Since the unification of Germany in 1871, the head of the German government has been known as the Chancellor (Kanzler in German). The title actually dates back to the Holy Roman Empire, when the Archbishop of Mainz was given the additional title of Kanzler in recognition of his duties as director of the Imperial Chapel. The title disappeared with the end of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806, but was revived when Prussian Prime Minister Otto von Bismarck was named Chancellor of the North German Confederation in 1867.

From 1871 until 1945, the official title of the German Chancellor was Reichskanzler, or "Imperial Chancellor." Since 1949, the official title has been Bundeskanzler, or "Federal Chancellor," the title incidentally also used today in leaders of the governments of Switzerland and Austria.

East Germany never had a Chancellor. Instead, the General Secretary of the "Socialist Unity Party" (the East German Communist Party) headed the government.

Chancellors of the German Empire (1871-1919)

Chancellors of the Weimar Republic (1919-1933)

Chancellors of the Third Reich (1933-1945)

Chancellors of the Federal Republic of Germany

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