Famous Germans collage 3.jpg
Martin LutherOtto von Bismarck • Ludwig von Beethoven • Immanuel KantJohann Wolfgang von Goethe

Johann Gutenberg • Johann Sebastian BachRichard Wagner • Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel • Albrect Durer • Karl MarxMax WeberKonrad AdenauerFriedrich SchillerKarl BenzKonrad ZuseMarlene DietrichHelmut KohlCarl von ClausewitzMax PlanckAngela MerkelDavid HilbertJohannes KeplerFriedrich NietzscheRudolf Diesel

Total population
German Diaspora ca. 150 million[1]
Regions with significant populations
 Germany        75 million[2][3][4]
see below; see also Ethnic Germans.

German: High German (Upper German, Central German), Low German (see German dialects)


Roman Catholic, Protestant (chiefly Lutheran)

Related ethnic groups

Austrians, Swedes,[5] Norwegians,[5] Danes, Dutch, Icelanders, Swiss Germans, and other Germanic peoples

The Germans (Deutsche) are a Germanic ethnic group native to Central Europe. The English term Germans has referred to the German-speaking population of the Holy Roman Empire since the Late Middle Ages.[6]

Of approximately 100 million native speakers of German in the world, about 66–75 million consider themselves Germans. There are an additional 80 million people of German ancestry mainly in the United States, Brazil, Canada, Argentina, France, Russia, Chile, Poland, Australia and Romania who most likely are not native speakers of German.[7] Thus, the total number of Germans worldwide lies between 66 and 160 million, depending on the criteria applied (native speakers, single-ancestry ethnic Germans, partial German ancestry, etc.).

Today, peoples from countries with a German-speaking majority or significant German-speaking population groups other than Germany, such as Austria, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Luxembourg, have developed their own national identity and usually do not refer to themselves as Germans in a modern context.



Map of the Roman Empire and Magna Germania in the early 2nd century.

The German term Deutsche originates from the Old High German word diutisc (from diot "people"), referring to the Germanic "language of the people". It not clear that how commonly, if at all, the word was used as an ethnonym in Old High German.

Used as a noun, ein diutscher in the sense of "a German" emerges in Middle High German, attested from the second half of the 12th century.[8]

The Old French term alemans is taken from the name of the Alamanni. It was loaned into Middle English as almains in the early 14th century. The word dutch is attested in English from the 14th century, denoting continental West Germanic ("Dutch" and "German") dialects and their speakers.[9]

While in most the Romance languages the Germans have been named from the Swabians or Alamanni (some, like standard Italian, retain an older borrowing of the endonym), the Old Norse, Finnish and Estonian names of the Germans was taken from that of the Saxons. In Slavic languages, the Germans were given the name of němьci (singular němьcь), originally with a meaning "foreigner, one who does not speak [Slavic]".

The English term Germans is only attested from the mid-16th century, based on the classical Latin term Germani used by Julius Caesar and later Tacitus. It gradually replaced Dutch and Almains, the latter becoming mostly obsolete by the early 18th century.[10][11]

German Ethnic Identity

The German ethnic identity is complex, and has been described as forming a continuum of "Germanness" defined by factors such as language, appearance, family background, country of residence and country of origin.[12]

Persons who speak German as their first language, look German and whose families have lived in German for generations are considered "most German", followed by categories of diminishing Germanness such as Aussiedler (people of German ancestry whose families have lived in Eastern Europe but who have returned to Germany), Restdeutsche (people living in lands that have historically belonged to Germany but which is currently outside of Germany), Auswanderer (people whose families have emigrated from Germany and who still speak German), German speakers in German speaking nations such as Austrians, and finally people of German emigrant background who no longer speak German.[13]


The Germans are a Germanic people, which as an ethnicity emerged during the Middle Ages.[citation needed] From the multi-ethnic Holy Roman Empire, the Peace of Westphalia (1648) left a core territory that was to become Germany.


