In many ways, Reinhard's relationship with his 4 highest-ranking admirals mirrors that of a (at times dysfunctional) family.
Kircheis is the inseparable brother that follows him like a shadow, but also serves as his conscience and lets him know when he is wrong.
Mittermeyer is the brother who is friendly and obedient, believing that in the end Reinhard is doing what is best for the family. He won't question Reinhard, unless Reinhard's choices were to impact another brother....
Reuenthal is the proud, but at the same time slightly resentful brother who has to balance his admiration of Reinhard with his desire to overshadow him. It's a form of Big Brother Worship (though in this case little brother worship) and The Resenter. As a result, he tends to be the one who constantly questions Reinhard's choices in conversation with Mittermeyer.
Oberstein is in many ways a stern father figure, in that he constantly reminds Reinhard of the necessity to be harsh, that he can't just do as he pleases, while taking responsibility for many mistakes made by Reinhard's administration, even things Oberstein is not responsible for. When he executes underhanded plans behind Reinhard's back, it almost takes the form of a "it's for the boy's own good" justification.
The story arc also matches Reuenthal's death. He dies in Elfriede's presence, just as Tristan dies near Isolde.
For an extra dose of angst and HoYay, Isolde can be matched Mittermeyer instead of Elfriede von Kohlrausch. The fact that Mittermeyer doesn't make it in time to see Reuenthal before he dies is heartbreaking.
Kircheis' flagship the Barbarossa is named after Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I, called 'Barbarossa' (Italian for 'Red Beard') by the city states of Northern Italy he tried to reaffirm Imperial rule over. Barbarossa combinining charisma, boundless ambition, greatness on the battlefield, culture, will to learn while staying practical, and manliness made him appear almost superhuman to his contemporaries (especially his enemies), his coming to the throne spearheaded a (temporary) return to power of the Imperial crown, and his sudden death may have prevented the success of the Third Crusade. Sounds familiar?
Lennenkampf's flagship is the Garga Falmul, a mistransliteration of "Farmr Galga/Galga Farmr", one of Odin's many names. The meaning of the name is a stroke of genius. It means "Burden of the Gallows", foreshadowing Lennenkampf's suicide by hanging.
Yang has been shown as a brilliant tactician and fleet commander, yet he is also shown to be a terrible chess player. Why is that? Well, remember that most of his successful tactics consist of employing out-of-the-box unconventional warfare that catches his enemies completely of guard. Meaning that a situation in which there are strict rules limiting the kind of action that you can make within a limited field (such as chess) ensures that he cannot put his skills to work!
You can also reasonably invert the comparison to get the FPA as Carthage, with a brilliant commander who frequently wins decisive tactical victories but is never able to deliver a proper strategic finishing blow, and the Empire as Rome, with a commander who is able to force a conclusion to the war by striking directly at the enemy's central government. The comparison gets better (or perhaps worse) when you also take into account that like Hannibal, Yang is forced into exile and eventually dies far from home.
Another parallel is with the Trachenberg Plan the Sixth Coalition used against Napoleon: kick the ass of his subordinates until the situation is right to literally murder the enemy army. And just like Napoleon at Leipzig, Reinhard was defeated at Vermilion, and was literally seconds away from dying had Mittermeyer and Reuenthal not attacked Heinessen (and wouldn't even have survived that long had Muller not arrived early).
In the Battle of Doria during the Alliance Civil War, the 13th Fleet under Yang's command managed to utterly destroy the 11th Fleet which was loyal to the National Salvation Military Council. He did so by out flanking the enemy and executing a by-the-book Nelson Touch. The commander of 11th Fleet was caught so completely off guard that all he could say was that he: "Didn't See That Coming". However, how could this be? Why didn't they teach this classic naval maneuver in the academy? Much later on, when Yang was having flashbacks about how he ended up in his current position, it was revealed that in order to cut back on funding, the Alliance military academy dissolved it's Military History department. That explain why only someone like Yang who studies history for it's own sake was able to draw upon the past in order to apply them to use in the present day, while other Alliance commanders are oblivious to his unconventional tactics.
Addendum to the above: one of the signs of a regime becoming more tyrannical is when they start cut funding to instruction. And the Alliance did just that.
