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Twenty Interesting Tidbits about Germany

Geographically, Germany sits in the middle of Europe, a fact that has led to a central role in much of European history.

Twenty Interesting Tidbits about Germany

If ever there was a country that has spurred an opinion, it is Germany. From starting wars to Oktoberfest, this is a country with a lot going on.

1. Germany sits in the middle of Europe and is bordered by the North Sea, Denmark, the Baltic Sea, Poland, the Czech Republic, Austria, Switzerland, France, Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands.

2. The German Empire was ruled by the Wilhelm Family, but they abdicated after the disaster losses of World War I.

3. The peace treaty signed at the end of World War I placed harsh restrictions on Germany. These restrictions fueled resentment that ultimately led to the rise of nationalism and the Nazis.

4. Adolph Hitler, the head of the Nazi Party, was not German. He was Austrian.

5. The Nazi Party was originally known as the German Workers Party and came into existence in 1919.

6. In 1933, conflicting political attitudes in Germany brought it to the brink of war. The dominant party at the time was the Nazi party who sought to return Germany to its former glory.

7. On February 27, 1933, the Reichstag in Berlin was set on fire and the resulting uproar led to Adolph Hitler becoming Chancellor of Germany. He quickly consolidated his power under the “Enabling Act.” Germany soon thereafter became a one party country.

8. Planning a war to re-establish “Greater Germany”, Hitler signed the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact with the Soviet Union in 1933 to avoid any conflict. He later broke the treaty and invaded Russia.

9. In 1939, Germany invaded Poland and set in place the first chip in World War II. Two days later, Germany declared war on France and England.

10. Germany quickly defeated much of Europe and, emboldened, invaded the Soviet Union in 1941.

11. The invasion of Russia was seen as a major tactical mistake as it created a two-front war and was timed poorly.

12. In the freezing Russian winter, the Germans became bogged down and the battle of Stalingrad became a turning point. Over 800,000 Germans died and were forced to begin a retreat back to Germany with the Soviets in pursuit.

13. Losing the war on both fronts, the Germans surrendered on May 8, 1945 in a bombed out Berlin. Hitler committed suicide in his bunker.

14. Russian and American forces rushed into Berlin in an attempt to capture Nazi scientist. The American space program was almost entirely designed and run by former Nazi scientists.

15. During Hitler’s reign, the Nazi’s killed over six million Jews and other minorities as part of an ethnic cleansing process known as the Holocaust. In Germany, it is currently illegal to deny the Holocaust occurred.

16. 10 to 12 million Germans died in World War II.

17. Following World War II, German was split into two countries with the Soviets controlling East Germany and the Allies controlling West Germany.

18. On October 3, 1990, the end of the cold war saw Germany reunited as one country.

19. Germany is one of the major leaders of green energy technology, leading the way in wind and solar power as energy forms.

20. Volkswagen is a leading car manufacturer in Germany. Its most popular car, the Beetle, was created on direction of Adolph Hitler who wanted a car that practically any German could afford. Ironically, the car subsequently became a favorite of the hippie generation.

Germany is a country of extreme contrasts. From the horrors of Nazism to the current standard bearer of alternative energy, there is much to learn from this country.

Rick Chapo is with Nomad Journals - makers of travel journals that make great travel gifts.

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