German Empire

History of Germany between 1867 - 1918

Deutsches Reich (1871-1918)-de
Imperial Germany 1871–1918

The German Empire was the historical German nation state that existed from the unification of Germany in 1871 to the abdication of Kaiser Wilhelm II in November 1918, when Germany became a federal republic.

After 1850, the states of Germany had rapidly become industrialized, with particular strengths in coal, iron (and later steel), chemicals, and railways. In 1871 it had a population of 41 million people, and by 1913 this had increased to 68 million. A heavily rural collection of states in 1815, the united Germany became predominantly urban. During its 47 years of existence, the German Empire operated as an industrial, technological, and scientific giant, gaining more Nobel Prizes in science than any other country.

Germany became a great power, boasting a rapidly growing rail network, the world's strongest army, and a fast-growing industrial base. In less than a decade, its navy became second only to Britain's Royal Navy.

On 10 December 1870 the North German Confederation Reichstag gave the title of German Emperor to William I, the King of Prussia. He was succeeded by Frederick III (for only 99 days before his death in 1888) and Wilhelm II (1888-1918).

Franco-Prussian War

The Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871) was a conflict between the Second French Empire and the German states of the North German Confederation led by the Kingdom of Prussia. The conflict was caused by Prussian ambitions to extend German unification. Some historians argue that the Prussian chancellor Otto von Bismarck planned to provoke a French attack in order to draw the southern German states into an alliance with the North German Confederation dominated by Prussia.

A series of swift Prussian and German victories in eastern France, culminating in the Siege of Metz and the Battle of Sedan, saw the army of the Second Empire decisively defeated. Following the Siege of Paris, the capital fell on 28 January 1871 and then a revolutionary uprising called the Paris Commune seized power in the capital and held it for two months, until it was bloodily suppressed by the regular French army at the end of May 1871.

The German states proclaimed their union as the German Empire under the Prussian king, Wilhelm I, uniting Germany as a nation-state. The Treaty of Frankfurt of 10 May 1871 gave Germany most of Alsace and some parts of Lorraine, which became the Imperial territory of Alsace-Lorraine. The German conquest of France and the unification of Germany upset the European balance of power, that had existed since the Congress of Vienna in 1815 and Otto von Bismarck maintained great authority in international affairs for two decades. French determination to regain Alsace-Lorraine and fear of another Franco-German war, along with British apprehension about the balance of power, became factors in the causes of World War I.

World War I

When the great crisis of 1914 arrived, the German Empire had only one ally – Austria-Hungary. They were later joined by the Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria to form the Central Powers or Quadruple Alliance.

In the First World War, German plans to capture Paris quickly in autumn 1914 failed, and the war on the Western Front became a stalemate. The Allied naval blockade caused severe shortages of food. Germany was repeatedly forced to send troops to bolster Austria and Turkey on other fronts. However, Germany had great success on the Eastern Front; it occupied large Eastern territories following the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. German declaration of unrestricted submarine warfare in early 1917 was designed to strangle the British; it failed, because of the use of a trans-Atlantic convoy system. But the declaration brought the United States into the war. Meanwhile, German civilians and soldiers had become war-weary and radicalised by the Russian Revolution.

The high command under Paul von Hindenburg and Erich Ludendorff increasingly controlled the country, as they gambled on one last offensive in spring 1918 before the Americans could arrive in force, using large numbers of troops and artillery withdrawn from the Eastern Front. This failed, and by October the armies were in retreat, the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Ottoman Empire had collapsed, and the German people had lost faith in their political system. The Empire collapsed in the November 1918 Revolution as the Emperor and all the ruling monarchs abdicated, and a republic took over.

