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4. Religion, Education, Social Welfare
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Overview: Forging an Empire: Bismarckian Germany, 1866-1890   |   1. Demographic and Economic Development   |   2. Society   |   3. Culture   |   4. Religion, Education, Social Welfare   |   5. Politics I: Forging an Empire   |   6. Military and International Relations   |   7. Politics II: Parties and Political Mobilization

“Organized Capitalism” and its Critics. An unbridgeable ideological gulf separated Karl Marx’s analysis of 1867, Das Kapital (D36, IM29), from Kaiser Wilhelm II’s pronouncement on the “workers’ question” in February 1890 (D30, IM28). Quite a different justification for workers’ compensation (D29) was offered by Bismarck in the 1880s. At that time the chancellor was still struggling to wring the building blocks of his program of social legislation from a reluctant, cost-conscious Reichstag. Meanwhile, panicked reactions to social crisis (IM30) were offered by critics of organized capitalism who blamed its “dysfunctions” on the Jews. We read the polemics offered by scurrilous antisemites (D40, D41) and a Catholic reformer (D42), and we see an artist’s attempt (IM31) to portray the personal calamities that followed a bank failure in 1872 (Bismarckian Germany’s closest approximation of the late twentieth century’s Enron scandal). These reformers, doomsayers, and sympathetic observers were anything but unanimous in their prognostications (D37); indeed, their solutions to the “epidemic” of capitalism usually made existing problems seem even more poisonous.

Further Reading: Religion, Education, Social Welfare

James C. Albisetti, Schooling German Girls and Women: Secondary and Higher Education in the Nineteenth Century, Princeton, 1988.

James C. Albisetti, Secondary School Reform in Imperial Germany, Princeton, 1983.

Wolfgang Ayass, Florian Tennstedt and Heidi Winter, eds., Von der Kaiserlichen Sozialbotschaft bis zu den Februarerlassen Wilhelms II. (1881-1890), vol. 1, Grundfragen der Sozialpolitik. Die Diskussion der Arbeiterfrage auf Regierungsseite und in der Öffentlichkeit (Quellensammlung zur Geschichte der Deutschen Sozialpolitik 1867 bis 1914, ed. Peter Rassow and Karl Erich Born, II. Abteilung), Darmstadt, 2003.

David Blackbourn, Marpingen. Apparitions of the Virgin Mary in Bismarckian Germany, Oxford, 1993.

Olaf Blaschke and Frank-Michael Kuhlemann, eds., Religion im Kaiserreich. Milieus – Mentalitäten – Krisen, Gütersloh, 1996.

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