Germanic Kingdoms in Europe c. 500 A.D

The area of modern-day Germany in the European Iron Age was divided into the (Celtic) La Tène horizon in Southern Germany and the (Germanic) Jastorf culture in Northern Germany.

The Germanic peoples during the Migrations Period came into contact with other peoples; in the case of the populations settling in the territory of modern Germany, they encountered Celts to the south, and Balts and Slavs towards the east.

The Limes Germanicus was breached in AD 260. Migrating Germanic tribes commingled with the local Gallo-Roman populations in what is now Swabia and Bavaria. The migration-period peoples who would coalesce into a "German" ethnicity were the Saxons, Franci, Thuringii, Alamanni and Bavarii. By the 800s, the territory of modern Germany had been united under the rule of Charlemagne. Much of what is now Eastern Germany became Slavonic-speaking (Sorbs and Veleti), after these areas were vacated by Germanic tribes (Vandals, Lombards, Burgundians and Suebi amongst others) which had migrated into the former areas of the Roman Empire.

Medieval history

The Holy Roman Empire around AD 1000. The sphere of German influence (Regnum Teutonicorum) is marked in blue.

A German ethnicity emerged in the course of the Middle Ages, ultimately as a result of the formation of the kingdom of Germany within East Francia and later the Holy Roman Empire, beginning in the 9th century. The process was gradual and lacked any clear definition, and the use of exonyms designating "the Germans" develops only during the High Middle Ages. The title of rex teutonicum "King of the Germans" is first used in the late 11th century, by the chancery of Pope Gregory VII. Natively, the term ein diutscher "a German" is used of the people of Germany from the 12th century.

After Christianization, the Roman Catholic Church and local rulers led German expansion and settlement in areas inhabited by Slavs and Balts (Ostsiedlung). Massive German settlement led to their assimilation of Baltic (Old Prussians) and Slavic (Wends) populations, who were exhausted by previous warfare. At the same time, naval innovations led to a German domination of trade in the Baltic Sea and parts of Eastern Europe through the Hanseatic League. Along the trade routes, Hanseatic trade stations became centers of German culture. German town law (Stadtrecht) was promoted by the presence of large, relatively wealthy German populations and their influence on political power. Thus people who would be considered "Germans", with a common culture, language, and worldview different from that of the surrounding rural peoples, colonized trading towns as far north of present-day Germany as Bergen (in Norway), Stockholm (in Sweden), and Vyborg (now in Russia). The Hanseatic League was not exclusively German in any ethnic sense: many towns who joined the league were outside the Holy Roman Empire and a number of them may only loosely be characterized as German. The Empire was not entirely German either.

Early Modern period

18 January 1871: The proclamation of the German Empire in the Hall of Mirrors of the Palace of Versailles. Bismarck appears in white. The Grand Duke of Baden stands beside Wilhelm, leading the cheers. Crown Prince Friedrich, later Friedrich III, stands on his father's right. Painting by Anton von Werner.

From the late 15th century, the Holy Roman Empire came to be known as the Holy Roman Empire of the German nation, even though it was not exclusively German, and notably included sizeable Slavic minorities. The Thirty Years' War, a series of conflicts fought mainly in the territory of modern Germany, weakened the coherence of the Holy Roman Empire, leading to the Kleinstaaterei in 18th-century Germany.

The Napoleonic Wars were the cause of the final dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire, and ultimately the cause for the quest for a German nation state in 19th-century German nationalism. After the Congress of Vienna, Austria and Prussia emerged as two competitors. Austria, trying to remain the dominant power in Central Europe, led the way in the terms of the Congress of Vienna. The Congress of Vienna was essentially conservative, assuring that little would change in Europe and preventing Germany from uniting.[citation needed] These terms came to a sudden halt following the Revolutions of 1848 and the Crimean War in 1856, paving the way for German unification in the 1860s.

