Essay about Imperial Germany: Social Divisions

Submitted By anikarora
Words: 688
Pages: 3

Imperial Germany: social divisions
Population growth:
Pre-1914 Germany was in the throes of demographic and economic change.
During 1871-1914 Germany’s population increased by 40%.
Population growth contributed to people’s sense of living in a society in flux.
The expansion of German industry 1900-1914 was reflected in rapid increases in the population of its industrial towns and cities.
Social divisions:
Imperial Germany was divided by region, religion and social class.
Volker Berghahn (Modern Germany, 1982) describes early 20th-century German society as “full of tensions”.
Them German Empire formed in 1871 was a Prussia-led union of 25 states of varying size: four kingdoms (Prussia, Bavaria, Saxony, and Württemberg), six grand duchies, five duchies, seven principalities and three free cities (Hamburg, Bremen and Lübeck).
Each state had their own very distinctive histories, and their inhabitants identified with them strongly, thinking of themselves as Bavarians or Saxons or Prussians as much as they thought of themselves as Germans.
Prussia’s ascendancy in political life in Imperial Germany was a source of resentment among non-Prussians.
The German Empire had its national minorities: Danes, French (in Alsace- Lorraine) and three million Poles (mostly living in eastern Germany.
Imperial Germany was preponderantly a Protestant state (62%) but it also cons aided a sizeable catholic minority (36%).
German catholics were concentrated in three main areas: Bavaria, the Rhineland and Silesia.
In the early years of the German Empire the Prussian ruling class viewed German Catholics with suspicion, believing they took their orders from the Vatican.
These suspicions gave rise to the so-called Kulturkampf of the 1870s - a campaign my the government to undermine the influence of the Catholic Church in Germany.
In response to Kulturkampf, Catholics formed their own political party, the Centre Party or Zentrum.
The Kulturkampf was abandoned in the late 1870s and religious tensions eased. anti-Catholic prejudice did not entirely disappear.
Social Class:
Social class was the biggest division in German society.
In early 20th-Century Germany was a sternly hierarchical society in which social mobility (movement between social classes) was limited.
At the top of the pyramid were the conservative elites: at the bottom were the industrial working class and agricultural labourers. Between them was a large and diversified middle class.
Germanys social structure, 1914
Conservative elites:
The core of the elite was the Prussian aristocracy, the Junkers, owners of wheat and rye-producing estates in eastern Germany.
Closely connected with the Junkers were the office corps of the German army and major industrialists, especially the coal and steel “barons” of the Ruhr.
Middle classes (the main sub-groups):
Prosperous merchants, industrialists and