Deutsches Kaiserreich

Kaiserreich is the German term for a monarchical empire.
Literally a Kaiser’s Reich, an emperor’s domain or realm.
Proclamation of Wilhelm I as German Emperor

When the proper term is used without disambiguation, it is assumed in Germany to refer to the German Empire of 1871-1918, during which the large majority of historically-independent German states (with the significant exception of Austria) were unified under a single Kaiser.

Deutsches Kaiserreich is the common name given to the state officially named Deutsches Reich, designating Germany from the unification of Germany and proclamation of Wilhelm I as German Emperor on 18 January 1871, to 1918, when it became a federal republic, after defeat in World War I, and the abdication of the Emperor, Wilhelm II.
In a France defeated and invaded after the Franco-Prussian war of 1870, Chancellor Bismarck proclaimed the German Empire in the Hall of Mirrors.
This was Germany’s revenge for the humiliations imposed by Louis XIV and Napoléon I.
On 19 July 1870, France declared war on Prussia.
It capitulated at Sedan on 2 September. Prussia then invaded France.
On 19 September, it besieged Paris and the first Prussian troops arrived in Versailles.
On 5 October, William I and Bismarck moved into the town to prepare the proclamation of the German Empire from the Château.
Since the mid-1860s, Prussia had emerged enlarged and fortified from its campaigns against Austria and Denmark.
It now extended from the Rhine to Russia.
Bismarck, its Chancellor, attempted to federate the other German states around Prussia in order to create an empire at the expense of the Austrian-Hungarian empire, its rival.
He wanted Germany to become the new power of central Europe, between France and Russia.
He had managed to constitute the Confederation of Northern Germany which united all the states except those of the south.
Hesse and Baden, followed by Bavaria and Wurtemberg finally joined in November 1870.

Otto von Bismark
König Ludwig II. König von Bayern
At the request of Prussian Minister President Otto von Bismarck (and in exchange for certain financial concessions), Ludwig II König von Bayern wrote a letter (the so-called ‘Kaiserbrief’) in December 1870 endorsing the creation of the German Empire.
With the creation of the Empire, Bavaria lost its status as an independent kingdom, and became another state in the empire.
Ludwig attempted to protest these alterations by refusing to attend the ceremony where Wilhelm I was proclaimed the new empire’s first emperor.
Was this also out of love of the place and Louis XIV?
Whatever the reason, Ludwig’s brother Otto negotiated in his place.
However the Bavarian delegation under Prime Minister Count Otto von Bray-Steinburg had secured a privileged status of the Kingdom of Bavaria within the German Empire (Reservatrechte).
Within the Empire the Kingdom of Bavaria was even able to retain its own diplomatic body, and its own army, which would fall under Prussian command only in times of war.

After the creation of the greater Germany, Ludwig increasingly withdrew from politics, and devoted himself to his personal creative projects, most famously his castles, where he personally approved every detail of the architecture, decoration and furnishing.
And so the proclamation of German unity could be made.
The proclamation of the Empire was fixed for 18 January 1871 in the Hall of Mirrors.
An altar was set up here for the religious ceremony.
A stage was installed along the side next to the Salon of War, facing the spot where the throne of Louis XIV stood.
600 officers and all the German princes were present except Ludwig II of Bavaria.
After the Te Deum, Bismarck, in his cuirassier’s uniform, read out the proclamation.
When he had finished, the Grand-Duke of Baden shouted “Long live his Majesty the Emperor William!” The room rocked with the assembly’s “hurrahs!”.
The Chancellor had finally made his dream come true under the paintings of Le Brun glorifying the victories of Louis XIV on the Rhine.
He had also achieved his revenge for the defeat of Iena in 1806.
The Germans soon left Versailles to the elected representatives of defeated France.
Wappen des Königreichs Preußen
The German Empire consisted of 27 constituent territories (most of them ruled by royal families).
While the Kingdom of Prussia contained most of the population and most of the territory of the Reich, the Prussian leadership became supplanted by German leaders and Prussia itself played a lesser role.
Prussia’s “political and cultural influence had diminished considerably” by the 1890s.
Its three largest neighbours were rivals Imperial Russia to the east, France to the west, and ally Austria-Hungary to the south.
After 1850, Germany industrialized rapidly, with a foundation in coal, iron (and later steel), chemicals and railways.
From a population of 41 million people in 1871, it grew to 68 million in 1913.
From a heavily rural nation in 1815, it was now predominantly urban.
During its 47 years of existence, the German Empire operated as an industrial, technological and scientific giant, receiving more Nobel Prizes in science than Britain, France, Russia and the United States combined.
Dropping the Pilot
It became a great power, boasting a rapidly growing economy and the world’s strongest army and its navy went from being negligible to second only behind the Royal Navy in less than a decade.
After the removal of the powerful Chancellor Otto von Bismarck in 1890 following the death of Emperor Wilhelm I, the young Emperor Wilhelm II engaged in increasingly reckless foreign policies that left the Empire politically isolated.
Its network of small colonies in Africa and the Pacific paled in comparison to the British and French empires.
When the great crisis of 1914 arrived, it had only two weak allies (Austria-Hungary and Ottoman Empire) left.
In World War I its plans to quickly capture Paris in 1914 failed and the Western Front (against Britain and France) became a stalemate.
The Allied naval blockade made for increasing shortages of food.
The Empire collapsed overnight in the November 1918 Revolution as all the royals abdicated and a republic took over.
THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE DEUTSCHES KAISERREICH
On 10 December 1870 the North German Confederation Reichstag renamed the Confederation as the German Empire and gave the title of German Emperor to the King of Prussia as President of the Confederation.
König Wilhelm I von Preußen
During the Siege of Paris on 18 January 1871, King Wilhelm I of Prussia was proclaimed German Emperor in the Hall of Mirrors at the Palace of Versailles.
The 1871 German Constitution was adopted by the Reichstag on 14 April 1871 and proclaimed by the Emperor on 16 April, which was substantially based upon Bismarck’s North German Constitution.
Germany acquired some democratic features.
The new empire had a parliament called the Reichstag, which was elected by universal male suffrage, however, the original constituencies drawn in 1871 were never redrawn to reflect the growth of urban areas.
As a result, by the time of the great expansion of German cities in the 1890s and first decade of the 20th century, rural areas were grossly overrepresented.
Legislation also required the consent of the Bundesrat, the federal council of deputies from the states. Executive power was vested in the emperor, or Kaiser, who was assisted by a chancellor responsible only to him.
The emperor was given extensive powers by the constitution.
He alone appointed and dismissed the chancellor, was supreme commander-in-chief of the armed forces, and final arbiter of all foreign affairs.
Officially, the chancellor was a one-man cabinet and was responsible for the conduct of all state affairs; in practice, the State Secretaries (bureaucratic top officials in charge of such fields as finance, war, foreign affairs, etc.) acted as unofficial portfolio ministers.
Reichstag
The Reichstag had the power to pass, amend or reject bills and to initiate legislation.
Although nominally a league of equals, in practice the empire was dominated by the largest and most powerful state, Prussia.
It stretched across the northern two thirds of the new Reich, and contained three fifths of its population.
The imperial crown was hereditary in the House of Hohenzollern, the ruling house of Prussia.
With the exception of the years 1872–1873 and 1892–1894, the chancellor was always simultaneously the prime minister of Prussia.
With 17 out of 58 votes in the Bundesrat, Berlin needed only a few votes from the small states to exercise effective control.
The other states retained their own governments, but had only limited aspects of sovereignty.
For example, both postage stamps and currency were issued for the empire as a whole.
Coins through one mark was also minted in the name of the empire, while higher valued pieces were issued by the states, but these larger gold and silver issues were virtually commemorative coins and had limited circulation.
While the states issued their own decorations, and some had their own armies, the military forces of the smaller ones were put under Prussian control.
Those of the larger states, such as the Kingdoms of Bavaria and Saxony, were coordinated along Prussian principles and would in wartime be controlled by the federal government.
The evolution of the German Empire is somewhat in line with parallel developments in Italy which became a united nation state shortly before the German Empire.
Coat of Arms of the Russian Empire
Some key elements of the German Empire’s authoritarian political structure were also the basis for conservative modernization in Imperial Japan under Meiji and the preservation of an authoritarian political structure under the Tsars in the Russian Empire.
One factor in the social anatomy of these governments had been the retention of a very substantial share in political power by the landed elite, the Junkers, resulting from the absence of a revolutionary breakthrough by the peasants in combination with urban areas.
Although authoritarian in many respects, the empire permitted the development of political parties. Bismarck’s intention was to create a constitutional façade which would mask the continuation of authoritarian policies.
In the process, he created a system with a serious flaw.
There was a significant disparity between the Prussian and German electoral systems.
Prussia used a highly restrictive three-class voting system in which the richest third of the population could choose 85% of the legislature, all but assuring a conservative majority.
As mentioned above, the king and (with two exceptions) the prime minister of Prussia were also the emperor and chancellor of the empire – meaning that the same rulers had to seek majorities from legislatures elected from completely different franchises.
CONSTITUENT STATES
Before unification, German territory was made up of 27 constituent states.
These states consisted of kingdoms, grand duchies, duchies, principalities, free Hanseatic cities and one imperial territory.
The Kingdom of Prussia was the largest of the constituent states, covering some 60% of the territory of the German Empire.
Several of these states had gained sovereignty following the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire.
Others were created as sovereign states after the Congress of Vienna in 1815.
Territories were not necessarily contiguous – many existed in several parts, as a result of historical acquisition, or, in several cases, divisions of the ruling family trees.
Some of the existing states, in particular Hanover, were abolished and annexed by Prussia as a result of the war of 1866.
Each component of the German Empire sent representatives to the Federal Council (Bundesrat) and, via single member districts, the Imperial Diet (Reichstag).
Relations between the Imperial centre and the Empire’s components were somewhat fluid, and were developed on an ongoing basis.
The extent to which the Emperor could, for example, intervene on occasions of disputed or unclear succession was much debated on occasion – for example with the Lippe-Detmold inheritance crisis.
THE ECONOMY UNDER BISMARK


