Modern Germany began to emerge in 1701, when the principality of Brandenburg was renamed Prussia and its ruler crowned himself Frederick I of Prussia. His descendents were all capable rulers and proceeded to make many military and governmental reforms, transforming what was a small kingdom into one of the great powers of Europe. Frederick II, also known as Frederick the Great in 1740 seized Silesia from Austria, and again in 1772 took part in the first Partition of Poland, linking previously separated Prussian territories. However neither Prussia or Austria were able to take over one another nor take total control of Germany completely, and this would only be achieved after the Napoleonic Wars. Under French occupation, the experiences of the hithertho backward German states and the sociopolitical reforms introduced by the French finally demonstrated to the German peoples the inevitability and preferability of unification. At first, a Deutscher Bund or "German Confederation" of all the German monarchies was first created, but political infighting between Prussia and Austria hamstrung whatever good it could do. In 1848, revolutionaries stormed German cities as the middle class and the burgeoning lower class clamoured for reform.
The Second ReichEdit
Political unification of these still numerous states would only be achieved until the chancellorship of Otto Von Bismarck. To restore order, he did his best to carry out the reforms demanded by the revolutionaries, and laid the foundation stone by seceding, with a serious of other smaller German kingdoms, to form the Northern Confederation, which covered present-day northern Germany, and Prussia (now part of Poland). Next were wars with Austria and Denmark to annex more territory into the new nation. However, Bismarck decided to impose an accommodating peace on Austria, realising that they may be useful as an ally in the future while dealing harshly with the other German states that resisted Prussian annexation. In order to incorporate the remaining independent states, Bismarck engineered another patriotic war, but this time against the French in 1870 to retake territory previously lost to France in the 17th century. This culminated with the establishment of the Second Reich, the First Reich being the Carlovingian state a thousand years ago. The president of the Northern Confederation, the Prussian king Wilhelm I, was crowned as the German kaiser or "caesar", with Bismarck controlling the German ship of state.
The First Great WarEdit
Bismarck's plan was to have Germany peacefully co-exist with the British empire, by now in control of 25% of the world's population through its networks of steamships, railways, and telegraphy, backed up by healthy doses of machine-gun fire wherever it was expedient. However, in 1888, the Kaiser, Friedrich Wilhelm III, passed on leaving the throne to his son Wilhelm II. The new Kaiser proved to be a loose cannon who mortified his relatives, which included the British royal family, and whose aggressive foreign policy all he managed to do was to alienate everyone around him. He was envious of England's naval power and decided to increase armament production, and in 1890 eventually forced Bismarck to step down. By giving in to the more militaristic factions which Bismarck had tried to sideline, Wilhelm had set Germany upon the road towards war, and so it was that when Austria declared war on Russia over the Sarajevo incident, Germany decided to join Austria against Russia. Once Britain and France decided to honour their military alliance with Russia, the Great War had begun, resulting in untold misery and destruction throughout continental Europe. Although eventually the Central Powers were victorious, and Germany eventually exacted harsh concessions from the British Empire under the Isle of Wight Treaty, the damage from the war in Europe and the destabilisation of Britain's Empire meant that the world economy was as good as crippled, plunging the world into an economic crisis and eventually political strife. Peace was finally achieved in 1919, but all the Second Reich managed to achieve was a pyrrhic victory over its rivals. Despite having won the war, Kaiser Wilhelm II's rule was anything but orderly - himself being fairly mercurial in personality - and so in 1921, he was assassinated by anarchists while on official tour duty. The next heir apparent proved to be just as able as his successor. Whereas Wilhelm II had the benefit of a stable and prosperous Germany, the new Kaiser did not, nor did he have the ability to resolve the problems left behind by Wilhelm II's disastrous war, managing only to alienate the former Kaiser's retainers, Marshalls Hindunburg and Ludendorff.