Reference: Wikipedia

Popular sites founded between 1867 and 1918 in Germany

New Town Hall

The New Town Hall (Neues Rathaus) hosts the Munich government including the city council, offices of the mayors and part of the administration. In 1874 the municipality had left the Old Town Hall for its new domicile. The town hall was built between 1867 and 1908 by Georg von Hauberrisser in a Gothic Revival architecture style. It covers an area of 9159 m² having 400 rooms. The 100 meters long main facade towards th ...
Founded: 1867-1908 | Location: Munich, Germany

Berlin Cathedral

The history of the cathedral on Berlin’s Spree Island began in 1465, when the St. Erasmus Chapel in the newly built royal palace of Cölln on the Spree was elevated to the stature of collegiate church. In 1536, Elector Joachim II moved the it into the former Dominican church, south of the palace.With Martin Luther’s support, the elector established the Reformation in 1539, and the church became a Lutheran. In 1608, th ...
Founded: 1894-1905 | Location: Berlin, Germany

Reichstag Building

The Reichstag building (Reichstagsgebäude) is a historical edifice in Berlin, constructed to house the Imperial Diet of the German Empire. It was opened in 1894 and housed the Diet until 1933, when it was severely damaged in a fire. After World War II, the building fell into disuse; the parliament of the German Democratic Republic met in the Palast der Republik in East Berlin, while the parliament of the Federal Repu ...
Founded: 1884-1894 | Location: Berlin, Germany

Pergamon Museum

The Pergamon Museum was designed by Alfred Messel and Ludwig Hoffmann and was constructed in twenty years, from 1910 to 1930. The Pergamon Museum houses original-sized, reconstructed monumental buildings such as the Pergamon Altar and the Market Gate of Miletus, all consisting of parts transported from Turkey. The museum is subdivided into the antiquity collection, the Middle East museum, and the museum of Islamic art. T ...
Founded: 1910 | Location: Berlin, Germany

Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church

The original Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church on the site was built in the 1890s. It was badly damaged in a bombing raid in 1943. The present building, which consists of a church with an attached foyer and a separate belfry with an attached chapel, was built between 1959 and 1963. The damaged spire of the old church has been retained and its ground floor has been made into a memorial hall. The Memorial Church today is a fam ...
Founded: 1891 | Location: Berlin, Germany

Hamburg Town Hall

Hamburg Town Hall was built from 1886 to 1897 and with its impressive architecture dominates the centre of the city. The magnificent sandstone building houses the city"s senate and parliament. On the outside the architectural style is neo-renaissance, which is abandoned inside for several historical elements. It is one of the few completely preserved buildings of historicism in Hamburg. Built in a period of wealth a ...
Founded: 1886-1897 | Location: Hamburg, Germany

Neuschwanstein Castle

Neuschwanstein Castle is a nineteenth-century Romanesque Revival palace on a rugged hill above the village of Hohenschwangau. The palace was commissioned by Ludwig II of Bavaria as a retreat and as an homage to Richard Wagner. Ludwig paid for the palace out of his personal fortune and by means of extensive borrowing, rather than Bavarian public funds. The castle was intended as a personal refuge for the reclusive king, bu ...
Founded: 1868 | Location: Hohenschwangau, Germany

Deutsches Museum

The Deutsches Museum is the world"s largest museum of science and technology, with approximately 1.5 million visitors per year and about 28,000 exhibited objects from 50 fields of science and technology. The museum was founded on June 28, 1903, at a meeting of the Association of German Engineers as an initiative of Oskar von Miller. The main site of the Deutsches Museum is a small island in the Isar river, which had ...
Founded: 1903 | Location: Munich, Germany

Bode Museum

The concept of the Bode museum, which was originally called the Kaiser-Friedrich-Museum, can be traced back to Crown Princess Victoria of Prussia, who published her ideas in a memorandum in 1883. It was Wilhelm von Bode who finally put these ground-breaking ideas into practice. In 1897, construction work began at the northern tip of the Museum Island on a museum that was to be devoted to the Renaissance, designed by Eberh ...
Founded: 1897 | Location: Berlin, Germany