Railways
München Hauptbahnhof
Lacking a technological base at first, the Germans imported their engineering and hardware from Britain, but quickly learned the skills needed to operate and expand the railways.
In many cities, the new railway shops were the centres of technological awareness and training, so that by 1850, Germany was self-sufficient in meeting the demands of railroad construction, and the railways were a major impetus for the growth of the new steel industry, however, German unification in 1870 stimulated consolidation, nationalisation into state-owned companies, and further rapid growth.
German Railways
Unlike the situation in France, the goal was support of industrialisation, and so heavy lines crisscrossed the Ruhr and other industrial districts, and provided good connections to the major ports of Hamburg and Bremen.
By 1880, Germany had 9,400 locomotives pulling 43,000 passengers and 30,000 tons of freight, and forged ahead of France.
Industrialisation
Germany before 1800 was heavily rural, with some urban trade centers.
In the 19th century it began a stage of rapid economic growth and modernization, led by heavy industry.
By 1900 it had the largest economy in Europe.
Before 1850 Germany lagged far behind the leaders in industrial development, Britain, France and Belgium. By mid-century  however, the German states were catching up, and by 1900 Germany was a world leader in industrialization, along with Britain and the United States.
In 1800, Germany’s social structure was poorly suited to entrepreneurship or economic development. Domination by France during the era of the French Revolution (1790s to 1815), produced important institutional reforms, including the abolition of feudal restrictions on the sale of large landed estates, the reduction of the power of the guilds in the cities, and the introduction of a new, more efficient commercial law.
Nevertheless, traditionalism remained strong in most of Germany.
Until midcentury, the guilds, the landed aristocracy, the churches, and the government bureaucracies had so many rules and restrictions that entrepreneurship was held in low esteem, and given little opportunity to develop.
From the 1830s and 1840s, Prussia, Saxony, and other states reorganized agriculture, introducing sugar beets, turnips, and potatoes, yielding a higher level of food production that enabled a surplus rural population to move to industrial areas.
The beginnings of the industrial revolution in Germany came in the textile industry, and was facilitated by eliminating tariff barriers through the Zollverein, starting in 1834.
The take-off stage of economic development came with the railroad revolution in the 1840s, which opened up new markets for local products, created a pool of middle manager, increased the demand for engineers, architects and skilled machinists and stimulated investments in coal and iron.
The political decisions about the economy of Prussia (and after 1871 all Germany) were largely controlled by a coalition of “rye and iron”, that is the Junker landowners of the east and the heavy industry of the west.
Industrialization progressed dynamically in Germany and German manufacturers began to capture domestic markets from British imports, and also to compete with British industry abroad, particularly in the U.S.
The German textiles and metal industries had by 1870 surpassed those of Britain in organization and technical efficiency and superseded British manufacturers in the domestic market.
Germany became the dominant economic power on the continent and was the second largest exporting nation after Britain.
Banks and Cartels
German banks played central roles in financing German industry.
Different banks formed cartels in different industries.
Cartel contracts were accepted as legal and binding by German courts although they were held to be illegal in Britain and the United States.
The process of cartelization began slowly, but the cartel movement took hold after 1873 in the economic depression that followed the postunification speculative bubble.
It began in heavy industry and spread throughout other industries.
By 1900 there were 275 cartels in operation; by 1908, over 500.
By some estimates, different cartel arrangements may have numbered in the thousands at different times, but many German companies stayed outside the cartels because they did not welcome the restrictions that membership imposed.
The government played a powerful role in the industrialization of the German Empire.
It supported not only heavy industry but also crafts and trades because it wanted to maintain prosperity in all parts of the empire.
Even where the national government did not act, the highly autonomous regional and local governments supported their own industries.
Each state tried to be as self-sufficient as possible.
Despite the several ups and downs of prosperity and depression that marked the first decades of the German Empire, the ultimate wealth of the empire proved immense.
German aristocrats, landowners, bankers, and producers created what might be termed the first German economic miracle, the turn-of-the-century surge in German industry and commerce during which bankers, industrialists, mercantilists, the military, and the monarchy joined forces.
Technology
Technological progress during German industrialization occurred in four waves: the railway wave (1877–86), the dye wave (1887–96), the chemical wave (1897–1902), and the wave of electrical engineering (1903–18).
Since Germany industrialized later than Britain, it was able to model its factories after those of Britain, thus making more efficient use of its capital and avoiding legacy methods in its leap to the envelope of technology. Germany invested more heavily than the British in research, especially in chemistry, motors and electricity. Germany’s dominance in physics and chemistry was such that one-third of all Nobel Prizes went to German inventors and researchers.
The German cartel system (known as Konzerne), being significantly concentrated, was able to make more efficient use of capital.
Germany was not weighted down with an expensive worldwide empire that needed defense.
Following Germany’s annexation of Alsace-Lorraine in 1871, it absorbed parts of what had been France’s industrial base.
BASF Ludwigschafen Works
By 1900, the German chemical industry dominated the world market for synthetic dyes.
The three major firms BASF, Bayer and Hoechst produced several hundred different dyes, along with the five smaller firms.
In 1913, these eight firms produced almost 90% of the world supply of dyestuffs and sold about 80% of their production abroad.
The three major firms had also integrated upstream into the production of essential raw materials and they began to expand into other areas of chemistry such as pharmaceuticals, photographic film, agricultural chemicals and electrochemicals.
Top-level decision-making was in the hands of professional salaried managers; leading Chandler to call the German dye companies “the world’s first truly managerial industrial enterprises”.
There were many spin-offs from research—such as the pharmaceutical industry, which emerged from chemical research.
By the start of World War I (1914–1918), German industry switched to war production.
The heaviest demands were on coal and steel for artillery and shell production, and on chemicals for the synthetization of materials that were subject to import restrictions and for chemical weapons and war supplies.
SOCIAL ISSUES UNDER BISMARK
Germany’s middle class, based in the cities, grew exponentially, but it never gained the political power it had in France, Britain or the United States.
The Association of German Women’s Organizations (BDF) was established in 1894 to encompass the proliferating women’s organizations that had sprung up since the 1860s.
From the beginning the BDF was a bourgeois organization, its members working toward equality with men in such areas as education, financial opportunities, and political life.
Working-class women were not welcome; they were organized by the Socialists.
German City Street Scene
Bismarck built on a tradition of welfare programs in Prussia and Saxony that began as early as in the 1840s.
In the 1880s he introduced old age pensions, accident insurance, medical care and unemployment insurance that formed the basis of the modern European welfare state.
His paternalistic programs won the support of German industry because its goals were to win the support of the working classes for the Empire and reduce the outflow of immigrants to America, where wages were higher, but welfare did not exist.
Bismarck further won the support of both industry and skilled workers by his high tariff policies, which protected profits and wages from American competition, although they alienated the liberal intellectuals who wanted free trade.
After achieving formal unification in 1871, Bismarck devoted much of his attention to the cause of national unity under the ideology of Prussianism.
He opposed conservative Catholic activism and emancipation, especially the powers of the Vatican under Pope Pius IX, and working class radicalism, represented by the emerging Social Democratic Party.

Kulturkampf

Prussia in 1871 included 16,000,000 Protestants, both Reformed and Lutheran, and 8,000,000 Catholics. Most people were generally segregated into their own religious worlds, living in rural districts or city neighborhoods that were overwhelmingly of the same religion, and sending their children to separate public schools where their religion was taught.
There was little interaction or intermarriage.
On the whole, the Protestants had a higher social status, and the Catholics were more likely to be peasant farmers or unskilled or semiskilled industrial workers.
Pope Pius IX
In 1870, the Catholics formed their own political party, the Centre Party, which generally supported unification and most of Bismarck’s policies, however, Bismarck distrusted parliamentary democracy in general and opposition parties in particular, especially when the Centre Party showed signs of gaining support among dissident elements such as the Polish Catholics in Silesia.
A powerful intellectual force of the time was anti-Catholicism, led by the liberal intellectuals who formed a vital part of Bismarck’s coalition.
They saw the Catholic Church as a powerful force of reaction and anti-modernity, especially after the proclamation of papal infallibility in 1870, and the tightening control of the Vatican over the local bishops.
The Kulturkampf launched by Bismarck 1871–1880 affected Prussia; although there were similar movements in Baden and Hesse, the rest of Germany was not affected.
According to the new imperial constitution, the states were in charge of religious and educational affairs; they funded the Protestant and Catholic schools.
German Junior School
In July 1871 Bismarck abolished the Catholic section of the Prussian Ministry of ecclesiastical and educational affairs, depriving Catholics of their voice at the highest level.
The system of strict government supervision of schools was applied only in Catholic areas; the Protestant schools were left alone.
Much more serious were the May laws of 1873.
One made the appointment of any priest dependent on his attendance at a German university, as opposed to the seminaries that the Catholics typically used.
Furthermore, all candidates for the ministry had to pass an examination in German culture before a state board which weeded out intransigent Catholics.
Another provision gave the government a veto power over most church activities.
A second law abolished the jurisdiction of the Vatican over the Catholic Church in Prussia; its authority was transferred to a government body controlled by Protestants.
Nearly all German bishops, clergy, and laymen rejected the legality of the new laws, and were defiant in the face of heavier and heavier penalties and imprisonments imposed by Bismarck’s government by 1876, all the Prussian bishops were imprisoned or in exile, and a third of the Catholic parishes were without a priest.
In the face of systematic defiance, the Bismarck government increased the penalties and its attacks, and were challenged in 1875 when a papal encyclical declared the whole ecclesiastical legislation of Prussia was invalid, and threatened to excommunicate any Catholic who obeyed.
There was no violence, but the Catholics mobilized their support, set up numerous civic organizations, raised money to pay fines, and rallied behind their church and the Centre Party.
The government had set up an “Old-Catholic Church,” which attracted only a few thousand members. Bismarck, a devout pietistic Protestant, realized his Kulturkampf was backfiring when secular and socialist elements used the opportunity to attack all religion.
In the long run, the most significant result was the mobilization of the Catholic voters, and their insistence on protecting their religious identity.
In the elections of 1874, the Centre party doubled its popular vote, and became the second-largest party in the national parliament—and remained a powerful force for the next 60 years, so that after Bismarck it became difficult to form a government without their support.

