Management and Labor in Imperial Germany: Ruhr Industrialists as Employers, 1896-1914

By Elaine Glovka Spencer | Go to book overview

4
Industry and
Government

Relations with Berlin

In their confrontations with the unions and with all individuals and organizations backing labor's demands, Ruhr employers believed they had a natural and pressing claim on government support. Hence they were greatly concerned when such unqualified support was not always forthcoming. The entrepreneurial elite particularly resented sporadic attempts by the state and national governments in Berlin to extend their regulation of working conditions.

During the Wilhelmian era, government efforts to extend greater protection to workers on the job clustered in the early 1890s, when Hans Freiherr von Berlepsch was Prussian minister of commerce, and in the first decade of the twentieth century, when Arthur Graf von Posadowsky- Wehner was Reich secretary of the interior. Berlepsch's appointment reflected Emperor William II's brief flirtation with factory legislation as a means of reconciling workers to the monarchy. During Posadowsky's years in office, social legislation was used as a means of winning Center party support for government programs. Such efforts alternated with periods of renewed repression of the working-class movement. This zigzag course ultimately satisfied neither labor nor management.

Berlepsch and Posadowsky were representative of a number of high- ranking bureaucrats in Berlin who, though very conservative, believed that the state should set limits to the power of employers. Such advocates of factory legislation were motivated in part by a belief in the moral responsibility of the state to protect workers, a theory often propounded by members of the influential Verein für Sozialpolitik (Social Policy Association), and in part by a fear of the potentially revolutionary impact of industrialization. 1 They believed that to secure social harmony, the interests of industrialists had to be weighed against those of other groups in society. Because of fear of the social repercussions of unregulated employer action, many government officials were more willing to make concessions to the industrialists in

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Management and Labor in Imperial Germany: Ruhr Industrialists as Employers, 1896-1914
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - Coal, Iron, and Steel 8
  • 2 - The Entrepreneurial Elite 24
  • 3 - Ruhr Workers 40
  • 4 - Industry and Government 52
  • 5 - Initial Challenges 63
  • 6 - Company Welfare Programs 71
  • 7 - The Terms of Labor 80
  • 8 - Conflict and Readjustment 98
  • 9 - Containment 114
  • 10 - Unsolved Problems 130
  • Conclusion and Comparisons 139
  • Appendix A Ruhr Coal, Iron, and Steel Corporations 149
  • Appendix B Members of the Ruhr Entrepreneurial Elite 151
  • Notes 157
  • Bibliography 189
  • Index 205
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