The fall of the German empire

The first modern German empire was announced by Otto von Bismarck at Versailles in 1871; it died on the Western Front in 1918. The second German empire was forged in a swift march of annexations and blitzkriegs; it lasted seven terrible years, from the Anschluss to the bunker, and died with Hitler and his cult.

The third German empire is a different animal altogether. Repudiating both militarism and racist mysticism, it has been built slowly and painstakingly across three generations, in cooperation with other powers (including its old enemies the French), using a mix of democratic and bureaucratic means.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 18, 2018, with the headline 'The fall of the German empire'. Print Edition | Subscribe