The centre of Europe
in the second millennium.
A country that needs a long time to become united.
People who need centuries to finally consider themselves German.
Who are we?
Where do we come from?
Questions through a millennium of German history.
He is the Emperor of the French
and wanting also to rule Germany.
As a general of the 'French Revolution'
he brings hope of freedom to life.
As warlord he antagonizes the Germans.
Thus, unintentionally he sparked the first upsurge of German patriotism.
'Napoleon and the Germans'
He was a ruler of the century.
Some even called him a demigod,
others called him a monster.
He was said to be invincible and he knew it.
"These Prussians really want to fight against me.
The thought as such is grotesque."
In 1806 Prussian troops were crushed at the battle
of Jena and Auerstedt in Thuringia by the legendary 'Grande Arme'.
Prussia stands firm against Napoleon
and trying to put France in their place.
But Bonaparte doesn't tolerate any resistance.
Especially not when a woman is interfering.
'Queen Luise of Prussia'
She is popular in her country.
Napoleon feels more provoked by her than by her husband,
the Prussian King.
An excerpt from the bulletin of his 'Grand Army':
"She dresses like a dragoon and
fuels up the war from all sides.
She has a pretty face
but has no idea about the consequences of her doing."
In fact the formerly victorious army of the Hohenzollern experinces an inferno
at Jena and Auerstedt.
The agile French army Once more triumphs
over inflexible German troops again.
For him a predictable victory.
Now, Germany is completly under his control.
"Well, gentlemen my next target is now Berlin."
The road to the Prussian capital leads to the street 'Unter den Linden',
and through the 'Brandenburg Gate', 15 years old by then.
At the beginning of the 19th Century it marks the western gateway,
of the metropolis with 180,000 inhabitants.
The gate becomes an epoch-spanning symbol
for the ups and the downs of German history.
For their abysses
and their longings.
In 1806, the victor over Prussia go through it...Napoleon.
And first he awakens hopes.
'Vive l'empereur'-'Long live the Emperor' cheers the crowd .
-Napoleon sells himself perfectly becoming almost a star at the time.
Many have cheered at the beginning as long as they seen him as liberator,
as long as they could admire him as a war hero
and as long as the burdens were still small.
-The Quadriga is taken to Paris as booty.
A first humiliation
and more will follow.
In the past years Prussia having often benefitted from French policy
and now it has to pay a high price for its resistance.
In 1807 Napoleon dictates his peace conditions at Tilsit in East Prussia.
Here he meets the woman he had taunted earlier.
Bonaparte is a monster for Queen Luise.
She came only to pacify the winner highly pregnant for the ninth time.
"We fought an unlucky war.
Do I have to think that you are going to misuse this triumph?"
"You forced me to the utmost.
Did not I offer you peace frequently? "
"Peace? But to what conditions?"
"You can not blame me for my decision
which I see adequate as the French Emperor."
"I'm concerned about the fate of my beloved children.
I could not stand the thought of them living an unhappy life. "
Then the surprise...
"Frederich Wilhelm!" The third and King of Prussia.
Napoleon later wrote that he resisted with difficulty the requests from Luise.
Luckily, her husband had entered the room.
Prussia often arbitrary itself, is not spared, now.
The state has to pay immense sums of compensations to France.
The state losses the half of it's territory.
Only little still remains of old Hohenzollern power that Frederich the Great once established.
Now this man is at the zenith of his power,
Napoleon Bonaparte who crowned himself as Emperor of the French.
He admires Charlemagne and wants to follow the steps
of the legendary King of the franks whose throne can be seen at Aachen.
-Napoleon tries to archive Charlemagne's status.
He simply needs a legitimation for his reign.
He is a social climber, he does not have any royal blood from any leading family of Europe
and now he tries to create a dynastic basis for himself.
-And he does it with all pomp.
In 1806 Napoleon forced this man the monarch Franz II, to resign.
So far Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire of the German nation.
Future only Emperor of Austria.
The old Roman-German Empire could not brave the conquerer.
