2nd Reich

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The Kaiser

  • can dissolve the Reichstag
  • always Prussian
  • commands army (oath of allegiance sworn to him)
  • controls foreign policy (can make treaties/ war/ peace...)
  • can appoint/ dismiss the Chancellor
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The Army

  • accountable only to the Kaiser
  • seperate from the Reichstag and Constitution
  • elite officer positions dominated by Prussian Junkers
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The Chancellor

  • answers only to the Kaiser
  • can ignore Reichstag resolutions
  • can appoint/ dismiss other ministers
  • must rely on the Kaiser's favour
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The Reichstag

  • unpaid members (dominated by rich)
  • limited powers to initiate legislation
  • vote on annual budgets
  • debate/ reject/ discuss/ accept legislation placed infront of it
  • freedom of speech
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The Bundesrat

  • 17 out of 58 seats held by Prussian
  • 14 votes to veto
  • those who pay more tax count more in votes
  • 92% belong to lower group of voters
  • upper house= acts as barrier to radical legislation
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Provincial Assemblies

  • a federal constitution
  • each state can determine nature of own systems of education, healthcare, political arrangements
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The Federal Electorate

  • universal male suffrage
  • over 25's
  • vote in Reichstag elections for representatives
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Issues with the Constitution

  • Chancellor must co-operate for system to work
  • parliamentary and monarchial tensions
  • army seperate from Constitution
  • Prussia priveliged and dominating
  • Reichstage and Bundesrat dominated by rich= unrepresentative of classes
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The Chancellors

  • 1871-90 Bismarck
  • 1890-1894 Caprivi
  • 1894-1900 Hohenlohe-Schillingsfurst
  • 1900-09 Bulow
  • 1909-1917 Bethmann-Hollweg
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Political Parties

  • SPD trade unions,1893 get 24% vote
  • Centre Party Catholic,balanced,mass support to defend against Kulturkampf
  • Left Liberals favour Parliament
  • National Liberals similar ideas to DKP, middle class supporters, support Bismarck and Kulturkampf
  • FKP landowners and businessmen
  • DKP supporters of Kaiser, primarily Junkers, anti-semitic, anti-democratic
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  • Socialism: due to rise of working class, trade union links, Bismarck introduced anti-socialist laws, led to SPD
  • Nationalism: pride, love of country, mostly authoritarian, turned against minorities, Imperialism: lebensraum, anti-semitism, anti-socialism, anti-democratic
  • Anti-Semitism: rooted in history, scapegoats, 1.1% Jwish population but higher percent doctors, bankers etc...
  • Social Darwinism: struggle of survival of the fittest, racial, nations, people, sees anti-semitism and racism as intellectual
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Social Groups

  • Junkers
  • Industrial Bourgeoisie
  • Middle Classes
  • Mittelstand skilled workers
  • Working Classes Proletariat
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Pressure Groups

  • Nationalistic
    • Navy League: campaign for naval expansion, very popular, 1 million members
    •  Pan German League: expansion, primarily dominance throughout Europe
    • Colonial Society: acquire an empire through African colonies
  • Economic
    • Agrarian League: Junker led but mass support from peasantry, nationalistic, anti-semitic, links with DKP
    • Central Association of Industrialists: industrial interests, links within Reichstag
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Economic Changes

  • Economy:
    • expanded 4.5% per year 1890-1914 and world trade at British levels, coal and iron production doubled, strong steel industry exceeding Britain by 1900 e.g. Krupp, new industried: chemicals, pharmaceuticals, electronics (produce 50% worlds by 1913), GNP rose from 33% to 42% 1890-1914
  • Transport:
    • infrastructure improved by trams, trains, buses facilitating travel and businesses
  •  Agriculture:
    • more efficient by chemical industry and new machinery (but workers issues), lack of labourers from urbanisation and migration = hire foreign workers, Tariffs Law- protect Junkers and farmers
  • Cartels:
    • large companies protect market and industry, encourage development
  • Banks:
    • not under state control, allowed to prosper
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Social Changes

  • Urbanisation:
    •  migration-60% urban, overcrowding and poor sanitation in cities, homelessness, Berlin population of 2 million
  • Standards of Living:
    • low unemployment and increase in wages, poor conditions and low standards for many, resulted in boom of Unions- 1913=3 million members
  • Class tensions:
    • heightened by industrialisation, proletariat and industrial bourgeoisie in conflict over pay and conditions, Junkers want dominance and concerned about unions and Socialism, Mittelstand threatened by new industry, rural areas in competition with USA, Canada and crops struggle to meet population demands
  • Growth of Pressure Groups, ideologies, scapegoats
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Bulow- Social and Political Integration

  • Tariff Law (1902): imported goods cost more, influence of Agrarian League
  • Old Age and Invalidity Law: increase pensions and compulsory insurance extended
  • Sickness Insurance Law (1903): extend sick leave from 13 weeks to 26 weeks
  • Restrict Factory work hours (1908): for children, none under 13 to be employed, 13-14 6hr day, 14-16 10 hr day
  • Sammlungspolitik: align all political forces in Bulow-bloc in Reichstag through foreign policy to unite all non-socialists
  • Flottenpolitik: influence of Naval League, Tirpitz want to match Royal Navy (33 battleships vs 6 in Germany)
    • 2nd Naval Law (1900): propose to build 38 battleships, industrialists influence due to steel production
    • 3rd Naval Law (1906): in response to HMS Dreadnought, added 6 battle cruisers and widened Kiel Canal for passage to North Sea= popular patriotism and nationalism soaking up political tensions
  • Weltpolitik: policy of protectionism to rally society through nationalistic foreign and colonial policy, distracts internal tensions, build up army. But limited opportunities to expand territories
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Bulow- Events

  • Herero Uprising (1904):
    • African colony rose against oppressor but genocide. Population fell from 80,000 to 15,000
    • Centre Party horrified= failure of Bulow-Bloc.
    •  Highlighted lack of parliamentary accountability and need for parliamentary financial control of colonies
  • Hottentot Election (1906-07):
    • Centre party join SPD to flaunt plans of new railway in S.W Africa and oppose compensation to settlers after losses and stop Colonial department becoming an independant imperial office
    • 1907 election after Reichstag dissolved, Bulow had support had support of Pan-German League and Nationalists, voters frightened into supporting Bulow-Bloc
  • Daily Telegraph Affar (1908):
    • Bulow Bloc breaks up over financial deficit due to military spending and Bulows proposals for more taxing
    • Kaiser gve interview in British newspaper giving impression he controlled foreign policy without Reichstag
    • Bulow blamed for not censoring Kaiser and he lost Wilhelm's confidence, his budget defeated and he lost Chancellorship
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Bethmann-Hollweg- Social and Political Integration

Unremarkable Domestic Policy

  • Prussian Voting System (1910): tried to reform it to get number of seats proportional to votes but fails due to Conservative opposition
  • Seizure of Polish Estates in East (1910): to please Conservatives, redistributed some land to German Peasants
  • Imperial Insurance Code (1911): Consolidated previous workers laws and gave white-collar workers better insurance
  • Constitution of Alsace-Lorraine (1911): introduced to integrate province with rest of Germany
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Bethmann-Hollweg- Events

  • 1912 election
    •  SPD was largest party in Reichstag (110/397 seats) after allying with Liberals but few would fully ally until 1913
    • SPD member Philipp Schiedemann became Vice President of Reichstag but Hollweg couldn't be forced out (despite Zabern)
    • (1913) SPD vote for army bill to increase army size despite costs to not appear unpatriotic, money was raised from a direct property tax so less protest to it
  • Zabern Affair (1913)
    • Residents forced to emigrate of become German nationals in A-L to be integrated in 1911 Constitution= cause tensions
    • army officer made derogatory comment about local from Zabern appearing in Press and creating wave of demonstrations that were violently suppressed (military indiscipline incident)
    • caused political fallout - SPD organised some demonstrations and with Centre and Liberals push vote of no-confidence against Hollweg
    • (army and) Hollweg had Wilhelm's confidence and couldn't be forced out
    • Results: civil-military relations strained, highlighted army's independence and lack of Reichstag powers, Kaiser side with army but didn't consult Hollweg showing him powerless too
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Entrenched Autocracy/ Personal Rule

  • Kaiser can appoint/ dismiss Chancellor as he pleases
  • Kaiser can dissolve Reichstag
  • commands army
  • unaffected by criticisms
  • place blame on Chancellors e.g. Bulow for Daily Telegraph Affair
  • Chancellors only succeed if have his confidence and aligned with him
  • Germany followed his Weltpolitik plans

Politics From Above

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Dominant Conservative Elite/ Shadow Emperor

  • their naval, militaristic, colonial agenda followed
  • pressure groups successful e.g. Agrarian League and Central association of German Industrialists lobbying for Tariff Law (1902)
  • Prussian elite dominant- in Bundesrat especially, veto
  • Rich in government- unpaid in Reichstag, dominant in Bundesrat
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Parliamentary Democracy/ Liberalism

  • universal suffrage
  • can reject legislation (e.g. 1906 Colonial Policy)
  • Reichstag increasingly assertive- criticising Kaiser and Chancellor for Daily Telegraph affair and Zabern
  • Ruling eite create reforms in response to left-wing pressure
  • free speech of press
  • influential pressure groups and plurality of interests- Catholics= Centre Party, workers= SPD, farmers= Agrarian League
  • existence and results of Trade Union movement

Politics From Below

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