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Thursday 23rd May
Germany Facts
Zugspitze (2,963 m) is the highest point in Germany.

Five fossils of archaeopteryx, found in southern Germany, could be those of the oldest known bird - With a wingspan of 0.5 m; archaeopteryx lived in the late Jurassic period around one hundred and forty million years ago.

In 2019 it was claimed that the "Missing Link" may have been found in Germany - fossilized remains dating back 11.6 million years reveal that "Danuvius guggenmosi" had some bones similar to humans which could have been used to walk upright (as well as arms which could be used to hang from tree branches).

Homo heidelbergensis is the name of a range of hominids dating back about eight hundred thousand years. Heidelbergensis was named following a discovery of a fossil in Mauer near Heidelberg.

Neanderthal man was named after the Neander Valley near Dusseldorf where a skull was found in 1856. However, the first Neanderthal skull was found in Gibraltar. Homo neanderthalensis, a close evolutionary relative of modern humans, was recognized as a species in 1864.

A lion-headed statuette, found in Stadel Cave (Baden-Wurttemberg), is one of the earliest known artworks. It is estimated that the ivory carving dates back over thirty thousand years.

Over one hundred and fifty temples, built between 4800 BC and 4600 BC, have been discovered beneath the countryside and cities of Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary.

Excavations of an early civilization, beneath the city of Dresden in Saxony, include a temple surrounded by four ditches, three earthen banks and two palisades. The earth and wood structures of the Nickern site were built by people whose economy was probably based on livestock farming.

Stones of a prehistoric temple in the Kyhna site, north of Leipzig, were aligned with the rays of the sun at the summer solstice. Later religious centres, such as Stonehenge in the UK, followed this pattern.

A village excavated at Aythra, near Leipzig in eastern Germany (4800 BC and 4600 BC), was inhabited by around three hundred people living in large buildings around a temple.

Trier, near the Luxembourg border, is Germany's oldest city.

In the fifth century, when the Romans withdrew from Britain, Saxons from Germany colonised parts of England.

In the thirteenth century the German Order of Teutonic Knights conquered land belonging to a tribe known as Prussians.

A number of German cities were members of the Hanseatic League, an association of traders providing mutual help and protection. Dating back to the thirteenth century, the League flourished until the seventeenth century.

Ruprecht Karls Universitat in Heidelberg, founded in 1386, is one of the oldest universities in Europe.

Johann Gutenberg (1398-1468) invented the printing press.

In 1714 George the Elector of Hanover inherited the British throne, under the Act of Settlement, becoming King George I. The House of Hanover ruled Britain for over one hundred and twenty years.

The Brandenburg Gate was originally called the Gate of Peace. The Quadriga statue on the top of the Gate was taken by Napoleon in 1806 and not returned until 1814.

In 1840 Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha married Victoria, the British Queen.

During the nineteenth century many Germans emigrated to America and Australia.

Otto von Bismarck (1815-1898) changed the confederation of German states into a powerful empire. Germany's overseas territories included parts of East Africa, South West Africa (Namibia) and territories in the Pacific.

In 1884 the eastern part of New Guinea (now Papua New Guinea) was divided between Germany and the United Kingdom.

The Bauhaus, a school of design founded in the early twentieth century, had a strong influence over art, architecture and product design. Its founder's aim was to bring together architecture, sculpture and painting. Other disciplines taught at the Bauhaus included furniture design, wallpaper and textile design.

Kurt Weill, the well-known German composer, who wrote the music for Bertolt Brecht's The Threepenny Opera, was married to Lotte Lenya, the Austrian actress and singer.

Albert Einstein (1879-1955), one of the greatest scientific thinkers, was born in Ulm in Germany. Eiensten was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1921.

The Olympic Stadium in Berlin, designed by the German architect Albert Speer, was built for the 1934 Olympics.

Between 1933 and 1938 over one hundred and fifty thousand Jews emigrated from Germany.

Leni Riefenstahl was a film director remembered for Triumph of the Will, a "documentary" about Adolf Hitler. Following the Second World War Riefenstahl stopped making films.

The autobahns built in the 1930s were the first motorways in Europe.

Between 1934 and 1945 Germany was known as The Third Reich: the first empire was Charlemagne's Holy Roman Empire and the second empire was Otto von Bismarck's German Empire.

During the Second World War Rudolf Hess, an important commander in Hitler's Germany, made a flight to Scotland hoping to negotiate with the British but he was captured and imprisoned (1941).

The Nazis built Prisoner of War and Concentration Camps at Belsen, Buchenwald and Dachau in Germany. There were also camps in Czecho-slovakia, Austria and Poland.

At the end the Second World War Germany was in ruins. Millions of Germans were near starvation and homeless. "The cellars were practically the only place to find shelter" - memorial speech marking the 60th anniversary of the end of the Second World War in Europe.

In 1961 Walter Ulbricht ordered the construction of the Berlin Wall to prevent dissatisfied East Germans going to the West. The Wall was taken down in 1989.

During a visit to Germany in 1963 President John F. Kennedy was greeted with rapturous approval when he said "Ich bin ein Berliner". Later, this caused some amusement for although the translation is "I am a Berliner", a Berliner is also a popular name for a type of doughnut.

In 1970 Willy Brandt, the Western German leader, was voted Time magazine Man of the Year.

During the 1972 Olympics in Munich eleven Israeli athletes were killed by terrorists.

The Berlin Wall East Side Gallery is the world's largest open air art gallery. It is 1.3 km long with over one hundred paintings by international artists.

November 9th 2019 marked thirty years since the Berlin Wall came down; Angela Merkel, who became the Chancellor of Germany, was one of the young people finally able to cross from the East to the West.

In May 2022 Chancellor Olaf Scholz, speaking about the war in Ukraine at a meeting of the World Economic Forum, said that "For the first time ever, Germany is supplying arms to a war zone including heavy weapons.

Germany is one of the Baltic Sea States. Other members of the Council of the Baltic Sea States are Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Russia, Sweden, and the European Commission.

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