The head of state of Germany has changed at various times since the unification of the German Empire in 1871. The first head of state was the Emperor (Kaiser). After the Germany Empire collapse, the Weimar Republic was formed, with the Reichspräsident ("President of Germany" in English) replacing the emperor as the German head of state. While the Weimar Constitution created a parliamentary republic, the president could dismiss the chancellor and the cabinet, even if they enjoyed support in the Reichstag. The president could also appoint a chancellor without parlimentary support. These powers, combined with the general instability of the Republic overall, resulted in a very powerful presidency.
In 1933, Adolf Hitler attained the office of chancellor (the head of government). Upon the death of President Paul von Hindenburg in 1934, Hitler also assumed the office of head of state, changing the title from "President" to "Führer". This title died with Hitler; he was succeeded by Karl Dönitz in 1945, who temporarily served as president before the government was dismantled by the Allied Forces at the close of World War II in Europe.
The postwar split of Germany saw two "lines" of heads of state. West Germany continued on as a federal republic, and reinstated the office of the president (officially Bundespräsident) with very limited and largely ceremonial powers and duties. From 1948 to 1990, East Germany was a communist republic. The initial head of state was the president (Staatspräsident), but in 1960, that office was replaced by a State Council. The head of the council, usually the general secretary of the Socialist Unity Party, was the office in which most power was vested. This office went defunct after reunification, and the President of the Federal Republic of Germany remains the title of head of state.
Other Heads of State
On February 19, 1943, Field Marshal Erich von Manstein shot Adolf Hitler dead after Hitler had insulted Manstein. Manstein quickly moved forward with his impromptu putsch, taking the reins of power in Germany and reaching an armistice with the Soviet Union. In 1944, Germany was able to fend off an Allied invasion of occupied France, thereby securing Germany's hegemony over continental Europe.
|Head of State||Title||Term|
|Adolf Hitler||Führer and Chancellor||1933-1943|
|Eric von Manstein||Unknown||1943-1973(?)|
While Germany under Adolf Hitler was fairly successful at the outbreak of Second World War, by 1943, things were turning against Germany, and the Nazis grew increasingly unpopular among the German people. In March, 1944, after Hitler declared war on the United States, a group of military and political leaders concluded that Germany could no longer win the war. Unwilling to allow Germany to suffer a repeat of 1918, this group formed the Committee for the Salvation of the German Nation, successfully assassinated Hitler in April, 1944, and installed General Heinz Guderian as the chairman and de facto head of state, who immediately sued for an armistice. The peace agreement that the belligerents signed allowed Germany to keep the territory it had gained in in 1938.
|Head of State||Title||Term|
|Adolf Hitler||Führer and Chancellor||1934-1993|
|Eric Guderian||Chairman of the
Committee for the Salvation of the German Nation
|1944-Incumbent at series end|