The southern german states of Baden, Würtemberg and Bavaria were independent states until 1871. Their historical background is quite different from the northern Germany which was dominated by Prussia at that time. The southern states have always been on the side of Austria and France rather than Prussia, mostly because of their predominantly catholic culture.

Otto Von Bismarck, which was often described as having very strong imperialistic, military and expansionism policy, wanted to annex those states, but the monarchs of the southern states were hostile to that idea. He tricked the southern states to help to defend Prussia against France (that he is accused to have himself provoked on purpose) in 1871, and used their victory to proclaim the German Empire.

Charles the 1st of Würtemberg and Frederick the 1st of Baden were hostile to Prussia's imperialist policy, and Ludwig II of Bavaria was so much opposed that he boycotted the proclamation of the Empire. Which is to say how unified Germany can be seen as an illegitimate state from the very start.

From any time past this unification, it would have been easy for those states to claim they were victims of Prussian imperialism and ask for independence on historical grounds. For example:

  • After Germany's defeat in 1918, many new independent states, that either disappeared a long time ago or never existed, were (re-)created (for example, Poland after 123 years of political non-existance). It would have made perfect sense for southern German states, which were forcefully unified only 47 years ago, to claim their independence.
  • After WWII, Germany was completely defeated and ceased to exist politically. The allies re-created the FRG, the GDR and Austria a couple of years later, but were careful that the state of Prussia was dismantled, as Prussia is what united Germany, and is associated with strong military and nationalist culture (and thus, the rise of Nazism). It would have made perfect sense for the allies to split the former 3rd Reich into more sovereign states, based on the fact that Prussian unification is the root of German nationalism and two world wars.
  • During the cold war, since the United Nations were created, small independent states have almost as much political power in international relations than bigger states, because they have a seat, no matter what their area and population is. Having more than 2 German speaking states on the capitalist sides could have been a good way for the western allies to have more influence against the communist block and in particular the GDR.

Since the territories of the former third Reich were doomed to be split in multiple states anyway (nobody knew that the GDR was going to disappear, and Austrian Anschluss is reminiscent of Nazism), it would have made as much sense to make it split in an historically justified way. What made the Allies separate Austria from Germany, and split off East Germany (mostly the former Prussia) from the rest of Germany, without doing the same to Bavaria, Wurtemburg and Baden?

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    This verges on being a hypothetical. Is there any evidence that the Germans were interested in reverting history by half a century? Is there any evidence that the citizens of Baden thought of themselves as Badenites rather than Germans? Was the goal to weaken Germany, or to establish the grounds for a post war peace?
    – MCW
    Apr 21 '15 at 16:56
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    @MarkC.Wallace The Germans did not decide of the structure of the country, but the allies, as posted in an answer, but I already knew that when asking the question. So it does not matter if the locals wanted that or not, it mattered that it made sense to weaken Germany as much as possible to break its nationalism.
    – Bregalad
    Apr 21 '15 at 19:03
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    To sound a little acerbic: 1945 - 1871 = 74. I could have used 1949 (the end of the occupation zones) and nudged it closer to a century than a half century. Big number. And as you may have gathered that was somewhat a time of change, I don't buy the german question remaining the same in that time. Without that context I don't see the substance beyond multiple German states being neat. Apr 21 '15 at 22:39
  • @NathanCooper Yes you are right. I didn't figure out it was that much time. However Poland independance was restored after 123 years of nonexistence, and independent Bulgaria and Hungary states after around 500 years. But yes this was post-WWI not post-WWII.
    – Bregalad
    Apr 22 '15 at 7:02
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    Take a look at this picture of the occupation zones prior to the formation of West Germany. Roughly: (1) Soviets get West Brandenburg, West Pomerania, and the Saxon Duchies; (b) U.K. gets Hanover, Schleswig-Holstein; and Frisia and Cleves; (c) French get Pfalz and Baden; (d) U.S. gets Bavaria, Wurttemberg, and Hessen.2007 States. This division subsequently became impractical; a strong West Germany preferred by NATO. Dec 6 '17 at 4:03

Splitting up western Germany like that would've weakened western Germany as a counter to East Germany. Quickly after the war the allies saw the benefit of a strong West Germany against the Soviet bloc. This is why the plan to reduce Germany into a pastoral society with massive starvation was quietly abandoned and Marshall Plan aid became a thing instead.

Plus no one asked for it at the time. Maybe it would have been easy to make a case for independent Bavaria, but the case wasnt made.

  • Maybe if you set the difficulty level too easy for a specific country, that country will have a big advantage over the others?
    – o0'.
    Apr 21 '15 at 17:26
  • Well, they still separated Austria, which was united before the war (although illegitimately so), in order to weaken them. So they did not want too string German states, obviously. If the only thing the western allies cared was a strong Germany to counter the eastern block, Austria would have been a Land of the FRG.
    – Bregalad
    Apr 21 '15 at 18:58
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    @Bregalad Austria had been annexed just before the war, while the other countries had been for decades…
    – o0'.
    Apr 22 '15 at 12:26
  • @Lohoris True, but german speaking Austian wanted annexation in 1918, it's the allies that forbid that to happen. Bismarck considered annexation of Austria but renounced to it, going for his "lesser Germany" solution.
    – Bregalad
    Apr 22 '15 at 20:31
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    @user5001: the effort for Bavarian independence was made but then outlawed by the US: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monarchism_in_Bavaria_after_1918 Jun 8 '16 at 18:01

The structure of post-war Germany was defined by the Allied governments and leaders, not by the Germans. Half of Wurtemberg was in the French zone, the other half in the US zone. This is what Stuttgart, one of the principal cities in Wurtemberg, looked like in 1945:

Stuttgart 1945

People were literally building huts out of rubble as shelters. Just finding water was a huge problem. They were in no condition to rule anything or start making claims to stateship. I suspect independent Bavarian nationalism was not really an active political movement in 1945.

  • Man, I sure would not want to have been there. And I know the structure of the country was made by the allies, but the question is why didn't the allies restore independence to southern states (maybe not immediately, but say in 1948 when the FRG was formed).
    – Bregalad
    Apr 21 '15 at 18:57
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    The allies - BTW, including the Soviet Union - wanted to preserve Germany as a unified state, except for reverting the Austrian Anschluss, and the territories east of the Oder-Neisse line. GDR ended up separate because the allies couldn't agree on a political system for the whole of Germany. In the West, the motivation for keeping Germany a single state was linked to the motivation for the Marshall Plan: rebuilding and making Germany powerful would provide a better defense against the Soviet Union (as well as less risk of future wars). Jul 8 '15 at 15:37

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