Is the term "Reich" usurpated?

German Freikorps, Reichsheer and Reichsmarine 1919-1934.
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Is the term "Reich" usurpated?

Post by leopard 2 » Mon May 03, 2004 1:40 am

Good morning ladies and gentlemen

I'm having some very interessant readings about the years 1919-1939 in Germany. And I've got this question which came into mind: after the second Reich, which really was a Reich, an empire with kingdoms of Prussia, Wurttemberg, Saxe and Bavaria... it seems that the third Reich had, of an empire, only the name. At least since 1934, when the Lands were deresponsabilized of much of their authorities.

What about the Reich of 1939? With Austria, protectorat from Boemia and Moravia, and parts of the Poland integrated in the Reich, may I think that the Reich is again a real empire, or at least could be designated as an empire?

I'm very curious of what you think of that.

Vincent

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Post by DeBaer » Mon May 03, 2004 6:10 am

well, the Nazigermany had one Führer, like the "real" Reich had the Kaiser. both were very strict and absolutistic. also it shows the contrast between the Weimarer Republic and the 3rd Reich and the name Reich would have reminded the germans on the "old glory" of the earlier ages, so its a good propaganda method. together with austria, it reminds one on the proposed "Grossdeutsche Reich" in its size.
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Post by sid guttridge » Sat Jun 12, 2004 3:17 am

Hi Leopard 2,

Your rationale looks correct to me.

It also adds in a minor way to the evidence that Hitler always intended to conquer non-Germans, without whom there could tehnically have been no "Reich". The moment the Third "Reich" was proclaimed all Germany's neighbours, without exception, had one more reason to worry, however minor.

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Sid.

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Post by Grunt » Mon Jul 05, 2004 3:14 am

If you look at the formal organisation of the Third Reich, you could get the impression of an "republic" as Hitler changed a lot in reality after he overthrew the Weimar Republic, but not formal.

But even the Weimar Republic was officially called a "Reich", employing a Reichspräsident, Reichskanzler, Reichstag...
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Post by leopard 2 » Mon Jul 05, 2004 7:56 am

Well...
It seems that History don't remind the Weimar Republic as a Reich however, with the 2nd reich finishing in 1918, and the 3rd beginning in 1933...

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Post by PaulJ » Fri Jul 09, 2004 1:37 pm

Yes, the Weimer Republic retained a lot of the terminology ("Reichstag", "Reichskanzler" etc), but really that is just because by that time they were the traditional terms for those institutions in a united Germany. The Weimer Republic officially classified itself as a "Republik" (as does the post-war Bundesrepublik).

One might speculate that the Nazi's original reasons for returning to the term "Reich" had at least as much to do with a desire to differentiate themselves from the despised and weak Weimer regime as anything else. What better way to do that than to use a term that harkened back to the days when Bismark's creation was the strongest power on the continent?

One of the things to appreciate here is the original meaning of the term Reich as created by the Second Reich. Bismark's creation resulted de facto in a united Germany, but his creation was not a fully unified political entity. Many of the German states united in the Hall of Mirrors of the Verseilles palace at the conclusion of the Franco-Prussian war did not just disappear into the newly united Germany. Rather, an over-arching level of pan-German government was created, in the person of the "Kaiser", ie the "Emporer" of all of the German states. The first Kaiser (Wilhem I), was the chap who had been, up to then, King of Prussia, that is "Koenig" of Prussia, not "Kaiser" of Prussia. Furthermore, he retained the seperate title of King of Prussia, even after the German unification. So too did three other German states retain their own kings (Bavaria, Saxe, and Wurtembourg). The new title of Kaiser was created as an overarching one over all of the (still notionally seperate) German states.

It is in that sense that the Second Reich was a "Reich", even without any foreign conquests.

But back to "Grunt's" comment about looking at the formal organization of the Third Reich. One of the things the Nazis did was centralize the administration of Germany to a far greater extent than had been done under the Kaisers, or even the Weimer Republic. So until the Third Reich had some foreign conquests, it wasn't really a "reich" the way the Second Reich had been...
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Post by Henrik » Fri Jul 30, 2004 2:25 am

Germany's official name was Deutsches Reich from Germany was founded in 1871 until the proclamation of the Federal Republic in 1949 (de facto occupied since 1945 but de jure still in existence). The Nazis didn't "return" to the name which had been used all the time.

Also, in Scandinavian languages (Danish, Norwegian and Swedish) the term Reich - its direct Scandinavian equalents, Norwegian and Swedish "rike", Danish "rige" - are frequently used to refer to the countries. For Scandinavians, Reich is a completely natural and normal word which they see no reason not to use.

