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Portal:Military history of Germany

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Insignia of the Bundeswehr
While German-speaking people have a long history, Germany as a nation state dates only from 1871. Earlier periods are subject to definition debates. The Franks, for instance, were a union of Germanic tribes; nevertheless, some of the Franks later identified themselves as Dutch, Flemish, French and again others as Germans. The capital of medieval ruler Charlemagne's empire was the city of Aachen, now part of Germany, yet he was a Frank. France was named after the Franks and the Dutch and Flemish people are the only ones to speak a language that descends from Frankish (the language of the Franks). Hence nearly all continental Western European historians can claim his victories as their heritage. The Holy Roman Empire he founded was largely but far from entirely German speaking. The Kingdom of Prussia, which unified Germany in the 19th century, had significant territory in what is now Poland. In the early 19th century, the philosopher Schlegel referred to Germany as a Kulturnation, a nation of shared culture and political disunity, analogous to ancient Greece. Until the unification of 1871, Austria was considered a part of Germany even though much of its empire was not in the Holy Roman Empire and was non-German. Read more...

Selected article

Bundesarchiv Bild 193-04-1-26, Schlachtschiff Bismarck.jpg

Bismarck was the first of two Bismarck-class battleships built for the German Kriegsmarine during World War II. Named after Chancellor Otto von Bismarck, the primary force behind the German unification in 1871, the ship was laid down at the Blohm & Voss shipyard in Hamburg in July 1936 and launched nearly three years later in April 1939. Work was completed in August 1940, when she was commissioned into the German fleet. Along with her sister ship Tirpitz, Bismarck was the largest battleship ever built by Germany, and the heaviest built by any European power.

Bismarck conducted only one offensive operation, codenamed Rheinübung, in May 1941. The ship, along with the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen, was to break out into the Atlantic Ocean and raid Allied shipping from North America to Great Britain. The two ships were detected several times off Scandinavia, however, and British naval units were deployed to block their route. At the Battle of Denmark Strait, Bismarck engaged and destroyed the battlecruiser HMS Hood, the pride of the Royal Navy, and forced the battleship HMS Prince of Wales to retreat with heavy damage, although in the end Bismarck herself was hit three times and suffered an oil leak from a ruptured tank following the hits.

The destruction of Hood spurred a relentless pursuit by the Royal Navy with dozens of warships involved. Two days later, while steaming for the relative safety of occupied France, Bismarck was attacked by Fairey Swordfish torpedo bombers from the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal; one hit was scored that jammed the battleship's steering gear and rendered her unmanoeuvrable. The following morning, Bismarck was destroyed by a pair of British battleships. The cause of her sinking is disputed: some in the Royal Navy claim that torpedoes fired by the cruiser HMS Dorsetshire administered the fatal blow, while German survivors argue that they scuttled the ship. In June 1989, Robert Ballard discovered the location of Bismarck's wreck. Several other expeditions have surveyed the sunken battleship in an effort to document more completely the condition of the ship and to determine the cause of the ship's loss. (Read more)

Selected biography

Werner von Haeften in 1939.

Werner Karl von Haeften (9 October 1908 – 21 July 1944) was an Oberleutnant in the Wehrmacht, who took part in the military-based conspiracy against Adolf Hitler known as the 20 July plot.

Haeften and his brother Hans were born in Berlin, the sons of Hans von Haeften, an army officer and President of the Reichsarchiv (German National Archives). He studied law in his home town and then worked for a bank in Hamburg until the outbreak of the Second World War when he joined the German Army.

In 1943, having recovered from a severe wound he had suffered on the Eastern Front, Haeften became adjutant to Oberst Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg, one of the leading figures in the German Resistance.

On 20 July 1944, Haeften accompanied Stauffenberg to the military high command of the Wehrmacht near Rastenburg, East Prussia (now Kętrzyn, in Poland), where Stauffenberg planted a briefcase bomb in a conference room at Hitler's Wolfsschanze (Wolf's Lair) headquarters. After the detonation, Stauffenberg and Haeften rushed to Berlin and, not knowing that Hitler had survived the explosion, attempted to launch the long-planned coup d'état, which would swiftly fail.

(Read more)

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Bundeswehr in Afghanistan, August 2011.jpg
Bundeswehr in Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan (August 2011)

Did you know?

German army belt buckle
  • ...that Bundeswehr belt buckles are inscribed with Einigkeit – Recht – Freiheit, which translates to Unity – Justice – Freedom?
  • ...that the Bundeswehr Military History Museum building is 14,000 square meters and has an inside and outside exhibition area of about 20,000 square meters, making it Germany's largest museum.

