When was Germany founded?

The founding of the Empire in 1871

Prussia's victory over Austria in the Battle of Königgrätz on July 3, 1866 forced the Danube Monarchy out of the German Confederation and laid the foundation stone of a German nation-state under Prussian rule. Prussia annexed the states of Hanover, Kurhessen, Nassau and Frankfurt am Main, allied with Austria in the so-called German War, as well as the duchies of Schleswig and Holstein, and dethroned their respective rulers. With this area expansion, the land connection between the old provinces and the economically important Rhineland, which Prussia had longed for, was established. In place of the dissolved German Confederation, Bismarck set the North German Confederation, into which all German states north of the Main line were incorporated. The North German Confederation was no longer a loose confederation of states, but a federal state with the Federal Chancellor - exercised in a dual function by the Prussian Prime Minister Bismarck - as the highest government organ, with a uniform foreign and military policy as well as with a constitution and military. Prussia's increasing hegemony in Germany viewed France in particular with great concern, which feared for its supremacy in Central Europe. Bismarck came to the conclusion that a military confrontation with France was only a matter of time and saw in a war the appropriate means to complete the unification process of Germany "by blood and iron". Since the southern German states had committed themselves to a brotherhood in arms with Prussia, they should also be politically involved in the new Reich in a war waged jointly against France. The conflict over the succession to the throne in Spain gave rise to war, as a result of which, and after mutual provocations, France declared war on the Kingdom of Prussia on July 19, 1870.

In 1870, patriotic enthusiasm in Germany hit waves as high as in the Wars of Liberation from 1813 to 1815 against Napoleon I (1769-1821). The southern German states did not hesitate to fulfill their alliance obligations and to stand on the side of Prussia. On September 2, 1870, the allied German troops achieved the decisive victory at Sedan. While the German troops advanced to Paris and closed the siege ring around the capital, Bismarck conducted diplomatic negotiations with the southern German states from September 1870 in order to complete the unification of the empire as a "revolution from above" during the Franco-Prussian War. Under the influence of the war, the southern German states joined the North German Confederation and thus paved the way for the unification of the empire. The protracted negotiations were concluded in the "November Treaties": They included the treaty with Baden and Hesse on the establishment of the German Confederation - the originally intended name of the German Reich - of November 15, the North German Military Convention of November 25 and Treaties with the kingdoms of Bavaria and Württemberg on accession to the German Federal Constitution of November 23 and 25, 1870.

The constitution of the German Empire, which was to come into force on January 1, 1871, first had to be approved by the Bundesrat, the Reichstag of the North German Confederation and the South German Chambers. A deputation from the Reichstag then traveled to the headquarters in Versailles to ask Wilhelm I to accept the dignity of Emperor and thus to complete the work of unification. The Prussian King complied with this request on December 18, 1870, exactly one month later - at the request of Wilhelm I on the 170th anniversary of the elevation of the Elector of Brandenburg to King in Prussia on January 18, 1701 - the assembled German princes and high officials called Military in the Hall of Mirrors from Versailles Wilhelm I as "German Emperor". In the German consciousness, the imperial proclamation remained the actual act of founding an empire. The majority of the German people saw in this the fulfillment of national wishes and a high point in German history.