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''Reich'' (; , English: ''Riche'') is a
German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of Germany, see also German nationality law * German language The German la ...

German
word whose meaning is analogous to the meaning of the English word "
realm A realm is a community or territory over which a sovereign Sovereign is a title which can be applied to the highest leader in various categories. The word is borrowed from Old French ''souverain'', which is ultimately derived from the Latin ...

realm
". The terms ' (literally the "realm of an emperor") and ' (literally the "realm of a king") are respectively used in German in reference to
empire An empire is a "political unit" made up of several territories and peoples, "usually created by conquest, and divided between a dominant center and subordinate peripheries". Narrowly defined, an empire is a sovereign state called an empire and ...

empire
s and kingdoms. The ''
Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary Image: CALD 3rdEd CDROM.png, ''Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary'' 3rd Edition CD-ROM The ''Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary'' (unofficially ''Cambridge English Dictionary'' or ''Cambridge Dictionary'', abbreviated ''CALD'') was fi ...
'' indicates that in English usage, the term "the Reich" refers to "Germany during the period of Nazi control from 1933 to 1945". The term ''
Deutsches Reich ''German Reich'' (german: Deutsches Reich, ) was the constitutional name for the German nation state that existed from 1871 to 1945. The ''Reich'' became understood as deriving its authority and sovereignty entirely from a continuing unitary Germ ...
'' (sometimes translated to "
German Empire The German Empire or the Imperial State of Germany,, officially '.Herbert Tuttle Herbert Tuttle (1846–1894) was an American historian. Biography Herbert Tuttle was born in Bennington, Vermont Bennington is a New England town, town ...
") continued to be used even after the collapse of the German Empire and the abolition of the monarchy in 1918. There was no emperor, but many Germans had imperialistic ambitions. According to Richard J. Evans:
The continued use of the term 'German Empire', ''Deutsches Reich,'' by the Weimar Republic... conjured up an image among educated Germans that resonated far beyond the institutional structures Bismarck created: the successor to the Roman Empire; the vision of God's Empire here on earth; the universality of its claim to
suzerainty Suzerainty () is a relationship in which one state or other polity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a collective identity, who are organized by some form of Institutionalisation, institutionalized soci ...
; and in a more prosaic but no less powerful sense, the concept of a German state that would include all German speakers in central Europe--'one People, one Reich, one Leader', as the Nazi slogan was to put it.
The term is derived from the
Germanic Germanic may refer to: * Germanic peoples, an ethno-linguistic group identified by their use of the Germanic languages ** List of ancient Germanic peoples and tribes * Germanic languages :* Proto-Germanic language, a reconstructed proto-language of ...

Germanic
word which generally means "realm," but in German, it is typically used to designate a
kingdom Kingdom may refer to: Monarchy * A type of monarchy * A realm ruled by: **A king, during the reign of a male monarch **A queen regnant, during the reign of a female monarch Taxonomy * Kingdom (biology), a category in biological taxonomy Arts an ...
or an empire, especially the
Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Republican Republican can refer to: Political ideology * An advocate of a republic, a type of governme ...

Roman Empire
.
Harper's Magazine ''Harper's Magazine'' is a monthly magazine of literature, politics, culture, finance, and the arts. Launched in New York City New York City (NYC), often simply called New York, is the List of United States cities by population, most populo ...
, Volume 63. Pp. 593.
The terms ' (roughly "Emperordom") and ' (“Emperor’s realm”, lit.: "Emperorrealm”) are used in German to more specifically define an empire ruled by an emperor. ''Reich'' is comparable in meaning and development (as well as descending from the same
Proto-Indo-European Proto-Indo-European (PIE) is the theorized common ancestor of the Indo-European language family The Indo-European languages are a language family A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech ( ...
root) to the English word ''
realm A realm is a community or territory over which a sovereign Sovereign is a title which can be applied to the highest leader in various categories. The word is borrowed from Old French ''souverain'', which is ultimately derived from the Latin ...
'' (via French '' reaume'' "kingdom" from Latin '' regalis'' "royal"). It is used for historical empires in general, such as the
Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Republican Republican can refer to: Political ideology * An advocate of a republic, a type of governme ...

Roman Empire
('), Persian Empire ('), and both the
Tsardom of Russia The Tsardom of Russia or Tsardom of Rus' (russian: Русское царство, translit=Russkoye tsarstvo, later changed to: ), also externally referenced as the Tsardom of Muscovy, was the centralized Russian state from the assumption of the ...
and the
Russian Empire The Russian Empire, . commonly referred to as Imperial Russia, was a historical empire that extended across Eurasia and North America from 1721, succeeding the Tsardom of Russia following the Treaty of Nystad that ended the Great Northern War. ...
(', literally "
Tsar Tsar ( or ), also spelled ''czar'', ''tzar'', or ''csar'', is a Royal and noble ranks, title used to designate Orthodox Slavs, East and South Slavic monarchs. In this last capacity it lends its name to a system of government, tsarist autocra ...

Tsar
s’ realm"). ''Österreich'', the name used for
Austria Austria (, ; german: Österreich ), officially the Republic of Austria (german: Republik Österreich, links=no, ), is a landlocked Eastern Alps, East Alpine country in the southern part of Central Europe. It is composed of nine States o ...

