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The Rat

The best-known rat species are the Black Rat Rattus rattus and the Brown Rat R. norvegicus. The group is generally known as the Old World rats or true rats, and originated in Asia. Rats are bigger than most of their relatives, the Old World mice, but seldom weigh over 500 grams (1 lb) in the wild. The common term "rat" is also used in the names of other small mammals which are not true rats. Examples include the North American pack rats, a number of species loosely called kangaroo rats, and a number of others. Other rats such as the Bandicoot rat Bandicota bengalensis are murine rodents related to the true rats, but are not members of the genus Rattus. The widely distributed and problematic commensal species of rats represent a minority in this diverse genus. Many species of rats are island endemics and some have become endangered due to habitat loss or competition with brown, black, or Polynesian rats.

In Western countries, many people keep domesticated rats as pets. These are of the species R. norvegicus, which originated in the grasslands of China and spread to Europe and eventually, in 1775, to the New World. Pet rats are Brown Rats descended from those bred for research, and are often called "fancy rats", but they are still the same species as the common city "sewer" rat. Domesticated rats tend to be both more docile than their wild ancestors and more disease prone, presumably due to inbreeding.

The common species are opportunistic survivors and often live with and near humans. The Black Plague is traditionally believed to have been caused by the micro-organism Yersinia pestis, carried by the rat flea Xenopsylla cheopis which preyed on R. rattus living in European cities of the day; it is notable that these rats were victims of the plague themselves. It has recently been suggested[citation needed] that neither rats nor infected fleas would have spread fast enough through Europe to be a likely culprit, although this is controversial and research continues. Regardless, rats are frequently blamed for damaging food supplies and other goods. Their reputation has carried into common parlance: in the English language, "rat" is an insult and "to rat on someone" is to betray them by denouncing to the authorities a crime or misdeed they committed. While modern wild rats can carry Leptospirosis and some other "zoonotic" conditions (those which can be transferred across species, to humans, for example), these conditions are in fact rarely found[citation needed]. Wild rats living in good environments are typically healthy and robust animals. Wild rats living in cities may suffer themselves from poor diet and internal parasites and mites, but do not generally spread disease to humans.

The rat makes a fine pet, known for its intelligence, playfulness and sociability. They are extremely clean. Rats can be taught entertaining tricks, in the same way as many other domesticated animals. It has been observed that rats can actually last longer without water than camels.

Rats have a normal lifespan ranging from two to five years, though three years is typical.

[edit] Rats in culture

Ancient Romans did not generally differentiate between rats and mice, instead referring to the former as Mus Maximus (big mouse) and the latter as Mus Minimus (little mouse).

In Imperial Chinese culture, the rat (sometimes referred to as a mouse) is the first of the twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac. People born in this year are expected to possess qualities associated with rats. These include creativity, honesty, generosity, ambition, a quick temper and wastefulness. "Rats" (i.e. people born in a year of the rat) are said to get along well with "monkeys" and "dragons," and to get along poorly with "horses."
Ganesh riding on his mouse. Note the flowers offered by the devotees. A sculpture at the Vaidyeshwara temple at Talakkadu, Karnataka, India
Ganesh riding on his mouse. Note the flowers offered by the devotees. A sculpture at the Vaidyeshwara temple at Talakkadu, Karnataka, India

In India in the northwestern city of Deshnoke, the Karni Mata Temple, the rats are held to be destined for reincarnation as Sadhus, Hindu holy men. The attending priests feed milk and grain, of which the pilgrims also partake, to the animals. Eating food that has been touched by the animals is considered a blessing from god. In Hindu mythology, a rat is the vehicle of Ganesha. Western associations with the rat are generally negative. For instance, "Rats!" is used as a substitute for various vulgar interjections. These associations do not draw, per se, from any biological or behavioral trait of the rat, but possibly from the association of rats (and fleas) with the 14th-century medieval plague called the Black Death. Rats are seen as vicious, unclean, parasitic animals that steal food and spread disease. While undomesticated rats, dogs, and cats may all be pests in urban areas, in Western countries poisoning rats is commonly accepted, while doing the same to feral dogs and cats would be an unpopular solution in the view of many people. Mutant, man-eating rats are the monsters in James Herbert's horror novel The Rats and its sequels. A phobia of rats is used as a torture device in the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell'. Rats are the most common enemy in Brian Jacques's Redwall series of anthropomorphic fantasy novels. There are obvious exceptions; for example, the characters of Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, the television series Ratz and Terry Pratchett's The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents. Describing a person as "rat-like" usually implies he is unattractive and suspicious. In contrast, mice are stereotyped as cute and bourgeois.

On the Isle of Man (British Protectorate) there is a taboo against the word "rat." See longtail for more information.

Rat is also a term (noun and verb) in criminal (often Mafia) slang for a criminal informant.

Rats are often used in scientific experiments; many animal rights activists allege that treatment of rats in this context is cruel. The term "lab rat" is therefore sometimes used, like guinea pig, to describe a person who is manipulated in a social experiment.

[edit] Rats as vermin
Brown Rat (Rattus norvegicus)
Brown Rat (Rattus norvegicus)

By most standards, rats are considered pests or vermin. They can be very destructive to crops and property. Rats can quickly overpopulate when they live in a place where they have no predators, such as in certain cities, and their numbers can become hard to contain. Because of this, the entire province of Alberta, Canada has upheld and maintained a rat-free status since the early 1950s; it is even illegal to keep pet rats there.

Rats have a significant impact on food production. Estimates vary, but it is likely that anything between one-fifth and one-third of the world's total food output is eaten, spoiled or destroyed by rats and other rodents.[1],[2]

Rats can carry over thirty different diseases dangerous to humans, including Weil's disease, typhus and bubonic plague. Black rats are suspected to have had a role in the Black Death, an epidemic which killed at least 75 million people in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia in the mid-late 14th century.

A variety of rat control methods have been used throughout human history to either reduce or eliminate rat populations in homes, markets, farms, and industrial sites. The two most widely used methods are rat poison and rat traps, though cats and dogs have also been employed to hunt rats. Professional rat-catchers can be found in many developing countries.

Because rats are nocturnal, daytime sightings of rat activity can mean that their nesting areas have been disturbed or, more likely, that there is overpopulation of them in the local area. [3] It is typically at this point that vermin control measures tend to increase.

Rats often chew electrical cables. Around 26% of all electrical cable breaks are caused by rats, and around 18% of all phone cable breaks. Around 25% of all fires of unknown origin are estimated to be caused by rats.[4]

Rats, particularly roof rats (Rattus rattus), can enter the attics of homes where they mate and nest. This problem occurs commonly in coastal, temperate climates and affects even the cleanest, well-kept homes.

