The German Empire (German: Deutsches Kaiserreich, officially Deutsches Reich), was the German nation state that existed from the Unification of Germany in 1871 until the abdication of Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1918.
The German Empire consisted of 26 states, most of them ruled by noble families. They included four kingdoms, six grand duchies, five duchies (six before 1876), seven principalities, three free Hanseatic cities, and one imperial territory. Although Prussia was one of several kingdoms in the realm, it contained about two thirds of Germany's population and territory.
After 1850, the states of Germany had rapidly become industrialized, with particular strengths in coal, iron (and later steel), chemicals, and railways. In 1871, Germany had a population of 41 million people; by 1913, this had increased to 68 million. A heavily rural collection of states in 1815, the now united Germany became predominantly urban. During its 47 years of existence, the German Empire was an industrial, technological, and scientific giant, gaining more Nobel Prizes in science than any other country.
The Harden–Eulenburg affair, often simply Eulenburg affair, was the controversy surrounding a series of courts-martial and five civil trials regarding accusations of homosexual conduct, and accompanying libel trials, among prominent members of Kaiser Wilhelm II's cabinet and entourage during 1907–1909.
The affair centred on journalist Maximilian Harden's accusations of homosexual conduct between Philipp, Prince of Eulenburg, and General Kuno, Graf von Moltke. Accusations and counter-accusations quickly multiplied, and the phrase "Liebenberg Round Table" came to be used for the homosexual circle around the Kaiser.
The affair received wide publicity and is often considered the biggest domestic scandal of the German Second Empire. It led to one of the first major public discussions of homosexuality in Germany, comparable to the trial of Oscar Wilde in the United Kingdom.
The incident which provoked the affair followed on the heels of a public relations gaffe by Wilhelm II. Briefly, in November 1908, Wilhelm II began a vacation at an aristocrat's estate in the Black Forest. One evening after dinner, chief of the Military Secretariat Dietrich von Hülsen-Haeseler was performing a pas seul dressed in a woman's ballet tutu when his heart failed and he died. Ottokar von Czernin, also in attendance, remarked, "In Wilhelm II, I saw a man who, for the first time in his life, with horror-stricken eyes, looked upon the world as it really was." Despite the Emperor's fears, the incident, with its implications of homosexuality at high levels, seemed successfully hushed up.
Manfred von Richthofen (2 May 1892 – 21 April 1918), also widely known as the Red Baron, was a German fighter pilot with the Imperial German Army Air Service (Luftstreitkräfte) during the First World War. He is considered the ace-of-aces of the war, being officially credited with 80 air combat victories.
Originally a cavalryman, Richthofen transferred to the Air Service in 1915, becoming one of the first members of Jasta 2 in 1916. He quickly distinguished himself as a fighter pilot, and during 1917 became leader of Jasta 11 and then the larger unit Jagdgeschwader 1 (better known as the "Flying Circus"). By 1918, he was regarded as a national hero in Germany, and respected and admired even by his enemies.