Socialist Law (October 21, 1878)
This facsimile of the first page of the Reich Law Gazette (October 22, 1878, p. 351 ff., no. 34) documents the first two paragraphs of the Socialist Law. The law was initially set to expire on March 31, 1881. It was renewed no fewer than four times, each time with varying amounts of discussion and dissention among both supporters and opponents in the Reichstag. In May 1880, it was renewed effective until September 30, 1884; again in May 1884, effective until September 30, 1886; in April 1886, effective until September 30, 1888; and in February 1888, effective until September 30, 1890. In January 1890, the Reichstag – amidst considerable confusion about Bismarck’s real intentions – voted not to renew it. Thus, Social Democrats had more than eight months to prepare for the solemn celebrations that took place when the law expired at the stroke of midnight on September 30, 1890.