HOME
        TheInfoList






Reich (/ˈrk/;[1] German: [ˈʁaɪç] (About this soundlisten)) is a German word analogous in meaning to the English word "realm". The terms Kaiserreich (literally "realm of an emperor") and Königreich (literally "realm of a king") are used in German to refer to empires and kingdoms respectively. The Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary indicates that in English usage, the term "the Reich" refers to "Germany during the period of Nazi control from 1933 to 1945".[2]

The term Deutsches Reich (sometimes translated to "German Empire") continued to be used even after the collapse of the German Empire and abolition of the monarchy in 1918. There was no emperor, but many Germans had imperialistic ambitions. According to Richard J. Evans:

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, (Heiliges Römisches Reich (HRR)). Der rîche was a title for the Emperor. However, Latin, not German, was the formal legal language of the medieval Empire (Imperium Romanum Sacrum), so English-speaking historians are more likely to use Latin imperium than German Reich 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) 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, some circles redubbed the HRE into the "Holy Roman Empire of the Germ

At the beginning of the modern age, some circles redubbed the HRE into the "Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation" (Heiliges Römisches Reich Deutscher Nation), a symptom of the formation of a German nation state as opposed to the multinational state the Empire was throughout its history.

Resistance against the French revolution with its concept of the state brought a new movement to create a German "ethnical state", especially after the French revolution with its concept of the state brought a new movement to create a German "ethnical state", especially after the Napoleonic wars. Ideal for this state was the Holy Roman Empire; the legend arose that Germany were "un-defeated when unified", especially after the Franco-Prussian War (Deutsch-Französischer Krieg, lit. "German-French war"). Before that, the German question ruptured this "German unity" after the 1848 Revolution 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 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 in 1871. Ethnic minorities declined since the beginning of the modern age; the Polabs, Sorbs and even the once important Low Germans had to assimilate themselves. This marked the transition between Antijudaism, where converted Jews were accepted as full citizens (in theory), to Antisemitism, where Jews were thought to be from a different ethnicity 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.

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, it was legally a confederation of German states under the permanent presidency of the 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.[4]

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, and never became official.

The unified Germany which arose under Chancello

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, and never became official.

The unified Germany which arose under Chancellor Otto von Bismarck in 1871 was the first entity that was officially called in German Deutsches Reich. 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" (1871–1918), the Weimar Republic (1919–1933; this term is a post-World War II coinage not used at the time), and Nazi Germany (1933–1945).

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 term Reich and the prefix Reichs- 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 (Länder), in the same way that the terms Bund (federation) and Bundes- (federal) are used in Germany today, and comparable to The Crown in Commonwealth countries and The Union in the United States.

During the Nazi period

The The Nazis sought to legitimize their power historiographically by portraying their ascendancy to rule as the direct continuation of an ancient German past. They adopted the term Drittes Reich ("Third Empire" – usually rendered in English in the partial translation "the Third Reich"), first used in a 1923 book entitled Das Dritte Reich by Arthur Moeller van den Bruck,[7] that counted the medieval Holy Roman Empire (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. This ignored the previous 1918–1933 Weimar period, which the Nazis 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) to refer to the German state instead.[8] It was Adolf Hitler's personal desire that Großdeutsches Reich and nationalsozialistischer Staat ("[the] National Socialist State") would be used in place of Drittes Reich.[8] Reichskanzlei Berchtesgaden ("Reich Chancellery 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.[8]

Although the term "Third Reich" is still commonly used to refer to the Nazi dictatorship, historians avoid the terms "First Reich" and "Second Reich", which are seldom found outside Nazi propaganda. During and following the Anschluss (annexation) of Although the term "Third Reich" is still commonly used to refer to the Nazi dictatorship, historians avoid the terms "First Reich" and "Second Reich", which are seldom found outside Nazi propaganda. During and following the Anschluss (annexation) of Austria in 1938, Nazi propaganda also used the political slogan Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer ("One people, one Reich, one leader"), in order to enforce pan-German sentiment. The term Altes Reich ("old Reich"; cf. French ancien regime for monarchical France) is sometimes used to refer to the Holy Roman Empire. The term Altreich 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 millennial connotations of which suggested that Nazi Germany would last for a thousand years.

The Nazis also spoke of enlarging the then-established Greater German Reich into a "Greater Germanic Reich of the German Nation" (Großgermanisches Reich Deutscher Nation) by gradually annexing all the historically Germanic countries and regions of Europe (Flanders, the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Sweden etc.) directly into the Nazi state.[9]

A number of previously neutral words used by the Nazis have later taken on negative connotations in German (e.g. Führer or Heil); while in many contexts Reich is not one of them (Frankreich, France; Römisches Reich, Roman Empire), it can imply German imperialism or strong nationalism if it is used to describe a political or governmental entity. Reich has thus not been used in official terminology since 1945, though it is still found in the name of the Reichstag building, which since 1999 has housed the German federal parliament, 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 – Sitz des Bundestages (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 term "Reichstag" also remains in use in the German language as the term for the parliaments of some foreign monarchies, such as Sweden's Riksdag and Japan's pre-war Imperial Diet.

Limited usage in the railway system of the German Democratic Republic

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

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 (strong heart)[10], Dietrich (ruler of the people), Heinrich (ruler of the home)[11], or Friedrich (guardian of the peace).[citation needed][clarification needed]

Usage in related languages