catholics both, were to play prominent roles in the period of Counter-Reformation and confessionalism that dominated Europe after 1555.

The confessional age, 1555–1648

German society in the later 1500s
      The changes that resulted from state building and the Reformation yielded little real benefit for ordinary people. Historians agree that the later 16th century was, for many, a time of economic hardship and social stress. Rapid increase in population (the European population rose by more than half between 1500 and 1700) and, secondarily, the influx of precious metals from the New World were the main causes of an inflationary trend that spanned the entire century and reached painful stages in Germany in the 1590s and early 1600s. Grain prices were especially affected, with the result that an ever smaller share of the ordinary person's budget was available for the purchase of other products. This had several effects, which, at least in outline, are well documented. The quality of nutrition for all but the wealthiest became much worse than it had been in the late Middle Ages, when meat consumption was at an all-time high. Illness and epidemic disease were frequent as the nutritional deficiency was aggravated by a series of bad harvests, perhaps caused by unusually severe winters in the decades after 1560.

      Cities and towns suffered loss of income as the market for their manufactured wares declined. In consequence, municipal guilds lost ground, not only economically but also politically, as their participation in urban policy making was curtailed. There were exceptions to this trend. Craftsmen specializing in the manufacture of luxury cloths and arms found lucrative markets at princely courts; but overall the position of artisans declined. Journeymen could no longer anticipate becoming masters. Artisans employed in traditional handiwork felt the pressure of the putting-out system favoured by merchant capitalists, whereby much production was moved from the town, where artisanal guilds protected their members, to the countryside, where merchants could hire cheaper labour. Division of labour increased, gradually transforming self-employed craftsmen into dependent workers.

      In the agricultural sector, high grain prices and rising land values improved the lot of peasant proprietors, but the greatest beneficiaries were landowning nobles and urban patricians with investments in agriculture. Society was polarized by these developments. A minority of rich peasants lived amid struggling smallholders hard-pressed by feudal lords who maximized their profits by increasing labour and tax burdens (the period has been called a “second serfdom”), and in the cities an upper crust of wealthy merchants and landed aristocrats faced a proletariat, whole sections of which were pauperized by the end of the century. The populous cities, once the glory of Germany, began to play a smaller role, as economic troubles and the centralizing policies of territorial princes decreased their prosperity and sapped their political strength.

      The highly visible contrast between rich and poor and the animosity of the weak against the powerful created tensions among groups and classes. Political and economic power was more concentrated than ever before. Its new centres in Germany were the splendid courts of secular and ecclesiastical princes, whence it was distributed to favoured groups: the nobility, rising in importance again but finding its function limited to the service of rulers, and the upper bourgeoisie, shifting its loyalty from guild hall to palace. For ordinary people, administrative centralization and politically sanctioned Reformation had the effect of imposing more rigid control over their lives. A host of mandates flowed from centres of government, seeking to promote an ethic of order, productivity, and morality by shaping working and domestic activities as well as private habits and attitudes. These inroads caused resentment, and there is evidence of widespread resistance, most of it passive. Under these circumstances, the Evangelical Reformation seems to have made but slight impact on the populace at large, whose effective religion continued to be a mixture of traditional Christianity and folk magic.

      Most people were worse off near the end of the 16th century than at its beginning. The lot of women, in particular, had deteriorated. About 1500 many German women had been at work in numerous urban occupations. But a century later they had been crowded out of all but the most demeaning trades as economic pressures, reinforcing ancient prejudices, eliminated them wherever they offered competition to male craftsmen. In this light, it is not surprising that the period from the 1580s to the 1620s also witnessed a surge of persecutions for witchcraft in Germany (mainly in the southwest and Bavaria). As elsewhere, the witch craze in the empire seems to have been a reaction to the strains of a time of troubles, the actual causes of which, fairly clear now to historians, were hidden from contemporaries.

Religion and politics, 1555–1618
      Four forces contended for supremacy in the Holy Roman Empire in the aftermath of the Peace of Augsburg. Lutherans—that is to say, Lutheran estates and governments—sought to extend the rights they had won in 1555 to parts of Germany that were still Roman Catholic. Calvinists, having been excluded from the Augsburg settlement, strove for recognition and made major territorial gains in the 1560s and '70s. Adherents of the old faith, invigorated by the Catholic Reformation issuing from Spain and Rome, attempted to turn back the Protestant advance by making common cause with strong governments. Habsburg emperors tried to serve the Catholic cause by weakening Protestant princes wherever possible and by holding the line against Protestantism in their dynastic lands. Political conflicts were constant under these circumstances and wars frequent, since the empire's institutions were powerless to neutralize or channel these competing endeavours. Maximilian II (from 1564), Rudolf II (from 1576), and Matthias (from 1612), though ardent Catholics, were preoccupied with the intertwined problems of retaining the loyalty of their dynastic lands and securing the eastern borders against the Turks. They had, in any case, been stripped of the ability to maintain order in the empire, as the Augsburg terms had placed public security under the supervision of the empire's administrative districts, which were controlled by the estates. The period leading up to the Thirty Years' War was therefore one of more or less constant strife in nearly all parts of the empire.

      The second half of the 16th century introduced two new agents of change to this scene. The Catholic Reformation (Roman Catholicism), operating mainly through the Council of Trent (Trent, Council of) (1545–63) and the Jesuits (Jesuit) (Society of Jesus), brought about major changes in Roman Catholicism. Trent produced authoritative definitions of dogma for the first time in the long history of the church; declared tradition to be, with the Bible, a source of revelation; reaffirmed the sacraments as mediators of grace; declared the church to be a hierarchical institution headed by the pope (against Luther's formulation of the “priesthood of all believers”); and issued a large number of reform mandates to meet, at last, the age-old charges of laxness and corruption. After the 1560s the Catholic Reformation's chief energies went to the implementation of the Trent decrees. Most effective in this endeavour were the Jesuits (Jesuit), a militant order founded by Ignatius of Loyola in 1534, pledged to strict obedience to the pope and to acting as the church's instrument for regaining ground lost to Protestantism. Germany was a major area of Jesuit activity; the order settled in Cologne in 1544 and later in Vienna, Ingolstadt, and Prague. In close collaboration with Catholic rulers, often as their confessors, the Jesuits embodied the activist phase of Catholic reform that is known as the Catholic Reformation.

      On the Protestant side, this activism was represented by the Calvinists (Calvinism), who made so forceful an impact on German society in these decades that some historians have called their appearance a “Second Reformation.” The Palatine electorate went Calvinist when its ruler converted; later the “Reformed” creed (as its partisans named it, denying to other Protestant denominations the claim to have truly reformed the faith) established itself, among other places, in the electorates of Brandenburg and (for a time) Saxony, the territories of Hesse-Kassel, Nassau, Durlach, and Anhalt, and the cities of Bremen, Emden, and Münster. Unlike Genevan Calvinism, the Reformed religion in Germany coexisted easily with the autocratic territorial church. Calvinist German princes, for their part, saw the faith as a far more aggressive theological and political weapon with which to wage the struggle for Protestant supremacy in the empire. Calvinist theology, with its emphasis on action in the world and its association of success with sanctification, even with election, was well suited, in the use made of it by German state churches, to act as an aggressive creed of social discipline. Calvinism also inspired the formation of militant parties pressing for its recognition as a legitimate religion under the cuius regio, eius religio (“whose region, his religion”) rule, which had been formulated in the Peace of Augsburg (Augsburg, Peace of).

      With the religious situation thus more inflamed than ever and the confessional and political issues inextricably intertwined, any incident might have triggered renewed conflict, which—given the competition for power in Europe among the Habsburg dynasties, France, England, and the Netherlands—was likely to lead to a general war. A series of incidents moved events toward the brink. In 1582 the archbishop-elector of Cologne, having converted to Calvinism, challenged the Ecclesiastical Reservation of the 1555 Augsburg treaty by holding on to his title, thus threatening to give the majority vote in the College of Electors to the Protestants. In the “Cologne War” of 1583 he was expelled by Spanish troops, and Duke Ernst of Bavaria was chosen as his successor. Throughout the 1590s the incorporation of church properties by Protestant governments was a cause of litigation before the empire's courts, as Roman Catholic authorities sought to compel the return of everything confiscated since 1555; Protestant states, in turn, made support for the emperor's war against the Turks dependent on further concessions.

      The Habsburgs, meanwhile, were hampered in their advancement of the Roman Catholic cause by the growing mental incapacity of Rudolf II; indeed, much of the direction of affairs was transferred to his brother Matthias, who eventually succeeded him in 1612. A more serious undermining of Habsburg imperial power occurred in the dynastic lands. Rigorous Catholic reform occasioned peasant uprisings in Austria and resistance by nobles in Hungary and Bohemia (where Calvinism had made inroads among the ruling classes). In Hungary a nationalist party under Bocskay István (Bocskay, István) forged an alliance with Lutheran princes and obtained support from the Turks. In Bohemia in 1609 the estates extracted from the emperor a guarantee of religious freedom, the so-called Letter of Majesty.

      At about the same time, the city of Donauwörth was occupied by Bavarian troops, since the emperor had empowered Duke Maximilian (Maximilian I) of Bavaria to “protect” the Roman Catholic minority there. Seeing this “Donauwörth incident” as a straw in the wind, Lutheran and Calvinist rulers formed a Protestant Union (1608), the answer to which was the Catholic League (1609), headed by Maximilian, the most resolute Catholic prince in the empire. Each party organized an army and allied itself with foreign powers, the Protestants with France and Bohemia, the Catholics with Spain. In this way the German struggle was both militarized and internationalized.

      General war nearly broke out in 1609–10 over the Jülich-Cleves succession crisis. When the Roman Catholic ruler of these counties, which formed the strategically most important block of territories on the lower Rhine, died without an heir, two Protestant claimants occupied his lands, aided not only by the German Protestant Union but also by France and England; they were, however, militantly opposed by Spain and the emperor. The assassination of Henry IV of France, who had been about to launch an invasion in support of the Protestant claimants, defused the crisis in 1610.

      Peace was preserved, although not for long. The Bohemian situation finally precipitated the war. Because neither Rudolf II nor Matthias had left legitimate heirs, the governance of the Habsburg dynastic lands fell to Archduke Ferdinand of Styria (later Emperor Ferdinand II), a ruthless counterreformer who reduced the religious liberties granted to Bohemians under the Letter of Majesty. In response, the Bohemian estates in May 1618 mounted a protest in Hradčany (the Prague Castle district), which prompted a militant faction of deputies to throw two imperial councillors from a castle window (defenestration being a traditional Bohemian gesture of defiance). In response to this event, which came to be known as the Defenestration of Prague (Prague, Defenestration of), Ferdinand now prepared military action, while the Bohemian estates elected a Calvinist, Frederick V of the Palatinate, to be their king. As the alliances fell into place on each side, the stage was set for the sequence of large-scale military actions that constituted the Thirty Years' War.

The Thirty Years' War and the Peace of Westphalia
      The Bohemian problem was resolved swiftly. Two Roman Catholic armies, the emperor's and the League's, converged on the kingdom, routing Frederick at the White Mountain (White Mountain, Battle of) in November 1620 and replacing the regime of the estates in Bohemia with a system of “confessional absolutism” based on rigid Catholic conformity and political authoritarianism. At the same time, the Palatinate was conquered by Spanish and Bavarian troops, and the electoral title was transferred to Maximilian of Bavaria in 1623. In the Palatinate, too, the Counter-Reformation sought to bring Protestantism to an end. As the war spread into Hesse and Westphalia and as Spain resumed its attack on the Netherlands, Catholic forces seemed near triumph. This prospect, however, renewed the old fear, as in the time of Charles V, of Habsburg hegemony; an anti-Habsburg alliance was therefore forged by France (where Cardinal Richelieu (Richelieu, Armand-Jean du Plessis, cardinal et duc de) took charge of affairs in 1624), England (whose ruler, James I, was father-in-law to the deposed Frederick V), the Netherlands, and Denmark (whose Protestant king, Christian IV, had extensive territorial interests in northern Germany, now threatened by Catholic armies). In 1625 Christian IV commenced hostilities. He was opposed by a much-enlarged imperial force under the war's most flamboyant figure, Albrecht von Wallenstein (Wallenstein, Albrecht Wenzel Eusebius von, Herzog von Friedland, Herzog von Mecklenburg, Fürst Von Sagen), a military entrepreneur with a gift for mobilizing troops and supplying them through ruthless plundering. Wallenstein's plan was to wreck Dutch and English commerce in the Baltic by subduing all of northern Germany and by dislodging the Swedish king, Gustav II Adolf, from Prussia (taken in the course of Sweden's war against Poland). By 1628 much of this objective was realized. Christian IV had been decisively defeated in 1626 in the Battle of Lutter am Barenberge and forced to make peace in 1629. To crown these successes, Ferdinand II issued in March of that year the Edict of Restitution, by which Protestant rulers were to restore to the church more than 500 bishoprics, monasteries, abbeys, and other ecclesiastical properties secularized since 1552.

      But this impressive strengthening of the sovereign's power in the empire brought his foreign and domestic enemies together once more, the latter including now not only Protestants but also Roman Catholic estates concerned about their liberties. Subsidized by the Dutch and French and allied with Saxony, Sweden entered the conflict in 1630, winning commanding victories at Breitenfeld (1631) and Lützen (1632) but suffering defeat at Nördlingen (Nördlingen, Battle of) in 1634. This phase of the war was marked by unprecedented brutality; for example, in 1631, imperial troops massacred two-thirds of the population of Magdeburg, a city of 20,000 that had withstood a long siege.

      A way out of the long conflict appeared in 1635 when Saxony, Brandenburg, and other Protestant states seeking to end foreign intervention joined the emperor in the Peace of Prague, which included the revocation of the Edict of Restitution. But in the war's final phase, France, seeking to forestall Spanish preponderance on the Continent, offered large subsidies to Sweden and to German princes to enable them to fight on. Combined Swedish-French campaigns commenced in 1638, and a decade later foreign armies operated as far south as Bavaria, while the French held Lorraine and Alsace, which was important to France to prevent construction of a Spanish land bridge from the Netherlands to Italy.

