Germany is once again on top in Europe.
As an article in Britain’s “Daily Mail” showed some time ago, Angela Merkel has achieved in five years what the Kaiser and Hitler set out to do – and without firing a shot.
But now that the country is pre-eminent in Europe and effectively controls the eurozone, what is the new Germany going to be like?
Will it resemble one of the earlier reichs (empires)?
The first reich lasted almost a thousand years. Named the Holy Roman Empire, it is generally dated from 962, when Otto the Great was crowned, but some will say it really began with Charlemagne, who was crowned by the pope on Christmas Day in the year 800. It was dissolved in 1806 by Napoleon.
The second reich came together under Otto von Bismarck who united Germany in 1871. It lasted until the abdication of the Kaiser in November 1918.
Hitler intended his third reich to last a thousand years, just like the first. It was defeated in war only twelve years after he came to power.
Each of these reichs had its own unique character.
The Holy Roman Empire wasn’t holy, wasn’t Roman, and wasn’t really an empire. It was rather a loose confederation of German states. Some were directly ruled by the Emperor while others had their own king or duke but still owed some allegiance to the Emperor and the Empire.
The second reich came about when Prussia took over the rest of Germany following wars with Austria (1866) and France (1870-71). Some territories kept their own kings, but all came under the authority of the greater empire ruled from Berlin by the Kaiser (Emperor), who appointed his own chancellors (prime ministers). Under Kaiser Wilhelm II, this reich became very militaristic and eventually triggered World War I.
Most people are very aware of the Third Reich, Adolf Hitler’s mad plan to impose German authority upon the world. Fortunately, Hitler lost. But the global conflict he started was far from a foregone conclusion. Comparatively small Germany, with Japan and some other minor nations, took on the world and almost won.
Following World War Two, six nations in western Europe determined that conflicts like the two world wars should never happen again. Their plan was to integrate the economies of the various European countries together in such a way that war became impossible. In effect, Germany would be contained within a European federal system.
They signed the Treaty of Rome in 1957. Today, there are 28 countries in the European Union, the world’s biggest single trading bloc. The euro is now used more widely than any other currency.Treaty of Rome
On Germany’s Unification Day, German President Joachim Gauck called for Germany to play a greater role internationally, commensurate with its economic power. Germany is now the fourth biggest economy in the world. As the leader of the EU, which is the world’s biggest single market, its economic power is even greater. But the country still is not flexing its muscles on the international scene. The country’s figurehead president launched a debate by calling on Germany to become more involved. He told the German people: “Our country is not an island.”
A few days later, American Professor Walter Russell Mead, Editor-at-Large of The American Interest magazine and Professor of Foreign Affairs and Humanities at Bard College in New York State, explained in “The Local” (Germany’s news in English) that “Germany is playing a larger role in the world than people appreciate.”
Professor Mead “urged Germany to lead a Holy Roman Empire rather than a Prussian conquest.” “Are you going to have a King of Prussia or the Holy Roman Emperor? The Holy Roman Emperor is the more sustainable. It is the least work of the two.”
In effect, Professor Mead is calling for a loose confederation of nations in Europe.
However, although this might be the best long-term model, it seems more likely that a more centrally controlled system is forming. The new “fourth reich” is more of an economic empire, but Germany is once again perceived as throwing her weight around.
“Former European Commissioner Günter Verheugen warns Germans not to act like know-it-alls when it comes to Europe. In this interview with DW, he blames Chancellor Merkel for relations with Southern Europe turning sour.” Mr. Verheugen called for “Germany to avoid arrogance on euro crisis.” (Deutsche Welle, October 14th)
Meanwhile, international financier George Soros, says: “Europe’s nightmare is getting worse and only Germany can make it stop.” (Matthew Boesler, Business Insider Australia, October 2nd.)
While the world remains focused on the American debt crisis, Germany quietly goes about its business of restructuring Europe’s economies and uniting the continental countries that form the eurozone into a closer economic union with itself at the head.
Bible scholars have long understood that a revived Roman Empire will appear on the world stage immediately prior to Christ’s return. While the United States is not involved in prophesied end-time events, this union of ten nations will play a major role. You can read about it in Revelation, chapter 17.