The political establishment in Germany succeeded in maintaining the political status quo through a policy of moderate reform. How far do you agree with this statement?
The political establishment during the Second Reich in Germany were successful in maintaining the political status quo between the years 1871 and 1918. It can be argued however, that they were successful in doing so through more than just a policy of moderate reform. During these years, Germany abided by a rigid constitution which allowed power to ultimately be firmly held in the hands of the Kaiser. A great sense of nationalism and patriotism also existed in Germany and the vast majority of the German population heavily valued the Kaiser. Furthermore, the constitution favoured the traditional elites and they pushed for a nationalist foreign policy in order to unite against any threats to the status quo. This essay will look at the aforementioned aspects of the Second Reich, in order to dispute the statement that the political establishment in Germany succeeded in maintaining the political status quo through a policy of moderate reform.
Firstly, it is fair to say that moderate reform did exist in Germany during this period; however it arguably played a more minor rule in maintaining the status quo. It must be noted that moderate reform did appease the demands of the socialists for social reform and the demands of the liberals for constitutional reform. Laws such as to extend accident insurance, to give longer and more generous hours to workers in poor health, and to reduce the amount of factory work demonstrate how social reform was granted to the socialists through this period. Caprivi (chancellor of Germany between 1890 and 1894) embarked on a ‘new course’ with a more consultative approach to government and a conciliatory attitude to previous hostile forces. Anti-Socialist laws were lapsed. Social measures were introduced; for example, Sunday work was prohibited. However, Caprivi’s ‘new...
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