In 1866, because Austria and Prussia could not decide on what was the right solution on how a unified Germany was to happen caused several problems inside the German Confederation between the two top German states. The main reasons behind this war was because the Austrian Empire was not willing to give up any of the German lands it owned and was hoping to unify and lead Germany as "Greater Germany" and therefore did not want to take second place to Prussia. On the other hand Prussia was wanting to unify Germany as "Little Germany" and exclude Austria from it. This consequently seen the Prussians successfully defeat the Austrians and thus Austria now was no longer part of the German Confederation and no longer took part in German politics and the "Little Germany" was prevailed.[14]

In 1870, after France attacked Prussia, Prussia and its new allies in Southern Germany (among them Bavaria) were victorious in the Franco-Prussian War. It created the German Empire in 1871 as a German nation-state, effectively excluding the multi-ethnic Austrian Habsburg monarchy and Liechtenstein. Integrating the German-speaking Austrians nevertheless remained a strong desire for many people of Germany and Austria, especially among the liberals, the social democrats and also the Catholics who were a minority in Germany.

During the 19th century in the German territories, rapid population growth due to lower death rates, combined with poverty, spurred millions of Germans to emigrate, chiefly to the United States. Today, roughly 17% of the United States' population (23% of the white population) is of mainly German ancestry.[15]

Twentieth century

Political map of central Europe showing the 26 areas that became part of the united German Empire in 1891. Germany based in the northeast, dominates in size, occupying about 40% of the new empire.
The German Empire of 1871–1918. By excluding the German-speaking part of the multinational Austrian Empire, this geographic construction represented a little Germany solution.

The dissolution of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire after World War I led to a strong desire of the population of the new Republic of German Austria to be integrated into Germany or Switzerland.[16] This was, however, prevented by the Treaty of Versailles.

The Nazis, led by Adolf Hitler, attempted to unite all people they claimed Germans (Volksdeutsche) into one realm, including ethnic Germans in eastern Europe,[17] many of whom had emigrated more than one hundred fifty years before and developed separate cultures in their new lands. This idea was initially welcomed by many ethnic Germans in Czechoslovakia, Austria,[citation needed] Poland, Danzig and western Lithuania. The Swiss resisted the idea. They had viewed themselves as a distinctly separate nation since the Peace of Westphalia of 1648.

After World War II, eastern European nations, including areas annexed by the Soviet Union and Poland, expelled ethnic Germans from their territories, including Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania and Yugoslavia. 14 million ethnic German refugees fled to western Germany and Europe, the United States, Canada, and South America.

After WWII, Austrians increasingly saw themselves as a separate nation from the German nation. Recent polls show that no more than 6% of the German-speaking Austrians consider themselves as "Germans".[18] An Austrian identity was vastly emphasized along with the "first-victim of Nazism theory."[19] Today over 80 percent of the Austrians see themselves as an independent nation.[20]

1945 to present

Between 1950 and 1987, about 1.4 million ethnic Germans and their dependants, mostly from Poland and Romania, arrived in Germany under special provisions of right of return. With the collapse of the Iron Curtain since 1987, 3 million "Aussiedler" – ethnic Germans, mainly from Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union – took advantage of Germany's law of return to leave the "land of their birth" for Germany.[21] Approximately 2 million, just from the territories of the former Soviet Union, have resettled in Germany since the late 1980s.[22] On the other hand, significant numbers of ethnic Germans have moved from Germany to other European countries, especially Switzerland, the Netherlands, Britain, Spain and Portugal.


The predominant Y-chromosome haplogroup among Germans is I1 and R1a followed by R1b; the predominant mitochondrial haplogroup is H, followed by U and T.[23]


West Germanic languages
  Dutch (Low Franconian, West Germanic)
  Low German (West Germanic)
  Central German (High German, West Germanic)
  Upper German (High German, West Germanic)
  English (Anglo-Frisian, West Germanic)
  Frisian (Anglo-Frisian, West Germanic)
North Germanic languages
  East Scandinavian
  West Scandinavian
  Line dividing the North and West Germanic languages

The native language of Germans is German a Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English, Dutch and Scandinavian. Spoken by approximately 100 million native speakers,[24] German is one of the world's major languages and the most widely spoken first language in the European Union.

