Aller Anfang ist schwer. “All beginnings are hard.”
Des Teufels liebstes Möbelstück ist die lange Bank. “The devil’s favorite piece of furniture is the long bench.”
Wer rastet, der rostet.“He who rests grows rusty.”
Das Billige ist immer das Teuerste. “The cheapest is always the most expensive.”
Germany Deutschland is a country at the intersection of Central and Western Europe. It is situated between the Baltic and North seas to the north, and the Alps to the south; covering an area of 357,022 square kilometres (137,847 sq mi), with a population of over 83 million within its 16 constituent states. It borders Denmark to the north, Poland and the Czech Republic to the east, Austria and Switzerland to the south, and France, Luxembourg, Belgium, and the Netherlands to the west. Various Germanic tribes have inhabited the northern parts of modern Germany since classical antiquity. A region named Germania was documented before AD 100. Beginning in the 10th century, German territories formed a central part of the Holy Roman Empire. During the 16th century, northern German regions became the centre of the Protestant Reformation. Following the Napoleonic Wars and the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806, the German Confederation was formed in 1815. In 1871, Germany became a nation state when most of the German states unified into the Prussian-dominated German Empire. After World War I and the German Revolution of 1918–1919, the Empire was replaced by the semi-presidential Weimar Republic. The Nazi seizure of power in 1933 led to the establishment of a dictatorship, World War II, and the Holocaust. After the end of World War II in Europe and a period of Allied occupation, Germany was divied into: the Federal Republic of Germany, generally known as West Germany, and the German Democratic Republic, East Germany. The Federal Republic of Germany was a founding member of the European Economic Community and the European Union, while the German Democratic Republic was a communist Eastern Bloc state and member of the Warsaw Pact. After the fall of communism, German reunification saw the former East German states join the Federal Republic of Germany on 3 October 1990—becoming a federal parliamentary republic led by a chancellor.
Berlin is the capital and largest city of Germany. First documented in the 13th century and at the crossing of two important historic trade routes, Berlin became the capital of the Margraviate of Brandenburg (1417–1701), the Kingdom of Prussia (1701–1918), the German Empire (1871–1918), the Weimar Republic (1919–1933), and the Third Reich (1933–1945). Berlin in the 1920s was the third-largest municipality in the world. After World War II and its subsequent occupation by the victorious countries, the city was divided; West Berlin became a de facto West German exclave, surrounded by the Berlin Wall (1961–1989) and East German territory. East Berlin was declared capital of East Germany, while Bonn became the West German capital. Following German reunification in 1990, Berlin once again became the capital of all of Germany.
Bremen is the largest city on the River Weser, the longest river flowing entirely in Germany, lying some 60 km (37 mi) upstream from its mouth into the North Sea, and is surrounded by the state of Lower Saxony. Bremen is well known through the Brothers Grimm’s fairy tale “Town Musicians of Bremen” (Die Bremer Stadtmusikanten), and there is a statue dedicated to it in front of the city hall.
Cologne Köln is the largest city of Germany’s most populous federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia and the fourth-most populous city in Germany. The city’s Cologne Cathedral (Kölner Dom) is the seat of the Catholic Archbishop of Cologne. Cologne was founded and established in Ubii territory in the 1st century AD as the Roman Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium, the first word of which is the origin of its name. An alternative Latin name of the settlement is Augusta Ubiorum, after the Ubii. “Cologne”, the French version of the city’s name, has become standard in English as well. Cologne functioned as the capital of the Roman province of Germania Inferior and as the headquarters of the Roman military in the region until occupied by the Franks in 462. During the Middle Ages the city flourished as being located on one of the most important major trade routes between east and western Europe. Cologne was one of the leading members of the Hanseatic League and one of the largest cities north of the Alps in medieval and Renaissance times. Prior to World War II, the city had undergone several occupations by the French and also by the British (1918–1926). Cologne was one of the most heavily bombed cities in Germany during World War II, with the Royal Air Force (RAF) dropping 34,711 long tons (35,268 tonnes) of bombs on the city. The bombing reduced the population by 95%, mainly due to evacuation, and destroyed almost the entire city centre. With the intention of restoring as many historic landmarks as possible, the postwar rebuilding has resulted in a very mixed and unique cityscape.
