Reich and Empire: the origins and true meaning

KorbenDallas

Negotiator
Messages
3,211
Reactions
10,710
Аs far as English language goes, we are so used to this word being a stand alone one - REICH. Normally we relate it to the German Nazis lead by Mr. Hitler. Yet, the Roman Empire in German is Römisches Reich. Naturally, it appears to have been an interesting move to avoid calling things with their proper names. Obviously, this Reich-Empire thing is easily available for research. Even Wikipedia's kind of implying that there is no secret there. And of course we have these #1...4 Reichs:
  • First Reich: Holy Roman Empire. A political conglomeration of lands in Central Europe from at least 962CE until 1806.
  • Second Reich: The German Empire from its consolidation in 1871 until the abdication of Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1918.
  • Third Reich: Germany under the Nazi regime, beginning in January 1933 and ending in May 1945. Literally “third empire” or “third realm”.
  • Fourth Reich: Hypothetical resurrection of the Third Reich.
So, why am I on the case of this "Reich" thing? Because I'm not quite sure what it means any more. I watched the opening ceremony of the Summer Olympic games held in Berlin, Germany in 1936.

1936 Olympics Participants
1936_summer_olympics.jpg

1936 Games articipants
Everything looks normal above as far as country names go. Yet, I'm not 100% sure some of the country names above are being displayed correctly. I wish there was a better video displaying all 49 participating countries. This one only shows like 5 country names, and two of them looked... bizarre.

frankreich_osterreich.jpg

As it stands, I only have several questions:
  • What kind of Empires did we have in Austria and France in 1936?
  • Assuming that Austrian Reich and French Reich knew what the names of their respective countries were in 1936, how come our contemporary sources list them as simply Austria and France?
  • Why is it so hard to find readable name boards of the other participants. In the video they show UK, Italy and USA + the above two.
  • How many additional Reich-Empires would we see on the remaining 44 name boards?

KD: Well, I'm not sure this thread belongs to etymology any longer, but anyways? I have this feeling that something is not as transparent as it should be. Why did they choose to not translate the word Reich which in any native language should have been an Empire. And Empires, as we know, have Emperors. Could there be an Emperor in the 1940s who (in future text books) was stripped of his title and presented as some dictator?
  • Reich Chancellor - Empire Chancellor - Emperor?
  • The Holy Roman Empire was supposedly non-existent after 1806. What other empire could have been defeated in 1945?
K.D.P.S. May be 1894-1932 Olympic Games footage could have some additional answers.
 

Moriarty

Active member
Messages
60
Reactions
189
Аs far as English language goes, we are so used to this word being a stand alone one - REICH. Normally we relate it to the German Nazis lead by Mr. Hitler. Yet, the Roman Empire in German is Römisches Reich. Naturally, it appears to have been an interesting move to avoid calling things with their proper names. Obviously, this Reich-Empire thing is easily available for research. Even Wikipedia's kind of implying that there is no secret there. And of course we have these #1...4 Reichs:
  • First Reich: Holy Roman Empire. A political conglomeration of lands in Central Europe from at least 962CE until 1806.
  • Second Reich: The German Empire from its consolidation in 1871 until the abdication of Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1918.
  • Third Reich: Germany under the Nazi regime, beginning in January 1933 and ending in May 1945. Literally “third empire” or “third realm”.
  • Fourth Reich: Hypothetical resurrection of the Third Reich.
So, why am I on the case of this "Reich" thing? Because I'm not quite sure what it means any more. I watched the opening ceremony of the Summer Olympic games held in Berlin, Germany in 1936.

1936 Olympics Participants
View attachment 13891
1936 Games articipants
Everything looks normal above as far as country names go. Yet, I'm not 100% sure some of the country names above are being displayed correctly. I wish there was a better video displaying all 49 participating countries. This one only shows like 5 country names, and two of them looked... bizarre.

As it stands, I only have several questions:
  • What kind of Empires did we have in Austria and France in 1936?
  • Assuming that Austrian Reich and French Reich knew what the names of their respective countries were in 1936, how come our contemporary sources list them as simply Austria and France?
  • Why is it so hard to find readable name boards of the other participants. In the video they show UK, Italy and USA + the above two.
  • How many additional Reich-Empires would we see on the remaining 44 name boards?

