) are a Germanic ethnic group
native to Central Europe
Speaking the German language
is the most important characteristic of modern Germans,
but they are also characterized by a common German culture, descent and history.
The term "German" may also be applied to any citizen,
native or inhabitant of Germany,
regardless of whether they are of German ethnicity. Estimates on the total number of Germans in the world range from 100 to 150 million, and most of them live in Germany.
In the aftermath of World War I
, Austria-Hungary and the German Empire were partitioned, resulting in many Germans becoming ethnic minorities in newly established countries. In the chaotic years that followed, Adolf Hitler
became the dictator of Nazi Germany
and embarked on an genocidal campaign to unify all Germans under his leadership. This endeavour resulted in World War II
and the Holocaust
. In the aftermath of Germany's defeat in the war, the country was occupied and partitioned, while millions of Germans were expelled
from Eastern Europe. In 1990, the states of West
and East Germany
. In modern times, remembrance of the Holocaust has become an integral part of German identity (Erinnerungskultur
Owing to their long history of political fragmentation, the Germans are culturally diverse and often have strong regional identities. The arts and sciences are an integral part of German culture, and the Germans have produced a large number of prominent personalities in a number of disciplines.
The German endonym Deutsche
is derived from the High German
, which means "ethnic" or "relating to the people". This name was used for Germanic peoples
in Central Europe since the 8th century, during which a distinct German ethnic identity began to emerge among them.
The English term Germans
is derived from the ethnonym Germani
, which was used for Germanic peoples in ancient times.
Since the early modern period, it has been the most common name for the Germans in English. The term "Germans" may also be applied to any citizen, native or inhabitant of Germany, a person of German descent,
or member of the Germanic peoples,
regardless of whether they are of German ethnicity.
From their northern homeland, the Germanic peoples expanded southwards in a series of great migrations.
Much of Central Europe was at that time inhabited by Celts
, who are associated with the La Tène culture
Since at least the 2nd century BC the Germanic peoples began displacing Celts.
It is likely that many of these Celts were Germanized
by migrating Germanic peoples.
Germanic Kingdoms in Europe and Africa c. 476 AD
Detailed information about the Germanic peoples is provided by the Roman general Julius Caesar
, who campaigned in Germania
in the 1st century BC. By this time Germanic peoples are believed to have dominated an area stretching from the Rhine in the west to the Vistula
in the east, and the Danube
in the south to Scandinavia
in the north. Under Caesar's successor Augustus
, the Romans sought to conquer the Germanic peoples and colonize Germania, but these efforts were significantly hampered by the victory of Arminius
at the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest
in 9 AD, which is considered a defining moment in German history.
The early Germanic peoples are famously described in Germania
by the 1st century Roman historian Tacitus
. At this time, the Germanic peoples were fragmented into a large number of tribes who were frequently in conflict with both the Roman Empire and one another.
By the 3rd century, Germanic peoples were beginning to merge into great coalitions, and had begun conquering and settling areas within the Roman Empire
. During the 4th and 5th centuries, in what is known as the Migration Period
, Germanic peoples overran the decaying Roman Empire and established new kingdoms within it. Meanwhile, formerly Germanic areas in parts of Eastern Europe
were settled by Slavs.
The beginnings of the German states can be traced back to the Frankish
king Clovis I
, who established the kingdom of Francia
in the 5th century. In subsequent centuries the power of the Franks grew considerably.
By the 8th century AD, the Germanic populations of Central Europe were known as diutisc
, an Old High German
term meaning "ethnic" or "relating to the people". The endonym
of the Germans is derived from this word. From this time on, a distinct German ethnic identity began to emerge.
By the early 9th century AD, large parts of Central Europe had been united under the rule of the Frankish leader Charlemagne
, who defeated the Lombards
, Saxons and other Germanic peoples and established the Carolingian Empire
. Charlemagne was crowned emperor by Pope Leo I
During the rule of Charlemagne's successors, the Carolingian Empire descended into civil war. The empire was eventually partioned at the Treaty of Verdun
(843), resulting in the creation of the states of West Francia
, Middle Francia
and East Francia
(led by Louis the German
). Beginning with Henry the Fowler
dynasties dominated the German lands, and under his son Otto I
, Middle Francia and East Francia, which were mostly German, became part of the Kingdom of Germany
, which constituted the core of the Holy Roman Empire
Leaders of tribal duchies such as Bavaria
continued to wield considerable power independent of the king.
German kings were elected by members of the noble families, who often sought have weak kings elected in order to preserve their own independence. This prevented an early unification of the Germans and contributed to the formation of strong German national groups, such as the Bavarians
A warrior nobility dominated the feudal
German society of the Middle Ages, while most of the German population consisted of peasants with few political rights.
