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The concept of Germany as a distinct region in central Europe can be traced to Roman commander Julius Caesar, who referred to the unconquered area east of the Rhine as Germania, thus distinguishing it from Gaul (France), which he had conquered. The victory of the Germanic tribes in the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest (AD 9) prevented annexation by the Roman Empire. Following the fall of the Roman Empire, the Franks conquered the other West Germanic tribes. When the Frankish Empire was divided among Charlemagne's heirs in 843, the eastern part became East Francia. In 962, Otto I became the first emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, the medieval German state.

In the High Middle Ages, the dukes and princes of the empire gained power at the expense of the emperors. Martin Luther led the Protestant Reformation against the Catholic Church after 1517, as the northern states became Protestant, while the southern states remained Catholic. The two parts of the Holy Roman Empire clashed in the Thirty Years' War (16181648), which was ruinous to the twenty million civilians. 1648 marked the effective end of the Holy Roman Empire and the beginning of the modern nation-state system, with Germany divided into numerous independent states, such as Prussia, Bavaria and Saxony. After the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars (18031815), feudalism fell away and liberalism and nationalism clashed with reaction. The 1848 March Revolution failed. The Industrial Revolution modernized the German economy, led to the rapid growth of cities and to the emergence of the Socialist movement in Germany. Prussia, with its capital Berlin, grew in power. German universities became world-class centers for science and the humanities, while music and the arts flourished. Unification was achieved with the formation of the German Empire in 1871 under the leadership of Prussian Chancellor Otto von Bismarck. The new Reichstag, an elected parliament, had only a limited role in the imperial government.

By 1900, Germany's economy matched Britain's, allowing colonial expansion and a naval race. Germany led the Central Powers in theFirst World War (19141918) against France, Great Britain, Russia and (by 1917) the United States. Defeated and partly occupied, Germany was forced to pay war reparations by the Treaty of Versailles and was stripped of its colonies as well as Polish areas and Alsace-Lorraine. The German Revolution of 191819 deposed the emperor and the kings, leading to the establishment of the Weimar Republic, an unstable parliamentary democracy. In the early 1930s, the worldwide Great Depression hit Germany hard, as unemployment soared and people lost confidence in the government. In 1933, the Nazis under Adolf Hitler came to power and established a totalitarian regime. Political opponents were killed or imprisoned. Nazi Germany's aggressive foreign policy took control of Austria and parts of Czechoslovakia, and its invasion of Polandinitiated the Second World War. After forming a pact with the Soviet Union in 1939, Hitler and Stalin divided Eastern Europe. After a "phoney war" in spring 1940 the German blitzkrieg swept Scandinavia, the Low Countries and France, giving Germany control of nearly all of Western Europe.

Only Britain stood opposed. Hitler invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941, a reach too far. The systematic genocideprogram known as The Holocaust killed six million Jews in Germany and Germanoccupied areas, as well as five million Poles, Romanies, Russians, Soviets (Russian and non-Russian), and others. In 1941, however, the German invasion of the Soviet Union faltered, and after the United States entered the war, Britain became the base for massive Anglo-American bombings of German cities. Germany fought the war on multiple fronts through 19421943. Following the Allied invasion of Normandy (June 1944), the German army was pushed back on all fronts until the final collapse in May 1945. Under occupation by the Allies, German territories were split off, denazification took place, and the Cold War resulted in the division of the country into democratic West Germany and communist East Germany. Millions of ethnic Germans fled from Communist areas into West Germany, which experienced rapid economic expansion, and became the dominant economy in Western Europe. West Germany was rearmed in the 1950s under the auspices of NATO, but without access to nuclear weapons. The FrancoGerman friendship became the basis for the political integration of Western Europe in the European Union. In 1989, the Berlin Wall was destroyed, the Soviet Unioncollapsed and East Germany was reunited with West Germany in 1990. In 19981999, Germany was one of the founding countries of theEurozone. Germany remains one of the economic powerhouses of Europe, contributing about one quarter of the Eurozone's annual gross domestic product. In the early 2010s, Germany played a critical role in trying to resolve the escalating Euro crisis, especially regarding Greece and other Southern European nations.

