SECOND REICH 1900-14

SECOND REICH

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THE CONSTITUTION : A federal State.

  • Germany included 25 states - states ruled their own governments and had different constitutions. 
  • They had wide-ranging power over domestic affairs such as education, police, justice and health care. 
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THE CONSTITUTION : The Kaiser

  • Kaiser was the Prussian King - reinforcing Prussian dominance. 
  • Kaiser held full control over foreign and diplomatic affairs (he had the power to make alliances, wage war, sign treaties, sue for peace) 
  • comander in chief of the armed forces of all the German states. 
  • Had a considerable influence over the government of the country
  • He appointed / dismissed the Chancellor and had the power to dissolve the Reichstag.
  • Kaiser had the responsibility to publish and oversee the implementation of federal law. 
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THE CONSTITUTION : Kaiser Wilhelm II

  • The personality of the Kaiser was of vital importance since the Kaiser held considerable powers. 
  • Wilhelm 2nd had an unhappy childhood - born with an arm and an ear damaged at birth.
  • Believed it was his responsibility to rule Germany rather than share power with the Reichstag. 
  • poor decision maker, not a hard worker, short attention span
  • Heavily influenced by the military - he turned to them for advice
  • poor opinion of democracy and the Reichstag. 
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THE CONSTITUTION : The Chancellor

  •  Directly responsible to the Kaiser as chief minister of the Reich. 
  • In charge of the appointment / dismissal of state secretaries who ran the government ministries. 
  • The Chancellor could ignore resolutions passed by the Reichstag. 
  • Bismarck gave the Chancellor considerable powers to manipulate both the Kaiser and the Reichstag. 
  • The Suceess of the Chancellor depended on: his political ability, his relationship with the Kaiser, composition of Reichstag. 
  • The constitution and role of the Chancellor worked well for Bismarck who worked well with Wilhelm I - however his successors didn't have the same luck. 
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THE CONSTITUTION : The Bundesrat

  • 58 members - part of the law making process and could in theory change the constitution.
  • It was created by Bismarck to act as a possible barrier to radical legislation. 
  • The Bundesrat could veto legislation if 14 or more members voted against the Bill
  • The dominance of Prussia was assured - it held 17/58 seats so that no legislation could be passed without the consent of Prussia 
  • The Prussian Chamber of Deputies were dived by what is known as a 'three class franchise.

The Three class franchise:

- Votes were categorised into three bands

- The votes of those who paid more tax counted for more than those who paid less

- the lowest group of voters made up to around 92% of the electorate. 

= unfair voting system - maintaining staus quo 

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THE CONSTITUTION : The Reichstag

  • held joint legislative powers with the Budesrat. 
  • had influence over areas such as financial affairs and the banking system 
  • most significant power = control over the defence budget and the annual budget. 
  • Even if the Reichstag was dissolved by the Kaiser they could not be dismissed indefinitely and had the right to hold elections soon after dissolution.
  • The Reichstag was elected on a system of universal male suffrage of men aged over 25.  

However the powers of the Reichstag werel limited:

  • limited powers to initiate legislation - in practise its primary function was to debate and accept / reject legislation
  • The Chancellor was not accountable to the Reichstag 
  • Military was not accountable to the Reichstag.
  • Bismarck made the positions in the Reichstags unpaid - to ensure only a certain class of person stood for election. ensuring the power of the elite. 
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THE CONSTITUTION : The Army

  • The Army lay outside the constituion (state within a state) however it was hugely important to the new state - seeing it was founded on the victories of their army. 
  • The Army was directly responsible to the Kaiser and they swore an oath to the Kaiser not the state. 
  • The Army had the right to declare matrial law.
  • the army ran itself with little or no interference from ouside sources other than the Kaiser. 
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THE CONSTITUTION : The Bureaucracy

  • The role of the bureaucracy was not definined in the constitution.
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THE CONSTITUTION : conclusion

  • the constitution created a political system that was not clear, fragmented
  • dominated by the conservative elites
  • Enshrined in the constitution was the dominance and veto of Prussia. 
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WHAT WAS THE EXTENT OF ECONOMIC GROWTH?

INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION - 

  • by 1914 Germany had become the economic powerhouse of continental Europe
  • from the 1880's Germany had a technological revolution in the industries of steel, engineering and chemicals. 
  • Germany led the way in many of these industries. 

DEMOGRAPHIC REVOLUTION - 

  • migration from rural to urban life, rapid expansion of German towns and cities.
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THE SOCIALIST MOVEMENT.

Significant impact of industrialisation was the growth of the socialist movement. 

  • 1878-90 - Anti-Socialist Laws - banned socialist meetings/groups/ activity. 
  • The socialist movement had revolutionary elements within it however, the whole socialist movement wasn't revolutionary.
  • It was the perception in Germany of the Socialist movement that was important- and what made this rise in socialism such an issue. 

by 1912 - The SPD gained a majority in the Reichstag of 110. They became the biggest party. --- but how much of a threat were the socialists? 

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THE SOCIALIST MOVEMENT

leader of the SPD during 1890's. - Was committed to a revolutionary Marxist programme, he said the party:

  • would work legally yo achieve worker owenership of the means of production
  • rejected collaboration with 'bourgeois parties'
  • believed that revolution was inevitable. 