Next to bigger powers it consisted of hundreds of smaller territories.
The centre of Europe looked like a jigsaw.
Napoleon changed this with the help of German allies.
-His aim was to reform this Europe
to achive more unification, less single states
one at the top, capable of acting inside and outside.
-With the help of German monarchs Napoleon stopped the fragmentation.
Once independent imperial cities as 'Rothenburg ob der Tauber'
passed to more powerful lords, such as the Bavarian.
Clerical territories became secular.
The bishopric Wurzburg become grand duchy.
In return, German rulers abandoned territories west of the Rhine,
which now belonged to France.
East of the Rhine Napoleon formed a dependent confederation of at first 16 states.
One of them was Wuertemberg,
by Napoleon grace becoming one of the new German kingdoms.
Of course with its own King.
The French Emperor expects money and troops in return.
The territory of the former Empire was split into 4 regions of power.
Territories west of the Rhine belong to France now.
Austria loses territory and becomes Empire.
After it's defeat Prussian loses half of his territoy.
The Confederation of the Rhine consists of smaller states,
and medium states such as Bavaria, Wuerttemberg and Saxony.
A map of Germany in the year 1808.
-This process of enlargement and consolidation of states
had finally pushed on the German nation building process.
But that was totally unintended at the time,
and did not initially result in a national movement but rather enhanced the building of the state.
-While, thanks to Napoleon some states on German ground grow,
the reduced Prussia has to pay high tribute to France.
The royal family has fled to East Prussia.
The monarch thinks about to resign.
In these days, Queen Luise writes:
"Prussia's judgment namely our death sentence is pronounced.
Prussia does not exists anymore.
And that what is not dead has to work for the french."
A savior is needed.
The Queen thinks she knows a suitable man.
A notoriously stubborn person.
But nevertheless a man who saved the Prussian Treasury from Napoleon's grasp.
It is an interlectual and politician from Nassau,
the Freiherr vom Stein.
His memoirs are infamous.
In the fall of 1807, he is on his way to East Prussia.
Stein has been minister in Prussia once before,
but he fell from grace for disagreeing with his King
and demanded political reforms.
He sees the reason for Napoleon victory in Prussias paralysis.
In order to shake off foreign rule Prussia needed to rebuild itslef from inside.
That the only way Prussia or even the whole of Germany could free itself of Napoleon.
In his refuge in Memel the King, his former and future master awaits him.
"You know the circumstances of our last parting."
"Majesty knows, I have no conditions in this situation"
"I know your demands?"
"Majesty, Prussia needs to be ruled by expert men."
Stein wants to put the monarch and the nobles in their place
"I await your suggestions."
Stein wants to win over the citizens for the state,
and to engage them in political life, like it was accomplished in France.
He doesn't demand a revolution from the bottom up
but the reformation from above.
-He later denied it several times but it is completely clear
that he has been influenced
by the French ideal of a citizen.
-Stein feels challenged by Napoleon,
who has merged the accomplishments of the French Revolution
into one legal document,
the 'Napoleonic Code'.
He subdued the forces of the revolution:
Civil rights, equality before the law, liberation of the peasants,
religious liberty, control over ones belongings.
Napoleon wants to enforce all of these on German ground, as well.
The Rhine divides the progress.
On the left side, the 'Npoleonic Code' is introduced,
but the laws are valid or an ideal in the Rhine Confederation, as well.
They allow the citizens to Hope.
-They are meant feel that there is equality before the law,
They are meant to feel the economic recovery, that there is fairness,
that the aristocracy is no longer supreme, no privileges,
and the legal framwork is created accordingly to it.
-The Freiherr vom Stein wants to reform, as well,
not with but against Napoleon.
His area of influence is Prussia.
He wants to limit the aristocracy's power, too.
For him and other reformers it is not about democracy or the republic,
It is about taking steps towards more self-responsibility.
In 1800, 75% of Prussia's population lives in the countryside, like in whole of Germany.
Nearly half the families are poor and without any property.