      By then most belligerents were exhausted. Several German princes had quit the war. Since 1644, representatives of the powers had been talking about terms, although military operations continued in hopes of improving bargaining positions. In 1648, finally, treaties were signed in Münster and Osnabrück (both in Westphalia) by agents of the emperor, the German states, Sweden, and France as well as between Spain and the Netherlands. Fighting continued for some years—France and Spain did not conclude peace until 1659—but the war was at last winding down.

      The Peace of Westphalia (Westphalia, Peace of) brought territorial gains to Sweden and France, awarded an electoral seat to Bavaria, and secured for Protestant rulers the church properties they had confiscated, based on the status quo of 1624. More important, it brought Calvinists into the religious settlement and established the independence of the Netherlands from Spain and of Switzerland from the empire. Most significant of all, it guaranteed the nearly unlimited territorial sovereignty of German princes, bringing to an end the last effort (until the 19th century) to centralize power in the empire. In this way the Peace of Westphalia sealed the fragmentation of the Holy Roman Empire into hundreds of autonomous political entities, most of them small. At the same time, it brought to an end the last major conflict in continental Europe in which religion was a central issue; indeed, the war itself had demonstrated that reason of state was a stronger determinant of policy than faith. In declaring the religious situation fixed as of 1624, the treaty mandated that, if a prince converted, his land no longer converted with him. Religious pluralism and—albeit grudgingly—coexistence were now the norm.

      The war's social and economic cost is difficult to gauge, modern scholarship having greatly modified original claims of vast human losses and near-total economic ruin. Nonetheless, in the most embattled realms, such as Württemberg, more than 50 percent of the people died or disappeared; elsewhere, the loss was less severe. Most historians agree that an overall population decline of 15 to 20 percent (from about 20 million to 16 or 17 million) occurred during the war and the ensuing epidemics. In addition, historians agree that in theatres of war rural impoverishment and displacement of people were widespread, while economic regression happened nearly everywhere. For German society overall, the war was a traumatic experience; it is rivaled in the national consciousness only by World War II as a time of unmitigated disaster.

      To gain perspective on these calamities, their wider European aspects must be considered. Wars, uprisings, and political turmoil had occurred in many countries during the first half of the 17th century. The Fronde—a series of civil wars in France between 1648 and 1653 whose goal, at least in part, was to halt the growing power of royal government—and the Civil Wars in England (1642 to 1651) are only the most famous of these disturbances. Turmoil had occurred also in Catalonia, Portugal, Naples, Ireland, Scotland, Sweden, and Russia. Historians have referred to these events, including the numerous local manifestations of the Thirty Years' War, as parts of a general crisis in the fabric of European society, the causes of which range from a worsening of the climate (Little Ice Age (Holocene Epoch)) to plagues, often spread by the armies roaming Europe almost continuously at that time. But the most destabilizing factor burdening society was the centralizing monarchy with its expanding bureaucracy, extravagant courts, swollen armies, and incessant wars, all of them supported by heavy taxation. No social group, or estate, was unaffected by the effort of monarchs to alter in their favour traditional ways of distributing power and wealth. Resentment of this and of its social cost was widespread; hence the proliferation and the scale of rebellions.

Territorial states in the age of absolutism

The empire after Westphalia
 The empire was an awkward structure. German historians of an older, nationalistic generation deplored the fact that the empire lacked the attributes of a Great Power and lamented its victimization by more unified foreign states. Such critics always quote the 17th-century legal scholar Samuel von Pufendorf (Pufendorf, Samuel, Freiherr von), who called the empire a “monstrosity,” and interpret this term as a value judgment rather than an expression indicating the inapplicability of standard categories of political classification. Recent scholars have been more appreciative of the post-1648 empire as a loose-jointed but not ineffective constitutional edifice within which could coexist 300 large and small secular and ecclesiastical principalities, 51 imperial (i.e., independent within the empire) cities, and nearly 2,000 imperial counts and knights, each of whom possessed the same territorial sovereignty as an elector or a duke. The empire proved a working federation for the varied interests of these distinct sovereign entities, some of them large and powerful (such as Saxony, whose electors were also kings of Poland from 1697 to 1763, or Brandenburg, whose prince was also king of Prussia) and some laughably tiny (such as the Abbey of Baindt in Swabia, a fully independent territory of a few hundred acres inhabited by 29 nuns and governed by a princess-abbess). The empire's administrative organs, especially the districts (Kreise), protected the small and weak from the predatory aims of the strong. Because most constituent members were vulnerable, there was no general inclination, despite disunity among the estates on matters of taxation and religious parity, to break the frame that guarded the status quo. The emperor's suzerainty over the entire realm went unchallenged, but virtually no real power adhered to his title, executive authority having been thoroughly particularized between 1555 and 1648. To prevent a resurgence of imperial power, princes formed alliances among themselves, such as the League of the Rhine (Rheinbund), tied in 1658 to France and Sweden. In the princely territories authority fell increasingly to the princes (though Württemberg and Mecklenburg were exceptions), while territorial estates dwindled in political importance. In each of the empire's constituent units, estates served mainly to uphold established hierarchies and traditions, as did the empire as a whole. It was an inherently conservative system.

The consolidation of Brandenburg-Prussia and Austria
      Against an overall tendency among the empire's constituent units to keep things as they were, the larger territories pursued an insistent policy of dynastic and personal aggrandizement. A number of factors favoured state building in the post-1618 era. General economic exhaustion made central direction of, and active intervention in, commerce and production seem to be the only way out of stagnation. War taxes, raised to a steep level during the French wars of the 1670s (see below The age of Louis XIV (Germany)), greatly increased the financial might of rulers, who came to control an unprecedented share of society's wealth by preparing for and engaging in military conflict. Because territorial assemblies opposed this siphoning process—whose proceeds, augmented by subsidies from abroad, served mostly to create standing armies and a supporting state apparatus—rulers attempted to reduce even further the estates' role in policy making. The nobility, growing economically dependent on princely service, adapted itself to an essentially ancillary function at court and in the military. In society at large, the view gained ground that the country's welfare was safest with the ruler—a view vigorously promoted by official propaganda. Two of the empire's territories, Brandenburg- Prussia and Austria, profited above all others from these developments.

      For historians over the years, the story of Brandenburg-Prussia has exemplified the triumph of political skill and audacity over unfavourable conditions. Sparsely populated and deficient in resources, Brandenburg in 1648 held sovereignty over a patchwork of scattered territories. Its ruler, Frederick William (1640–88), later known as the “Great Elector,” faced the problem of integrating and defending widely separated possessions, which included the duchy of Prussia, inherited in 1619 but remaining under Polish suzerainty and geographically separated from the electorate of Brandenburg; the counties of Cleves, Mark, and Ravensberg in the Rhineland and Westphalia regions, gained in 1614, also distant from Brandenburg and not contiguous with each other; and eastern Pomerania and various small lands and bishoprics acquired in the Treaty of 1648. Through nimble diplomatic maneuvering, such as changing sides several times between Sweden and Poland and between France and the emperor, he augmented and solidified his realm and his authority within it; moreover, he won direct rule over Prussia as its duke and acquired the important episcopal territory of Magdeburg.

      Frederick William's instrument in the attainment of these and subsequent prizes was the army, a permanent force of 30,000 disciplined professionals, the adequate financial support of which dictated every aspect of his government. Large revenues from taxes required a flourishing economy, the stimulation and direction of which by mercantilist principles was a main undertaking. Economic growth was further accelerated late in the Great Elector's reign by the influx of nearly 20,000 skilled Huguenot refugees following the revocation of the Edict of Nantes (Nantes, Edict of) by Louis XIV in 1685 and by the resettlement of Dutch colonists. A territorywide system of state administration undergirded this economic and fiscal effort and resulted in the creation of a professional bureaucracy that permitted the Great Elector to govern essentially without estate participation. The landowning nobility supported their prince in exchange for the freedom to exploit their peasants as they saw fit. In these ways Frederick William laid the foundation for what was to become an autocratically ruled state, enabled by its strong economy, tightly run administration, efficient fiscal organization, and powerful army to play a prominent role in the empire's and Europe's affairs.

      The Great Elector's efforts were rewarded in 1701 when his successor, Frederick III (Frederick I) (1688–1713), obtained from the emperor (who needed the Brandenburg army for the impending War of the Spanish Succession) the right to style himself Frederick I, King in Prussia (Prussian rulers renumbered themselves upon bestowal of the royal title). The title of king, recognized internationally upon the conclusion of the war in 1713, was of considerable importance to Brandenburg in its competition with Saxony, whose ruler had become king of Poland in 1697, for preeminence in northern Germany. But it was Frederick's son, Frederick William I (1713–40), who perfected the combination of statist structure, productive energy, and ethical drive that came to be identified with modern Prussia. Known as the “soldier-king,” Frederick William built his standing army into a force of more than 80,000 men. Although Prussia was only the 13th most populous country in Europe, it had the continent's fourth largest army (after those of France, Russia, and Austria), a superbly drilled and equipped force that served mainly defensive purposes. Only peasants and journeymen served in the ranks, while the middle classes were safe from the draft but obliged to quarter soldiers in their homes. A huge war chest obviated foreign subsidies, and reliable revenues, more than 70 percent of which went to the army, provided ample support.

      For the state to continue to draw high taxes without ruining land and people, the country's level of wealth had to be raised. Frederick William therefore pursued an aggressive policy (known as cameralism) of stimulating agriculture and manufacturing while reducing unnecessary expenditures; even his court was stripped of many of its royal trappings. Export bans preserved raw materials, and sumptuary laws limited indulgence in luxuries. Town governments were subordinated to royal commissioners, whose powers included supervision of urban production. A work ethos suffused society from the top; the king's ascetic Calvinism, which dictated to him a life of hard work and personal engagement, was spread to his Lutheran subjects by a Pietist clergy who instilled in their flocks habits of intense labour, frugal living, and dutiful subservience to the state.

      Organizationally, Frederick William completed the centralizing process begun by the Great Elector, its capstone being the General Directory, set up in 1723. Tied to regional and local organs by a network of commissioners, this supreme body of state policy and administration directed industry, trade, finance, internal affairs, and military matters in all the state's territories. Upper-level bureaucrats came entirely from the nobility, as did the army's officer corps; in this way nobles were bound more closely than ever to the state. Ruling, not merely reigning, over the entire edifice was the king-elector in his “cabinet,” a small circle of close advisers and trusted secretaries. So successful were these measures in lifting the state to influence and prestige that by 1740 Prussia counted as a full-fledged member of Europe's concert of Great Powers.

      In Austria the ruling Habsburg house's lasting conflict with France and the Ottoman Empire dominated all questions of statecraft. With their powers as emperors greatly diminished, Leopold I (1658–1705), his son Joseph I (1705–11), and Joseph's brother Charles VI (1711–40) bent all their efforts to the consolidation of their dynastic and crown lands in central and eastern Europe. Although they failed to achieve Prussian-style streamlining, they raised Austria to the rank of a major state. The Habsburgs' conglomeration of territories included the Austrian lands (the duchies of Austria, Styria, Carinthia, and Krain [in present-day Slovenia] and the county of Tirol), the Bohemian provinces (kingdoms of Bohemia and Moravia [both now in the Czech Republic] and of Silesia [in present-day Poland]), the kingdom of Hungary, and—after 1714, following the War of the Spanish Succession—the southern Netherlands (including Brabant and Flanders [both now in Belgium] and the duchy of Luxembourg [now divided between Belgium and Luxembourg]) and the duchy of Milan (in Italy).

      These disparate lands were held together only by the Habsburg monarchy, but the monarchs were distracted from the task of integrating them. They were preoccupied by imperial concerns and by dynastic complications, notably the succession question. Until the reforms of Maria Theresa's reign (1740–80), Austrian administration never became effective. Finances were especially muddled, because tax administration remained with the estates of the various territories, along with control over other sources of revenue. The army of 100,000 men, though the third largest in Europe, was barely adequate for the defense of so large and scattered a realm. A supreme war council and a central financial chamber overlapped with special commissions created by the emperor's privy council, which also handled military and fiscal affairs. Nonetheless, the realm held together.

      The prospect of a succession without a male heir, however, presented the severest test to the realm's cohesion. It became the chief enterprise of Charles VI to persuade the estates of his territories to accept an order of succession, known as the “Pragmatic Sanction (Pragmatic Sanction of Emperor Charles VI),” by which the Habsburg lands were declared indivisible and Charles's oldest daughter, Maria Theresa, was to inherit them. The other European powers assented, because splitting the Habsburg complex would have thrown the European balance into disarray and played into the hands of France; the Sanction was proclaimed a basic law in 1713. By then Austria had met successfully a series of Turkish incursions from the east and French invasions in the west.

The age of Louis XIV
      For the empire as a whole, the half century following the Peace of Westphalia was almost entirely shaped by the dominant political figure of the time, King Louis XIV of France. The response of the empire and its members to the aggressive undertakings of this monarch, whose aim from his assumption of power in 1661 to his death in 1715 it was to make France the mightiest state in Europe, was largely reactive (for a different interpretation, see France: The age of Louis XIV: Foreign affairs (France)). Only in its struggles against Louis's ally in the east, the Ottoman Turks, did the empire show some initiative. After a Polish relief army had helped imperial, Bavarian, and Saxon troops to lift a three months' Turkish siege of Vienna in 1683 in the Battle of Kahlenberg, imperial armies took the offensive, winning battles at Ofen (1686), Mohács (1687), and, most notably, Zenta (1697). In the Treaty of Carlowitz (Carlowitz, Treaty of) (1699), Austria gained parts of Hungary, Transylvania (now in Romania), Slavonia (now in Croatia), and Croatia, all formerly occupied by the Turks. The eastern wars resumed in the early and mid-18th century, but the Turks were never again a threat to Europe, since Russia became the chief bulwark against Ottoman expansionism.