[edit] See also

* Fancy rat — Pet rats
* Rat-baiting
* Rat-catcher
* Rat Park
* Rat (zodiac)
* List of fictional mice and rats

[edit] Taxonomy of Rattus

The genus Rattus is a member of the giant subfamily Murinae. There are several other murine genera that are sometimes considered part of Rattus. : Lenothrix, Anonymomys, Sundamys, Kadarsanomys, Diplothrix, Margaretamys, Lenomys, Komodomys, Palawanomys, Bunomys, Nesoromys, Stenomys, Taeromys, Paruromys, Abditomys, Tryphomys, Limnomys, Tarsomys, Bullimus, Apomys, Millardia, Srilankamys, Niviventer, Maxomys, Leopoldamys, Berylmys, Mastomys, Myomys, Praomys, Hylomyscus, Heimyscus, Stochomys, Dephomys, and Aethomys.

The genus Rattus proper contains 56 species. A subgeneric breakdown of the species has been proposed, but does not include all species. The five groups are:

* norvegicus group
* rattus group
* Australian natives
* New Guinea natives
* xanthurus group

The following list is alphabetical.

[edit] Species of rats

* Genus Rattus
o Rattus adustus
o Rattus annandalei
o Rattus argentiventer
o Rattus baluensis
o Rattus bontanus
o Rattus burrus
o Rattus colletti
o Rattus elaphinus
o Rattus enganus
o Rattus everetti
o Rattus exulans
o Rattus feliceus
o Rattus foramineus
o Rattus fuscipes
o Rattus giluwensis
o Rattus hainaldi
o Rattus hoffmani
o Rattus hoogerwerfi
o Rattus jobiensis
o Rattus koopmani
o Rattus korinchi
o Rattus leucopus
o Rattus losea
o Rattus lugens
o Rattus lutreolus
o Rattus macleari
o Rattus marmosurus
o Rattus mindorensis
o Rattus mollicomulus
o Rattus montanus
o Rattus mordax
o Rattus morotaiensis
o Rattus nativitatis
o Rattus nitidus
o Rattus norvegicus
o Rattus novaeguineae
o Rattus osgoodi
o Rattus palmarum
o Rattus pelurus
o Rattus praetor
o Rattus ranjiniae
o Rattus rattus
o Rattus sanila
o Rattus sikkimensis
o Rattus simalurensis
o Rattus sordidus
o Rattus steini
o Rattus stoicus
o Rattus tanezumi
o Rattus tawitawiensis
o Rattus timorensis
o Rattus tiomanicus
o Rattus tunneyi
o Rattus turkestanicus
o Rattus villosissimus
o Rattus xanthurus

History of mead

The history of mead may go back more than 8,000 years. The oldest known meads were created on the Island of Crete [citation needed]; fermented honey was seen as an entheogen. Wine had not yet been created [citation needed]. Mead was the drink of the Age of Gold, and the word for drunk in classical Greek remained "honey-intoxicated." (Kerenyi 1976 pp 35ff).
Polish mead produced in Lublin
Polish mead produced in Lublin

Mead was once very popular in Northern Europe, often produced by monks in monasteries in areas where grapes could not be grown. It faded in popularity, however, once wine imports became economical. Especially partial to it were the Slavs. In Polish it is called miód pitny (pronounced [mjut pi:tni]), meaning "drinkable honey". Mead was a favoured drink among the Polish-Lithuanian szlachta (nobility). During the Crusades, Polish Prince Leszek I the White explained to the Pope that Polish knights could not participate in the Crusades because there was no mead in Palestine.

In Norse mythology, mead was the favourite drink of the Norse gods and heroes, e.g. in Valhalla, and the mead of the giant (Jotun) Suttung, made from the blood of Kvasir, was the source of wisdom and poetry. The nectar and ambrosia of the Greek gods are often thought of as draughts of fermented honey.

In Russia, mead remained popular as medovukha and sbiten long after its popularity declined in the West. Sbiten is often mentioned in the works by 19th-century Russian writers, including Gogol, Dostoevsky, and Tolstoy. Some beer producers attempt to revive sbiten' as a mass-produced drink in Russia.

In Finland, a sweet mead called Sima (cognate with zymurgy), is still an essential seasonal brew connected with the Finnish Vappu (May Day) festival. It is usually spiced by adding both the pulp and rind of a lemon. During secondary fermentation raisins are added to control the amount of sugars and to act as an indicator of readiness for consumption — they will rise to the top of the bottle when the drink is ready.

Ethiopian mead is called tej and is usually home-made. It is flavored with the powdered leaves and bark of gesho, a hops-like bittering agent which is a species of buckthorn. A sweeter, less-alcoholic version called berz, aged for a shorter time, is also made. The traditional vessel for drinking tej is a rounded vase-shaped container called a berele.

Evidence exists that mead was also made in India, Southeast Asia, China, Japan, and Central Africa.

Mead is also mentioned in many old north Anglo-Saxon stories, including in the epic poem Beowulf, and in early Welsh poetry such as Y Gododdin.

The word "honeymoon" in English is supposedly traceable to the practice of a bride's father dowering her with enough mead for a month-long celebration in honor of the marriage. Mead is still manufactured in Britain, France, and various other locations, though the traditional status of most such manufacture is dubious. One of the most famous producers is the Holy Island of Lindisfarne in North East England, where mead has been produced since Anglo-Saxon times.

[edit] Varieties of mead

Mead can have a wide range of flavors, depending on the source of the honey, additives called "adjuncts" or "gruit" (including fruit and spices), yeast employed during fermentation, and aging procedure. Mead can be difficult to find commercially, though some producers have been successful marketing it. Consumers must bear in mind that some producers have marketed white wine with added honey as mead, often spelling it "meade." Blended varieties of mead can be known by either style represented. For instance, a mead made with cinnamon and apples can be referred to as a cinnamon cyser or as an apple metheglin.

Some meads retain some measure of the sweetness of the original honey, and some can even be considered as dessert wines. Drier meads are also available, and some producers offer sparkling meads, which (like champagne) can make for a delightful celebratory toast. There are a number of faux-meads, which are actually cheap wines with large amounts of honey added, to produce a cloyingly sweet liqueur. It has been said that "a mead that tastes of honey is as good as a wine that still tastes of grape".

Historically, meads would have been fermented by wild yeasts and bacteria [citation needed] residing on the skins of the fruit or within the honey itself. Wild yeasts generally provide inconsistent results, and in modern times various brewing interests have isolated the strains now in use. Certain strains have gradually become associated with certain styles of mead. Mostly, these are strains that are also used in beer or wine production. Several commercial labs, such as White Labs, WYeast, Vierka, and others have gone so far as to develop strains specifically for mead.

Mead can also be distilled to a brandy or liqueur strength. Krupnik is a sweet Polish liqueur made through just such a process.

Different types of mead include, but are not limited to:

Braggot - Braggot (also called bracket or brackett) marks the invention of Ale. Originally brewed with honey and hops, later with honey and malt - with or without hops added.

Black mead - A name sometimes given to the blend of honey and black currants.

Cyser - Cyser is a blend of honey and apple juice fermented together. See also cider.

Great mead - Any mead that is intended to be aged several years, like vintage wine. The designation is meant to distinguish this type of mead from "short mead" (see below.)