Austria
today is composed of "Öster" and "Reich" which literally translated means "Eastern Realm". The name once referred to the Eastern parts of the
Holy Roman Empire The Holy Roman Empire ( la, Sacrum Romanum Imperium; german: Heiliges Römisches Reich) was a multi-ethnic complex of territories in Western Western may refer to: Places *Western, Nebraska, a village in the US *Western, New York, a town i ...
. In the
history of Germany The concept of Germany ) , image_map = , map_caption = , map_width = 250px , capital = Berlin Berlin (; ) is the and by both area and population. Its 3,769,495 inhabitants, as of 31 December 2019 makes it the , according t ...
specifically, it is used to refer to: * the early medieval Frankish Realm (
Francia Francia, also called the Kingdom of the Franks ( la, Regnum Francorum), Frankish Kingdom, Frankland or Frankish Empire, was the largest History of the Roman Empire, post-Roman barbarian kingdom in Western Europe. It was ruled by the Franks du ...

Francia
) and
Carolingian Empire The Carolingian Empire (800–888) was a large Frankish Frankish may refer to: * Franks The Franks ( la, Franci or ) were a group of Germanic peoples The historical Germanic peoples (from lat, Germani) are a category of ancient nort ...
(the ' and '); * the
Holy Roman Empire The Holy Roman Empire ( la, Sacrum Romanum Imperium; german: Heiliges Römisches Reich) was a multi-ethnic complex of territories in Western Western may refer to: Places *Western, Nebraska, a village in the US *Western, New York, a town i ...
('), which lasted from the coronation of
Charlemagne Charlemagne ( , ) or Charles the Great ( la, Carolus Magnus; 2 April 748 – 28 January 814) was King of the Franks The Franks—Germanic-speaking peoples that invaded the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century—were first led by i ...

Charlemagne
as
Holy Roman Emperor The Holy Roman Emperor, originally and officially the Emperor of the Romans ( la, Imperator The Latin word "imperator" derives from the stem of the verb la, imperare, label=none, meaning 'to order, to command'. It was originally employed as ...
in 800, until 1806, when it was dissolved during the
Napoleonic Wars The Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815) were a series of major World war, global conflicts pitting the First French Empire, French Empire and its allies, led by Napoleon, Napoleon I, against a fluctuating array of Coalition forces of the Napoleonic W ...
; * the
German Empire The German Empire or the Imperial State of Germany,, officially '.Herbert Tuttle Herbert Tuttle (1846–1894) was an American historian. Biography Herbert Tuttle was born in Bennington, Vermont Bennington is a New England town, town ...
(' or '), which lasted from the
unification of Germany The unification of Germany into the German Empire The German Empire or the Imperial State of Germany,, officially '.Herbert Tuttle Herbert Tuttle (1846–1894) was an American historian. Biography Herbert Tuttle was born in Benningto ...
in 1871 until its collapse after
World War I World War I, often abbreviated as WWI or WW1, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war A world war is "a war engaged in by all or most of the principal nations of the world". The term is usually reserved for ...

World War I
, during the
German Revolution of 1918–1919 The German Revolution or November Revolution (german: Novemberrevolution) was a civil conflict in the German Empire The German Empire or the Imperial State of Germany,, officially '.Herbert Tuttle wrote in September 1881 that the term "R ...
; * the
Weimar Republic The Weimar Republic (german: Weimarer Republik ) was the German state from 1918 to 1933 when it functioned as a federal constitutional republic. The state was officially named the German Reich (german: Deutsches Reich, link=no, label=none), ...
of 1919–1933 continued to use ' as its official name; *
Nazi Germany Nazi Germany, (lit. "National Socialist State"), ' (lit. "Nazi State") for short; also ' (lit. "National Socialist Germany") officially known as the German Reich from 1933 until 1943, and the Greater German Reich from 1943 to 1945, was ...

Nazi Germany
, the
state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper in Columbia, South Carolina, Un ...
often referred to as the ''Third Reich'', which lasted from the
Enabling Act An enabling act is a piece of legislation Legislation is the process or product of enrolling, enacting, or promulgating Promulgation is the formal proclamation or the declaration that a new statute, statutory or administrative law is enacte ...
in 1933 until the
end of World War II in Europe The final battles of the European theatre of World War II, European Theatre of World War II, as well as the German Instrument of Surrender, overall surrender of Nazi Germany to the Allies of World War II, Allies, took place in late April and ea ...
in 1945. It continued to use the official name, ', until 1943, when it was renamed to the ''Großdeutsches Reich'' (Greater German Reich). The Nazis adopted the term "Third Reich" as a propaganda tool because they wanted to legitimize their government as a successor to the retroactively renamed "First" and "Second" Reichs. The terms "First Reich" and "Second Reich" are not used by historians, and the term "
Fourth Reich The Fourth Reich (german: Viertes Reich) is a hypothetical Nazi Nazism ( ), officially National Socialism (german: Nationalsozialismus, ), is the ideology An ideology () is a set of belief A belief is an Attitude (psychology), att ...
" is mainly used in fiction and political humor although it is also used by those who subscribe to the belief in
Neo-Nazism Neo-Nazism refers to the post–World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State m ...
.


