Published on February 26, 2009
Seminar 12 : Seminar 12 BY: Abi Hinojo QUESTION : QUESTION Assess the extent to which the unification of Germany under Bismarck led to authoritarian government there between 1871 and 1914. Thesis : Thesis With Bismarck’s obsession with power, manipulative and strategic skills he led to create an authoritarian government in Germany. The Kleindeutsch plan had prevailed. The Austro-Prussian war had successfully been a victory for the Prussians, due to Bismarck’s diplomatic preparations, good military and technology. The North German Confederation was established by Bismarck with King William I as president. The federal constitution permitted each state to maintain its own local government. The parliament had two houses that shared power “equally”. For Bismarck, the government structure, gave the ability to outwit the middle class by appealing to the working class. In the Franco-Prussian War, which was provoked, Bismarck brought the four southern German states into the North German Confederation. Bismarck saw the Catholic Center Party and the S.P.D. as threats to imperial power thus he wanted to destroy them. In order to achieve this he manipulated his actions by reforming trying to win more support from people and using the Kulturkampf. When the German Empire was proclaimed it was the most powerful nation in Europe, with William I Emperor of Germany, Bismarck Imperial Chancellor and the parliament had little power due to Germany becoming a conservative autocracy with the nobility allied with the monarch. German Unification : German Unification Grossdeutsch Plan failed unifying Germany with Prussia and Austria Kleindeutsch Plan succeeded unified Germany without Austria Otto Von Bismarck : Otto Von Bismarck unifies Germany almost all by himself Junker, chancellor, mastermind behind the government, realpolitik Gained the favor of the king through the Gap theory thus gaining more power Since the constitution, he ignored the liberals in the legislature and did his own thing. Govt. collects taxes w/ out consent of the parliament. Austro-Prussian War (1866) : Austro-Prussian War (1866) 7 weeks, German Civil War Caused by conflicts over authority of Schleswig and Holstein Bismarck sought a localized war Prussia triumph unified most of Germany w/out Austria Franco-Prussian War (1870-71) : Franco-Prussian War (1870-71) Bismarck uses strategic skills to provoke war w/ France to complete unifying Germany Used war w/ France to unify the 4 southern German states into the German Confederation Treaty of Frankfurt: (May, 1871) Alsace and Lorraine ceded to Germany Government STRUCTURE : Government STRUCTURE Parliament: Reichstag bicameral legislature that shared power “equally” upper house: bundesrat was conservative that had representatives from each German state. lower house: Bundestag represented the nation elected by universal male suffrage. North German confederation : North German confederation North German Confederation established by Bismarck with King William as President (1867) federal constitution tolerated each state to have it own local government By giving universal make suffrage it attracts liberals to be on Bismarck’s side. (Manipulative) German Empire : German Empire proclaimed on Jan. 18, 1871 conservative autocracy w/ nobility allied w/ monarch Germany=most powerful nation in Europe William I ? Emperor Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany had ultimate power Bismarck ?Imperial Chancellor (mastermind behind govt.) federal union of Prussia & 24 smaller German states Reichstag had little power German Political System : German Political System Conservatives represented Junkers Center Party (Catholic Party) supported Bismarck’s policy of centralization & endorsed the political concept of Particularism which advocated regional priorities Democratic Socialist party : Democratic Socialist party German Middle class excluded middle class gave tacit support to imperial authority and noble influence Bismarck viewed the Catholic Party and S.P.D. as threats to imperial power so he sought to demolish them Bismarck’s authoritarian rule : Bismarck’s authoritarian rule (1871-1890) Bismarck established an integrated political and economic structure for Germany, dominating European diplomacy Unified Monetary system Established Imperial Bank and strengthened other banks Universal German Civil & criminal Codes Obligatory military service Reformed in order to gain support from people and have control over government Kulturkampf : Kulturkampf Struggle for civilization (authoritarian) Bismarck wanted to minimize influence of Catholic Party due to Pope Pius IX’s papal infallibility Bismarck doesn’t trust the Catholics and goes after them Exiles many Catholics but the Catholic Center Party was too strong to be oppressed Suppressing the Catholic Center Party failed, Bismarck later realized he needed them Social Democratic Party : Social Democratic Party Marxist Views supported sweeping social legislation wanted universal male suffrage & genuine democracy wanted demilitarization of the govt. driven underground and yet Bismarck failed to limit its growth reforms : reforms Bismarck began reforming in order to decrease the threat from the socialist protective tariff: maintained a domestic production Modern social security laws National Sickness & accident insurance laws old-age pensions and retirement benefits controlled child labor working conditions improved Bismarck does all this in order to stay in power and not provoke a revolution Slide 17: With all these reforms workers still didn’t leave the S.P.D. Bismarck didn’t allow their publications and continued to persecute them with the support gained from the workers, Bismarck bypassed the middle class William II : William II against Bismarck’s move to renew efforts to outlaw the S.P.D. forced Bismarck to quit on order to gain support of workers S.P.D. became the largest party in Reichstag Conclusion : Conclusion Since the tactical unification of Germany, Otto Von Bismarck took the advantage to establish a manipulative authoritarian conservative government. He was always thinking ahead as he did with the unification of Germany, and saw how certain things affected his power. In order to maintain his power he used his strategic skills to reform the conditions of the working class. In return, he expected the support of the people and sought to eliminate threats to his imperial power. His biggest concern came to be the Catholic Center Party as well as the S.P.D. He used authoritarian actions such as the kulturkampf and exiles of Catholics to demolish such parties. Any reform that he established was for the own benefit of him and the power of Germany. All these actions came to form an intense authoritarian government. It eventually became too authoritarian that it later caused other conflicts between nations.