History UsefulNotes / ImperialGermany

20th Jun '16 8:36:46 AM SmoCro
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Added DiffLines:

** Debatable; Fischer and Mommsen are today no longer considered the be all and end all. Well, just consider Clark's 'The Sleepwalkers'. As for the genocide, it is hard to find a European, or indeed a greater power in this period not commiting war crimes or genocide, so to use this as a way to prove the Sonderweg is highly dubious.
20th Jun '16 8:29:39 AM SmoCro
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Imperial Germany was a constitutional monarchy with an elected parliament, the ''Reichstag,'' and while in the United Kingdom around 50% of men failed to meet qualifications to vote, Imperial Germany had universal suffrage (though still only for men) [[labelnote:*]] Well, sort of. An individual's vote was weighted depending on their personal wealth. The richest third of the citizens elected approximately 85% of the legislature.[[/labelnote]] Furthermore, Bismarck introduced an advanced welfare system for the sick, the old, and the infirm. And yet while it was technically governed by rule of law, its constitution was weak, and a great deal of influence was in the hands of generals, landowners, and industrialists. While parliament had the power to pass bills, all laws had to be approved by the Chancellor, who was not elected but personally appointed by the Emperor, and was responsible only to him. Thus the true power lay not with the people, but the Kaiser. Although not a full-on autocracy like pre-1906 TsaristRussia, none of this added up to democracy.

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Imperial Germany was a constitutional monarchy with an elected parliament, the ''Reichstag,'' and while in the United Kingdom around 50% of men failed to meet qualifications to vote, Imperial Germany had universal suffrage (though still only for men) [[labelnote:*]] Well, sort of. An individual's vote was weighted depending on their personal wealth. The richest third of the citizens elected approximately 85% of the legislature.[[/labelnote]] Furthermore, Bismarck introduced an advanced welfare system for the sick, the old, and the infirm. And yet while it was technically governed by rule of law, its constitution was weak, and a great deal of influence was in the hands of generals, landowners, and industrialists. While parliament had the power to pass bills, all laws had to be approved by the Chancellor, who was not elected but personally appointed by the Emperor, and was responsible only to him. Thus the true power lay not with the people, but the Kaiser. Although not a full-on autocracy like pre-1906 TsaristRussia, none of this added up to democracy.
14th Jun '16 7:48:00 PM SantosLHalper
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** Another Simpsons joke involves Imperial German World War One recreationists celebrating their graduation by throwing their pickelhaubes into the air, only to regret this when they fall with the points facing downwards.

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** Another Simpsons joke involves Imperial German World War One recreationists reenactors celebrating their graduation by throwing their pickelhaubes into the air, only to regret this when they fall with the points facing downwards.
7th Jun '16 8:36:29 AM Doug86
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A full third larger than modern Germany, it incorporated a large part of modern Poland[[note]]at the time Poland was still partitioned between Austria-Hungary, Russia and Prussia with Russia ultimately getting most of it[[/note]] (which itself lost all of its eastern territories to the Soviet Union after World War II and was compensated by territories taken from eastern Germany), Alsace-Lorraine (part of modern France), small slices of Lithuania. Belgium and Denmark, and what is now the Kaliningrad exclave of the Russian Federation. All had German populations at a time but in some places, primarily the Duchy of Posen (today Poznan in Poland) they were not a majority or "German in sentiment". [[InternetBackdraft Be very careful when you talk about this. It may spontaneously combust, and not only with Germans.]] Germans were kicked out of many places after UsefulNotes/WorldWarOne and far more after UsefulNotes/WorldWarII, but in Germany and these places [[ElephantInTheLivingRoom it's considered polite not to mention this.]]

to:

A full third larger than modern Germany, it incorporated a large part of modern Poland[[note]]at the time Poland was still partitioned between Austria-Hungary, Russia and Prussia with Russia ultimately getting most of it[[/note]] (which itself lost all of its eastern territories to the Soviet Union after World War II and was compensated by territories taken from eastern Germany), Alsace-Lorraine (part of modern France), small slices of Lithuania. Belgium and Denmark, and what is now the Kaliningrad exclave of the Russian Federation. All had German populations at a time but in some places, primarily the Duchy of Posen (today Poznan in Poland) they were not a majority or "German in sentiment". [[InternetBackdraft Be very careful when you talk about this. It may spontaneously combust, and not only with Germans.]] Germans were kicked out of many places after UsefulNotes/WorldWarOne UsefulNotes/WorldWarI and far more after UsefulNotes/WorldWarII, but in Germany and these places [[ElephantInTheLivingRoom it's considered polite not to mention this.]]



