For questions on German Empire, Weimar Republic, Third Reich, German Democratic Republic and the modern Federal Republic of Germany.

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98
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28answers
38k views

Why did Hitler attack the Soviet Union when he was still busy fighting the United Kingdom?

This has always bothered me. Everyone knows that having to fight on two opposite fronts at once is bad... and it's also a well known fact that every European country which tried to invade Russia has ...
37
votes
10answers
8k views

Why did Hitler declare war on the USA?

Since there had not been any offensives launched by either side against the other, why declare war just because Japan had attacked the USA?
31
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3answers
12k views

Why the Romans were unable to conquer Germania?

Emperor Augustus ordered his army to subdue the Germanic tribes in what is modern Germany. This was promptly achieved and by 6 AD the Romans controlled Germany up to the river Elba. The Romans were ...
30
votes
4answers
2k views

No speed limit on German highways - why?

I wonder what are the historical circumstances that led to lack of speed limit on German federal Autobahn network. There is an advisory 130 km/h limit, but it is not mandatory one nor obeyed ...
27
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4answers
12k views

Why were there no Internment camps for German-American Citizens in USA during WW2?

I am certainly aware of Japanese-americans being detained in Internment camps , after the attack on Pearl Harbor , and subsequent declaration of war on United States , by the empire of Japan. About ...
22
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1answer
2k views

Third Reich? What were the other two? [closed]

Nazi Germany is widely called the Third Reich. But what were the First and Second Reich then?
21
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6answers
5k views

Why did Great Britain switch alliances to France?

England (and it's succeeding states) were at war with France for close to 1000 years. First it was over land, then they competed over religion, then they competed over colonies. For much of that ...
21
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3answers
4k views

How unfavorable were the terms of Germany's “surrender” in WW1?

The First World War ended when an armistice was signed between the Germans and the Allies. At that point, while Germany had no realistic hopes of winning the war, they had no enemies within their ...
19
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7answers
12k views

What were the post World War 2 effects on Germany?

What where the impacts of WW2 on Germany? Obviously the war meant that a lot of resources where spent and that the youth population was significantly reduced. How did this affect Germany's post war ...
18
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4answers
7k views

How did Germany produce such an impressive portfolio of officers for WW2?

von Runstedt Model Dietl Guderian von Manstein Rommel Kesselring (who was an able commander both on land and in the air) Richtofen Donitz Raeder All of these German names have been featured heavily ...
18
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3answers
6k views

What did Germany do after World War II to recover so successfully that it became more prosperous than its WW2 victors?

Germany lost in World War II. Being the loser, its economy started at a disadvantage compared to her World War II victors in the aftermath of WW2. However, Germany managed to recover more ...
18
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3answers
962 views

How did Hitler behave towards all those whom he knew in his childhood and youth after he rose to power?

What do we know of Hitler's acts and attitudes towards those people he knew in his childhood and youth after he rose to power? For example, his World War One comrades? Did they receive and attention ...
16
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2answers
2k views

Why was the shape of German states pre-WWII (especially Prussia) so complicated?

The shapes of the Länder territories in Germany were very complicated. There was hundreds exclaves and enclaves all over the place to the point it became ridiculous. Notably the shape of Prussia, ...
16
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1answer
235 views

In which document was the exact course of the northern part of the German-Polish border decided?

While researching the answer to "How was Germany's border decided?", I didn't manage to find any documents which would precisely describe the borders between Germany and Poland between the points 53° ...
15
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3answers
1k views

Why was the Western Front so static in World War I?

Once the German advance was halted, neither side could seriously advance for two years. This seems like an extraordinarily long time. Why didn't anyone succeed at going around the trenches or striking ...
14
votes
2answers
559 views

At which point in time did the majority of German population become aware of the Holocaust?

I've read the wikipedia pages on Responsibility for the Holocaust and German Resistance to Nazism but the answer is not clear. It's established that large numbers of Germans were aware of the ...
13
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2answers
4k views

Julius Caesar's view on Celts and Germans

I encountered an interesting quote on the English Wikipedia page for Germania some time ago, which seems to have persisted, albeit without citation. I was hoping someone could find a reliable source ...
13
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4answers
1k views

Aside from the Jews, did Hitler have a final solution plan for other ethnicities/races in the Third Reich?

