Subject: Lecture 1 on Germany, etc.
I. The emergence of Brandenburg--Prussia (15th to 18th centuries)
A. It is important to keep in mind that barely two generations before the rise to power of Adolph Hitler (in the 1930's), the modern German state did NOT exist.
B. We can draw a sharp contrast between the process of national unification in Germany in comparison with France or Britain.
1. First Reich (Kingdom) emerged in 15th century, in 1415 the House of Hohenzollern moves to Brandenburg (area around Berlin)
2. Hohenzollerns will become a major player in the Holy Roman Empire, which is neither Holy, nor
Roman, nor an Empire.
3. the HRE is a political entity with some political authority over the largely German-speaking states (principalities) of Northern Europe.
4. Brandenburg-Prussia is overshadowed by Saxony in the north and Bavaria in the south.
5. The Hapsburgs in Austria are a far more powerful player in Germanic Europe (at this stage) than
are the Prussians.
6. Prussia spread its influence into East Central Europe (East Prussia) in the 13th century, thanks to the
Teutonic knights, who converted the region to Catholicism.
7. East Prussia and its landed nobility (the Junkers) will become the power base for the Hohenzollern monarchs.
8. Poles are gradually squeezed out of the picture in the 16th century, setting the stage for a protracted
struggle between Prussia and Poland.
9. In 1618, Brandenburg and Prussia are formally united, the same year as the beginning of the Thirty Years War.
a. Starts as a conflict between the Protestant, Frederick V (Elector of Palatine) and the
Catholic, Ferdinand II (Hapsburg ruler and German Emperor).
b. Prussia will emerge from the Thirty Years War as one of the Great Powers of modern Europe.
c. Frederick William of Prussia (The Great Elector) comes to the throne in 1640, determined to
rid Prussia of outside powers (Austrians and Swedes) and to build a modern state on the French model.
d. During the Baltic wars (1656-60), The Great Elector, with the help of the Junkers, expels the Swedes and the Poles from East Prussia and restores the feudal order there. Servile status of peasants, protection of noble lands, etc.
10. When Frederick the Great comes to power in 1740, as the second King of Prussia, Prussia is a legitimate
power, with a strong military state (feudal ethic of order and obedience, etc.).
C. The reason all of this is so important is to understand the difficult process of German unification, which would set
Germany on an authoritarian path of political development.
1. Decay of Imperial Power--breakup of the HRE
2. Reenserfment of peasants in East Prussia, compared with emergence of a freeholding peasantry in Western
Germany, France, and the Low Countries.
3. This leads to a strong burgher or bourgeois class in the West, but NOT in the East.
4. Also note that "Germany" suffered from political fragmentation, The Reformation, Jacqueries, and the
lack of a central political authority—until Frederick the Great.
5. FTG ends the domination of Prussia by foreign powers.
D. What are the political consequences of the Rise of Prussia??
1. FTG brings fedual values of discipline, obedience to authority to the new German union/state.
2. The rise of a new Baltic grain trade reinforces traditional Prussian society, enriches the Junkers,
and helps to fund FTG's wars, such as the the seizure of Silesia from Maria Teresa of Austria in 1740.
3. What happened to the liberals and the German middle classes?
a. They remained weak and divided until Prussia's
defeat by Napoleon at Jena in 1806.
b. The Napoleonic Wars ushered in a new era of
reforms in Prussia.
II. The German Federation (1815-66)
A. During the Napoleonic period, Prussia incorporates much of the French system of public administration, and the grip of feudalism, especially the Junkers, begins to weaken.
1. But, even though the Junkers are turned into a commercial agricultural class, they retain their grip on
2. With the settlement at the Congress of Vienna (1815), Prussia gains control over the Rhineland and
Westphalia (industrial heartland of modern Germany, including the Ruhr valley).
B. In 1819, the German states (under Prussian leadership) adopt the Zollverein (customs union).
1. But Germany remains politically divided, with Prussia as the dominant state.
2. Failure to develop a modern society, like England. Traditional classes of landlords (Junkers) and
peasants remained dominant.
C. The Revolutions of 1848.
1. Liberals and nationalists gathered in Frankfurt and attempted to create a single German nation-state.
2. They were faced with two options
a. kleindeutsch (or little German) solution, with a unity of the northern German states under
the Prussian monarch
b. grossdeutsch (or big German) solution, which would unite Protestant Prussia and the
Catholic Austria of the Hapsburgs.
3. Neither option succeeded and the Revolution failed.
4. Among the counterrevolutionaries is a young Prussian aristocrat (Junker) named Otto von Bismarck.
D. 1860's are period of war and turmoil in the German Federation.
1. In 1863-65, Prussia defeats Denmark and seizes control of Schleswig-Holstein
2. Bismarck, now the Prussian Chancellor or First Minister, vows to achieve by "blood and iron" what the liberals failed to do by parliamentary means at Frankfurt
3. In 1866, Bismarck leads Prussia in a successful military campaign against Austria
4. During this campaign, Bismarck splits his liberal opponents, gains widespread support for his policies,
and establishes Prussia as the dominant German state
5. 1867 marks the establishment of a new North German Federation, with Bismarck as the leader.
