This 1903 illustration from the Socialist newspaper Rote Wahlen satirizes the “glorious deeds” of the Reichstag, the German federal parliament. The Socialists believed that the litany of laws passed by the government did nothing to serve the interests of working-class Germans. Drawing attention to the so-called Prison Bill of 1899 [Zuchthausvorlage], which would have incarcerated striking workers, and to the country’s imperialistic Weltpolitik, which burdened workers with taxes, this illustration sought to mobilize the working-class electorate for the upcoming election.
The workers pictured here examine an announcement that reads: “The Glorious Deeds of the Reichstag 1898-1903. Prison Bill! Russian Bailiff Service! 12,000 Mark Decree! Lex Heinze! Approval of Additions to the Fleet! New Military Expenditures! Abuses of Soldiers! Mörchingen! Gumbinnen! World Policy! The Crucifixion of China! Hun Atrocities! The Stroll to Venezuela! Colonial Atrocities! Peters, Prince Arenberg! The Usury of Customs Duties! Starvation Wages! The Aichbichler Law! The Gröher Law! The Deficit Economy! The Prospect of New Taxes! Beer Tax! Tobacco Tax! A Tax on Cripples! New Bills in Sight! New Warships! New Cannons! Increases in the Cavalry!” Side notices announce: “Verdict in the Löbrau Prison Case! The father will probably have guzzled everything away! – Graf Renim.”