The German Empire (German: Deutsches Reich) emerged from the Prussian victory in the Franco-Prussian War (1870 − 1871) and the subsequent proclamation of a united German state (excluding the Austrians) under Prussian leadership. The empire rapidly rose to the status of a great power: by 1913, it boasted one of the most urbanised societies in the world, one of the strongest and most innovative industrial bases, one of the largest armies and navies and key accomplishments in the fields of industry, technology and science. The empire nevertheless collapsed in World War I and was turned into a republic by the victorious Allies. On top of defeat and the dissolution of their empire, the 1919 Treaty of Versailles blamed the war responsibility on the Germans and imposed severe territorial concessions and reparation payments.
The German Empire’s war flag (German: Reichskriegsfahne) consisted of a white field with a black-white cross offset to the hoist and with a white disc and the Prussian eagle in its centre. The canton displayed the empire’s national flag with a centred black Iron Cross, a Prussian decoration established in 1813.