      Matters were different on the empire's western and southern fronts. The overriding political question in Europe in the second half of the 17th century was the future of Spain and its vast holdings in the southern Netherlands, Italy, and the Americas, because it was expected that the Spanish Habsburg line would die out with the feeble Charles II. Contenders for the Spanish inheritance were the Habsburg emperor, Leopold I, husband of a younger Spanish princess, and Louis XIV. The French monarch, son of the eldest daughter of Philip III, had further strengthened his claim to the Spanish throne in 1659 when, in accordance with the Peace of the Pyrenees, which had ended the long conflict between Spain and France, he had married Marie-Thérèse, daughter of Philip IV of Spain.

      While waiting for the Spanish throne to become vacant, Louis pursued an aggressive expansionist policy. He pushed his forces toward Germany to make the Rhine River France's new eastern border. In 1667 he occupied Flanders and in 1670 Lorraine; in 1672 he attacked Cleves and invaded the United Provinces of the Netherlands, his main antagonist in the wars that followed. In 1679 he began to penetrate Alsace, occupying the imperial city of Strassburg (now Strasbourg) in 1681. Lacking the military power to bring the whole empire to its knees, Louis resorted to the lure of money; at one time or another almost every German state was in his pocket, either serving as ally or remaining neutral. Though not incapable of acting on national impulses, German princes—the Great Elector being a case in point—always served territorial interests first. This prevented the emperor, himself at times allied with Louis, from forging a solid front against France.

      Leadership of the anti-France coalition passed to the Dutch Republic. William of Orange (William III), as stadtholder of Holland and captain general of the United Provinces, emerged as the most determined opponent of French aggression. Upon becoming king of England in 1689, he changed the direction of English politics, which had been pro-French under the last Stuart king. The threat of a French universal monarchy arose dramatically as the death of the last Habsburg in Spain approached and Louis's plans for a French claim on the entire Spanish inheritance swung into place. When the Spanish king died in 1700, he left all of his realm, including his American colonies, to Louis's grandson, Philip, duc d'Anjou (Philip V), thus dramatically shifting the balance of European power in France's favour. Against this a Grand Alliance (Grand Alliance, War of the) took shape (it was formally concluded in 1701), consisting of the empire (except Bavaria and the electorate of Cologne), the Netherlands, England, Sweden, Brandenburg-Prussia, and Savoy (Portugal also eventually joined the alliance). Its aim was to restore the European balance to the status of 1648 and 1659 by ejecting Louis from his conquests and by splitting the Spanish empire. From 1701 to 1714, France, with a few minor allies, fought the Grand Alliance in the War of the Spanish Succession (Spanish Succession, War of the). Despite a number of major battles, including Blenheim (Blenheim, Battle of) (1704), Ramillies (Ramillies, Battle of) (1706), Oudenarde (1708), and Malplaquet (Malplaquet, Battle of) (1709), neither side was able to win a decisive victory (though the Alliance did seem to be prevailing). The death of the emperor Joseph I in 1711 placed his brother Charles, who had been proclaimed the Spanish king, on the imperial throne as Charles VI (1711–40). This raised the spectre of a Habsburg reunion of the Holy Roman and Spanish empires—a situation no more agreeable to European powers than the prospect of French hegemony. Thus, the alliance was severed and the war began to wind down.

      Peace negotiations began in 1712, resulting in a number of treaties, signed at Utrecht (Utrecht, treaties of) and Rastatt (Rastatt and Baden, treaties of) in 1713–14. The Spanish empire was partitioned, with the Spanish Netherlands, Milan, Naples, and Sicily going to Austria and Spain itself coming under the rule of Philip V of Bourbon, a grandson of Louis XIV. The alliance's original aim, to prevent French hegemony, had been achieved, though in the follow-up War of the Polish Succession (Polish Succession, War of the) (1733–35) France acquired control of Lorraine. Austria profited substantially in territorial terms, and a few other German rulers profited as well, albeit less so. As for the empire itself, it had gained no real benefit from more than half a century of intermittent warfare.

      German society, however, was deeply affected. Economic stagnation and slow demographic recovery after the Thirty Years' War made Germany dependent on governmental intervention as a means of stimulating recovery. As centres of economic vitality, the princely courts, attended by an international nobility, exposed Germany to a variety of cultural innovations that originated in other, more prosperous European countries.

      Baroque art—the preeminent expression of monarchical power and of Roman Catholic resurgence after the Reformation—came from Spain and Italy, opera from Italy, and polite language and manners from France. The style of this period took French patterns as its model, from elaborately coded court ceremonials to dress, social conventions, food, and conversation. French absolutism not only became the political model, however scaled down, for the governance of all states in the empire, but every German prince and princeling imitated the lavish display with which Louis XIV created his aura of majesty and outshone his rivals. This started up a lively domestic market in luxuries, not to mention splendid works of architecture and decoration. But the cost of these luxuries was prohibitive (in 1719 the Palatine court consumed 50 percent of the territory's revenues) and represented an enormous burden on the people, especially when added to the cost of large armies and proliferating bureaucracies. Not only did this conspicuous consumption widen the social division between the court-oriented elite and the bulk of the urban and rural population, but the preference for foreign cultural products also inhibited creative impulses at home.

      In the second half of the 17th century, German energies were to a large extent still focused on religion. The confessional pluralism legitimized by the settlement of 1648 encouraged emphasis on theological distinctions, exacerbating the move toward religious orthodoxy under way in each denomination since the 16th century. The one genuinely German product of this religious preoccupation was Pietism, a movement within Lutheranism that opposed rigid dogmatism and promoted instead a subjective, mystical devoutness and an emphasis on a pious life guided by love of one's neighbour as well as of God. Influenced by English Puritanism, Pietism was shaped in its theology by Philipp Jakob Spener (Spener, Philipp Jakob) (1635–1705) and in its organization by his disciple August Hermann Francke (Francke, August Hermann) (1663–1727), who established a centre for its promulgation in Halle. There he founded schools, orphanages, medical facilities, and a printing house for publishing cheap Bibles and devotional works, which made Pietism a widely influential program of Evangelical activism. The intensely emotional and mystical flavour of Pietist poetry is preserved in the cantata texts set to music by Johann Sebastian Bach, in whose deeply spiritual church music Protestant chorale singing, another indigenous German product, reached its apogee.

The contest between Prussia and Austria
      In 1740 the death of the Habsburg emperor Charles VI without a male heir unleashed the most embittered conflict in Germany since the wars of Louis XIV. The question of the succession to the Austrian throne had occupied statesmen for decades. Rival claimants disputed the right—by the terms of the Pragmatic Sanction (1713)—of Charles's daughter Maria Theresa to succeed; France supported them, its aim being, as before, the fragmentation of the Habsburg state. But it was the new Prussian king, Frederick II (1740–86), who began the conflict. To understand what follows, the modern reader should remember that few observers, even in the enlightened 18th century, disputed a ruler's right to do what he wished with his state. Dynastic aggrandizement, territorial expansion, prestige, honour, power, and princely glory were legitimate grounds for war and sound reasons for demanding the sacrifices necessary to wage it. The only position from which to oppose this arrogation was the Christian ethic, but to do so had proved futile when last tried by Erasmus and Sir Thomas More in the 16th century. No checks—philosophical, moral, or political—therefore restrained kings from indulging their taste for conquests.

      Soon after assuming power, Frederick reversed his father's cautious policy of building and hoarding, rather than deploying, Brandenburg-Prussia's military potential. He attacked Silesia, a province in the kingdom of Bohemia and thus part of the Habsburg monarchy, which Prussia had long desired for its populousness, mineral resources, and advanced economy. In exchange for an Austrian (Austrian Succession, War of the) cession of Silesia, he offered to accept the Pragmatic Sanction (formally recognized by his predecessor in the 1728 Treaty of Berlin) and support the candidacy of Maria Theresa's husband, Francis Stephen (Francis I), as emperor. But the resolute woman who now headed the Austrian Habsburgs (1740–80) decided to defend the integrity of her realm, and the War of the Austrian Succession (Austrian Succession, War of the) (1740–48; including the Silesian Wars between Prussia and Austria) began in 1740. Austria was helped only by a Hungarian army, though initial financial support came from England. Prussia was joined by Bavaria and Saxony in the empire as well as by France and Spain. The Prussian armies, though greatly outnumbered by Austria's forces, revealed themselves as by far the best as well as the best-led. The Treaties of Dresden (1745) and Aix-la-Chapelle (Aix-la-Chapelle, Treaty of) (1748) confirmed the Prussian conquest of Silesia. During the succeeding Seven Years' War (1756–63), Prussian forces occupied Saxony, which had allied itself with Austria. In the Treaty of Hubertusburg of 1763, Prussia kept Silesia but could not hold on to Saxony.

      In a sense, the War of the Austrian Succession was another of the many internal struggles over the constitutional balance in the empire in which territorial states opposed imperial authority. But it was also part of an international struggle, with France and England fighting out their rivalry in western and southern Europe, North America, and India. In this way it prefigured the worldwide Seven Years' War, except that the latter followed the “diplomatic revolution” in which England switched its support from Austria to Prussia and France allied itself with its traditional foe, Austria. (A part of this agreement was the marriage, in 1770, of the Austrian princess Marie-Antoinette to the future Louis XVI.) The real significance of the Seven Years' War lay in the Treaty of Paris (Paris, Treaty of) of 1763, which concluded for a time the maritime and colonial conflict between France and England.

      After these wars Prussia—which had increased in size and immeasurably in prestige—and Austria dominated German affairs in a condition of tension usually called “the German dualism,” meaning that each had become so powerful that only the other could keep it in some sort of check. The monarchs of both realms carried out important internal reforms. Guided by her interior minister, Count Friedrich Wilhelm Haugwitz, Maria Theresa streamlined the Austrian administrative structure on the Prussian model, thus drawing together, to the extent possible, the multiethnic and polyglot regions of the vast Habsburg empire. The remaining powers of the estates were curtailed everywhere and centralization institutionalized in absolutist fashion but without attaining the full integration of the Prussian system. Maria Theresa's son, Joseph II (1765–90), completed this program of modernization.

      In Prussia, Frederick II further tightened his control of all aspects of public life in his far-flung kingdom. However, in accordance with his personal commitment to rational tolerance and free-thinking skepticism, he also undertook extensive legal reforms. He virtually abolished judicial torture, lifted some of the tax burden from the poorest of his subjects, established religious tolerance as a policy of his state, and encouraged scientific and scholarly activity in the Prussian Academy of the Sciences. Like his father, he was a vigorous promoter of economic development. His taste for French Enlightenment thought and his own prolific creativity in letters and music lent his reign the flavour of an era shaped by a philosopher-king, albeit one with the instincts of a ruthless power politician. His successes in war and peace earned him a place as national hero as well as the title “the Great.”

Gerald Strauss

Germany from c. 1760 to 1815
      Germany in the middle of the 18th century was a country that had been drifting in the backwaters of European politics for more than a hundred years. The decisive roles in the affairs of the Continent were played by those great powers—such as France, England, and Spain—whose economic resources and commercial connections provided a solid foundation for their military might. The German states, on the other hand, floundered in a morass of provincialism and particularism. All the forces that had contributed to the rise of powerful national monarchies west of the Rhine were lacking in the east. In the Holy Roman Empire the central government was losing rather than gaining strength, the princes were enlarging their authority at the expense of the crown, and business initiative was being discouraged by the lack of political unity and by the remoteness of the major trade routes.

      Political power increasingly fell to small regional governments controlled by aristocratic overlords, ecclesiastical dignitaries, or municipal oligarchs. The history of Germany between the Thirty Years' War and the French Revolution is largely the sum total of the histories of dozens upon dozens of small political units, each enjoying virtually full rights of sovereignty. The rulers of these gingerbread principalities, copying the example of the royal court of France or Austria, built costly imitations of the palaces of Versailles and Schönbrunn, which today are the delight of tourists but which were once the curse of an impoverished peasantry. The tradition of princely authority, an instrument of national greatness in western Europe, encouraged divisiveness in Germany. The country's petty rulers legislated at will, levied taxes, concluded alliances, and waged wars against each other and against the emperor. Policies pursued in Munich, Stuttgart, Dresden, or Darmstadt reflected policies originating in Paris, Vienna, London, or Madrid but had no goal beyond the promotion of particularistic interests.

      Political institutions designed theoretically to express the will of the nation continued to function, yet they had become empty shells. The Holy Roman emperor was still elected in accordance with a time-honoured ritual that proclaimed him to be the successor of Caesar and Augustus (indeed, the German word for emperor, Kaiser, was derived from Caesar). The splendid coronation ceremony in Frankfurt am Main, however, could not disguise the fact that the office conferred on its holder little more than prestige. Since all the emperors in this period except Charles VII were Habsburgs by birth or marriage, they enjoyed an authority that had to be respected. But that authority rested not on the prerogative of the imperial crown but on the possession of hereditary lands stretching from Antwerp in the west to Debrecen in the east. The sovereigns of the Holy Roman Empire, in other words, were able to play an important role in German affairs by virtue of their non-German resources. And, since, apart from Austria, Germany was not the main source of their strength, Germany was not the main object of their concern. The emperors tended to regard the dignity bestowed upon them as a means of furthering the interests of their dynastic holdings. The Imperial Diet meeting in Regensburg had also become an instrument for the promotion of particularistic advantage rather than national welfare. It continued in theory to express the will of the estates of the realm meeting in solemn deliberation. In fact it had degenerated into a debating society without authority or influence. The princes had ceased to attend the sessions, so that only diplomatic representatives were left to discuss questions for which they were powerless to provide answers. The other central institutions of the empire, such as the imperial cameral tribunal in Wetzlar, languished in indolence. Constitutionally and politically, Germany circa 1760 resembled Poland in that a once vigorous and proud state had become weakened by internal conflict to the point that it invited the intervention of its more powerful neighbours.