Ununited Germany. In its long history, Germany has rarely been united. For most of the two millennia that Central Europe has been inhabited by German-speaking peoples, such as the Eastern Franks, the area now called Germany was divided into hundreds of states, many quite small, including duchies, principalities, free cities, and ecclesiastical states. Not even the Romans united what is now known as Germany under one government; they managed to occupy only its southern and western portions. In A.D. 800 Charlemagne, who had been crowned Holy Roman emperor by Pope Leo III, ruled over a territory that encompassed much of present-day Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Switzerland, but within a generation its existence was more symbolic than real.

Medieval Germany Medieval Germany was marked by division. As France and England began their centuries-long evolution into united nation-states, Germany was racked by a ceaseless series of wars among local rulers. The Habsburg Dynasty's long monopoly of the crown of the Holy Roman Empire provided only the semblance of German unity. Within the empire, German princes warred against one another as before. The Protestant Reformation deprived Germany of even its religious unity, leaving its population Roman Catholic, Lutheran, and Calvinist. These religious divisions gave military strife an added ferocity in the Thirty Years' War (161848), during which Germany was ravaged to a degree not seen again until World War II.

Brief History of Germany:

The area that is now Germany was inhabited by Germanic speaking tribes for many centuries. They first became part of the Frankish Empire under the rule of Charlemagne, who is considered the father of the German monarchy. Much of Germany also became part of the Holy Roman Empire. From 1700 to 1918 the Kingdom of Prussia was established in Germany. In 1914 World War I broke out. Germany was on the losing side of the war and is estimated to have lost 2 million soldiers. In the wake of WWI, Germany tried to recover. There was revolution and the monarchy collapsed. Soon a young leader named Adolf Hitler rose to power. He created the Nazi party which believed in the superiority of the German race. Hitler became dictator and decided to expand the German empire. He started WWII and at first conquered much of Europe including France. However, the United States, Britain and the Allies managed to defeat Hitler and Germany was divided into two countries; East Germany and West Germany. East Germany was a communist state under control of the Soviet Union, while West Germany was a free market state. The Berlin Wall was built between the two countries to prevent people from escaping from East Germany to the West. It became a central point and focus of the Cold War. However, with the collapse of the Soviet Union and communism, the wall was torn down in 1989 and on October 3, 1990 Germany was reunited.


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Anne Frank Journalist / 1929 - 1945 Anne Frank was a teen writer who went into hiding during the Holocaust, journaling her experiences in the renowned work The Diary of Anne Frank. Nicolaus Copernicus Mathematician, Astronomer / 1473 - 1543 Astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus identified the concept of a heliocentric solar system, in which the sun, rather than the earth, is the center of the solar system Pope Benedict XVI Pope / 1927 Benedict XVI served as pope of the Roman Catholic Church from 2005 to 2013. He is best known for his rigid views on Catholicism and topics such as birth control and homosexuality. Ludwig van Beethoven Songwriter, Pianist / 1770 - 1827 Ludwig van Beethoven was a deaf German composer and the predominant musical figure in the transitional period between the Classical and Romantic eras.

Adolf Hitler Military Leader, Dictator / 1889 - 1945 Adolf Hitler was the leader of Nazi Germany from 1934 to 1945. He initiated World War II and oversaw fascist policies that resulted in millions of deaths.

Johann Wolfgang Dbereiner Chemist / 1780 - 1849 German chemist Johann Wolfgang Dbereiner's observation of similarities among certain elements anticipated the development of the periodic system of elements.

Albert Einstein Physicist / 1879 - 1955 Albert Einstein was a German-born physicist who developed the theory of relativity. He is considered the most influential physicist of the 20th century.