There are several dialects of German:

Geographic distribution

Ethnic Germans form an important minority group in several countries in central and eastern Europe—(Poland, Hungary, Romania, Russia) as well as in Namibia (German Namibian), Brazil (German-Brazilian) (approx. 3% of the population),[26] Argentina (German-Argentine) (1,5%[27] ~ 7,5% of the population)[28] and Chile (German-Chilean) (approx. 1% of the population).[29]

Some groups may be classified as Ethnic Germans despite no longer having German as their mother tongue or belonging to a distinct German culture. Until the 1990s, two million Ethnic Germans lived throughout the former Soviet Union, particularly in Russia and Kazakhstan.

In the United States 1990 census, 57 million people were fully or partly of German ancestry, forming the largest single ethnic group in the country. States with the highest percentage of Americans of German descent are in the northern Midwest (especially Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan) and the Mid-Atlantic state, Pennsylvania. But Germanic immigrant enclaves existed in many other states (e.g., the German Texans and the Denver, Colorado area) and to a lesser extent, the Pacific Northwest (i.e. Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington state).

Notable Ethnic German minorities also exist in other Anglosphere countries such as Canada (approx. 10% of the population) and Australia (approx. 4% of the population). As in the United States, most people of German descent in Canada and Australia have almost completely assimilated, culturally and linguistically, into the English-speaking mainstream.

Distribution of German citizens, German speakers, and people claiming German ancestry:

country German ancestry German citizens comments
 Germany 66,420,000 75,000,000[2] see Demographics of Germany
USA 50,000,000[30] see German American
 Brazil 5,000,000[31] see German Brazilian
 Canada 3,200,000[32] see Canadians of German ethnicity
 South Africa 1,200,000[33][34] see Afrikaner. Although studies show that between 30–40% of Afrikaners have German ancestry, due to intermarriage this figure is likely to be much higher.
 Argentina 600,000[35] see German-Argentine
The  CIS (mainly  Russia and  Kazakhstan) 1,000,000 600,000[36] see Germans in Russia, Germans of Kazakhstan, Volga Germans, Caucasus Germans
 France 1,000,000[37][38] predominant ethnic group of Alsace and Moselle; 970,000 with German dialects as mother tongue
 Australia 812,000[39] incl. 106,524 German-born. See German Australian
 Italy (in South Tyrol) 500,000[40][41]
 Netherlands 179,000[42]
 United Kingdom 266,000[43] 92,000[44] see German migration to the United Kingdom
 Spain 255,000[45] German immigrants
 Switzerland 266,000[46] see German immigration to Switzerland
 Poland 153,000[47] mainly in Opole Voivodeship, see German minority in Poland.
 Chile 150,000 ~ 200,000[29] see German-Chilean
 Peru 180,000[48] see German Peruvian
 Hungary 120,344[49] see Germans of Hungary
 Austria 124,710[50]
 Israel 100,000[51]
 Romania 60,000[52] see Germans of Romania
 Uruguay 46,000 6,000[53]
 Czech Republic 40,000[54] see Germans in the Czech Republic
 Bolivia 40,000[55] German speaking Mennonites. See Ethnic Germans in Bolivia
 Belgium 38,366[56] excludes German-speaking ethnic Belgians
 Norway 37,000[57]
 Ecuador 33,000[58]
 Namibia 30,000[59] German Namibian
 Dominican Republic 25,000[60]
 Denmark 15,000–20,000[61]
 Greece 15,498[62]
 Ireland 11,797[63]
 Slovakia 5000–10,000[64]
 Philippines 6,400[65] see German settlement in the Philippines
 Serbia 3,900 see Germans of Serbia
 Turkmenistan 2,700[66]
 Tajikistan 2,700[66]