Hydromel - Hydromel literally means "water-honey" in Greek. It is also the French name for mead. (Compare with the Spanish hidromiel and aquamiel, Italian idromele and Portuguese hidromel). It is also used as a name for a very light or low-alcohol mead.

Melomel - Melomel is made from honey and any fruit. Depending on the fruit-base used, certain melomels may also be known by more specific names (see cyser, pyment, morat for examples)

Metheglin - Metheglin starts with traditional mead but has herbs and spices added. Some of the most common metheglins are ginger, tea, orange peel, coriander, cinnamon, cloves, or vanilla. Its name indicates that many metheglins were originally employed as folk medicines. (Though the Welsh word for honey is medd, the word "metheglin" actually derives from meddeglyn, a compound word comprised of meddyg, "healing" + llyn, "liquor".)

Morat - Morat blends honey and mulberries.

Omphacomel - A medieval mead recipe that blends honey with verjuice; could therefore be considered a variety of pyment.

Oxymel - Another historical mead recipe, blending honey with wine vinegar.

Perry - Perry-mead blends honey with milled, ripe pears. (See entry for the modern drink Babycham.)

Pyment - Pyment blends honey and red or white grapes. Pyment made with white grape juice is sometimes called "white mead."

Rhodomel - Rhodomel is made from honey, rose hips, petals, or rose attar, and water.

Sack mead - This refers to mead that is made with more copious amounts of honey than usual. The finished product retains an extremely high specific gravity and elevated levels of sweetness. It derives its name from the fortified dessert wine Sherry (which is sometimes sweetened after fermentation, and in England once bore the nickname of "sack".)

Short mead - Also called "quick mead". A type of mead recipe that is meant to age quickly, for immediate consumption. Because of the techniques used in its creation, short mead shares some qualities found in cider (or even light ale): primarily that it is effervescent, and often has a cidery taste.[citation needed]

Show mead - A term which has come to mean "plain" mead; that which has honey and water as a base, with no fruits, spices or extra flavorings. (Since honey alone does not provide enough nourishment for the yeast to carry on its life-cycle, a mead that is devoid of fruit, etc. will require a special yeast nutrient and other enzymes to produce an acceptable finished product.)

Tej - Tej is an Ethiopian mead, fermented with wild yeasts (and bacteria), and with the addition of gesho. Recipes vary from family to family, with some recipes leaning towards braggot with the inclusion of grains.

Mulsum - Mulsum is not a true mead, but is unfermented honey blended with a high-alcohol wine.

Medovina - Macedonian (of the Republic of Macedonia) and Croatian for mead. Unfortunately, very few people still brew this for their own consumption. It is not available commercially.

Medovukha - Eastern Slavic variant, very alcoholic. In principle, a vodka with distilled honey addition.

Półtorak - A Polish mead, made using two units of honey for each unit of water

Dwójniak - A Polish mead, made using equal amounts of water and honey

Trójniak - A Polish mead, made using two units of water for each unit of honey

Czwórniak - A Polish mead, made using three units of water for each unit of honey

Gverc or Medovina - Croatian mead prepared in Samobor and many other places. Word “gverc” or “gvirc” is from German "Gewürze" and it refers to different spices added to mead.

[edit] Mead in Contemporary Religious Worship

Mead is an important part of Asatru, the reconstructed worship of the old Norse gods. The ancients performed blot, (literally, sacrifice) to the gods with blood. Many of todays Asatru sacrifice mead -- be it bought or home-brewed -- to the gods.

Parasites that live inside the body of the host are called endoparasites (e.g., hookworms that live in the host gut) and those that live on the outside are called ectoparasites (e.g., some mites). An epiparasite is a parasite that feeds on another parasite. Many endoparasites acquire hosts by passive mechanisms, such as the nematode Ascaris lumbricoides, an endoparasite of the human intestine. A. lumbricoides produces large numbers of eggs which are passed from the host's digestive tract into the external environment, relying on other humans to inadvertently ingest them in places without good sanitation. Ectoparasites, on the other hand, often have elaborate mechanisms and strategies for finding hosts. Some aquatic leeches, for example, locate hosts by sensing movement and then confirm their identity through skin temperature and chemical cues before attaching.

Necrotrophs are parasites that use another organism's tissue for their own nutritional benefit until the host dies from loss of needed tissues or nutrients. Necrotrophs are also known as parasitoids. Biotrophic parasites cannot survive in a dead host and therefore keep their hosts alive. Many viruses, for example, are biotrophic because they use the host's genetic and cellular processes to multiply.

Some parasites are social parasites, taking advantage of interactions between members of a social host species such as ants or termites to their detriment. Kleptoparasitism involves the parasite stealing food that the host has caught or otherwise prepared. A specialized type of kleptoparasitism is brood parasitism, such as that engaged in by many species of cuckoo. Many cuckoos use other birds as lifetime "babysitters"; cuckoo young are raised and fed by adults of the host species, while adult cuckoos fend for themselves.

Cheating or exploitation types of parasitism are often found in situations where there are generalized non-specific mutualisms between broad classes of organisms, such as mycorrhizal relationships between plants and many types of fungi. Some myco-heterotrophic plants behave as "mycorrhizal cheaters", establishing mycorrhiza-like interactions with a fungal symbiont, but taking carbon from the fungus (which the fungus, in turn, gets from other plants) rather than donating carbon.

[edit] Evolutionary aspects

Biotrophic parasitism is an extremely successful mode of life. Depending on the definition used, as many as half of all animals have at least one parasitic phase in their life cycles, and it is also frequent in plants and fungi. Moreover, almost all free-living animals are host to one or more parasite taxa.

The hosts of parasites often evolve elaborate defensive mechanisms as well. Plants often produce toxins, for example, which deter both parasitic fungi and bacteria as well as herbivores. Vertebrate immune systems can target most parasites through contact with bodily fluids. Many parasites, particularly microorganisms, evolve adaptations to a particular host species; in such specific interactions the two species generally coevolve into a relatively stable relationship that does not kill the host quickly or at all (since this would be detrimental for the parasite as well; but see parasitoid).

Sometimes, the study of parasite taxonomy can elucidate how their hosts are similar or related. For instance, there has been a dispute about whether Phoenicopteriformes (flamingos) are more closely related to Ciconiiformes (storks and related groups) or to Anseriformes (waterfowl and allies). Flamingos share parasites with ducks and geese, so these groups are thought to be more closely related to one another than either is to storks. Modern DNA methods, however, have shown that flamingos are not closely related to either.

It is important to note that "benefit" and "harm" in the definition of parasitism apply to lineages, not individuals. Thus, if an organism becomes physically stronger as a result of infection but loses reproductive capabilities (as results from some flatworm infections of snails), that organism is harmed in an evolutionary sense and is thus parasitized. The harm caused to a host by a parasite can take many forms, from direct pathology, including various specialized types of tissue damage, such as castration, to more subtle effects such as modification of host behaviour.