Social Reform

Bismarck built on a tradition of welfare programs in Prussia and Saxony that began as early as in the 1840s. In the 1880s he introduced old age pensions, accident insurance, medical care and unemployment insurance that formed the basis of the modern European welfare state.
He came to realize that this sort of policy was very appealing, since it bound workers to the state, and also fit in very well with his authoritarian nature.
The social security systems installed by Bismarck (health care in 1883, accident insurance in 1884, invalidity and old-age insurance in 1889) at the time were the largest in the world and, to a degree, still exist in Germany today.
Bismarck’s paternalistic programs won the support of German industry because its goals were to win the support of the working classes for the Empire and reduce the outflow of immigrants to America, where wages were higher but welfare did not exist.
Bismarck further won the support of both industry and skilled workers by his high tariff policies, which protected profits and wages from American competition, although they alienated the liberal intellectuals who wanted free trade.

Germanisation

Rathaus Posen – 1900
One of the effects of the unification policies was the gradually increasing tendency to eliminate the use of non-German languages in public life, schools and academic settings with the intent of pressuring the non-German population to abandon their national identity in what was called “Germanization”.
These policies had often the reverse effect of stimulating resistance, usually in the form of home schooling and tighter unity in the minority groups, especially the Poles.
The Germanization policies were targeted particularly against the significant Polish minority of the empire, gained by Prussia in the Partitions of Poland.
Poles were treated as a ethnic minority even where they made up the majority, as in the Province of Posen, where a series of anti-Polish measures was enforced.
Numerous anti-Polish laws had no great effect especially in the province of Posen where the German-speaking population dropped from 42.8% in 1871 to 38.1% in 1905, despite all efforts.

Law

Bismarck’s efforts also initiated the levelling of the enormous differences between the German states, which had been independent in their evolution for centuries, especially with legislation.
The completely different legal histories and judicial systems posed enormous complications, especially for national trade.
While a common trade code had already been introduced by the Confederation in 1861 (which was adapted for the Empire and, with great modifications, is still in effect today), there was little similarity in laws otherwise.
In 1871, a common Criminal Code (Reichsstrafgesetzbuch) was introduced; in 1877, common court procedures were established in the court system (Gerichtsverfassungsgesetz), civil procedures (Zivilprozessordnung) and criminal procedures (Strafprozessordnung).
In 1873 the constitution was amended to allow the Empire to replace the various and greatly differing Civil Codes of the states (If they existed at all; for example, parts of Germany formerly occupied by Napoleon’s France had adopted the French Civil Code, while in Prussia the Allgemeines Preußisches Landrecht of 1794 was still in effect).
In 1881, a first commission was established to produce a common Civil Code for all of the Empire, an enormous effort that would produce the Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch (BGB), possibly one of the most impressive legal works of the world; it was eventually put into effect on 1 January 1900.
It speaks volumes for the conceptual quality of these codifications that they all, albeit with many amendments, are still in effect today.
YEAR OF THE THREE EMPERORS
Kaiser Frederich III
Kaiser Wilhelm I

On 9 March 1888, Wilhelm I died shortly before his 91st birthday, leaving his son Frederick III as the new emperor.

Frederick was a liberal and an admirer of the British constitution, while his links to Britain strengthened further with his marriage to Princess Victoria, eldest child of Queen Victoria.
With his ascent to the throne, many hoped that Frederick’s reign would lead to a liberalisation of the Reich and an increase of parliament’s influence on the political process.
The dismissal of Robert von Puttkamer, the highly-conservative Prussian interior minister, on 8 June was a sign of the expected direction and a blow to Bismarck’s administration.
By the time of his accession, however, Frederick had developed incurable laryngeal cancer, which had been diagnosed in 1887.
He died on the 99th day of his rule, on 15 June 1888.

His son Wilhelm II became Kaiser.
WILHELMINE  ERA
Kaiser Wilhelm II

Wilhelm II sought to reassert his ruling prerogatives at a time when other monarchs in Europe were being transformed into constitutional figureheads.

This decision led the ambitious Kaiser into conflict with Bismarck.
The old chancellor had hoped to guide Wilhelm as he had guided his grandfather, but the emperor wanted to be the master in his own house and had many sycophants telling him that Frederick the Great would not have been great with a Bismarck at his side.
Otto Eduard Leopold Fürst von Bismarck
Herzog von Lauenburg

A key difference between Wilhelm II and Bismarck was their approaches to handling political crises, especially in 1889, when German coal miners went on strike in Upper Silesia.

Otto Eduard Leopold, Prince of Bismarck, Duke of Lauenburg (1 April 1815 – 30 July 1898), simply known as Otto von Bismarck, was a conservative German statesman who dominated European affairs from the 1860s to his dismissal in 1890. In 1871, after a series of short victorious wars, he unified most of the German states (whilst excluding some, most notably Austria) into a powerful German Empire under Prussian leadership.  This created a balance of power that preserved peace in Europe from 1871 until 1914.
As ‘Minister President of Prussia’ 1862–90, Bismarck provoked wars that made Prussia dominant over Austria and France, and lined up the smaller German states behind Prussia. In 1867 he also became Chancellor of the North German Confederation. Otto von Bismarck became the first Chancellor of a united Germany after the 1871 Treaty of Versailles and largely controlled its affairs until he was removed by Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1890. His diplomacy of Realpolitik and powerful rule gained him the nickname the “Iron Chancellor“. 

Bismarck demanded that the German Army be sent in to crush the strike, but Wilhelm II rejected this authoritarian measure, responding “I do not wish to stain my reign with the blood of my subjects.

Instead of condoning repression, Wilhelm had the government negotiate with a delegation from the coal miners, which brought the strike to an end without violence.
The fractious relationship ended in March 1890, after Wilhelm II and Bismarck quarrelled, and the chancellor resigned days later.
Bismarck’s last few years had seen power slip from his hands as he grew older, more irritable, more authoritarian, and less focused.
German politics had become progressively more chaotic, and the chancellor understood this better than anyone, but unlike Wilhelm II and his generation, Bismarck knew well that an ungovernable country with an adventurous foreign policy was a recipe for disaster.
With Bismarck’s departure, Wilhelm II became the dominant ruler of Germany.

Walther Rathenau

Unlike his grandfather, Wilhelm I, who had been largely content to leave government affairs to the chancellor, Wilhelm II wanted to be fully informed and actively involved in running Germany, not an ornamental figurehead.

Wilhelm allowed politician Walther Rathenau to tutor him in European economics and industrial and financial realities in Europe.

Walther Rathenau (September 29, 1867 – June 24, 1922) was a German industrialist, politician, writer, and statesman who served as Foreign Minister of Germany during the Weimar Republic. He was assassinated on June 24, 1922, two months after the signing of the Treaty of Rapallo, 1922.

Bismarkean foreign policy “was too sedate for the reckless Kaiser.”
Wilhelm became internationally notorious for his aggressive stance on foreign policy and his strategic blunders (such as the Tangier Crisis), which pushed the German Empire into growing political isolation.
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GERMAN ART, MUSIC, ARCHITECTURE and LITERATURE
in the KAISERREICH

