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    Posted: 05-Dec-2005 at 20:26
  How was everyday life in Imperial Germany(1871-1918)?  What sort of rights did they have?  I hear it wasn't much of a democracy.  Did Germans like the Empire?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote yan. Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06-Dec-2005 at 07:04

I think Kaiser Wilhelm II was very popular.

I don't think the degree of political oppression was very high. There was the ban of the SPD from 1878 to 1890, but most people were apolitical anyway.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pikeshot1600 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06-Dec-2005 at 09:31

An awful lot of people seem to think that the German Empire of 1871-1918 was some sort of despotism.  The constitution of the Empire is an interesting document to read if you take the time.

Germany at this time was a federation of monarchies and principalities, many of which, much to the annoyance of the dynasts, were heavily influenced by the French Revolution.  No, they were not democracies...they were monarchies (a number of constitutional monarchies) with a number of representative assemblies, including the Reichstag.  There was a great effort to preserve the particularism of some of the constituent parts (Bavaria, Saxony, Hesse, etc.) with their historic privileges, important not only to the dynasties, but to their bourgeoisie. 

The law was respected, and rights extended by the effects of the French Revolution (those granted to Jews and the right of suffrage) were widened.  Did the Imperial government play games with all this as interests dictated?  Of course they did, especially under Bismarck...his head was still back in 1848 and overly concerned with "revolution." 

But, frankly, that is what governments do, which is why any representative assemblies must remain engaged.  By 1900, democratic building blocks were there.  They were temporarily crushed by the meat grinder of the twentieth century.

Overall, I don't think the lives of Germans were worse than those of other European countries (not Russia), and better than some. 



Edited by pikeshot1600
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Kynsi Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06-Dec-2005 at 13:35
Well those times kings were kings.
It was common that the aristocrasy made the decisions, often eaven with out the common people knowing about it.

If I recall before the French - Prussian war Southern Germany secretly formed an alliance with Prussian, with out anyone but the highest aristocrasy knowing about, that the southern states would come to help Prussia if war was decleared and that was one of the factors wich led to the swifty defeat of France.

But otherwise wasnt it exactly in the Imperial times that Germany rose to compete the Idustrial might of England. That I think tells that things were pretty good in Germany.


Quote There was the ban of the SPD from 1878 to 1890, but most people were apolitical anyway.


Somewhere I recall Just because of Bismarck feard the radical SDP that he made the socialwelfare and working class' conditons one of the best in the world during that time...   
Though I might be wrong on this one...
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06-Dec-2005 at 15:02
Originally posted by pikeshot1600 pikeshot1600 wrote:

The constitution of the Empire is an interesting document to read if you take the time.

The constitution of Iraq under Saddam is an interesting document to read if you take the time. Constitutions are not always worth the paper they are written on (or not written on as the case may be).

http://www.cleverley.org/areopagus/docs/misc/iraq.html

Nonetheless I agree with you about Germany at the time. 

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Temujin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06-Dec-2005 at 15:27
there were two passports, one for German citizenship and another one from the statelet you were from, like Württemberg for example.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Genghis Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06-Dec-2005 at 15:55
Do you remember anything your relatives have said about life in the Kaiserreich Temujin?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Temujin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06-Dec-2005 at 16:01
mmmh not really, my grandmother just told me once how she liked the stories of her father and uncle from WW1, how romantic and chivalrious it was....
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Genghis Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06-Dec-2005 at 17:20
I agree,
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Komnenos Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-Dec-2005 at 15:33
I agree with most that has been said. The second German Empire wasn't all that different from comparable nations at the time. Even if Germany's development to an industrialised, imperialist nation had come somewhat belated, it was beset with the same dilemmas: the effects of rapid urbanisation and industrialisation with all the accompanying social problems amongst the working classes; an emerging working class movement that the German government sought at different times either to appease or to crush; an authoritarian, patriarchal society with a restrictive moral code; Germany’s late colonialism with all the usual brutal colonial wars; a country plagued by rampant nationalism that grew as the inevitable conflict approached, made worse by the traditional Prussian militarism: and so on.
Really just the usual story of everyday life in late 19th century Europe, the bad press that the Wilhelminian Empire had abroad is possibly chiefly the result of the aftermath of WW1, when Germany and its emperor were blamed for its outbreak.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pikeshot1600 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-Dec-2005 at 17:29