[edit] Parasites in fiction

Parasites living in or off humans are a favorite theme in the science fiction and horror genres, particularly in the subgenre of body horror. The fear of the human mind and body being used in such a way by another being is an understandably disturbing idea. In such work, the parasite often is responsible for a metamorphosis of the host, or takes control of the host mentally. Examples of works with this theme would be several of the films of David Cronenberg (particularly Shivers), the Alien series of films, the Yeerks of the Animorphs book series, and the Goa'uld of the television series Stargate. For a list of fictional parasites, see List of parasitic organisms.

[edit] See also

* List of parasitic organisms
* Intestinal parasite
* Macroparasite
* Malarial parasite
* Myco-heterotrophy
* Parasitic plant
* Parasitic wasp
* Parasitoid
* Pinworm
* Superparasitism
* Teratology
* Toxoplasmosis

Fictional representations

In modern fiction, ghouls are often confused with other types of undead, usually the mindless varieties of vampires and zombies. Although modern fiction (post-1954), particularly 1954's I Am Legend, suggests that the latter beings share cannibalistic habits with ghouls, it is nonetheless generally believed that vampires and zombies prefer live prey.

Bram Stoker's 1897 novel Dracula features a ghoulish character named Renfield. Under the vampire's influence, Renfield becomes his willing slave and develops a craving to eat living creatures in the hope of obtaining their life-force for himself. After being confined to an asylum, he considers eating a human hospital orderly, but finds he can only capture and consume flies, spiders, and the occasional bird.

In the fiction of H. P. Lovecraft, a ghoul is a member of a nocturnal, subterranean race. Some ghouls were once human, but a diet of human corpses, and perhaps the tutelage of proper ghouls, mutated them into horrific, bestial humanoids. In the short story "Pickman's Model" (1927), the first of Lovecraft's ghoul stories, they are unutterably terrible monsters; however, in his earlier novella The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath (1926), the ghouls are somewhat less disturbing, even comical at times, and both helpful and loyal to the protagonist. Richard Upton Pickman, a noteworthy Boston painter who disappeared mysteriously in "Pickman's Model", appears as a ghoul himself in Dream-Quest. Similar themes appear in "The Lurking Fear" (1922) and "The Rats in the Walls" (1924), both of which posit the existence of subterranean clans of degenerate, retrogressive cannibals or carrion-eating humans.

[edit] Popular culture

Ghouls have been portrayed in many instances of popular literature. The following is a non-exhaustive list in which Ghouls appear: a series of dark fantasy short stories by Brian McNaughton, a Michael Slade novel, "Ghoul", Larry Niven's "Ringworld" series, J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series, The Chronicles of Narnia, Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake series, and Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files.

[edit] Popular fiction

In 1987, Brian McNaughton wrote a series of dark fantasy short stories in which these Lovecraftian ghouls are the protagonists. The stories, collectively published as Throne of Bones, were a critical success and the book went on to receive a World Fantasy Award for Best Collection.

In Michael Slade's novel Ghoul is a heavy metal rock band with possible connections to a series of grisly murders.

In Larry Niven's Ringworld series, the ghouls are a race that eats the dead of the other races that live on the ringworld. They have a fairly sophisticated (for a post-apocalyptic people) culture, and are the only race with a communication system that traverses the entire ringworld: heliographs.

In J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series, ghouls are harmless creatures that live in the homes of wizards, making loud noises and occasionally groaning.

In The Chronicles of Narnia, ghouls are creatures that serve the White Witch. They resemble corroded, old humans. In the 2005 movie and videogame, they resemble pale orcs carrying spears.

In Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake series, graveyards became infested with ghouls when the blessing of the graveyard was used up; this was usually caused when too many zombies were raised or voodoo rituals of evil nature were performed in the graveyard. Though they were once human, they are like pack animals, and they aren't very smart. They will only attack if a person is vulnerable. A ghoul will run from a healthy, strong human being.

In Max Brooks' The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Undead, zombies are frequently referred to as ghouls.

In Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files, ghouls are much like they are in the classic mythologies. They are humanoid monsters that feed on human flesh, and seem to be able to disguise themselves as ordinary humans. These ghouls are intelligent, as opposed to being mindless and feral monsters.

In Monster in My Pocket #37, a ghoul shown carrying a shovel. When he appears in stage 2, the kitchen, in the video game, the shovel has become an axe. Ghilan is Monster in My Pocket #101, which appears to be a cluster of two of the shapeshifitng sort of ghul.

In Chelsea Quinn Yarbro's St. Germain series, the ghoul is an undead being created through an ancient Egyptian ritual to act as a servant to a vampire. St. Germain comes across a dying slave and resurrrects him as his faithful servant, Roger, who accompanies him through his adventures for the next 2,000 years. Roger is indistinguishable from humans except for his immortality and the fact that his diet consists of raw meat.

[edit] Movies and television

Although many screenplays have featured ghouls, the first major motion picture of this theme was the 1933 British film entitled The Ghoul. The actor Boris Karloff plays a dying Egyptologist who possesses an occult gem, known as The Eternal Light, which he believes will grant immortality if he is buried with it, and thereby able to present it to Anubis in the afterlife. Of course, his bickering, covetous heirs and associates would rather keep the jewel for themselves. Karloff vows to rise from his grave and avenge himself against anyone who meddles with his plan, and he keeps this promise when one of his colleagues steals The Eternal Light after his death.

In 1968, George A. Romero's groundbreaking film Night of the Living Dead combined reanimated corpses (zombies) with cannabalistic monsters (ghouls), creating new film monsters more terrifying than either of their predecessors. The term "ghoul" was the one actually used in the film.

The 1975 British film The Ghoul (unrelated to the Karloff vehicle) stars Peter Cushing as a defrocked missionary whose son has deveolped a taste for human flesh while travelling in India. As the son's mind and body degenerate, Cushing has several young people dispatched and prepared as food for his offspring, whom he keeps locked up in the attic.

The 1975 anthology film The Monster Club featured a segment about a village of ghouls stumbled upon by an unwary traveller (Stuart Whitman). The man temporarily escapes the creatures with the help of one half-human girl, but he is recaptured when it turns out that the ghouls have representatives inhabiting our normal human world.

In the anime and manga series Hellsing, ghouls are zombie-like creatures that are created when a "chipped" (technological) vampire drains a victim to death, or, in the Manga, where a vampire drains the blood of someone who is not a virgin. If fatally wounded, they instantly crumble to dust.

"The Ghoul" is the stage name of Cleveland-area horror television host Ron Sweed.

[edit] Ghouls in gaming

Main article: Ghouls in gaming

Many games use the term "ghoul" to describe undead beings or other kinds of cannibalistic and degenerate humanoids.

Mythology and folklore

For Norse dwarves specifically, see that article.