Another addendum: in-universe, three of the four founders of the Black Fleet that ended the tiranny of the United Earth Government were intellectuals, more accurately journalist Carle Palmgren (joined the rebellion and became its leader after he refused to be subjected to an arbitrary inspection and soldiers beat him to a pulp, left him for death in a pile of corpses and then set the lot on fire. Died of heart attack after the victory) the university students Joliot Frankul (botanist, joined the rebellion after beating to death the soldier who raped his girlfriend) and Chao Yuiling (music composer, joined the rebellion after soldiers murdered his family), with Frankul particularly notable for bombing Earth until only one billion people survived and, after the war, trying a coup d'etat against Townshent's dictatorial regime. Yang too is an intellectual (history college student, joining the military to pay for his studies and becoming an officer because it was the only way to avoid prison for debts), and if anyone in power has any knowledge of history they know to what lengths a sufficiently motivated intellectual. They would be also be forgetting that Townshent, the one of the four who did establish a military dictature after defeating Earth's, was a former businessman who joined the rebellion because arbitrarily made a wanted criminal (a drunken soldier saw him looking at him from his home and opened fire, killing his mother, and when he sued the government framed him), and Parmgren tried to downsize the military before his heart attack... But then again, how many of the politicians would be interested in remembering the bad side of those who are actively bribing them?
Granted, they did tried their best to maintain a system as close to democracy as possible considering how their entire existence was constantly under duress. Furthermore, the Iserlohn Republic was always intended as only a provisional government to give the Republicans a platform to negotiate with the Empire, not as a longterm administration.
Alliance fleets are either numbered, as with the 1st Fleet, 2nd Fleet, and so on, or have a use designation, like HQ Fleet for the independent squadrons not assigned to any specific fleet and depending only by the headquarters and Iserlohn Garrison Fleet for the force stationed at Iserlohn. Thing is, you never hear about the Iserlohn Garrison Fleet but about the Yang Fleet, a nickname for the force used by the public and even the military (as it's easier to say) following the fleet naming conventions of the Empire (most Imperial fleets are named after their commander, with the only exceptions being the Iserlohn Fleet, that guarded the fortress before Yang stole it under their nose, and the Black Lancers, that may be a nickname for what would conventionally be named Bittenfeld Fleet). Given that nobody has any idea who came up with the nickname and that if it was Yang it could have been a political statement, suddenly the hostility of the government for Yang that started immediately after his conquest of Iserlohn starts making sense.
Deflector Shields in this series are fairly weak, only rarely saving starships from getting hit and at least heavily damaged, and even then only with the Brunhild, the Leda II and the Königs Tiger, three Super Prototypes with specifically superior defences (the first two have been struck by enemy weapon fire on-screen and shrugged it off, and the Königs Tiger, being Bittenfeld's flagship, has been at the head of numerous foolhardy charges and yet is still around). Thing is, secondary sources identify shields as a relatively recent development stemmed from the introduction of neutron cannons (previous defences were magnetic fields that, while effective against charged particle beams, had absolutely no effect on the electrically neutral neutron beams). Of course shields aren't fully effective: it's the old cannon vs armour weapon race, and we're in a phase where the cannon is at advantage.
Speaking of the prototypes, they show some interesting parallels and contrasts: both the Brunhild and the Leda II have served as flagships, of Reinhardt and Yang respectively; both ships have been damaged only once, and only during their final battles, yet they survived; the Brunhild was a prototype that was intended to be an one-off ship while the Leda II was supposed to be the first of a new advanced class inspired by the Brunhild, yet the Empire built the Perceval based on the Brunhild's armor and shield technology while the Alliance was able to build only a handful of Ledas; the Brunhild was a battleship designed to lead fleets, while the Leda II was a cruiser; finally, symbolizing the lives of their admirals, the Leda II ended up abandoned as a jinxed ship due Earth Church cultists successfully boarding her and killing Yang, while the Brunhild was ultimately a lucky ship that ended her career permanently moored on Odin at the side of the Barbarossa (Kircheis' flagship), similar to how Yang ultimately failed while Reinhardt succeeded but died regretting Kircheis' death.
And speaking of the flagships, Bittenfeld's flagship, the Königs Tiger is named after a World War 2 tank named after the Bengal Tiger rather than a deity or hero like the other Imperial flagships, which is odd until you realize that the tank in question (The Panzer VI Ausf. B) was meant to break through enemy tanks while spearheading a blitzkrieg armor charge. The choice of the name was meant to reflect the tactics followed by the Black Lancers as a group rather than Bittenfeld himself.
