History of Baden


Germany has only been a unified nation since 1871, when Otto Von Bismark created alliances with the important states of the south, namely, Baden, Wurttemberg and Bavaria. Under these alliances these states agreed to place their military forces under the command of the king of Prussia in case of war against the confederation

Lacking geographical boundaries except for the North Sea and the Baltic Sea, Germany was in the path of migrations and invasions from the east and the west. The fluidity of the population helped delay German unification.

Also working against national unity was the ethnic variety of the "Germans". Germans of Roman descent shared the west and southwest with those of Celtic ancestry, who also lived in the south. Those of Germanic, or Teutonic, origin occupied the north, center, and east, while Baltic peoples inhabited the northeast and Slavs the east and southeast. Generally, the north and east later became Protestant and the south and west remained Roman Catholic.

These differences encouraged devotion to particular homelands, on the one hand, and antipathy toward neighboring groups, on the other. Germans occasionally engaged in divisive civil wars but finally merged their differences in a supranational empire. Individualistic, and yet often submissive to authority, they were slow to develop effective representative government.

Baden, 800 years of government.

In the 11th century Berthold (who died in 1078), a duke of Austrian duchy of Carinthia, built a castle in Breisgau, Baden. Hermann, Duke of Carinthia, assumed the title of margrave of Baden in 1112 and founded a dynasty that ruled the area for more than 8 centuries.

Lands of family frequently divided and reunited. One of 1746 the outstanding members of this dynasty was Charles Frederick (1728-1811), who became margrave in 1746, electorate in 1803, and grand duchy in 1806.

Just after our American Revolution there was cataclysmic political and social upheaval in France, from 1789-1799. The result, among other things, was the overthrow of the Bourbon monarchy in France and the establishment of the First Republic.

Buoyed by military success in Italy, Corsican general Napoleon Bonaparte seized power in 1799. He instituted an enlightened civil code and religious freedom and then, after crowning himself emperor in 1804, conquered most of Europe.

Baden's Charles Frederick didn't oppose Napoleon. French forces under Gen. Jean Victor Moreau crossed the Rhine into Baden on there way east. The French defeated the Austrians in 1805.

In 1806 Napoleon established the Confederation of the Rhine, which eventually consisted of all the states of Germany (including Baden), excepting Austria, Prussia, Brunswick, and Hesse. The formation of the Confederation put an end to the Holy Roman Empire and brought most of Germany under Napoleon's control.

Napoleon badly defeated the Prussians in the fall of 1806, but the turning point in his career came in 1812 in the war against Russia when he could find no winter quarters and had to retreat out of Russia and back into Germany. Napoleon's final defeat came in 1815 at the battle of Waterloo.

In Baden, Charles Frederick was succeeded by his grandson Charles in 1811. Charles seceded from the Confederation of the Rhine after the defeat of Napoleon and in 1815 joined the Germanic Confederation, a loose union of 39 sovereign states, including Prussia, under Austrian presidency.

Charles reigned in Baden from 1811-1818, Louis from 1818-30, and Leopold from1830-52.

The 'Revolution of 1848' is the term applied to various nationalist and liberal revolutions that erupted in Europe during the period of about a year and a half. The causes of the uprisings were both economic and political. Although they led initially to government changes and gains for the working class, the victories proved generally short-lived and gave rise to further class division.

Baden had it's revolution. The reigning grand duke Leopold was deposed for a short time. He called on help from Prussia and with their help was reinstated.

Franz Joseph Trefzger, of Wehr, a teacher, was a leader in the revolution in Baden, had to leave his wife and 8 children and flee to Switzerland with his followers in 1849. It is said that he later came to America.

In the north Otto Von Bismark urged King Frederick William IV to suppress the 1848 and '49 uprisings. In 1851 Bismark was appointed as Prussia's representative to the German Confederation. In 1862 Bismark was named minister-president. In 1864 he used the Prussian Army to take 2 provinces from Denmark.. In 1866 he moved against Austria, and in 1870 he trapped France into a war with the North German Confederation. Willhelm I, King of Prussia was crowned emperor of Germany, and Bismark became Chancellor of the German Empire. He was known as the 'Iron Chancellor'.

To the west, across the Rhine in France, Napoleon III was elected to the presidency of the new French republic in 1848. In 1851 he assumed dictatorial powers and extended his term to 10 years.

In Baden Frederick I succeeded Charles as grand duke in 1852, and reigned till 1907.

In 1867, after all of Bismark's successful wars, Baden entered the North German Confederation. In 1871 it became part of the German Empire, and agreed to place their military forces under the command of the King of Prussia in case of war against the empire. Under the empire, the grand duke of Baden continued to reign with the help of an elected Diet.

In 1907 Frederick I was succeeded by Frederick II in Baden.

At the end of the World War I, the ruling dynasties of the German states were dethroned, and grand duke Frederick II abdicated.

A new constitution drawn up by an elected national assembly abolished all privileges based on noble birth and religion, bestowed full legal rights on women, recognized the rights of workers, including civil servants, to organize, and granted the vote to all men and women over 20 years of age.

Baden became an administrative unit of the Third Reich in 1935

The area was invaded by the Allied forces in 1945, during the final stages of World War II.

Following the unconditional surrender of the Third Reich, about a third of Baden became part of the U.S. military occupation zone in Germany. The remainder became part of the French zone. The American-occupied sections of Baden and Wurttemberg, having been merged for administrative purposes, were organized as the autonomous state of Wurttemberg-Baden in 1946. The French-occupied Baden became an autonomous state the next year. In 1949 both states became components of the Federal Republic of Germany.

In 1952 the states of Baden, Wurttember-Baden, and Wurttemberg-Hohenzollen were merged to for the new state of Baden-Wurttemberg.

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