The reformers want to free them from the bond to their squire.
They want to set the course for the economy.
They want to develop markets.
They want merchants to be allowed to conduct their trade without restrictions,
that craftsman to be allowed to settle everywhere,
that the guild's privileges to disappear.
The King gave Stein nearly limitless authority,
as a kind of 'Super-Minister'.
Nearly 25% of the population lives in cities.
In the future, they should rule themselve.
In the St. Nicholas Church meets the first city council of Berlin.
The citizens obtain more rights.
Education shall stimulate progress and turn Prussians into patriots.
Demand reformers like Wilhelm von Humboldt.
Lesson had been learned from the military defeat in 1807.
The army of mercenaries will become one of citizen soldiers.
But Prussia is still weakened and
Germany divided into friends and opponents of Napoleon.
Who can stand up to him?
He makes the resistance grow itself.
Despotism instead of freedom, war instead of peace, exploitation instead of recovery.
The image of the bearer of hope is darkened even for the allies in Germany.
-Most of the population tended more to Napoleon and France,
than for the old regime.
Only when it became clear that the incessant wars,
had to be paid for with a lot of blood and money,
things start to change.
-Stein registers the change of mood, as well.
He comes from Nassau what belongs to the Rhine Confederation.
He owns property over there.
His anger is directed at Napoleon and his German allies.
What he wants is an uprising of all Germans against the oppressor,
and he is looking for allies.
He writes in a conspiratorial letter:
"The German's exasperation grows every day and it needs to be nurtured."
But the letter is intercepted
and Bonaparte ostracizes Stein.
He has to fear for his life and flees.
His target is Bohemia, whose ruler comes from the House of Habsburg,
which will soon mobilize against Napoleon.
The journey leads to Prague, the golden city.
Here he is granted refuge.
From the historic metropolis, he observes the events in Europe,
and rages against the monster as he calls Napoleon.
-Concerning Napoleon, he knows no boundaries
and calls him by nasty and ugly words.
I know no other person who has been, in a similar fashion framed by him.
When Austria declares war against Napoleon in 1809,
Stein bets on it, declares the fight against France on behalf of all Germans.
But again, he wins with the aid of German allies.
Vienna is occupied.
The House of Habsburg signs the Treaty of Schoenbrunn.
Bonaparte marries Marie-Louisethe Austrian Emperor daughter,
who gives birth to the longed for son and heir to the throne.
He considers his dynasty strengthened and forces Austria into his net of alliances.
He also puts pressure on Prussia, to support him with its army.
Parts of Germany, up to Northern Sea are belong to France, now.
In June 1812 Napoleon begins his biggest military adventure.
He invades Russia.
to confirm his predominance.
He wants there to be only one emperor in Europe, himself.
It is an army of 450,000 soldiers,
every third is German.
He wants to conquer Moscow and force the Russian Tzar to surrender.
For a long time, Stein had to stand on the sidelines, contrary to his character.
Then he receives a letter from Tzar Alexander in Russia.
He wants his advice in the fight against Napoleon.
He could not have found anyone better.
-Stein had yearned for this moment.
In the prior months he attempted several times,
to become once more politically active, no matter how
and this call from St. Petersburg is his salvation.
-Moscow burns in September 1812.
Undefeated, but without shelter and provision Napoleons 'Grande Arme' has to pull back.
Cold, hunger, gruelling rearguard battles decimate both,
French and German troops.
Only one out of five will return.
Stein evokes the Tzar In St. Petersburg.
He feels his great moment.
He wants continue the hunt for Bonaparte.
"Majesty, you are called
to liberate whole of Europe and so also Germany from Napoleon"
"You want me to continue?
Our troops are completely exhausted.
Some of my General asked me finally to make peace with France."
"Set an end on the tyranny of Napoleon.
Free yourself from the men who always speak with admiration of this monster!
Consider what Bonaparte has done to your country!"
"Stein, I am fully on your side,
but how think the Germans about Napoleon?"
The Freiherr vom Stein should organize the resistance in Germany.
