The Second Reich


In 1862 Wilhelm appointed Otto Von Bismarck, a Junker, Prime Minister, to help him create a larger army. Bismarck practiced Real Politick (the politics of reality). With Wilhelm’s approval, Bismarck declared that Wilhelm would rule without parliament consent or a legal budget. This was in direct violation of the Prussian constitution. Bismarck’s ultimate goal was to unite all of the German states (under Prussian rule) with "blood and iron". He provoked war with Denmark (1864) and Austria itself (1866 The Seven Weeks War) over Schleswig and Holstein, which where ruled by the king of Denmark, but where ethnically and politically tied to Germany. The Austro-Prussian war (1866 The Seven Weeks War) resulted in a quick defeat of Austria, and Bismarck then formed the North German Confederation, from which Austria was excluded. He exploited the German states' fears of France, and shortened up the Em’s telegram in such a way as to basically say, "up yours France." By doing this, he provoked the Franco-Prussian war (1870-71), which ended in France's humiliating defeat. Bismarck now easily brought the German states under the crown of Prussia, and Wilhelm I was proclaimed emperor. Bismarck became the empire's first chancellor, and ruled thereafter as virtual dictator. Bismarck's economic policies resulted in the rapid growth of German industry and the gaining of overseas colonies. In 1873 Bismarck formed a loose alliance with Austria-Hungary and Russia known as the Three Emperors League, but soon broke up over conflicting interests over the Balkans. In 1879 Bismarck established a military and political alliance with Austria-Hungary. Italy joined in 1882, and the Triple Alliance was formed. After Wilhelm died, followed by his successor, Wilhelm II was next in line. Wilhelm II was eager to establish his authority and resented Bismarck for pushing his father around. Wilhelm II forced Bismarck to resign in 1890. Bismarck died in

Wilhelm I

Wilhelm I, 1797-1888, emperor of Germany (1871-88) and King of Prussia (1861-88), he appointed (1862) Otto Von Bismarck prime minister, and was thereafter guided almost completely by Bismarck. . Prussia began its series of military triumphs: the Danish war over Schleswig and Holstein (1864), the Austro-Prussian War (1866), and the Franco-Prussian War (1870-71). Bismarck had Wilhelm crowned emperor of a unified Germany. William's rule was crucial in modern history, for it saw the rise of Germany as a great European power. ). His son and successor Frederick III died 99 days after he took power (March-June 1888).

Wilhelm II

Wilhelm II, 1859-1941, emperor of Germany and King of Prussia (1888-1918), son and successor of Frederick III (March-June 1888), was the grandson of Wilhelm I of Germany and Queen Victoria of England. 1889-1905 Kaiser Wilhelm II pushes for a major navy and overseas colonies, but Reichstag refuses to go along. His overbearing character soon clashed with that of Bismarck, whom he dismissed in 1890. Thereafter he was the dominant force in German affairs. His naval, colonial, and commercial aspirations antagonized Great Britain, France, Russia, and the United States, The Allies insisted on his abdication (1918) after the defeat of Germany. He lived in exile in the Netherlands.