‘William I Departs for the Front, July 31, 1870’
Adolph Menzel

ART
Biedermeier Style
‘Biedermeier’ refers to a style in literature, music, the visual arts and interior design in the period between the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815 and the revolutions of 1848.
Biedermeier art appealed to the prosperous middle classes by detailed but polished realism, often celebrating domestic virtues, and came to dominate over French-leaning aristocratic tastes, as well as the yearnings of Romanticism. Carl Spitzweg was a leading German artist in the style.
‘Eisenwalzwerk – Ironworks’
Adolph Menzel
This style continued to be popular throughout the Kaiserreich and Wilhelmine period.
In the second half of the 19th century a number of styles developed, paralleling trends in other European counties, though the lack of a dominant capital city probably contributed to even more diversity of styles than in other countries.
Adolph Menzel enjoyed enormous popularity both among the German public and officialdom; at his funeral Kaiser Wilhelm II walked behind his coffin.
He dramaticised past and contemporary Prussian military successes both in paintings and brilliant wood engravings illustrating books, yet his domestic subjects are intimate and touching.
‘Coronation of Prince Wilhelm Friedrich Ludwig of Hohenzollern
as King Wilhelm I of Prussia – Schlosskirche, Königsberg’
Adolph Menzel
His popularity in his native country, owing especially to politically propagandistic works, was such that few of his major paintings left Germany, as many were quickly acquired by museums in Berlin. Menzel’s graphic works and drawings were more widely disseminated; these, along with informal paintings not initially intended for display, have largely accounted for his posthumous reputation.
‘Hirtenknabe’
Franz von Lenbach
Karl von Piloty was a leading academic painter of history subjects in the latter part of the century who taught in Munich.
Among his more famous pupils were Hans Makart, Franz von Lenbach, Franz Defregger, Gabriel von Max and Eduard von Grützner.
The term “Munich school” is used both of German and of Greek painting, after Greeks like Georgios Jakobides studied under him.
‘Gekreuzigten Diebe’
(Crucified Thief) – 1893
Lovis Corinth
Lovis Corinth – ‘Self Portrait’
The ‘Berlin Secession’ was a group founded in 1898 by painters including Max Liebermann, who broadly shared the artistic approach of Manet and the French Impressionists, and Lovis Corinth then still painting in a naturalistic style.
The group survived until the 1930s, despite splits, and its regular exhibitions helped launch the next two generations of Berlin artists, without imposing a particular style.
Near the end of the century, the Benedictine Beuron Art School developed a style, mostly for religious murals, in rather muted colours, with a medievalist interest in pattern that drew from Les Nabis and in some ways looked forward to Art Nouveau or the Jugendstil (“Youth Style”) as it is known in German.
‘Das Heilige Herz Jesu’
(The Sacred Heart of Jesus)
Wuger Steiner
The Beuron art school was founded by a confederation of Benedictine monks in Germany in the late nineteenth century.
Beuronese art is principally known for its murals with “muted, tranquil and seemingly mysterious colouring”.


‘Sede Sapietiae’

Though several different principles were in competition to form the canon for the school, “the most significant principle or canon of the Beuronese school is the role which geometry played in determining proportions.” Lenz elaborated the philosophy and canon of a new artistic direction, which was based on the elements of ancient Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Byzantine and early Christian art.
Beuronese art had a large influence on the Austrian painter Gustav Klimt. In 1898, shortly after the beginning of the Vienna Secession, Father Desiderius Lenz had his book published – ‘Zur Aesthetic der Beuroner Schule’ (On the Aesthetics of the Beuron School). It is assumed that Klimt will have read Lenz’s work with enthusiasm and images of the Beuron Abbey, for instance, may show sections of the decorated ceiling which appear to have made quite a direct impact on Klimt’s decorative, golden paintings.
‘Kreuzigung’
(Crucifiction)
Franz von Stuck
‘Geist des Sieges’
(The Spirit of Victory)
Franz von Stuck
Two of the greatest artists of the Wilhelmine age were Franz von Stuck and Max Klinger – who today are often described as German Symbolists.
Franz Stuck (February 24, 1863 – August 30, 1928), ennobled as Franz Ritter von Stuck in 1906, was a German symbolist/Art Nouveau painter, sculptor, engraver, and architect.
Stuck’s subject matter was primarily from mythology, inspired by the work of Arnold Böcklin. Large forms dominate most of his paintings and indicate his proclivities for sculpture.
‘Selbstportrait’
Franz von Stuck
His seductive female nudes are a prime example of popular Symbolist content.
Stuck paid much attention to the frames for his paintings and generally designed them himself with such careful use of panels, gilt carving and inscriptions that the frames must be considered as an integral part of the overall piece.
The number of Stuck’s pupils who achieved great success served to enhance the teacher’s own fame.
Yet by the time of his death, Stuck’s importance as an artist in his own right had lapsed.
Stuck’s reputation languished until the late 1960s when a renewed interest in Art Nouveau brought him to attention once more.
In 1968 the Villa Stuck was opened to the public; it is now a museum.

‘Der Arbend’
(Evening)
Max Klinger

Max Klinger (February 18, 1857 – July 5, 1920) was a German Symbolist painter, sculptor, printmaker, and writer.
Klinger was born in Leipzig and studied in Karlsruhe.
An admirer of the etchings of Menzel and Goya, he shortly became a skilled and imaginative engraver in his own right.
He began creating sculptures in the early 1880s.
From 1883-1893 he lived in Rome, and became increasingly influenced by the Italian Renaissance and antiquity.
Ludwig Fahrenkrog is an example of the way that art, politics and religion became interwoven during the Wilhelmine period, leading up to the ‘Great war’.

‘Schicksal’
(Fate)
Ludwig Fahrenkrog

Ludwig Fahrenkrog (20 October 1867 – 27 October 1952) was a German writer, playwright and artist.
He was born in Rendsburg, Prussia, in 1867.
He started his career as an artist in his youth, and attended the Berlin Royal Art Academy before being appointed a professor in 1913.
He taught at the School of Arts and Crafts in Bremen from 1898 to 1931.
He was also involved in the founding of a series of folkish religious groups in the early 20th century, as part of a movement to create what its adherents referred to as the Germanische Glaubens Gemeinschaft.

‘Die heilige Stunde’
(The Holy Hour)
Ludwig Fahrenkrog

Fahrenkrog was trained in the classical tradition, and had a successful artistic career.
His style, however, was more dependent on Art Nouveau and Symbolist influences than on the classical tradition, and he always stressed the religious nature and mission of art.

Thule Swastika
German Faith Movement

The “religious mission” in question is the revival of the pre-Christian Germanic faith and the rejection of Christianity, which is hinted at in paintings such as ‘Lucifer’s Lossage von Gott’ (Lucifer’s Renunciation of God, 1898).
While Fahrenkrog’s work can be seen in the context of contemporary art movements, it was also strongly influenced by his participation in the religious movement taking place at the same time.
The emblem of German Faith Movement was the curved (Thule) swastika, which was one of the first examples of the use of this symbol which was to be  associated with the Dritte Reich.

‘Im walde – Des-Knaben Wunderhorn’
Moritz von Schwind
‘Rose’
Moritz von Schwind

There was a tendency in the Kaiserreich to idealize the middle ages.
This tendancy is to be found in literature, architecture (Ludwig II), and the visual arts.
Moritz von Schwind, (January 21, 1804 – February 8, 1871) although technically an Austrian, produced works for the German market, including the Bavarian king Ludwig II.
In 1834 he was commissioned to decorate King Ludwig’s new palace with wall paintings illustrating the works of the poet Tieck.
He also found in the same place congenial sport for his fancy in a “Kinderfries”.
He was often busy working on almanacs, and on illustrating Goethe and other writers through which he gained considerable recognition and employment.
In the revival of art in Germany, Schwind held as his own the sphere of poetic fancy.

MUSIC
Wotan und Brunhilde
Richard Wagner
Early in the 19th century, a composer by the name of Richard Wagner was born.
He was a “Musician of the Future” who disliked the strict traditionalist styles of music.
He is credited with developing leitmotivs which were simple recurring themes found in his operas.
His music changed the course of opera, and of music in general, forever.
Wagner’s use of ancient German mythology in his ‘Ring’ cycle was a considerable boot to the growing nationalism of the Kaiserreich, and his last work, the sacred music drama ‘Parsifal’, created a link between German nationalism and quasi-Christian sentiments.
Parsifal and the Flower Maidens
In general the music of Wagner provided a strong stimulus for the emerging and developing Völkisch movement which had become fashionable among the educated middle and upper classes in the Kaiserreich.
The later 19th century saw Vienna continue its elevated position in European classical music, as well as a burst of popularity with Viennese waltzes.
These were composed by people like Johann Strauss the Younger.
Other German composers from the period included Albert Lortzing, Johannes Brahms, Robert Schumann, Felix Mendelssohn, Anton Bruckner, Max Bruch, Gustav Mahler, and the great Richard Strauss.
These composers tended to mix classic and romantic elements.
Salome – Richard Strauss
von Stuck
Richard Strauss
Richard Georg Strauss (11 June 1864 – 8 September 1949) was a leading German composer of the late Romantic and early modern eras.
He is known for his operas, which include ‘Der Rosenkavalier’ and ‘Salome’; his lieder, especially his ‘Four Last Songs’; and his tone poems and other orchestral works, such as ‘Death and Transfiguration’, ‘Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks’, ‘Also sprach Zarathustra’, ‘An Alpine Symphony’, Symphonia Domestica and ‘Metamorphosen’.
Strauss was also a prominent conductor throughout Germany and Austria.
Strauss represents the great late flowering of German Romanticism after Richard Wagner in which pioneering subtleties of orchestration are combined with an advanced harmonic style.
ARCHITECTURE
In architecture, Historicism (historismus), sometimes known as eclecticism, is an artistic and architectural style that draws inspiration from historic styles or craftmanship.
After the neo-classicist period (which could itself be considered a historicist movement), a new historicist phase emerged in the middle of the 19th century, marked by a return to a more ancient classicism, in particular in architecture and in the genre of history painting.
Gottfried Semper
Münchner Festspielhaus
An important architect of this period was Gottfried Semper, who built the gallery (1855) at the Zwinger Palace and the Semper Opera (1878) in Dresden.
The building has features derived from the Early Renaissance style, Baroque and even features Corinthian style pillars typical of classical Greece (classical revival).
There were regional variants of this style.
Examples are the resort architecture (especially on the German Baltic coast), the Hanover School of Architecture and the Nuremberg style.
 ‘Altes Museum’ – Karl Friedrich Schinkel
Karl Friedrich Schinkel (13 March 1781 – 9 October 1841) was a Prussian architect, city planner, and painter who also designed furniture and stage sets.
Schinkel was one of the most prominent architects of Germany and designed both neoclassical and neogothic buildings, and was a strong influence on building styles in the Kaiserreich.
Neue Wache – Karl Friedrich Schinkel
Schinkel’s style, in his most productive period, is defined by a turn to Greek rather than Imperial Roman architecture, an attempt to turn away from the style that was linked to the recent French occupiers. (Thus, he is a noted proponent of the Greek Revival.)
His most famous buildings are found in and around Berlin.
These include Neue Wache (1816–1818),
The Neue Wache (“New Guard House”) is a building in Berlin. It is located on the north side of the ‘Unter den Linden’, a major east-west thoroughfare in the centre of the city.