The most famous statesman of the time was UsefulNotes/OttoVonBismarck. Bismarck engineered the unification of Germany through a lot of extremely ruthless and deceptive tricks, but he was so good at it that you [[MagnificentBastard can't help but cheer for the guy]] ([[EvilChancellor though that may be disputable]]). He spend his later years juggling a complex alliance system in an attempt to keep the peace in Europe. Historians are divided as to whether he could have kept it up, but Kaiser Wilhelm II booted him out, so we may never know. He also made the famous prediction that [[UsefulNotes/WorldWarOne the next war in Europe would start over "some damned silly thing in the Balkans"]]. [[GoneHorriblyRight He was right.]]

The other best-known characters of the period are, of course, the Kaisers. There were three[[note]]known collectively as "der greise Kaiser, der weise Kaiser und der scheiße Kaiser" - the senile Emperor, the wise Emperor and the shitty Emperor[[/note]]. The first was Wilhelm I, a conservative old Prussian stalwart with magnificent whiskers who had fought in the Napoleonic Wars. His reign was dominated, politically, by Bismarck. Then came Friedrich III,[[note]]They were using the Prussian numbering[[/note]] for 99 days. A man of vague liberal sympathies (he quite admired Britain; he even married UsefulNotes/QueenVictoria's eldest daughter) he was struck down by cancer of the larynx and is a favourite of AlternateHistory. Finally and notoriously, Wilhelm II. A notoriously temperamental man with what we would now diagnose as ADHD and some [[FreudianExcuse major childhood issues concerning his arm defect]], he veered between liberal and conservative, strident militarism and sympathy for socialism, and later defeatism and dreams of victory - in other words, he was a picture of the rather-divided German nation as a whole in one man. He also had serious MommyIssues involving his relationship with Britain: unlike his father, who had a healthy respect for Britain, Wilhelm was at once awestruck and envious, hating his mother but also wanting to be British. He admired British power but at the same time resented what he felt was Britain's attempts to keep Germany "in the shade." He fell out with Bismarck and dismissed him, and the rest of his reign was a succession of brief and unmemorable chancellors with himself as the real centre of gravity until during the war he was rendered irrelevant by OHL (''Oberste HeeresLeitung'', Army High Command) who formed a military Junta centered around Generals Hindenburg and Ludendorff and ruled the country 'on his behalf'. Interestingly ImperialJapan, with a constitution and government modeled on Imperial Germany's, also fell prey to [[KatanasOfTheRisingSun a much less stable and rational Army-Navy Junta]] in the 1930s [[SecondSinoJapaneseWar which got a few tens]] [[WorldWarTwo of millions of people killed]].

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The most famous statesman of the time was UsefulNotes/OttoVonBismarck. Bismarck engineered the unification of Germany through a lot of extremely ruthless and deceptive tricks, but he was so good at it that you [[MagnificentBastard can't help but cheer for the guy]] ([[EvilChancellor though that may be disputable]]). He spend his later years juggling a complex alliance system in an attempt to keep the peace in Europe. Historians are divided as to whether he could have kept it up, but Kaiser Wilhelm II booted him out, so we may never know. He also made the famous prediction that [[UsefulNotes/WorldWarOne [[UsefulNotes/WorldWarI the next war in Europe would start over "some damned silly thing in the Balkans"]]. [[GoneHorriblyRight He was right.]]

The other best-known characters of the period are, of course, the Kaisers. There were three[[note]]known collectively as "der greise Kaiser, der weise Kaiser und der scheiße Kaiser" - the senile Emperor, the wise Emperor and the shitty Emperor[[/note]]. The first was Wilhelm I, a conservative old Prussian stalwart with magnificent whiskers who had fought in the Napoleonic Wars. His reign was dominated, politically, by Bismarck. Then came Friedrich III,[[note]]They were using the Prussian numbering[[/note]] for 99 days. A man of vague liberal sympathies (he quite admired Britain; he even married UsefulNotes/QueenVictoria's eldest daughter) he was struck down by cancer of the larynx and is a favourite of AlternateHistory. Finally and notoriously, Wilhelm II. A notoriously temperamental man with what we would now diagnose as ADHD and some [[FreudianExcuse major childhood issues concerning his arm defect]], he veered between liberal and conservative, strident militarism and sympathy for socialism, and later defeatism and dreams of victory - in other words, he was a picture of the rather-divided German nation as a whole in one man. He also had serious MommyIssues involving his relationship with Britain: unlike his father, who had a healthy respect for Britain, Wilhelm was at once awestruck and envious, hating his mother but also wanting to be British. He admired British power but at the same time resented what he felt was Britain's attempts to keep Germany "in the shade." He fell out with Bismarck and dismissed him, and the rest of his reign was a succession of brief and unmemorable chancellors with himself as the real centre of gravity until during the war he was rendered irrelevant by OHL (''Oberste HeeresLeitung'', Army High Command) who formed a military Junta centered around Generals Hindenburg and Ludendorff and ruled the country 'on his behalf'. Interestingly ImperialJapan, with a constitution and government modeled on Imperial Germany's, also fell prey to [[KatanasOfTheRisingSun a much less stable and rational Army-Navy Junta]] in the 1930s [[SecondSinoJapaneseWar which got a few tens]] [[WorldWarTwo [[UsefulNotes/WorldWarII of millions of people killed]].



