A vivid, concise account of the German Empire, from its proclamation at Versailles in 1871 to its final dissolution, also at Versailles, in 1919.
The period of almost half a century from 1871 to 1919 was one of huge upheaval, restlessness and change in Germany. Situated at the crossroads of history and geography, the country under Bismarck was struggling to preserve the predominance of Prussia and its traditional ruling elites, whilst also recognising the importance of modernisation. By the turn of the century Germany had overtaken Britain as the workshop of the world in industry, science, ideas and the arts, with enormous investments being made in these areas. Many people lost or swapped their traditional livelihoods, moved from the countryside to the cities, and embarked on a road to a prosperity unparalleled in Europe. Then in 1914 came the outbreak of the First World War, unleashing one of the greatest catastrophes of the twentieth century.