The German Saga - Part 1 | DocFilm | DW | 02.05.2016
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The German Saga - Part 1

Who were the first humans to walk on German soil? What traces did they leave and where did they end up? Historian Christopher Clark is on the search for answers.

On his journey into the origins of the German people, Christopher Clark makes his first stop in the Swabian Alps where stone-age hunters lived 14,000 years ago. Homo sapiens hunted reindeer and bears here, and sought shelter in the caves of the limestone cliffs. These prehistoric settlers were creative in their inventions and produced sophisticated stone tools. But they’re not considered the first ancestors of modern-day Germans.

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The first “Germans” had a long journey behind them, probably originating in South Africa.

The Original German People

Our closest, extinct human relatives are the Neanderthals. Remains of these strong, ice-age hunters with the characteristic jutting brow were discovered in Düsseldorf in 1856. It’s now known that, despite vanishing from earth 30,000 years ago, this mysterious prehistoric human is still alive – in us. People today carry up to four percent Neanderthal genes, which means interbreeding must have taken place between Homo sapiens and Neanderthals sometime around 50,000 years ago.

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The Ubii were one of the first Germanic tribes to trade with the Romans.

Land of Tribes

Because the Romans failed to conquer this Germanic territory, the area remained a land of tribes until the mass migration around 300 – 700 AD. The Alemanni, Franks, Baiovarii, Hessians, Frisians, Saxons and many others fought for their independence, and occasionally, still do today.

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