However the Silesian metropolis Breslau becomes a vital importance.
Here stays the Prussian King Frederich Wilhelm III. in March 1813.
He is undecided if he should follow the forced alliance from Napoleon.
Contray to oders, one of his generals already changed the sides weeks ago.
Even Stein traveled to Breslau.
He wants to change the King's mind in the castle town.
The King has to decide, now.
Is Prussia strong enough to confront Napoleon?
Stein becomes ill.
-And then the nerve fever intervene, that really leads him to the brink of death.
He is in Breslau and no person from the Prussian delegation is looking for him.
This was one of his negative experiences he had to go through.
-The uncomfortable statesman feels excluded again.
But the pressure on the King is growing.
So the patient receives a call from the Prussian monarchs in the press.
To My People:
"This is the final, the decisive struggle we have to do...
for honor's sake...
for without honor no Prussian or German could live."
It is a turning point.
For the first time, a Prussian King is asking his people for support.
Furthermore he is calling them as German.
Napoleon makes it possible.
"Some have to be carried to the hunt."
-The Prussian king has hasitate for a while
till he saw this as the last option in the fight against Napoleon
but not with great enthusiasm.
-The King granted the war against France
and the alliance with the Tzar.
Stein has obviously won.
But what is it about Friedrich Wilhelm, for Prussia? for Germany?
or just to save his monarchy?
Anyway his call from Breslau leads in many places for patriotic enthusiasm.
The monarch creates a Patriotic Order of Merit.
Because of financial need only out of affordable Material, the Iron Cross.
The war is declared a people's war, for Prussia and for Germany.
Free corps are arranged, as well,
as the so-called 'Ltzow Free Corps'.
Five out of hundred are students.
Nearly half of them are craftmen.
Every third is a farmer or peon.
They are coming from many German countries.
The Ltzow Corp wear black uniforms with red lapels and gold buttons.
These colors will be later the one of the democratic Germany.
Among the recruits is also a young private Renz from Potsdam.
The 'Ltzow Corps' are militarily of low importance,
but they provide material for the myths of an emerging nation.
Napoleon is calling them 'Black Bandits'.
The group of private Renz got into an ambush by Lueneburg.
Previously, he wrote to his brother:
"I am a soldier now for four weeks.
So I sold all my stuff,
to obtain a decent man clothing.
Now, I went among the black Corp.
You can trust my wisdom that I remain undetected."
The fatally wounded soldier is a woman.
Her name is Eleonore Prochaska.
They will declare her as a German Heroine.
She has fought for Queen Luise, she said.
The Queen herself died after a long illness in 1810.
This is her grave in the park of the Charlottenburg Palace.
It is the time in which mainly poets, philosophers and students,
speak of the awakening German nation and they need idols like her.
"If the day of freedom and revenge comes then call your people,
then German woman awake."
For the Queen dedicated verses from the poet Theodor Koerner,
who wants to arouse the Germans with pathetic words.
He is also a Ltzow.
The writer who sees himself as a German patriot,
want that the nation becomes united also politically.
In a common bond of language, of origin
and at least, the German culture which is superior.
-It is useful to compare the German nationalism with the French one,
as it arises in the early 19th Century.
France relates heavily on political decisions and volition.
You are French because you support the ideas of the French Revolution,
and not because you are speaking French.
To be able to speak French comes afterwards.
In Germany you can not refer to a German state,
and so you can not rely on political facts but only on what is in common with the Germans,
the language, the culture and typical traditions.
-"What is the German's Fatherland?
On Prussia's land?,
on Swabia's land?
Where blooms the vine on Rhenish shores?
Where through the Belt the Baltic pours?
Oh no, oh no! His Fatherland's not bounded so...
...What is the German's Fatherland? So tell me now at last the land!... "
The poet Ernst Moritz Arndt gives the answer itself:
"...As fars the Germans accent rings...,
...And Germans all as brothers glow..."
Woe betide anyone who is not a German, like the French.