      What saved Germany from the fate of Poland was the ability of one of the member states to defend the empire against aggression. For 200 years Austria acted as the bulwark of central Europe against French expansion. Its possessions, forming a chain of protective bases extending between the North Sea and the Danube, had time and again borne the brunt of attacks by French armies. The frontiers of France kept moving closer to the Rhine, but the Holy Roman Empire was at least spared the tragedy of partition that befell the Polish state. It was partly in recognition of the vital role that the Habsburgs played in the defense of Germany that the electors chose them as emperors with such regularity. The Austrian monarchy, moreover, endowed with resources comparable to those of the western nations, was able to pursue a policy of political rationalization with greater success than most of the principalities. The rulers in Vienna succeeded in improving the administration, strengthening the economy, and centralizing the government. Until the middle of the 18th century, Austria remained the only Great Power east of the Rhine.

Further rise of Prussia and the Hohenzollerns (Hohenzollern Dynasty)
      The emergence of the Hohenzollerns of Prussia as rivals of the Habsburgs and the beginning of the Austro-Prussian dualism created the possibility of reversing the process of civic decentralization that had prevailed in Germany since the late Middle Ages. The interests of the territorial princes of the Holy Roman Empire inclined them toward a policy of particularism, while the government of Austria, with its Flemish, Italian, Slavic, and Magyar territories, could not perforce become the instrument of German unification. Prussia, on the other hand, was militarily strong enough and ethnically homogeneous enough to make national consolidation the main object of statecraft. Still, in the 18th century, no Prussian ruler thought in national terms. The intention of Frederick II (Frederick the Great) and of his successors Frederick William II and Frederick William III was to pursue dynastic rather than national objectives. Like the lesser princes of Germany, all they sought was to maintain and enlarge their authority against the claim of imperial supremacy. Far from wanting to end the disunity of Germany, they hoped to prolong and exploit it. The patriotic Prussophile historians, who a hundred years later argued that what Bismarck had achieved was the consummation of what Frederick had sought, were letting the present distort their understanding of the past. In fact, the greatest of the Hohenzollerns had remained as indifferent to the glaring political weaknesses of his nation as to its great cultural achievements. His attitude toward the constitutional system of the Holy Roman Empire was similar to that of the self-seeking princelings who were his neighbours and from whom he was distinguishable only by talent and power. He may have scorned their sybaritic way of life, but politically he wanted what they wanted—namely, the freedom to seek the advantage of his dynasty without regard for the interests of Germany as a whole.

      His preoccupation with the welfare of his state rather than with that of his nation is apparent in the strategy by which he tried to check Habsburg ambitions after the Seven Years' War (1756–63). During the first half of his reign he had relied primarily on military force to advance his dynastic interests at the expense of the Habsburgs. In the second half he preferred to employ the weapons of diplomacy to achieve the same end. In 1777 the ruling dynasty of Bavaria came to an end with the death of Maximilian Joseph. The elector of the Palatinate, the Wittelsbach Charles Theodore, now became ruler over the Wittelsbach (Wittelsbach, House of) territory of Bavaria as well. Without legitimate heirs and without affection for his newly acquired eastern possessions, he agreed to a plan proposed by Emperor Joseph II to cede part of the Bavarian lands to Austria. But any increase in the strength of the Habsburgs was unacceptable to Frederick the Great. With the tacit approval of most of the princes of the empire, he declared war (Bavarian Succession, War of the) against Austria in 1778, hoping that other states within and outside central Europe would join him. In this expectation he was disappointed. Expecting an easy success, Joseph also became discouraged by the difficulties that he encountered. The War of the Bavarian Succession (Bavarian Succession, War of the) dragged on from the summer of 1778 to the spring of 1779, with neither side enhancing its reputation for military prowess. There was much marching back and forth, while hungry soldiers scrounged for food in what came to be called the “Potato War.” The upshot was the Treaty of Teschen (May 1779), by which the Austrian government abandoned all claims to Bavarian territory except for a small strip along the Inn River. The conflict had brought Frederick no significant military victories, but he had succeeded in frustrating Habsburg ambition.

      Joseph II, however, was a stubborn adversary. In 1785 he once again advanced a plan for the acquisition of Wittelsbach lands, this time on an even more ambitious scale. He suggested to Charles Theodore nothing less than an outright exchange of the Austrian Netherlands for all of Bavaria. The emperor, in other words, proposed to surrender his distant possessions on the North Sea, which were difficult to defend, for a territory that was contiguous and a population that was assimilable. The scheme went far beyond that which Prussia had defeated seven years before, and Frederick opposed it with equal determination. He hoped to enlist the diplomatic aid of France and Russia against what he regarded as an attempt to upset the balance of power in central Europe. But, more than that, he succeeded in forming the Fürstenbund (League of Princes), which 17 of the more important rulers in Germany joined. The members pledged themselves to maintain the fundamental law of the empire and to defend the possessions of the governments included within its boundaries. The growing opposition to the absorption of Bavaria by Austria persuaded Joseph that the risks inherent in his plan outweighed its advantages. The proposed exchange of territories was dropped, and Frederick could celebrate yet another triumph of his statecraft, the last of an illustrious career. But the association of princes that he founded did not survive its author. Its sole purpose had been the prevention of Habsburg hegemony. Once the danger had passed, it lost the only justification for its existence. Those nationalists who later maintained that it foreshadowed the creation of the German Empire misunderstood its origins and objectives. It was never more than a weapon in the struggle for the preservation of a decentralized form of government in Germany.

      The Hohenzollerns' subordination of national to dynastic interests was even more apparent in the partitions of Poland (Poland, Partitions of). Frederick the Great was the chief architect of the First Partition, that of 1772, by which the ill-starred kingdom lost about one-fifth of its inhabitants and one-fourth of its territory to Prussia, Russia, and Austria. His successor, Frederick William II, helped to complete the destruction of the Polish state by the partitions of 1793 (between Prussia and Russia) and 1795 (between Prussia, Russia, and Austria). The result was bound to be an enhancement of Prussia's role in Europe but also a diminution of its focus on Germany. The Hohenzollerns willingly embarked on a course that would in time have transformed their kingdom into a binational state comparable to the Habsburg empire. The German population in the old provinces would have been counterbalanced by the Slavic population in the new; the Protestant faith of the Brandenburgers and Prussians would have had to share its influence with the Roman Catholicism of the Poles; the capital city of Berlin would have found a competitor in the capital city of Warsaw. In short, the centre of gravity of the state would have shifted eastward, away from the problems and interests of the Holy Roman Empire. Yet the rulers of Prussia did not shrink from a policy that was likely to have such far-reaching consequences. They never contemplated sacrificing the advantage that their state would gain from an enlargement of its resources in order to assume the role of unifiers of their nation. Such a political attitude would have been an anachronism during the age of princely absolutism in Germany. It was not design but accident that before long led to the abandonment by Prussia of most of its Polish possessions and that thereby allowed it to play a leading role in the affairs of Germany.

The cultural scene
      Whereas in England the great literary epoch of Queen Elizabeth I had coincided with commercial and naval expansion, and in France the golden age of Classicism had added lustre to the military glory of Louis XIV, German arts and letters flourished amid tiny principalities and somnolent towns that could only envy the powerful national monarchies west of the Rhine. In France and England public opinion could exert a significant influence on government, and the debate over issues of state and society was conducted with a vigour that reflected its importance, but in the autocratic states of Germany the debate was bound to remain purely theoretical. No Voltaires, Rousseaus, or Burkes were likely to emerge out of such an environment. The thinkers of Germany tended to emphasize introspection and spirituality. Culture became an escape from the narrow world of princely absolutism. Intellectual energies that could not reform the community fought to emancipate the individual through self-purification and self-perfection.

 This was the background of German Idealism, a philosophical movement seeking to establish a foundation for ethics and aesthetics beyond the realm of empirical knowledge. Proceeding from principles articulated by Immanuel Kant (Kant, Immanuel), it attempted to prove that there was a realm of experience lying beyond the categories of scientific investigation: the realm of the good, the true, and the beautiful. There were realities of the spirit and the mind, in other words, that were inaccessible to the practicality of the British empiricists or the intellectualism of the French rationalists. The disciples of idealism hoped to transcend the barriers created by nation, class, and religion. They spoke in the name of humanity as a whole, which manifested its underlying harmony through the infinite variety of its political, social, and theological categories. Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (Lessing, Gotthold Ephraim) pleaded for religious toleration on the basis of a common system of ethical values to which all men of goodwill could subscribe. Johann Gottfried Herder (Herder, Johann Gottfried von) preached that the unique character and meaning of each culture contributed to the richness of common humanity that defied state boundaries. Johann Joachim Winckelmann (Winckelmann, Johann) idealized the Classical ideal of beauty that he found in Greek art as an eternal standard, immune to the vicissitudes of time and history. These were views that offered an escape from the narrowness of everyday life. Kant, Lessing, Herder, and Winckelmann all believed in the necessity of changing institutions, but they were convinced that the place to begin was the individual's moral consciousness. This gave thought in Germany a metaphysical coloration that distinguished it from the more robust pragmatism of philosophy in the west. It was during the second half of the 18th century that the Germans began to consider their country “the land of thinkers and poets.”

      The literary (German literature) revival of the age displayed the same quality of introspective idealism as the philosophical movement. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von), the greatest genius of German letters, willingly accepted the existing system of civic and social values. He regarded the disunity of his nation as an expression of its historic character and defended the authority of the petty princes as an instrument of good government. He urged his countrymen to seek greatness not in collective action but in individual perfectibility. After a period of youthful rebellion against traditional canons of literary propriety, he turned to a Classicism in which a serene acceptance of life harmonized with his own sympathy for the established order. Friedrich Schiller (Schiller, Friedrich von), a man of more turbulent temperament, resented political injustice and weakness. In his plays and poems there are occasional outbursts of indignation and appeals for reform. Yet there is also a pessimistic mood of resignation induced by the burden of civic ineffectualness that history had imposed on his people. Ultimately, he, too, sought refuge from the world in the poet's private vision. The Sturm und Drang (“Storm and Stress”) was a movement of literary innovation through which a group of young writers in the last decades of the 18th century sought to throw off the yoke of accepted standards of composition, but it remained confined to problems of prosody and taste and reluctant to confront political and social issues directly.

      The cultural achievements could not alter the harsh realities of national fragmentation and princely autocracy. They supported, however, the ideals of rational reform and social progress that the Enlightenment had introduced throughout the Continent. In Germany as elsewhere the 18th century became the age when the monarchical principle advanced the loftiest justification of its claim to power. The authority of the prince, so the argument went, was to be exercised not for his private advantage or gratification but for the greatness of his state and the welfare of his people. His power had to be unrestricted so that his benevolence might be unlimited. Absolute government was the only effective instrument for achieving the general good. Impressed by the scientific discoveries and material advances that they saw about them, Europeans began to believe that the prejudices and injustices that had plagued society would gradually disappear before the steady march of reason.

Enlightened reform and benevolent despotism
      The main source of enlightened reform was to be the crown, but many well-intentioned people of means and education also began to apply a new standard of conduct in their dealings with their fellow man. This change in attitude was apparent in the decline of religious resentments and discriminations. Never before had the relationship between Roman Catholics and Protestants among the well-to-do classes of central Europe been as free of rancour as on the eve of the French Revolution. It was at this time also that Jews (Jew) first began to emerge from the isolation to which a deep-seated intolerance had consigned them. The idea of assimilation held out to them the prospect of escape from the ghetto on the condition that they identify themselves in thought, speech, and attitude with the Christian society in which they lived. That prospect was to attract the Jewish minority in Germany more and more during the next 150 years. Religious toleration, however, was not the only article of faith of the Enlightenment. Its vision of a happier future included the reformation of education, the abolition of poverty, the alleviation of sickness, and the elimination of injustice. Men of goodwill established schools, founded orphanages, built hospitals, improved farming methods, modernized industrial techniques, and tried to raise the standard of living of the masses. While the hopes of the enlightened reformers of the 18th century far outstripped their accomplishments, the practical results of their efforts should not be underestimated.

      According to the doctrines of benevolent despotism, however, the chief instrumentality for the improvement of society was not private philanthropy but government action. The state had the primary responsibility for preparing the way for the golden age that, in the opinion of many intellectuals, awaited humankind. The extent to which official policy conformed to rationalist theory depended, in central Europe as elsewhere, on the personality and ability of the ruler. Both of the leading powers of the Holy Roman Empire followed the teachings of benevolent despotism but with substantially different results. The emperor Joseph II, a well-meaning though doctrinaire reformer, attempted to initiate a revolution from above against the opposition of powerful forces that continued to cling to tradition. In the course of a single decade he tried to centralize the government of his far-flung domains, reduce the influence of the church, introduce religious toleration, and ease the burden of serfdom. His uncompromising program of innovation, however, alienated the landed aristocracy, whose support was essential for the effective operation of the government. The emperor encountered mounting unrest, which did not end until his death in 1790, and the subsequent abandonment of most of the reforms that he had promulgated. Frederick the Great (Frederick II) was more successful as an enlightened autocrat, but only because he was more cautious. His reorganization of the government was not as drastic, his belief in religious toleration remained less profound, and his assistance to the peasants did not go beyond a prohibition against the absorption of their holdings by the nobility. He invited settlers to cultivate reclaimed lands, and he encouraged entrepreneurs to increase the industrial capacity of Prussia. Among his most important accomplishments, although it was not completed until after his death, was the Prussian Civil Code, which defined the principles and practices of an absolute government and a corporative society. Yet Frederick was also convinced that the Prussian landed noblemen, the Junkers (Junker), were the backbone of the state, and he continued accordingly to uphold the alliance between crown and aristocracy on which his kingdom had been built.

