Prior to 1871, Germany consisted of a loose confederation of smaller and larger states. It was not until 1871 that the country became unified.
As a working definition, the term Germanic comprises a geographically heterogeneous but ethnically and culturally similar collective of people and toponyms. It includes:
The German category representing the numerically dominant subgroup of persons and names with origins in the territory of the German Empire of 1871.
The German-related category covering source areas outside of this core, i.e., the Austro-Hungarian Empire of 1871 (labels: Austria /-Bohemia /-Hungary /-Moravia /-Slovenia), Switzerland (label: Swiss), Luxembourg (label: Luxembourg), the Volga and Black Sea regions in the southern Russia Empire (label: German-Russian), and German-speaking Baptist Brethren and Mennonites in colonial North-America (label: Pennsylvania-Dutch). They are especially indicated by the above labels in the results of the GeoTwain search engine.
Central Europe and the German Empire 1871
Cartography: Stephan Fuchs
The nineteenth-century German and Austrian-Hungarian Empires as well as the Swiss Federation represented ethnically heterogeneous countries. Switzerland was (and still is) comprised of predominantly German, French, and Italian-speaking regions. Germany and Austria included culturally mixed areas, such as Alsace-Lorraine (French), East Prussia and Silesia (Polish), and Bohemia and Moravia (Czech) that are now part of France, Poland, Russia, and the Czech Republic.
The German(ic) definition entails the danger of incorporating different linguistic and cultural backgrounds. Excluding these territories would, however, disregard important source areas of German(ic) immigration and compromise the comprehensiveness of the toponymic data.
Ethnically heterogeneous contexts and information on non-Germanic groups and origins are especially indicated in the results of the GeoTwain search engine (labels: Mix-, Polish, French, Irish; Czech etc.).