-These famous ballads we know from Koerner or Arndt
and alike nations poet were made in a war situation.
Firstly these ballads should mobilize.
Now, all Germans should fight against the tyrant Napoleon.
But in the other hand these exclude others.
Then all those who are not Germans, suddenly do not belong to this emerging nation, anymore.
Ernst Moritz Arndt becomes a journalistic ally of the Freiherr vom Stein.
While the poet says that all German-speaking territories belong to one kingdom,
thinks Stein who is in charge of the Tzar, already european.
"My wish is that Germany become great and strong,
to resume and maintain his independence and nationality,
in its position between France and Russia.
This is the interest of the nation and the whole of Europe.
In these great developments, I have less interest in dynasties at the time. "
Stein declares fight against Bonaparte and his German allies.
In the capital of Saxony Dresden, it decides
whether another important power take part of Bonarparte's coalition.
Austria's Foreign Minister, Clemens von Metternich impose condition to the French emperor.
He should limit his power and renounce territories.
"I do not give up any ground. Your monarchs were born on their thrones.
My reign do not outlast the day to stop to be dreaded and strong."
"The fortunes of war can abandon you again. You have already subjected your entire people.
I have seen your soldiers.
They are children.
How do you want with such a.... "
"And you?? Were you ever a soldier?
No! but I was! I grow up on the battle field!
I know what it means to lead a expedition, there are not essential 1 million deaths!
Besides of that I have far more sacrificed Germans and Polish than French in Russia!
So they can not complain!"
"Sir, you forget that you speak to a German."
The dice have been cast.
Now, Prussia, Russia and Austria form an alliance against Napoleon.
Stein sees the coming battle as a tribunal,
that Bonaparte must confront.
It is the 16th of Oktober 1813.
On a hill in the south of the city of Leipzig,
the French warlord observed how his troops go into position.
More than a dozen peoples have sent Soldiers.
They face each other for and against Napoleon.
Overall, with more than 500,000 men.
The Alliance is the dominance.
Austria, Prussia, Russia and Sweden provide a total of nearly 300,000 soldiers.
They are facing French, Polish and troops from the Confederated States of the Rhine,
more than 200,000 men.
On the other side, a declared enemy of Napoleon,
is awaiting feverishly the battle,
the Prussian General Gebhard Leberecht von Bluecher.
"I itches in all fingers finally to take the saber,
to take the saber and to wipe out the whole French stuff,
from German soil, here and now. Definitively! Definitively!"
Napoleon sees in the elderly Bluecher rather an old alcoholic.
3 cannon shoots open the biggest battle in world history at that time.
'The Battle of the Nations'
The fortunes of war changes several times a day the sides.
Time is not on the side of Napoleon.
Bonaparte's reserves are depletion.
-They lie there and croak.
We have descriptions of Leipzig, that tens of thousands of soldiers,
lie in their blood and dirt and there is nothing at all to treat these soldiers.
-Firstly it matters the victory for the warlords.
General Bluecher get unexpected visit on the third day.
There are soldiers from the Rhine Confederation who fought so far on the side of Napoleon.
Bluecher welcomed them as friends of the Holy German Independence.
Will his coalition hold together?
Bavaria already broke its alliance with Napoleon before the battle.
Now Napoleon becomes witness of an devastating spectacle for him.
That what happened next is with the words of a French marshal recorded:
"I saw the Saxons as they reached the abandoned position from the enemy.
Suddenly they turned around and fired cold-bloodedly in our ranks.
They shot down the unsuspecting people in a blatant way,
with whom they fought so far in faithful brotherhood in arms."
Germans do not shoot at Germans anymore.
Napoleon did not expect this.
He just provokes it by himself.
He feels that he has no chance against the alliance of the opposition.
He can no longer count on the Confederation of the Rhine.
And the victors playing music.
The Prussian King, the Tzar of Russia and the Austrian Emperor.
Napoleon can only listen.
The princes of the Rhinish Confederation withdraw in the background.
This is a caricature.
The end is not far off.
