B The Reich’s Constitution
The influence of Prussia
* German Empire created in 1871..
* Empire was a federal state which consisted of the 4 kingdoms (Prussia, Bavaria, Wurtemberg and Saxony).
The Reichstag (Imperial Assembly)
* Bismarck was voted chancellor
* Had theoretical control over any changes to the military budget
* He sacrificed this weapon by agreeing in 1874 because he did not want any constitutional conflict.
* Bismarck left it and did not want anything to do with it anymore.
The Bundesrat and the Emperor
* Bundesrat had the power to initiate legislation, with the approval of the Emperor it had the authority to declare war and ...view middle of the document...
The ‘Great Depression’ and its political impact
* The economic history of the Reich opened with a short period of financial emotions, fuelled by over-generous credit policies on the part of German bankers, and by the large amounts of capital pumped into the economy by French war reparations.
* This set off a wave that struck a blow to business confidence which still can be felt 20 years later.
* The production levels of 1872-73 had been reached again by 1800, especially in Berlin and in the Ruhr; the development of cartels allowed major industrial enterprises to maintain their stability.
* The main political impact was to mobilise and to polarise conservatives economic thinking, and to create an extremely powerful lobby in favour of economic protection.
* Due to the impact of the depression it undermined the political basis that Bismarck had founded his power in the early 1870s and forced him to adapt to the circumstances within Germany.
D The Reich’s consolidation
Bismarck and the National Liberals
* Bismarck was in no stretch a liberal, he found it convenient to during this period (1871-78) to cooperate in the Reichstag with the National Liberal party.
* The reasons were that they were a dominant party in an assembly where the Chancellor had no party of his own.
* Their immediate aims agreed with Bismarck’s in areas like consolidation of that the national unity and the centralisation of the administration of the Reich.
* Conservative Critics thought the alliance with the National Liberals was carrying Bismarck too far to the left.
* The economic and administrative legislation of his ‘liberal era’ was of the greatest importance in forming the German state, and shows that the complex relationship between Bismarck and the German liberals.
Administrative and financial consolidation
* The state created by Bismarck lacked religious unity and unity of economic interests and had national minorities with little or no desire to be part of the German Empire.
* The first session of the Reichstag saw the movement over a 100 acts to this end.
* Currincies of the states were unified into a national currency
* Tariffs were put to an end, and a uniform body of commercial law was introduced.
* Prussian state Bank became the Reichsbank, and Germany adopted the gold standard.
* National Court was established by 1879.
The problem of the national minorities
* In Alsace-Lorraine the decision to allow French or pro-French elements to leave the territories resulted in migration of 400,000 people between 1871 and 1914.
* German language was imposed in schools and in local administration.
* The use of the Polish language was outlawed in education and in the law courts.
* State funds were used to finance the purchase of lands in Polish hands for the purpose of settlement by Germans/Poles were more successful raising funds in the reverse purpose.
E The Kulturkampf: motives