- Slides: 20
HI 290 - History of Germany Bismarck’s Germany
Otto von Bismarck (1815 -98) • Born in Schönhausen in Brandenburg, the son of a Pomeranian Junker. • Educated at Göttingen University. • 1836: Entered the Prussian civil service. • 1839: Retired from the civil service to manage the family estates. • 1849: Elected as an ultra-conservative member of the Prussian Landtag. • 1851: Joined the Prussian diplomatic corps, serving as Prussian representative to the Federal Diet and then ambassador to Russia and France. • 1862: Appointed Prussian Minister-President. • 1867: Became Chancellor of the North German Confederation. • 1871 -90: Chancellor of the German Empire.
• The ‘mad Junker’? • Junker – a corruption of Junger Herr (Young Sir): the title given to Prussian landowners east of the River Elbe. Closely associated with Conservative politics in the 19 th century. • The ‘White Revolutionary’? • Realpolitik – ‘a system of politics or principles based on practical rather than moral or ideological considerations. ’ (OED). • German Nationalist or Prussian Patriot? • The ‘Bismarck Myth’
The architects of German Unification – Bismarck (left) with General Albrecht von Roon (centre) and Field Marshal Helmuth von Moltke (right).
The Constitution of the German Empire The Emperor (Kaiser) • Always the King of Prussia • Could appoint/dismiss the Chancellor • Could dissolve the Reichstag • Could make treaties/declare war • Commander-in-Chief of the army • Had to approve all federal laws • Possessed the right to interpret the constitution Federal Centralised government with specific Responsibilities for the Reich as a whole (foreign policy, defence, customs etc. ) Bundesrat (upper house) • The Federal Council • Made up of 58 members nominated by states • Not directly elected • Consent required in passing new laws • 14 votes needed to veto legislation • Prussia had 17 of the 58 seats • Bavaria had 6, the other states had 1 each The Chancellor (Reichskanzler) • The ‘highest official in the Reich’ • Also Minister-President of Prussia • Responsible to the Emperor, not parliament • Chairman of the Bundesrat • Appointed government ministers • Could ignore resolutions passed by the Reichstag Reich Government State Regional government with responsibilities For individual states (education, direct Taxation, health, local justice etc. ) Reichstag (lower house) • The National parliament • Elected by all males over 25 • Limited powers to initiate new legislation • Government ministers could not be members • Members were not paid • Could approve or reject the federal budget • Elections normally held every 5 years
The Emergence of German Identity • German party politics dominated by five parties/interest groups until 1918: Conservatives, Catholic Centre, National Liberals, SDP, and Radicals (Liberals, German Progress Party). • Even after unification large numbers of Germans had difficulty in identifying with the new state • Liberals – increasingly conscious that Bismarck’s Empire was not the united Germany they had desired for so long. • Conservatives – who remained un-reconciled to the idea of a united Germany. • Workers’ movement felt that unification had done little to improve their lot and that the system had been deliberately designed to prevent them achieving their goals. • National Symbols • No national flag until 1896 • No national anthem until 1922 (!) • Disagreement over national holidays
The Niederwald ‘Germania’ Monument (1885) The Teutoburger Wald Monument (1875)
Statue of Bismarck in the Großer Stern in Berlin (1901)
Enemies Within: ‘Minorities’ • Poles • Danes • Alsatians • Other Germans (Bavarians/Hanovarians) • Jews
Enemies Within: The Kulturkampf • 1870: The doctrine of Papal Infallibility published. • 1872: Catholic schools brought under state control. The Jesuit Order banned from Germany. • 1873: The ‘May Laws’ • Only candidates for ordination who had been trained in Germany and passed a state approved examination could become priests. • All religious appointments had to be approved by the state. • 1874: Civil marriage introduced. • 1875: All religious orders except nursing orders banned. • 1878 -80: End of the Kulturkampf – Dr Falk dismissed and some of the anti-Catholic laws repealed. “Between Berlin and Rome” Kladderadatsch (1875)
Economic Development Population Growth (in millions) 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 1871 1880 1890 1900 1910
The Development of the SPD • 1869: August Bebel and Wilhelm Liebknecht form the Marxist Social Democratic Workers’ Party. • 1875: This merges with Ferdinand Lassale’s General German Workers’ Association to form the Social Democratic Party of Germany (Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands, SPD) at a ‘Unity Conference’ in Gotha. • The party’s ‘Gotha Programme’ called for • “universal, direct, equal suffrage, with secret ballot and obligatory voting for all citizens over 20 years of age” • freedom of press, association and assembly • the abolition of child & female labour • a shorter working week • free, universal primary education • While the SPD was an avowedly Marxist party, pledged to overthrow the established bourgeois order, they were committed to doing so through legal means. Founders of the SPD, August Babel (top left), Wilhelm Leibknecht (top right), Carl Wilhelm Tölcke (bottom left) and Ferdinand Lassalle (bottom right) cluster around the guiding intellectual influence, Karl Marx.
Anti-Socialist Legislation • Bismarck was fundamentally opposed to Socialism – they represented a threat to the very fabric of the society he sought to preserve. • 1876: Legislation banning the publication of Socialist propaganda defeated in the Reichstag. • 1878: Two failed assassination attempts on Wilhelm I provide an opportunity to introduce anti. Socialist legislation. • Oct 1878: The Anti-Socialist Law passed by the Reichstag. This • Banned socialist organizations (including trade unions) • Gave the police powers to break up socialist meetings • Outlawed the publication and distribution of socialist literature
State Socialism • 1883: Sickness Insurance Act • Provided medical treatment and up to 13 weeks sick pay for 3 million low-paid workers. • 1884: Accident Insurance Act • Provided protection for workers permanently disabled or sick for more than 13 weeks. • 1889: Old Age & Disability Act • Provided old age and disability pensions for people over 70 and those permanently disabled.
1888 – The Year of Three Emperors Wilhelm I (1861 -88) Friedrich III (1888) Wilhelm II (1888 -1918)
“I shall let the old man shuffle on for six months. . . then I shall rule myself. ” Wilhelm II
‘Dropping the Pilot’ “Dropping the Pilot”, Punch, 29 March 1890
Assessment Bismarck’s admirers Bismarck’s critics • He maintained peace between 1871 and 1890 • His policies helped Germany’s economic development • He pioneered state socialism • In the 1870 s he worked closely with the National Liberals and implemented many liberal policies • He was not a dictator – his powers were limited and he worked with the parties in the Reichstag • His long tenure in power points to his political skill • He was responsible for France remaining isolated and embittered • His influence has been exaggerated • “Negative integration” – using attacks on minorities to whip up patriotism • The Kulturkampf was a major miscalculation • His anti-socialist policies were unsuccessful • He was unable to delegate and jealous of perceived rivals • A flawed legacy – Bismarck’s rule led to Wilhemine & Nazi Germany