" Germany as we understand it, unified and strong, only came into existence a mere 140 years ago. Before then ? Well there was Bavaria and Prussia, Saxony, Baden Wurttemberg, Pomerania, Westfalia, Schleswig Holstein .this list is extremely long. And defining where one bit ended and the next began - well, it was utterly bewildering."
Misha Glenny presents a three part history of Germany before the world wars, revealing how weak and fragmented it used to be.
The series starts with the siege of Magdeburg of 1631, when a city the size of Paris was burnt to the ground. The events of the Thirty Years War hugely influenced later German nationalists, as Swedes, French, Danish, Spanish and huge numbers of Scottish mercenaries rampaged through the area we now call Germany.
"Germany was in many ways more sinned against than sinning," concludes contributor Simon Winder.
Misha Glenny is a former BBC central European correspondent and winner of a Sony gold. The producer is Miles Warde, who collaborated with Misha Glenny on previous series about the Alps, the Habsburgs and Garibaldi.