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Military history of Germany(55 C, 65 P)
Wars involving Germany(25 C, 30 P)
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Battles in Hesse(14 P)
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Battles in Thuringia(10 P)
Battles involving Germany(8 C, 15 P, 1 F)
Military of Bavaria(4 C, 13 P)
Military history of Berlin(1 C, 7 P)
Military of East Germany(8 C, 29 P)
Forts in Germany(1 C, 22 P)
Freikorps(3 C, 6 P)
German War Graves Commission(5 C, 27 P)
Military of Hamburg(2 P)
Invasions by Germany(2 C, 14 P)
King's German Legion(38 P)
Military of Württemberg(2 C, 5 P)
Naval history of Germany(8 C, 45 P)
Military of Nazi Germany(5 C, 19 P)
German military occupations(12 C, 28 P)
Peace treaties of Germany(1 C, 8 P)
Military history of Prussia(3 C, 20 P)
Military of Prussia(9 C, 13 P)
Military of Saxony(2 C, 5 P)
German war crimes(3 C, 3 P, 1 F)
German Empire in World War I(11 C, 64 P, 27 F)

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Albert KesselringAlbert SpeerAxis naval activity in Australian watersBattle of Arras (1917)Battle of AusterlitzBattle of BicoccaBattle of BlenheimBattle of CeresoleBattle of DürensteinBattle of GreeceBattle of MoscowBattle of RamilliesBattle of SchellenbergBattle of Verrières RidgeBattle of Villers-BocageBattle of Vimy RidgeBayern-class battleshipBert TrautmannBlack Friday (1945)Cologne WarDerfflinger-class battlecruiserErnest Augustus I of HanoverErnst LindemannFalaise pocketFinnish Civil WarFrederick III, German EmperorHelgoland-class battleshipHelmut LentHermann DetznerIG Farben BuildingInner German borderItalian War of 1521-1526Italian War of 1542-1546Johann von KlenauKaiser-class battleshipKönig-class battleshipMauthausen-Gusen concentration campMoltke-class battlecruiserNassau-class battleshipOmaha BeachOperation BrevityOperation CharnwoodOperation CobraOperation EpsomOperation PerchOperation TeardropOperation TractableOperation UranusOperation VarsityPanzer IPigeon photographyRheinmetall 120 mm gunSMS Baden (1915)SMS Bayern (1915)SMS BlücherSMS DerfflingerSMS Friedrich der Grosse (1911)SMS GoebenSMS Grosser Kurfürst (1913)SMS HelgolandSMS HindenburgSMS KönigSMS Kronprinz (1914)SMS LützowSMS MarkgrafSMS Moltke (1910)SMS RheinlandSMS SeydlitzSMS Von der TannSMS WestfalenSM U-66Second Ostend RaidTAM (tank)Ulm CampaignUnification of GermanyWalter ModelWar of the Bavarian SuccessionWar of the Fifth CoalitionWar of the League of Cambrai

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Action of 28 January 1945Arado E.381Design A-150 battleshipBattle of AachenBattle of Bita PakaBombardment of PapeeteCold WarDeutschland-class battleshipEgmont Prinz zur Lippe-WeißenfeldGerman battleship TirpitzHeinrich Prinz zu Sayn-WittgensteinHeuschrecke 10Juno BeachKaunas FortressLe Paradis massacreMax-Hellmuth OstermannMoro River CampaignOperation FreshmanOperation LüttichOperation PostmasterOperation TotalizeOperation WindsorOperation Winter StormOrder of Saint HubertOrganization of the Luftwaffe (1933-1945)SMS Deutschland (1904)SMS HannoverSMS Kaiser (1911)SMS KaiserinSMS Kurfürst Friedrich WilhelmSMS NassauSMS OstfrieslandSMS PosenSM U-68Sd.Kfz. 10Second Battle of KharkovWalter NowotnyWehrmacht forces for the Ardennes OffensiveWolfgang Lüth

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Armored cruisers of GermanyBattleships of Austria-HungaryBattleships of GermanyGerman Type IXA submarinesGerman Type U 66 submarinesGerman Type UB I submarinesPrinz Adalbert-class armored cruisersRoon-class armored cruisersScharnhorst-class armored cruisersU-1-class submarines (Austria-Hungary)U-3-class submarinesU-5-class submarinesU-20-class submarinesU-27-class submarines (Austria-Hungary)U-43-class submarines (Austria-Hungary)