Etymology

The German noun ''Reich'' is derived from goh, rīhhi, which together with its cognates in ang, rīce, non, ríki, and got, reiki is derived from a
Common Germanic Proto-Germanic (abbreviated PGmc; also called Common Germanic) is the reconstructed Reconstruction may refer to: Politics, history, and sociology *Reconstruction (law), the transfer of a company's (or several companies') business to a new ...
. The English noun is obsolete, but usage of it persists in composition, an example of this usage is the English word ''
bishopric In Ecclesiastical polity, church governance, a diocese or bishopric is the ecclesiastical district under the jurisdiction of a bishop. History In the later organization of the Roman Empire, the increasingly subdivided Roman province, prov ...
''. The German adjective , on the other hand, has an exact cognate in English
rich The ring-imaging Cherenkov, or RICH, detector is a device for identifying the type of an electrically charged subatomic particle of known momentum, that traverses a transparency and translucency, transparent refractive medium, by measurement of the ...
. Both the noun () and the adjective () are derivations based on a
Common Germanic Proto-Germanic (abbreviated PGmc; also called Common Germanic) is the reconstructed Reconstruction may refer to: Politics, history, and sociology *Reconstruction (law), the transfer of a company's (or several companies') business to a new ...
"ruler,
king King is the title given to a male monarch in a variety of contexts. The female equivalent is queen regnant, queen, which title is also given to the queen consort, consort of a king. *In the context of prehistory, antiquity and contempora ...
", reflected in Gothic as , glossing "leader, ruler, chieftain". It is probable that the Germanic word was not inherited from pre-Proto-Germanic, but rather loaned from
Celtic The words Celt and Celtic (also Keltic) may refer to: Ethno-linguistics *Celts The Celts (, see pronunciation of ''Celt'' for different usages) are. "CELTS location: Greater Europe time period: Second millennium B.C.E. to present ancestry: ...
(i.e.
Gaulish Gaulish was an ancient Celtic language The Celtic languages ( , ) are a group of related languages descended from Proto-Celtic The Proto-Celtic language, also called Common Celtic, is the ancestral proto-language of all the known Celti ...
''rīx'',
Welsh Welsh may refer to: Related to Wales * Welsh, referring or related to Wales * Welsh language, a Brittonic Celtic language of the Indo-European language family, indigenous to the British Isles, spoken in Wales ** Patagonian Welsh, a dialect of Wels ...
, both meaning 'king') at an early time. The word has many cognates outside of Germanic and Celtic, notably la, rex and sa, राज, raj, rule. It is ultimately from
Proto-Indo-European Proto-Indo-European (PIE) is the theorized common ancestor of the Indo-European language family The Indo-European languages are a language family A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech ( ...
*', lit. 'to straighten out or rule'.


Usage throughout German history


Frankish Empire

''Frankenreich'' or ''Fränkisches Reich'' is the German name given to the
Frankish Kingdom Francia, also called the Kingdom of the Franks ( la, Regnum Francorum), Frankland, or Frankish Empire, was the largest post-Roman barbarian kingdom in Western Europe Western Europe is the region of Europe Europe is a continent ...
of
Charlemagne Charlemagne ( , ) or Charles the Great ( la, Carolus Magnus; 2 April 748 – 28 January 814) was King of the Franks The Franks—Germanic-speaking peoples that invaded the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century—were first led by i ...

Charlemagne
. ''Frankenreich'' came to be used of
Western Francia In medieval history, West Francia (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the ...
and
medieval France The Kingdom of France in the Middle Ages (roughly, from the 10th century to the middle of the 15th century) was marked by the fragmentation of the Carolingian Empire and West Francia (843–987); the expansion of royal control by the House of ...
after the development of
Eastern Francia East Francia (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman ...
into the
Holy Roman Empire The Holy Roman Empire ( la, Sacrum Romanum Imperium; german: Heiliges Römisches Reich) was a multi-ethnic complex of territories in Western Western may refer to: Places *Western, Nebraska, a village in the US *Western, New York, a town i ...
. The German name of
France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several large landmasses ...

France
, ''Frankreich'', is a contraction of ''Frankenreich'' used in reference to the
kingdom of France The Kingdom of France ( fro, Reaume de France; frm, Royaulme de France; french: link=yes, Royaume de France) is the historiographical name or Hyponymy and hypernymy, umbrella term given to various political entities of France in the Middle Ages ...
from the late medieval period.


Holy Roman Empire

The term ''Reich'' was part of the German names for Germany for much of its history. ''Reich'' was used by itself in the common German variant of the
Holy Roman Empire The Holy Roman Empire ( la, Sacrum Romanum Imperium; german: Heiliges Römisches Reich) was a multi-ethnic complex of territories in Western Western may refer to: Places *Western, Nebraska, a village in the US *Western, New York, a town i ...
, ('). ''Der rîche'' was a title for the Emperor. However, Latin, not German, was the formal legal language of the medieval Empire ('), so English-speaking historians are more likely to use Latin ' than German ' as a term for this period of German history. The common contemporary Latin legal term used in documents of the Holy Roman Empire was for a long time ''regnum'' ("rule, domain, empire", such as in ''Regnum Francorum'' for the
Frankish Kingdom Francia, also called the Kingdom of the Franks ( la, Regnum Francorum), Frankland, or Frankish Empire, was the largest post-Roman barbarian kingdom in Western Europe Western Europe is the region of Europe Europe is a continent ...

Frankish Kingdom
) before ''imperium'' was in fact adopted, the latter first attested in 1157, whereas the parallel use of ''regnum'' never fell out of use during the Middle Ages.


