Kaiser Wilhelm II -||- Wilhelm's Chancellors -||- Admiral von Tirpitz and the Naval Race -||- Alliance with Austria-Hungary -||- Relations with Europe -||- Internal Discontent and new Social Orders -||- Industry and Economy -||- The Schlieffin Plan -||- World War I
~~~~~-To Wilhelm IIs Germany-~~~~~
Internal Discontent & New Social Orders
Germany was a young Empire just finding itself, very much unfortunately, like a teenager undergoing puberty, only much more destructive.
The Empire’s great industrial growth and fast
successful economy led to much social discontent and the demand for a new order.
To start, the German caste system was very strict.
One was either a noble, in the military, rich or in the lower working
class. Workers were expected to
carry out orders, no matter what inconvenient the cause of time.
Complaining about the condition to the authorities did not help.
In militaristic Germany (where war was considered a
special science), the military was almost a country on to itself.
It had it’s own great power, as told by the story of ‘Captain Kopenik’-
the shoemaker who dressed as a captain for a day and ruled the town.
The military therefore had more control that probably was healthy for any
nation. If the military had
competent Generals who knew that the art of war was to avoid conflict, maybe
things would have been better. Instead,
there was the Schlieffin Plan.
To add to the situation, German culture was quite
racist at the time. Jews and non
Aryans/Germans were discriminated against, and were usually barred from jobs and
opportunities. Still, each of these
groups believed themselves Germans and would die for the ‘Fatherland’ if
It was at this time that the writings of Marx, Jaures,
and especially Nietzsche were very popular. The working and lower classes tended to like the Communist
teachings of Marx. This belief was
of a natural process of history where the working class (or the proletariat)
would take over from the capitalist upper class (the bourgeoisie).
The middle-class that was unhappy with the present
system chose Jaures for his writings on Socialism. This was where the government should control the big
companies to protect the people from them.
Others and the Youth tended to prefer Nietzsche,
who’s writing were extremely popular simply because they were so open to
interpretation. Nietzsche’s ideas
were usually quite violent. He
predicted the coming of a disaster where ‘supermen’ would be required to
bring order back again, no matter what the cost.
He praised the ‘blond beast’ as the greatest of the races, to whom
the task of restoring order through violence was to be done. The Nazis would later use Nietzsche as their base of
radicalism. In this time though
(post war Germany), Nietzsche’s appeal lay not in violence, but in his
condemnation of the bourgeois. He
encouraged to young to ‘become what [they were]’. In the words of Nietzsche
himself about his goals: “I am
describing what is coming, what can no longer come in any other form: the rise
The most important of these followers were the youth
of Imperial Germany, as it is they who would rule the Weimar Republic and
Hitler’s Germany. The youth were
extremely discontent, and were having their own movements of finding self
identity. They were actually quite
revolutionary. In the words of a
“Youth, up to now only an appendage of the older generation, excluded from public life and forced into a passive role, begins to become conscious of itself. It is trying to create a life for itself independent of the laws of convention. It is striving for a way of life which corresponds to the nature of youth, but which will also make it possible for youth to take itself and its activity seriously and to take its place in general cultural activity.”The writing of Nietzsche and their revolutionary fervor therefore, appealed greatly to the German youths. This is part of the reason why they would support Hitler later. Heck during this time, Hitler himself was ‘a youth’.