Schauspielhaus – Berlin – 1821 – Karl Friedrich Schinkel 
Dating from 1816, the Neue Wache was designed by the architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel, and is a leading example of German neoclassicism. Originally built as a guardhouse for the troops of the Crown Prince of Prussia, the building has been used as a war memorial since 1931.
National Monument for the Liberation Wars (1818–1821), the Schauspielhaus (1819–1821) at the Gendarmenmarkt, which replaced the earlier theatre that was destroyed by fire in 1817, and the ‘Altes Museum’ (old museum) on Museum Island (1823–1830).
He also carried out improvements to the Crown Prince’s Palace.
Later, Schinkel moved away from classicism altogether, embracing the Neo-Gothic in his Friedrichswerder Church (1824–1831).
Schloss Neuschwanstein under Construction
The predilection for medieval buildings has its most famous exemplar in the castle of Neuschwanstein, which Ludwig II commissioned in 1869.
Neuschwanstein was designed by Christian Jank, a theatrical set designer, which possibly explains the fantastical nature of the resulting building.
Christian Jank (1833–1888), was a German sce­nic pain­ter no­ta­ble for his pa­lace de­signs for King Lud­wig II of Bavaria.
Christian Jank
Jank was born on 15 July 1833 in Munich, the Bavarian ca­pi­tal.
Here he ori­gi­nally worked as a scenic painter. Among other things he was in­vol­ved in the sce­nery for Richard Wagner’s opera Lohengrin. His work pi­qued the in­te­rest of Lud­wig II, who com­mis­sio­ned him to create con­cepts for his ar­chi­tec­tu­ral pro­jects in­spi­red by Wag­ner. Jank’s historistic drafts were the basis for Neuschwanstein Castle, which was built star­ting in 1869 by Eduard Riedel and later Georg von Dollmann. Jank was also in­vol­ved in the in­te­rior of Linderhof Palace. His con­cepts for Falkenstein Castle could not be rea­li­zed, as the pro­ject was aban­do­ned after the king’s death in 1886. Jank him­s­elf died in Mu­nich on 25 No­vem­ber 1888.
The architectural expertise, vital to a building in such a perilous site, was provided first by the Munich court architect Eduard Riedel and later by Georg Dollmann, son-in-law of Leo von Klenze.
There is also Ulm Cathedral, and at the end of the period the Reichstag building (1894) by Paul Wallot.
‘Jugend’ – January 1900
The Art Nouveau style is commonly known by its German name, Jugendstil.
Drawing from traditional German printmaking, the style uses precise and hard edges, an element that was rather different from the naturalistic style of the time.
The movement was centered in Hamburg
Within the field of Jugendstil art, there is a variety of different methods, applied by the various individual artists. Methods range from classic to romantic.
One feature that sets Jugendstil apart is the typography used, whose letter and image combination is unmistakable.
‘Der Kuss’ – Peter Behrens
The combination was used for covers of novels, advertisements, and exhibition posters.
Designers often used unique display typefaces that worked harmoniously with the image.
Henry Van de Velde, who worked most of his career in Germany, was a Belgian theorist who influenced many others to continue in this style of graphic art including Peter Behrens, Hermann Obrist, and Richard Riemerschmid.
August Endell is another notable Art Nouveau designer.
Magazines were important in spreading the visual idiom of Jugendstil, especially the graphical qualities. Besides Jugend, other important ones were the satirical Simplicissimus and Pan.
Young Germany (Junges Deutschland) was a loose group of Vormärz writers which existed from about 1830 to 1850.
It was essentially a youth movement (similar to those that had swept France and Ireland and originated in Italy).
Its main proponents were Karl Gutzkow, Heinrich Laube, Theodor Mundt and Ludolf Wienbarg; Heinrich Heine, Ludwig Börne and Georg Büchner were also considered part of the movement.
The wider circle included Willibald Alexis, Adolf Glassbrenner and Gustav Kühne.
The so-called Biedermeier poets reacted by withdrawing into the realm of the family and idyllic nature.
Heinrich Heine
This resignation was replaced in the poems of Heinrich Heine by new political directions and a realistic outlook.
Many writers had to go into exile after the revolution of 1848, among them Karl Marx and Carl Schurz. Throughout the 19th century the forms introduced by Goethe and Schiller prevailed: in poetry, the Lied derived from folksongs; in drama, the historical tragedy in blank verse; in prose, the novella, an artistically structured story centered on an extraordinary event.
Annette Elisabeth von Droste-Hulshoff and Eduard Morike were the leading poets; Franz Grillparzer and Christian Friedrich Hebbel, the dramatists; Jeremias Gotthelf, Gottfried Keller, Conrad Ferdinand Meyer, Wilhelm Raabe, Adalbert Stifter, and Theodor Storm, the storytellers.
Far ahead of his time was Georg Buchner, who rejected bourgeois values and wrote such plays as Woyzeck (1850; Eng. trans., 1957), in which he anticipated modern styles.
Georg Hegel
Literature in the Reich was not only restricted to poetry, novels and biography, however.
Germany became, during this period, a world leader in philosophy.
Hegel was the precursor of these great philosophers.
He was followed by Arthur Schopenhauer, and later Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche.
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (August 27, 1770 – November 14, 1831) was a German philosopher, and a major figure in German Idealism.
His historicist and idealist account of reality revolutionized European philosophy. He was considered to be the ‘official philosopher’ of the Prussian State.
Hegel developed a comprehensive philosophical framework, or “system”, of Absolute idealism to account in an integrated and developmental way for the relation of mind and nature, the subject and object of knowledge, psychology, the state, history, art, religion, and philosophy.
In particular, he developed the concept that ‘mind’ or ‘spirit’ manifested itself in a set of contradictions and oppositions that it ultimately integrated and united, without eliminating either pole or reducing one to the other. This concept is known as dialectic.
Arthur Schopenhauer
Arthur Schopenhauer (22 February 1788 – 21 September 1860) was a German philosopher best known for his book, ‘Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung’, in which he claimed that our world is driven by a continually dissatisfied will, continually seeking satisfaction.
A key focus of Schopenhauer was his investigation of individual motivation. Before Schopenhauer, Hegel had popularized the concept of Zeitgeist, the idea that society consisted of a collective consciousness which moved in a distinct direction, dictating the actions of its members. Schopenhauer, a reader of both Kant and Hegel, criticized their logical optimism and the belief that individual morality could be determined by society and reason. Schopenhauer believed that humans were motivated by only their own basic desires, or Wille zum Leben (“Will to Live”), which directed all of mankind.
Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche
Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (October 15, 1844 – August 25, 1900) was a German philosopher, poet, composer, cultural critic, and classical philologist.
He wrote critical texts on religion, morality, contemporary culture, philosophy, and science, displaying a fondness for metaphor, irony, and aphorism.
Nietzsche’s key ideas include the “death of God,” the ‘Übermensch’, ‘the eternal recurrence’, ‘the Apollonian and Dionysian dichotomy’, ‘perspectivism’, and ‘der Wille zur Macht’ (the will to power).
Central to his philosophy is the idea of “life-affirmation”, which involves questioning of all doctrines that drain life’s expansive energies, however socially prevalent those views might be.
His influence remains substantial within philosophy, notably in existentialism, post-modernism, and post-structuralism, as well as outside it.
His radical questioning of the value and objectivity of truth has been the focus of extensive commentary, especially in the continental tradition.
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
Physics  –  The work of Albert Einstein and Max Planck was crucial to the foundation of modern physics, which Werner Heisenberg and Erwin Schrödinger developed further.
They were preceded by such key physicists as Hermann von Helmholtz, and Gabriel Daniel Fahrenheit, among others.
Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen discovered X-rays, an accomplishment that made him the first winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1901 and eventually earned him an element name, roentgenium.
Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen
Heinrich Rudolf Hertz
Heinrich Rudolf Hertz’s work in the domain of electromagnetic radiation were pivotal to the development of modern telecommunication.
Mathematical aerodynamics was developed in Germany, especially by Ludwig Prandtl.
At the start of the 20th century, Germany garnered fourteen of the first thirty-one Nobel Prizes in Chemistry, starting with Hermann Emil Fischer in 1901.
Numerous important mathematicians were born in Germany, including Gauss, Hilbert, Riemann, Weierstrass, Dirichlet and Weyl.
Germany has been the home of many famous inventors and engineers, such as Hans Geiger, the creator of the Geiger counter; and Konrad Zuse, who built the first computer.
Gottlieb Daimler
Ferdinand Graf von Zeppelin
German inventors, engineers and industrialists such as Zeppelin, Daimler, Diesel, Otto, and Benz helped shape modern automotive and air transportation technology including the beginnings of space travel.
Ferdinand Adolf Heinrich August Graf von Zeppelin (also known as Ferdinand Graf von Zeppelin – 8 July 1838 – 8 March 1917) was a German general, and later aircraft manufacturer. He founded the Zeppelin Airship company. He was born in Konstanz, Grand Duchy of Baden (now part of Baden-Württemberg, Germany).
Gottlieb Daimler ( March 17, 1834 – March 6, 1900) was an engineer, industrial designer and industrialist born in Schorndorf (Kingdom of Württemberg, a federal state of the German Confederation), in what is now Germany. He was a pioneer of internal-combustion engines and automobile development. He invented the high-speed petrol engine and the first four-wheel automobile.
Alexander von Humboldt’s (1769–1859) work as a natural scientist and explorer was foundational to biogeography.
Wladimir Köppen (1846–1940) was an eclectic Russian-born botanist and climatologist who synthesized global relationships between climate, vegetation and soil types into a classification system that is used, with some modifications, to this day.
Alfred Wegener (1880–1930), a similarly interdisciplinary scientist, was one of the first people to hypothesize the theory of continental drift which was later developed into the overarching geological theory of plate tectonics.
Wilhelm Wundt is credited with the establishment of psychology as an independent empirical science through his construction of the first laboratory at the University of Leipzig in 1879.
Sigmund Freud, who was in fact Austrian, was the inventor of the dream deutung.

