Pre and Post World War 1 Germany

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Pre ­ War (Pre1914)
Pre War Politics
Wilhelm II was the German Emperor (Kaiser) in 1914.
Germany was marked as an autocracy with Wilhelm II (Kaiser) having complete control.
May 1981: "There is only one man in charge of the Reich, and I will not tolerate any other."
­ Wilhelm II
Wilhelm II believed in autocratic rule and we can see it through this statement: "everyone
should know the voice of the German Kaiser... domestically the word of the Kaiser should
be everything."
There had been a Reichstag (Parliament) in Germany from 1871 the members of Parliament
were voted in by the public.
The Reichstag's powers were very limited and did not challenge the wishes of the Kaiser
and it was merely viewed as a "talking shop."
The German people were forced to live life under autocratic regime.
Life under Wilhelm II was prosperous and promising for the majority of Germany.
The autocracy in Germany would prove highly significant in 1919 as the Weimar
Government introduced democracy as the new political norm.
Pre War Economy
Prior to the war Germany's industrial development was the fastest in the world.
1880 ­ 1913 coal production increased by 400%.

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Other industries such as steel, chemicals, engineering had also grown rapidly.
In a thirty year period Germany's international trade had quadrupled.
1870 ­ 1910 Germany's population went from 24 million to 65 million.
40% of this fastgrowing workforce was employed in the industry.
Pre War Military
o Beginning in the 20th century Germany was recognised as having the most efficient army
in the world.
o Germany had universal mass military conscription for shortterm military service followed
by a longer period in reserve.…read more

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Effect on German People
The supply of food declined and rationing was instituted.
Failure of the potato crop in 1916 led to turnips replacing potatoes as the principal
staple, "Turnip Winter."
"Germans ate dogs, crows, zoo animals and rodents, and even the frontline troops
were reduced to eating meagre portions of horsemeat."
Death and Disease
· Cases of tuberculosis (TB), rickets, influenza, dysentery, scurvy became rife killing up to
293,000 in 1918.…read more

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By the summer of 1917 Wilhelm told his former Chancellor (Bethmann Hollweg) that he
may as well abdicate as he held no real power.
2. September 1917, Hindenburg took Wilhelm's title of Supreme Warlord and the army
press agency sent out his portrait throughout the country.
3. "In the nation's mind, Hindenburg gradually replaced Wilhelm as the strongman, the
absolute leader, the surrogate Kaiser". ­ Miranda Carter.
4.…read more

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In October the Reichstag did demand the creation of a "strong government supported by
the confidence of a majority of the Reichstag."
3. However, the Reichstag did not play a central role in the events that followed and
actually met very infrequently in the last month of the war.
4. Continued to take their lead from `above' even at this late stage.…read more

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The Abdication of the Kaiser: November 1918…read more


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