In tactics and strategies, Reinhard, of presumably Germanic-Prussian descent, aims to destroy the enemy force whenever possible without risking to lose your own, while Yang, of Chinese descent, aims to win with as less fighting as possible. Among influential Strategists and authors of manuals on how to win a war, the Prussian Carl von Clausewitz advocated the destruction of the enemy whenever possible without unduly risk, while the Chinese Sun Tzu preferred To Win Without Fighting.
Although the theme of the series appears to be Space Americans versus Imperial Germany in space (see the Fridge Horror entry below this), it is actually a highly disguised version of a modern, democratic 20th century Japan versus an idealized World War Two era militaristic Japan, much in the same way as in Space Battleship Yamato. When seen from this angle, small details such as the peculiar tendency for Honor Before Reason by incompetent but bloodthirsty commanders on both sides, the particular ways in which corrupt dysfunction tends to express itself in both the FPA and Empire, and the recurring theme of the young and brilliant versus the old and incompetent(very strongly felt by Japanese youth in a highly regimented and hierarchical society) all make sense. Having a young, brilliant, idealistic leader from the past come and take over the evils of present-day society appears to be an underlying wish in the series. This also explains why any criticism of the FPA seems so much more on-the-nose than the far more predictable and stereotypical issues faced by the Empire - the FPA was based on current-day Japan whose problems the author could experience in the present,For instance... The Lockheed bribery scandal trials were still ongoing when Tanaka started writing the story for what would become the first novel. while the Empire's problems were based on a past Japan that existed only in the history books.
The Empire under Emperor Rudolf did not just take over the all of humanity and forced their political dissidents into exile, they have successfully rendering every unique culture into a mirror image of their own reenactment of Imperial/National Socialist Germany. Even when it comes down to something as simple as food and drink, in the Alliance we could see some variation of different cultures such as the presence of Italian, Irish, and Chinese cuisine, compared to the Empire in which everyone seems to only eat black bread and drink dark beer. The Empire did not just kill a lot of people in their 500 years of existence, they have utterly destroyed thousands of years worth of cultures and replaced it with their own! Think about how much human culture, tradition, and art was lost in less time in the real world. The Alliance might very well be the only preservation of all these things left. This realization will really put the decision of Yang (With him being ethnically East Asian and culturally Chinese) to continue resisting against the Empire, despite being highly cynical about the Alliance government, into a a completely new light.
This also explains why there are barely any non-Germanic minorities in the Empire if at all. Even after Emperor Rudolf's mass purges and Heinessen's exodus, the descendants of those who survived said purges were implied to be still around, albeit in the fringes of society and in the work camps. It was only when "contact" with the Alliance was established that those remaining groups left behind by Heinessen's exiles find the opportunity to finally jump ship for good (along with a few Imperial exiles), leaving only the culturally and ethnically homogeneous Empire that the viewers see. Phezzan manages to get away with being more diverse by being a neutral hub in all but name between Imperial and Alliance territory, not to mention being established by merchants from Earth and their Terraist masters.
It should be noted that Imperial officers in the book never targeted an individual, or a group of people with insults based on their race and/or ethnicity. We are also not shown evidence of racism amongst the Imperial populace against their Alliance counterparts. The book also did not describe events that would resemble a purge against non-Caucasians. Though Rudolf did commit genocide against those considered mentally retarded, people with birth defects, the invalid, homosexuals and so on. Moreover, Rudolf preferred Germanic culture, forced Imperial citizens to adapt Germanic names, initiate a state religion based on Germanic paganism and granted titles of nobility based on 19th century Prussia.
In the Eleventh Battle of Iserlohn, the Iserlohn Republic Fleet under the command of Julian managed to inflict 400,000 casualties on the Imperial Fleet under the command of Wahlen. In universe, this was considered to nothing more then an extended skirmish by galactic standards, and was more of the propaganda victory then anything else. In comparison, Operation Market Garden, one of the largest airborne operation in history, and a total Allied defeat, resulted in 27,200 casualties in total on both sides. That is right. In the world of LOGH, a battle that resulted in 400,000 casualties is now considered to be insignificant!
