Second Reich's Ruling Elite

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How successful were successive German Chancellors in protecting the position of the Second Reich's ruling elite? Germany's ruling elite were made up primarily of Prussians, land owning aristocrats or high ranking military leaders. It also consisted of leading industrialists and the judiciary. However, their position as the ruling elite was under threat. Although the industrial revolution had a huge positive impact on German economy, it also lead to a rise in socialism which meant the emergence of pressure groups, such as the Nationalist pressure groups and the Economic pressure groups. These groups were often focused on single issues, but they highlighted the tensions and divisions in Germany. Foreign minister and Chancellor Von Bulow played a key part in protecting the position of the Second Reich's ruling elite. He focussed on an aggressive foreign policy to…show more content…
A series of reforms was introduced in the the late 1800's and early 1900's to placate both protectionist liberals and socialists. For example, the Old Age and Invalidity Law had been amended in June 1899 to increase old age pensions and to extend compulsory insurance to various new groups. In 1900 accident insurance was also extended to new occupations. The main aim of successive German Chancellors was to protect the position of the ruling elites. There were three discernible challenges to the political establishment, such as, aggressive foreign policy, the demand for constitutional reform and the demand for social reform. Socialists demanded social reform. In October 1878, Bismark persuaded the Reichstag to pass the Anti-socialist Law, which banned the SPD and drove all socialist organisations underground. In 1890, the Reichstag, with the Kaiser's backing (and to Bismarck's fury) refused to confirm the legislation, and it was dropped. From then to the outbreak of war, only limited an piecemeal social reform was
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