However by 1900 many socialists agreed more with the 'revisionist' ideas of Eduard Bernstein :

  • there was not a crisis of capitalism as the father of communism, Karl Marx predicted.
  • socialists should look for gradual improvement through parliamentatry reform
  • the SPD should collabotate with other parties when appropriate

Thus - there was a division in the Socialist movement between radicals and revisionists. - However, to the elites it was their preception of the SPD as revolutionary that stuck. 

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PRESSURE GROUPS.

Another consequence of economic and social changes was the emergence of pressure groups. These groups tended to focus on single issues but they highlighted the tensions and divisions in Germany. 

1. NATIONALIST PRESSURE GROUPS.

  • pressured German colonial expansion and the assertion of Germany interests
  • German colonial league - founded 1882 - concerned with the acquisition of German colonies. - played a part in ruling parts of the Empire e.g. in 1884 - Colonial League took control of German South West Africa 
  • The Navy League - founded 1898, promoted naval expansion in a succesful campaign in and outside of the Reichstag. 
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PRESSURE GROUPS

2. ECONOMIC PRESSURE GROUPS. 

  • The central Association of German Industrialists - created 1886 - to protect industrial interests. 
  • e.g. implementation of tariffs 
  • The Agrarian League - founded in 1893 - to protect agrarian interests 
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POLITICAL DEVELOPMENTS.

MAIN AIM - of successive German Chancellors was to protect the posision of the ruling elites. However there were 3 main challenges to the political establishment. 

1. AGRESSIVE FOREIGN POLICY.

2. THE DEMAND FOR CONSTITUTIONAL REFORM.

- The Liberals wanted con. reform and more power given to the Reichstag. 

- Bismarck had used the tactic: DIVIDE AND RULE previouly - in which he used war and conquest to split the more nationalist minded liberals from those who prioritised con. reform 

3. DEMAND FOR SOCIAL REFORM. 

- socialists demanded social reform. 

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FOREIGN MINISTER AND CHANCELLOR VON BULOW.

1897 -1900 - Foreign Minister,              1900 - 1909 - Chancellor. 

SAMMLUNGSPOLITIK - (politics of concentration.) 

- It was Bulow's aim to build an alliance in the Reichstag between the conservatives and the Liberals, Junker and industrialists to provide a broad front against the threat of socialism.

- He did this via the creation of a policy of protectionism and the ralling of Germans from all sections of society through nationalist foreign and colonial policy - WELTPOLITIK (world politics)

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FLOTTENPOLITIK - building up of the navy

1898 - Von Tirpitz - passed his first Navy Law through the Reichstag arguing that a larger fleet was necessary for the protection of Germany's growing number of colonies and for Germany to be taken seriously as a 'Great Power' 

  • They aimed to build a fleet to match that of the Royal Navy. 
  • 1900 - second Navy Law:

- propsed to build 38 battleships over the next 20 years.

1906 - Britain launched the HMS Dreadnought.

- In response to this - Germany passed the third Navy Law which added 6 battle-cruisers to the programme. 

The Navy had become a focus for popular patriotism and nationalism. 

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VON BULOW - REFORMS

A series of reforms were introduced to placate both protectionist liberals and socialists. 

  • The Old Age and Invalidity Law - amended in 1899 - increased old age pensions and extended compulsory insurance to various new groups. 
  • 1900 - Accident insurance was also extended to new occupations. 
  • 1902 - New Tariff Law was introduced which restorewd a higher duty on imported agricultural products which resulted in higher food prices. 
  • 1903 - Sickness Insurance Law - amended - gave longer and more generous help to sick workers. 
  • 1908 - a law was passed that restricted the hours of factory work carried out by young people. 
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WELTPOLITIK -

  • global expansion - however, there were few opportunities for fullfulling this because after 1900 - most territory had been seized by other European powers. 
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THE HERERO UPRISING. = political crisis 1906.

  • The Herero people (indigenous people of German South West Africa) rose in revolt against their colonial repressors.
  • They were defeated in 1904 - subjected to a deliberate policy of genocide. 
  • The Herero population in 1911 = 15,000  
  •                  before the rebellion = 80,000

This affair highlighted two issues:

1. The lack of parliamentary accountability for the colonial service and the army

2. the need for greater parliamentary financial control of colonial affairs

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THE HOTTENTOT ELECTION

1906 - Centre party joined the SPD in voting down the government plan for

  • a new railway in South West Africa
  • compensation for settler losses in the region
  • the elevation of the status of the colonial department of the foreign office into an independent imperial office. 

= The Reichstag was dissolved. 

Von Bulow entered the election supported by nationalist groups and threating that the consequences of a Red-Black victory would be an alliance between the SPD and the Centre Party.

He successfully frightened German voters into backing candidates from the Bulow Bloc - gaining a convincing majority. 

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THE DAILY TELEGRAPH AFFAIR 1908

1908 - The Kaiser gave an interview to a British newspaper giving the impression that he wanted a close alliance with Britian. 

The Reichstag objected to the implication of the article that the Kaiser made foreign policy without consultation and he was critisised. 

The Kaiser blamed Von Bulow for not censoring the interview and gave a guarantee to the Reichstag that there would be more circumspect in the future. 

= Chancellor Von Bulow no longer had the confience of the Kaiser. 

he ended as chancellor in 1909.

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Comments

Rachel

really helpful thank you

sabrina

Thanks a bunch! extremely helpful for last minute revision.. specially during a panic :P

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