Dresden is the capital city of the German state of Saxony and its second most populous city, after Leipzig. Dresden has a long history as the capital and royal residence for the Electors and Kings of Saxony, who for centuries furnished the city with cultural and artistic splendor, and was once by personal union the family seat of Polish monarchs. The city was known as the Jewel Box, because of its baroque and rococo city centre. The controversial American and British bombing of Dresden in World War II towards the end of the war killed approximately 25,000 people, many of whom were civilians, and destroyed the entire city centre. After the war, restoration work has helped to reconstruct parts of the historic inner city.
Frankfurt, officially Frankfurt am Main is the most populous city in the German state of Hesse. Frankfurt was a city state, the Free City of Frankfurt, for nearly five centuries, and was one of the most important cities of the Holy Roman Empire, as a site of imperial coronations; it lost its sovereignty upon the collapse of the empire in 1806, regained it in 1815 and then lost it again in 1866, when it was annexed (though neutral) by the Kingdom of Prussia. It has been part of the state of Hesse since 1945. Frankfurt is culturally, ethnically and religiously diverse, with half of its population, and a majority of its young people, having a migrant background. A quarter of the population consists of foreign nationals, including many expatriates.
Hamburg is the second-largest city in Germany after Berlin and 7th largest city in the European Union with a population of over 1.84 million. The official name reflects Hamburg’s history as a member of the medieval Hanseatic League and a free imperial city of the Holy Roman Empire. Before the 1871 Unification of Germany, it was a fully sovereign city state, and before 1919 formed a civic republic headed constitutionally by a class of hereditary grand burghers or Hanseaten. Beset by disasters such as the Great Fire of Hamburg, North Sea flood of 1962 and military conflicts including World War II bombing raids, the city has managed to recover and emerge wealthier after each catastrophe. Hamburg is Europe’s third-largest port. Major regional broadcaster NDR, the printing and publishing firm Gruner + Jahr and the newspapers Der Spiegel and Die Zeit are based in the city.
Heidelberg is a university town in the German state of Baden-Württemberg, situated on the river Neckar in south-west Germany. Heidelberg University, founded in 1386, is Germany’s oldest and one of Europe’s most reputable universities. Heidelberg is a scientific hub in Germany and home to several internationally renowned research facilities adjacent to its university, including the European Molecular Biology Laboratory and four Max Planck Institutes.
Munich München is the capital and most populous city of Bavaria. Straddling the banks of the River Isar (a tributary of the Danube) north of the Bavarian Alps, it is the seat of the Bavarian administrative region of Upper Bavaria, while being the most densely populated municipality in Germany (4,500 people per km2). The city was first mentioned in 1158. Catholic Munich strongly resisted the Reformation and was a political point of divergence during the resulting Thirty Years’ War, but remained physically untouched despite an occupation by the Protestant Swedes. Once Bavaria was established as a sovereign kingdom in 1806, Munich became a major European centre of arts, architecture, culture and science. In 1918, during the German Revolution, the ruling house of Wittelsbach, which had governed Bavaria since 1180, was forced to abdicate in Munich and a short-lived socialist republic was declared. In the 1920s, Munich became home to several political factions, among them the NSDAP. After the Nazis’ rise to power, Munich was declared their “Capital of the Movement”. The city was heavily bombed during World War II, but has restored most of its traditional cityscape. After the end of postwar American occupation in 1949, there was a great increase in population and economic power during the years of Wirtschaftswunder, or “economic miracle”.
Neuschwanstein Castle Schloss Neuschwanstein is a 19th-century romantic eclecticism palace on a rugged hill above the village of Hohenschwangau near Füssen in southwest Bavaria, Germany. The palace was commissioned by King Ludwig II of Bavaria as a retreat and in honour of Richard Wagner. Ludwig paid for the palace out of his personal fortune and by means of extensive borrowing, rather than Bavarian public funds. The castle was intended as a home for the King, until he died in 1886. It was open to the public shortly after his death.
Potsdam was a residence of the Prussian kings and the German Kaiser until 1918. Its planning embodied ideas of the Age of Enlightenment: through a careful balance of architecture and landscape, Potsdam was intended as “a picturesque, pastoral dream” which would remind its residents of their relationship with nature and reason. The city which is over 1000 years old is widely known for its palaces, its lakes, and its overall historical and cultural significance. Landmarks include the parks and palaces of Sanssouci, Germany’s largest World Heritage Site, as well as other palaces such as the Orangery Palace, the New Palace, the Cecilienhof Palace, or the Charlottenhof Palace. Potsdam was also the location of the significant Potsdamer Konferenz in 1945, the conference where the three heads of government of the USSR, the US, and the UK decided on the division of Germany following its surrender, a conference which defined Germany’s history for the following 45 years.