The German Empire was an empire that existed from its formation in 1871 until its dissolution in 1941 by France.
Upon unification, the Empire rapidly industrialized, and became the top land power in Europe with a massive army. Germany, along with Great Britain, formed the London Pact in 1892 that would become victorious over France in World War I. Germany forced France to pay heavy war reparations and took over their colonies. Germany enjoyed an economic boom that came following the war, until the Great Depression wrapped around the globe.
Germany was hit hard, and during this time its military grew weak. When the National Socialists took over France and began to expand its territory, the London Pact did nothing to stop it. France's invasion of Belgium caused the London Pact to spring into action and declare war on France. Germany was unprepared for France's incredibly powerful military and new tactics. Berlin was captured in 1941, and despite the escape of Emperor Wilhelm III, the German Empire was dissolved. Northern Germany was incorporated into France, while its eastern territories were conquered by Russia. Central and South Germany was reformed, along with Austria, into the French puppet called the Protectorate of Austria.
A "Place in the Sun"
History was forever changed with the increasing colonial rivalry between the United Kingdom and France during the 1870s, especially in South America. The United Kingdom had supported German unification as a counterbalance to the power of France and the Russian Empire. German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck emphasised his role in stablilizing Europe and preventing any continental war from breaking out. Despite the difference in ideology - Britain's democracy and Germany's authoritarianism - the two became close as the 19th century drew to a close. In 1888, young Kaiser Wilhelm II came to power and dismissed Bismarck. However, Wilhelm heeded Bismarck's warnings of needing a strong ally. Wilhelm realized that rather than trying to compete with the largest naval power in the world, Germany could instead defeat the French once more and take over their colonial empire.
Wilhelm desired to establish a colonial empire on par with at least France, and give Germany its "place in the sun". German traders and merchants were already active worldwide, and Wilhelm encouraged imperialism and colonization across the globe. Already late to the colonial scramble, Germany set up colonies in Southwest Africa, Kamerun, Togoland, and East Africa. Several islands in the Pacific were gained as well, and territory in northeast China was leased. Disputes over the claimed land brought Germany into conflict with France, but Wilhelm managed to avoid angering the British. Wilhelm also desired a strong ally in the New World, like Britain had with the Confederate States and France had with Mexico and Colombia. Justifying unpaid debts, the German navy blockaded Venezuela, and forced the Venezuelan government to sign treaties heavily skewed in favor of Germany. In exchange, Germany invested in Venezuelan infrastructure, its army, navy, and public services. The majority of Germany's colonies required investment, with few returning an immediate profit.
The cooperation between Britain and France resulted in the plans for a massive railroad stretching from South Africa, to Egypt, then through the German-allied Ottoman Empire to Baghdad, with another section connecting to Berlin. Wilhelm established good relations with the Ottomans, though secretly Wilhelm wished to carve up its Middle Eastern territory for new colonies. However disputes resulting when Austria-Hungary opposed the railroad, as the empire had increasingly become a client state of France. When the Allied Coalition was officially established between France, Austria-Hungary, and Russia, Germany and Britain formalized their own alliance, the London Pact, which grew to include the Ottomans and Italy.
France and Germany came close to blows several times, especially during two crises involving Morocco. An intense naval arms race also brought tension. However, the War to End All Wars began in the Balkans. The 1912-1913 conflict in the Balkans escalated to a declaration of war between Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire. As the alliances activated around the globe, Germany found itself fighting a three-front war, but at least with the support of Britain and her powerful navy.
World War I
Germany was stretched thin at the start of the war. Fortunately, with Pan-Germanism strong in both Germany and Austria-Hungary, there was little fighting along their border. Their border was the Sudetes Mountains, which would have made any offensive difficult anyway. Now faced with a two front war, German strategists would have liked to have gone through Belgium to administer a knockout blow to France, before sending all their resources to fight Russia in the east, but because of their alliance with Britain, Germany had to respect Belgian neutrality. So instead, in the decade for the war, they had built up a strong defensive line along the French border, all the way to Belgium. Germany hoped to bleed France dry along the line, while fighting a mobile war against Russia in the east, and hopefully take out their army in a decisive battle.
The French outmanuevered Germany by invading through Belgium. The French advance was halted at the Battle of Liege, and the front became a stalemate of trench warfare. The Germans and British slowly pushed the French back, eventually punching through French lines at the Battle of Ypres. The long, vicious Battle of Verdun and the defeat of a French offensive at the Somme River gave Germany the advantage heading into 1916.
On the Eastern Front, Russia mobilized far faster than expected, and some feared it might steamroll its away to Berlin. However, the Russians suffered a catastrophic defeat at Tannenburg, and were forced to draw forces away from East Prussia in order to aid Austria-Hungary in the Balkans. From there on, the technologically superior Germans steadily advanced eastward. The Germans realized they could potentially knock Russia out of the war by capitalizing on its political instability. Communist Bolshevik Vladimir Lenin was allowed to pass through Germany to head to Russia, and in 1916, the Russian Tsar was ousted in revolution, and later that the Bolsheviks under Lenin came to power. Facing civil unrest, Lenin agreed to an armistice with Germany. The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk ended the war for Russia, with Germany gaining authority over the Baltic states, Belarus, and Ukraine, along with economic concessions. Despite securing these territories being a drain on the war effort, hundreds of thousands of troops could not be transported west.
Germany and Britain were now stronger than France when it came to numbers. Germany launched offensives in the fall of 1916 and spring of 1917, rapidly taking territory across northern France with British reserves consolidating their gains. By this time, French troops had become radicalized by the Russian revolution, and civilians were suffering food shortages. Finally, in the summer of 1917, German troops blew past French defenses at the Marne River and entered Paris. The exhausted French agreed to an armistice and an end to the war. In the last offensive of the war, German and British troops defeated the Austrians in the Sudetes Mountains, and entered the empire. Emperor Franz Ferdinand abdicated and the empire fell apart. A transitional democratic government signed an armistice, bringing the First World War to a close.
Treaty of Munich
The nations of Europe gathered to discuss the Treaty that would end the war. Chancellor Friedrich Ebert was sent to negotiate, and he planned on punishing France severely. France was forced to limit its army and navy, demilitarize its border with Germany, and pay massive war reparations. France was also forced to give up its colonies to Britain and Germany as well. Germany gained the colony of West Africa and others in Africa, as well as some Pacific isles. Wilhelm had suceeded in creating a large colonial empire for Germany. Germany also established a sea of client and puppet states in Central and Southern Europe out of the remains of Austria-Hungary and Russia, such as Poland and Hungary. Austria itself was added to the Empire, much to the rejoice of the Pan-Germanists.
The years following the war featured an economic downturn. Factories and businesses slowed down production from there wartime highs, and the men returning from the front often found themselves out a job. Ebert feared that these soldiers would return to radical left wing organizations, such as socialism and communism, and did his best to prevent this. He put these young men to work rebuilding the wartorn northeastern section of the nation, as well as East Prussia, which had been heavily damaged in the war against Russia. The incoming reparations allowed Germany to begin massive constructive projects, such as a grander railroad system in the east. Meetings for left-wing organizations were broken up by the Army and police.
World War II and Dissolution