Large spectral modulation in the photon-to-electron conversion near the absorption band-edge of semiconductor by an applied electrical field can be a basis for efficient electro-optical modulators. This electro-absorption effect in Group IV semiconductors is, however, inherently weak, and this poses the technological challenges for their electro-photonic integration. Here we report unprecedentedly large electro-absorption susceptibility at the direct band-edge of intrinsic Ge nanowire (NW) photodetectors, which strongly diameter-dependent. We provide evidence that the large spectral shift at the 1.55 mu m wavelength, enhanced up to 20 times larger than Ge bulk crystals, is attributed to the internal Franz-Keldysh effect across the NW surface field of similar to 10(5) V/cm, mediated by the strong photoconductive gain. This classical size-effect operating at the nanometer scale is universal, regardless of the choice of materials, and thus suggests general implications for the monolithic integration of Group IV photonic circuits.