Geographic distribution of native speakers of varieties of the German language:

Country German speaking population (outside Europe)[67]
USA 5,000,000
Brazil 3,000,000
Argentina 500,000
Canada 450,000[67] – 620,000[68]
Australia 110,000
South Africa 75,000 (German expatriate citizens alone)[67]
Chile 40,000
Paraguay 30,000 – 40,000
Namibia 30,000 (German expatriate citizens alone)[67]
Mexico 10,000
Venezuela 10,000



Walk of Ideas, Berlin, a sculpture honoring Johannes Gutenberg and some of Germany's most influential writers

German literature can be traced back to the Middle Ages, with the most notable authors of the period being Walther von der Vogelweide and Wolfram von Eschenbach. The Nibelungenlied, whose author remains unknown, is also an important work of the epoch, as is the Thidrekssaga. The fairy tales collections collected and published by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm in the 19th century became famous throughout the world.

Theologian Luther, who translated the Bible into German, is widely credited for having set the basis for the modern "High German" language. Among the most admired German poets and authors are Lessing, Goethe, Schiller, Kleist, Hoffmann, Brecht, Heine and Schmidt. Nine Germans have won the Nobel Prize in literature: Theodor Mommsen, Paul von Heyse, Gerhart Hauptmann, Thomas Mann, Nelly Sachs, Hermann Hesse, Heinrich Böll, Günter Grass, and Herta Müller.


German philosopher Immanuel Kant

Germany's influence on philosophy is historically significant and many notable German philosophers have helped shape Western philosophy since the Middle Ages. The rise of the modern natural sciences and the related decline of religion raised a series of questions, which recur throughout German philosophy, concerning the relationships between knowledge and faith, reason and emotion, and scientific, ethical, and artistic ways of seeing the world.

German philosophers have helped shape western philosophy from as early as the Middle Ages (Albertus Magnus). Later, Leibniz (17th century) and most importantly Kant played central roles in the history of philosophy. Kantianism inspired the work of Schopenhauer and Nietzsche as well as German idealism defended by Fichte and Hegel. Marx and Engels developed communist theory in the second half of the 19th century while Heidegger and Gadamer pursued the tradition of German philosophy in the 20th century. A number of German intellectuals were also influential in sociology, most notably Adorno, Habermas, Horkheimer, Luhmann, Simmel, Tönnies, and Weber. The University of Berlin founded in 1810 by linguist and philosopher Wilhelm von Humboldt served as an influential model for a number of modern western universities.

In the 21st century Germany has been an important country for the development of contemporary analytic philosophy in continental Europe, along with France, Austria, Switzerland and the Scandinavian countries.[69]


Germany has been the home of many famous inventors and engineers, such as Johannes Gutenberg, who is credited with the invention of movable type printing in Europe; Hans Geiger, the creator of the Geiger counter; and Konrad Zuse, who built the first electronic computer.[70] German inventors, engineers and industrialists such as Zeppelin, Daimler, Diesel, Otto, Wankel, Von Braun and Benz helped shape modern automotive and air transportation technology including the beginnings of space travel.[71][72]

The work of David Hilbert and Max Planck was crucial to the foundation of modern physics, which Werner Heisenberg and Erwin Schrödinger developed further.[73] They were preceded by such key physicists as Hermann von Helmholtz, Joseph von Fraunhofer, and Gabriel Daniel Fahrenheit, among others. Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen discovered X-rays, an accomplishment that made him the first winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1901.[74] The Walhalla temple for "laudable and distinguished Germans", features a number of scientists, and is located east of Regensburg, in Bavaria.[75][76]


Portrait of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart by Barbara Krafft in 1819

In the field of music, Germany claims some of the most renowned classical composers of the world including Bach, Mozart and Beethoven, who marked the transition between the Classical and Romantic eras in Western classical music. Other composers of the Austro-German tradition who achieved international fame include Brahms, Wagner, Haydn, Schubert, Händel, Schumann, Liszt, Mendelssohn Bartholdy, Johann Strauss II, Bruckner, Mahler, Telemann, Richard Strauss, Schoenberg, Orff, and most recently, Henze, Lachenmann, and Stockhausen.