Dwarves are known as Härdmandle, pl. Härdmändlene, (lit. "little Hill-men") in Swiss, and Kröpel (lit. Earth-men) in (German. Dwarves were described as the height of a 3-year old human child (about 3 feet tall), ugly and big-headed. Nidavellir is the land of the dwarves in Norse mythology. Some dwarves of mythology and fairy tales are: Rumpelstiltskin, the dwarves from Snow White, Snorri, Dvalin, Lit, Fjalar and Galar, Alvis, Eitri, Brokk, Hreidmar, Alfrik, Berling, Grer, Fafnir, Otr, Regin (rarely given as Mimir), and Andvari (or Alberich.)

[edit] The creation of dwarves in Norse mythology

"Then the gods set themselves in their high-seats and held counsel. They remembered how the dwarves had quickened in the mould of the earth like maggots in flesh. The dwarves had first been created and had quickened in Ymir’s flesh, and were then maggots; but now, by the decision of the gods, they got the understanding and likeness of men, but still had to dwell in the earth and in rocks. Modsogner was one dwarf and Durin another. So it is said in the Völuspá:

Þá gengu regin öll
á rökstóla,
ginnheilög goð,
ok um þat gættusk,
hverr skyldi dverga
dróttir skepja,
ór Brimis blóði
ok ór Bláins leggjum.
Þar var Mótsognir
mæztr um orðinn
dverga allra,
en Durinn annarr.
Þeir mannlíkön
mörg um gørðu,
dvergar, ór jörðu,
sem Durinn sagði.(standardised)

Then sought the gods
their assembly-seats,
The holy ones,
and council held,
To find who should raise
the race of dwarves
Out of Brimir’s blood
and the legs of Blain.
There was Motsognir
the mightiest made
Of all the dwarves,
and Durin next;
Many a likeness
of men they made,
The dwarves in the earth,
as Durin said. (Bellow's translation)

[edit] Dwarves in Non-Germanic Cultures

The Egyptian god Bes is a dwarf. In Judaism, the wise men of the Talmud said that the Egyptian Pharaoh of the Bible and the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar were dwarves. A number of Native American peoples also believed that dwarves had special powers and often chose dwarves born among them as priests.

Finns had folklore about different kinds of small creatures. Sometimes small creature appeared from the sea and made miraculous deeds, which nobody else could do. There were also tales about the folk or race of creatures called Hiisi. Hiisis were usually evil and small sized. Pre-historic stone structures were told to been built and big stones were told to been erected by Hiisis and giants.

[edit] Dwarves in Arthurian Legend

Though most dwarves in the Arthurian romances of Chrétien de Troyes seem to be short humans, there is a reference to a kingdom or kingdoms of dwarves (suggesting a non-human race) in "Erec and Enide." The following passage is from Carleton W. Carroll's translation.

"The lord of the dwarves came next, Bilis, king of the Antipodes. The man of whom I'm speaking was indeed a dwarf and full brother of Bliant. Bilis was the smallest of all the dwarves, and Bliant his brother the largest of all the knights in the kingdom by half a foot or a full hands'-breadth. To display his power and authority Bilis brought in his company two kings who were dwarves, who held their land by his consent, Gribalo and Glodoalan, people looked at them with wonder. When they arrived at court, they were very cordially welcomed; at court all three were honoured and served like kings, for they were very noble men."

[edit] Other mythological beings characterised by shortness

* underground or secluded: mine kobolds (German), gnomes (alchemy), Kallikantzaroi (Modern Greek), knockers (Cornish—see Pasty), huldufólk (Icelandic)
* house spirits: vetter (Scandinavian, including the tomte),Brownies (British), Domovoi (Slavic), Krasnoludek and Krasnal (Polish)
* pygmies (Classical Greek), Hackers (Sweden), leprechauns (Irish), menehune (Polynesian), Ebu Gogo (Indonesian)

[edit] Dwarf places

The Dwarves' Cavern : (In Hasel, Germany) was supposedly once home to many dwarves. This legend gives the cavern its name.

Harz mountains : (Germany) On the north and the south sides of the Harz mountains, and in areas of the Hohenstein region, there once lived many thousands of dwarves according to local tradition. In the clefts of the cliffs still exist the dwarf caves.

Tyre : In ancient Jewish scriptures, dwarves were numerous in the towers of the fortresses of Tyre.

[edit] Fairy Tales (and similar) with dwarves in them

The Adventures of Billy McDaniel, Aid & Punishment, Bottile Hill, Chamois-Hunter, The Cobbler and the Dwarfs, Curiosity Punished, Dwarf in Search of Lodging, Dwarf-Husband, Dwarf's Banquet, Dwarves Borrowing Bread, Dwarf's Feast, Dwarves on the Tree, Dwarves Stealing Corn, Dwarf-Sword Tirfing, The Field of Ragwort, Fir Cones, Freddy and his Fiddle, Friendly Dwarves, Gertrude and Rosy, The Girl Who Picked Strawberries, The Hazel-nut Child, The Hill-Man at the Dance, History of Dwarf Long Nose, Journey of Dwarves Over the Mountain, Knurremurre, Laird O' Co', Little Mukra, Loki & the Dwarf, Lost Bell, Nihancan & Dwarf's Arrow, Nutcracker Dwarf, Rejected Gift, Snow-White and Rose-Red, Rumpelstiltskin, The Silver Bell, Sir Thynnè, The Skipper and the Dwarfs, Smith Riechert, Snow White, The Story of Maia, Thorston & the Dwarf, The Three Little Men in the Wood, Thumbkin, Timimoto, Wonderful Little Pouch, The Yellow Dwarf

[edit] Possible origin

Stories of dwarves may have a historical background: during the Bronze Age, tin miners from southern and south-eastern Europe slowly migrated northwest, since the relatively rare tin, which is needed to make bronze, was more common in the north. Being southerners, they generally were of shorter stature than northern Europeans and had darker skin, hair and beards. Their knowledge of metallurgy might have seemed magical to the northerners, whose lifestyle was still neolithic; the southerners' superior weapons and armour might well have been perceived as enchanted. This would explain why stories of dwarves are especially common in Northern Europe, and also why dwarves are portrayed as workers, while few other mythological creatures seem to be associated with any kind of organized industry.

[edit] Dwarves in politics
The Dwarf - the symbol of the Orange Alternative - now has a statue in Wrocław (Breslau), Poland, in the place where all Dwarf happenings started.
The Dwarf - the symbol of the Orange Alternative - now has a statue in Wrocław (Breslau), Poland, in the place where all Dwarf happenings started.

During the 1980s, behind the Iron Curtain, in Poland, the Dwarves entered into politics. This happened thanks to an underground artistic opposition movement known as the Orange Alternative. The Orange Alternative was created in 1981 by Waldemar Fydrych alias "Major", a graduate of history and art history at the University of Wrocław. He began his opposition activities by painting absurd dwarf graffiti on spots created by the authorities covering up anti-communist, anti-semetic, anti-environmentalist slogans. Then, in the mid-nineteen eighties, the dwarves left the city walls and began actively participating in large scale happenings organized by the Orange Alternative in the major Polish cities, aimed at ridiculing the Jaruzelski regime and breaking up the fear barrier present in the population as result of the Martial Law instauration in December 1981.