KD: Well, I'm not sure this thread belongs to etymology any longer, but anyways? I have this feeling that something is not as transparent as it should be. Why did they choose to not translate the word Reich which in any native language should have been an Empire. And Empires, as we know, have Emperors. Could there be an Emperor in the 1940s who (in future text books) was stripped of his title and presented as some dictator?
  • Reich Chancellor - Empire Chancellor - Emperor?
  • The Holy Roman Empire was supposedly non-existent after 1806. What other empire could have been defeated in 1945?
K.D.P.S. May be 1894-1932 Olympic Games footage could have some additional answers.
A good place to look for historical data from 1840 onwards is postage stamps. I have attached an image of Austrian stamps from the early 1930's and quite clearly it is Osterrieich whereas the attached French postage stamps from the early 1930's are Republique Francaise.

A possibility for these particular Olympics could have been the megalomania of Adolf Hitler insisting that France was called by a Reich name to fit in with his vision - but this is just supposition.

As an aside I collect British Stamps up to 1970 and also Weimar Republic and Third Reich stamps - yes, it's a bit nerdy but everyone has their hobbies :)

Austria-1929-1932.jpgFrance-1930s.jpg
 

Jef Demolder

Active member
Messages
25
Reactions
121
Korben, the same constructions are present in my mother tongue, Dutch. In Dutch France is called "Frankrijk", and Austria is called "Oostenrijk". In Dutch and German the adjective "rijk", "reich" has the same meaning and origin as the English "rich". It is an economic term, referring to the universal Commonwealth (common-wealth) of the Ancient World. The corresponding Latin term is "emporium", which means market, market place or even warehouse, end which is present in the English "empire" and the French "empire". Only in modern times with the advent of nations, kings and emperors the connections have changed. From then on you have a rex (king) who reigns over a regnum/Reich or a military commander (imperator) becoming the boss of an imperium. In German he is called "Kaiser", in Dutch "keizer", in Russian "Tsar", and the three terms refer to "Caesar" (with the C pronounced as K or CZ), but that is another story.
 
OP
KorbenDallas

KorbenDallas

Negotiator
Messages
3,211
Reactions
10,710
We are running along the lines of the official narrative here. Could it reflect the reality, sure it could.

At the same time the narrative chose to jump through the hoops and replace the original “czar” with “tsar” for Russian royalty. Kaiser is up there with the same title of a Caesar.

We sure could call an Empire a market, and its ruler a market CEO, but the same official definition of an empire is provided like this:
  • An empire is a sovereign state functioning as an aggregate of nations or people that are ruled over by an emperor or another kind of monarch. The territory and population of an empire is commonly of greater extent than the one of a kingdom.
  • KD: and if Reich indeed means an Empire, the same definition should stand.
As far as the Caesar title goes, it does not suggest any second meaning to it.

Going back to the same 1936 games. Italy is just Italie. Unless Mussolini did not feel like pleasing Hitler’s imperial ambitions, or Italy in 1936 was not a part of this Reich/Empire which France and Austria were a part of.

Not saying that I’m right on any of this, but it’s not like the official history has been truthful with us up to this point.
 

UnusualBean

Well-known member
Messages
167
Reactions
632
Korben, the same constructions are present in my mother tongue, Dutch. In Dutch France is called "Frankrijk", and Austria is called "Oostenrijk". In Dutch and German the adjective "rijk", "reich" has the same meaning and origin as the English "rich". It is an economic term, referring to the universal Commonwealth (common-wealth) of the Ancient World. The corresponding Latin term is "emporium", which means market, market place or even warehouse, end which is present in the English "empire" and the French "empire". Only in modern times with the advent of nations, kings and emperors the connections have changed. From then on you have a rex (king) who reigns over a regnum/Reich or a military commander (imperator) becoming the boss of an imperium. In German he is called "Kaiser", in Dutch "keizer", in Russian "Tsar", and the three terms refer to "Caesar" (with the C pronounced as K or CZ), but that is another story.
Not only that, but the word "emperor" has identical etymological origins to the word "imparter", as in "one who gives/bestows". "Reich chancellor" can also literally be interpreted as "secretary of riches".