As of 2006, Germany is the fifth largest music market in the world[77] and has exerted a strong influence on Dance and Rock music, and pioneered trance music. Artists such as Herbert Grönemeyer, Scorpions, Rammstein, Nena, Dieter Bohlen, Tokio Hotel and Modern Talking have enjoyed international fame. German musicians and, particularly, the pioneering bands Tangerine Dream and Kraftwerk have also contributed to the development of electronic music.[78] Germany hosts many large rock music festivals annually. The Rock am Ring festival is the largest music festival in Germany, and among the largest in the world. German artists also make up a large percentage of Industrial music acts, which is called Neue Deutsche Härte. Germany hosts some of the largest Goth scenes and festivals in the entire world, with events like Wave-Gothic-Treffen and M'era Luna Festival easily attracting up to 30,000 people. Amongst Germany's famous artists there are various Dutch entertainers, such as Johannes Heesters, Rudi Carell and Sylvie van der Vaart.[79]


German cinema dates back to the very early years of the medium with the work of Max Skladanowsky. It was particularly influential during the years of the Weimar Republic with German expressionists such as Robert Wiene and Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau. The Nazi era produced mostly propaganda films although the work of Leni Riefenstahl still introduced new aesthetics in film. From the 1960s, New German Cinema directors such as Volker Schlöndorff, Werner Herzog, Wim Wenders, Rainer Werner Fassbinder placed West-German cinema back onto the international stage with their often provocative films, while the Deutsche Film-Aktiengesellschaft controlled film production in the GDR. More recently, films such as Das Boot (1981), The Never Ending Story (1984) Run Lola Run (1998), Das Experiment (2001), Good Bye Lenin! (2003), Gegen die Wand (Head-on) (2004) and Der Untergang (Downfall) (2004) have enjoyed international success. In 2007 the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film went to F.H. von Donnersmarck's The Lives of Others. The Berlin Film Festival, held yearly since 1951, is one of the world's foremost film and cinemas festivals.[80]


Important German Renaissance painters include Albrecht Altdorfer, Lucas Cranach the Elder, Matthias Grünewald, Hans Holbein the Younger and the well-known Albrecht Dürer. The most important Baroque artists from Germany are Cosmas Damian Asam. Further artists are the romantic Caspar David Friedrich, the surrealist Max Ernst, the conceptualist Joseph Beuys or the neo-expressionist Georg Baselitz.


Architectural contributions from Germany include the Carolingian and Ottonian styles, important precursors of Romanesque. The region then produced significant works in styles such as the Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque. The nation was particularly important in the early modern movement through the Deutscher Werkbund and the Bauhaus movement identified with Walter Gropius. The Nazis closed these movements and favoured a type of neo-classicism. Since World War II, further important modern and post-modern structures have been built, particularly since the reunification of Berlin.


Portrait of Martin Luther.

64.1 percent of the German population belongs to Christian denominations. 31.4 percent are Roman Catholic, and 32.7 percent are affiliated with Protestantism [81] (the figures are known accurately because Germany imposes a church tax on those who disclose a religious affiliation / but there are many people, who are religious but not registered[citation needed]). The North and East is predominantly Protestant, the South and West rather Catholic. Nowadays there is a non-religious majority in Hamburg and the East German states.[82] Germany formed a substantial part of the Roman Catholic Holy Roman Empire, but was also the source of Protestant reformers such as Martin Luther. Historically, Germany had a substantial Jewish population. Only a few thousand people of Jewish origin remained in Germany after the Holocaust, but the German Jewish community now has approximately 100,000 members, many from the former Soviet Union. Germany also has a substantial Muslim minority, most of whom are from Turkey.