Domestic Affairs
Under Wilhelm II, Germany no longer had long-ruling strong chancellors like Bismarck.
The new chancellors had difficulty in performing their roles, especially the additional role as Prime Minister of Prussia assigned to them in the German Constitution.
The reforms of Chancellor Leo von Caprivi, which liberalized trade, and so reduced unemployment, were supported by the Kaiser and most Germans except for Prussian landowners, who feared loss of land and power and launched several campaigns against the reforms.
While Prussian aristocrats challenged the demands of a united German state, in the 1890s several organizations were set up to challenge the authoritarian conservative Prussian militarism which was being imposed on the country.
Educators opposed to the German state-run schools, which emphasized military education, set up their own independent liberal schools, which encouraged individuality and freedom, however nearly all the schools in Imperial Germany had a very high standard and kept abreast with modern developments in knowledge.
Artists began experimental art in opposition to Kaiser Wilhelm’s support for traditional art, to which Wilhelm responded “art which transgresses the laws and limits laid down by me can no longer be called art.”
It was largely thanks to Wilhelm’s influence that most printed material in Germany used ‘blackletter’ (fraktur) instead of the Roman type used in the rest of Western Europe.
At the same time, a new generation of cultural creators emerged.
From the 1890s onwards, the most effective opposition to the monarchy came from the newly formed Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD), which advocated Marxism.
The threat of the SPD to the German monarchy and industrialists caused the state both to crack down on the party’s supporters and to implement its own programme of social reform to soothe discontent.
Germany’s large industries provided significant social welfare programmes and good care to their employees, as long as they were not identified as socialists or trade-union members.
The larger industrial firms provided pensions, sickness benefits and even housing to their employees.
Having learned from the failure of Bismarck’s Kulturkampf, Wilhelm II maintained good relations with the Roman Catholic Church and concentrated on opposing socialism.
This policy failed when the Social Democrats won ⅓ of the votes in the 1912 elections to the Reichstag, and became the largest political party in Germany.
Feldmarschall Paul von Hindenburg
Generalquartiermeister Erich Ludendorff
The government remained in the hands of a succession of conservative coalitions supported by right-wing liberals or Catholic clerics and heavily dependent on the Kaiser’s favour.
During World War I, the Kaiser increasingly devolved his powers to the leaders of the German High Command, particularly future President of Germany, Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg and Generalquartiermeister Erich Ludendorff.
Hindenburg took over the role of commander–in–chief from the Kaiser, while Ludendorff became de facto general chief of staff.
By 1916, Germany was effectively a military dictatorship run by Hindenburg and Ludendorff, with the Kaiser reduced to a mere figurehead.
Foreign Affairs
Wilhelm II wanted Germany to have her “place in the sun,” like Britain, which he constantly wished to emulate or rival.
With German traders and merchants already active worldwide, he encouraged colonial efforts in Africa and the Pacific (“new imperialism”), causing the German Empire to vie with other European powers for remaining “unclaimed” territories.
With the encouragement or at least the acquiescence of Britain, which at this stage saw Germany as a counterweight to her old rival France, Germany acquired German Southwest Africa (today Namibia), German Kamerun (Cameroon), Togoland and German East Africa (the mainland part of current Tanzania). Islands were gained in the Pacific through purchase and treaties and also a 99-year lease for the territory of Kiautschou in northeast China.
But of these German colonies only Togoland and German Samoa (after 1908) became self-sufficient and profitable; all the others required subsidies from the Berlin treasury for building infrastructure, school systems, hospitals and other institutions.
Bismarck had originally dismissed the agitation for colonies with contempt; he favoured a Eurocentric foreign policy, as the treaty arrangements made during his tenure in office show.
As a latecomer to colonization, Germany repeatedly came into conflict with the established colonial powers and also with the United States, which opposed German attempts at colonial expansion in both the Caribbean and the Pacific.
Native insurrections in German territories received prominent coverage in other countries, especially in Britain; the established powers had dealt with such uprisings decades earlier, often brutally, and had secured firm control of their colonies by then.
The Boxer Rising in China, which the Chinese government eventually sponsored, began in the Shandong province, in part because Germany, as colonizer at Kiautschou, was an untested power and had only been active there for two years.
Eight western nations, including the United States, mounted a joint relief force to rescue westerners caught up in the rebellion.
On two occasions, a French-German conflict over the fate of Morocco seemed inevitable.
Upon acquiring Southwest Africa, German settlers were encouraged to cultivate land held by the Herero and Nama. Herero and Nama tribal lands were used for a variety of exploitive goals (much as the British did before in Rhodesia), including farming, ranching, and mining for minerals and diamonds.
In 1904, the Herero and the Nama revolted against the colonists in Southwest Africa, killing farm families, their laborers and servants.
In response to the attacks, troops were dispatched to quell the uprising.

Middle East

Bismarck, and Wilhelm II after him, sought closer economic ties with the Ottoman Empire.
Under Wilhelm, with the financial backing of the Deutsche Bank, the Baghdad Railway was begun in 1900, although by 1914 it was still 500 km (310 mi) short of its destination in Baghdad.
In an interview with Wilhelm in 1899, Cecil Rhodes had tried “to convince the Kaiser that the future of the German empire abroad lay in the Middle East” and not in Africa; with a grand Middle-Eastern empire, Germany could afford to allow Britain the unhindered completion of the Cape-to-Cairo railway that Rhodes favoured.
Britain initially supported the Baghdad Railway; but by 1911 British statesmen came to fear it might be extended to Basra on the Persian Gulf, threatening Britain’s naval supremacy in the Indian Ocean. Accordingly they asked to have construction halted, to which Germany and the Ottoman Empire acquiesced.

Europe

Wilhelm II and his advisers committed a fatal diplomatic error when they allowed the “Reinsurance Treaty” that Bismarck had negotiated with Tsarist Russia to lapse.
Germany was left with no firm ally but Austria-Hungary, and her support for action in annexing Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1908 further soured relations with Russia.
Wilhelm missed the opportunity to secure an alliance with Britain in the 1890s, when it was involved in colonial rivalries with France, and he alienated British statesmen further by openly supporting the Boers in the South African War and building a navy to rival Britain’s.
By 1911 Wilhelm had completely picked apart the careful power balance established by Bismarck and Britain turned to France in the Entente Cordiale.
Germany’s only other ally besides Austria was the Kingdom of Italy, but it remained an ally only pro forma. When war came, Italy saw more benefit in an alliance with Britain, France, and Russia, which, in the secret Treaty of London in 1915 promised it the frontier districts of Austria, where Italians formed the majority of the population, and also colonial concessions.
Germany did acquire a second ally that same year when the Ottoman Empire entered the war on its side, but in the long run supporting the Ottoman war effort only drained away German resources from the main fronts.

THE CAUSES OF THE ‘GREAT WAR’
The causes of World War I, which began in central Europe in late July 1914, included intertwined factors, such as the conflicts and hostility of the four decades leading up to the war. Militarism, alliances, imperialism, and nationalism played major roles in the conflict as well.
The immediate origins of the war, however, lay in the decisions taken by statesmen and generals during the Crisis of 1914, ‘casus belli’ for which was the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife by Gavrilo Princip, an irredentist Serb.
The crisis came after a long and difficult series of diplomatic clashes between the Great Powers (Italy, France, Germany, the British Empire, the Austria-Hungarian Empire and Russia) over European and colonial issues in the decade before 1914 that had left tensions high.
In turn these diplomatic clashes can be traced to changes in the balance of power in Europe since 1867.
The more immediate cause for the war was tensions over territory in the Balkans.
Austria-Hungary competed with Serbia and Russia for territory and influence in the region, and they pulled the rest of the Great Powers into the conflict through their various alliances and treaties.

