Alternative History

Germany is made up of various states Länder (singular Land, German for "land" or "country"), generally referred to in English as states. In official English translations, the term "land" is commonly used. A Land (colloquially but rarely in a legal context also called Bundesland, for "federated state") is one of the partly sovereign constituent states of the Federal Republic of Germany. The cities of Berlin and Hamburg are states in their own right. These three are called Stadtstaaten (city-states). The remaining states are called Flächenländer (literally: area states).


Federalism has a long tradition in German history. The Holy Roman Empire comprised numerous petty states. The number of territories was grossly reduced during the Napoleonic Wars. After the Congress of Vienna 39 states formed the German Confederation. It was dissolved after the Austro-Prussian War and replaced by the North German Federation under Prussian hegemony. The war left Prussia dominant in Germany, and German nationalism would compel the remaining independent states to ally with Prussia in the Franco-Prussian War in 1870, and then to accede to the crowning of King Wilhelm as German Emperor. The new German Empire included 25 states, three of them Hanseatic cities and the imperial territory of Alsace-Lorraine. The empire was dominated by Prussia, which controlled 65% of the territory and 62% of the population. These states were gradually de facto abolished under the regime of Adolf Hitler via the Gleichschaltung process, as the states were largely superimposed by Hitler's united system.

The Länder can conclude treaties with foreign countries in matters within their own sphere of competence and with the consent of the Federal Government (Article 32 of the Basic Law).

The description free state (Freistaat) is merely a historic synonym for republic—a description used by most German states after the abolishment of monarchy. Today, Freistaat is associated emotionally with a more independent status, especially in Bavaria. However, it has no legal meaning. All states are represented at the federal level in the Bundesrat (Federal Council), where their voting power merely depends on the size of their population.


Flag State Capital Admission Coat of Arms Location
Flag of Prussia without regalia Prussia
(Freistaat Preußen)
Potsdam 1871 Prussian eagle without regalia CV Map of Prussia 1991-present
Flag of Bavaria (striped) Bavaria
(Freistaat Bayern)
Munich 1871 Coat of arms of Bavaria CV Map of Bavaria 1991-present
Flag of Saxony Saxony
(Freistaat Sachsen)
Dresden 1871 Coat of arms of Saxony CV Map of Saxony 1991-present
Flagge Königreich Württemberg Württemberg-Hohenzollern
(Freier Volksstaat Württemberg-Hohenzollern)
Stuttgart 1871 Wappen Volksstaat Württemberg (Farbe) CV Map of Württemberg-Hohenzollern 1991-present
Flagge Großherzogtum Baden (1891-1918) Baden
(Republik Baden)
Karlsruhe 1871 Coat of arms of Baden CV Map of Baden 1991-present
Flagge Großherzogtum Hessen ohne Wappen Hesse
(Volksstaat Hessen)
Darmstadt 1871 Coat of arms of Hesse CV Map of Hesse 1991-present
Flagge Großherzogtümer Mecklenburg Mecklenburg
(Freistaat Mecklenburg)
Schwerin 1871 Coat of arms of Mecklenburg CV Map of Mecklenburg 1991-present
Civil flag of Oldenburg Oldenburg
(Freistaat Oldenburg)
Oldenburg 1871 Wappen Freistaat Oldenburg CV Map of Oldenburg 1991-present
Flag of Thuringia Thuringia
(Freistaat Thüringen)
Weimar 1920 Coat of arms of Thuringia CV Map of Thuringia 1991-present
Flag of Schleswig-Holstein Schleswig-Holstein Kiel 1990 Coat of Arms of the Duchy of Schleswig-Holstein CV Map of Schleswig-Holstein 1991-present
Flagge Preußen - Provinz Hannover Hanover
(Freistaat Hanover)
Hanover 1990 Coat of arms of Lower Saxony CV Map of Hanover 1991-present
Flag of Bremen Bremen
(Freie Hansestadt Bremen)
1871 Grosses Wappen Bremen CV Map of Bremen 1991-present
Flag of Hamburg Hamburg
(Freie Hansestadt Hamburg)
1871 Coat of arms of Hamburg CV Map of Hamburg 1991-present
Flag of Vienna Vienna 1945 Coat of Arms of Vienna CV Map of Vienna 1991-present
Flag of Berlin Berlin 1990 Coat of arms of Berlin CV Map of Berlin 1991-present
Flag of Austria Austria 1945 Austria coat of arms simple CV Map of Austria 1991-present
Flag of Alsace Alsace
(Freistaat Elsass)
Straßburg 1990 Blason région fr Alsace CV Map of Alsace 1991-present