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Kaiser Wilhelm II on the Workers Question (January 21, 1890)
This facsimile shows the first page of Kaiser Wilhelm II’s handwritten notes on the workers’ question [“Bemerkungen zur Arbeiterfrage”], dated January 21, 1890. These notes served as the basis for the Kaiser’s public proclamation of February 4, 1890. They also served as notice to Bismarck that Wilhelm was not going to tolerate a policy, favored by the chancellor, of bringing industrial conflict to a head. Whereas the elderly chancellor believed that instigating such a crisis would help keep him in office, the young Kaiser, having ascended the throne only in 1888, was unwilling to tarnish the early years of his reign with the kind of bloodbath that a confrontation with striking workers might provoke.