[[UsefulNotes/WorldWarOne It all ended very badly]].

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[[UsefulNotes/WorldWarOne [[UsefulNotes/WorldWarI It all ended very badly]].



* HistoricalVillainUpgrade: At their worst, the Imperial Army could be harsh and repressive. Their greatest crime might have been the deliberate burning of library of the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium, which contained many irreplaceable one-of-a-kinds. Hostage taking and executions of civilians in occupied Belgium and France weren't unknown, either. That said, their crimes were downright paltry compared to the Nazis. [[CriticalResearchFailure Some people aren't clear on this.]] [[VillainwithGoodPublicity On both sides of said issue.]] The Allies' propaganda during UsefulNotes/WorldWarOne (notably the Rape of Belgium campaign, which blended fact and fiction profligately) and the total responsibility that was laid on them by the Versailles treaty didn't help, along with Wilhelm's openly belligerent rhetoric and attitude.

to:

* HistoricalVillainUpgrade: At their worst, the Imperial Army could be harsh and repressive. Their greatest crime might have been the deliberate burning of library of the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium, which contained many irreplaceable one-of-a-kinds. Hostage taking and executions of civilians in occupied Belgium and France weren't unknown, either. That said, their crimes were downright paltry compared to the Nazis. [[CriticalResearchFailure Some people aren't clear on this.]] [[VillainwithGoodPublicity On both sides of said issue.]] The Allies' propaganda during UsefulNotes/WorldWarOne UsefulNotes/WorldWarI (notably the Rape of Belgium campaign, which blended fact and fiction profligately) and the total responsibility that was laid on them by the Versailles treaty didn't help, along with Wilhelm's openly belligerent rhetoric and attitude.



** Also, Wilhelm made an habit of remarking the short stature of Vittorio Emanuele III, king of Italy and his ally, and generally trying to piss him off. After ''fourteen years'' of these tricks WorldWarI started, and [[CavalryRefusal the king of Italy and his government were in perfect agreement to not invade France as they were supposed to]].

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** Also, Wilhelm made an habit of remarking the short stature of Vittorio Emanuele III, king of Italy and his ally, and generally trying to piss him off. After ''fourteen years'' of these tricks WorldWarI UsefulNotes/WorldWarI started, and [[CavalryRefusal the king of Italy and his government were in perfect agreement to not invade France as they were supposed to]].



* Robert Conroy has written two alternate history novels both dealing with an Imperial German invasion of the United States; the first, ''1901'', has the Germans invading via New York state after the Americans refused to give up the territories of the Philippines, Guam, Cuba and Puerto Rico acquired after the Spanish American War (this dispute actually arose in RealLife), with UsefulNotes/TheodoreRoosevelt taking over after William [=McKinley=]'s sudden death by heart attack. The other book, ''1920: America's Great War'', involves a German attack on the United States from occupied Mexico, six years after a successfully executed Schlieffen Plan swiftly defeated the Allies in UsefulNotes/WorldWarOne, with the intent of seizing large swaths of territory including California.

to:

* Robert Conroy has written two alternate history novels both dealing with an Imperial German invasion of the United States; the first, ''1901'', has the Germans invading via New York state after the Americans refused to give up the territories of the Philippines, Guam, Cuba and Puerto Rico acquired after the Spanish American War (this dispute actually arose in RealLife), with UsefulNotes/TheodoreRoosevelt taking over after William [=McKinley=]'s sudden death by heart attack. The other book, ''1920: America's Great War'', involves a German attack on the United States from occupied Mexico, six years after a successfully executed Schlieffen Plan swiftly defeated the Allies in UsefulNotes/WorldWarOne, UsefulNotes/WorldWarI, with the intent of seizing large swaths of territory including California.



* Creator/HarryTurtledove's "Curious Notions" (part of his Crosstime Traffic series), takes place in an AlternateHistory where the German Empire won UsefulNotes/WorldWarOne and continued its global territorial expansion unabated for decades before defeating the United States in a nuclear war in the 1950s.