Originally posted by Komnenos Komnenos wrote:

I agree with most that has been said. The second German Empire wasn't all that different from comparable nations at the time. Even if Germany's development to an industrialised, imperialist nation had come somewhat belated, it was beset with the same dilemmas: the effects of rapid urbanisation and industrialisation with all the accompanying social problems amongst the working classes; an emerging working class movement that the German government sought at different times either to appease or to crush; an authoritarian, patriarchal society with a restrictive moral code; Germany’s late colonialism with all the usual brutal colonial wars; a country plagued by rampant nationalism that grew as the inevitable conflict approached, made worse by the traditional Prussian militarism: and so on.
Really just the usual story of everyday life in late 19th century Europe, the bad press that the Wilhelminian Empire had abroad is possibly chiefly the result of the aftermath of WW1, when Germany and its emperor were blamed for its outbreak.

Komnenos:

In regard to Prussian militarism, I don't question it's effect.  But I think your point about the bad press during and after WWI was what magnified it's perceived evils.  Based on what I have read, France and Russia were not much different as respects their armies OR their attitudes toward them.

Russia had been almost a garrison state since Peter the Great, and had maintained comparatively huge armies long before a united Germany.  France....she followed Napoleon and died for him for a couple of decades.  Most accounts I have read have reflected that the army in France may have been more accepted and popular than in Germany.

We have not touched on the army specifically in this thread on Wilhelmine Germany, but it is crucial.  What real effect did the army, the "school for the nation," have BEFORE 1914? 

 

   



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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Komnenos Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08-Dec-2005 at 14:07
Originally posted by pikeshot1600 pikeshot1600 wrote:

We have not touched on the army specifically in this thread on Wilhelmine Germany, but it is crucial.  What real effect did the army, the "school for the nation," have BEFORE 1914? 




I think the main problem with the Germany during the time of the second Empire, and indeed later, was that the authoritarian structures of the Prussian military state might have more disseminated into other aspects of society, into civil administration or the private industry, than in other comparable nations. The notion of being a "Untertan" (subject) of an Empire and its agencies was probably more engrained into the ordinary German. Germany had of course never experienced a revolution whose impetus had come from the inside, unlike the French in 1789 or the British even earlier, and the pathetic effort of 1848 was really nothing more than a sunday school picnic compared to the French Revolution, for example.
So, the term "school for the nation" is probably well chosen, and explaines the relationship of the ordinary god-fearing German to his political leadership, that worked on similar lines than the command structures of the Prussian army, a seldom questioned obedience.
How deeply rooted this belief in the infallibility of the "Obrigkeit", of the Imperial authorities was, proved the outbreak of WW1, when the strongest opposition in Germany, the SPD, went over to the patriotic, war-mongering cause, with flying colours. With a few notable exception, of course.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Temujin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08-Dec-2005 at 14:40
Originally posted by pikeshot1600 pikeshot1600 wrote:

We have not touched on the army specifically in this thread on Wilhelmine Germany, but it is crucial.  What real effect did the army, the "school for the nation," have BEFORE 1914? 

have you ever heard of the novel called "Der Hauptmann von Köpenick"? you should really read that, it perfectly answers your question...

edit: i have to mention, it is based on an actual event...



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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08-Dec-2005 at 15:20
Originally posted by Temujin Temujin wrote:

Originally posted by pikeshot1600 pikeshot1600 wrote:

We have not touched on the army specifically in this thread on Wilhelmine Germany, but it is crucial.  What real effect did the army, the "school for the nation," have BEFORE 1914? 

have you ever heard of the novel called "Der Hauptmann von Köpenick"? you should really read that, it perfectly answers your question...

edit: i have to mention, it is based on an actual event...

