Modern European History, 1871-2000: A Documentary Reader

Modern European History, 1871-2000: A Documentary Reader

Modern European History, 1871-2000: A Documentary Reader

Modern European History, 1871-2000: A Documentary Reader

Synopsis

Modern European History brings together a unique selection of documents covering the period from 1871 to 2000. The collection is organised by topic, and a clear historical context and chronological chart provide background for each section. This second edition brings the book up to date and includes such key themes in European history as:* Bismarck and Imperial Germany* the Russian Revolution* the origins and aftermath of the First and Second World Wars* Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany* The Spanish Civil War* The Cold War* European Integration 1945-1999Containing documents such as extracts from diaries, speeches, treaties, poetry, radio broadcasts, photographs, cartoons, political posters and propaganda, this is an essential resource for students of modern British and European history.

Excerpt

The term ‘Germany’ had no real political significance at the beginning of the nineteenth century. The numerous states that made it up were loosely bound by their membership of the old Holy Roman Empire. The German Empire, or Second Reich, was created in 1871, and was founded on an unequal alliance between the national and liberal movements and the conservative Prussian state-leadership. The German Empire included Prussia, the kingdoms of Bavaria, Saxony and Württemberg, eighteen lesser states, three free cities and Alsace-Lorraine. It has been stated that the Prussian Chancellor, Otto von Bismarck, united Germany as the result of a series of successful military wars. However, closer examination reveals that the conditions for unification had been achieved before Bismarck came to power.

During the nineteenth century there were three major steps towards unification: the creation of the German Confederation (1815); the formation of the German Customs Union (Zollverein) (1834); and the period of the decline of Austrian influence (1852-64). Brought about by naked militarism, the creation of the German Empire appeared to have fulfilled Bismarck’s prediction of 1862 that Prussia would unite Germany by ‘blood and iron’. In fact, the Empire had been established only after numerous compromises had been made and was immediately open to the criticism of being incomplete. Certainly when measured against the great aims of the 1848-9 Revolution—to create unity through freedom to build the state on new political, economic and social foundations—the founding of the Empire signified a defeat for middle-class liberalism. By and large, however, the majority of people warmly greeted the achievement of national unity. The story of imperial Germany after the euphoria of 1871 was the failure to adapt its institutions to the newly developing economic and social conditions.

Left-wing liberal critics dismissed the Empire as an incomplete constitutional state. The liberals claimed that it should be governed on a wider parliamentary basis. A largely powerless parliament (Reichstag) was complimented by an upper house, the Federal Council (Bundesrat), which was made up of delegations from the separate states (not, therefore, representative of the German people as a whole). While the Reichstag possessed rights of veto, legislation was initiated in the Bundesrat, which could dissolve the Reichstag and declare war. The

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