Frankfurt Cathedral

Frankfurt Cathedral (Kaiserdom Sankt Bartholomäus, St. Bartholomew"s Imperial Cathedral) is the largest religious building in Frankfurt and a former collegiate church. As former election and coronation church of the Holy Roman Empire, the cathedral is one of the major buildings of the Empire history and was mainly in the 19th century a symbol of national unity. The present church building is the third church in ...
Founded: 1867 | Location: Frankfurt, Germany

Völklingen Ironworks

The Völklingen Ironworks in western Germany close to the border with France cover 6 ha and are a unique monument to pig-iron production in Western Europe. No other historic blast-furnace complex has survived that demonstrates the entire process of pig-iron production in the same way, with the same degree of authenticity and completeness, and is underlined by such a series of technological milestones in innovative eng ...
Founded: 1881 | Location: Völklingen, Germany

Linderhof Palace

Linderhof is the smallest of the three palaces built by King Ludwig II of Bavaria and the only one which he lived to see completed. Ludwig II, who was crowned king in 1864, began his building activities in 1867-1868 by redesigning his rooms in the Munich Residenz and laying the foundation stone of Neuschwanstein Castle. In 1868 he was already making his first plans for Linderhof. However, neither the palace modelled on V ...
Founded: 1868 | Location: Linderhof, Germany

Albertinum

The Albertinum was built between 1884 and 1887 by extending a former armoury, or arsenal, that had been constructed between 1559 and 1563 at the same location. The new building was designed by the regional master builder Carl Adolf Canzler in the Renaissance Revival style to house the royal Collection of Antique and Modern Sculptures. The building was named after the Saxonian King Albert who reigned at the time. In 1889 ...
Founded: 1884-1887 | Location: Dresden, Germany

Westphalian State Museum of Art and Cultural History

The Westphalian State Museum of Art and Cultural History (LWL-Landesmuseum für Kunst und Kulturgeschichte) houses an sprawling collection of art from the medieval to modern periods. Besides an extensive collection ranging from spätgotik painting and sculpture to the Cranachs, the museum specializes in paintings from the Der Blau Reiter and Die Brücke movements, in particular works by August Macke.
Founded: 1908 | Location: Münster, Germany

Deutsches Eck

Deutsches Eck ('German Corner') is the name of a headland in Koblenz where the river Mosel joins the Rhine. In 1897, nine years after the death of the German Emperor William I, the former emperor was honoured with a giant equestrian statue. In 1945, the statue was badly damaged by an American artillery shell. Soon afterwards it was completely taken down. The French military government planned to replace the old memorial ...
Founded: 1897 | Location: Koblenz, Germany

New Town Hall

The New Town Hall (Neues Rathaus) in Hanover was opened on July 20, 1913, after having been under construction for 12 years. It is a magnificent, castle-like building of the era of Wilhelm II in eclectic style at the southern edge of the inner city (outside of the historic city centre of Hanover). The building is embedded in the 10 hectare Maschpark. The Old Town Hall is no longer used as the main seat of admini ...
Founded: 1913 | Location: Hanover, Germany

Monument to the Battle of the Nations

The Monument to the Battle of the Nations (Völkerschlachtdenkmal) is dedicated to the 1813 Battle of Leipzig, also known as the Battle of the Nations. Paid for mostly by donations and the city of Leipzig, it was completed in 1913 for the 100th anniversary of the battle at a cost of six million goldmarks. The monument commemorates Napoleon"s defeat at Leipzig, a crucial step towards the end of hostilities in the ...
Founded: 1913 | Location: Leipzig, Germany

Märkisches Museum

Built between 1901 and 1908, the red brick cathedral-like complex of the Märkisches Museum holds a history of Berlin as distinctive as its residents. Instead of a straightforward history lesson, expect a variety of themed rooms that give visitors a glimpse of the life, work, and culture of Berlin. The museum, just steps away from the banks of the river Spree, explores the at times tumultuous evolution of this histor ...
Founded: 1901-1908 | Location: Berlin, Germany