      The achievements of benevolent despotism among the minor states of the Holy Roman Empire varied considerably. Some princes employed their inherited authority in a serious effort to improve the lot of their subjects. Charles Frederick of Baden, for example, devoted himself to the improvement of education in his margravate, and he even abolished serfdom, although manorial obligations remained. Charles Augustus of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach was a hardworking administrator of his small Thuringian principality, whose capital, Weimar, he transformed into the cultural centre of Germany. Charles Eugene of Württemberg, on the other hand, led a life of profligacy and licentiousness in defiance of protests by the estates of the duchy. Frederick II of Hesse-Kassel was another princely prodigal whose love of pleasure impoverished his subjects and forced his soldiers into mercenary service for England. The record of enlightened autocracy in central Europe was as uneven as in western Europe. Yet the ideas of the Enlightenment even at their best were unable to transform the basis of political life in the Holy Roman Empire. They could palliate, reform, and improve, but they could not alter a system of particularistic sovereignty and absolutistic authority resting on a hierarchical structure of society. They could not become an instrument of national consolidation or representative government. Only some great creative disruption of existing civic institutions could break through the crust of habit and tradition sanctified by history. Germany lacked the internal preconditions for a process of political reconstruction. The galvanizing forces of rejuvenation and regeneration were to come from the outside.

The French Revolutionary (French revolutionary and Napoleonic wars) and Napoleonic era
      In transforming the Bourbon kingdom into a constitutional state, the French Revolution aroused intense excitement east of the Rhine. Most German intellectuals were at first in sympathy with the new order in France, hoping that the defeat of royal absolutism in western Europe would lead to its decline in central Europe as well. The princes, on the other hand, were from the outset fearful of the Revolution, which they regarded as a serious danger, for the example of unpunished insubordination by the French might encourage demands for reform among the Germans. The result was a growing hostility between the government in Paris and the rulers of the Holy Roman Empire, which led in the spring of 1792 to the outbreak of the War of the First Coalition (1792–97), the first phase of the French revolutionary and Napoleonic wars. The immediate occasion of the conflict was a quarrel over the rights of German princes with holdings in France and over the propagandistic activities of French émigrés in Germany. But the underlying cause was the clash of two incompatible principles of authority divided by profound differences regarding the nature of political and social justice. The course of hostilities soon revealed that the civic ideals and military power of Revolutionary France were more than a match for the decrepit Holy Roman Empire. After 1793 France occupied the German lands on the left bank of the Rhine, and for the next 20 years their inhabitants were governed from Paris. Yet there is no evidence that they were dissatisfied with French rule or at least no evidence that they strongly opposed it. Devoid of a sense of national identity and accustomed to submission to authority, they accepted their new status with the same equanimity with which they had regarded a succession to the throne or a change in the dynasty. The Prussians, moreover, discouraged by defeats in the west and eager for Polish spoils in the east, concluded a separate peace at Basel in 1795 by which they in effect recognized the French acquisition of the Rhineland. The Austrians held out two years longer, but the brilliant successes of the young Napoleon Bonaparte (Napoleon I) forced them to accept the loss of the left bank in the Treaty of Campo Formio (Campo Formio, Treaty of) (October 17, 1797).

End of the Holy Roman Empire
      The peace proved short-lived, however, for at the end of 1798 a new coalition directed against France was formed (the War of the Second Coalition, 1798–1802). This time Prussia remained neutral. Frederick William III, a conscientious and modest but ineffectual ruler, was notable for private morality rather than political skill. The government in Berlin drifted back and forth, dabbling in minor economic and administrative reforms without significantly improving the structure of the state. A decade of neutrality was frittered away while the army commanders rested on the laurels of Frederick the Great. Austria, on the other hand, played the same leading role in the War of the Second Coalition that it did in the War of the First Coalition, with the same unfortunate result. The French victories at Marengo (Marengo, Battle of) (June 14, 1800) and Hohenlinden (December 3, 1800) forced Emperor Francis II to agree to the Treaty of Lunéville (February 9, 1801), which confirmed the cession of the Rhineland. More than that, those rulers who lost their possessions on the left bank under the terms of the peace were to receive compensation elsewhere in the empire. In order to carry out this redistribution of territory, the Imperial Diet entrusted a committee of princes, the Reichsdeputation, with the task of drawing a new map of Germany. France, however, exercised the major influence over its deliberations. Napoleon had resolved to utilize the settlement of territorial claims to fundamentally alter the structure of the Holy Roman Empire. The result was that the Final Recess (Hauptschluss) of the Reichsdeputation of February 1803 marked the end of the old order in Germany. In their attempt to establish a chain of satellite states east of the Rhine, the French diplomats brought about the elimination of the smallest and least viable of the political components of Germany. They thereby also furthered the process of national consolidation, since the fragmentation of civic authority in the empire had been a mainstay of particularism. That Napoleon did not intend to encourage unity among his neighbours goes without saying. Yet he unwittingly prepared the way for a process of centralization in Germany that helped to frustrate his own plans for the future aggrandizement of France.

      The chief victims of the Final Recess were the free cities, the imperial knights, and the ecclesiastical territories. They fell by the dozens. Too weak to be useful allies of Napoleon, they were destroyed by the ambition of their French conquerors and by the greed of their German neighbours. They could still boast of their ancient history as sovereign members of the Holy Roman Empire, but their continued existence had become incompatible with effective government in Germany. The principal heirs to their holdings were the larger secondary states. To be sure, Napoleon could not keep Austria and Prussia from making some gains in the general scramble for territory that they had helped make possible. But he worked to aggrandize those German rulers, most of them in the south, who were strong enough to be valuable vassals but not strong enough to be potential threats. Bavaria, Württemberg, Baden, Hesse-Darmstadt, and Nassau were the big winners in the competition for booty that had been the main object of the negotiations. Napoleon's strategy had been in the classic tradition of French diplomacy, the tradition of Richelieu and Mazarin. The princes had been pitted against the emperor to enhance the role that Paris could play in the affairs of the German states. Yet the German princes did not resent being used as pawns in a political game to promote the interests of a foreign power. Whatever objections they raised against the settlement of 1803 were based on expediency and opportunism. The most serious indictment of the old order was that in the hour of its imminent collapse none of the rulers attempted to defend it in the name of the general welfare of Germany.

      The Final Recess was the next to last act in the fall of the Holy Roman Empire. The end came three years later. In 1805 Austria joined the third coalition of Great Powers determined to reduce the preponderance of France (resulting in the War of the Third Coalition, 1805–07). The outcome of this war was even more disastrous than those of the wars of the first and second coalitions. Napoleon forced the main Habsburg army in Germany to surrender at Ulm (Ulm, Battle of) (October 17, 1805); then he descended on Vienna, occupying the proud capital of his enemy; and finally he inflicted a crushing defeat (December 2, 1805) on the combined Russian and Austrian armies at Austerlitz (Austerlitz, Battle of) in Moravia (now in the Czech Republic). Before the year was out, Francis II was forced to sign the humiliating Treaty of Pressburg (Pressburg, Treaty of) (December 26), which ended the dominant role his dynasty had played in the affairs of Germany. He had to surrender his possessions in western Germany to Württemberg and Baden, and the province of Tirol to Bavaria. Napoleon's strategy of playing princely against imperial ambitions had proved a brilliant success. The rulers of the secondary states in the south had supported him in the war against Austria, and in the peace that ensued they were richly rewarded. Not only did they share in the booty seized from the Habsburgs, but they also were permitted to absorb the remaining free cities, petty principalities, and ecclesiastical territories. Finally, asserting the rights of full sovereignty, the rulers of Bavaria and Württemberg assumed the title of king, while the rulers of Baden and Hesse-Darmstadt contented themselves with the more modest rank of grand duke. The last vestiges of the imperial constitution had now been destroyed, and Germany was ready for a new form of political organization reflecting power relationships created by the force of arms.

      In the summer of 1806, 16 of the secondary states, encouraged and prodded by Paris, announced that they were forming a separate association to be known as the Confederation of the Rhine (Rhine, Confederation of the). Archbishop Karl Theodor von Dalberg (Dalberg, Karl Theodor von) was to preside over the new union as the “prince primate,” while future deliberations among the members were to establish a college of kings and a college of princes as common legislative bodies. There was even talk of a “fundamental statute” that would serve as the constitution of a rejuvenated Germany. Yet all these brave plans were never more than a facade for the harsh reality of alien hegemony in Germany. Napoleon was proclaimed the “protector” of the Confederation of the Rhine, and a permanent alliance between the member states and the French Empire obliged the former to maintain substantial military forces for the purpose of mutual defense. There could be no doubt whose interests these troops would serve. The secondary rulers of Germany were expected to pay a handsome tribute to Paris for their newly acquired sham sovereignty. On August 1 the confederated states proclaimed their secession from the empire, and a week later, on August 6, 1806, Francis II announced that he was laying down the imperial crown. The Holy Roman Empire thus came officially to an end after a history of a thousand years.

Period of French hegemony in Germany
      The long conflict between emperors and princes in Germany had concluded with the triumph of the latter. Yet the victors soon discovered that, instead of achieving independence, they had merely exchanged one master for another. Indeed, they were more subordinate now to the wishes of Paris than they had been to those of Vienna. Napoleon gradually induced or forced all the states of Germany except Austria and Prussia, 36 states in all, to join the confederation. The inclusion of the two leading powers of central Europe might have proved troublesome for him or even dangerous. The participation of the secondary states, on the other hand, provided him with reliable mercenaries who owed him too much and feared him too much to oppose his wishes. He was free to do as he liked in the region between the Rhine and the Elbe rivers. In order to enforce his embargo on Continental (Continental System) trade with England, he annexed the entire coastline along the North Sea, including much of the electorate of Hanover, a dependency of Britain, Napoleon's archenemy. When that was not enough, he added Lübeck on the Baltic to the French Empire. He carved out the kingdom of Westphalia, consisting mainly of the remainder of Hanover and conquered Prussian territory, for his brother Jérôme and the grand duchy of Berg, incorporating additional Prussian territories, for his brother-in-law Joachim Murat. He was the undisputed master of all of western Germany.

      After the formation of the Confederation of the Rhine, there was only one state in central Europe that had not yet been forced to submit to France. But the leaders of Prussia hesitated and wavered in their policy until they lost the opportunity of profiting from the War of the Third Coalition. Had they joined Austria and Russia against Napoleon, they might have kept him from gaining hegemony over Germany. Or had they become the allies of Napoleon, they might have established a sphere of influence in the region north of the Main River. As it was, they waited until they fell between two stools. They finally declared war against the French in October 1806, after Austria had been forced to surrender, Russia had decided to retreat, and the secondary states had become the vassals of Paris. Yet public opinion in the Prussian capital remained confident that the army of Frederick the Great would prove a match for the conqueror of Europe. The result of such self-deception was a military disaster of unparalleled magnitude. In the two simultaneous battles of Jena (Jena, Battle of) and Auerstädt (October 14, 1806), the Prussian armies were completely routed, and the road to Berlin lay open before the French invaders. The city was occupied on October 27.

      More disastrous than the military defeat, however, was the moral collapse of a state that had taught its citizens that obedience to authority was the supreme political virtue. The civilian population never thought of offering resistance to the advancing enemy. Even many army officers were so disheartened by Napoleon's success that they surrendered one fortified position after another without a fight. Frederick William III had to pay a terrible price for the policy of his ancestors, who had built efficient government at the expense of civic initiative. He tried to hold out in East Prussia, hoping that the Russian armies, which were still at war with Napoleon, would help him regain the rest of his kingdom. But when in July 1807 Alexander I concluded peace with France at Tilsit (Tilsit, Treaties of), the unfortunate Frederick William had no choice but to follow suit. The treaty that he was forced to sign was a catastrophe. Prussia lost almost half its territory and population, including most of the Polish possessions in the east as well as all the territories west of the Elbe River. Subsequent agreements, moreover, imposed a heavy indemnity, a military occupation, and a reduction in the size of the army. The proud monarchy of Frederick the Great had been reduced to a secondary state in Germany.

      Central Europe remained under the dominant influence of France for more than a decade. That influence was at first limited and indirect, then pervasive and overpowering. Yet it was during this period of alien preponderance that Germany for the first time felt the stirrings of liberalism and nationalism. The regions that had become part of the French Empire experienced firsthand the advantages of efficient centralized government in which equality before the law and freedom of opportunity were accepted principles. Those states that retained a pseudo-independence as satellites of Napoleon, moreover, sought to imitate the example of their master, partly in order to gain his favour, partly in order to emulate his success, but most importantly in order to integrate the new territories that they had so suddenly acquired. One government after another began to remove religious restrictions, relax economic barriers, eliminate servile obligations, and centralize administrative functions. Above all, constitutional rule and popular representation ceased to seem Utopian to men of property and education who had witnessed the stirring events of the years since 1789. The French hegemony also led to the birth of nationalism in Germany. For one thing, the achievement of political unity became a distinct possibility, once the territorial fragmentation of the Holy Roman Empire had come to an end. Furthermore, the presence of foreign occupiers—arrogant, overbearing, and avaricious—aroused among Germans a sense of nationality that they had never felt in the tranquil days of the old order. Finally, all who admired or envied the triumphs of Napoleon had an example of the great deeds that the love of fatherland could inspire. The ideal of cosmopolitan individualism that had been generally accepted in the 18th century began to give way before a growing consciousness of national identity. Yet the emergence of the concepts of constitutional freedom and national unity not through indigenous developments but rather in response to foreign domination influenced the form that these concepts assumed in Germany.

