1871-1918 1918-1933

Prussia, 1871-1919

Administration . Domestic Policy . The Economy . Demography . Cultural History

Administration . King Wilhelm II. (1848-1888), Friedrich Wilhelm I. 1888, Wilhelm II. 1888-1918. Prime Minister Otto von Bismarck 1862-1873, Graf Albrecht von Roon 1873, Otto von Bismarck 1873-1890, Leo von Caprivi 1890-1892, Graf Botho zu Eulenburg 1892-1894, Prinz Chlodwig zu Hohenlohe-Schillingsfürst 1894-1900, Graf Bernhard von Bülow 1900-1909, Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg 1909-1917, Georg Michaelis 1917, Georg von Hertling 1917-1918, Maximilian von Baden 1918. The holders of the office of German chancellor, for most of the time, simultaneously held the position of prime minister of Prussia - exceptions von Roon 1873 (Bismarck ch.), zu Eulenburg 1892-1894 (Caprivi ch.). Berlin was both capital of the German Empire and of Prussia.

Domestic Policy . Prussia made up roughly 70 % of both territory and population of the German Empire. While for elections for the Reichstag universal adult manhood suffrage was applied, in Prussia the Three Class Franchise, which favoured the propertied classes, remained in force (until 1918).
Political parties developed in Prussia as elsewhere in Germany. Most parties regarded all of Germany as the area where they sought voters and members; some appealed to regional minorities - within Prussia most notably the Welf opposition (rejecting the annexation of Hannover into Prussia) and the politicians representing the Poles of Posen, West Prussia and Upper Silesia. The Catholic Center Party had a strong base in the Rhine Province, in the Catholic parts of Westphalia, in parts of Silesia and in Warmia. The Social Democratic Party was strong in the industrial centers. However the Three Class Franchise discriminated against both Center Party and Social Democrats, favoured Liberals and Conservatives.
Prior to German unification, the Prussian administration pursued a policy discriminating against the Polish-speaking subjects of the state. Following unification, pressure on the Polish population element intensified; education was to be conducted in German alone. The state subsidized land purchase by ethnic Germans in Polish majority regions. The Danish-speaking population in Schleswig was exposed to a policy of imbibing them with German patriotism, largely through elementary education.

The Economy . Prussia benefited from the economic development Germany underwent in the later 19th and early 20th century. Regions within Prussia undergoing strong industrialization and urbanization were capital Berlin, the coal mining areas on the Ruhr (Rhine Province, Westphalia), on the Saar (Rhine Province) and in Upper Silesia, ports such as Stettin, Kiel, Wilhelmshaven, Danzig, industrial centers such as Breslau, cities in the Rhine Province and Westphalia.

Demography . Population of Prussia 1871 24.68 million, 1880 27.27 million, 1890 29.95 million, 1900 34.47 million, 1910 40.16 million [IHS p.52].
Population of Berlin 1870 828,000, 1910 2.07 million; of Dortmund 1870 44,000, 1910 214,000, of Frankfurt 1870 91,000, 1910 415,000 [IHS p.72]

Culture . Berlin, as Germany's and Prussia's capital, turned into a European cultural center. The University of Berlin was of world-wide fame; here Robert Koch and Rudolf Virchow taught medicine, Theodor Mommsen history, Max Planck physics etc.
National history was en vogue, the study of regional history, because it could strengthen regionalist identity, regarded outdated if not suspicious.

Historical Encyclopedia Entries on Bismarck 1878-1886

Geschichte der Deutschen Bank, from Bankgeschichte, in German
Biography Wilhelm Liebknecht, from DHM, in German
Otto von Bismarck, from German Embassy, India, from Otto von Bismarck-Stiftung, in German
DOCUMENTS Rulers of Prussia, from World Statesmen by Ben Cahoon
Excerpt of Bismarck's Memoires, posted by Hanover Historical Texts Project
Articles Prussia; Provinces : East Prussia (Ostpreussen), West Prussia (Westpreussen), Posen, Silesia (Schlesien), Brandenburg, Pomerania (Pommern), Prussian Saxony (Provinz Sachsen), Schleswig-Holstein, Hanover (Hannover). Hesse-Nassau (Hessen-Nassau), Westphalia (Westfalen), Rhine Province (Rheinprovinz); Cities : Berlin, Breslau, Danzig, Königsberg, Stettin, Magdeburg, Halle, Kiel, Altona, Hanover, Münster, Bielefeld, Dortmund, Essen, Duisburg, Elberfeld, Barmen, Düsseldorf, Aix-la-Chapelle (Aachen), Cologne (Köln), Coblenz (Koblenz), Saarbrücken, Frankfort-on-Main (Frankfurt), Cassel (Kassel), from EB 1911
Articles Prussia, Silesia, Westphalia, Breslau, Gnesen-Posen, Culm, Ermland (Warmia), Berlin, Brandenburg, Magdeburg, Saxony, scroll down for Prussian province, Schleswig, Hanover, Hesse, Münster, Hildesheim, Paderborn, Cologne, Trier, from Catholic Encyclopedia 1907
Articles Prussia, Berlin, Posen (Prov.), Danzig, Frankfort-on-the-Main, Cologne, Dortmund, Essen, from Jewish Encyclopedia 1901-1906
REFERENCE Hans-Joachim Schoeps, Preussen, Geschichte eines Staates, Berlin : Propyläen 1966, in German [G]
Institut für Geschichte der Deutschen Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Berlin, ed., Deutsche Geschichte in Daten, Berlin (Ost) : Deutscher Verlag der Wissenschaften 1967 [G]
IHS : B.R. Mitchell, International Historical Statistics, Europe 1750-1988, NY : Stockton Press 1992 [G]

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on May 8th 2004, last revised on November 1st 2007

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