Portal:Military history of Germany

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Insignia of the Bundeswehr
While German-speaking people have a long history, Germany as a nation state dates only from 1871. Earlier periods are subject to definition debates. The Franks, for instance, were a union of Germanic tribes; nevertheless, some of the Franks later identified themselves as Dutch, Flemish, French and again others as Germans. The capital of medieval ruler Charlemagne's empire was the city of Aachen, now part of Germany, yet he was a Frank. France was named after the Franks and the Dutch and Flemish people are the only ones to speak a language that descends from Frankish (the language of the Franks). Hence nearly all continental Western European historians can claim his victories as their heritage. The Holy Roman Empire he founded was largely but far from entirely German speaking. The Kingdom of Prussia, which unified Germany in the 19th century, had significant territory in what is now Poland. In the early 19th century, the philosopher Schlegel referred to Germany as a Kulturnation, a nation of shared culture and political disunity, analogous to ancient Greece. Until the unification of 1871, Austria was considered a part of Germany even though much of its empire was not in the Holy Roman Empire and was non-German. Read more...

Selected article

War memorial fountain in Speyer

"Der gute Kamerad" ("The good Comrade"), also known by its incipit as Ich hatt' einen Kameraden ("I had a comrade") is a traditional lament of the German Armed Forces. The text was written by German poet Ludwig Uhland in 1809.

Its immediate inspiration was the deployment of Badener troops against the Tyrolean Rebellion. In 1825, the composer Friedrich Silcher set it to music, based on the tune of a Swiss folk song.

The song is about the immediate experience of a soldier losing a comrade in battle, detached from all political or national ideology; as a result, its use was never limited to one particular faction and was sung or cited by representatives of all political backgrounds throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, and was translated for use in numerous fighting forces, French, Dutch, Spanish, Japanese and others.

"The Good Comrade" still plays an important ceremonial role in the German Armed Forces and is an integral part of a military funeral, continuing a tradition started at some point around 1871.

Occasionally the song is played at civil ceremonies, most often when the deceased had been affiliated with the military. It is also commonly sung at the funerals of members of a Studentenverbindung. Finally, the song is often played on Volkstrauertag, the German Remembrance Day, at memorials for the fallen.

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Selected biography

Frederick II, also known as "the Great", painted by Anton Graff aged 68.

Frederick II (German: Friedrich II.; 24 January 1712 – 17 August 1786) was a King in Prussia (1740–1772) and a King of Prussia (1772–1786) from the Hohenzollern dynasty. In his role as a prince-elector of the Holy Roman Empire, he was Frederick IV (Friedrich IV.) of Brandenburg. He was in personal union the sovereign prince of the Principality of Neuchâtel. He became known as Frederick the Great (Friedrich der Große) and was nicknamed Der Alte Fritz ("Old Fritz").

Interested primarily in music and philosophy and not the arts of war during his youth, Frederick unsuccessfully attempted to flee from his authoritarian father, Frederick William I, with childhood friend, Hans Hermann von Katte, whose execution he was forced to watch after they had been captured. Upon ascending to the Prussian throne, he attacked Austria and claimed Silesia during the Silesian Wars, winning military acclaim for himself and Prussia. Near the end of his life, Frederick physically connected most of his realm by conquering Polish territories in the First Partition of Poland.

Frederick was a proponent of enlightened absolutism. For years he was a correspondent of Voltaire, with whom the king had an intimate, if turbulent, friendship. He modernized the Prussian bureaucracy and civil service and promoted religious tolerance throughout his realm. Frederick patronized the arts and philosophers, and wrote flute music. Frederick is buried at his favorite residence, Sanssouci in Potsdam. Because he died childless, Frederick was succeeded by his nephew, Frederick William II of Prussia, son of his brother, Prince Augustus William of Prussia. (Read more)

Selected picture

Battle-Mars-Le-Tour-large.jpg
The Prussian 7th Cuirassiers charge the French guns at the Battle of Mars-La-Tour, August 16, 1870

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SMS Prinzregent Luitpold

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