      Every German state felt the influence of the new principles of government and economy that the period of French hegemony had introduced, but nowhere was that influence more consequential than in Prussia. For only in the hour of deepest humiliation did the Hohenzollern kingdom finally make an effort to adapt its structure to the changing political and social conditions that it had stubbornly ignored during its years of greatness. Between 1806 and 1813 the statesmen in Berlin initiated a revolution from above to transform a rigid despotism into a popular monarchy supported by the loyalty of a free citizenry. Out of the disasters of Jena and Tilsit emerged a group of gifted reformers who sought to regenerate their country. The leading figures in this movement for civic reconstruction were the civil servants Karl, Freiherr (baron) vom Stein (Stein, Karl, Reichsfreiherr vom und zum), and Karl August, Fürst (prince) von Hardenberg (Hardenberg, Karl August, Fürst von), along with the military commanders Gerhard von Scharnhorst (Scharnhorst, Gerhard Johann David von) and August, Graf (count) Neidhardt von Gneisenau (Gneisenau, August, Count Neidhardt von). Among their most important achievements was the abolition of serfdom, a measure designed to create citizens out of human beasts of burden. Yet, while the reforms gave the peasant personal freedom, they failed to provide him with economic independence. Most of the land remained in the hands of the aristocracy, which therefore continued to dominate the countryside politically as well as socially. More successful was the law establishing municipal self-government. Thereafter the cities of the kingdom were to be administered by officials chosen not by the central bureaucracy but by the propertied inhabitants of the cities themselves. The autonomy of the cities, it was hoped, would help train a politically conscious and active middle class. The most effective reforms, however, were those introduced in the armed forces. After the officers who had shown themselves incompetent during the war were dismissed or retired, the high command carried out a thorough reorganization of the military system. Discipline became more humane, promotion was to be based on merit rather than aristocratic connections, the method of recruitment was improved, and the training in tactics was modernized. Most important, the army's leaders sought to instill in the soldiers a new spirit rooted in inner conviction rather than unquestioning obedience. Defeat had changed Prussia from a garrison state into a centre of political and intellectual ferment.

      Patriotic sentiments became increasingly widespread in Germany as the burden of French domination grew progressively heavier. The financial sacrifices that Napoleon demanded reinforced the personal resentments aroused by his ruthless statecraft. Before long a network of secret organizations had sprung up in the German states seeking the expulsion of the foreign invaders. Yet it would be a mistake to think that all Germans regarded the hegemony of France as an unmitigated evil. There were, in fact, wide differences of opinion among them. The rulers of the secondary states and their supporters in the army and the bureaucracy saw Napoleon as the instrument of their new importance. Many reformers in the south—the Bavarian statesman Maximilian Joseph, Graf (count) von Montgelas (Montgelas de Garnerin, Maximilian Joseph, Graf von), for example—believed that only French influence had made possible the modernization of government in Germany. Some men of letters (writers, journalists, and professors) continued to argue, moreover, that the political disunity of Germany was a natural result of its historical experience and reflected its essential character. Even among those who opposed French domination, there was no agreement regarding the future political structure of the nation. Many of them dreamed of a liberal and united fatherland that would take its place among the Great Powers of Europe. Others preferred a loose association of governments, similar to the Confederation of the Rhine, that could safeguard the interests of the secondary states against Prussia and Austria. Still others hoped for a complete restoration of the old order in which they had grown up and to which they longed to return. And then there were the broad masses of the population of the German states, exploited, illiterate, and uninformed. They remained by and large indifferent to the crosscurrents of political thought, seeking nothing more than an improvement in their standard of living and the preservation of their way of life. Germany was beginning to move toward new civic and social norms, but the transformation of political attitudes was gradual and intermittent.

      The slow spread of the ideals of unity and freedom became apparent during the first serious effort to throw off the yoke of foreign domination in the German states. The Austrian government concluded in 1809 that Napoleon's recent reverses in Spain presaged a general uprising against French hegemony on the Continent. The result was an ill-fated attempt at a war of liberation, in which the Habsburg troops challenged Napoleon for the fourth time, only to go down in defeat once again. Appeals from Vienna to the people of Germany found little response except in Tirol and among a few nationalist hotspurs in the north. The princes refused to risk French wrath until they could be sure of ultimate victory, while their subjects refused to rise against French oppression without princely approval. The result was that the war in central Europe, unlike the one in the Iberian Peninsula, was waged primarily by regular forces rather than by guerrilla bands. Archduke Charles (Charles, Archduke) gained important successes for the Austrian army at Aspern and Essling (May 21–22, 1809), an indication that the strategic mastery of the French was drawing to a close. But at Wagram (Wagram, Battle of) (July 5–6) Napoleon was able to work the last of his military miracles. Vienna had to sue for peace once more, the Treaty of Schönbrunn (Schönbrunn, Treaty of) (October 14) ceding Salzburg to Bavaria, West Galicia to the grand duchy of Warsaw, and the Adriatic coastland to France. The defeat finally persuaded the emperor, who had exchanged the title Francis II of the Holy Roman Empire for Francis I of the Austrian Empire, that resistance would be as futile in the future as it had been in the past. He therefore adopted a policy of collaboration with France, signaled by the marriage of his daughter Marie-Louise to Napoleon. Germany continued to languish in the grip of foreign domination.

The Wars of Liberation
      A new struggle for liberation opened three years later with the defeat of Napoleon's grande armée in Russia. As the Russian armies began to cross western frontiers in December 1812, the crucial question became what reception they would find among the rulers and the inhabitants of central Europe. The first state to cut its ties to Paris was Prussia. It was not the king, however, but one of his generals, Johann, Graf (count) Yorck von Wartenburg (Yorck von Wartenburg, Johann, Graf), who decided on his own initiative to cooperate with the Russians. Only hesitatingly and fearfully did Frederick William III then agree in February 1813 to a war against France, although many Prussians greeted the outbreak of the conflict with enthusiasm. The other rulers of the German states refused initially to follow the Prussian example. The members of the Confederation of the Rhine were still convinced of Napoleon's invincibility, while Austria preferred to see the combatants exhaust each other until it could play the role of mediator and arbiter. The foreign minister in Vienna, Klemens, Fürst (prince) von Metternich (Metternich, Klemens, Fürst von), was afraid that the hegemony of France in central Europe might be replaced by that of Russia. He tried, therefore, to pursue a strategy of armed neutrality, hoping that he could persuade the opposing sides to accept a compromise that would maintain an equilibrium between Alexander I and Napoleon. This plan failed because of the obstinacy of the latter, who feared that concessions in foreign affairs would weaken his control over internal politics in France. The upshot was that in August 1813 Austria entered the conflict on the side of Russia and Prussia, and the balance of military power shifted in favour of the anti-French coalition. The faith of the secondary states in Napoleon's star began to weaken, and Bavaria became the first member to secede from the Confederation of the Rhine (October 8). One great allied victory would now suffice to bring all of Germany into the struggle against France.

      That victory came on October 19, 1813, at the Battle of Leipzig (Leipzig, Battle of). After four days of bitter fighting, the French army was forced to retreat, and its domination of central Europe was finally at an end. Before the year was out, Napoleon had withdrawn across the Rhine. Of all his conquests in Germany, only the left bank was still under the effective control of Paris. The Confederation of the Rhine promptly collapsed, as its members rushed to go over to the winning side before it was too late. The Rhineland was also reconquered early in 1814, after the allies had launched their invasion of France. In the course of the spring, the capture of Paris, the restoration of the Bourbons, and the conclusion of peace in the first Treaty of Paris (Paris, Treaties of) (May 30) ended the Wars of Liberation except for the episode of the Hundred Days, when Napoleon briefly returned to power and was ultimately beaten at Waterloo (Waterloo, Battle of). The western frontier of the German states was to remain essentially the same as at the time of the initial outbreak of hostilities more than 20 years previously. New state boundaries within Germany would still have to be determined, to be sure, and the problem of a new political organization of the nation awaited the victorious statesmen, but the period of foreign hegemony was over at last. The rulers of the German states, relying partly on the forces of innovation, partly on those of tradition, had succeeded in freeing themselves from alien domination. Now they had to decide what use they would make of their freedom. Would they create a new polity of unity and liberty, which many reformers demanded, or would they reestablish the old order of absolutism and particularism, which the conservatives advocated? As the statesmen began to gather in Vienna in the fall of 1814 to restore peace to a continent ravaged by two decades of war, they pondered the problem of devising an enduring form of government for Germany.

Results of the Congress of Vienna (Vienna, Congress of)
      The men who, in the nine months from September 1814 to June 1815, redrew the map of Europe were diplomats of the old school. Francis I and the prince von Metternich of Austria, Frederick William III and the prince von Hardenberg of Prussia, Alexander I of Russia, Viscount Castlereagh (Castlereagh, Robert Stewart, Viscount) of England, Talleyrand (Talleyrand, Charles-Maurice de, prince de Bénévent) of France, and the representatives of the secondary states were all intellectual heirs of the 18th century. They feared the principles of the French Revolution, they scorned the theories of democratic government, and they opposed the doctrines of national self-determination. But they recognized that the boundaries and governments of 1789 could not be restored without modification or compromise. There had been too many changes in attitudes and loyalties that the rigid dogmas of legitimism were powerless to undo. The task before the peacemakers was thus the establishment of a sound balance between necessary reform and valid tradition capable of preserving the tranquillity that Europe desperately needed. The decisions regarding Germany reached during the deliberations in Vienna followed a middle course between innovation and reaction, avoiding extreme fragmentation as well as rigid centralization. The Confederation of the Rhine was not maintained, but neither was the Holy Roman Empire restored. Although the reforms introduced during the period of foreign domination were partly revoked, the practices of enlightened despotism were not entirely reestablished. Despite the complaints of unbending legitimists and the dire predictions of disappointed reformers, the peacemakers succeeded in creating a new political order in Germany that endured for half a century. The long years of war and unrest that had convulsed Europe during the era of the French Revolution and Napoleon were followed by even longer years of stability and tranquillity.

      The Germany that emerged in 1815 from the Congress of Vienna (Vienna, Congress of) included 39 states ranging in size from the two Great Powers, Austria and Prussia, through the minor kingdoms of Bavaria, Württemberg, Saxony, and Hanover; through smaller duchies such as Baden, Nassau, Oldenburg, and Hesse-Darmstadt; through tiny principalities such as Schaumburg-Lippe, Schwarzburg-Sondershausen, and Reuss-Schleiz-Gera; to the free cities of Hamburg, Bremen, Lübeck, and Frankfurt am Main. The new boundaries in Germany bore little resemblance to the bewildering territorial mosaic that had been maintained under the Holy Roman Empire, but there were still many fragments, subdivisions, enclaves, and exclaves, too many for the taste of ardent nationalists. Yet the overall pattern of state frontiers represented a significant improvement over the chaotic patchwork of sovereignties and jurisdictions that had characterized the old order. The peacemakers not only created more integrated and viable political entities but also altered the role that these entities were to play in the affairs of the nation. Without design or even awareness on the part of Frederick William III, his kingdom of Prussia assumed a pivotal position in Germany. The victorious powers, on guard against a revival of French aggression, decided to make Prussia the defender of the western boundary of Germany. The Rhineland and Westphalia, including the Ruhr district that would develop into the greatest industrial centre on the Continent, became Prussian provinces. More than that, the king agreed at the urging of Alexander I to cede the bulk of his Polish possessions to Russia in return for a substantial part of Saxony. Prussia, which at the end of the 18th century had been in the process of becoming a binational state, was thrust back into Germany and given a strategic position on both frontiers of the nation. The centre of gravity of Austria, on the other hand, shifted eastward. Francis I had decided to abandon the historic role of his state as protector of the Holy Roman Empire against the French for the sake of greater geographic compactness and military defensibility. The possessions in southern and western Germany were surrendered along with the Austrian Netherlands in return for Venetian territory on the Adriatic. The Habsburg empire thus became less German in composition and outlook as its focus shifted in the direction of Italy and eastern Europe. The consequences of this territorial rearrangement were to be far-reaching.

The age of Metternich and the era of unification, 1815–71
Reform and reaction
      In place of the Holy Roman Empire the peacemakers of the Congress of Vienna had established a new organization of German states, the German Confederation. This was a loose political association in which most of the rights of sovereignty remained in the hands of the member governments. There was no central executive or judiciary, only a federal Diet meeting in Frankfurt am Main to consider common legislation. The delegates who participated in its deliberations were representatives appointed by and responsible to the rulers whom they served. The confederation was in theory empowered to adopt measures strengthening the political and economic bonds of the nation. In fact it remained a stronghold of particularism, unwilling to sacrifice local autonomy in order to establish centralized authority. It was designed essentially to defend the interests of the secondary states and the Habsburgs. The former, jealously guarding the independence and importance they had gained during the period of French hegemony, were opposed to any reform that might limit their sovereignty. The latter believed that only a decentralized form of political union in Germany would give them enough freedom of action to pursue their non-German objectives. The confederation was thus from the outset an ally of localism and traditionalism. To the nationalists, whose hopes had risen so high during the Wars of Liberation, it seemed to be an instrument of blind reaction. Yet the truth is that the confederal system established in 1815 accurately reflected the slow development of civic consciousness and economic integration in Germany. The militant reformers who demanded the centralization of government were a vocal but small minority. The lower classes accepted the territorial and constitutional decisions of the Congress of Vienna without a murmur of protest. The weakness of the peace settlement was not its failure to embody present realities but its inability to adjust to future changes. What had been a reasonable adaptation to the political needs of an agrarian and rural society became a hopeless anachronism 50 years later in the age of factories and railroads. This was the fatal flaw in the German Confederation.

      Yet the reform movement that had begun under the impact of the French hegemony did not end with the downfall of Napoleon. It continued to exert influence over affairs of state for another few years, before the forces of authoritarianism and particularism crushed it. That influence was strongest in southern Germany, where the political example of western Europe had made the deepest impression. There many civil servants, court officials, army officers, and even aristocratic landowners came to believe that the future of the state depended on its readiness to reform civic institutions in accordance with liberal theories. In the years following Waterloo, one government in the south after another promulgated a constitution (constitutional law): Bavaria and Baden in 1818, Württemberg in 1819, and Hesse-Darmstadt in 1820. These constitutions established representative assemblies, elected by the propertied citizens, whose assent was required for the enactment of legislation. Their purpose was not only to win for the crown the support of the educated classes of society but also to engender a sense of unity in a heterogeneous population that still had diverse allegiances and traditions.