Background
In November 1912, Russia was humiliated because of its inability to support Serbia during the Bosnian crisis of 1908 – also known as the ‘First Balkan War’, and announced a major reconstruction of its military.
On November 28, German Foreign Secretary Gottlieb von Jagow told the Reichstag, that “If Austria is forced, for whatever reason, to fight for its position as a Great Power, then we must stand by her.
As a result, British Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey responded by warning Prince Karl Lichnowsky, the Germany Ambassador in London, that if Germany offered Austria a “blank cheque” for war in the Balkans, then “the consequences of such a policy would be incalculable.”
To reinforce this point, R. B. Haldane, the Germanophile Lord Chancellor, met with Prince Lichnowsky to offer an explicit warning that if Germany were to attack France, Britain would intervene in France’s favor.
With the recently announced Russian military reconstruction and certain British communications, the possibility of war was a leading topic at the German Imperial War Council of 8 December 1912 in Berlin, an informal meeting of some of Germany’s top military leadership called on short notice by the Kaiser.
Attending the conference were Kaiser Wilhelm II, Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz – the Naval State Secretary, Admiral Georg Alexander von Müller, the Chief of the German Imperial Naval Cabinet (Marinekabinett), General von Moltke – the Army’s Chief of Staff, Admiral August von Heeringen – the Chief of the Naval General Staff and General Moriz von Lyncker, the Chief of the German Imperial Military Cabinet.
The presence of the leaders of both the German Army and Navy at this War Council attests to its importance, however, Chancellor Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg and General Josias von Heeringen, the Prussian Minister of War, were not invited.
Wilhelm II called British ‘balance of power’ concept “idiocy,” but agreed that Haldane’s statement was a “desirable clarification” of British policy.
His opinion was that Austria should attack that December and/ if “Russia supports the Serbs, which she evidently does…then war would be unavoidable for us, too,” and that would be better than going to war after Russia completed the massive modernization and expansion of their army that they had just begun. Moltke agreed.
In his professional military opinion “a war is unavoidable and the sooner the better“.
Moltke “wanted to launch an immediate attack“.
Both Wilhelm II and the Army leadership agreed that if a war were necessary it were best launched soon. Admiral Tirpitz, however, asked for a “postponement of the great fight for one and a half years” because the Navy was not ready for a general war that included Britain as an opponent.
He insisted that the completion of the construction of the U-boat base at Heligoland and the widening of the Kiel Canal were the Navy’s prerequisites for war.
The date for completion of the widening of the Kiel Canal was the summer of 1914.
Though Moltke objected to the postponement of the war as unacceptable, Wilhelm sided with Tirpitz. Moltke “agreed to a postponement only reluctantly.”
It should be noted that this War Council only showed the thinking and recommendations of those present, with no decisions taken.
Admiral Müller’s diary states: “That was the end of the conference. The result amounted to nothing.” Certainly the only decision taken was to do nothing.
With the November 1912 announcement of the Russian ‘Great Military Programme’, the leadership of the German Army began clamoring even more strongly for a “preventive war” against Russia.
Moltke declared that Germany could not win the arms race with France, Britain and Russia, which she herself had begun in 1911, because the financial structure of the German state, which gave the Reich government little power to tax, meant Germany would bankrupt herself in an arms race.
As such, Moltke from late 1912 onward was the leading advocate for a general war, and the sooner the better.
Throughout May and June 1914, Moltke engaged in an “almost ultimative” demand for a German “preventive war” against Russia in 1914.
The German Foreign Secretary, Gottlieb von Jagow, reported on a discussion with Moltke at the end of May 1914:
Moltke described to me his opinion of our military situation. The prospects of the future oppressed him heavily. In two or three years Russia would have completed her armaments. The military superiority of our enemies would then be so great that he did not know how he could overcome them. Today we would still be a match for them. In his opinion there was no alternative to making preventive war in order to defeat the enemy while we still had a chance of victory. The Chief of the General Staff therefore proposed that I should conduct a policy with the aim of provoking a war in the near future.”
The new French President Raymond Poincaré, who took office in 1913, was favourable to improving relations with Germany.
In January 1914 Poincaré became the first French President to dine at the German Embassy in Paris.
Poincaré was more interested in the idea of French expansion in the Middle East than a war of revenge to regain Alsace-Lorraine.
Had the Reich been interested in improved relations with France before August 1914, the opportunity was available, but the leadership of the Reich lacked such interests, and preferred a policy of war to destroy France.
Because of France’s smaller economy and population, by 1913 French leaders had largely accepted that France by itself could never defeat Germany.
In May 1914, Serbian politics were polarized between two factions, one headed by the Prime Minister Nikola Pašić, and the other by the radical nationalist chief of Military Intelligence, Colonel Dragutin Dimitrijević, known by his codename Apis.
In that month, due to Colonel Dimitrigjevic’s intrigues, King Peter dismissed Pašić’s government.
The Russian Minister in Belgrade intervened to have Pašić’s government restored.
Pašić, though he often talked tough in public, knew that Serbia was near-bankrupt and, having suffered heavy casualties in the Balkan Wars and in the suppression of a December 1913 Albanian revolt in Kosovo, needed peace.
Since Russia also favoured peace in the Balkans, from the Russian viewpoint it was desirable to keep Pašić in power.
It was in the midst of this political crisis that politically powerful members of the Serbian military armed and trained three Bosnian students as assassins and sent them into Austria-Hungary.
Domestic Political Factors
German Domestic Politics  –  Left-wing parties, especially the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) made large gains in the 1912 German election.
German government at the time was still dominated by the Prussian Junkers who feared the rise of these left-wing parties.
In the 19th and 20th centuries, Junker was an often pejorative designation for a member of the landed nobility in Prussia and eastern Germany.
Supporting monarchism and military traditions, they were seen as reactionary, anti-democratic and protectionist. This political class held tremendous power over industrial classes and government alike.
It is possible that the Junkers deliberately sought an external war to distract the population and whip up patriotic support for the government.
Russia was in the midst of a large-scale military build-up and reform that they completed in 1916–17.
It is also argued, however, that German conservatives were ambivalent about a war, worrying that losing a war would have disastrous consequences, and even a successful war might alienate the population if it were lengthy or difficult.
French Domestic Politics  –  The situation in France was quite different from that in Germany as going to war appeared to the majority of political and military leaders to be a potentially costly gamble.
It is undeniable that forty years after the loss of Alsace-Lorraine a vast number of French were still angered by the territorial loss, as well as by the humiliation of being compelled to pay a large reparation to Germany in 1870.
The diplomatic alienation of France orchestrated by Germany prior to World War I caused further resentment in France.
Nevertheless, the leaders of France recognized Germany’s strong military advantage against them, as Germany had nearly twice as much population and a better equipped army.
At the same time, the episodes of the Tangier Crisis in 1905 and the Agadir Crisis in 1911 had given France a strong indication that war with Germany could be inevitable if Germany continued to oppose French colonial expansionism.
More than a century after the French Revolution, there was still a fierce struggle between the left-wing French government and its right-wing opponents.
Austria
In 1867, the Austrian Empire fundamentally changed its governmental structure, becoming the ‘Dual Monarchy of Austria-Hungary’.
For hundreds of years, the empire had been run in an essentially feudal manner, with a German-speaking aristocracy at its head, however, with the threat represented by an emergence of nationalism within the empire’s many component ethnicities, some elements, including Emperor Franz Joseph, decided that a compromise was required to preserve the power of the German aristocracy.
In 1867, the Ausgleich was agreed on, which made the Magyar (Hungarian) elite in Hungary almost equal partners in the government of Austria-Hungary.
This arrangement fostered a tremendous degree of dissatisfaction among many in the traditional German ruling classes.
Some of them considered the Ausgleich to have been a calamity, because it often frustrated their intentions in the governance of Austria-Hungary.
For example, it was extremely difficult for Austria-Hungary to form a coherent foreign policy that suited the interests of both the German and Magyar elite.
Throughout the fifty years from 1867 to 1914, it proved difficult to reach adequate compromises in the governance of Austria-Hungary.
At the same time, a form of social Darwinism became popular among many in the Austrian half of the government.
This thinking emphasised the primacy of armed struggle between nations, and the need for nations to arm themselves for an ultimate struggle for survival.
As a result, at least two distinct strains of thought advocated war with Serbia, often unified in the same people.
Some reasoned that dealing with political deadlock required that more Slavs be brought into Austria-Hungary to dilute the power of the Magyar elite.
With more Slavs, the South Slavs of Austria-Hungary could force a new political compromise in which the Germans could play the Magyars against the South Slavs.
Another fear was that the South Slavs, primarily under the leadership of Serbia, were organizing for a war against Austria-Hungary, and even all of Germanic civilization.
Some leaders, such as Conrad von Hötzendorf, argued that Serbia must be dealt with before it became too powerful to defeat militarily.
A powerful contingent within the Austro-Hungarian government was motivated by these thoughts and advocated war with Serbia long before the war began.
Prominent members of this group included Leopold von Berchtold, Alexander von Hoyos, and Johann von Forgách.
Although many other members of the government, notably Franz Ferdinand, Franz Joseph, and many Hungarian politicians did not believe that a violent struggle with Serbia would necessarily solve any of Austria-Hungary’s problems, the hawkish elements did exert a strong influence on government policy, holding key positions.
It is important to understand the central role of Austria-Hungary in starting the war.
Convinced Serbian nationalism and Russian Balkan ambitions were disintegrating the Empire, Austria-Hungary hoped for a limited war against Serbia and that strong German support would force Russia to keep out of the war and weaken its Balkan prestige.


