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Unformatted text preview: GERMANY Lecture: Monday, October 8 Outline: German History • Music: Jan Delay – Mercedes-Dance • Road to Statehood o Emphasis on common cultural and ethnic traits o Industrial Revolution and economic development Important role in necessitating political roles o German (Prussian) militarism o Path toward nat’l unity under Prussian leadership Prussian Minister-President Otto von Bismarck forges conservative- reactionary coalition between old aristocracy and new-money industrialists • 1871: Unified German State o 1860s: “Blood and I ron” 3 bloody conflicts precede statehood, as Prussia defeats: • Denmark • Austria-Hungary • France o King of Prussia = Kaiser (Emperor) of united Germany o But: Bismarck still calls the shots • Kaiserreich (1871-1918) o Rise of labor movement and SPD (Social Democratic Party of Germany) Political and social force o But: power remains in hands of traditional conservative forces o Rapid industrialization o Quest of Empire (“our place in the sun”) Tried to catch up w/ other colonial powers Established overseas trading Felt it needed to prove itself in the world Other countries became intimidated o Ultimately: Germany triggers WWI • WWI o Costs Germany…. Hundreds of thousands of lives Its few colonial possessions that it had Its imperial social and political order o With the end of WWI, Germany ceased to be a monarchy o When the Kaiser abdicates, it leaves Germany w/o a head of gov’t or a head of state • Weimar Republic (1918-1933) GERMANY o Social Democratic party (SPD) fills the political vacuum Took over and t ried to run the affairs in Germany o But, while large, the SPD was politically inexperienced o In 1918, the new leadership proclaims Germany’s 1 st democratic gov’t o However; perceived by many as having been born out of a shameful defeat; lacked legitimacy in the eyes of many o Constitution drafted in city of Weimar, hence the name o Procedural democracy, regular democratic elections, democratically legitimate gov’ts o Multiple parties in the German parliament, functions as many European counterparts o Nonetheless, political system not in order o 5 Key weaknesses: 1 st , almost pure PR (proportional representation) leads to fragmented political landscape w/ small fringe parties represented in parliament 2 nd , far right and far left parties do not accept legitimacy of democratic government, active attempts at undermining it 3 rd , old elites are never held responsible for their actions, and even strengthened 4 th , outcome of war fuels nationalist sentiment; Versailles Treaty and “stab-in-the-back legend” provide legitimacy to anti-democratic sentiment • Myth that forces argued that Germany would have won WWI but the new democratic system stabbed Germany in the back Severe economic crises, especially hyperinflation • Germany never really took off in terms of economic recovery • Value of dollar dropped...
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- Spring '08
- Comparative Politics, Social Democratic Party, German Democratic Republic, state gov't State, federal gov't party