Lesson Fact File Snapshot:
In 1909 Hollweg was appointed as Chancellor. He was an earnest and sincere individual chosen as he was not expected to interfere with any of the Kaiser’s plans – especially Weltpolitik – Chancellors now had no real power and even the army was more important.
1. Constitutional Reforms
Constitutional reforms were proposed by Bethmann in 1910 following working class demonstrations but was defeated by the Zentrum and Conservatives due to its aim of strengthening the proletarian vote at the expense of the upper classes. Discontent was heightened following the introduction of the democratic government in Alsace Lorraine (1911) and the SPD consequently polled 30% of the popular vote in the 1912 elections although it still failed to command an overall majority. The results of the whole situation show that although the upper classes still overawed the working classes in political power, constitutional change could not be put off forever.
2. The Zabern Incident (1913)
Arose when the Reichstag vehemently demanded that certain officers should be punished for their brutal treatment of the inhabitants of Zabern, Alsace. The Kaiser was unwilling to take action and the guilty officer was actually decorated for his behaviour after being acquitted by a court martial. This incident clearly demonstrated the joint power of the army and the Kaiser over the Reichstag.
3. The Army Bill (1913)
- This Bill strengthened the position of the army further by providing an extra 4000 officers, 15,000 NCOs and 117,000 men at the cost of a billion marks.
- However, this was only due to the support of the SPD, who accepted the Bill because it was to be funded by a progressive tax on wealth.
- Also, by 1914 only 52% of senior ranking officers were aristocratic, compared to 80% in the 1880s.
- On the other hand the dismissal of Eulenburg and other ministers saw him appoint more military men in their place.
- Aimed at Students studying across AS/A2 or equivalent
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- Use as you wish in the classroom or home environment
- Lesson fact file on Bethmann Holwegg.
- Use with other German Unification resources.
- Includes challenging questions.