Modern age

At the beginning of the
modern age Human history, or world history, is the narrative of humanity Humanity most commonly refers to: * Human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most populous and widespread species of primates, characterized by bipedality, opposable thumbs, ...
, some circles redubbed the HRE into the "Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation" ('), a symptom of the formation of a German
nation state A nation state is a political unit where the state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (news ...
as opposed to the
multinational state A multinational state or a multinational union is a sovereign entity Sovereignty is the supreme authority within a territory. Sovereignty entails hierarchy within the state, as well as external autonomy for states. In any state, sovereignty ...
the Empire was throughout its history. Resistance against the
French revolution The French Revolution ( ) was a period of radical political and societal change in France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a spanning and in the and the , and s. Its ...

French revolution
with its concept of the state brought a new movement to create a German "ethnical state", especially after the
Napoleonic wars The Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815) were a series of major World war, global conflicts pitting the First French Empire, French Empire and its allies, led by Napoleon, Napoleon I, against a fluctuating array of Coalition forces of the Napoleonic W ...
.
Ideal Ideal may refer to: Philosophy * Ideal (ethics) An ideal is a principle A principle is a proposition or value that is a guide for behavior or evaluation. In law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting ...
for this state was the Holy Roman Empire; the
legend A legend is a Folklore genre, genre of folklore that consists of a narrative featuring human actions, believed or perceived, both by teller and listeners, to have taken place in human history. Narratives in this genre may demonstrate human valu ...

legend
arose that Germany were "un-defeated when unified", especially after the
Franco-Prussian War The Franco-Prussian War or Franco-German War,, german: Deutsch-Französischer Krieg often referred to in France as the War of 1870, was a conflict between the Second French Empire The Second French Empire (; officially the French Empire ...
(', lit. "German-French war"). Before that, the German question ruptured this "German unity" after the
1848 Revolution The Revolutions of 1848, known in some countries as the Springtime of the Peoples or the Springtime of Nations, were a series of political upheaval A political revolution, in the Trotskyist Trotskyism is the political ideology and branch o ...
before it was achieved, however; Austria-Hungary as a multinational state could not become part of the new "German empire", and nationality conflicts in
Prussia Prussia, , Old Prussian Distribution of the Baltic tribes, circa 1200 CE (boundaries are approximate). Old Prussian was a Western Baltic language belonging to the Balto-Slavic branch of the Indo-European languages The Indo-Europ ...

Prussia
with the Prussian Poles arose ("We can never be Germans – Prussians, every time!"). The advent of national feeling and the movement to create an ethnically German Empire did lead directly to
nationalism Nationalism is an idea and movement that holds that the nation A nation is a community A community is a social unitThe term "level of analysis" is used in the social sciences to point to the location, size, or scale of a research target ...
in 1871. Ethnic minorities declined since the beginning of the modern age; the Polabs,
Sorbs Sorbs ( hsb, Serbja, dsb, Serby, german: Sorben, also known as Lusatians and Wends) are a West Slavic ethnic group An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people who identify with each other on the basis of shared attributes that d ...
and even the once important
Low German : : : : : , minority = (70,000) (30,000) (8,000) , familycolor = Indo-European , fam2 = Germanic Germanic may refer to: * Germanic peoples, an ethno-linguistic group identified by their use of the Germanic langua ...
s had to assimilate themselves. This marked the transition between
Antijudaism Anti-Judaism is the "total or partial opposition to Judaism Judaism ( he, יהדות, ''Yahadut''; originally from Hebrew , ''Yehudah'', "Kingdom of Judah, Judah", via Ancient Greek, Greek ''Ioudaismos''; the term itself is of Anglo-La ...
, where converted Jews were accepted as full citizens (in theory), to
Antisemitism Antisemitism (also spelled anti-semitism or anti-Semitism) is hostility to, prejudice, or discrimination against Jews. A person who holds such positions is called an antisemite. Antisemitism is generally considered to be a form of racism. A ...
, where Jews were thought to be from a different
ethnicity An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people A people is any plurality of persons considered as a whole. Used in politics and law it is a term to refer to the collective or community of an ethnic group, a nation, to the public or ...
that could never become German. Apart from all those ethnic minorities being de facto extinct, even today the era of national feeling is taught in history in German schools as an important stepping-stone on the road to a German nation.


German Reich

In the case of the Hohenzollern Empire (1871–1918), the official name of the country was ''Deutsches Reich'' ("German Realm"), because under the
Constitution of the German Empire The Constitution of the German Empire The German Empire or the Imperial State of Germany,, officially '.Herbert Tuttle wrote in September 1881 that the term "Reich" does not literally connote an empire as has been commonly assumed by English ...
, it was legally a
confederation A confederation (also known as a confederacy or league) is a union of sovereign groups or states united for purposes of common action. Usually created by a treaty, confederations of states tend to be established for dealing with critical issu ...
of German states under the permanent presidency of the
King of Prussia The monarchs of Prussia were members of the House of Hohenzollern The House of Hohenzollern (, also , , german: Haus Hohenzollern, ro, Casa de Hohenzollern) is a German royal whose members were variously s, , s and of , , , the , and . Th ...

King of Prussia
. The constitution granted the King of Prussia the title of "German Emperor" (''Deutscher Kaiser''), but this referred to the German nation rather than directly to the ''state'' of Germany. The exact translation of the term "German Empire" would be ''Deutsches Kaiserreich''. This name was sometimes used informally for Germany between 1871 and 1918, but it was disliked by the first German Emperor,
Wilhelm I , signature = Wilhelm_I,_German_Emperor_Signature.svg , religion = Lutheran Lutheranism is one of the largest branches of Protestantism that identifies with the teachings of Martin Luther, a 16th-century German Protestant Reformers, r ...

