Bismarck's management and reasons for the problems


Bismarck's Foreign Policy

Bismarck's diplomatic skills had helped to bring about a unified German State in 1871 to 1890 and he promoted the new German State as a 'satiated power' with no more ambition. 

His main aim now was to maintain peace, but France was a threat to this as Bismarck feared that they would make an alliace with either Russia or Austria which would lead to fighting against 2 fronts. 

The strategy to prevent this was:

  • Bismarck decided to isolate France while reamining on good terms with Russia and Austria.
  • However, the problem was that there was a conflict between Russia and Austria  over Balhan States (Greece, Romania, Slovenia etc) over trade, land and capitalisation.
  • in 1879, Bismarck made a dual alliance with Austria and in 1882, Italy joined them. 
  • in 1887, he made a Reinsurance Treaty with Russia, so he was free from outside conflict by the alliances by 1871-1890.

The strategy failed because isolating France only made the French hate him even more and only one area of foreign policy was dealt with. Also Bismarck didn't ally himself with Britain. 

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The Kulturkampf

Bismarck's reasons of the KK:

  • Was a strong Protestant and needed to unify and consolidate the new State.
  • He saw plots and subversive activities elsewhere.
  • The successes of the Centre Party was a danger to the Empire's unity as they were becoming a forum for opponents of the Empire.
  • Bismarck thought that some politicians would promote civil disobedience among Catholics.
  • The Pope introduced Papal Infallibility which led to many breaking away from the curch and many catholic teachers and professors were dismissed by the Bishop.
  • Bismarck used this to show that Catholics weren't tolerating anything, which was shown in a series of newspaper articles in 1872: the KK started.
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The Kulturkampf Part 2

Actions of KK:

  • 1872: Catholic schools were under supervision of the state and the Jesuit Order was disallowed to set up establishments in Germany
  • May 1873: Dr Falk introduced a series of measures, known as May Laws which aimed to bring Catholics under state control.
  • 1875: Prussia could suspend payments to Churches where priests resisted legislation.
  • Religious orders were dissolved.
  • Repression
  • More than 1000 Catholic Bishops were suspended and only 2 remained. 
  • Catholic weddings were not valid. 
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The Kulturkampf Part 3

Results of the KK

  • There was lots of opposition.
  • Catholic counter attack was the Pope threatening to ex-comminate Priests.
  • The majority of Catholic Priests failed to submit and communities helped to support them.
  • The Centre Party's strength imrpoved by winning 91 seats in the Reichstag in 1874. 
  • Many Protestants were concerned with the policy.
  • Those on the Left felt it was a threat to civil rightd and undermines freedom of conscience. 
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The National Minorities: foreign policy

  • The Danes, the French and the Poles were the potential enemies of the State. 
  • Their influence was reducing by Bismarck's 'Germanisation policy.'
  • This was reducing the reducing the Polish language which was taken in Alsace Lorraine.


  • This policy was not purely repressive because some of the French were allowed to leave Alsace Lorraine.
  • There was a sense of alienation which declined over the years. 
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Economic Policy

The 2 sides of the debate on the economy had 2 sides: Free trade and Protectionism.

Free Trade

  • Influenced by Zollverein (good advert for FT) and Liberal ideas, Bismarck promoted FT.


  • Stops barriers
  • Creates unification.
  • Provides more variety.
  • It is also cheaper.


  • It isn't protected.
  • Disagreements.
  • Less money for the Government
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Economic Policy Part 2

However, in 1879, Bismarck decided to change the policy of Free Trade and began to support Protectionism ( a system of tariffs) because:

  • In the late 1870s German agriculture suffered bad harvests.
  • A slowdown in industrial growth after 1873.
  • Importation of cheap wheat from the USA and Russia were their competition.
  • Bismarck was a land owner himself.
  • The federal govt's revenue raised from customs duties and indirect taxation was proving woefully inadequate to cover the growing costs of armament and administration.
  • This meant that individual states were making extra payments- Bismarck didn't want to depend on them or the Reichstag.

Political factors:

  • In the late 1870s, landowners and industrialists were clamouring for protective tariffs.
  • Bismarck would win influential support as landowners and industrialists called for tariffs.
  • Growing tension with the National Liberals who had large support and tried to make the constitution more democratic.
  • Breaking with the liberals widened his support.
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Economic Policy Part 3

Advantages of Protectionism:

  • Industrialists were protected.
  • More money for the Govt,
  • Everything is agreed with.
  • More industrialisation.


