German Reich

German Reich (German: Deutsches Reich, pronounced [ˌdɔʏtʃəs ˈʁaɪç] (listen)) was the constitutional name for the German nation state that existed from 1871 to 1945. The Reich became understood as deriving its authority and sovereignty entirely from a continuing unitary German "national people", with that authority and sovereignty being exercised at any one time over a unitary German "state territory" with variable boundaries and extent. Although commonly translated as "German Empire", the word Reich here better translates as "realm" or territorial "reach", in that the term does not in itself have monarchical connotations.

The Federal Republic of Germany asserted, following its establishment in 1949, that within its boundaries it was the sole legal continuation of the German Reich, and consequently not a successor state. Nevertheless, the Federal Republic did not maintain the specific title German Reich, and so consistently replaced the prefix Reichs- in all official titles and designations with Bundes-. (Hence, for instance, the Reichskanzler became the Bundeskanzler.) Following German reunification in 1990, the expanded Federal Republic describes itself as "United Germany", emphasizing that it does not now recognize any territories outside its united boundaries, but ever included in the former German Reich, as having a valid claim to be a part of Germany as a whole.


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