Wilhelm I
, and never became official. The unified Germany which arose under Chancellor
Otto von Bismarck Otto, Prince of Bismarck, Count of Bismarck-Schönhausen, Duke of Lauenburg (german: Otto Fürst von Bismarck, Graf von Bismarck-Schönhausen, Herzog zu Lauenburg ; 1 April 1815 – 30 July 1898), born Otto Eduard Leopold von Bismarck, was a c ...

Otto von Bismarck
in 1871 was the first entity that was officially called in German '. ''Deutsches Reich'' remained the official name of Germany until 1945, although these years saw three very different political systems more commonly referred to in English as: "the
German Empire The German Empire or the Imperial State of Germany,, officially '.Herbert Tuttle Herbert Tuttle (1846–1894) was an American historian. Biography Herbert Tuttle was born in Bennington, Vermont Bennington is a New England town, town ...
" (1871–1918), the
Weimar Republic The Weimar Republic (german: Weimarer Republik ) was the German state from 1918 to 1933 when it functioned as a federal constitutional republic. The state was officially named the German Reich (german: Deutsches Reich, link=no, label=none), ...
(1919–1933; this term is a post-
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
coinage not used at the time), and
Nazi Germany Nazi Germany, (lit. "National Socialist State"), ' (lit. "Nazi State") for short; also ' (lit. "National Socialist Germany") officially known as the German Reich from 1933 until 1943, and the Greater German Reich from 1943 to 1945, was ...

Nazi Germany
(1933–1945).


During the Weimar Republic

After 1918 "Reich" was usually not translated as "Empire" in English-speaking countries, and the title was instead simply used in its original German. During the
Weimar Republic The Weimar Republic (german: Weimarer Republik ) was the German state from 1918 to 1933 when it functioned as a federal constitutional republic. The state was officially named the German Reich (german: Deutsches Reich, link=no, label=none), ...
the term ' and the prefix ' referred not to the idea of empire but rather to the institutions, officials, affairs etc. of the whole country as opposed to those of one of its constituent federal states ('), in the same way that the terms ' (federation) and ' (federal) are used in Germany today, and comparable to ''The Crown'' in Commonwealth countries and ''The Union'' in the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...

United States
.


During the Nazi period

The
Nazi Nazism ( ), officially National Socialism (german: Nationalsozialismus, ), is the ideology An ideology () is a set of belief A belief is an Attitude (psychology), attitude that something is the case, or that some proposition about th ...

Nazi
s sought to legitimize their power
historiographically Historiography is the study of the methods of historian ( 484– 425 BC) was a Greek historian who lived in the 5th century BC and one of the earliest historians whose work survives. A historian is a person who studies and writes about the p ...

historiographically
by portraying their ascendancy to rule as the direct continuation of an ancient German past. They adopted the term ' ("Third Empire" – usually rendered in English in the partial translation "the Third ''Reich''"), first used in a 1923 book entitled '''' by
Arthur Moeller van den Bruck Arthur Wilhelm Ernst Victor Moeller van den Bruck (23 April 1876 – 30 May 1925) was a German cultural historian and writer who best known for his controversial 1923 book ''Das Dritte Reich'' ("The Third Reich"), which promoted German nationali ...

Arthur Moeller van den Bruck
, that counted the medieval
Holy Roman Empire The Holy Roman Empire ( la, Sacrum Romanum Imperium; german: Heiliges Römisches Reich) was a multi-ethnic complex of territories in Western Western may refer to: Places *Western, Nebraska, a village in the US *Western, New York, a town i ...
(which nominally survived until the 19th century) as the first and the 1871–1918 monarchy as the second, which was then to be followed by a "reinvigorated" third one. The Nazis ignored the previous 1918–1933 Weimar period, which they denounced as a historical aberration, contemptuously referring to it as " the System". In the summer of 1939, the Nazis themselves actually banned the continued use of the term in the press, ordering it to use expressions such as ''nationalsozialistisches Deutschland'' ("National Socialist Germany"), ''Großdeutsches Reich'' (" Greater German Reich"), or simply ''Deutsches Reich'' (
German Reich ''German Reich'' (german: Deutsches Reich, ) was the constitutional name for the German nation state A nation state is a state in which a great majority shares the same culture Culture () is an umbrella term which encompasses the social b ...
) to refer to the German state instead.Schmitz-Berning, Cornelia (2000)
''Vokabular des Nationalsozialismus''
Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co. KG, 10875 Berlin, pp. 159–160. (in German)
It was Adolf Hitler's personal desire that ''Großdeutsches Reich'' and ''nationalsozialistischer Staat'' ("National Socialist State") would be used in place of ''Drittes Reich''. ''Reichskanzlei Berchtesgaden'' ("
Reich Chancellery The Reich Chancellery (german: Reichskanzlei) was the traditional name of the office of the Chancellor of Germany (then called ''Reichskanzler'') in the period of the German Reich from 1878 to 1945. The Chancellery's seat, selected and prepared si ...
Berchtesgaden Berchtesgaden () is a municipality A municipality is usually a single administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, first-level subd ...

