Germania (personification)

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Germania painting from 1848, creator unknown. This image once covered the old organ inside the Paulskirche, above where the Frankfurt Parliament assembled from 1848 to 1849.
Figure of Germania atop the Niederwalddenkmal in the Rhine valley, dedicated 1883

Germania is the personification of the German nation or the Germans as a whole, most commonly associated with the Romantic Era and the Revolutions of 1848, though the figure was later used by Imperial Germany.

Description

"Germania" is the Latin name of the country called "Deutschland" in the spoken language of its own inhabitants, though used as the country's name in various other languages, such as "Germany" in English. In the country itself, the use of the Latin "Germania" was mainly literary and poetical, linked with patriotic and nationalist feelings, like "Hibernia" for Ireland, "Caledonia" for Scotland, "Lusitania" for Portugal etc.

Germania as personification is usually depicted as a robust woman with long, flowing, reddish-blonde hair and wearing armour. She often wields the Reichsschwert (imperial sword), and possesses a medieval-style shield that sometimes bears the image of a black eagle on a gold field. Additionally, she is sometimes shown as carrying or wearing the Imperial Crown of the Holy Roman Empire.

In post-1918 images, the banner she holds is the black-red-gold flag of modern Germany, but in depictions from 1871 to 1918 it is the black-white-red flag of the German Empire.

Meanings of some symbols

symbol Significance
Broken chains Being freed
Breastplate with eagle Symbol of the German empire - strength
Crown of oak leaves Heroism
Sword Symbol of power, readiness to fight
Olive branches around the sword Willingness to make peace
Black, red and gold tricolour Flag of the liberal-nationalists in 1848; banned by dukes of the German states
Rays of the rising sun Beginning of a new era

See also

References

  • Lionel Gossman. "Making of a Romantic Icon: The Religious Context of Friedrich Overbeck's 'Italia und Germania'." American Philosophical Society, 2007. ISBN 0-87169-975-3.

External links

  • Germania Briefmarken (in German)
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