Second Reich 1900 - 1914

How the Second Reich was run, key events and people. 

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The Constitution

  • Declared in 1971
  • Designed to keep Prussia and the elites in power 
  • Power is spilt between the Kaiser, Chancellor, Reichstag, Bundesrat and states
  • No one body holds absolute power
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  • 25 states
  • Prussia dominates
  • Emperor is the king of Prussia
  • States govern their own area
  • States are in charge of education, health, police and justice.
  • Only states can raise direct taxes
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Kaiser (Wilhelm II)

  • Wants power for himself, he removed Bismarck so he can make his own decisions
  • He is however reliance on others, such as Eulenburg
  • Incredible lazy
  • Commands the army
  • Appoints/removes Chancellors
  • In charge of foreign policy
  • Belief in devine rights of a king
  • To gain power you must please the Kaiser
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  • Only obeys the Kaiser, the chancellor has no power without the support of the kaiser. 
  • Minister President of Prussia too
  • Responsible for the governing of the country
  • Can ignore the Reichstag
  • Bulow - 1900 - 1909
  • Bethmann-Hollweg 1909 - 1917
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  • Upper house of federal goverment
  • 58 members elected by state assemblies
  • Can change the constitution (in theory)
  • Ratified constitution
  • Created by Bismarck to block radical policies
  • Prussia gets 17 seats
  • 3 tier electory system allows conservatives to dominate
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  • Controls defence budget - vote every 5 years
  • Controls annual budgets - federal govt has some of independence due to it's protectionist policies
  • Can be dismissed by the Kaiser, but if it is it must be re-elected
  • Elected by men over 25
  • Usually only accepts or rejects legislation
  • Members of the Reichstag can't be part of the govt
  • Military not accountable to the Reichstag, (e.g. Zabern affair)
  • Members not paid
  • Historians know it as a representative body with no power
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  • Outside of the constitution
  • Respected
  • Controlled by the Kaiser - Oath to Kaiser, not the state
  • War minister is only accountable to the Kaiser
  • Can declare martial law
  • Elities held key postitions
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Political parties

Conservative - Mostly junkers, support the kaiser and want nationalist foreign policies

Free conservatives - Business interests and strongly support Bismarck and protectionism

National Liberals - Mostly protestant middle class, nationalists, anti-catholic and allied to conservatives

Liberal Progressives - Middle class who desire more parliamentary government

Centre party - Mainly catholic, feared socialism, attacks on catholics and anti Prussia

SPD - Working class, Marxists (desire revolution and reformists)

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New political ideas


Encouraged by industrialization, the had the Marxist manifesto but steadily moved to reformist agenda.


The conservatives back the current regime. But as the 1880s becomes harsher there is a desire to expand and develop a empire. Kaiser amongst others consider Lebensraum (living space).

Anti semitism

There is a growing anti semitic agenda in political parties. Jews become the scape goat for the problems of industrialization.

Social Darwinism

Growing belief in this view (of a master race).

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German society


Mainly from Prussia, land nobility, have influence in the army and as agriculture declines they being to fear that the're losing their status


Growing wealth as industrialization continues, as they grow richer they begin to copy the life style of Junkers. Many support the national Liberal Party, but start to turn towards toe conservatives.

Middle class

As education increased so do professionals.  

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German society cont.


Lower middle class, skill workers. As they lose more and more to big business they turn to Hilter later. 

Working Class

Farmers struggle as many of them are not profitable and their land is split up and shared out to their children. Many move to the cities in hope of finding work. But this causes overcrowding and unemployment in cities. They turn to Socialism in hope of improvements. 

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Chee Wai Chan

This set is not finished


Good, but it wasn't declared in 1971!

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