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1939 German ultimatum to Lithuania1st Parachute Brigade (United Kingdom)28 cm SK L/40 gun30.5 cm SK L/50 gunAction off LofotenAdlertagAdmiral Hipper-class cruiserAdolf GallandAgnes von Mansfeld-EislebenBattle of Amiens (1918)Battle of ArnhemBattle of Bautzen (1945)Battle of BelgiumBattle of Dover Strait (1916)Battle of Fort Eben-EmaelBattle of GrunwaldBattle of Hill 70Battle of Lanzerath RidgeBattle of Merville Gun BatteryBattle of MessinesBattle of Mont SorrelBattle of NgomanoBattle of RomaniBattle of San MarinoBattle of SchliengenBattle of Sedan (1940)Battle of VauchampsBattle of WaterlooBattle of the Heligoland Bight (1939)Battle of the NetherlandsBattle of the Strait of Otranto (1917)Battle off TexelBismarck-class battleshipBlack BrunswickersBrandenburg-class battleshipBraunschweig-class battleshipBrummer-class cruiserCharles FryattChristmas truceConvoy FaithCöln-class cruiserDornier Do 17Emil Lang (fighter ace)Ersatz Yorck-class battlecruiserÉtienne Marie Antoine Champion de NansoutyFirst Ostend RaidFranz von HipperFriedrich FoertschFriedrich GeißhardtFriedrich Wilhelm, Fürst zu Hohenlohe-KirchbergGebhard Truchsess von WaldburgGerman Type IXA submarineGerman Type UB I submarineGerman Type U 66 submarineGerman U-boat bases in occupied NorwayGerman aircraft carrier I (1915)German aircraft carrier I (1942)German attacks on NauruGerman battleship BismarckGerman battleship GneisenauGerman battleship ScharnhorstGerman cruiser Admiral Graf SpeeGerman cruiser Admiral HipperGerman cruiser Admiral ScheerGerman cruiser BlücherGerman cruiser DeutschlandGerman cruiser Lützow (1939)German cruiser Prinz EugenGerman cruiser SeydlitzGeman destroyer Z8 Bruno HeinemannGeman destroyer Z9 Wolfgang ZenkerGeman destroyer Z11 Bernd von ArnimGerman involvement in the Spanish Civil WarGerman submarine U-27 (1936)German submarine U-28 (1936)German submarine U-30 (1936)German submarine U-36 (1936)German submarine U-37 (1938)German submarine U-38 (1938)German submarine U-39 (1938)German submarine U-40 (1938)German submarine U-41 (1939)German submarine U-42 (1939)German submarine U-43 (1939)German submarine U-44 (1939)German submarine U-47 (1938)German submarine U-64 (1939)German submarine U-104 (1940)German submarine U-105 (1940)German submarine U-111 (1940)German submarine U-162 (1941)German submarine U-255German submarine U-853German submarine U-2336Greater Germanic ReichGünther SpechtH-class battleship proposalsHeinkel He 111High Seas FleetHindu-German ConspiracyJRM ZmajJade-class aircraft carrierJoachim HelbigJohann Jakob von WunschJoseph GoebbelsJunkers Ju 87Kaiser Friedrich III-class battleshipKristallnachtKurt WelterL 20 α-class battleshipLiberation of ArnhemMackensen-class battlecruiserOdin-class coastal defense shipOperation AquatintOperation BodenplatteOperation DeadstickOperation DonnerkeilOperation DoomsdayOperation IskraOperation PaulaOperation SlapstickOtto KittelPanzer 35(t)Preussen-class ironcladPrinz Adalbert-class cruiserPrussian uprisingsReinhard ScheerReinhold von WernerRommelspargelRudyard Kipling (ship)SMS ArminiusSMS BrandenburgSMS BraunschweigSMS BremseSMS BrummerSMS Deutschland (1874)SMS Dresden (1917)SMS ElsassSMS Friedrich CarlSMS Friedrich Carl (1867)SMS Friedrich der Grosse (1874)SMS Fürst Bismarck (1897)SMS GneisenauSMS Grosser Kurfürst (1875)SMS Hansa (1872)SMS HelaSMS HessenSMS Kaiser (1874)SMS Kaiser BarbarossaSMS Kaiser Friedrich IIISMS Kaiser Karl der GrosseSMS Kaiser Wilhelm IISMS Kaiser Wilhelm der GrosseSMS Kronprinz (1867)SMS König AlbertSMS König WilhelmSMS LothringenSMS MecklenburgSMS PommernSMS Preussen (1873)SMS Preussen (1903)SMS Prinz Adalbert (1865)SMS Prinz Adalbert (1901)SMS Prinz HeinrichSMS Prinzregent LuitpoldSMS RadetzkySMS RoonSMS SchlesienSMS Schleswig-HolsteinSMS SchwabenSMS ThüringenSMS WeissenburgSMS WettinSMS WittelsbachSMS WörthSMS YorckSMS ZähringenSM U-1 (Austria-Hungary)SM U-3 (Austria-Hungary)SM U-4 (Austria-Hungary)SM U-10 (Austria-Hungary)SM U-11 (Austria-Hungary)SM U-67SM U-69SM U-70SM UB-2SM UB-3SM UB-4SM UB-5SM UB-6SM UB-7SM UB-8SM UB-9SM UB-11SM UB-12SM UB-13SM UB-17SM UB-42SM UB-44SM UB-46SM UB-47SM UB-50Sachsen-class ironcladScharnhorst-class battleshipScharnhorst-class cruiserScuttling of the German fleet in Scapa FlowSd.Kfz. 8Sd.Kfz. 9Second Battle of PasschendaeleSiegfried-class coastal defense shipSt Nazaire RaidSwabian WarTallinn OffensiveTartu OffensiveThe Hardest DayTiger IIU-43-class submarine (Austria-Hungary)U-52-class submarineWalter OesauWalter OhmsenWittelsbach-class battleshipWorld War II

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