Berchtesgaden
"), another nickname of the regime (named after the eponymous town located in the vicinity of Hitler's mountain residence where he spent much of his time in office) was also banned at the same time, despite the fact that a sub-section of the Chancellery was in fact installed there to serve Hitler's needs. Although the term "Third Reich" is still commonly used in reference to the Nazi dictatorship, historians avoid using the terms "First Reich" and "Second Reich", which are seldom found outside
Nazi propaganda Propaganda in Nazi Germany was the practice of state directed communication to promote German nationalism, the goals of the Nazi Party of Germany, and the party itself. The propaganda used by the German Nazi Party in the years leading up to and ...
. During and following the ''
Anschluss The ''Anschluss'' (, or ''Anschluß'' before the German orthography reform of 1996, "joining"), also known as the ''Anschluss Österreichs'' (, en, Annexation of Austria), was the annexation of Federal State of Austria, Austria into Nazi Ge ...

Anschluss
'' (
annexation Annexation (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, ...
) of
Austria Austria (, ; german: Österreich ), officially the Republic of Austria (german: Republik Österreich, links=no, ), is a landlocked Eastern Alps, East Alpine country in the southern part of Central Europe. It is composed of nine States o ...

Austria
in 1938, Nazi propaganda also used the
political slogan The following is a list of notable 18th, 19th, 20th and 21st-century political slogan A slogan is a memorable motto or phrase used in a clan, political slogan, political, Advertising slogan, commercial, religious, and other context as a repe ...
''Ein
Volk The German noun ''Volk'' () translates to people A people is any plurality of person A person (plural people or persons) is a being that has certain capacities or attributes such as reason Reason is the capacity of consciously appl ...

Volk
, ein Reich, ein
Führer ( ; , spelled when the umlaut is not available) is a German word meaning "leader Leadership, both as a research area and as a practical skill, encompasses the ability of an individual, group or organization An organization, or ...

Führer
'' ("One people, one ''Reich'', one leader"), in order to enforce
pan-German Pan-Germanism (german: Pangermanismus or '), also occasionally known as Pan-Germanicism, is a pan-nationalist political idea. Pan-Germanists originally sought to unify all the German-speaking people – and possibly also Germanic-speaking ...
sentiment. The term ' ("old Reich"; cf. French ''ancien regime'' for monarchical France) is sometimes used to refer to the
Holy Roman Empire The Holy Roman Empire ( la, Sacrum Romanum Imperium; german: Heiliges Römisches Reich) was a multi-ethnic complex of territories in Western Western may refer to: Places *Western, Nebraska, a village in the US *Western, New York, a town i ...
. The term ' was also used after the Anschluss to denote Germany with its pre-1938 post-World War I borders. Another name that was popular during this period was the term ''Tausendjähriges Reich'' ("Thousand-Year Reich"), the of which suggested that
Nazi Germany Nazi Germany, (lit. "National Socialist State"), ' (lit. "Nazi State") for short; also ' (lit. "National Socialist Germany") officially known as the German Reich from 1933 until 1943, and the Greater German Reich from 1943 to 1945, was ...

Nazi Germany
would last a thousand years. The Nazis also spoke of enlarging the then-established Greater German Reich into a "" (''Großgermanisches Reich Deutscher Nation'') by gradually and directly annexing all of the historically Germanic countries and regions of Europe into the Nazi state (
Flanders Flanders (, ; Dutch Dutch commonly refers to: * Something of, from, or related to the Netherlands * Dutch people () * Dutch language () *Dutch language , spoken in Belgium (also referred as ''flemish'') Dutch may also refer to:" Castle * ...

Flanders
, the
Netherlands ) , national_anthem = ( en, "William of Nassau") , image_map = EU-Netherlands.svg , map_caption = , image_map2 = BES islands location map.svg , map_caption2 = , image_map3 ...

Netherlands
,
Denmark Denmark ( da, Danmark, ) is a Nordic country The Nordic countries, or the Nordics, are a geographical and cultural region In geography, regions are areas that are broadly divided by physical characteristics ( physical geography), hu ...

Denmark
,
Norway Norway, officially the Kingdom of Norway,Names in the official and recognised languages: Bokmål Bokmål (, ; literally "book tongue") is an official written standard for the Norwegian language Norwegian (Norwegian: ''norsk'') is a Nort ...

Norway
,
Sweden Sweden ( sv, Sverige ), officially the Kingdom of Sweden ( sv, links=no, Konungariket Sverige ), is a Nordic country The Nordic countries, or the Nordics, are a geographical and cultural region In geography, regions are areas that ...

Sweden
etc.).


Possible negative connotations in modern usage

A number of previously neutral words which were used by the Nazis later took on negative connotations in German (e.g. ' or '); while in many contexts ' is not one of them (''Frankreich'', France; ''Römisches Reich'',
Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Republican Republican can refer to: Political ideology * An advocate of a republic, a type of governme ...

Roman Empire
), it can imply German
imperialism Imperialism is a policy or ideology of extending rule over peoples and other countries, for extending political and economic access, power and control, often through employing hard power Hard power is the use of military and economics, economi ...

imperialism
or strong
nationalism Nationalism is an idea and movement that holds that the nation A nation is a community A community is a social unitThe term "level of analysis" is used in the social sciences to point to the location, size, or scale of a research target ...
if it is used to describe a political or governmental entity. ' has thus not been used in official terminology since 1945, though it is still found in the name of the
Reichstag building The Reichstag (german: Reichstagsgebäude ; officially: ''Deutscher Bundestag – Plenarbereich Reichstagsgebäude'' ) is a historic building in Berlin which houses the Bundestag, the lower house of Germany's parliament. It was constructed to ...
, which since 1999 has housed the German federal
parliament In modern politics and history, a parliament is a legislative A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer to: Organisations and meetings * Deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kind of ...

parliament
, the
Bundestag The Bundestag (, "Federal diet (assembly), Diet") is the Germany, German Federalism, federal parliament. It is the only body that is directly elected by the German people on the federal level. It can be compared to a lower house similar to the ...

