Timeline of German history

500 BC

Germanic tribes from Scandinavia move to Northern Germany

57 BC

During the Gallic Wars, Julius Caesar invades Western regions of Germany


The German ruler, Emperor Charlemagne, becomes Roman Emperor


German king Otto I. becomes Roman Emperor. This marks the beginning of the Holy Roman Empire of German Nations


Bruno of Carinthia becomes the first German pope, Gregory V


In the Investiture Controversy, the Church challenges the authorities of European monarchies. This leads to 47 years of Civil War in Germany


Emperor Henry IV makes his Walk to Canossa from Speyer, Germany


The Concordat of Worms ends the Investiture Controversy


The Golden Bull is issued, which will serve as a form of constitution for the Holy Roman Empire for the next 400 years


Formation of the Hanseatic League, an association of market towns in Northern Germany and beyond. The Hanseatic League also grew to be a defensive union of the cities involved, ensuring mutual protection


The Gutenberg Bible is printed in Mainz by Johannes Gutenberg, who introduced the printing press


Martin Luther writes the Ninety-Five Theses and posts them to the door of the Castle Church of Wittenberg. This action is widely viewed as the start of the Protestant Reformation


Peasants, farmers, miners and members of the urban lower class in Southern Germany and parts of today’s Austria and Switzerland start a revolt against the aristocracy. The revolt failed one year later


First Siege of Vienna by troops of the Ottoman Empire


The Peace of Augsburg is signed. It is regarded as the first documented example of religious freedom in Europe


The Thirty Years’ War begins. In its essence, the war, which was fought across most of Central Europe, was an armed conflict between Catholics and Protestants and later, by extension, between the long-feuding houses of Habsburg and Bourbon.


The Peace of Westphalia ends the Thirty Years’s War. By then, the war had caused massive devastation to vast regions, a major loss of life on all sides and the bankruptcy of some of the parties.


The Kingdom of Prussia is formed with Frederick I as the first king


The War of the Austrian Succession begins. What started of as a dispute over the next Austrian queen developed into a war involving Russia, Spain, France, Prussia, Great Britain and others. Later, Austria and Prussia fought two more wars over control of Prussia.


The Seven Years’s War over territorial conflicts begins between Great Britain and the French-Spanish dynasty of the Bourbons. The war soon extends to territories outside of Europa and develops into a World War


The transformational ideas of the French Revolution impact Germany


Begin of the Napoleonic Wars which for the next nine years would alter the course of history for large parts of Europe. Napoleon conquered the Rhineland in 1806 and fought many battles on German ground and lost the Battle of Leipzig in 1819


Brothers Grimm publish their first book of fairy tales


At the Congress of Vienna, several boundaries between European countries are redefined in an attempt to secure peace. In its course, the German Confederation is formed out of 39 German states to act as a buffer zone between Prussia and Austria


The Hambach Festival marks the turning point for the German democracy movement and emphasizes the idea of German unity


Founding of the Zollverein, a customs union between most of the German states and some other European countries


As in other European countries, Germany experiences a series of revolutionary protests fighting for more political freedom


In Frankfurt, the first elected parliament for all of Germany convenes at the Paulskirche. The parliament generates a Constitution based on democratic principles which would later serve as a model for the Constitution of 1949


The Austro-Prussian War results in the annexation of  several states by Prussia and the dissolution of the German Confederation. Prussia becomes the most influential member of the North German Confederation.


Prussian King Wilhelm I declares himself German Emperor after Prussia defeated France in a short war and won a part of Alsace. Bismarck is inserted as Chancellor and soon attempts tp weaken the position of the Catholic Church.


