History AQA: Germany 1890 - 1945

  • Created by: Saruka.S
  • Created on: 26-05-19 17:25

Kaiser Wilhlem II and the difficulties of ruling G

  • Germany had been a united country since 1871.
  • This new empire was created in 1871 after victory against France in 1870. Berlin, the capital of Prussia, became the capital of the Empire. The Kaiser (Emperor) had complete control over the appointement of the chancellor, the chief minister of the country. The chancellor had power over policies and appointements and was answerable only to the Kasier. There was a parliament - the Reichstag - but this had very limited power and could be ignored by the Chancellor.
  • In the 1870s and 1880s, Otto von Bismark was Chancellor, and in practice wielded more power than the Kasier, Wilhelm II. Bismark had done much to unify the country, by inteoducing wa national coinage, postal service, law system, railway network and army. Bismarck also attempted to assimilate ethnic minority groups within the new empire, such as the Poles in the east, the Danes in the north and the French in the Alsace-Lorraine in the West. He however was less successful in making these other nationalities adopt German imperial ambitions.
  • Germany wanted an empire, like Britain, and therefore wanted to expand its territory in Europe and in other continents.
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Kaiser Wilhlem II and the difficulties of ruling G

  • Wilhelm I's son, Fedrick III, reigned for just ninety-nine days before succumbing to a long-standing illness. He was succeeded by his son, Wilhelm II. Unlike his grandfather, Kaiser Wilhelm II was determined to control German affairs himself rather than the Chancellor. Indeed, none of his four Chancellors could riveal the power that Bismarck had enjoyed. Wilhelm II's youthful optimism seemed to match well the ambitions of the new empire.
  • However Wilhelm II's character did not suit his position as Kaiser. He was somewhat unstable in mood and prone to violent rage. It has also been suggested that he was a repressed homosexual. He had been born with a withered left hand and was acutely aware of this defect, espectially in his capacity as Commander-in-Chief in the armed forced. 
  • Kaiser Wilhelm II was determined not to rule Germany in the same way as Bismark. He wanted Germany to adopte a new cource with the focus on its international positions and status. He wanted a world policty (Weltpolitik). He believed that with Germany's industrial growth, rising population and nationalist ambition, it could achieve its 'place in the sun'.
  • He had seen the European powers seize colines in Africa ('The Scramble in Africa') and wanted Germany to join in - to build and an oversea empire in Afirc and elsewhere. To achieve this, he believed that Germany needed a navy to match Great Britain's and an army that could defeat all other powers in Europe. Many Germans agreed with him.
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The growth of parliamentray government

The Kaiser had extensive powers. He alsone had the right to appoint and dismiss the Chancellor and his State Secretaries, completely independently of any vews in the Reichstag. Government ministers were answerable on to the Kaiser. No major decisions could be taken without the Kaiser's agreement. The Reichstag could discuss, amend and vote on new legislations, but could not decide on the topics in questions. This was under the total control of the Kaisers and his ministers. Even if it had more powers, the Reichstag would not have limited in its decision-making. At the same time as the Kasier dominated decision-making, political parites developed in terms of organisation and importance. There were several main political parites, but never in the years 1817-1914 did any one of the them come close to gaining majoirty. In the early years of Wilhelm II's reign, the Right-Wing Conservative parties usually joined together to pass government laws. However, by 1914, these parited had declined in influence. Others gained support, especially the more left-wing social democratic party, which appealed to Germany's growing numbers of industrial workers. Each of Germany's 25 state had control over their own dometic matters. However, this conteol diminished as the national government passed legislation in areas auch as communication, expansion of the army and navy, and social insurance schemes. This meant that, while all men were eligable to vote, in practice the direction of government policy was controlled almost entirely by the Kaiser and his ministers. Many members of the middle class were happy with the right-wing dominated government becayse they were afraid of the growing  political strength of the industrial workters. This meant that the poeaple in power were mostly nationalist in their views. They were also tradiontally hostile to the Jews. This is known as Anti-Semitism.

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The industrial strength of Germany increased rapidly under Wilhelm II.

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