What is and is not Germany?


What is and is not Germany?

1. German as an entity does not really exist. In fact, it never did.

2. The history of Germany is really a history of the Franks, Swabians, Bavarians etc.

These are possibly polemic(al) - designed to be argued about = different sides

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Ötzi the Iceman

  • South Tirol
  • Still people in N.Italy (Alps) that speak Alemannic dialects (S.Germany)

Andreas Gryphius 

  • from Silesia (cultural German population)
  • part of modern day Poland

Immanuel Kant

  • philosopher
  • from Prussia in Königsberg (at the time culturally German)

Not just enough to think of these people as connected to German(y) but it is better to think of them as being from their area e.g. Prussia

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Germanic Tribes


Germanic - German, English, Dutch

Balto-Slavic - Polish, Czech etc. -- Baltic - Latvian, Lithuanian 

Examples of Germanic tribes: Alemanni (Ötzi), Saxons, Goths

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Charlemagne (Karl)

  • speaker of a Germanic language
  • established a political entity around year 800
  • a Frank
  • through either fighting or marriage he gained more people under his umbrella and therefore more land
  • when he died everything fell apart

This period - a type of unification but not particularly successful in the longterm 

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HRE and Prussia's Rise

The Habsburgs and the Holy Roman Empire

  • 1273-1806
  • enormously influential

Prussia's Rise

  • Germany largely fragmented throughout period
  • politically fragmented/diverse
  • linguistically fragmented/diverse
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Federal Republic (of Germany)

  • made up of Bundesländer
  • each Bunderländer is able to implement certain rules -> diff. states and diff. rules
  • Bundesländer - constructed entities - might not make a lot of sense to the people who live there

A certain degree of decentralisation 

  • diffuses power - never be vested in one place
  • aim - no one party could never be in control again 
  • e.g. Baden - Wüttemberg - two different dialect areas
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Identity: sense of belonging, environment

  • subjective to oneself
  • something that we construct 
  • based on importance to oneself, likes/dislikes etc.

Framework for being German is subjective and idea of Germany is changing - e.g. 2006 World Cup - Germans unsure whether it was ok to fly the German flag

History of Germany = fragmented

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