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The Second Reich to 1918
Economic expansion
Industrialisation
In the late 19th/early 20th century Germany went through a period of
modernisation.
The years 1900-1914 saw rapid change including:
Growth of industry Centres of industry
Urbanisation Industrial growth had an
Improvements in communication and the emergence of new social uneven impact.
classes Some regions remained largely
rural
Farmer, peasants and
Features of economic development agricultural labourers accounted
Industrial output rose dramatically (coal and iron production for 1/3 of the German labour
doubled whilst coal tripled force in 1914
Germany established a preeminent position in Europe in the key The main centres of industry
industries of the `Second industrial revolution' (Steel, chemicals, were the Ruhr, Berlin, Saxony
electrical engineering and automobile engineering) and Silesia
High technology industries benefited from close links with its
renowned scientific community
Economy exhibited a high degree of industrial concentration led
by a small number of large firms which were headed mostly by
conservatives.
Rapid economic growth meant almost full employment and an
increase in trade union membership.…read more

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The Second Reich to 1918
Imperial Germany: Social Divisions
Population Growth Religion Social Class
Between 1871-1914 Germanys was Early 20th century was strongly
Germany's population grew predominantly Protestant hierarchal in which social mobility was
40% with a Catholic minority limited
Growth in population Catholics were centred in
contributed to people's sense Bavaria, Rhineland and
Conservative Elites
of living in a society of flux Silesia
The expansion of German Prussian ruling class Middle Classes
industry was reflected in the viewed Catholics
increase of population in suspiciously
industrial towns and cities Government campaign Working Classes and
Kulturkampf which aimed to Agricultural labourers
Region undermine the Catholic
The German empire was a church
Prussian-led union of 25 states and As a result Catholics
formed their own political Four social-political camps
4 kingdoms (Prussia, Bavaria, German society consisted of four social-
Saxony and Wurttemberg) party- the centre party.
Kulturkampf was political camps: the conservative camp, the
Germans thought of themselves as
being Bavarians or Saxons as much abandoned in the late 1970s middle-class camp, the catholic camp and
as they though of themselves as and religious tensions eased the working-class camp
However anti-Catholic Conservatives hated the social democratic
German party believing that its hostility towards
Prussia's ascendancy in political prejudice did not entirely
disappear capitalism was a threat to their own wealth
life in Imperial Germany caused and power.
resentment among non-Prussians…read more

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The Second Reich to 1918
Imperial Germany: Government and Constitution
The Emperor: Kaiser
Appointed and dismissed (federal) govt ministers
Commander in chief of the armed forces
Controlled foreign policy
Could dissolve the Reichstag and force general elections
Imperial Chancellor
Appointed by Emperor
Was the Emperors chief minister
Other govt ministers were accountable to the Imperial Chancellor
State governments Federal Council The Reichstag
25 individual states were An assembly of representatives of The national parliament
responsible for policing, the 25 states Shared law-making power with Federal
education and social welfare and State delegations varied in number council: had the right to discuss, amend,
could raise their own taxes depending on the size of the state pass or reject government proposals for
The Federal council's consent was the new laws
required for any new law Could not initiate legislation
State parliaments
Most states had their own elected law- Government ministers were not
making assembly accountable to the Reichstag
State electorates Federal electorate
Each state decided its own electoral All German men over the age of 25 had
arrangements the right to vote in Reichstag elections
In Prussia there was a three-tire franchise
which gave a disproportionate amount of
political influence to the wealthy…read more

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The Second Reich to 1918
Imperial Germany: Government and Constitution
The role of Prussia Was Imperial Germany an autocratic state?
Prussia accounted for 2/3 of land area and population of the William II often spoke of autocratic power
German Empire however his position was not as clear-cut as he
Under the 1871 Constitution the King of Prussia was also the suggested as he wasn't all powerful as he suggested
German Emperor The Emperor had no control over matter which
The Minister-President of Prussia was Imperial Chancellor the individual states retained responsibility
Prussia had 17/58 seats on the Federal council and so had the He could not change the law without the approval
ability to block any change to the constitution of the Federal Council and the Reichstag
Imperial affairs were administered by Prussian civil servants
The political role of William II
Whilst some Historians argue the William II's reign was a `period of `personal rule' others maintain the view that the
political agenda in these years was largely set by German conservative elites
Personal Rule:
William II's intention at the start of his reign was to be a `hands on' ruler unlike previous emperors before him
His ministers only survived if they retained his support
He intervened decisively in the political process on numerous occasions.
On the other hand:
William II was unsuited to govern on a day-to-day basis as he was impulsive and erratic
He had little interest in domestic policy
His interest in government faded over time
He did not have a coherent personal agenda that he imposed on his ministers…read more

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The Second Reich to 1918
Imperial Germany: political parties and pressure groups
The Conservative Camp Political Parties and the Kaiserreich
The DKP (German conservative party) The emperors ministers could, for the most part, rely on the support of
represented Prussian Junkers the conservatives and national liberals.
RFKP (Free conservatives) represented They gained support of the centre-party on most issues
non-Prussian landowners Left liberals and Social Democrats opposed government policy on most
issues.
The growth of the SPD concerned most conservatives
The Middle-class Camp
In 1912 the SPD became the largest party in the Reichstag
Became more right wing with anti-
socialist views
Formed the Progressive peoples party Pressure Groups and the Press
Germany had a free press which could be strongly critical of the
The Catholic Camp government
The Centre party aimed to defend the Pressure groups flourished in Wilhelmine Germany, the most active
Catholic Church being right wing pressure groups calling for an expansionist policy,
increased military and naval spending and the acquisition of policies.
PRESSURE GROUPS:
The Working Class Camp
The Colonial Society (Founded 1887)
SPD (Social Democratic Party)
The Pan-German League (Founded 1893)
Represented the working class
The Navy League (Founded 1898: claimed to have over 300,000 fully
`Revisionist' rather than
paid-up members and 700,000 supporters)
`Revolutionist' They sought to advance
the socialist cause through democratic
means…read more

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