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* Creator/HarryTurtledove's "Curious Notions" (part of his Crosstime Traffic series), takes place in an AlternateHistory where the German Empire won UsefulNotes/WorldWarOne UsefulNotes/WorldWarI and continued its global territorial expansion unabated for decades before defeating the United States in a nuclear war in the 1950s.
26th May '16 12:41:40 AM JulianLapostat
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Added DiffLines:

* HistoricalVillainDowngrade: While many people rightly say that Imperial Germany fell short of Nazi Germany in scale of war crimes and means to implement them, this has sometimes led many people to go further and significantly downplay some of Imperial Germany's crimes and, likewise significantly undersell their responsibility in unleashing the First World War which German historians such as Fritz Fischer and Hans Mommsen now conclude is mostly the fault of Imperial Germany's internal and external policies. Likewise a lot of the policies and goals of Nazi Germany's Ostfront goals were similar to Imperial Germany's policies, and more importantly they did implement policies of genocide against the Herero in Sudwestafrika, including use of concentration camps and death by starvation, measures similar to the FinalSolution.
26th May '16 12:19:34 AM Calmevir
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A full third larger than modern Germany, it incorporated a large part of modern Poland[[note]]at the time Poland was still partitioned between Austria-Hungary, Russia and Prussia with Russia ultimately getting most of it[[note]] (which itself lost all of its eastern territories to the Soviet Union after World War II and was compensated by territories taken from eastern Germany), Alsace-Lorraine (part of modern France), small slices of Lithuania. Belgium and Denmark, and what is now the Kaliningrad exclave of the Russian Federation. All had German populations at a time but in some places, primarily the Duchy of Posen (today Poznan in Poland) they were not a majority or "German in sentiment". [[InternetBackdraft Be very careful when you talk about this. It may spontaneously combust, and not only with Germans.]] Germans were kicked out of many places after UsefulNotes/WorldWarOne and far more after UsefulNotes/WorldWarII, but in Germany and these places [[ElephantInTheLivingRoom it's considered polite not to mention this.]]

to:

A full third larger than modern Germany, it incorporated a large part of modern Poland[[note]]at the time Poland was still partitioned between Austria-Hungary, Russia and Prussia with Russia ultimately getting most of it[[note]] it[[/note]] (which itself lost all of its eastern territories to the Soviet Union after World War II and was compensated by territories taken from eastern Germany), Alsace-Lorraine (part of modern France), small slices of Lithuania. Belgium and Denmark, and what is now the Kaliningrad exclave of the Russian Federation. All had German populations at a time but in some places, primarily the Duchy of Posen (today Poznan in Poland) they were not a majority or "German in sentiment". [[InternetBackdraft Be very careful when you talk about this. It may spontaneously combust, and not only with Germans.]] Germans were kicked out of many places after UsefulNotes/WorldWarOne and far more after UsefulNotes/WorldWarII, but in Germany and these places [[ElephantInTheLivingRoom it's considered polite not to mention this.]]
14th Apr '16 3:03:05 PM AllenbysEyes88
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* HistoricalVillainUpgrade: At their worst, they could be per-itty bad: their greatest crime might have been the deliberate burning of library of the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium, which contained many irreplaceable one-of-a-kinds. Hostage taking and mass executions of civilians in occupied Belgium and France weren't unknown, either. That said, their crimes were downright paltry compared to the Nazis. [[CriticalResearchFailure Some people aren't clear on this.]] [[VillainwithGoodPublicity On both sides of said issue.]] The Allies' propaganda during UsefulNotes/WorldWarOne (notably the Rape of Belgium campaign, which blended fact and fiction profligately) and the total responsibility that was laid on them by the Versailles treaty didn't help, along with Wilhelm's openly belligerent rhetoric and attitude.

to:

* HistoricalVillainUpgrade: At their worst, they the Imperial Army could be per-itty bad: their harsh and repressive. Their greatest crime might have been the deliberate burning of library of the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium, which contained many irreplaceable one-of-a-kinds. Hostage taking and mass executions of civilians in occupied Belgium and France weren't unknown, either. That said, their crimes were downright paltry compared to the Nazis. [[CriticalResearchFailure Some people aren't clear on this.]] [[VillainwithGoodPublicity On both sides of said issue.]] The Allies' propaganda during UsefulNotes/WorldWarOne (notably the Rape of Belgium campaign, which blended fact and fiction profligately) and the total responsibility that was laid on them by the Versailles treaty didn't help, along with Wilhelm's openly belligerent rhetoric and attitude.
14th Apr '16 2:58:04 PM AllenbysEyes88
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* HistoricalVillainUpgrade: They could be per-itty bad (their greatest crime might have been the deliberate burning of library of the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium, which contained many irreplaceable one-of-a-kinds), but their crimes were downright paltry compared to the Nazis. [[CriticalResearchFailure Some people aren't clear on this.]] [[VillainwithGoodPublicity On both sides of said issue.]] The Allies' propaganda during UsefulNotes/WorldWarOne (notably the Rape of Belgium campaign, which blended fact and fiction profligately) and the total responsibility that was laid on them by the Versailles treaty didn't help, along with Wilhelm's openly belligerent rhetoric and attitude.

