How Successful was Bismarck in managing problems in Germany between 1871-1890?

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Bismarck was successful in managing political problems such as:

  • the Liberals
  • the foreign policy
  • the Army Budget
  • the Kulturkampf
  • the threat of the Socialists

However Bismarck did have failures in managing these problems

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Success and failure: The liberal era 1871-1879

Between 1871 and 1879, the liberal era was a success for Bismarck, despite their ambivalent relationship, because:

  • He improved economic issues by introducing the National System of Currency, the National German bank and abolishing internal tariffs.
  • Pushing the army up to over 400,000, was a problem for the liberals as they believed the funding for this by the federal state was taking money away from the people. So to resolve this, Bismarck compromised with the Reichstag and communicated the Liberals in the Reichstag.

However, this compromise over the army budget was not completely successful because:

  • The outcome was that the Reichstag could only have a say over the Army Budget every 7 years which was too long.
  • The resolution was undemocratic because the Reichstag still had no power over the army, even though Bismarck said he would and they couldn't block him or the Kaiser.
  • The Budget was not changed in the end.
  • The resolution made Bismarck seem weak for giving in and compromising.
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Success and failure: bringing the unified German s

In 1871, Bismarck was successful in bringing the unified German State which continued until 1890 by:

  • using diplomatic skills
  • To overcome his fear of France making alliance with Russia or Austria casuing a war, Bismarck made a dual alliance with Russia in 1879 and then Italy joined it in 1882. 

However, this was a failure for Bismarck because:

  • No everybody agreed with him. 
  • Isolating France meant that the French hated Bismarck even more than before,.
  • It showed also that Bismarck did not deal with the issue properly as this was a short cut.
  • He didn't take the time to evaluate the problem and all his options to solve it.
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Success and failure: the Kulterkampf

BIsmarck was successful with managing the Kulterkampf, between 1871 and 1878, because:

  • Catholic schools lost their power and 1000 Catholic  Bishops were suspended.
  • Some Catholics broke away from the church due to the Pope's dictating 'Papal Infallibility.'
  • Bismarck's political management aggrivated and made the Pope introduce that, which led to some Catholics to break away from the Church as they had different religious and political views. 

However, the Kulterkampf was more of a failure for Bismarck because:

  • in 1874, the Centre Party's strength increased winning 91 seats in the Reichstag (they didn't lose their support despite Bismarck's opposition).
  • Some Protestants were concerned with the policy and those on the Left, felt it was a threat to civil rights and undermined freedom of the conscience.
  • It also caused disunity in the German Empire which wasn't what Bismarck wanted. 

Bismarck used the failure, though, as an advantage by using the popular Centre Party to stop the growth of the threat of Socialism and to gain support for the Conservatives, Protectionists and anti- Socialist agenda. It ended in 1878.

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Success and failure: threat of Socialism

Bismarck was successful in his attack on the Socialists because:

  • He had more support from the Conservatives and National Liberals, as both parties supported the ani-Socialist Bill (passed in October 1878.
  • Trade unions and other organisations were mo longer a threat to Junkers because they were banned.
  • To win support from the working class (turn them against Socialism), he introduced the Sickness Insurance Act in 1883, the Accident Insurance Act 1889 and the Old Age and Disability Act 1889. As a result, the working class now had sick pay and pensions.
  • These welfare legislation influenced other countries to do the same thing. 

However, was the attack was a failure for Bismarck because:

  • The anti-Socialist legislation only made the Socialist rebel against him.
  • His repressive measures only helped increase support for the SPD: in 1878 they won over a million votes and 35 seats in the Reichstag by 1890. 
  • Moderate and revolutionary Socialist actions remained united. 
  • Banning trade unions led to many worker resenting Bismarck.
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Success and failure: threat of Socialism Part 2

  • The welfare legislation was not generous and did not help everyone: the unemplyed were not helped. 
  • Working conditions were still harsh.
  • Bismarck's management on Socialism failed because it was rushed as he didn't take time to look at the factsand the full picture.
  • He also didn't think about all interested and affected parties. 
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Bismarck had some successful outcomes from his political managment of the:

  • Liberals
  • Army Budget
  • Kulturkampf
  • Socialists.

However these were a failure mostly for Bismarck because:

  • the outcomes of the Kulturkampf and the attack on Socialism was the complete opposite to what Bismarck wanted or anticipated.
  • Whereas the failure of the actions with the Liberals and the Army Budget gave Bismarck too much power and wasn't very democratic.
  • the failure of the foreign policy just made the new German State more disunited and made the French hate Bismarck even more. 
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