Monday, October 8, 2007

In a context of antiquity (pre AD 500), "Germans" is used in the sense of Germanic tribes.
~80 million

Ethnic Germans


Main article: Germanic peoples Origins
See also: Medieval demography
A "German" as opposed to generically "Germanic" ethnicity emerges in the course of the Middle Ages, under the influence of the unity of Eastern Francia from the 9th century. The process is gradual and lacks any clear definition.
After Christianization, the superior organization of the Roman Catholic Church lent the upper hand for a German expansion at the expense of the Slavs, giving the medieval Drang nach Osten as a result. At the same time, naval innovations led to a German domination of trade in the Baltic Sea and Central–Eastern Europe through the Hanseatic League. Along the trade routes, Hanseatic trade stations became centers of Germanness where German urban law (Stadtrecht) was promoted by the presence of large, relatively wealthy German populations and their influence on the worldly powers.
This means that people whom we today often consider "Germans", with a common culture and worldview very different from that of the surrounding rural peoples, colonized as far north of present-day Germany as Bergen (in Norway), Stockholm (in Sweden), and Vyborg (now in Russia). At the same time, it is important to note that the Hanseatic League was not exclusively German in any ethnic sense. Many towns who joined the league were outside of the Holy Roman Empire, which wasn't by far entirely German itself, and a number of them ought not at all be characterized as German.
It is only in the late 15th century that the German empire comes to be called Holy Roman Empire of the German nation, and even this was not in any way exclusively German, notably including a sizeable Slavic minority. The Thirty Years' War, a series of conflicts fought mainly in Germany, confirmed the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire, and the Napoleonic Wars gave it its coup de grâce.

German people Middle Ages
The idea that Germany is a divided nation is not new and not peculiar. Foreign powers had long interceded in German affairs, pitting one German principality against the other. Since the Peace of Westphalia, Germany has been "one nation split in many countries". The AustrianPrussian split, confirmed when Austria remained outside of the 1871 created Imperial Germany, was only the most prominent example. The initial unification of Germany came as a great shock to these foreign powers, who had been trying to undo Germany as a national entity for many years. Most recently, the division between East Germany and West Germany kept the idea alive.
In the 19th century, after the Napoleonic Wars and the fall of the Holy Roman Empire (of the German nation), Austria and Prussia would emerge as two opposite poles in Germany, trying to re-establish the divided German nation. In 1870, Prussia attracted even Bavaria in the Franco-Prussian War and the creation of the German Empire as a German nation-state, effectively excluding the multi-ethnic Austrian Habsburg monarchy.
The dissolution of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire after World War I led to a strong desire of the population of the new Republic of Austria to be integrated into Germany. This was, however, prevented by the Treaty of Versailles.
Trying to overcome the shortfall of Chancellor Bismarck's creation, the Nazis attempted to unite "all Germans" in one realm. This was welcomed among ethnic Germans in Czechoslovakia, Austria, Poland, Danzig and Western Lithuania, but met resistance among the Swiss and the Dutch, who mostly were perfectly content with their perception of separate nations as established at the Peace of Westphalia of 1648.
The concept of a separate Austrian nation emerges in the 19th century, following the Napoleonic wars, but German speaking Austrians continued to consider themselves Germans until 1919, when "German Austria" was dissolved following the Treaty of Saint-Germain. After World War II, the Austrians increasingly saw themselves as a nation distinct from the other German-speaking areas of Europe; today, some polls have indicated that no more than 10% of the German-speaking Austrians see themselves as part of a larger German nation linked by ancestry or language.

The Divided Germany

Main article: Völkisch movement Ethnic nationalism
The Protestant Reformation started in the German cultural sphere, when in 1517, Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses to the door of the Schlosskirche ("castle church") in Wittenberg. Today, the German identity includes both Protestants and Catholics. The groups are about equally represented in Germany, contrary to the belief that it is mostly Protestant. Among Protestant denominations, the Lutherans are well represented by the Germans, while Calvinists are historically only to be found near the Dutch border and in a few cities like Worms and Speyer. The late 19th century saw a strong movement among the Jewry in Germany and Austria to assimilate and define themselves as à priori Germans, i.e. as Germans of Jewish faith (a similar movement occurred in Hungary). In conservative circles, this was not always embraced, and, for the Nazis, it was unacceptable. The Nazi rule led to the expulsion of almost all of the relatively small number of domestic Jews. Today Germany attempts to successfully integrate the Gastarbeiter and later arrived refugees from ex-Yugoslavia, especially Bosnian Muslims.


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