German theologians include Luther, Melanchthon, Schleiermacher, Feuerbach, and Rudolf Otto. Also Germany brought up many mystics including Meister Eckhart, Rudolf Steiner, Jakob Boehme, and some popes (e.g. Benedict XVI).


Typical German breakfast buffet

The "home cuisine" differs very much from the "restaurant cuisine". More traditional dishes can be found in restaurants. Cuisine differs also greatly according to regions (in the north people eat fish, in the Rhine region beer is replaced with wine, in Bavaria roasted pork is consumed) and season (in spring people eat white asparagus with ham and sauce hollandaise, in fall people eat green cabbage with a special kind of sausage and mustard and in winter/for Christmas people eat duck or goose with red cabbage, dumplings and brown gravy).


Opened in 2005: the Allianz Arena, one of the world's most modern football stadiums.

Sport forms an integral part of German life, as demonstrated by the fact that 27 million Germans are members of a sports club and an additional twelve million pursue such an activity individually.[83] Football is by far the most popular sport, and the German Football Federation (Deutscher Fußballbund) with more than 6.3 million members is the largest athletic organisation in the country.[83] It also attracts the greatest audience, with hundreds of thousands of spectators attending Bundesliga matches and millions more watching on television. The other two most popular sports in Germany are marksmanship and tennis represented by the German Marksmen’s Federation and the German Tennis Federation respectively, both including more than a million members. Other popular sports include handball, volleyball, basketball, and ice hockey.[83] Germany has historically been one of the strongest contenders in the Olympic Games. In the 2008 Summer Olympics, Germany finished fifth overall,[84] whereas in the 2006 Winter Olympics Germany finished first.[85]



German language area in 1910–11, the boundaries of states are in red.

Pan-Germanism's origins began in the early 19th century following the Napoleonic Wars. The wars launched a new movement that was born in France itself during the French Revolution. Nationalism during the 19th century threatened the old aristocratic regimes. Many ethnic groups of Central and Eastern Europe had been divided for centuries, ruled over by the old Monarchies of the Romanovs and the Habsburgs. Germans, for the most part, had been a loose and disunited people since the Reformation when the Holy Roman Empire was shattered into a patchwork of states. The new German nationalists, mostly young reformers such as Johann Tillmann of East Prussia, sought to unite all the German-speaking and ethnic-German (Volksdeutsche) people.[86]


By the 1860s the Kingdom of Prussia and the Austrian Empire were the two most powerful nations dominated by German-speaking elites. Both sought to expand their influence and territory. The Austrian Empire – like the Holy Roman Empire – was a multi-ethnic state, but German-speaking people there did not have an absolute numerical majority; the creation of the Austro-Hungarian Empire was one result of the growing nationalism of other ethnicities especially the Hungarians. Prussia under Otto von Bismarck would ride on the coat-tails of nationalism to unite all of modern-day Germany. The German Empire ("Second Reich") was created in 1871 following the proclamation of Wilhelm I as head of a union of German-speaking states, while disregarding millions of its non-German subjects who desired self-determination from German rule.

There was also a rejection of Roman Catholicism with the Away from Rome! movement calling for German speakers to identify with Lutheran or Old Catholic churches.[87]


Germania by Philipp Veit (March 1848)

Following the defeat in World War I, influence of German-speaking elites over Central and Eastern Europe was greatly limited. At the treaty of Versailles Germany was substantially reduced in size. Austria-Hungary was split up. Rump-Austria, which to a certain extent corresponded to the German-speaking areas of Austria-Hungary (a complete split into language groups was impossible due to multi-lingual areas and language-exclaves) adopted the name "German-Austria" (German: Deutschösterreich). The name German-Austria was forbidden by the victorious powers of World War I. Volga Germans living in the Soviet Union were interned in gulags or forcibly relocated during the second world war.[88]

The Heim ins Reich initiative (German: literally Home into the Empire, meaning Back to Reich, see Reich) was a policy pursued by Nazi Germany which attempted to convince people of German descent living outside of Germany (such as Sudetenland) that they should strive to bring these regions "home" into a greater Germany.

