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1.1: The constitution of the Second Reich
German unification
1. Bismarck unified German states in 1871 under Kaiser Wilhelm I
2. These 25 states had previously been tied through the Zollverein
3. Prussia had 62% of German population

The Constitution
1. Bismarck sought to protect power of Junkers and ruling…

Page 2

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1.2: Economic and social developments

Economic developments
Economic growth
1. 1890-1914 economy expanded 4.5%/year on average
2. Coal and iron production doubled
3. 1914, Germany = Britain in share of world trade
4. Steel production exceeded that of Britain by 1900
5. Agricultural output also increased, 1888-1913 = 42% increase…

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1.3: Political developments
The Left
1. Urbanisation = expansion of left-wing organisations
2. 1900, trade union movement largest in the world
3. SPD vote percentage 1890 = 0.9% to 1912 = 28% (largest party in Reichstag)
4. This growth challenged the conservative elite

The Right
1. Nationalist politics rise
2.…

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The Navy League
1. Wanted naval expansion
2. Very popular at membership of 1M

The German Colonial League and the Pan German League
1. Both supported colonial expansion
2. PGL (mostly from NLP) also sought for Germany to be dominant in Europe

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1.4: The Kaiser and his Chancellors
The Kaiser's Childhood
1. Born in 1859 with a withered arm
2. Difficult relationship with parents
3. Megalomaniac, psychologically damaged by disability

1890s
1. Röhl said Wilhelm had a system of autocratic personal rule:
a. Appointed Chancellors who would further his conservative political agenda…

Page 6

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1.5: The de facto political system
Tensions in the German political system
1. Kaiser appointed the government = conservative, upper-class, Junker-dominated
2. Largest part in the Reichstag 1912+ was the SPD which represented socialism and the
working class
3. = struggle for government and Reichstag to co-operate

The budgetary crisis…

Page 7

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1.6: The Second Reich by 1914
Historians
John Röhl
1. The Kaiser built an autocratic semi-absolutist system
2. His militaristic and conservative agenda dominated
3. The Reichstag was side-lined and the liberal and democratic forces were weakened

Hans-Ulrich Wehler
1. It was a failing system which struggled against the social…

Page 8

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7. Plurality of interests in the state: Catholics and the Centre Party, workers and the SPD,
farmers and the Agrarian League.

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