I'm convinced that empires were originally socialized economic domains, not military dictatorships like we've been led to believe.
 

Onijunbei

Well-known member
Messages
116
Reactions
402
Order of flags on video
Greichenland is Greece
Then Sweden appears
Great Britain
Japan
USA
Oster Reich or Eastern Kingdom or Austria
Both Bavarian, historically germans and austrians considered themselves the same people and their was a huge movement for Austria to join Germany as one. Basically this is how Germany always referred to Austria.. As the eastern kingdom. One can hear the huge applause for the Austrian delegation.
Italy, then
Frankreich... To this day this is how Germans write France... Or empire of the Franks

Danke Shon...
 

Paracelsus

Well-known member
Messages
282
Reactions
1,116
The correct pronounciation of Cæsar in Latin is the same as Kaiser in German. Then you have Fasces/Fascist, and even Reich/Rex connection. Not only that, Latin and German both use grapheme characters in their written format.

Æ - a.k.a. æsc - ash
Æ - Wikipedia
&
ß - a.k.a. Eszett - or scharfes S
ß - Wikipedia

Also, the word - street - is strada in Italian and straße in German. There is tons of overlap.
 
Last edited:
OP
KorbenDallas

KorbenDallas

Negotiator
Messages
3,211
Reactions
10,710
Today’s usage of a word could be explained by just that - it was always like that. But how far back does this “always” go. The last time there was an Empire in France was in 1870.

For Austria the last year of Empire would be 1867.

Germany, which chose to call itself Deutschland, and not Deutchreich, was, for some reason, oblivious to France and Austria not being Empires any longer. German language figured that it would preserve names of non existent countries for generations to come. Today’s analogy would probably be calling Russia a Soviet Republic of Russia.

We have what we have, but it only makes sence when we say that it has always been like that. I could see if this “reich” word was automatically added to all the other countries, but we do not have Italienreich, or Spanienreich. Appears it’s only A. and F., for right now.
*​
1st Reich founded by Emperor Otto I in 962
2nd Reich founded by Emperor William I in 1871
3rd Reich founded by leader/Fuhrer Hitler in 1933
 

Onijunbei

Well-known member
Messages
116
Reactions
402
Maybe it was like a joke... Because the germans were holding the German sign, Japanese were obviously holding the Japanese sign written in german. Italy is not using Reich in the sign, but obviously an ally to Germany, definitely Austria has Reich...
But the French and Germans were enemies for a very long time going back to alsace Lorraine and the disputed territories of WWI going into ww2..
Maybe france was being a little frenchy by writing Reich on their sign to poke fun at Hitler's Reich...
 
OP
KorbenDallas

KorbenDallas

Negotiator
Messages
3,211
Reactions
10,710
The basic idea is to discuss the contents, not the posters. Failure to understand simple, and obvious things like this will only get a person so far.

That said, could we please stop opening this can of worms. It's not worth it.

Feel free to comment if you have anything OP-relevant to say. Thank you :geek:
 

Onijunbei

Well-known member
Messages
116
Reactions
402
The basic idea is to discuss the contents, not the posters. Failure to understand simple, and obvious things like this will only get a person so far.

That said, could we please stop opening this can of worms. It's not worth it.

Feel free to comment if you have anything OP-relevant to say. Thank you :geek:
Amen.. Sometimes things look out of place.. And this is the forum for that kinda stuff.. I hope everyone keeps posting...
 

Paracelsus

Well-known member
Messages
282
Reactions
1,116
Drawing a comparison between Cæsar and Kaiser is hardly grasping at straws. Noticing linguistic similarities isn't a case of "yer in 'Merica pardner, speak American." The Holy Roman Empire sunk its' claws deep into Europe which clearly extended to the lingua Franca as well.

Even take that term - lingua Franca. Does it mean Frankish/Frissian, or French? The French were Gauls and spoke Gaelic, a language that sounds nothing like Latin, Germanic or English. I've tried learning Gaelic by reading it, but it doesn't sound how it looks on paper, it has odd inflections and emphasis points.

Who knows if Marcus Aurelius went up to Germania to conquer or consolidate?
 