Bundestag
. The decision not to rename the Reichstag building was taken only after long debate in the Bundestag; even then, it is described officially as ' (Reichstag, seat of the Bundestag). As seen in this example, the term "Bund" (federation) has replaced "Reich" in the names of various state institutions such as the army ("
Bundeswehr The ''Bundeswehr'' (, meaning literally: ''Federal Defence'') is the unified armed forces of Germany Germany (german: Deutschland, ), officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in . It is the in Europe after , and the most popu ...
"). The term "Reichstag" also remains in use in the German language as the term for the parliaments of some foreign monarchies, such as
Sweden Sweden ( sv, Sverige ), officially the Kingdom of Sweden ( sv, links=no, Konungariket Sverige ), is a Nordic country The Nordic countries, or the Nordics, are a geographical and cultural region In geography, regions are areas that ...

Sweden
's
Riksdag The Riksdag (, ; also sv, riksdagen or ''Sveriges riksdag'' ) is the national legislature A legislature is an deliberative assembly, assembly with the authority to make laws for a Polity, political entity such as a Sovereign state, count ...

Riksdag
and
Japan Japan ( ja, 日本, or , and formally ) is an island country An island country or an island nation is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is often referred to as the land of an in ...

Japan
's pre-war
Imperial DietImperial Diet means the highest representative assembly in an empire, notably: * Imperial Diet (Holy Roman Empire), general assembly of the Imperial Estates of the Holy Roman Empire (962–1806) * Diet of Japan, Has been going on since 1889 (1889 ...
.


Limited usage in the railway system of the German Democratic Republic

The exception is that during the
Cold War The Cold War was a period of geopolitical Geopolitics (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country loc ...
, the
East German East Germany, officially the German Democratic Republic (GDR; german: Deutsche Demokratische Republik, , DDR, ), was a state that existed from 1949 to 1990 in New states of Germany, eastern Germany as part of the Eastern Bloc in the Cold War. C ...
railway Rail transport (also known as train transport) is a means of transferring passengers and goods on wheeled vehicle A vehicle (from la, vehiculum) is a machine that transports people or cargo. Vehicles include wagons, bicycles, motor veh ...

railway
incongruously continued to use the name ''
Deutsche Reichsbahn The ''Deutsche Reichsbahn'', also known as the German National Railway, the German State Railway, German Reich Railway, and the German Imperial Railway, was the German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, ...
'' (German Reich Railways), which had been the name of the national railway during the Weimar Republic and the Nazi era. Even after
German reunification German reunification (german: Deutsche Wiedervereinigung) was the process in 1990 in which the German Democratic Republic German(s) may refer to: * Germany (of or related to) **Germania (historical use) * Germans, citizens of Germany, peop ...
in October 1990, the Reichsbahn continued to exist for over three years as the operator of the railroad in eastern Germany, ending finally on 1 January 1994 when the Reichsbahn and the western
Deutsche Bundesbahn The Deutsche Bundesbahn or DB (German Federal Railway) was formed as the state railway of the newly established Federal Republic of Germany ) , image_map = , map_caption = , map_width = 250px , capital = Berlin , coordinates = , ...

Deutsche Bundesbahn
were merged to form the privatized
Deutsche Bahn AG The (; abbreviated as DB or DB AG) is the national railway Rail transport (also known as train transport) is a means of transferring passengers and goods on wheeled vehicle A vehicle (from la, vehiculum) is a machine A machine is ...
.


Personal names

The early medieval form of the word, used in the sense "strong", "powerful" or "ruler", appears as an element in many male personal names from the Germanic heroic tradition, such as
Richard The first or given name Richard originates, via Old French Old French (, , ; French language, Modern French: ) was the language spoken in Northern France from the 8th century to the 14th century. Rather than a unified Dialect#Dialect or lan ...

Richard
(strong heart),
Dietrich Dietrich (German language, German pronunciation: diːtrɪç is an ancient German name meaning "Ruler of the People". Also "keeper of the keys" or a "lockpick" either the tool or the profession. Given name * Dietrich, Count of Oldenburg (c. 13 ...
(ruler of the people),
HeinrichHeinrich may refer to: People * Heinrich (given name), most importantly associated with Karl Heinrich Marx , the German philosopher. ° Places * Heinrich (crater), a lunar crater * Heinrich-Hertz-Turm, a telecommunication tower a ...
(ruler of the home), or
FriedrichFriedrich may refer to: Names *Friedrich (surname), people with the surname ''Friedrich'' *Friedrich (given name), people with the given name ''Friedrich'' Other *Friedrich (board game), a board game about Frederick the Great and the Seven Years' W ...
(guardian of the peace).


