However, during the period of the Prussian reaction in the fifties [1850s], efforts were made to revive all kinds of noble privileges in contradiction to the wording of the constitution, or at least its spirit. When the Herrenhaus [Upper Chamber] was created, associations of counts [Grafenverband] and associations of old noble families were granted a special right of representation.
With the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, originally founded merely to commemorate the earlier Balley Brandenburg, King Friedrich Wilhelm IV sought to create a special noble corporation and to invest it with an importance above all other classes of orders. Bearing the cross of St. John requires old nobility and a certain monetary contribution. The yearly dues for the Knights for Christian Works of Love [Ritter für christliche Liebeswerke] is only 36 marks, and the entry fee of 300 or 900, as the case may be, entitles the member to receive proud and splendid insignia. With such contributions, a number of small hospitals with a few hundred beds have been established over the years.
Immediately after acceding to the throne on August 23, 1888, Kaiser Wilhelm II, while participating at a chapter of the Order of St. John in Sonnenberg, said in a speech before the banquet: "To elevate and to strengthen and develop the people morally and religiously, I need the support of its noblest members, my nobility, and I see a substantial number of the same united in the Order of St. John."
Actual discrimination against the bourgeoisie in the higher administrative service is explicitly admitted in an article in the free-conservative Post of May 24, 1897, as the reason for the discontent in many circles. This article lamented and detailed the arrogance of the administration towards the judicial system:
"This is connected with the further fact that when it comes to both
acceptance into the administrative service and advancement in the same,
certain social classes, especially the nobility and the large landowners
of the eastern provinces, are given preferential treatment, and more importance
is placed on family connections, external appearance and dashing looks, than on
scientific and practical ability. Here, too, we are no doubt often dealing with
exaggerations and the generalization of isolated occurrences. Still, this critique
does not appear to be entirely unjustified. [ . . . ] The temptation to give special
consideration to members of respected families, especially of the district, is
equally great. To this are added student fraternity and other similar connections,
as a result of which the next generation of our officials in the general state
administration has indeed become more exclusive and lopsided than is in
the general interest or in the interest of the administration itself. Moreover,
it is beginning to appear that when it comes to the filling especially of
so-called political administrative posts that also involve representation,
the nobility is, at the very least, not suffering any disadvantage."