For Stein is the day of victory a personal feast day.
But he fears that the prince who withdrawn of Napoleon's alliance,
insist on their independence and obtain the various division of Germany.
He expects from Prussia and Austria to bring forward the German unification.
After 8 years, the abductee Quadriga comes back to Berlin.
The Homecoming is like a victory parade.
Although if this image is deceptive, then the cart was mantled of a cloth.
The Iron Cross and a crown are added on the town's landmark,
by oder of the King.
That's all what the people receives? symbolism?
The decisions are taken in a different city.
Vienna in September 1814
Foreign Minister Metternich invited Kings and Princes in the metropolis of Austria.
Napoleon has resigned.
The Congress dances and does not his job, they say.
But already the victors have started the reorganization of Europe.
Stein thinks, it is the wish of all Germans,
to live free in a safe country after 20 years of bloody wars.
But the monarchies bethink oneself of their power
and do not think to give it up again.
They want to maintain their dynasties,
and to curb the national passions again which were aroused by Napoleon.
Stein is only with an observer status over there, without a mandate.
All promises to the peoples in the struggle against Napoleon seem forgotten, now.
Even the Tzar is doing his role as monarch again.
"Stein why are you looking so serious? Celebrate with us!
We have defeated Napoleon."
"But not the Princes who sucked on his breast
and come up trumps, again."
"Stein we have liberated Germany.
Now, we need mainly peace and order.
Come on! Let's dance with us!"
But Stein does not dance.
"The King of Wuerttemberg guzzles for all,
the one of Bavaria boozes for all,
and Tzar Alexander loves for all."
This speech of his contemporaries could had come from him.
The German princes who turned against Napoleon at the right time,
obtain guarantee of existence.
Stein ignores the fact that a united Nation is only desired by a minority at the time,
that the federal tradition of the German princes can not simply wiped out,
and that States were growing on German ground in the Napoleonic era.
The diplomatic arena is not his world.
-Anger on the Prussian King, Anger on the Tzar but also resignation
and on the one hand he has actually achived his main goal,
to liberate Europe from Napoleon.
On the other hand, he has not succeeded,
to arose the German patriotism that strong and so to create a united Germany.
-The result is the so-called 'German Confederation'.
A loosely consolidation of 35 German Princes and 4 free cities,
with the hegemonies Austria and Prussia.
The final act of Vienna after 20 years of war.
It is just like the 'Peace of Westphalia' of 1648.
It shows once more that the German question can not be solved,
without their federal tradition and the view of the european balance.
But in future, more and more peoples will demand freedom and unity
and force the transition into a new epoch.
By hundreds kilometers upstreaming from Vienna by Regensburg on the Danube,
a National Hall of Fame for the Germans accrues years later,
also in memory of the victory over Napoleon.
-At the end of the Napoleonic era, Stein couldn't reach his probably final goal
and so everything relapsed into the old system of rule insteat of a national union.
But you also have to say only in a limited degree,
because Napoleon's reforms were too deeply marked,
in view of statist and territorial terms as well as in economic and social terms.
In so far, there was the hope and expectation that from the heart of the nation,
a new departure would be possible.
And for that campaigned also this 'Walhalla' as Hall of Fame for the Germans.
And at the same time, it was build as glorification for the victory
of the national movement over Napoleon and his reign.
-The national movement is still in the early stages.
But the impetus gaves Napoleon.
The Walhalla remains closed to him.
But like no other, he had promoted Germany .
-Napoleon broke the existing political order.
He has pushed forward Germany into the modern.
And quasi against his will,
he became the midwife of the German nation.
-After he lost the 'Battle of Waterloo',
He must spent the rest of his life in exile as outlaw person,
on the island Saint Helena.
And maybe he is it not even wrong, if he believes that,
many Germans will mourn after his Era in the future.
And he noted as already terminally ill man:
"If the heaven wanted that I were born as German prince
and if they elected and proclaimed me once to their emperor,
then it seems to me till nowdays that they would never rebelled against me
and now would not sit here."