The church played an important role among Germans in the Middle Ages, and competed with the nobility for power.
Between the 11th and 13th centuries, Germans actively participated in five Crusades
to "liberate" the Holy Land
During the Middle Ages, German political power was imposed on Slavic
populations in the east. This process was accompanied by the migration of Germans into conquered territories, in what is known as the Ostsiedlung
. Over time, some Slavic populations were assimilated by Germans, resulting in many Germans acquiring substantial Slavic ancestry.
From the 11th century, the German lands came under the domination of the Swabian Hohenstaufen
family. The German population expanded significantly during this time.
Trade increased and there was a specialization of the arts and crafts.
From the 12th century, many Germans settled as merchants and craftsmen in the Kingdom of Poland
, were they came to constitute a significant proportion of the population in many urban centers such as Gdańsk
The German territories continued to grow in the late Middle Ages. Great urban centers increased in size and wealth and formed powerful leagues, such as the Hanseatic League
and the Swabian League
, in order to protect their interests, often through supporting the German kings in their struggles with the nobility.
These urban leagues significantly contributed to the development of German commerce and banking. German merchants of Hanseatic cities settled in cities throughout Northern Europe beyond the German lands.
Boundaries of the German Confederation
in red, Prussia
in blue, Austria
in yellow, and other member states in grey. Note that large parts of Austria and some parts of Prussia did not belong to the Confederation.
The introduction of printing by the German inventor Johannes Gutenberg
contributed to the formation of a new understanding of faith and reason. At this time, the German monk Martin Luther
pushed for reforms within the Catholic Church. Luther's efforts culminated in the Protestant Reformation
The resulting religious schism was a leading cause of the Thirty Years' War
, a conflict that tore apart the Holy Roman Empire and led to the death of millions of Germans. The terms of the Peace of Westphalia
(1648) ending the war, included a major reduction in the central authority of the Holy Roman Emperor.
Among the most powerful German states to emerge in the aftermath was Protestant Prussia
, under the rule of the House of Hohenzollern
In the 18th century, German culture was significantly influenced by the Enlightenment
After centuries of political fragmentation, a sense of German unity began to emerge in the 18th century.
The Holy Roman Empire continued to decline until being dissolved
altogether by Napoleon
in 1806. In central Europe, the Napoleonic wars ushered in great social, political and economic changes, and catalyzed a national awakening
among the Germans. By the late 18th century, German intellectuals such as Johann Gottfried Herder
articulated the concept of a German identity rooted in language, and this notion helped spark the German nationalist
movement, which sought to unify the Germans into a single nation state
Eventually, shared ancestry, culture and language (though not religion) came to define German nationalism.
The Napoleonic Wars
ended with the Congress of Vienna
(1815), and left most of the German states loosely united under the German Confederation
. The confederation came to be dominated by the Catholic Austrian Empire
, to the dismay of many German nationalists, who saw the German Confederation as an inadequate answer to the German Question
Throughout the 19th century, Prussia continued to grow in power. In 1848
, German revolutionaries set up the temporary Frankfurt Parliament
, but failed in their aim of forming a united German homeland. The Prussians proposed an Erfurt Union
of the German states, but this effort was torpedoed by the Austrians through the Punctation of Olmütz
(1850), recreating the German Confederation. In response, Prussia sought to use the Zollverein
customs union to increase its power among the German states.
Under the leadership of Otto von Bismarck
, Prussia expanded its sphere of influence and together with its German allies defeated Denmark
in the Second Schleswig War
and soon after Austria
in the Austro-Prussian War
, subsequently establishing the North German Confederation
. In 1871, the Prussian coalition decisively defeated the Second French Empire
in the Franco-Prussian War
, annexing the German speaking region of Alsace-Lorraine
. After taking Paris, Prussia and their allies proclaimed
the formation of a united German Empire
In the years following unification, German society was radically changed by numerous processes, including industrialization, rationalization, secularization and the rise of capitalism.
German power increased considerably and numerous overseas colonies were established.
During this time, the German population grew considerably, and many emigrated to other countries (mainly North America), contributing to the growth of the German diaspora
. Competition for colonies between the Great Powers contributed to the outbreak of World War I
, in which the German, Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman Empires
formed an the Central Powers
, an alliance that was ultimately defeated, with none of the empires comprising it surviving the aftermath of the war. Under the terms of the Treaty of Versailles, the German and Austro-Hungarian Empires were both dissolved and partitioned, resulting in millions of Germans becoming ethnic minorities in other countries.