Bismarck forms the Triple Alliance with Austria-Hungary and Italy as a counterweight to the Triple Entente between Britain, France and Russia


Gottlieb Daimler and Carl Benz invent the combustion engine for automobiles


In the Heligoland-Zanzibar treaty, Germany gains a strategically important island in the North Sea from Britain in exchange for its African colony


Germany joins World War I after its ally Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia. The Emperor joined the war in the hope of uniting the German people behind the monarchy, although the country soon proved to be  ill-prepared. Britain starts a naval supply blockade of Germany


During the nine-months Battle of Verdun, more than 700,000 French and German soldiers are killed


After the German Revolution, a revolt led by sailors, the Emperor is overthrown


Following a constitutional assembly in Weimar, the Federal Republic of Germany is proclaimed. The Weimar Republic soon faced challenges such as political extremism and the burdens charged to it under the Treaty of Versailles, with which Germany accepted guilt for the war


Workers revolt in parts of the country after a general strike which had followed an unsuccessful coup attempt


When Germany fails to pay reparations stemming from the Treaty of Versailles, France and Belgium occupy the Ruhr area


The Munich Beer Hall Putsch conducted by Hitler and his Nazi party fails


The Locarno Treaties, intended to normalize relations to Germany, are signed by the allies of World War I. Germany joins League of Nations


Germany is hit hard by the Great Depression


After the Nazi party received the most votes in the general elections, Adolf Hitler is appointed Chancellor. When a fire breaks out in the parliament building, the Nazis present this as a sign for communist uprising and decree the limitation of many civil rights. Also in 1933, the Nazis party decreed the Enabling Act, which gave legislative powers to the cabinet.


Upon the death of President Paul von Hindenburg, Hitler assumes presidential powers as well and from now on pronounces himself Führer


Austria is annexed by Germany. Although this annexation violated the Treaty of Versailles, there was no action taken by the Allies. In November, the Reichskristallnacht occurs: Thousands of Jewish houses, businesses and synagogues are destroyed, Jewish Germans arrested or killed


After the annexation of parts of Czechoslovakia, Germany invades and occupies Poland. As a result, France, Great Britain and others declare war on Germany. The deportation of Jews begins


Germany invades Norway, Belgium, the Netherlands, Romania, Luxembourg and France, which later in 1940 surrenders


The Germans start supporting Italian military actions on African soil. Greece and Yugoslavia surrender to Germany, which in turn starts the invasion of the former ally Russia. In December, the United States officially declare war on Germany and the axis


At the Wannsee Conference, the “Final Solution to the Jewish question” is made. In August, the battle of Stalingrad begins which will prove to be a turning point in German warfare in the East. In the North African theatre, Germany also suffers heavy losses.


The US send several corps to Europe and begin air raids on Germany, drastically increasing the number of civilian casualties. The Nazis extend conscription to include teens and women and declare “total war”. German troops in Africa surrender


During D-Day, 155,000 troops land in France and continue towards Germany. In October, the first German city, Aachen, is conquered by the allies. Stauffenberg’s assassination attempt on Hitler fails in July. Hitler leaves his war headquarters and moves into a bunker in Berlin.


Concentration camps are liberated one-by-one. Hitler’s generals ignore the Führer’s orders to destroy Germany and in April, Hitler commits suicide. Germany surrenders unconditionally, the country is divided into four areas of control between Russia, France, Britain and the US


The Deutsche Mark is introduced as Germany’s new currency


The Berlin Blockade begins. With it, the Soviet Union blocks all allied access to Berlin. The allies organize the airlift to supply West Berlin.


The German Democratic Republic in the East and the Federal Republic of Germany in the West are founded, Adenauer becomes first Chancellor


Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, France, Italy and Germany form the European Coal and Steel Community, one of the predecessors of the European Union


East Germany begins with the fortification of the Inner German border, allegedly to protect itself against capitalist influences


A strike by construction workers in East Berlin leads to an uprising. The government answers violently, leaving more than 500 dead


West Germany joins the NATO, East Germany joins the Warsaw Pact


The Berlin Wall is built as an instrument to halt defection to West Germany


During the Olympic Summer Games in Munich, Palestinian terrorists kill 11 members of the Israeli team


Several acts of terrorism by leftwing radicalists occur in what would later be called the German Autumn


On November 9th, after weeks of peaceful mass demonstrations in East Germany, primarily in Leipzig every Monday evening, the East German government announces the opening of the border crossings to the West to anyone.


Germany is reunited


By ratification of the Maastricht Treaty, the European Union is created


During the war in former Yugoslavia, German troops for the first time since World War II are assigned outside of the country under NATO order


The Euro is introduced, replacing the Deutsche Mark and other national currencies across Europe