The Constitution of the Second Reich


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The Constitution of the Second Reich
Definition - Second Reich,
Reich is the German word for State. The First Reich was the Holy Roman Empire and the second Reich
was established in 1872 and lasted until 1918.
The Constitution,
The set of rules by which a country is run. It is, at least in theory, supposed to reflect the values and
traditions of the country.
Federal state,
A state that is made up of individual states that have control over certain aspects of internal affairs
but are part of a central state.
The Kaiser,
Refer to Relative Powers.
The Chancellor,
Refer to Relative Powers.
The Bundesrat,
The upper house if the federal parliament.
It consisted of 58 members nominated by the state assemblies. It was part of the law making
process and in theory was able to change the constitution.
It was created by Bismarck to act as a possible barrier to radical legislation. The Bundesrat could
veto legislation is 14 or more of its members voted against a bill.
The Reichstag,
Refer to Relative Powers.
The Army,
The army lay outside the formal constitution because Bismarck did not want to tie its hands by
defining its role. It was directly responsible to the Kaiser. On the advice of senior military figures, the
Kaiser could appoint the Military Cabinet. The Military Cabinet advised and chose General Staff. The
General Staff organised all military affairs from planning to court bodyguard duties. The War Minister
was a member of the General Staff and was accountable only to the Kaiser and the Military Cabinet.
The Army swore an oath of allegiance to the Kaiser not to the State.
The Bureaucracy,
As with the Army, the role of the Bureaucracy was not identified by the constitution. However it did
not mean that the bureaucrats - the civil servants - did not have an important role to play in the
development of policy.


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