More generally, the pygmies of Africa, the short Eskimos, Sami (Lapps), the Asian Dropa pygmies of Tibet, short rain forest natives, people with dwarfism, and similarly short people may have had a hand in the origin in dwarf legends in many countries.

The field of Depth Psychology has also found that dwarfs are most frequently psychological symbols of what Carl G. Jung termed the "Shadow." The Shadow is the portion of the human psyche which contains personalities, behaviors, and/or events that have been suppressed by consciousness in the unconscious in a personal, societal, or collective manner.
A modern depiction of a dwarf
A modern depiction of a dwarf

[edit] Dwarves in modern fantasy fiction

[edit] Tolkien's dwarves

See Dwarf (Middle-earth)

Traditionally, the plural of dwarf was "dwarfs", especially when referring to actual humans with dwarfism, but ever since J. R. R. Tolkien used dwarves in his fantasy epic novel "The Hobbit" or "There and back Again" and the subsequent three-volume novel, The Lord of the Rings, the plural forms "dwarfs" has been replaced by "dwarves". (When discussing Tolkien's universe, though, only the latter should be used.) Tolkien, who was fond of low philological jests, also suggested two other plural forms, dwarrows and dwerrows; but he never used them in his writings, apart from the name 'Dwarrowdelf', the Western name for Khazad-dûm or Moria, which was, inside his fiction, a calque of the Westron name Phurunargian. His Dwarves' name for themselves was Khazâd, singular probably Khuzd.

The Dwarves were created by Aulë, one of the Valar, when he grew impatient waiting for the coming of Children of Ilúvatar. Ilúvatar gave them life after speaking to Aulë about what he had done and seeing that he was both humble and repentant.

Dwarves in Tolkien are long-lived, living nearly four times the age of man(about 250 years), but are not prolific breeders, having children rarely and spaced far apart, and having few women among them. Dwarvish children are cherished by their parents, and are defended at all costs from their traditional enemies, such as Orcs. A longstanding enmity between Dwarves and Elves is also a staple of the racial conception.

[edit] Dwarves after Tolkien

Tolkien's immense popularity led to numerous imitators, and rewrites and reworkings of his plots were extremely common, as a bit reading through the advertisements in the back of paperback fantasy books printed in around 1960–1980 will show. Gimli became the father to hordes of dwarves that would follow, with his surly, somewhat suspicious demeanour passing to an entire race. Still, re-envisionings and creative reuses of the concept exist.

[edit] Dwarves in Role-Playing Games

The Dwarves of the Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game are closely derived from the Old Norse stereotype popularised by J.R.R. Tolkien, although a few unique variants on the theme exist.

In Warhammer Fantasy, dwarves are miners and blacksmiths of great repute who live in massive halls beneath the mountains. In addition, they are consummate engineers who are often portrayed as having a very down-to-earth attitude, similar to Northern England stereotypes. Like most modern interpretations (like Tolkien and Dungeons and Dragons) dwarves have an enmity with Elves.

In the MMORPG RuneScape, dwarves are, obviously, a short race with short tempers to match. They are also blessed with a remarkable ingenuity that surpasses the other races. Their particular interest is in engineering, for it seems to them a thoroughly sensible way of doing things that weaker and more foolish races resort to magic for. This mistrust of magic is a long-held conviction for the dwarves, who, aside from the odd casting of Superheat Item, have not used magic in any significant way since the construction of Keldagrim all those many centuries ago.

The dwarves of RuneScape are an especially economically aware race, as visitors to Keldagrim will notice when they first view the impressive trading floor in the Consortium's Palace. The Consortium, who rule the dwarves, are the most powerful of the dwarven corporations and their wealth is beyond compare even among other races. This is no real surprise, of course, for the dwarves have been mining for gold and precious stones and metals since well before humans abandoned their nomadic existence.

In Earthdawn, dwarves are one of the more widespread races. They generally have a lifespan of around 100-120 years and are great craftsmen. Appearance wise, they are around 4 feet tall, stocky and well muscled with short legs and slightly pointed ears.

In Warcraft the Dwarven archetype is taken to the extreme in emulating the highland miners of the British Isles replete with Scottish accents and inhabitting the Brittonic sounding kingdom of Khaz Modan.

Dwarves in the Palladium Fantasy Role-Playing Game are also accomplished smiths, but their distrust of magic dates to the Elf-Dwarf War, where the Dwarves caused many atrocities by misusing magic. Their descendants have since sworn to never use magic.

In the MMORPG Guild Wars, Dwarves are a strong race that resides in the Shiverpeak Mountains, and are in the middle of a fierce civil war between the Deldrimor Dwarves, lead by the King Jalis Ironhammer, a powerful warrior who uses a mighty hammer, and the racist Stone Summit, who believe that only Dwarves are pure and worth living, similar to the ideals of Adolf Hitler, and are lead by a powerful elementalist Dagnar Stoneplate, who rides on a mighty ice drake.

In The Elder Scrolls series of RPGs, the Dwarves are, in fact, a sub-race of elves known as the Dwemer, or "Deep Ones". The name "Dwarves" was given to the Dwemer by a race of friendly giants the Dwemer were reputed to have encountered in the mountains to the west of Resdayn. In the case of the Dwemer, therefore, "Dwarf" is a misnomer, used commonly by the misinformed.

[edit] Dwarves in Artemis Fowl

In a rather more creative reworking, the Artemis Fowl series' dwarves act as a sort of earthworm, tunnelling through soil and loose rocks and getting nutrition thereby, excreting it just as fast as they eat it except when they need to build up pressure to break through a layer of solid rock. They are short, round, and hairy, have large tombstone teeth, unhingible jaws, sensitive beard hair, suction-cup-like pores, luminous and hardening spit, and are incredibly foul smelling. They are sensitive, intelligent, and have tendencies for being criminals. The most famous one is Mulch Diggums. Dwarves are, in some legends, said to have a third eyeball located just below the ribcage, in place of a navel. This was reportedly because they were omnipotent, and could see into one's soul. Dwarves are also known for loving gold and gems, tunnelling, and the dark. They are very sensitive to the sun and can burn in mere minutes. They absolutely hate fire.

[edit] Female dwarves

A long standing source of interest (and humour) comes from the allusion of Tolkien to female dwarves having actual beards or simply disguising themselves as such. In addition to being rare creatures they are perhaps not often featured in many fantasy milieu for this reason. A more cynical suspicion is that female dwarves (unlike, say, female humans or elves) lack sex appeal and consequently are of little interest to fantasy fans (stereotypically young men).

In the MMORPG RuneScape, female dwarves are as present in the game as the females of other races.

In Dungeons & Dragons, the status of beards on dwarven women varies by setting: In Greyhawk, dwarven women grow beards but generally shave; in Forgotten Realms they grow sideburns but not beards or mustaches; and in Eberron they do not grow beards at all.