Onijunbei

Well-known member
Messages
116
Reactions
402
Maybe it was like a joke... Because the germans were holding the German sign, Japanese were obviously holding the Japanese sign written in german. Italy is not using Reich in the sign, but obviously an ally to Germany, definitely Austria has Reich...
But the French and Germans were enemies for a very long time going back to alsace Lorraine and the disputed territories of WWI going into ww2..
Maybe france was being a little frenchy by writing Reich on their sign to poke fun at Hitler's Reich...
I have to reply to my own silly post...
... It could very well just boil down to tradition of Austria and France having Reich attached to their respective names. The word appears to be interchangeable with the word realm and from wiki we get... The terms Kaisertum(roughly "Emperordom") and Kaiserreich are used in German to more specifically define an empire ruled by an emperor.
 

Silvanus777

Well-known member
Messages
71
Reactions
467
I've tried learning Gaelic by reading it, but it doesn't sound how it looks on paper, it has odd inflections and emphasis points.
Indeed. I have tried that too after I had spent a few weeks in Ireland back in 2016, and Gaelic is very hard to master just from books and written matter alone. Even worse than French, which also doesn't at all sound as it is written, haha! But Gaelic,... A very unusual, even primordial language. Although upon closer inspection, it is not totally disconnected to other European languages (obviously), as I have found the counting (1-10) to be similar to my own Austro-German dialect, and many things echo distantly their latin roots (like the toast "slainte" commonly said to derive from latin "salus" - good health).

The fact that the various country names end in -land (England, Griechenland = Greece, etc.) and -reich (Österreich, Frankreich etc.) in my opinion simply comes down to historical, organically grown tradition of language and naming of things. As others have noted in this thread before me (and I applaud especially the American fellows' understanding of the German language - you defy all 'Murican stereotypes!) Austria was simply the eastern part of the Reich, the Holy Roman Empire or (German) "Heiliges Römisches Reich (Deutscher Nation)", same as France or (German) Frankreich used to be an Empire at some point before becoming a Republic. The "Reich" or empire was made up of different smaller units (kingdoms, duchies etc.) and the smaller units oftentimes were simply called lands, as in a piece of land. Reich does indeed come from (Engl.) "rich" = (Germ.) "reich" and I think the original Germanic root is "riki". The names of many emperors like Heinrich/Henricus or Friedrich/Fridericus also contain the same root. Hein-rich or Heim-rich simply means one with a "Rich Home/Household" and Fried-rich from "Rich in Peacefulness" (Peace = "Frieden"). A beautiful thing, our languages! :D

It may interest you that Germans in days of yore used to call Italy "Welschland", the Welschen, Walchen or Walhen being the Italians or Latin speakers. Curiously, "Welsch" is pronounced the same way as you would say "the welsh" when talking about people from Wales, Great Britain.

The term "French" itself is just a degradation of "Frankish" and "France" as far as I can tell simply comes from "Francia", as the "Land of the Franks" was often referred to by latin writers in Renaissance times.

@Paracelsus mentions that
"The French were Gauls and spoke Gaelic, a language that sounds nothing like Latin, Germanic or English. "
History textbooks explain the question of Gallia/Gaule vs France somewhat like so:
"The Merovingians were a Salian Frankish dynasty that ruled the Franks for nearly 300 years in a region known as Francia in Latin, beginning in the middle of the 5th century. Their territory largely corresponded to ancient Gaul as well as the Roman provinces of Raetia, Germania Superior and the southern part of Germania." - Source
I think the Merowingians / Franks drove the original Celto-Gaelic inhabitants of today's France off the land over a longer period of time, to the point that their last remnants are today crammed into the confines of the promontory known as Brittany or Bretagne. It could be profitable to look more into the (hidden) history of the Merowingians (not from the Dan Brown angle): According to dark old legend, they are the progenitors not of Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene, but of the "Bestia Neptunis" which came out of the sea and supernaturally conceived the father of the dynasty. (If anyone is curious, I'll get you the sources. Somewhat obscure.) Think of biblical Revelation's "Beast from the Sea". I think many of you are familiar with the claims/rumors of the Merowingian bloodlines etc. But so much only as an aside.

