Was Wilhelmine Germany an Entrenched Authoritarian State?

1474 Words6 Pages
At first glance, one would have to suggest Wilhelm II did control an authoritarian Germany. He favoured "personal rule", whereby he could make all the decisions, and seemed at the time to control the politics, the leading figures, the military, and as a result the whole of Germany, with a firm hand. However, was this the case? The Kaiser, and "personal rule" of an authoritarian Germany, was exemplified by his quote that reads "There is only one ruler of the Reich and I am he". He defended the Prussian Monarchy, and strongly believed in the Divine Right of Kings. He did not want his position challenged, so those around him, for example his Chancellors (Bulow), strongly supported the Kaiser's views. The position of Chancellor was reliant on their unthinking loyalty to the Kaiser and no-one else. After Bulow sided with the Reichstag and criticised the Kaiser after the Daily Telegraph affair, 1909, he was dismissed quickly and replaced with another Chancellor who would support him. Within politics, the Kaiser had great, engrained support and there was little, to no, challenge of the present system. Even "radical" parties, like the SPD, supported the Kaiser and his policies, such as Weltpolitik, Flottenpolitik, and the like. The parties on the right, the Conservatives, and the Centrist party did also not desire to push the issue of reform. Any large reforms would only give strength to the SPD, so the authoritarian state remained. Kaiser, as "King of Prussia", dominated the Reichstag which protected the Conservatives, who were supported, and arguably, controlled by the elites (Junkers) who wanted to preserve their status and power. Some saw the Kaiser, and the elites, as claiming authority of Germany, but at no time was this challenged. Bethmann-Hollweg, 1910, suggested increasing the middle-class vote, but the Conservatives quickly rejected the idea, as there was
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