to:

* HistoricalVillainUpgrade: They At their worst, they could be per-itty bad (their bad: their greatest crime might have been the deliberate burning of library of the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium, which contained many irreplaceable one-of-a-kinds), but one-of-a-kinds. Hostage taking and mass executions of civilians in occupied Belgium and France weren't unknown, either. That said, their crimes were downright paltry compared to the Nazis. [[CriticalResearchFailure Some people aren't clear on this.]] [[VillainwithGoodPublicity On both sides of said issue.]] The Allies' propaganda during UsefulNotes/WorldWarOne (notably the Rape of Belgium campaign, which blended fact and fiction profligately) and the total responsibility that was laid on them by the Versailles treaty didn't help, along with Wilhelm's openly belligerent rhetoric and attitude.
14th Apr '16 2:56:25 PM AllenbysEyes88
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* HistoricalVillainUpgrade: They could be per-itty bad (their greatest crime might have been the deliberate burning of library of the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium, which contained many irreplaceable one-of-a-kinds), but their crimes were downright paltry compared to the Nazis. [[CriticalResearchFailure Some people aren't clear on this.]] [[VillainwithGoodPublicity On both sides of said issue.]] The Allies' propaganda during UsefulNotes/WorldWarOne (notably the Rape of Belgium campaign, which blended fact and fiction profligately) and the total responsibility that was laid on them by the Versailles treaty didn't help.

to:

* HistoricalVillainUpgrade: They could be per-itty bad (their greatest crime might have been the deliberate burning of library of the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium, which contained many irreplaceable one-of-a-kinds), but their crimes were downright paltry compared to the Nazis. [[CriticalResearchFailure Some people aren't clear on this.]] [[VillainwithGoodPublicity On both sides of said issue.]] The Allies' propaganda during UsefulNotes/WorldWarOne (notably the Rape of Belgium campaign, which blended fact and fiction profligately) and the total responsibility that was laid on them by the Versailles treaty didn't help.help, along with Wilhelm's openly belligerent rhetoric and attitude.



* LeeroyJenkins: Wilhelm II early in his reign. In the span of a few years (1900-1906) nearly went to war with the United States over Venezuela and the Dominican Republic, France over central African colonies and France ''and'' Britain over Morocco (twice!). Then the construction of Germany's High Seas Fleet. In fairness, he calmed down considerably afterwards.
** Well, until the Daily Telegraph incident. And the Agadir Crisis. Okay, so how calm Wilhelm was tended to shift on a day to day, even moment by moment basis. In all likelihood he probably suffered from some form of manic depression.

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* LeeroyJenkins: Wilhelm II II, especially in the early in years of his reign. In the span of a few years (1900-1906) nearly went to war with the United States over Venezuela and the Dominican Republic, France over central African colonies and France ''and'' Britain over Morocco (twice!). Then the construction of Germany's High Seas Fleet. In fairness, he calmed down considerably afterwards.
** Well, until
Then came the Daily Telegraph incident. And incident and the Agadir Crisis. Okay, so how calm How rational Wilhelm was tended to shift on a day to day, even moment by moment basis. In all likelihood he probably suffered from some form of manic depression.
24th Mar '16 12:50:34 PM Alceister
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* OneOfUs: As odd as this may sound, but Wilhelm with his penchant for war games and dashing uniforms was both one of the first tabletop nerds and cosplayers before both existed. He also liked drawing conceptual sketches of warships and buildings, and was particularly enthusiastic about the latest technology of the day.

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* OneOfUs: As odd as this may sound, but King Wilhelm with his II of Imperial Germany had a penchant for war games and dashing uniforms was uniforms, essentially being both one of the first a tabletop nerds nerd and cosplayers cosplayer before both subcultures even existed. He was also a bit of a tech geek: Wilhelm liked drawing conceptual sketches of warships and buildings, buildings and was particularly enthusiastic about the latest technology of the day.day, such as airships.
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