The Neanderthal 1 fossils are known to be 40, years old. Evidence of modern humans, similarly dated, has been found in caves in the Swabian Jura near Ulm. The finds include 42,year-old bird bone and mammoth ivory flutes which are the oldest musical instruments ever found,  the 40,year-old Ice Age Lion Man which is the oldest uncontested figurative art ever discovered,  and the 35,year-old Venus of Hohle Fels which is the oldest uncontested human figurative art ever discovered.
As it was partitioned in , West Francia blue and East Francia red became predecessors of France and Germany, respectively In the 3rd century a number of large West Germanic tribes emerged: Around , the Germanic peoples broke into Roman-controlled lands. Simultaneously several large tribes formed in what is now Germany and displaced or absorbed smaller Germanic tribes. Large areas known since the Merovingian period as Austrasia , Neustria , and Aquitaine were conquered by the Franks who established the Frankish Kingdom , and pushed farther east to subjugate Saxony and Bavaria.
Areas of what is today the eastern part of Germany were inhabited by Western Slavic tribes of Sorbs , Veleti and the Obotritic confederation. East Francia and Holy Roman Empire In , the Frankish king Charlemagne was crowned emperor and founded the Carolingian Empire , which was later divided in among his heirs. The Holy Roman Empire absorbed northern Italy and Burgundy under the reign of the Salian emperors — , although the emperors lost power through the Investiture Controversy. In the 12th century, under the Hohenstaufen emperors — , German princes increased their influence further south and east into territories inhabited by Slavs ; they encouraged German settlement in these areas, called the eastern settlement movement Ostsiedlung.
Members of the Hanseatic League , which included mostly north German cities and towns, prospered in the expansion of trade. The edict of the Golden Bull issued in by Emperor Charles IV provided the basic constitutional structure of the Empire and codified the election of the emperor by seven prince-electors who ruled some of the most powerful principalities and archbishoprics.
Johannes Gutenberg introduced moveable-type printing to Europe, a development that laid the basis for the spread of learning to the masses. In , the Peace of Augsburg established Lutheranism as an acceptable alternative to Catholicism, but also decreed that the faith of the prince was to be the faith of his subjects, a principle called Cuius regio, eius religio.
The agreement at Augsburg failed to address other religious creed: Having no male heirs, he had convinced the Electors to retain Habsburg hegemony in the office of the emperor by agreeing to the Pragmatic Sanction. From , the dualism between the Austrian Habsburg Monarchy and the Kingdom of Prussia dominated the German history. In , then again in and , the two dominant German states of Prussia and Austria, along with the Russian Empire , agreed to the Partitions of Poland ; dividing among themselves the lands of the Polish—Lithuanian Commonwealth.
As a result of the partitions, millions of Polish speaking inhabitants fell under the rule of the two German monarchies. However, the annexed territories though incorporated into the Kingdom of Prussia and the Habsburg Realm, were not legally considered as a part of the Holy Roman Empire.
In the Imperium was dissolved; German states, particularly the Rhineland states , fell under the influence of France. Following the fall of Napoleon , the Congress of Vienna convened in founded the German Confederation Deutscher Bund , a loose league of 39 sovereign states.
The appointment of the Emperor of Austria as the permanent president of the Confederation reflected the Congress's failure to accept Prussia's influence among the German states, and acerbated the long-standing competition between the Hohenzollern and Habsburg interests.
Disagreement within restoration politics partly led to the rise of liberal movements, followed by new measures of repression by Austrian statesman Metternich. The Zollverein , a tariff union, furthered economic unity in the German states. The Hambach Festival in May was a main event in support of German unity , freedom and democracy.
In the light of a series of revolutionary movements in Europe , which established a republic in France , intellectuals and commoners started the Revolutions of in the German states.
King Frederick William IV of Prussia was offered the title of Emperor, but with a loss of power; he rejected the crown and the proposed constitution, leading to a temporary setback for the movement. Bismarck is at the centre in a white uniform. Bismarck successfully concluded war on Denmark in , which promoted German over Danish interests in the Jutland peninsula. The subsequent and decisive Prussian victory in the Austro-Prussian War of enabled him to create the North German Confederation Norddeutscher Bund which excluded Austria from the federation's affairs.
After the French defeat in the Franco-Prussian War , the German princes proclaimed the founding of the German Empire in at Versailles , uniting all the scattered parts of Germany except Austria. Prussia was the dominant constituent state of the new empire; the Hohenzollern King of Prussia ruled as its concurrent Emperor, and Berlin became its capital.
Under Wilhelm II , Germany, like other European powers, took an imperialistic course, leading to friction with neighbouring countries. Most alliances in which Germany had previously been involved were not renewed.
This resulted in creation of a dual alliance with the multinational realm of Austria-Hungary , promoting at least benevolent neutrality if not outright military support. Similarly, Britain, France and Russia also concluded alliances that would protect them against Habsburg interference with Russian interests in the Balkans or German interference against France.
In what became known as the "First Genocide of the Twentieth-Century", between and , the German colonial government in South West Africa present-day Namibia ordered the annihilation of the local Herero and Namaqua peoples , as a punitive measure for an uprising against German colonial rule.
After four years of warfare, in which approximately two million German soldiers were killed,  a general armistice ended the fighting on 11 November, and German troops returned home. Germany's new political leadership signed the Treaty of Versailles in In this treaty, Germany, as part of the Central Powers , accepted defeat by the Allies in one of the bloodiest conflicts of all time.
Germans perceived the treaty as humiliating and unjust and it was later seen by historians as influential in the rise of Adolf Hitler. Germany was declared a republic at the beginning of the German Revolution in November It was supported by parts of the Reichswehr military and other conservative, nationalistic and monarchist factions.
After a tumultuous period of bloody street fighting in the major industrial centres, the occupation of the Ruhr by Belgian and French troops and the rise of inflation culminating in the hyperinflation of —23 , a debt restructuring plan and the creation of a new currency in ushered in the Golden Twenties , an era of increasing artistic innovation and liberal cultural life.
Historians describe the period between and as one of "partial stabilisation. In public work projects of , 1. Germany also reacquired control of the Saar in ,  remilitarized the Rhineland in , annexed Austria in , annexed the Sudetenland in with the Munich Agreement and in direct violation of the agreement occupied Czechoslovakia with the proclamation of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia in March Kristallnacht , or the "Night of Broken Glass", saw the burning of hundreds of synagogues, the destruction of thousands of Jewish businesses, and the arrest of around 30, Jewish men by Nazi forces inside Germany.
Many Jewish women were arrested and placed in jails and a curfew was placed on the Jewish people in Germany.