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Post by sid guttridge » Fri Jul 30, 2004 4:45 am

Hi Henrik,

If so, what was the Weimar Republic?

It is true that between the wars Hungary remained a monarchy without a monarch. But it did have a Regent. However, I thought that Germany had no Emperor and was styled a republic. What do German stamps and coinage of the 1930s say?

Cheers,

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Post by greenhorn » Tue Aug 10, 2004 2:01 pm

Sid didn't realise Hungary was a monarchy without a monarch.

Neat place Hungary.... run by an Admiral without a navy...... does Ruritanian spring to mind. No offence to any Magyars intended!
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Post by sid guttridge » Thu Aug 12, 2004 1:56 am

Hui Greenhorn,

On the contrary. That was exactly my point. As I said, Hungary was a monarchy without a monarch, ruled by a regent. However, Weimar Germany wasn't an empire without an emperor ruled by a regent, it was styled as a republic. What do the stamps and coinage of the period have written on them?

Cheers,

Sid.

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Post by greenhorn » Fri Aug 13, 2004 11:22 am

Sid do you know when Admiral Horthy became regent?
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Post by sid guttridge » Sat Aug 14, 2004 3:15 am

Hi Greenhorn,

I have Horthy's autobiography. I will get back to you.

Cheers,

Sid.

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Post by Polish_Man » Thu Feb 02, 2006 3:31 pm

I think that's cool guys!
Living in fun with 0

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Post by derGespenst » Fri Feb 03, 2006 9:35 am

Sid,

The currency and postage stamps of the between-the-wars period says Deutsches Reich.

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Re: Is the term "Reich" usurpated?

Post by Quax der Bruchpilot » Tue Jun 07, 2011 3:38 pm

According to the Reichsverfassung from 1871 the legislative was the "Reichstag", assembled by elections and the "Bundesrat", the assembly of the nobles (similar to the British "House of Lords"). The King of Prussia was the Kaiser. The Kaiser had the right and the duty on demand of the Reichstag to declare war and peace and to be responsible for matters of international relations and law.
When in 1918 the high command proposed peace negotiations based on Wilson's 14 points the latter demanded that the Kaiser would abdict. Wilhelm II, who was in Ypern at the time being, on request of the Reichswehr high command didn't return to Berlin but went into exile in the Netherlands. On January 8, 1919 he abdicted. The Reichstag's candidate Ebert on the 10th of November 1918 declared the Kaiser to be removed from office, assigned another Chancellor and convinced the Crown-Prince of Baden to overtake the foreign relations, who on the 11.11.1918 signed the armistice treaty. Ebert then developped another constiuton which led to the Weimar Republic.

The problem: In no way Ebert, as a simple deputy had any right or the authority to remove the Kaiser, dissolve the legislative organ "Reichstag" and to declare any new republic. When the peace treaty was signed,Wilhelm II.even officially still was Kaiser. That signature by national and international law therefore is invalid, it has the same value as I would have signed it.

If the Reich signed a valid peace treaty or not: it didn't cease to exist. Politically the old Reich was a representative monarchy, not a totalitarian system. There was neither a democratic vote nor any assembly dissolving it. The Weimar Republic therefore was based on a disputable legacy, it was simply unconstitutional but existed in the absence of a higher authority to remove it from power. The second mistake of Weimar was to replace the "Kaiser" by the Reichspresident. The balance of powers, in the old Reich between chancellor and Kaiser, was replaced by the separation of Reich's President and Reich's Chancellor, without prohibiting that one person would have both assignments, leading to total power. That was misused by Hitler. In the old system it would have been impossible for him to get there, because first he had to become the King of Prussia. The return to the old name of "Reich" showed that he was aware of the illegal state of his Reich. However that didn't resolve the basic problem. The 3. Reich was the illegal prologation of the illegal Repblic of Weimar.
In summary in 1945 another non-constitutional system was removed and an illegal state of constitution, existing since 1919 was ended. When the allied occupation, also suspending German souvereignity, ended, the old Reich from 1871 came into existence again and presently is supressed by another unconstitutional temporary government.
That is why still the "Grundgesetz", an allied occupation law, replaces a German constitution although itself demands to be replaced by one, as soon as the German people are reunified and free to decide. However: that is not necessary, there is a valid existing constitution since 1871 which first officially and lawfully has to be abandonned, then another one can replace it. Might sound ridiculous, but if I would be another state or organisation having contracts or treaties with the present so-called government, I would hire some advocates of international law to investigate their validity.

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