Even take that term - lingua Franca. Does it mean Frankish/Frissian, or French?
Lingua Franca is a language commonly spoken by most people in a larger area, such as an empire or continent, or the known world. English would be today's Lingua France. But I'm sure I'm not telling anything new here. "Frank" as an adjective in the German language means something like "honest and straigthforward. If I want to tell you my opinion honestly, openly and in a straightforward manner, I will tell it to you "frank und frei" (honest and freely"). You English speakers among us say "frankly", which is the same basically. If and how "frank", "frankly" and "Lingua Franca" are connected to the Franks or France/Francia is an interesting question. I don't know how these might be connected.

In general it is very interesting how all or most of the European languages interlink. Over my time in researching such things, I have found more often than not that the keys to understanding a mysterious concept or the (true?) meaning of a word in one language is oftentimes easily solved and/or understood when comparing it to other languages, the more archaic the words you find the better! Furthermore, if you read old German as for example used in the 1493 Nuremberg Chronicle, everything gets pretty close to English actually - especially when you take out all the romance/latin terms and replace them with the older, original germanic ones. Once I jokingly proposed to an Englishman who is a good friend of mine here and also somewhat fond of "history and mystery" that "a dozen generations back or so my folks would've understood your folks" and he could only agree. It's really fascinating how one can so transparently see how the languages were altered and gradually driven away from each other. And with them, the people - no doubt...

Grrrr, I can almost feel how this "Babylonian confusion of languages" could've been brought about only a couple o' hundred years ago! :oops:

Need to start a thread on this some time...
 
Last edited:

Paracelsus

Well-known member
Messages
282
Reactions
1,116
@Silvanus777,

Excellent dissection of the Reich suffix! As I'd hope a native German speaker could do. No matter my passing familiarity with Deutsch, I couldn't hope to understand those subtleties unless I spoke it on a daily basis. Ditto for Latin and French.

To this day I'm surprised to hear Americans say that there is a Colorado accent. There's definitely a Southern accent, a Baws-tin accent, New York guido, Mainer, Yooper, Texan (similar, yet noticably different than Southern), and Californian surfer brah. I've always considered Colorado to have a very neutral English dialect with good enunciation and fairly scant usage of slang. But, lo and behold, I talk funny to my fellow countrymen.

Latin, and the Reich were probably a push to standardize pronounciation among super disparate languages and dialects. Some sort of historical version of "why can't y'all speak Latin like us civilized folk?"

Garth may have friends in low places, but I sir indubitably don't.
 

Silvanus777

Well-known member
Messages
71
Reactions
467
@Paracelsus

Thank you very much, my friend. And don't fool yourself into thinking that your typical German speaker here in Austria or Germany has any clue about the meanings of words. Sincerely, I wish - the quality of conversations to be had over here would increase drastically! :ROFLMAO:

My "favorite" is definitely the "valley girl" when it comes to US accents, especially when uttered by an effeminate male! I had ample exposure to that when I spent some weeks, incidentally during your highly entertaining 2016 elections, in Los Angeles. Hahaha...

And I agree in part with what you said regarding the injection of Latin into the European languages, but have to add that A) I've come to the opinion that Latin (same as Greek and Hebrew) was an artificially created language, devised by and for a controlling intellectual/sociopolitical elite and that B) this comes all down to the concept of "citizen" versus "pagan" or "heathen". So yes, latin for the unwashed masses, so that they too may speak like the "civilized folk" as you say, Paracelsus. "Civis" is the citizen of the Roman Empire, the refined and civilized city-dweller, a full human, and in contrast the non-citizen as the profane, dirty countrydweller, the villager and peasant, called "paganus" in Latin. I think this all has to be seen in the context of the "Holy Roman Empire" or the "Roman Church/Vatican", and the language and other reforms played out merely around 500 years ago. The religious connotations on such terms as "pagan" have been added on as a later obscuring layer, to hide the truth of the matter of a legalistic, sociocultural seizure of power all over Europe, carried out by a the Roman Church and her imperialists. My two cents! :D No such thing as Ancient Romans by my book! :giggle:
Post automatically merged:

Garth may have friends in low places, but I sir indubitably don't.
Hilarious! Sadly, the bastards blocked the video for my country. Bloody Austrophobes! :mad:
 
Last edited:

Similar threads


Top