The monarchichal rulers of the German states, including the German emperor Wilhelm II
, were overthrown in the November Revolution
which led to the establishment of the Weimar Republic
. The Germans of the Austrian
side of the Dual Monarchy
proclaimed the Republic of German-Austria
, and sought to be incorporated into the German state, but this was forbidden by the Treaty of Versailles
and Treaty of Saint-Germain
What many Germans saw as the "humiliation of Versailles",
continuing traditions of authoritarian and antisemitic
and the Great Depression
all contributed to the rise of t heAustrian-born Adolf Hitler
and the Nazis, who after coming to power democratically in the early 1930s, abolished the Weimar Republic and formed the totalitarian Third Reich
. In his quest to subjugate Europe, six million Jews
were murdered in the Holocaust
. WII resulted in widespread destruction and the deaths of tens of millions of soldiers and civilians, while the German state was partitioned. About 12 million Germans had to flee or were expelled
from Eastern Europe.
Significant damage was also done to the German reputation and identity,
which became far less nationalistic than it previously was.
The German states of West Germany
and East Germany
became focal points of the Cold War
, but were reunified
in 1990. Although there were fears that the reunified Germany might resume nationalist politics, the country is today widely regarded as a "stablizing actor in the heart of Europe" and a "promoter of democratic integration".
is the native language of most Germans. It is the key marker of German ethnic identity.
German is a West Germanic
language closely related to Frisian
The main dialects of German are High German
and Low German
. Standard literary German is based on High German, and is the first or second language of most Germans, but notably not the Volga Germans
The Germans are marked by great regional diversity, which makes identifying a single German culture quite difficult.
The arts and sciences have for centuries been an important part of German identity.
The Age of Enlightenment
and the Romantic era
saw a notable flourishing of German culture. Germans of this period who contributed significantly to the arts and sciences include the writers Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
, Friedrich Schiller
, Johann Gottfried Herder
, Friedrich Hölderlin
, E. T. A. Hoffmann
, Heinrich Heine
and the Brothers Grimm
, the philosopher Immanuel Kant
, the architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel
, the painter Caspar David Friedrich
, and the composers Johann Sebastian Bach
, Ludwig van Beethoven
, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
, Joseph Haydn
, Johannes Brahms
, Franz Schubert
, Richard Strauss
and Richard Wagner
Popular German dishes include brown bread
. Germans consume a high amount alcohol
, particularly beer, compared to other European peoples. Obesity is relatively widespread among Germans.
A steadily shrinking majority of Germans are Christians
. About a third are Roman Catholics
, while one third adheres to Protestantism
. Another third does not profess any religion.
Christian holidays such as Christmas
are celebrated by many Germans.
The number of Muslims
There is also a notable Jewish
community, which was decimated in the Holocaust.
Remembering the Holocaust is an important part of German culture.
The German language in Europe: German Sprachraum
: German is the official language (de jure or de facto) and first language of most of the population
German is a co-official language but not the first language of most of the population
German (or a German dialect) is a legally recognized minority language (squares: geographic distribution too dispersed/small for map scale)
German (or a variety of German) is spoken by a sizeable minority but has no legal recognition
It is estimated that there are between 100 and 150 million Germans today, most of whom live in Germany, where they constitute the majority of the population.
There are also sizable populations of Germans in Austria, Switzerland, the United States, Brazil, France, Kazakhstan, Russia, Argentina, Canada, Poland, Italy, Hungary, Australia, South Africa, Chile, Paraguay, and Namibia.
German-speaking peoples such as the Austrians
and the German-speaking Swiss are sometimes referred to by scholars as Germans, although most of them do not identify as such.
A German ethnic identity emerged among Germanic peoples of Central Europe in the 8th century.
These peoples came to be referred to by the High German term diutisc
, which means "ethnic" or "relating to the people". The German endonym Deutsche
is derived from this word.
In subsequent centuries, the German lands were relatively decentralized, leading to the maintenance of a number of strong regional identities.
The German nationalist movement emerged among German intellectuals in the late 18th century. They saw the Germans as a people united by language and advocated the unification of all Germans into a single nation state, which was partially achieved in 1871. By the late 19th and early 20th century, German identity came to be defined by a shared descent, culture, and history. Völkisch
elements identified Germanness with "a shared Christian heritage" and "biological essence", to the exclusion of the notable Jewish minority.
After the Holocaust and the downfall of Nazism, "any confident sense of Germanness had become suspect, if not impossible".
East Germany and West Germany both sought to build up an identity on historical or ideological lines, distancing themselves both from the Nazi past and each other.
After German reunification in 1990, the political discourse was characterized by the idea of a "shared, ethnoculturally defined Germanness", and the general climate became increasingly xenophobic during the 1990s.
Today, discussion on Germanness may stress various aspects, such as commitment to pluralism and the German constitution (constitutional patriotism
or the notion of a Kulturnation
(nation sharing a common culture).
The German language remains the primary criterion of modern German identity.
- ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Haarmann 2015, p. 313. "Populations of Germans live elsewhere in Central and Western Europe, with the largest communities in Austria (7.6 million), Switzerland (4.2 million), France (1.2 million), Kazakhstan (900,000), Russia (840,000), Poland (700,000), Italy (280,000), and Hungary (250,000)."
- ^ "U.S. Census Bureau, 2019 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates". data.census.gov. Retrieved 25 February 2021.
- ^ "Ancestry of the Population by State, 1980"(PDF). 23 December 2019.
- ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Moser 2011, pp. 171–172. "The Germans live in Central Europe, mostly in Germany... The largest populations outside of these countries are found in the United States (5 million), Brazil (3 million), the former Soviet Union (2 million), Argentina (500,000), Canada (450,000), Spain (170,000), Australia (110,000), the United Kingdom (100,000), and South Africa (75,000)."
- ^ Bade, James N. (2015). "Germans". Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 14 April 2021.
- ^ a b Burchard, Gretha (April 2010). "The German Population in Mexico: Maintenance of German culture and integration into Mexican society"(PDF).
- ^ a b Haarmann 2015, p. 313. "Germans are a Germanic (or Teutonic) people that are indigenous to Central Europe... Germanic tribes have inhabited Central Europe since at least Roman times, but it was not until the early Middle Ages that a distinct German ethnic identity began to emerge."
- ^ a b Moser 2011, p. 171. "The Germans live in Central Europe, mostly in Germany... Estimates of the total number of Germans in the world range from 100 million to 150 million...
- ^ a b Minahan 2000, p. 288. "The Germans are an ancient ethnic group, the basic stock in the composition of the peoples of Germany... The Germans include a number of important national groups, including the Bavarians, Rhinelanders, Saxons, and Swabians. The standard language of the Germans, called Deutsch or Hochdeutsch (High German), is spoken as the first or second language by all the German peoples in Europe except some of the Volga Germans in Russia."
- ^ a b c d Moser 2011, p. 172. "German identity developed through a long historical process that led, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, to the definition of the German nation as both a community of descent (Volksgemeinschaft) and shared culture and experience. Today, the German language is the primary though not exclusive criterion of German identity."
- ^ Haarmann 2015, p. 313. "After centuries of political fragmentation, a sense of national unity as Germans began to evolve in the eighteenth century, and the German language became a key marker of national identity."
- ^ "Obtaining German Citizenship".; Alois Angleitner; Fritz Ostendorf; Oliver P. John (1990). "Towards a taxonomy of personality descriptors in German: A psycho‐lexical study". European Journal of Personality. 4 (2): 89–118. doi:10.1002/per.2410040204. S2CID 18837321.; "Who is a German?". The Economist. 3 April 1997.; David Danelo (12 May 2015). "Germany in the 21st Century, Part III: Who is a German". Foreign Policy Research Institute.
- ^ a b "German". Oxford Dictionary of English. Oxford University Press. 2010. p. 733. ISBN 978-0199571123.
- ^ a b c "German". Merriam-Webster. Retrieved 22 December 2020.
- ^ Hoad, T. F. (2003). "German". The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/acref/9780192830982.001.0001. ISBN 9780192830982. Retrieved 22 December 2020.
- ^ "Germans". Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia. Columbia University Press. 2013. Retrieved 5 December 2020.
- ^ Drinkwater, John Frederick (2012). "Germans". In Hornblower, Simon; Spawforth, Antony; Eidinow, Esther (eds.). The Oxford Classical Dictionary (4 ed.). Oxford University Press. p. 613. doi:10.1093/acref/9780199545568.001.0001. ISBN 9780191735257.
- ^ Todd, Malcolm (2004b). "Germans and Germanic Invasions". In Fagan, Brian M. (ed.). The Oxford Companion to Archaeology (1 ed.). Oxford University Press. pp. 250–251. doi:10.1093/acref/9780195076189.001.0001. ISBN 9780199891085.
- ^ Wells, Peter S. (2010). "Germans". In Gagarin, Michael (ed.). The Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Greece and Rome. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780195388398.
- ^ a b c d e Heather, Peter. "Germany: Ancient History". Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. Retrieved 21 November 2020. Within the boundaries of present-day Germany... Germanic peoples such as the eastern Franks, Frisians, Saxons, Thuringians, Alemanni, and Bavarians—all speaking West Germanic dialects—had merged Germanic and borrowed Roman cultural features. It was among these groups that a German language and ethnic identity would gradually develop during the Middle Ages.
- ^ Troebst, Stefan (2012). "The Discourse on Forced Migration and European Culture of Remembrance". The Hungarian Historical Review. 1 (3/4): 397–414. JSTOR 42568610.
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