Imperialism

Some attribute the start of the war to imperialism.
Countries such as the United Kingdom and France accumulated great wealth in the late 19th century through their control of trade in foreign resources, markets, territories, and people.
Other empires, Germany, Austria-Hungary, Italy, and Russia all hoped to do so as well in economic advantage.
Their frustrated ambitions, and British policies of strategic exclusion created tensions.
In addition, the limits of natural resources in many European nations began to slowly alter trade balance, and make national industries seek new territories rich in natural resources.
Commercial interests contributed substantially to Anglo-German rivalry during the scramble for tropical Africa.
This was the scene of sharpest conflict between certain German and British commercial interests.
There have been two partitions of Africa.
One involved the actual imposition of political boundaries across the continent during the last quarter of the 19th century; the other, which actually commenced in the mid-19th century, consisted of the so-called ‘business’ partition.
In southern Africa the latter partition followed rapidly upon the discoveries of diamonds and gold in 1867 and 1886 respectively.
An integral part of this second partition was the expansion in the interior of British capital interests, primarily the British South Africa Company and mining companies such as De Beers.
After 1886 the Witwatersrand goldfields prompted feverish activity among European as well as British capitalists.
It was soon felt in Whitehall that German commercial penetration in particular constituted a direct threat to Britain’s continued economic and political hegemony south of the Limpopo.
Amid the expanding web of German business on the Rand, the most contentious operations were those of the German-financed N.Z.A.S.M. or Netherlands South African Railway Company, which possessed a railway monopoly in the Transvaal.
Rivalries for not just colonies, but colonial trade and trade routes developed between the emerging economic powers and the incumbent great powers.
Berlin-Baghdad Railway
This rivalry was illustrated in the Berlin-Baghdad Railway, which would have given German industry access to Iraqi oil, and German trade a southern port in the Persian Gulf.
A history of this railroad in the context of World War I has arrived to describe the German interests in countering the British Empire at a global level, and Turkey’s interest in countering their Russian rivals at a regional level.
It was felt in England that if, as Napoleon is said to have remarked, Antwerp in the hands of a great continental power was a pistol leveled at the English coast, Bagdad and the Persian Gulf in the hands of Germany (or any other strong power) would be a 42-centimetre gun pointed at India.’
On the other side, “Public opinion in Germany was feasting on visions of Cairo, Baghdad, and Tehran, and the possibility of evading the British blockade through outlets to the Indian Ocean.”
Britain’s initial strategic exclusion of others from northern access to a Persian Gulf port in the creation of Kuwait by treaty as a protected, subsidized client state showed political recognition of the importance of the issue.
If outcome is revealing, by the close of the war this political recognition was re-emphasized in the military effort to capture the railway itself, recounted with perspective in a contemporary history: “On the 26th Aleppo fell, and on the 28th we reached Muslimieh, that junction on the Baghdad railway on which longing eyes had been cast as the nodal point in the conflict of German and other ambitions in the East.”
The Treaty of Versailles explicitly removed all German ownership thereafter, which without Ottoman rule left access to Mesopotamian and Persian oil, and northern access to a southern port in British hands alone.
Otto von Bismarck
Rivalries among the great powers were exacerbated starting in the 1880s by the scramble for colonies, which brought much of Africa and Asia under European rule in the following quarter-century.
It also created great Anglo-French and Anglo-Russian tensions and crises that prevented a British alliance with either until the early 20th century.
Otto von Bismarck disliked the idea of an overseas empire, but pursued a colonial policy to court domestic political support.
This started Anglo-German tensions since German acquisitions in Africa and the Pacific threatened to impinge upon British strategic and commercial interests.
Bismarck supported French colonization in Africa because it diverted government attention and resources away from continental Europe and revanchism.
In spite of all of Bismarck’s deft diplomatic maneuvering, in 1890 he was forced to resign by the new Kaiser (Wilhelm II).
His successor, Leo von Caprivi, was the last German Chancellor who was successful in calming Anglo-German tensions.
Leo von Caprivi
After his loss of office in 1894, German policy led to greater conflicts with the other colonial powers.
The status of Morocco had been guaranteed by international agreement, and when France attempted to greatly expand its influence there without the assent of all the other signatories Germany opposed it prompting the ‘Moroccan Crise’s, the ‘Tangier Crisis’ of 1905 and the ‘Agadir Crisis’ of 1911.
The intent of German policy was to drive a wedge between the British and French, but in both cases produced the opposite effect, and Germany was isolated diplomatically, most notably lacking the support of Italy despite Italian membership in the Triple Alliance.
The French protectorate over Morocco was established officially in 1912.
In 1914, there were no outstanding colonial conflicts, Africa essentially having been claimed fully, apart from Ethiopia, for several years, however, the competitive mentality, as well as a fear of “being left behind” in the competition for the world’s resources may have played a role in the decisions to begin the conflict.


The Arms Race

A self-reinforcing cycle of heightened military preparedness…was an essential element in the conjuncture that led to disaster…The armaments race…was a necessary precondition for the outbreak of hostilities.
If Archduke Franz Ferdinand had been assassinated in 1904 or even in 1911, there might have been no war. It was…the armaments race…and the speculation about imminent or preventive wars  that made his death in 1914 the trigger for war.
Some historians see the German naval build-up as the principal cause of deteriorating Anglo-German relations.
The overwhelming British response, however, proved to Germany that its efforts were unlikely to equal the Royal Navy.
In 1900, the British had a 3.7:1 tonnage advantage over Germany; in 1910 the ratio was 2.3:1 and in 1914, 2.1:1.
So decisive was the British victory in the naval arms race that it is hard to regard it as in any meaningful sense a cause of the First World War.
This ignores the fact that the Kaiserliche Marine had narrowed the gap by nearly half, and that the Royal Navy had long intended to be stronger than any two potential opponents; the United States Navy was in a period of growth, making the German gains very ominous.
Technological changes, with oil- rather than coal-fuelled ships, decreasing refuelling time while increasing speed and range, and with superior armour and guns also would favour the growing, and newer, German fleet.
One of the aims of the ‘First Hague Conference’ of 1899, held at the suggestion of Russian Emperor Nicholas II, was to discuss disarmament.
The ‘Second Hague Conference’ was held in 1907.
All the signatories except for Germany supported disarmament.
Germany also did not want to agree to binding arbitration and mediation.
The Kaiser was concerned that the United States would propose disarmament measures, which he opposed.
Russian interests in Balkans and Ottoman Empire

The main Russian goals included strengthening its role as the protector of Eastern Christians in the Balkans (such as the Serbians).
Although Russia enjoyed a booming economy, growing population, and large armed forces, its strategic position was threatened by an expanding Turkish military trained by German experts using the latest technology.
The start of the war renewed attention of old goals: expelling the Turks from Constantinople, extending Russian dominion into eastern Anatolia and Persian Azerbaijan, and annexing Galicia.
These conquests would assure Russian predominance in the Black Sea.


Over by Christmas

Field Marshal Lord
Horatio Herbert Kitchener 

Both sides believed, and publicly stated, that the war would end soon.

The Kaiser told his troops that they would be, “…home before the leaves have fallen from the trees,” and one German officer said he expected to be in Paris by Sedantag, about six weeks away.
Germany only stockpiled enough potassium nitrate for gunpowder for six months.
Russian officers similarly expected to be in Berlin in six weeks, and those who suggested that the war would last for six months were considered pessimists.
Von Moltke and his French counterpart Joseph Joffre were among the few who expected a long war, but neither adjusted his nation’s military plans accordingly.
The new British Secretary of State for War, Lord Kitchener, was the only leading official on either side to both expect a long war (“three years” or longer, he told an amazed colleague) and act accordingly, immediately building an army of millions of soldiers who would fight for years.


Schlieffen Plan

Alfred Graf von Schlieffen 

Germany’s strategic vulnerability, sandwiched between its allied rivals, led to the development of the audacious (and incredibly expensive) Schlieffen Plan.

It aimed to knock France instantly out of contention, before Russia had time to mobilize its gigantic human reserves.
It aimed to accomplish this task within 6 weeks.
Germany could then turn her full resources to meeting the Russian threat.
Although Count Alfred von Schlieffen initially conceived the plan before his retirement in 1906, Japan’s defeat of Russia in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904 exposed Russia’s organizational weakness and added greatly to the plan’s credibility.
The plan called for a rapid German mobilization, sweeping through the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and Belgium, into France.
Schlieffen called for overwhelming numbers on the far right flank, the northernmost spearhead of the force with only minimum troops making up the arm and axis of the formation as well as a minimum force stationed on the Russian eastern front.
Helmuth von Moltke

Schlieffen was replaced by Helmuth von Moltke, and in 1907–08 Moltke adjusted the plan, reducing the proportional distribution of the forces, lessening the crucial right wing in favor of a slightly more defensive strategy.

Also, judging Holland unlikely to grant permission to cross its borders, the plan was revised to make a direct move through Belgium, and an artillery assault on the Belgian city of Liège.
With the rail lines and the unprecedented firepower the German army brought, Moltke did not expect any significant defense of the fortress.
The significance of the Schlieffen Plan is that it forced German military planners to prepare for a pre-emptive strike when war was deemed unavoidable.
Otherwise Russia would have time to mobilize and crush Germany with its massive army.
On August 1, Kaiser Wilhelm II briefly became convinced that it might be possible to ensure French and British neutrality, and cancelled the plan despite the objections of the Chief of Staff that this could not be done, and resuming it only when the offer of a neutral France and Britain was withdrawn.
It appears that no war planners in any country had prepared effectively for the Schlieffen Plan.
The French were not concerned about such a move. They were confident their offensive (Plan XVII) would break the German center and cut off the German right wing moving through Belgium.
They also expected that an early Russian offensive in East Prussia would tie down German forces.


Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria


Erzherzog Franz Ferdinand 

On 28 June 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, heir presumptive to the Austro-Hungarian throne, and his wife, Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg, were shot dead in Sarajevo, by Gavrilo Princip, one of a group of six Bosnian Serb assassins coordinated by Danilo Ilić.

Franz Ferdinand, eldest son of Carl Ludwig, the brother of Emperor Franz Josef, was born in 1863. Educated by private tutors, he joined the Austro-Hungarian Army in 1883.
His military career included service with an infantry regiment in Prague and with the hussars in Hungary.
While in the army Ferdinand received several promotions: captain (1885), major (1888), colonel (1890) and general (1896). 

Crown Prince Rupert

In 1889, Rudolf (21 August 1858 – 30 January 1889), Erzherzog von Österreich (Archduke of Austria) and Kronprinz von Österreich, