Germany 1900-1918 (key facts)

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Economic expansion 1900-14

Described as a 'Whirlwind boom boom period'

-iron and coal production doubled, steel trippled

development of a 'second revolution'

-leading manufacturer of chemicals and electrical goods, produced and supplied 50% of electrical goods

Development of the new insustry saw the new elite industrialists who participated on a world market, this group was largely conservative and enjoyed enourmous political influence

- the companies of; Krupps and Thyssen (steel); BASF and Bayer (Chemical); Siemens and Bosch (Electrical)

This period experience full employment and Trade Union growth

-from 1900 to 1914 TU membership grew from 0.8 Million to 2.4 Million 

-Trade Unions were linked with the SPD and caused increase concern for conservative businesses

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Social Divisions

between 1871 and 1914 the population grew by 40%, and with massive industrialisation led to rapid urbanisation

Described as 'full of tension' as Germany was divided by Region, Religion and Class

-Region: 25 states, 4 Kindoms where Pussia dominates, 3 million Poles in Alsace-Lorraine.

-Religion: Prussians suspicious of Catholics (fueld Kulturkampf), catholic center party created

-Social Class: Conservative elits, Middle Classes and working and agricultural classes

Imperial Germany was therefore politicaly seperated into 4 socio-political camps; the conservatives, middle class; catholic; and working class camp.

-key to politics in Imperial Germany is the conflict between the conservatives and the growing SPD throughout 1900-14.

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Who Ran Germany

'the Empire has one leader and I am he' - personal rule

-The constitution allowed William II to chose chancellors who gave him absolute loyaty (Bulow in the DT affair)

-The chancellor or the Kaiser was not accountable to the Reichstag (vote of no confidence after the Zabern Affair, Bethman remained chancellor)

-Prussia dominated 2/3 of land and population, had 17 of 58 seats in Bundesrat, prussian troops formed the majority of the Army.

-Parties were scrambled and would not co operate with the SPD (which had internal divisions)

In spite of this the Kaiser was irratic and uninterested in domestic politics and did not have absolute power

-the Kaiser had no power over the matters concerned for by the individual states

-Support from the Bundesrat and Reichstag were required to pass laws, this created a political stalemate in 1912 with the SPD gaining 34.8% of the vote

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Political Parties

Political parties in Imperial Germany were much like interest groups - each of the social-political camps had their own political parties (Conservatives, Free Censervatives, National Liberals, Left National Liberal, Center Party, SPD)

-Conservatives: Conservative Party (DKP) and Free Conservatives (RFKP), anti-democratic and anti-scialist. DKP Purssian Junker support, RFKP Prussian landowers and industialists.

-Middle class: National Liberals, common ground with conservatives (anti-socialist, expansionist foreign policy). In 1910 the left groups of the National Liberals formerd the Proogressive Peoples Party with demand for social reforma dn greater power.

-Catholic Party: appealed to all social classes, had the vested interest in preserving the Catholic Church but were divided on other issues

-Working Class: SPD experienced massive growth owing to industrialisation of germany, became the largest party in 1912 with 34.8% of the vote, was divided by the revolutionaries (minority) and revisionists.

the Government could previously rely on Conservative and NAtional Liberal support to pass laws, however with the growth of SPD and left liberals, a political stalemate emerged. 

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Pressure Groups

Wilhelmine Germany did not have rigid sencorship laws

-the SPD newspaper Vowarts and the satirical magizine Simplicissimus openly critised the govt.

right wing pressure groups demanding colonial and naval expansionism formed

-Pan-German league (1893) and the Navy League (1898)

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Chancellors of Imperial Germany

Wilhelm II Chancellors

-caprivi and Hohenlohe made enimies of the Junkers and forced to resign

-Bulow (1900-9) survived due to flattery and support of the Reichstag, failed to show loyalty to the kaiser int he Daily Telegraph Affair and forced to resign

-Bethmann (1909-17) competent but unadventurous, made one attempt to bring about change (in order to gain support from the reichstag) by attempting to reform the 3-teird prussian voting system in 1910, which failed.

From 1890 the National Liberals and conservatives became manority parties forcing the chancelors to appeal more to the centre and left.

-small social reforms were made (extensian of sickness insurance and reduced working hours)

-Sammlungpolitik used to bring together powerful upper middle classes and conservatives 

-could dissolve the parties for new elections (bulow's Hotentot election 1907)

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Zabern Incident 1913

following unlawfull arrestings against a protest in Zabern and the assult of a civilian by an officier on a seperate incident together became known as the Zabern incident. 

-The army received no punishment and its officers were aquited 

-the incident sparked national demonstrations

-A Reichstag vote to censor Bethman passed with only the conservatives voting against it

Thge incident revealed the extensive power of the army undeer the kaiser and lack of civilian control.

Bethmann was not consulted on any of the matters concerning the incident, highlighting his insignificance in the affairs of the Kaiser and the army

The Reichstag's demands for Bethmans resignation were completely ignored despite the support of public opinion they were powerless to bring change that was not backed by the Kaiser 

The incident highlighted the divisions of Germany and where power lay.

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Impact of WW1

Burgfreiden was passed in 1914 to establish a war time political truce, this also involve reduced traide union interferance with the war time economy.

-the SPD wanted to be seen as patriotic, beleived their loyalty would gain them long term support, and that war was defensive 

Burfeiden broke down as the war effort slowed and casualties and hardships increased

-1.6 million killed, 1.6 million serously wounded by 1918

-food shortages as a result of the allied blockade and Turnip winter (1916-17), number of civilian deaths increased dramatically from starvation and hypothermia. 

-inflation increased by 100% wages only increase by 50-75% (real wage fall)

-Auxilary Labour Law (1916) allowed concription of workers, resented by working class

-sacrafise was not equal, no efforts to raise taxes on Junkers and Land owners, only 16% of the was was funded through taxation (84% was borrowed)

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Impact of WW1 Continued

by 1917 with two years of failing war, efforts intenisied,

-August 1916, Hindenburg and Ludendorff placed as Army Cheif of Staff, push for  'Total War'

-Hindenburg Programm initiated to double munitions, Auxillary Labour Law part of the HP

-febuary 1917, reintroduction of unrestriced warfare brings USA into the wat

Hindenburg and Ludendorff (who formed the silent dictatorship) failed to gain public support for Total War

-sharp increase in the number of strikes from 1916 to 1918 from under 300 to around 3500

-in 1917 the SPD split and formed the USPD demanding an end to the war without vicory

-Reichstag Peace Resolution was passed in 1917 

Consequently with the end of Burgfreiden around 1917, pre-existing tensions remerged, bethmann became the focus of discontent and attacks beteen the left who called for a peace without vicory and the right which demanded Seigfride (Victorious peace)

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Kaiserreich to Republic (Revolution from Above)

In 1918 Germany experienced two 'revolutions, the 'Revolution from Above' and the 'Sparacist Uprising'

-in march 1918 the Eastern Front ended with the treaty of Brest-Litovsk.

-the resultant 'Ludendorff offensive' on the western front was then to fail in autumn

From the failure of the Ludendorff Offensic, Hindenburg and Ludendorff had 3 main aims

1) secure the best possible peace treaty

2) protect the reputaion of the Army

3 )Preservation of a constitutional Monarchy 

The move to a democracy was not enough to open armistice talks with the allies so long as the kaiser was in a position of power. 

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Popular Revolution

Scheer ordered a suicide attack on the british naval fleet, which led to a mutiny at Kiel followed by the establishment of a workers council which soon spread to other parts of Germany. By the 9th of november effectively ran Germnay, directed by the SPD

-Wilhelm abdicated, and sent to exile

-the establishment of a democratic coalition govt

Ebert was forced to make 2 important concessions with the old elite in order to ensure the success of the new Republic in the short run atleast

-Ebert-Groener Pact (Army): army agreed to support the republic if it could maintain its status and independence

-Stinnes-Legien Pact (Big Business): reduced Trade Union interference in exchange for an 8hr working day. 

The armistice came into effect on the 11th of november, and WW! came to an end.

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