(1) The "New Course" of Wilhelm II and Caprivi 1890-4

Marcus  Danvers
Mind Map by Marcus Danvers, updated more than 1 year ago
Marcus  Danvers
Created by Marcus Danvers over 5 years ago


A level Germany History ((2) Domestic Politics in Wilhelmine Germany 1890-1914) Mind Map on (1) The "New Course" of Wilhelm II and Caprivi 1890-4, created by Marcus Danvers on 09/11/2014.

Resource summary

(1) The "New Course" of Wilhelm II and Caprivi 1890-4
1 The new chancellor, Caprivi, soon proved himself to be more astute and independent-mined than the Kaiser had bargained for.
1.1 He stoke of embarking on a "new course", with a more consultative approach to government and a conciliatory attitude to previously hostile forces, such as the Centre Party and the Social Democrats
1.2 The Anti-Socialist Laws lapsed. Caprivi was able to depend on a fair degree of backing from the Reichstag. This allowed him to push through a number of social measures in 1891:
1.2.1 Sunday work was Prohibited
1.2.2 Employment of children under 13 years of age was forbidden.
1.2.3 Women were not allowed to work for more than 11 hours a day.
1.2.4 Industrial courts were set up to arbitrate disputes.
1.3 Caprivi's success paved the way for an even more important change - the reform of Germany's tariff policy
1.3.1 To encourage the export of German manufactured goods, Caprivi negotiated a series of commercial treaties with Austria-Hungary, Italy and Russia. These treaty's were bilateral.
1.3.2 These agreements led to a reduction on agriculture tariffs in return country would lower there manufacturing tariffs
1.3.3 They not only acted as a vital spur to the growth of German economy, but also represented a political triumph for Caprivi.
1.3.4 His tariff reform saw broad support from most party, except the Conservatives, they recognised the benefits of lower food prices
2 Growing opposition
2.1 The Kaiser had been so taken by the success of tariff reform that Caprivi had been given the noble title of count. However powerful voices raised doubts:
2.1.1 Court Conservatives To start with, Wilhelm II himself backed Caprivi's social policy in the belief that the improvements would discourage people from supporting the socialists. Yet, Wilhelm II's sympathy began to wane and many of Wilhelm's advisers at court disagreed with Captivi's "socialist" policies. Some encouraged the Kaiser to ditch him and to assume a more authoritarian "personal rule"
2.1.2 Landowners They were upset by the commercial treaties since they threatened to reduce their profits. In 1893 the Agrarian League was formed to put pressure on parliament an to win support and privileges for landowners . It quickly grew into an effective and well-organised lobby of a third of a million members that acted as a powerful pressure group on behalf of the conservative parties.
2.1.3 Military In 1893 there had also been resentment in military circles when Caprivi made concessions over the Army Bill in the Riechstag by reducing the length of conscription for national service from three years to two.
2.1.4 The army bill was actually rejected, resulting in the Reichstag being dissolved and the following election brought things to a head. There were conservatives concerns about anarchist outrages across Europe and the increase in the increase in the total number of Social Democrat seats to 44. Opponents of Caprivi now reinforced Wilhelm II's own doubts about his Chancellor's suitabiltiy for office and Wilhelm II pressed Caprivi to draw up an anti-socialist Subversion Bill The Chancellor refused and this led to an extraordinary plan by Wilhelm II and his supporter, Eulenburg. Their plan was to set aside the powers of Reichstag, crush socialism and establish a more authoritarian system centred on the Kaiser himself Caprivi successfully talked the Kaiser out of such a course of action, but he lost the will to carry on - he resigned on October 1894
3 Conclusion
3.1 Caprivi's four years as Chancellor neatly illustrated the difficulties of trying to cope with the pressures of the various political forces in Imperial Germany
3.2 In his attempt to create a genuine base of parliamentary support for the government, Caprivi showed his understanding of the need, in a modern industrial society, for a political aproach that recognised the concerns and aspirations of the mass of the population.
3.3 However, Caprivi's "new course" foundered because it was opposed by the established forces of power and influence. He was subjected to considerable abuse from the conservatives press and he was the focus of opostion intrigue at court
3.4 In the end, he could not rely on the consistent support of the Kaiser whose delusions of greatness were now taken up with thoughts of "personal rule" and Weltpolitik.
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