The answer to the question of how many people have died from all the fighting is horrific, and can be guessed by some simple data: during Rudolph von Goldenbaum's reign the total population of mankind was over 300 billions, while by 798 UC (near the end of the Long War) the total population was estimated at 40 billions (25 from the Empire, 13 from the Alliance, and 2 from Fezzan). Given that the only notable population losses before the war were the about 4 billions died under Rudolph due the Inferior Genes Exclusion Act, the half billion people died in the democratic revolts right after Rudolph's death and the between 6 and 20 millions people killed by August II's paranoia and that the latter's massacres were so notable they earned him the nickname the Bloodletter, it's likely the vast majority of the population reduction was caused by the combat losses and a decline in births from so many people capable of reproducing dying in battle.
In fact before the ill-fated invasion of the Empire, a member of the Alliance High Council feared the collapse of their society from too many deaths, also pointing out there were barely enough workers in the Alliance. No idea if it was the same in the Empire, but it's already terrifying.
In the last few episodes of the series, Julian concluded that since Kaiser Reinhard is a warrior at heart who only respect strength, the only way for the Iserlohn Republic to negotiate for favorable terms of surrender will be by proving their devotion to democracy as an ideal worth dying for by paying the price in blood on the battlefield. As a result, he launched an all or nothing battle agains the Imperial Fleet, ending with him fighting his way though the Brunhilde to get a personal audience with Reinhard. While Julian did ended up impressing Reinhard enough for him to call for a ceasefire, this came at the cost of the lives of Schönkopf, Merkatz, Mashengo, and who knows how many other loyal Republicans offscreen. While this can be seen as a Heroic Sacrifice that ultimately ends with the democratic way of life having a future in a now Imperial dominated galaxy, keep the following facts in mind: (1) At the end, Julian only ended up getting 30 minute face time (plus an undisclosed amount of time next to his sickbed) to negotiate with Reinhard. During this time, Reinhard only agreed to grant autonomy to the Baalat Starzone in the exchange for the surrender of the Iserlohn Republic, not the part about the Empire adopting a constitution and forming a parliament. He left the second part up for Hilda to decide upon his death. (2) Reinhard was suffering from an incurable disease, and was only a few months away from dying at this point. Therefore, not only is the idea of the Empire transforming into a constitutional monarchy through gradual reforms far from secured, if only had Julian waited a few months for Reinhard to die (or at lease to heavily entrench Iserlohn enough to hold off any Imperial attakcs), the Iserlohn Republic could have negotiated directly with the far less warmongering and more rational queen regent Hilda instead without the need for additional bloodshed, and all those people wouldn't have to die.
Continuing on from the post-ending Fridge Horror. With the Baalat Starzone being granted autonomy and allowed to keep a degree of it's democratic system in place, how long will it take before a East-West Berlin style mass brain drain situation develops within former Alliance territory, as political dissidents and loyalist to the former regime immigrate en masse to Heinessen? Even if Hilda (and once he comes of age, Alexander) wants to honor their agreement, the political and economic situation might ultimately force them to once again annex the system by military force and impose autocracy upon them, if only to put an end to capital flight and brain drain resulting from the mass migration. And unlike West Germany, the democratic reservation will not even have any military force to defend itself!
On a more personal note: Many of Yang's character traits (slovenliness in appearance and hygiene, reluctance to take credit for his own achievements, self-deprecating humor, never seen without a drink in his hand, etc.) may seem at first to be just ironic quirks to contrast his military genius, but they're also warning signs for depression. This becomes increasingly more evident as the series goes on, but the signs are there practically from the outset.
During the Eighth Battle of Iserlohn, why did Cazellnu, Schenkopp and Merkatz have so little serious discussion on how to deal with Geiersburg if they had fourteen hours before the fortress was in gun range? Yang may not have been there, but there was no reason for them to be so paralyzed in their decision-making.
When both fortresses damage each other with Wave Motion Gun shots, why does nobody think of shooting out the Geiershaken(Vulture's Claw) cannon on Geiersburg? Unlike the Thor Hammer, which stays submerged in Iserlohn's liquid metal armor and surfaces only to fire, the Vulture's Claw is exposed on Geiersburg's surface and clearly visible both when it fires and between shots. The Thor Hammer is able to target smaller targets than the Vulture's Claw, such as specific ships (demonstrated on Seeckt's flagship), so it could easily blast out the giant cannon and get rid of a major threat to both Iserlohn and the fleet stationed there.
From the same battle, overlaps with the Idiot entry - why didn't Kempff evacuate Geiersburg before sending it on a kamikaze charge at Iserlohn?