In the Discworld novels, Terry Pratchett says that this is a major problem for dwarves, and states that the point of dwarvish relationships is to 'tactfully find out which sex the other one is under that beard'.

In the RPG Castle Falkenstein, all dwarves are male. They marry with women from other Faerie races, such as Naiads or Selkies; their daughters are all members of their mother's race, and their sons are all dwarves.

In a notable departure from convention, dwarven females in the Korea-produced Lineage II MMORPG are very comely, young-looking women (almost girls, actually), a shocking contrast to the grizzled, old look of male dwarves.

[edit] See also

* Backoo
* A Book of Dwarfs by Ruth Manning-Sanders
* Dark elves
* Dwarfs (Discworld)
* Dwarf (Dungeons & Dragons)
* Dwarf (Middle-earth)
* Dwarf (Warcraft)
* Dwarf (Warhammer)
* Dwemer
* Elf versus dwarf
* Gnome
* Nain Rouge, Detroit's harbinger of doom
* Norse dwarves
* Pointy hat
* Sprite (creature)
* Svartalfar
* Tolkien
* Troll

[edit] Modern Fantasy with Major Roles for Dwarves

* Artemis Fowl
* The Chronicles of Narnia
* Discworld
* The Hobbit
* Lord of the Rings (rather less so than the others listed here, but highly influential nonetheless)


Main article: History of Germany

The state now known as Germany was unified as a modern nation-state only in 1871, when the German Empire, dominated by the Kingdom of Prussia, was forged. This began the German Reich, usually translated as empire, but also meaning kingdom, domain or realm.

Early history of the Germanic tribes (100 BC – AD 300)

Main articles: Germanic peoples and Germania

The ethnogenesis of the Germanic tribes is assumed to have occurred during the Nordic Bronze Age, or at the latest, during the Pre-Roman Iron Age in southern Scandinavia and northern Germany, from the first century BC expanding south, east and west, coming into contact with Celtic tribes of Gaul and Iranian, Baltic and Slavic tribes in Eastern Europe. Little is known about early Germanic history, except through their interactions with the Roman Empire and archaeological finds.

Under Augustus, the Roman General Drusus began to invade Germany, and it was from this period that the German tribes became familiar with Roman tactics of warfare while maintaining their national identity. In AD 9, three Roman legions led by Publius Quinctilius Varus were crushed by the Cheruscan leader Arminius (Hermann) in the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest. Germany as far as the Rhine and the Danube therefore remained outside the Roman Empire. By 100, the time of Tacitus' Germania, Germanic tribes settled along the Rhine and the Danube (the Limes Germanicus), occupying most of the area of modern Germany. The 3rd century saw the emergence of a number of large West Germanic tribes — Alamanni, Franks, Chatti, Saxons, Frisians, Sicambri, Thuringians. Around 260, the Germanic peoples broke through the Limes and the Danube frontier.

See also: List of meanings of countries' names

The Holy Roman Empire of German Nation (843-1806)

Main article: Holy Roman Empire

The prince-electors of the Holy Roman Empire. From Bildatlas der Deutschen Geschichte by Dr Paul Knötel (1895)
The prince-electors of the Holy Roman Empire. From Bildatlas der Deutschen Geschichte by Dr Paul Knötel (1895)

The medieval empire stemmed from a division of the Carolingian Empire in 843, which was founded by Charlemagne on December 25, 800, and existed in varying forms until 1806, its territory stretching from the river Eider in the north to the Mediterranean coast in the south. Often referred to as the Holy Roman Empire (or the Old Empire), it was officially called the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation ("Sacrum Romanum Imperium Nationis Germanicæ") since 1448 to adjust the title to its then reduced territory.

Under the reign of the Ottonian emperors (919–1024), the duchies of Lorraine, Saxony, Franconia, Swabia, Thuringia and Bavaria were consolidated and in 962 the German king was crowned Holy Roman Emperor. Under the reign of the Salian emperors (1024–1125), the Holy Roman Empire absorbed northern Italy and Burgundy. Under the Hohenstaufen emperors (1138–1254) the German princes were increasing their influence further south and east.

The edict of the Golden Bull in 1356 provided the basic constitution of the empire up to its dissolution. For three hundred years starting in 1438, the Emperors were elected nearly exclusively from the Austrian Habsburg family.

In 1530, a separate Protestant church was acknowledged as the new state religion in many states of Germany. This led to inter-German dispute, the Thirty Years' War (1618–1648). From 1740 onwards the dualism between Austria and Prussia dominated the Empire's history. In 1806 the Imperium was overrun and dissolved as a result of the Napoleonic Wars.

Restoration and revolution (1814-71)

Main article: German Confederation

"The students way" up to the Wartburg 1817
"The students way" up to the Wartburg 1817
Frankfurt Parliament in 1848/49
Frankfurt Parliament in 1848/49

Following Napoleon's fall and the end of the Confederation of the Rhine, the Congress of Vienna convened in 1814 in order to restructure Europe. In Germany, the German Confederation was founded, a loose league of 39 sovereign states. Disagreement with the restoration politics partly led to the lifestyle called Biedermeier and to intellectual liberal movements, which demanded unity and freedom during the Vormärz epoch, each followed by a measure of Metternich's repression of liberal agitation. The Zollverein, a tariff union, profoundly furthered economic unity in the German states.

The German people had been stirred by the ideals of the French revolution. On October 18, 1817, students held a gathering to exchange ideas, the high point of which was the burning of works by authors like August von Kotzebue, who were against a united German state. A second such meeting attracted 30,000 people from all social classes and from all regions to the Hambacher celebration. There for the first time, the colours of black, red and gold were chosen to represent the movement, which later became the national colours.

The states were also shaped by the Industrial Revolution, which was the initial step of the growing industrialisation in Europe and contributed to a wave of poverty, causing social uprisings. In light of a series of revolutionary movements in Europe, which in France successfully established a republic, intellectuals and common people started the Revolutions of 1848 in the German states. The monarchs initially yielded to the revolutionaries' liberal demands, and an intellectual National Assembly was elected to draw up a constitution for the new Germany, completed in 1849. However, the Prussian king Frederick William IV, who was offered the title of Emperor but with a loss of power, rejected the crown and the constitution. This prompted the demise of the national assembly along with most of the changes from the revolution.

In 1862, conflict between the Prussian King Wilhelm I and the increasingly liberal parliament erupted over military reforms. The king appointed Otto von Bismarck the new Prime Minister of Prussia. Bismarck solved the conflict with difficulty and used the desire for national unification to further the interests of the Prussian monarchy. In 1864 he successfully waged war on Denmark. Prussian victory in the Austro-Prussian War of 1866 enabled him to create the North German Confederation and divide Austria, formerly the leading state of Germany, from the more western and northern parts.