III. Founding of the Second German Reich (1871) and the Marriage of Iron and Rye.
A. Franco-Prussian War (1871)
1. Prussia defeat the Second French Empire
2. Seizes the eastern French provinces of Alsace-Lorraine
3. This leads directly the founding of the Second Reich, under the kleindeutsch option, excluding Austria
4. Wilhelm I, King of Prussia, becomes the new Kaiser (Emperor)
B. The Reichstag in Berlin is elected on the basis of universal, manhood suffrage, representing all of
the new Germany
1. BUT, the real power lies with the Prussian Landtag, which has a complicated three-tier voting system,
that overrepresents the old Junker class
2. The Reichskanzler, also Minister-President of Prussia (Bismarck) holds all the cards!
C. Kulturkampf (Cultural Struggle)
1. Bismarck launches a campaign to exclude Catholics of southern Germany (Bavaria) from power, because
they are opposed to centralizing power in Berlin
2. Members of the Catholic Center Party are branded as Reichsfeinde (enemies of the Reich).
3. The anti-Catholic campaign continues until the 1880s
D. Second Founding the Second Reich in 1878-79
1. In 1878, Bismarck pushes through the anti-Socialist Law, banning the large and popular Social Democratic
Party (SPD) from particiapting in politics.
2. Socialists become the number one enemy of the Reich
3. The anti-socialist campaign leads to a rapprochement between Prussian Lutherans and Bavarian Catholics
4. Bismarck also engineers a new coalition between the National Liberals, who represent the industrial
west (iron), and Conservatives and Catholics in the East and South, who represent the more agrarian
traditional side of Germany (rye).
5. This is the so-called Marriage of Iron and Rye
a. leads to even more conservative, authoritarian politics
b. rise of protectionism for German industry
c. defeat of free trade wing of the liberals
d. reinforces the anti-socialist bloc
e. further weakens the parliament (Reichstag)
6. 1863 Bismarck passes the Sickness Insurance Law, the first of several measures to create a paternalistic
welfare state (Wohlfartstaat), allowing him to in effect buy off the workers.
a. workers, trade unionists, etc. are excluded from political participation/citizenship
b. but they are given social rights/citizenship
c. civil rights/citizenship remain tenuous
E. 1890 marks the end of the Bismarckian era, when Kaiser Wilhelm dismisses The Iron Chancellor.
1. In the 1890s, the new Chancellor, General Caprivi, moves Germany back in the direction of free trade--a move that was vigorously opposed by the Junkers
2. The reactionary Junkers and others agitate against free trade by using anti-semitic slogans, which marks the beginning of a new nationalism, that would lead to fascism
3. The last decade of the 19th and the first of the 20th were periods of rapid industrial growth
4. Germany surpassed Britain in iron and steel production
5. Ruhr and Saar become the industrial heartland of Europe
6. Protectionism is restored in 1902 and a military build-up is started, with focus on naval construction
F. Rise of German nationalism
1. By the eve of World War I, power has been consolidated by a conservative (anti-liberal) elite
2. Unification is complete
3. But working class and trade unions continue to grow
4. By 1914, Germany has the largest (and still disenfranchised) socialist party (SPD) in Europe.
We'll talk about World War I, Weimar, and the rise of the Nazis on Thursday.
Subject: Lecture 2 on Germany
I. The Weimar Republic (1919-33)
A. Another "Republic by default"
1. The Weimar Republic was founded in inauspicious circumstances.
2. Mutiny of workers and soldiers in 1918, quickly brought an end to World War I, with Germany
suing for peace.
3. The leading party in the founding of the Weimar Republic is the SPD (social democrats)
4. SPD had supported the war, but remained divided, and it was dependent on various right-wing parliamentary groups to gain a peace (armistice) and create a republic
5. Kapp Putsch (1920) was the first in a series of failed coups against the fledgling Weimar regime. These
coups were led by disgruntled veterans from the War, such as the young Adolph Hitler
B. Occupation of the Ruhr by French troops (1923-24)
1. Germany was unable to make reparations payments under the terms of the hated Versailles Treaty.
2. The French decided to take control of the Ruhr industries to exact reparations.
3. Not until the Americans stepped in with the Dawes Plan was the reparations crisis resolved and French
4. Dawes Plan (1924) provided Germany with enough cash to begin to stabilize its currency (the mark)
5. Until 1924-25, Germany suffered from hyperinflation, which wiped out the savings of the middle class.
I'll finish this tomorrow!