After 1945

Millions of Ethnic Germans in Eastern Europe were killed or deported after the war.

World War II brought about the decline of Pan-Germanism, much as World War I had led to the demise of Pan-Slavism. The Germans in Central and Eastern Europe were expelled, parts of Germany itself were devastated, and the country was divided, firstly into Russian, French, American, and British zones and then into West Germany and East Germany. To add to the disaster, Germany suffered even larger territorial losses than it did in the First World War, with huge portions of eastern Germany directly annexed by the Soviet Union and Poland.[89] The scale of the Germans' defeat was unprecedented. Nationalism and Pan-Germanism became almost taboo because they had been used so destructively by the Nazis. Indeed, the word "Volksdeutscher" in reference to ethnic Germans naturalized during WWII later developed into a mild epithet.

However, the reunification of Germany in 1990 revived the old debates. The fear of nationalistic misuse of Pan-Germanism nevertheless remains strong. But the overwhelming majority of Germans today are not chauvinistic in nationalism, but in 2006 and again in 2010, the German National Football Team won third place in the 2006 and 2010 FIFA World Cups, ignited a positive scene of German pride, in fanfare when it comes to sport.[citation needed]

See also


  1. ^ Germans and foreigners with an immigrant background. 156 is the estimate which counts all people claiming ethnic German ancestry in the U.S., Brazil, Argentina, and elsewhere.
  2. ^ a b 66.42 million is the number of Germans without immigrant background, 75 million is the number of German citizens Germans and foreigners with an immigrant background
  3. ^ "Deutsche Welle: 2005 German Census figures".,2144,2046121,00.html. Retrieved 28 September 2011. 
  4. ^ "CIA World Factbook – Germany: People". Retrieved 28 September 2011. 
  5. ^ a b
  6. ^ alongside the slightly earlier term Almayns; John of Trevisa's 1387 translation of Ranulf Higdon's Polychronicon has: Þe empere passede from þe Grees to þe Frenschemen and to þe Germans, þat beeþ Almayns. During the 15th and 16th centuries, Dutch was the adjective used in the sense "pertaining to Germans". Use of German as an adjective dates to ca. 1550. The adjective Dutch narrowed its sense to "of the Netherlands" during the 17th century.
  7. ^ (Spanish) Hablantes del alemán en el mundo
  8. ^ e.g. Walther von der Vogelweide. See Lexer, Mittelhochdeutsches Handwörterbuch (1872–1878), s.v. "Diutsche". The Middle High German Song of Roland (ca. 1170) has in diutisker erde (65.6) for "in the German realm, in Germany". The phrase in tütschem land, whence the modern Deutschland, is attested in the late 15th century (e.g. Johann Geiler von Kaysersberg, Ship of Fools, see Grimm, Deutsches Wörterbuch, s.v. "Deutsch").
  9. ^ OED, s.v. [1] "Dutch, adj., n., and adv."
  10. ^ Schulze, Hagen (1998). Germany: A New History. Harvard University Press. p. 4. ISBN 0-674-80688-3. 
  11. ^ "German", The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. Ed. T. F. Hoad. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 4 March 2008.
  12. ^ Forsythe, Diana. 1989. German identity and the problem of history. History and ethnicity, p.143
  13. ^ Forsythe, Diana. 1989. German identity and the problem of history. History and ethnicity, p.146
  14. ^
  15. ^ "US Census Factfinder". 
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