Schloss Drachenburg

Schloss Drachenburg is a private villa in palace style constructed in the late 19th century. It was completed in only two years (1882–84) on the Drachenfels hill in Königswinter, a German town on the Rhine near the city of Bonn. Baron Stephan von Sarter (1833–1902), a broker and banker, planned to live there, but never did. Today the Palace is in the possession of the State Foundation of North Rhine-Westphalia ...
Founded: 1882-1884 | Location: Königswinter, Germany

Beethoven House

The Beethoven House in Bonn is a memorial site, museum and cultural institution serving various purposes. Founded in 1889 by the Beethoven-Haus association, it studies the life and work of composer Ludwig van Beethoven. The centrepiece of the Beethoven-Haus is Beethoven"s birthplace at Bonngasse 20. This building houses the museum. The neighbouring buildings (Bonngasse 18 and 24 to 26) accommodate a research cent ...
Founded: 1889 | Location: Bonn, Germany

Herrenchiemsee Palace

Herrenchiemsee is a complex of royal buildings on Herreninsel, an island in the Chiemsee, Bavaria"s largest lake. After being purchased by King Ludwig II of Bavaria the former Herrenchiemsee monastery was converted into a royal residence known as the Old Palace (Altes Schloss), while the king built Herrenchiemsee Palace also known as the New Palace (Neues Schloss), the largest of his palaces. The unfinished New Pala ...
Founded: 1878-1886 | Location: Chiemsee, Germany

Rheinisches Landesmuseum

The Rheinische Landesmuseum Trier is one of the most important archaeological museums in Trier. Its collection stretches from prehistory through the Roman period, the Middle Ages to the Baroque. But especially the Roman past of Germany"s oldest living city (Augusta Treverorum) is represented in the State Museum Trier based on archaeological finds. The museum was founded in 1877.
Founded: 1877 | Location: Trier, Germany

Cecilienhof Palace

Cecilienhof Palace was built from 1914 to 1917. Emperor Wilhelm II ordered the establishment of a fund for constructing this new palace at Potsdam for his oldest son, Crown Prince Wilhelm (William) and his wife, Duchess Cecilie of Mecklenburg-Schwerin on 19 December 1912. Cecilienhof was the last palace built by the House of Hohenzollern that ruled the Kingdom of Prussia and the German Empire until the end of World War I. ...
Founded: 1914-1917 | Location: Potsdam, Germany

Niederwalddenkmal

Niederwalddenkmal monument was constructed to commemorate the foundation of the German Empire after the end of Franco-Prussian War. The first stone was laid on September 16, 1871, by Wilhelm I. The sculptor was Johannes Schilling, and the architect was Karl Weisbach. The total cost of the work is estimated at one million gold marks. It was inaugurated on September 28, 1883. The 38 metres tall monument represents the union ...
Founded: 1871 | Location: Rüdesheim am Rhein, Germany

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Erfurt Synagogue

The Erfurt Synagogue was built c. 1094. It is thought to be the oldest synagogue building still standing in Europe. Thanks to the extensive preservation of the original structure, it has a special place in the history of art and architecture and is among the most impressive and highly rated architectural monuments in Erfurt and Thuringia. The synagogue was constructed during the Middle Ages on the via regia, one of the major European trade routes, at the heart of the historical old quarter very close to the Merchants Bridge and the town hall. Many parts of the structure still remain today, including all four thick outer walls, the Roman­esque gemel window, the Gothic rose window and the entrance to the synagogue room.

After extensive restoration, the building was reopened in 2009. On display in the exhibition rooms is an collection of medieval treasures discovered during archaeological excavations. This includes 3,140 silver coins, 14 silver ingots, approx. 6,000 works of goldsmithery from the 13th and 14th centuries and an intricately worked wedding ring of the period, of which only two others are known to exist anywhere in the world. A mikveh (Jewish bath) has been excavated close by (13th/14th century). The Old Synagogue, the Small Synagogue and two Jewish cemeteries together form a network of historical buildings and sites which vividly portray the role of Jewish life in the history of Erfurt.