Hey! He's buried here in Luxembourg where he died.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pikeshot1600 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09-Dec-2005 at 09:54
Originally posted by Komnenos Komnenos wrote:

Originally posted by pikeshot1600 pikeshot1600 wrote:

We have not touched on the army specifically in this thread on Wilhelmine Germany, but it is crucial.  What real effect did the army, the "school for the nation," have BEFORE 1914? 




I think the main problem with the Germany during the time of the second Empire, and indeed later, was that the authoritarian structures of the Prussian military state might have more disseminated into other aspects of society, into civil administration or the private industry, than in other comparable nations. The notion of being a "Untertan" (subject) of an Empire and its agencies was probably more engrained into the ordinary German. Germany had of course never experienced a revolution whose impetus had come from the inside, unlike the French in 1789 or the British even earlier, and the pathetic effort of 1848 was really nothing more than a sunday school picnic compared to the French Revolution, for example.
So, the term "school for the nation" is probably well chosen, and explaines the relationship of the ordinary god-fearing German to his political leadership, that worked on similar lines than the command structures of the Prussian army, a seldom questioned obedience.
How deeply rooted this belief in the infallibility of the "Obrigkeit", of the Imperial authorities was, proved the outbreak of WW1, when the strongest opposition in Germany, the SPD, went over to the patriotic, war-mongering cause, with flying colours. With a few notable exception, of course.

Well said.  The "Prussianization" of the more liberal western German areas was probably influenced by Prussia's annexation of Hanover after 1866 (Although they were well entrenched on the lower Rhine anyway).  We all realize how influential and persuasive military success can be on other attitudes.

I have read a few things about the manner in which German business executives comported themselves during the Second Reich.  Their manner tended to immitate the imperious nature of the Kaiser, and the large scale of military service in a "Prussianized" German army surely had it's effect both on command and on obedience.  Good post.

 



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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09-Dec-2005 at 11:44

Some years ago - middle '50s - I wrote a magazine series on the history of Krupps. A vouched for anecdote that I remember particularly including was that Krupp executives at that time still clicked heels when talking to a superior.

 

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pikeshot1600 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09-Dec-2005 at 15:13
Originally posted by gcle2003 gcle2003 wrote:

Some years ago - middle '50s - I wrote a magazine series on the history of Krupps. A vouched for anecdote that I remember particularly including was that Krupp executives at that time still clicked heels when talking to a superior.

 

Now that they manufacture coffee makers rather than field guns maybe they can lighten up. 

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09-Dec-2005 at 16:08

Maybe now. Back when Harald Krupp was finally released by the Russians from POW camp, and returned to Essen, he was introduced to their 'Wunderkind' new chief executive, Bethold Beitz. Beitz was pro-American and given to doing things like wearing no tie (off duty) and wearing an apron to barbecue hamburgers in his garden.

After they met, Harald expressed his disbelief to the family: "Aber', he said dismissively, "er ist nicht ernst." - "But he is not serious."

Beitz, by the way, was later honoured for helping Jews during the Holocaust, a little like Schindler. The story of that is told at http://www1.yadvashem.org/righteous/bycountry/germany/beitz_ berthold.html

But we're a little off topic. Still I'll point out that William Manchester wrote a good history of Krupps, The Arms of Krupp, in the 60s. The relevant chapters give a good picture of life in Wilhelmine Germany - including the attitude to homosexuals. since one of the Krupp family was a well-known one, and forced to live in exile.

 

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Genghis Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09-Dec-2005 at 21:54
Originally posted by pikeshot1600 pikeshot1600 wrote:

Originally posted by gcle2003 gcle2003 wrote:

Some years ago - middle '50s - I wrote a magazine series on the history of Krupps. A vouched for anecdote that I remember particularly including was that Krupp executives at that time still clicked heels when talking to a superior.

 

Now that they manufacture coffee makers rather than field guns maybe they can lighten up. 

No they can't! They're still German!

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Komnenos Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10-Dec-2005 at 08:53
Originally posted by Genghis Genghis wrote:


No they can't! They're still German!



I am allowed to make nasty remarks about the Germans, but you are not, even if they're true.
With me, it's just self-analysis, the result of many an hour spent on the psychiatrist's couch, with you, it's just an unfunny national stereotype.

Edited by Komnenos
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