We know that Nazi ideology explicitly singled out Jews as the main reason for all Germany's problems, and planned to exterminate all of them. Nazis also persecuted gypsies, Polish people, and POWs. ...
13
votes
1answer
284 views

What set Checkpoint Charlie apart from the other border checkpoints in Berlin during the Cold War?

How did "Checkpoint Charlie" become known as the border crossing between East and West Berlin? Out of the countless border checkpoints, what set Checkpoint Charlie apart from the rest for defectors?
12
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4answers
2k views

Have Germany and Poland ever signed a peace treaty after WWII?

I met a shocking (for me) information, that Germany and Poland have not signed a peace treaty after the World War II. Because I could not believe this, I performed some research. In the Potsdam ...
12
votes
3answers
343 views

The Purpose of Mystery Object 40.9.11

In the summer of 1915, a wireless telegraph station in Sayville, Long Island owned by the German company Telefunken was caught sending covert commands to U-Boats patrolling the Atlantic Ocean. The ...
11
votes
4answers
2k views

Was there a constitutional mechanism to overturn the election of Adolf Hitler?

In March 1933 Hitler received 44 % of the votes during the elections and became relatively fast a dictator. Were there any constitutional or other legal mechanisms in place through which this ...
11
votes
2answers
2k views

Why did World War I victors let Germany pay reparations in German Marks and gave it the option to default via inflation?

Under the Treaty of Versailles, Germany was forced to make heavy war reparations to the victors of World War I. What puzzles me was that the reparations were denominated in Marks (German Currency at ...
11
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1answer
3k views

German Government branches during World War 2

During World War 2, what government branches, if any, existed in Germany? I've always heard about the Third Reich and Hitler, but I never heard about the rest of the government.
11
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2answers
305 views

What was the legal status of an East German once he had reached West Germany?

Cold War histories usually state something like "any German able to reach West Germany was automatically granted West German citizenship" to explain how easy it was to go from East to West, if only ...
11
votes
2answers
375 views

Did the Weimar governments publish revelatory WWI documents?

Consider this statement from a speech by Yegor Gaidar: Historically, such myths have a dangerous precedent--namely, Germany between World War I and World War II. Then, the legend went that ...
11
votes
4answers
162 views

From what part(s) of Germany were the majority of Texas immigrants in the mid-19th century?

A large number of the immigrants into Texas in the middle of the 19th century were from what is today Germany. However, the people were "German" more by language than nationality; the German ...
11
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2answers
410 views

History of the Wehrmacht after the surrender

Wikipedia tells us, that: Following the unconditional surrender of the Wehrmacht, which went into effect on 8 May 1945, some Wehrmacht units remained active, either independently (e.g. in ...
11
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3answers
189 views

Conditions of Polish minority in Weimar Republic?

It's a well known fact that the border between Germany and the re-created Poland in 1918 was decided by the allies. It was drawn semi-arbitrarily, following the places where the majority of people ...
10
votes
8answers
576 views

Given Hitler's Austrian ancestry, why did he develop German nationalism rather than Austrian nationalism?

Hitler's parents were Austrians, and Hitler had spent his childhood in Austria. However, Hitler expressed loyalty only to Germany but not Austria. This seems strange to me. Why did Hitler develop ...
10
votes
3answers
617 views

What Was the State of German Tank Design In Between the World Wars?

I am reading about the Spanish Civil War in a book by Antony Beevor entitled "The Battle for Spain: The Spanish Civil War 1936-1939". According to Beevor while the nationalists were able to control ...
10
votes
4answers
979 views

Did Stalin want to restore the Russian Empire's borders?

On one hand, it seems so because the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact defined the border between the two spheres of influence to be the border of the Russian Empire before WWI. On the other hand, the USSR ...
10
votes
2answers
4k views

Why did the Soviet Union lift the Berlin Blockade?

Between 24th June 1948 and 12th May 1949 land routes into West Berlin were blocked by Soviet forces and West Berliners were supplied entirely by air (the famous Berlin Airlift). No one connected with ...
10
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5answers
523 views

What are the safeguards in the German constitution of 1949 against dictatorship?