      To the north there were also persistent echoes of the reform movement. The followers of the baron vom Stein were still influential in the councils of state, and Frederick William III of Prussia at first seriously considered ways of fulfilling the promise he had made in 1815 to establish constitutional government. Economic reformers succeeded in enacting the Prussian Customs Law of 1818, which united all the Prussian territories into a customs union free of internal economic barriers; this later formed the nucleus of a national customs union. The agitation for political reorganization, however, was loudest among university students, who formed patriotic groups known as Burschenschaften (Burschenschaft). They demanded the abandonment of the confederal system, the establishment of greater unity, and the achievement of national power. Gathering in 1817 at the Wartburg, the castle near Eisenach where Luther had once taken refuge, they listened to veiled denunciations of the existing order and consigned to flames various symbols of traditional authority. The rulers of Germany began to stir uneasily at this bold display of defiance of the established order.

 The chief strategist of the forces hostile to reform was Metternich (Metternich, Klemens, Fürst von). Not only did he reject the teachings of liberalism and nationalism in principle, but also, as the leading statesman of the Habsburg empire, he recognized that the establishment of centralized authority in Germany (which still included Austria) would seriously impede the policies his government was pursuing in Hungary, Italy, and the Balkans. When on March 23, 1819, an unbalanced student, Karl Ludwig Sand, assassinated the conservative playwright and publicist August von Kotzebue (Kotzebue, August von), Vienna persuaded the princes of the German Confederation that they were facing a dangerous attempt to overthrow the established order in the German states. The result was a series of repressive measures called the Carlsbad Decrees, which the federal Diet adopted on September 20, 1819. General censorship was introduced, and the Burschenschaften were outlawed. This first major success of the conservative counteroffensive had an important effect on the struggle within the state governments between the advocates and the opponents of reform. In Prussia the liberal members of the ministry were forced to resign, and the plan to promulgate a constitution for the kingdom was rejected. This shift to the right by Berlin encouraged authoritarian tendencies among the secondary states of the north, which soon abandoned their own constitutional projects. By the end of 1820 the reform movement, which had begun some 15 years before, came to a complete halt. It had succeeded in altering the political and economic structure of society, but it had been unable to establish a tradition of liberal government and national loyalty in Germany. The forces of particularism and legitimism, deriving their chief support from the landowning nobility and the conservative peasantry, remained strong. The foundation of bourgeois civic consciousness and material prosperity on which England and France had built their representative institutions was still relatively weak beyond the Rhine. The ideas of political reform had arisen in Germany not from the experience of revolution and social transformation but rather as imitations of foreign examples and in reaction against foreign oppression.

      The established order was once again threatened briefly in the wake of the July Revolution of 1830 (1830, Revolutions of) in France. The news that there had been a successful insurrection against the Bourbons in Paris had an electrifying effect throughout the Continent. In Germany there were sympathetic uprisings in some of the secondary states of the north. The rulers of Brunswick, Saxony, Hanover, and Hesse-Kassel, seeking to forestall more extreme demands, agreed to promulgate liberal constitutions. A mass meeting of southern radicals at Hambach Castle in the Palatinate (May 1832), moreover, called for national unification, republican government, and popular sovereignty. A group of militant students even launched a foolhardy attempt to seize the city of Frankfurt am Main, dissolve the federal Diet, and proclaim a German republic. The effect of such harebrained schemes was predictable. As the princes of the German Confederation gradually recovered from their initial fear of the revolutionary movement, they opposed with increasing vigour plans to alter the existing system of government. Again Metternich led the effort to crush liberalism and nationalism. Under his direction the federal Diet adopted additional repressive measures reinforcing the position of the crown in state politics, limiting the power of the legislature, restricting the right of assembly, enlarging the authority of the police, and intensifying censorship. Within a few years the opposition had been subdued, and the German Confederation could continue to vegetate in its cozy provincialism. Not until the middle years of the century did a new and more violent outburst of civil disaffection shake the foundations of the political structure that the Congress of Vienna had erected.

Evolution of parties and ideologies
      Although the critics of the established order could be defeated, they could not be silenced. The struggle between the supporters and the adversaries of the existing form of government led to the emergence of a rudimentary party (political party) system in the German Confederation. In the legislative assemblies of the secondary states, the proponents of reform began to meet, plan, organize, and propagandize. The defenders of legitimism were thereby forced in turn to concert their strategy and to publicize their program. Even in Prussia and Austria, where there were as yet no constitutions or parliaments, political criticism could be expressed obliquely through clubs, meetings, newspapers, pamphlets, and petitions. The result was the gradual development of amorphous civic associations held together by common convictions regarding politics and society. These primitive groupings were only the raw material out of which disciplined political parties slowly developed in the course of the century. They still lacked the cohesive ideologies and the institutional means to disseminate them that characterize a fully mature system of parliamentary politics. Yet they became the means by which disaffected groups in the community could express their opposition to the established order. They also reflected the transformation in civic attitudes that had occurred since the age of enlightened despotism. There were now men in the German states who refused to submit without question to princely authority and to seek freedom only in the inner recesses of the soul. The social and economic changes resulting from the beginnings of industrialization transformed the system and organization of politics.

      The most important opponents of legitimism and particularism were the liberals, or moderates. Deriving their support primarily from industrialists, merchants, financiers, mine owners, railroad developers, civil servants, professionals, and university professors, they represented the opposition of the well-to-do and educated bourgeoisie to a form of government in which an aristocracy of birth rather than of talent predominated. Their political principles favoured a monarchical system of authority, but the crown was to share its powers with a parliament elected by the men of property. Influence in public affairs should be accessible to all male citizens who had demonstrated through the acquisition of wealth and education that they were capable of exercising the franchise intelligently. While the liberals (liberalism) resented the inherited privileges of the nobility, they also feared the proletariat. The man who lived in poverty and ignorance, they reasoned, was ripe for demagoguery and insurrection. The path of civic wisdom was therefore the happy medium between royal absolutism and mob rule, a medium that had been established in Britain by the Reform Bill of 1832 and in France by the regime of Louis-Philippe. In economics, most, although by no means all, liberals advocated a policy of unrestrained competition by which wealth would become the reward of business acumen rather than the perquisite of corporative privilege. Guild monopolies, government regulations, and rules reserving landed estates for the nobility were to be abolished as violations of the freedom of enterprise that alone could ensure the well-being of all society. The liberals favoured the transformation of the German Confederation into a national monarchy in which the states' rights would be curtailed but not destroyed by a central government and a federal parliament.

      To the liberals' left stood the democrats, or radicals, whose following was made up largely of small businessmen, petty shopkeepers, skilled workers, independent farmers, teachers, journalists, lawyers, and physicians. While the divisions between liberals and democrats were often indistinct and the two groups often worked together, democrats looked with scorn on the golden mean between autocracy and anarchy that the liberals sought. They preferred an egalitarian form of authority in which not parliamentary plutocracy but popular sovereignty would be the underlying principle of government. Their supporters drew inspiration from the French Revolution rather than from British parliamentary reforms. Their ideal of democracy was the Jacobin (Jacobin Club) republic of 1793, an instrument that could shape the energies and aspirations of the people into a disciplined force for political and social reform. The spokesmen for this ideal could not openly demand the overthrow of monarchical institutions without risking imprisonment. Yet, while they were forced to accept the crown as a political institution, they nevertheless sought to transfer its power to a parliament elected by universal male suffrage. The masses would thereby become the ultimate arbiter of politics. The democrats were also willing to accept government regulation of business activity as a means of improving the economic position of the lower classes, although their belief in the sanctity of private property was as firm as that of the liberals. In their advocacy of national unification, however, they were less solicitous about royal prerogatives and state rights. While not as influential as the moderates, the radicals remained an important source of opposition to the established order.

      Growing criticism of the restored political order forced conservatives to define their ideological position more precisely. The old theories of monarchy by divine right or despotic benevolence offered little protection against the assaults of liberalism and democracy. The defenders of legitimism, who came mostly from the landed nobility, the court aristocracy, the officer corps, the upper bureaucracy, and the established church, therefore began to advance new arguments based on conservative assumptions about the nature of man and society. The relationship between the individual and government, so the reasoning went, cannot be determined by paper constitutions founded on a doctrinaire individualism. Human actions are motivated not solely by rational considerations but by habit, feeling, instinct, and tradition as well. The impractical theories of visionary reformers fail to take into account the historic forces of organic development by which the past and the present shape the future. To assert that all men are equal is to ignore the differences in rights and duties that result from differences in birth, class, background, education, and tradition. The dogmas of constitutional authority and parliamentary government are merely a facade behind which a self-seeking bourgeoisie seeks to disguise its lust for power. An enduring form of government can be built only on the traditional institutions of society: the throne, the church, the nobility, and the army. Only a system of authority legitimated by law and history can protect the worker against exploitation, the believer against godlessness, and the citizen against revolution. According to these tenets, the political institutions of the German Confederation were valid, because they represented fundamental ideals deeply embedded in the spirit of the nation.

Economic changes and the Zollverein
      The struggle of parties and ideologies during the restoration of the old order reflected the beginning of important changes in the structure of the economy and the community. In the long run, the most significant of these changes was the gradual emergence of large-scale industry (Industrial Revolution) in Germany. Mechanization (industrialization), introduced in textile mills and coal mines, spread to other branches of manufacture and influenced the entire economic life of the nation. The transportation network improved with the construction of railroads, steamships, and better roads and canals. Banking institutions and private investors began to transfer their funds from government bonds and commercial ventures to manufacturing enterprises. Factory and railroad owners, financiers, and stockbrokers gradually formed a new upper middle class whose wealth derived primarily from industrial activity and whose growing economic importance encouraged its members to demand greater political influence. Skilled handicraftsmen, who had constituted the bulk of the urban working class, could not compete successfully with the factories. Because rural population grew faster than rural employment following the Congress of Vienna, population began to shift from country to city, although a majority of the inhabitants of the German Confederation continued to live in rural communities. Many of the migrants from the countryside took jobs as factory labourers in the cities.

      Agriculture went through as difficult a period of reorganization and rationalization as industry. Peasant emancipation in Prussia allowed the Junkers east of the Elbe River to enlarge their lands by absorbing the holdings of small farmers. The former serfs now formed a propertyless rural proletariat who cultivated the aristocratic landowners' large estates. The result was the continuing economic, social, and political domination of the village by the nobility in the eastern provinces of Prussia. The squirearchy entrenched in Pomerania, Brandenburg, Silesia, and East Prussia controlled agriculture, commanded the army, directed the bureaucracy, and influenced the court. It constituted a powerful force for conservatism and particularism.

      West of the Elbe the basic problem was not landlessness but overpopulation. The aristocracy along the Rhine and the Danube was often willing to give the peasantry possession of the soil in return for a substantial payment. The farmer was thereby saddled with heavy financial obligations. Many small farmers tried to escape poverty by emigrating to the New World; those who remained faced rapid population growth and often had to subdivide small holdings among their children until they yielded no profit. Civil discontent mounted among impoverished villagers who lacked employment in industry.

      The system of authority in the German Confederation was thus being undermined by the struggle of artisans against industrial mechanization, by the disaffection of peasants hungry for land, and above all by the criticism of businessmen constrained by the policies of unresponsive governments. Industrialists and financiers had to overcome the barriers created by a variety of monetary systems, commercial regulations, excise taxes, and state boundaries. It is little wonder that the bourgeoisie of Germany turned increasingly to the teachings of liberalism and nationalism. Yet the established order did make a major attempt to meet the needs of the business community. Before long, several of the more important secondary governments concluded agreements with Prussia by which a sizable free trade area was established in the heart of Germany.

 In 1834 the Zollverein, or Customs Union, including most of the states of the German Confederation, came into existence. With the accession of several more states by 1842, only Austria and the northwest coastland remained aloof. The industrialists of the Habsburg empire, who wanted their products protected against outside competition, felt that the tariffs of the new association were too low for their needs, whereas the merchants and bankers of the coastal region, who depended on foreign trade, thought they were too high. Yet for some 25 million Germans the Zollverein meant in effect the achievement of commercial unification without the aid of political unification. Prussia, meanwhile, acquired a powerful new weapon in the struggle against Austria for the dominant position in Germany. Still, although the Zollverein helped meet the demands of some businessmen for economic consolidation, it could not surmount all the material disadvantages of a particularistic form of government. People of means and education continued to grumble about the confederal system under which they lived, while the masses became increasingly restless under the pressure of social and economic dislocation.

The revolutions of 1848 (1848, Revolutions of)–49
      The hard times that swept over the Continent in the late 1840s transformed widespread popular discontent in the German Confederation into a full-blown revolution. After the middle of the decade, a severe economic depression halted industrial expansion and aggravated urban unemployment. At the same time, serious crop failures led to a major famine in the area from Ireland to Russian Poland. In the German states, the hungry 1840s drove the lower classes, which had long been suffering from the economic effects of industrial and agricultural rationalization, to the point of open rebellion. There were sporadic hunger riots and violent disturbances in several of the states, but the signal for a concerted uprising did not come until early in 1848 with the exciting news that the regime of the bourgeois king Louis-Philippe had been overthrown by an insurrection in Paris (February 22–24). The result was a series of sympathetic revolutions against the governments of the German Confederation, most of them mild but a few, as in the case of the fighting in Berlin, bitter and bloody.

      When on March 13 Metternich, the proud symbol of the established order, was forced to resign his position in the Austrian cabinet, the princes hastened to make peace with the opposition in order to forestall republican and socialist (socialism) experiments like those in France. Prominent liberals were appointed to the state ministries, and civic reforms were introduced to safeguard the rights of the citizens and the powers of the legislature. But even more important was the attempt to achieve political unification through a national assembly representing all of Germany. Elections were held soon after the spring uprising had subsided, and on May 18 the Frankfurt National Assembly met in Frankfurt am Main to prepare the constitution for a free and united fatherland. Its convocation represented the realization of the hopes that nationalists had cherished for more than a generation. Within the space of a few weeks, those who had fought against the particularistic system of the restoration for so long suddenly found themselves empowered with a popular mandate to rebuild the foundations of political and social life in Germany. It was an intoxicating moment.

