5258AD The Great War.
Tension eventually lead to war between the Big Three. Recession in the Southern Empire lead to a cut in defence expenditure. Great blunders in foreign policy by the Neuthulegruppe lead to border incursions and a general military build up. No one is sure what finally caused the Southern Empire to launch its missiles. One popular theory is that a shower of meteors tripped their early warning systems.
However it happened, the result was devastation. All of the large towns and cities of the Wald were completely destroyed. Tens of millions died in the first week. Several large cities in the colonies were also destroyed, but outside the Wald the damage was limited. Bitter conventional warfare continued for a few more years, until casualties, low morale and lack of supplies caused it to just peter out.
Once the smoke cleared, the Great War proved to be a great engine for growth. It galvanised the colonial economies, which were no longer overshadowed by the industrial might of the Wald. It also liberated Fisher and Goatherd communities from the yoke of imperialist oppression.
By 5350AD Neubayern had become a well developed, balkanised world. Technology had reached levels approaching those of Earth before the Departure. For the first time in their history, Neubayerns people enjoyed almost universal wealth and prosperity. The three Great Powers had been replaced by hundreds of varied independent states, each with their own unique traditions and systems of government. There were democracies and dictatorships, and even a small but vocal group of communist countries.
5350-5450AD Coalescence and Space.
At the years passed, the new order began to crystallize and coalesce. The myriad of independent states began to align themselves with regional or ideological groupings. Customs unions, economic unions, federations - only supra-national bodies were big enough to make their voice heard. Minor wars and petty differences persisted. But national conflicts all eventually became subsumed within the rivalries of the new powers.
Throughout this period, the thread of a growing communist movement was a constant one. The communists held little power, but they were respectable everywhere. The rhetoric of their leaders struck an increasingly popular chord.
It was only now, eight-hundred years after the Marianus van der Lubbe first landed men on Neubayern, that a real space programme was begun. Mining Neubayern was still difficult and expensive, and as soon as the technology became available, asteroid mining became an important source of resources.