Riehl was a keen, if at times tendentious, observer of Germany's regions and its rural and urban areas. In this selection from Land and People (1851), he argues that Germany could be divided into three regions, each characterized by a distinctive relationship between city and country. The student should be aware that Riehl's very acute observations were laden with politically loaded value judgments, above all his assumption that people who live in the city and in the country should be very different.
A second excerpt from Riehl's Civil Society (1851) addresses the continuing presence, among Germany's rural population in the middle of the nineteenth century, of regional identities dating back to Germany's old regime: before the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Eras and the Congress of Vienna, had drastically transformed the territories of the German states.
When Germans think of a region as being provincial, they often think of the Palatinate (Pfalz), in the extreme southwestern corner of Central Europe, on the west bank of the Rhine River. In 1857, the novelist and journalist August Becker (1826-91) wrote a celebrated traveler's guide to the Palatinate, which began with a general description of the region and its inhabitants. Becker's version of what makes a region includes natural features, such as climate and topography, historical experiences, folkloric customs, and social practices. He also noted the importance of the relationship of the region to its ruling state (the Kingdom of Bavaria, in this case) and to the idea of a German nation-state. Becker's political sympathies were with the liberals, and the student might compare his ideas about what makes a region with those of his conservative contemporary Riehl.
The years 1815-66 were not a period of rapid urbanization in Germany; it was only after c. 1850 that the population of cities and towns began to grow at a faster rate than the population as a whole. There was no one dominant urban center in the German states, of the sort that Paris, London, Madrid, Lisbon, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, or Stockholm were in other European countries. The most rapidly growing of Germany's large cities was the Prussian capital Berlin. The writer and socialist Ernst Dronke's 1846 book about the capital city created a sensation and led to his arrest by the Prussian authorities. The excerpts presented here paint a picture of life in the metropolis: fast-paced, immoral, diverse, and anonymous. As a socialist, Dronke also describes Berlin as a city of expanding capitalism and working-class misery. A closer look at his description of the workers, though, finds a long list of pre-industrial crafts and master artisans dependent on merchant capitalists, but very few factory workers. The Berlin Dronke describes here seems closer to a pre-industrial eighteenth-century European city than to later nineteenth- and early twentieth-century industrial centers of the sort that Berlin itself would become.