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THE CHANCELLORS OF WILHELM II Leo von Caprivi (1890-1894) The “Navy’s General,” full of good intentions, driven from office by the protectionists Prince.

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Presentation on theme: "THE CHANCELLORS OF WILHELM II Leo von Caprivi (1890-1894) The “Navy’s General,” full of good intentions, driven from office by the protectionists Prince."— Presentation transcript:

1 THE CHANCELLORS OF WILHELM II Leo von Caprivi ( ) The “Navy’s General,” full of good intentions, driven from office by the protectionists Prince Chlodwig zu Hohenlohe- Schillingfürst ( ) Liberal Catholic nationalist & former Bavarian prime minister; tried & failed to revive the Anti- Socialist Law in 1895 & 1899 Bernhard von Bülow ( ) Professional diplomat, shameless flatterer, advocate of Weltpolitik Theobald von Bethmann Hollweg ( ) Conscientious civil servant, worked with the SPD in 1913 to pass a major tax bill

2 “Chancellors Come in Three Sizes,” Lustige Blätter, January 1895: Was it really the Reichstag leaders or the Kaiser who grew as the chancellor shrank?

3 The Kaiser attends army maneuvers (an annual ritual)

4 A Social Democratic New Year’s Greeting (January 1, 1900): Tirpitz and Queen Victoria are chased away by the new century

5 Bernhard von Bülow (b. 1849, Reich Chancellor ) He wrote a courtier in 1895: "I place my faith increasingly in the Kaiser. He is so impressive! He is, along with Frederick the Great, the most impressive Hohenzollern who has ever lived. In a manner which I have never seen before, he combines the most genuine and original genius with the clearest good sense. He possesses the kind of imagination that lifts me on eagle's wings above all triviality and, at the same time, the shrewdest appreciation of the possible and the attainable. And with it, what energy! What reflectiveness! What swiftness and sureness of conception!"

6 Grand Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz, Navy Chief, Count Albert von Schlieffen, Army Chief of Staff,

7 Poster to advertise “Navy War Games” in Berlin, 1910

8 Wilhelm II befriended the Jewish businessman Albert Ballin, head of the Hamburg-America Steamship Line (which launched the Imperator in 1913).

9 The former historian Carl Peters published wildly popular accounts of exploration in East Africa and blackmailed Bismarck into recognizing his treaties with local chiefs.

10 The Kaiser’s “Place in the Sun” Speech to the North German Regatta Association, Hamburg, 1901 “In spite of the fact that we have no such fleet as we should have, we have conquered for ourselves a place in the sun. It will now be my task to see to it that this place in the sun shall remain our undisputed possession, in order that the sun's rays may fall fruitfully upon our activity and trade in foreign parts, that our industry and agriculture may develop within the state and our sailing sports upon the water, for our future lies upon the water. The more Germans go out upon the waters, whether it be in races or regattas, whether it be in journeys across the ocean, or in the service of the battle flag, so much the better it will be for us. “For when the German has once learned to direct his glance upon what is distant and great, the pettiness which surrounds him in daily life on all sides will disappear…. As head of the Empire I therefore rejoice over every citizen… who goes forth with this large outlook and seeks new points where we can drive in the nail on which to hang our armor.”

11 FEW HEEDED THE KAISER’S APPEAL: Only about 20,000 Germans lived in all the German colonies by 1913, over 3,000 of them soldiers and officials. German officer training “Askaris” in East Africa, 1901 Buffet car on the Usambara Railway, East Africa, 1907 (Note that over one million Germans emigrated to America from 1885 to 1905.)

12 “The German Nationalist Union of Shop Clerks: United & Strong, German to the Core” (1899): “False consciousness” among white- collar workers?

13 Weltpolitik and Public Opinion: Imperialist Pressure Groups (see Blackbourn, pp ) The Pan-German League: 20,000 members The German League for the Eastern Marches (Hakatisten): 220,000 members The Colonial Society: 40,000 members The Navy League: over 1,000,000 members Their influence peaked under the “Bülow Bloc” of , when the Conservatives and Liberals all backed the government in the Reichstag

14 The War of Extermination against the Herero and Nama peoples: German Southwest Africa, 1904/05

15 Right: General Lothar von Trotha, who took command in German Southwest Africa in 1904 Below: Governor Theodor von Leutwein with Herero leaders in 1895

16 Albert von Schlieffen, Chief of the General Staff, inspects troops departing for the Herero War, May 1, He insisted that the Army take control of the situation….

17 General Lothar von Trotha’s “Extermination Decree” of October 2, 1904 (cancelled by order of the General Staff on December 8) “I, the great general of the German soldiers, send this letter to the Herero people. Herero are no longer German subjects. They have murdered, stolen, cut off the ears and noses and other body parts from wounded soldiers, and now out of cowardice refuse to fight…. The Herero people must leave this land. If they do not, I will force them to do so by using the great gun [artillery]. Within the German border every male Herero, armed or unarmed, with or without cattle, will be shot to death. I will no longer receive women or children but will drive them back to their people or have them shot at. These are my words to the Herero people.”

18 Herero survivors in British Bechuanaland (now Botswana) in Well over 50% of the Herero and Nama peoples died from 1904 to 1907 in the desert or in concentration camps

19 “The balance of trade with the German colonies,” Simplicissimus, October 1906: Both the SPD & Center denounced human rights abuses in Southwest Africa

20 Reichstag Election Results (% of votes/% of seats) YEARSPD Left Lib. Nat. Lib. Center Free Con. Ger. Con /1410/1013/1219/265/611/ /208/814/1320/254/510/ **29/1110/1115/1419/274/69/ /2812/1114/1116/233/ 49/11 ** The “Hottentot Election”

21 THE PRICE OF IMPERIALISM The Bülow Bloc soon began to unravel when the government announced that it needed another 500,000,000 Marks per year in revenue to pay for the naval arms race. Conservatives flatly refused to accept any new tax burden on landowners, demanding instead a new tax on stock exchange transactions and tariffs and sales taxes that burdened commerce. In 1909 they found a Reichstag majority for this program with the Center Party (the “Black and Blue Bloc”). A powerful new business lobby emerged in 1909, the Hansa-Bund, to demand tax justice and an end to Junker hegemony in German politics. Its leaders argued that the policies of the SPD were in many ways more rational than those of the Conservatives.

22 Friedrich Naumann ( ) united all Left Liberals in the Progressive People’s Party in Many of his arguments resembled those of Eduard Bernstein.

23 The new Chancellor Theobold von Bethmann Hollweg and his predecessor Bülow in This expert on social policy promoted détente both with Great Britain and the SPD.


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