  • Less unification.
  • Less variety in foods.
  • Less choice.
  • Goods and products will be more expensive.
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The Tariff Act 1879

The Tariff Act introduced protective import duties in Germany which imposed on imports and reserved German industries. and stopped free trade. 

Political Results:

  • Bismarck was now firmly committed to the Conservatives and the National Liberal Party splintered (ignored) leading to the end of the Liberal era.
  • Proplr who supported free trade and Parliamentary govt broke away and united with the Progressives. they formed a new radical party in 1884.
  • Other National Liberals remained loyal to Bismarck but was no longer dependent on the backing on the NL.
  • Tariffs served to protect German jobs.
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The Tariff Act 1879 Part 2

Economic results:

  • Protective tariffs drew North and South Germany closer together.
  • The growthh of a large internal market accelerated.
  • Count George  Von Frankenstein out forward a scheme where all revenues coming to the federal govt in excess of 130 million marks, were to be divided among states and returned in state payments. 
  • As a result of the 'Frankenstein Clause', the budgetary rights for the Reichstag and the state Parliaments were preserved.

Frankenstein Clause:

  • This meant that the rights of the Reichstag was kept.
  • Bismarck could not reduce the Reichstag's power.
  • He could never ignore the states when it came to finance.
  • This meant that Bismarck didn't achieve his goal of stopping the Reichstag.
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The Tariff Act 1879 Part 3


  • Threat of National Liberals ended.
  • The growth of a large internal market accelerated.
  • Protected tariffs united North and South Germany closer together.
  • They also protected German jobs.
  • Living standards didn't suffer as a result.
  • Support from the Conservatives grew for Bismarck.


  • In 1884, a new radical Party was formed by those who believed in free trade and Parliamentary govts, with the Progressives.
  • Higher bread prices.
  • The Centre Party and the National Liberals were determined to fustrate Bismarck's attempt to make the govt less dependent on the states and the Reichstag.
  • Bismarck failed to secure the financial independence.
  • There was ;ess tradw with other countries.
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The first impression of socialism was that they:

  • Promoted equality.
  • Were Left wing (alligned with Communism and Marxism).
  • Argued there would be a revolution to turn capitalsim over.
  • Were more democratic than autocratic.
  • Some were more extreme and some were moderate.

The social Democratic Party wanted to overthrow the existing order (capitalism) and completely destroy it. They also wanted to remove the Kaiser, Chancellor and the Bundesrat.

Socialists got started by:

  • In 1875, moderate and revolutionary socialists united to form the Socialist Democratic Party.
  • Their aim was to overthrow the existing order.
  • They would do this by using legal means only, in the struggle for economic and political freedom.
  • Wanted nationalsim and social equality,
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Socialism Part 2

Socialist perspective of the Constitution:

  • Against the idea of autocracy and had loyalty of the army.

Socialist perspective of the Liberals:

  • They disliked the power Bismarck gave to the Liberals as they believed in capitalism.
  • weren't happy that the Liberals helped Bismarck.

Socialist perspective of the Army Budget:

  • They believed the money should be shared to the people equally (Guns Vs Butter).
  • Didn't like the more power given to Bismarck and the less power the Reichstag had over the budget.

Socialist Perspective of Foreign policy:

  • They disagreed with it aiming for unity.
  • Disagreed with protectionism.  
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Socialism Part 3

Socialist perspective of the Kulturkampf:

  • They didn't like the Catholics as religion doesn't want to progress.
  • Religion divided people.
  • However, they were concerned for people's rights.

Socialist Perspective of Industrial Development:

  • They supported this because more people had work and better living standards.
  • Did not agree with the owners who were higher class who took most of the money. 
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Socialist threat

The socialists were a threat because:

  • they were a threat to the society Bismarck wished to keep.
  • They preached class warfare and spoke of a dictatorship of the proletariat.
  • Socialist support was increasing due to the industrial change.
  • By 1877, they had 500,000 votes (12 seats) in the Reichstag.
  • Bismarck attempts to pass anti-socialist legislation had failed.
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Bismarck's strategy against the Socialists

Strategy of Bismarck against the Socialists:

  • He passed the anti-Socialist Bill in October 1878, supported by the Conservatives and the National Liberals.
  • He banned Socialist organisation such as trade unions.
  • Socialist meetings were to be broken up.
  • Socialist publications were outlawed.
  • Between 1878-1890, 1500 Socialists were imprisoned and emigrated,
  • To take support from the working class, Bismarck introduced various welfare measures to assist the German workers to win support from them.
  • Welfare measures included: The Sickness Insurance Act, the Accident Insurance Act and the Old age and Disability Act.
  • However the working class believed that the welfare measures were not enough because the trade unions were banned.
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