      Once the spring uprising was over, the parties and classes that had participated in it began to quarrel about the nature of the new order that was to take the place of the old. There were, first of all, sharp differences between the liberals and the democrats. While the former had comfortable majorities in most of the state legislatures as well as in the Frankfurt parliament, the latter continued to plead, agitate, and conspire for a more radical course of action. There were also bitter disputes over the form that national unification should assume. The Grossdeutsch (“great German”) movement maintained that Austria, the state whose rulers had worn the crown of the Holy Roman Empire for 400 years, should play a leading role in the united fatherland. The Kleindeutsch (“little German”) party, on the other hand, argued that the Habsburgs had too many Slavic, Magyar, and Italian interests to work single-mindedly for the greatness of Germany, that Austria should therefore be excluded from a unified Germany, and that the natural leader of the nation was Prussia, whose political vigour and geographic position would provide efficient government and military security for Germany. Finally, there was a basic conflict between poor and marginalized social groups, many of whom wanted protection against mechanized production and rural impoverishment, and the business interests who sought to use their new political influence to promote economic growth and freedom of enterprise. Popular support for the revolution, which had made the defeat of legitimism during the March days possible, began to dwindle with the realization that the liberals would do no more to solve the problems of the masses than the conservatives had done. While the Frankfurt parliament was debating the constitution under which Germany would be governed, its following diminished and its authority declined. The forces of the right, recovering from the demoralization of their initial defeat, began to regain confidence in their own power and legitimacy.

      Their first major conservative victory came in Austria, where the young emperor Francis Joseph found an able successor to Metternich in his prime minister, Felix, Fürst (prince) zu Schwarzenberg (Schwarzenberg, Felix, Prince zu). In the summer of 1848 the Habsburg armies crushed the uprising in Bohemia and checked the insurrection in Italy. By the end of October they had subjugated Vienna itself, the centre of the revolutionary movement, and now only Hungary was still in arms against the imperial government. At the same time, in Prussia the irresolute Frederick William IV had been gradually persuaded by the conservatives to embark on a course of piecemeal reaction. Early in December he dissolved the constituent assembly that had been meeting in Berlin, unilaterally promulgated his own constitution for the kingdom—which combined conservative and liberal elements—and proceeded little by little to reassert the prerogatives of the crown. Among the secondary states there was also a noticeable shift to the right, as particularist princes and legitimist aristocrats began to recover their courage.

      By the time the Frankfurt parliament completed its deliberations in the spring of 1849, the revolution was everywhere at ebb tide. The constitution that the National Assembly had drafted called for a federal union headed by a hereditary emperor with powers limited by a popularly elected legislature. Since the Austrian government had already indicated that it would oppose the establishment of a federal government in Germany, the imperial crown was offered to the king of Prussia. Frederick William IV refused a crown whose source he deplored and whose authority seemed too restricted. This rejection of political consolidation under a liberal constitution destroyed the last chance of the revolutionary movement for success. The moderates, admitting failure, went home to mourn the defeat of their hopes and labours. The radicals, on the other hand, sought to attain their objectives by inciting a new wave of insurrections. Their appeals for a mass uprising, however, were answered mostly by visionary intellectuals, enthusiastic students, radical politicians, and professional revolutionaries. The lower classes remained by and large indifferent. There was sporadic violence, especially in the southwest, but troops loyal to princely authority had little difficulty in defeating the insurrection. By the summer of 1849 the revolution, which had begun a year earlier amid such extravagant expectations, was completely crushed.

The 1850s: years of political reaction and economic growth
      The attempt to achieve national unification through liberal reform was followed by an attempt to achieve it through conservative statesmanship. Frederick William IV had refused to accept an imperial crown vitiated by parliamentary government, but he was willing to become the head of a national federation in which the royal prerogative remained unimpaired. While the Austrian armies were still engaged in the campaign against the revolution in Hungary, Prussia began to exert diplomatic pressure on the smaller German states to join in the formation of a new federal league known as the Prussian Union. If Frederick William IV had acted with enough determination, he might have been able to reach his goal before Francis Joseph could intervene effectively in the affairs of Germany. But he allowed his opportunity to slip away. Though he succeeded through threats and promises in persuading most of the princes to accept his proposals, no irrevocable commitments had been made by the time the Hungarians were defeated in August 1849. Vienna could now proceed to woo the governments, which had in most cases submitted to Prussia only out of weakness and fear. Basically they remained opposed to sacrificing their sovereignty to Prussia. When Schwarzenberg suggested the reestablishment of the old federal Diet, he won the support of many rulers who had agreed to follow Berlin against their will. The nation was now divided into two camps, the Prussian Union on one side and the revived German Confederation on the other. It was only a question of time before they would clash. When both Austria and Prussia decided to intervene in Hesse-Kassel, where there was a conflict between the supporters and the opponents of the prince, Germany stood on the brink of civil war. But Frederick William IV decided at the last moment to back down. His fear overcame his pride, especially after Nicholas I of Russia indicated that he supported Vienna in the controversy. By the Punctation of Olmütz (Olmütz, Punctation of) of November 29, 1850, the Prussians agreed to the restoration of the German Confederation, and the old order was fully reestablished in all its weakness and inadequacy.

      The years that followed were a period of unmitigated reaction. Those who had dared to defy royal authority were forced to pay the penalty of harassment, exile, imprisonment, or even death. Many of the political concessions made earlier, under the pressure of popular turmoil, were now restricted or abrogated. In Austria, for example, the constitution that had been promulgated in 1849 was revoked, and legitimism, centralization, and clericalism became the guiding principles of government. In Prussia the constitution granted by the king remained in force, but its democratic potential was reduced through the introduction of a complicated electoral system by which the ballots were weighted according to the income of the voters. The consequence was that well-to-do conservatives controlled the legislature. The secondary states returned to the policies of legitimism and particularism that they had pursued before the revolution. In Frankfurt am Main, where the federal Diet now resumed its sessions, diplomats continued to guard the prerogatives of princely authority and state sovereignty. The restoration of the confederal system also served the interests of the Habsburgs, who stood at the pinnacle of their prestige as the saviours of the established order. In Berlin, on the other hand, the prevailing mood was one of confusion and discouragement. The king, increasingly gloomy and withdrawn, came under the influence of ultraconservative advisers who preached legitimism in politics and orthodoxy in religion. The government, smarting under the humiliation suffered at the hands of Austria, was as timid in foreign affairs as it was oppressive in domestic matters. The people, tired of insurrection and cowed by repression, were politically apathetic. The German Confederation as a whole, rigid and unyielding, remained during these last years of its existence blind to the need for reform that the revolution had made clear.

      Yet the 1850s, so politically barren, were economically momentous, for it was during this period that the great breakthrough of industrial capitalism occurred in Germany. The national energies, frustrated in the effort to achieve civic reform, turned to the attainment of material progress. The victory of the reaction was followed by an economic expansion as the business community began to recover from its fear of mob violence and social upheaval. The influx of gold from America and Australia, moreover, generated an inflationary tendency, which in turn encouraged a speculative boom. Not only did the value of industrial production and foreign trade in the Zollverein more than double in the course of the decade, but also new investment banks based on the joint-stock principle were founded to provide venture capital for factories and railroads. The bubble burst in 1857 in a financial crash that affected the entire Continent. For many investors the price of overoptimism and speculation was misfortune and bankruptcy. Yet Germany had now crossed the dividing line between a preindustrial and an industrial economy. Although the rural population still outnumbered the urban, the tendency toward industrialization and urbanization had become irreversible. And this in turn had a profound effect on the direction of politics. As wealth continued to shift from farming to manufacturing, from the country to the city, and from the aristocracy to the bourgeoisie, the pressure for a redistribution of political power also gained strength. While the reactionaries were solemnly proclaiming the sanctity of traditional institutions, economic change was undermining the foundation of those institutions. By the end of the decade, a new struggle between the forces of liberalism and conservatism was in the making.

The 1860s: the triumphs of Bismarck
      The revival of the movement for liberal reform and national unification at the end of the 1850s came to be known as the “new era.” Its coming was heralded by scattered but distinct indications that the days of the reaction were numbered. In 1859 the defeat of Austria in the war against France and Piedmont had a profound effect on the German states. For one thing, the maintenance of the authoritarian regime in Vienna depended on respect for its military strength. Now that the Habsburg armies had shown themselves to be vulnerable, popular unrest in the empire began to increase. Since autocracy was no longer an effective principle of government, Francis Joseph decided to experiment with a parliamentary form of authority. On October 20, 1860, he promulgated a constitution (the October Diploma) for his domains, setting up a bicameral legislature with an electoral system favouring the bourgeoisie, and Austria ceased to be an absolutist state. The beginnings of political unification in Italy, moreover, aroused hope and envy north of the Alps. If the Italians could overcome the obstacles of conservatism and particularism, why not the Germans? National (nationalism) sentiment in Germany, dormant since the revolution, suddenly awoke. Patriotic organizations like the Nationalverein (National Union) and the Reformverein (Reform Union) initiated agitation for a new federal union, the former advocating Prussian and the latter Austrian leadership. Liberal writers and politicians began to advance plans for the reform of the German Confederation. Some of the states, detecting a shift in public opinion, decided to change their course accordingly. Here and there the conservative ministers of the reaction were retired or dismissed, and statesmen with more moderate views took their place.

      The most significant portent of a new age in politics, however, appeared in Prussia. In 1857 Frederick William IV, crushed by memories of the mass insurrections and diplomatic defeats that he had been forced to endure, suffered a series of incapacitating strokes. A year later his brother became regent, and the government in Berlin immediately began altering the direction of its policy. Prince William (William I), although a man of conservative inclination, had little sympathy with the mystical visions and pious dogmas prevailing at the court during the period of reaction. He dismissed Frederick William's cabinet, announced a program of cautious reform in Prussian as well as German affairs, and won a popular endorsement of his course in elections that gave the liberals control of the legislature. After a long period of discouragement, the advocates of civic reconstruction could once again look to the future with hope and expectation.

      Yet there was an important difference between the political attitude of the liberals in 1858–59 and that of 1848–49. Some liberals came to feel during the new era that they had owed their defeat 10 years before to an excess of idealism and exuberance. The fatal mistake of the revolution, they reasoned, had been the assumption that enthusiasm and selflessness could be translated into power and substituted for statesmanship. Now a more calculating policy, one of Realpolitik, must be adopted. Not theory and rhetoric but negotiation and compromise would lead to the attainment of unity and freedom. The liberals therefore pursued at first a strategy of conciliation, anxious not to frighten the established order into blind resistance against all reform. In Prussia, for example, they waited patiently for the regent to move against the forces of disunity and oppression, confident that if they only gave him enough time he would obtain for them by royal authority what they could not seize through revolutionary violence. Yet it gradually became apparent that their hopes would not be realized. Prince William, who in 1861 became king in his own right, was a moderate conservative but a conservative nevertheless. As the advocates of reform grew increasingly restless, the more militant among them formed the Fortschrittspartei (Progressive Party), which sought to hasten the enactment of liberal legislation by exerting pressure on the government. The monarch, afraid that he was being pushed farther to the left than he wanted to go, became more adamant and uncompromising. Sooner or later a conflict between crown and parliament was bound to arise.

      It came in connection with the question of army reform, although, if that issue had not developed, there would undoubtedly have been another. The king wanted to strengthen the armed forces by increasing the number of line regiments and decreasing the size of the popular militia. The necessary budget increase, under the constitution, required legislative approval. The legislature, reluctant to enhance the power of the conservative officer corps, demanded a modification of the plan. The king refused, convinced that the politicians were attempting to gain control of the army, which he considered subject only to royal authority. The legislature responded by withholding approval of the budget. A complete deadlock ensued. In the spring of 1862 the liberal ministers who had been appointed under the regency were dismissed, and a conservative cabinet took office. But the new leaders of the government were as unsuccessful as the old in resolving the crisis. William I (commonly known as Kaiser Wilhelm after becoming emperor in 1871) began to think about abdicating in favour of his son, who was believed to have political views close to those of the parliamentary opposition. He was persuaded, however, to consider first the possibility of naming a new ministry led by Otto von Bismarck (Bismarck, Otto von), then Prussian ambassador to Paris. There was a momentous interview between the monarch and the envoy, as a result of which the former abandoned all thought of retirement and the latter became head of a cabinet pledged to continue the struggle against the legislature. The battle between crown and parliament, which the liberals had been on the point of winning, was now to be waged without regard for constitutional provisions concerning the budget. On September 23, 1862, the nation was startled by the news that a statesman with a reputation for unyielding conservatism had become the prime minister of Prussia. It meant that the established order, having successfully defended its interests against the forces of reform after 1815 and after 1848, was determined to fight to the bitter end against the new challenge to its predominance.

      The constitutional conflict in the Hohenzollern kingdom continued for another four years. The legislature refused to approve the budget until its wishes concerning military reform had been met. Bismarck's government, after carrying out the controversial reorganization of the army, continued to collect taxes and disburse funds without regard for parliamentary authorization. The liberals condemned the prime minister as a violator of the constitution, while the prime minister denounced the liberals and maintained the government's right to act autonomously, since the constitution did not specify a procedure in the event that the legislature failed to approve a budget. Although the electorate remained on the side of the opposition, the cabinet declared that it would not be swayed by party politics or parliamentary majorities. The broad masses of the population, it maintained, were still loyal to the crown. And so the struggle went on without prospect of alleviation or resolution. There were even dark prophecies of a violent uprising against a regime that was so indifferent to its constitutional obligations. Yet in fact Bismarck was not blind to the need for a reconciliation between crown and bourgeoisie. Despite his reputation as a fire-eating legitimist, he had a supple mind and recognized that the political principles of Frederick the Great could not solve the problems facing William I. He hoped, therefore, for an eventual reconciliation between the government and the legislature, but a reconciliation in which the prerogative of the monarch and the influence of the nobility would remain undiminished.

      What Bismarck sought in essence was an alteration in the form of government to create parliamentary institutions that would not undermine monarchical authority. The middle class wanted to end the domination of the traditional forces in society, he calculated, but it also wanted to achieve national unification in Germany. Here was the key to a solution of the constitutional conflict. Unity could be used to rest