Portal:Germany/Selected article/2009

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These articles have appeared on the Portal:Germany page in 2009.



Karl Dönitz

Karl Dönitz (September 16, 1891–December 24, 1980) was a German naval leader, who was in command of the Kriegsmarine during World War II and for his 23-day term President of Germany after Adolf Hitler's suicide. During World War I, he served on surface ships before transferring to submarines. He remained in the navy after the war's conclusion and rose in the ranks of the Reichsmarine and Kriegsmarine, becoming a Grand Admiral (Großadmiral) and serving as Commander of Submarines (Befehlshaber der Unterseeboote, B.d.U.) and later Commander-in-Chief of the German Navy (Oberbefehlshaber der Kriegsmarine). Under his command, the U-boat fleet fought the famous Battle of the Atlantic. He also served as Reichspräsident for 20 days following Adolf Hitler's suicide.

After the war he was charged and convicted of "crimes against peace" and "war crimes" and served ten years. During his later years, he wrote two autobiographies covering different periods in his life. He died of a heart attack on Christmas Eve, 1980. More...

Enigma machine

In the history of cryptography, the Enigma machine was a portable cipher machine used to encrypt and decrypt secret messages. More precisely, Enigma was a family of related electro-mechanical rotor machines — there are a variety of different models.The Enigma was used commercially from the early 1920s on, and was also adopted by military and governmental services of a number of nations — most famously, by Nazi Germany before and during World War II. The German military model, the Wehrmacht Enigma, is the version most commonly discussed. Allied codebreakers were, in many cases, able to decrypt messages protected by the machine (see cryptanalysis of the Enigma). The intelligence gained through this source — codenamed ULTRA — was a significant aid to the Allied war effort. Some historians have suggested that the end of the European war was hastened by up to a year or more because of the decryption of German ciphers. More...

Portrait of Kircher from Mundus Subterraneus, 1664

Athanasius Kircher (May 2, 1602–November 27 or 28 1680) was a 17th-century German Jesuit scholar who published around 40 works, most notably in the fields of oriental studies, geology and medicine. He made an early study of Egyptian hieroglyphs. One of the first people to observe microbes through a microscope, he was thus ahead of his time in proposing that the plague was caused by an infectious microorganism and in suggesting effective measures to prevent the spread of the disease.

Kircher has been compared to Leonardo da Vinci for his inventiveness and the breadth and depth of his work. A scientific star in his day, towards the end of his life he was eclipsed by the rationalism of René Descartes and others. In the late 20th century, however, the aesthetic qualities of his work again began to be appreciated. One scholar, Edward W. Schmidt, has called him "the last Renaissance man". More...

The electors deliberating

The prince-electors or electoral princes of the Holy Roman EmpireGerman: Kurfürst (About this sound listen  - singular), Kurfürsten (plural) — were the members of the electoral college of the Holy Roman Empire, having the function of electing the Emperors of Germany. During and after the 15th century they often merely formalised the elective monarchy into what was in fact a dynastic succession. Formally, they elected a King of the Romans, who became Holy Roman Emperor only when crowned by the pope. Charles V was the last to be actually crowned; all of his successors were merely "Emperors-Elect". Electors were among the princes of the Empire, but they had several privileges (in addition to electoral ones) which were disallowed to their non-electoral brethren. More ...