In the constitution of 1949 Germany ensured that chancellors could not endow themselves with additional powers, eliminating the chance of a repeat of Hitler's 1933 episode. What were these steps?
10
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3answers
451 views

Was the German Empire responsible for the advancement of German technology?

After the creation of the German Empire in 18 January 1871, there was a boom of advancement in Germany. Especially in chemistry, motors and electricity. At the same time Germany quickly grew as an ...
9
votes
10answers
3k views

Nazism and Jewish persecution awareness during the WW2 years [closed]

I've always wondered how is it possible that an entire nation and beyond (Germany) wasn't aware of the Jewish persecution during the WW2 years or, if they were, that they did nothing to stop it. Were ...
9
votes
4answers
10k views

Why was Germany held accountable for WW1? [closed]

The Treaty of Versailles forced Germany to accept all responsibility for the war. If the war was initially due to the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand by Serbian assassins, why was Germany to ...
9
votes
3answers
430 views

Did Mussolini know that Hitler was going to attack Poland?

Did Hitler inform Mussolini of his decision to attack Poland in advance? Was Mussolini in favour?
9
votes
1answer
188 views

What is a “Schwedenschanze” on an 1830's map of Eastern Bavaria?

The modern translation by BING is Swedish ski jump or Swedish hill, depending on whether or not I insert a space, but this seems very unlikely in that time period. The structure is clearly man-made, ...
9
votes
1answer
301 views

What effect did awareness of devastating bombing at home have on the fighting spirit of German troops on the Eastern front?

German troops fighting in Russia must have been aware of the destruction of their cities back home by American and British bombing. Knowing that their loved ones were in danger and that their ...
9
votes
1answer
7k views

How did Germany rebuild so quickly after World War I?

After World War I, Germany suffered severe economic damage. Germany was asked to make horrendous war reparations, suffered hyperinflation, social chaos .... In addition, world economic conditions were ...
9
votes
1answer
609 views

Conscientious objectors in Germany during WWI

Was there a special treatment for conscientious objectors in Germany during WWI? I know that Britain had a process of exemptions, which was however rather harshly and sparingly administered (see ...
9
votes
2answers
201 views

How did communist authorities decide who is “German” and who is “Polish” when expelling Germans from recovered territories?

It is a well known fact that Poland won a lot of territory over Germany after WWII, and that German people were expelled, and the place was re-settled with ethnically Poles. What is less known is how ...
9
votes
2answers
450 views

What was the contemporary German public opinion on the Herero Genocide?

The genocide took place during 1904-1907, organized by General von Trotha. Wikipedia says: Von Trotha's methods caused a public outcry which led the Imperial Chancellor Bernhard von Bülow to ask ...
9
votes
1answer
522 views

What goods did Germany trade during the Weimar Republic, and with whom?

What countries were trading with Germany during its pre-Nazi Weimar Republic era (1919-1930), and what goods did they trade? I've read a few references that just broadly state that Germany had no ...
9
votes
1answer
119 views

Language in German cloisters during the High Middle Ages

I would like to know which was the spoken and literary language in German cloisters during the High Middle Ages. Is it possible to differentiate between social groups in the cloister (monks, laymen, ...
9
votes
2answers
2k views

What happened to the S.A. (Sturmabteilung; “Stormtroopers”) after The Night of the Long Knives?

I'm reading The Weimar Republic and Nazi Germany by Warren B. Marris, Jr. (Nelson-Hall, Chicago), 1982 for an eassay. It outlines the power that the Sturmabteilung (abbreviated S.A., trans ...
9
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1answer
167 views

Legal grounds of functioning of Third Reich concentration camps

I know for sure that repressions in the USSR at thirties had been en masse illegal in the sense that the laws existed at that period of time there's no word about, say, executing people without any ...
9
votes
1answer
248 views

Cost of education in Germany in 1900

I am curious how much did the German universities charge their students in late 19th early 20th century. I am specifically interested in the math/science education at University of Göttingen, one of ...
9
votes
3answers
153 views

Clauses against unifications in peace treaties

I have learned in school that the Treaty of Versailles (after World War I in 1919) contained a clause that forbade unification of Germany and Austria. Presumably it is Article 80: Germany ...