The history of the prosperous nation of modern Germany includes two devastating wars and the country’s subsequent recoveries. The recent unification of East and West Germany is in many ways another triumph, but it also brought new problems and challenges.
During the years between unification of the German states and World War I, Germany enjoyed a period of peace and relative prosperity, the latter closely tied to rapid industrialization and increased production. By the eve of the war, the empire’s economic and demographic growth had made it one of the three major powers of Europe. A series of imperialist conflicts and political misjudgments led Germany into a disaster in World War I.
Having sufficiently enlarged Prussia with the Franco-Prussian War, the Iron Chancellor, as Bismarck was called, worked for peace. He constructed a series of alliances with Austria, Italy, and Russia designed to protect Germany from aggression. At the Congress of Berlin in 1878, Bismarck mediated a settlement in the Balkans, where various Slavic groups kept rebelling against the decaying Ottoman Empire. Largely to please the merchant class, he consented to Germany’s acquiring colonies in Africa and the Pacific, most notably in Cameroon, South-West Africa (Namibia), East Africa (Tanzania), part of New Guinea, and the Marshall Islands. Unlike Britain and France, however, Germany found its colonies valuable chiefly for prestige. "Germany" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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