Second German Empire (1871-1918)

Main article: German Empire

Foundation of modern Germany, Versailles, 1871. Bismarck is in white in the middle
Foundation of modern Germany, Versailles, 1871. Bismarck is in white in the middle

After the French defeat in the Franco-Prussian War, the German Empire (Deutsches Kaiserreich) was proclaimed in Versailles on January 18, 1871. As a result, the new empire was a unification of all the scattered parts of Germany but without Austria — Kleindeutschland. Beginning in 1884 Germany established several colonies. The young emperor's foreign policy was opposed to that of Bismarck, who had established a system of alliances in the era called Gründerzeit, securing Germany's position as a great nation, isolating France with diplomatic means and avoiding war for decades. Under Wilhelm II, however, Germany took an imperialistic course, not unlike other powers, but it led to friction with neighbouring countries. Most alliances in which Germany had been previously involved were not renewed, and new alliances excluded the country. Specifically, France established new relations by signing the Entente Cordiale with the United Kingdom, and got ties with Russia. Austria-Hungary and Germany became increasingly isolated.
Imperial Germany (1871-1918)
Imperial Germany (1871-1918)
Subdivisions of Germany in 1925. Map showing borders of Germany from 1919 until 1937.
Subdivisions of Germany in 1925. Map showing borders of Germany from 1919 until 1937.

Although not one of the main causes, the assassination of Austria's crown prince triggered World War I on July 28, 1914, which saw Germany as part of the unsuccessful Central Powers in the second-bloodiest conflict of all time against the Allied Powers. In November 1918, the second German Revolution broke out, and Emperor Wilhelm II and all German ruling princes abdicated. An armistice was signed on November 11, putting an end to the war. Germany was forced to sign the Treaty of Versailles in 1919, whose unexpectedly high demands were perceived as humiliating in Germany, as a continuation of the war by other means and a breaking of traditional post-war diplomacy that included negotiations between the victors and vanquished.

Weimar Republic (1919-33)

Main article: Weimar Republic

After the German Revolution in November 1918, a Republic was proclaimed. That year, the German Communist Party was established by Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, and in January 1919 the German Workers Party, later known as the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (National Socialist German Workers Party, NSDAP, "Nazis"). On August 11, 1919, the Weimar Constitution came into effect, with the sign of the Reichspräsident Friedrich Ebert.

In a cool climate of economic hardship from both the world wide Depression and the harsh peace conditions dictated by the Treaty of Versailles, and a long succession of more or less unstable governments, the political masses in Germany increasingly lacked identification with their political system of parliamentary democracy. This was exacerbated by a wide-spread right-wing (monarchist, völkische, and Nazi) Dolchstoßlegende, a political myth which claimed the German Revolution was the main reason why Germany had lost WWI. On the other hand, radical left-wing communists such as the Spartacist League had wanted to abolish what they perceived as a "capitalist rule" in favour of a "Räterepublik" and were thus also in opposition to the existing form of government. During the years following the Revolution, German voters increasingly supported anti-democratic parties, both right- (monarchists, Nazis) and left-wing (Communists). At the beginning of the 1930s, Germany was not far from a civil war. Paramilitary troops were set up by several parties, there were thousands of politically motivated murders. They intimidated voters and seeded violence and anger among the public, who suffered from high unemployment and poverty. After a succession of unsuccessful cabinets, on January 29, 1933, President von Hindenburg, seeing little alternative and pushed by advisors, appointed Adolf Hitler Chancellor of Germany.

Third Reich (1933–45)

Main article: Nazi Germany

On 27 February 1933, the Reichstag was set on fire. Some basic democratic rights were quickly abrogated afterwards under an emergency decree. An Enabling Act gave Hitler's government full legislative power — only the Sozial Demokratische Partei, SPD voted against it; the communists could not because many had already been imprisoned or murdered. A centralised totalitarian state was established by a series of moves and decrees making Germany a single-party state. Industry was closely regulated with quotas and requirements in order to shift the economy towards a war production base. In 1936, German troops entered the demilitarised Rhineland and British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain's appeasement policies proved inadequate. Emboldened, Hitler followed from 1938 onwards a policy of expansionism to establish Greater Germany. To avoid a two-front war, Hitler concluded the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact with the Soviet Union, and broke it.

Main article: World War II

1939: German troops supposedly destroying a Polish border checkpoint. The picture was staged a few days after the outbreak of the war for use in National Socialist propaganda
1939: German troops supposedly destroying a Polish border checkpoint. The picture was staged a few days after the outbreak of the war for use in National Socialist propaganda

In 1939 the growing tensions from nationalism, militarism, and territorial issues led to the Germans launching a blitzkrieg on September 1st against Poland, followed two days later by declarations of war by Britain and France, marking the beginning of World War II. Germany quickly gained direct or indirect control of the majority of Europe. On June 22, 1941, Hitler broke the pact with the Soviet Union by opening the Eastern Front and invading the Soviet Union. Shortly after Japan attacked the American base at Pearl Harbor, Germany declared war on the United States. Although initially the German army rapidly advanced into the surprised Soviet Union, the Battle of Stalingrad marked a major turning point in the war. Subsequently, the German army commenced retreating on the Eastern front, followed by the eventual defeat of Germany. On 8 May 1945, Germany surrendered after the Red Army occupied Berlin.

In what later became known as The Holocaust, the Third Reich regime enacted governmental policies directly subjugating many parts of society: Jews, Slavs, Roma, homosexuals, freemasons, political dissidents, priests, preachers, religious opponents, and the disabled, amongst others. During the Nazi era about 11 million people were murdered in the Holocaust, including more than 6 million Jews.

Division and reunification (1945-90)

Main article: History of Germany since 1945

German occupation zones in 1946 after territorial annexations in the East. The Saarland (in the French zone) shown with stripes as it was not removed from Germany until 1947
German occupation zones in 1946 after territorial annexations in the East. The Saarland (in the French zone) shown with stripes as it was not removed from Germany until 1947

The war resulted in the death of several million German soldiers and civilians, in total nearly ten million, large territorial losses and the expulsion of about 15 million Germans of the eastern provinces of Germany and various parts of Central and Eastern Europe with ethnic German population. All major and many smaller German cities lay in ruins. Germany and Berlin were occupied and partitioned by the Allies into four military occupation zones controlled by France, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the Soviet Union. On May 23, 1949, the U.S, Britain and France united their individual sectors to form the democratic nation of the Federal Republic of Germany and on October 7, 1949 the Soviet Zone established the German Democratic Republic, In English the two states were known informally as "West Germany" and "East Germany" (with historical eastern Germany having fallen to Poland and the Soviet Union) respectively.

West Germany, established as a liberal parliamentary republic with a "social market economy", was allied with the United States, the UK and France. After the ideological switch in U.S. occupation policy away from economic dismantlement and towards reconstruction, which was heralded by the "Speech of hope" in September of 1946, the country eventually came to enjoy prolonged economic growth beginning in the early 1950's (Wirtschaftswunder). The recovery was largely because of the previously forbidden currency reform of June 1948 and U.S. assistance through the Marshall Plan aid. West Germany joined NATO

Åsikt Grimvalv

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