Usage in related languages


In Scandinavian languages

The cognate of the word Reich is used in all the
Scandinavian languages The North Germanic languages make up one of the three branches of the Germanic languages—a sub-family of the Indo-European languages—along with the West Germanic languages and the extinct East Germanic languages. The language group is also r ...
with the identical meaning, i.e. "
realm A realm is a community or territory over which a sovereign Sovereign is a title which can be applied to the highest leader in various categories. The word is borrowed from Old French ''souverain'', which is ultimately derived from the Latin ...

realm
". It is spelled ''rike'' in Swedish and modern Norwegian and ''rige'' in Danish and older Norwegian (before the 1907 spelling reform). The word is traditionally used for sovereign entities, generally simply means "country" or "nation" (in the sense of a sovereign state) and does not have any special or political connotations. It does not imply any particular form of government, but it does imply that the entity is both of a certain size and of a certain standing, like the Scandinavian kingdoms themselves; hence the word might be considered exaggerated for very small states, like a city-state. Its use as a stand-alone word is more widespread than in contemporary German, but most often it refers to the three Scandinavian states themselves and certain historical empires, like the
Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Republican Republican can refer to: Political ideology * An advocate of a republic, a type of governme ...

Roman Empire
; the standard word for a "country" is usually ''land'' and there are many other words used to refer to countries. The word is part of the official names of Denmark, Norway and Sweden in the form of ''kongerike'' (Norwegian), ''kongerige'' (Danish) and ''konungarike'' (Swedish), all meaning kingdom, or literally the "realm of a king" (a kingdom can also be called ''kongedømme'' in Danish and Norwegian and ''kungadöme'' or ''konungadöme'' in Swedish, direct cognates of the English word). Two regions in Norway that were Petty kingdoms of Norway, petty kingdoms before the unification of Norway around 900 AD have retained the word in the names (see Ringerike (traditional district), Ringerike and Romerike). The word is also used in "Svea rike", with the current spelling ''Sverige,'' the name of Sweden in Swedish. Thus in the official name of Sweden, ''Konungariket Sverige'', the word ''rike'' appears twice. The derived prefix "riks-" (Swedish and Norwegian) and "rigs-" (Danish and pre-1907 Norwegian) implies nationwide or under central jurisdiction. Examples include ''riksväg'' and ''riksvei'', names for a national road in Swedish and Norwegian. It is also present in the names of numerous institutions in all the Scandinavian countries, such as ''Sveriges Riksbank'' (commonly known as just ''Riksbanken''), the central bank of Sweden, and ''Swedish National Audit Office, Riksrevisionen'', the agency responsible for oversight of the state finances in Sweden. It is also used in words such as ''utrikes'' (Swedish), ''utenriks'' (Norwegian) and ''udenrigs'' (Danish), relating to foreign countries and other things from abroad. The opposite word is ''inrikes''/''innenriks''/''indenrigs'', meaning domestic. The Lord's Prayer uses the word in the Swedish, Norwegian and Danish versions: ''Tillkomme ditt rike'', ''Komme ditt rike'', ''Komme dit rige'' ('Thy kingdom come' – old versions). ''Låt ditt rike komma!'', ''La ditt rike komme'', ''Komme dit rige'' ('Let your kingdom come' – new versions). The adjective form of the word, ''rik'' in Swedish and ''rig'' in Danish/Norwegian, means "rich", like in other Germanic languages.


Rijk/ryk

''Rijk'' is the Dutch language, Dutch and ''ryk'' the Afrikaans and Frisian languages, Frisian equivalent of the German word ''Reich''. In a political sense in the Netherlands and Belgium the word ''rijk'' often connotes a connection with the Kingdom of the Netherlands and Belgium as opposed to the European part of the country or as opposed to provincial or municipal governments; the ''ministerraad'' is the executive body of the
Netherlands ) , national_anthem = ( en, "William of Nassau") , image_map = EU-Netherlands.svg , map_caption = , image_map2 = BES islands location map.svg , map_caption2 = , image_map3 ...

Netherlands
' government and the ''rijksministerraad'' that of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, a similar distinction is found in ''wetten'' (laws) versus ''rijkswetten'' (kingdom laws), or the now-abolished ''rijkswacht'' for gendarmerie in Belgium. The word ''rijk'' can also be found in institutions like Rijkswaterstaat, Rijksinstituut voor Volksgezondheid en Milieu, and Rijksuniversiteit Groningen. In colloquial speech Rijk usually means working for the central government rather than the provincial or municipal, much like e.g. Americans refer to the "federal" government. In Afrikaans, ''ryk'' refers to rulership and area of governance (mostly a kingdom), but in a modern sense the term is used in a much more figurative sense (e.g. ''Die Hemelse Ryk'' (the heavenly kingdom, China)), as the sphere under one's control or influence, such as: * ''die drie ryke van die natuur: die plante-, diere- en delfstowweryk'' (the three kingdoms of nature: the plant, animal and mineral kingdom) * ''die duisendjarige ryk'' (the thousand year realm, the Biblical millennium) * ''die ryk van die verbeelding, van drome'' (the realm of the imagination, of dreams) * '' 'n bestuurder wat sy ryk goed beheer'' (a manager that controls his domain well) As in German, the adjective ''rijk''/''ryk'' also means "rich".


See also

*Germany *
German Reich ''German Reich'' (german: Deutsches Reich, ) was the constitutional name for the German nation state A nation state is a state in which a great majority shares the same culture Culture () is an umbrella term which encompasses the social b ...
*Imperium *Reich (disambiguation)


References

{{Authority control Government of Germany fi:Valtakunta