The unforgettable images of the Fall of the Berlin Wall and German reunification are now over a quarter of a century old. There had been repeated earlier efforts, however, to make Germany one nation.
1,200 years before German reunification other individuals were striving to secure unity in the heart of Europe. In the third part of 'The Germany Saga' historian Christopher Clark travels in his VW Beetle to Aachen – the city of Charlemagne, who was already dubbed the “Father of Europe” in his own lifetime. Driven by the vision of a Christian empire, the mighty King of the Franks gave the diverse patchwork of western European peoples a political structure – thus creating the foundations for modern Germany.
A Common Language
Clark’s quest to discover what makes the Germans a people takes him to the man who gave them their common language. Martin Luther became a hugely inspirational and influential figure, preaching against the Papacy and appealing to nationalist sentiments. The Reformation movement he triggered, however, was also highly divisive and eventually leading to the Thirty Years War – which devastated Germany after turning it into the battlefield of Europe.
Konrad Adenauer was the first Chancellor of the Federal Republic (initially West Germany) founded after WWII
From Division to Unification
Clark also surveys the period between the failed revolutions of 1848-49 and German unification in 1871. The outbreak of the First World War in 1914 presented the nation with the first major threat to its unity. Then, after the Second World War, Germany was divided among the victorious powers, who were adamant that mass murder and war should never again emanate from the country. Only after reunification in 1990 were Germany and Europe able to cement the close relationship they enjoy today.
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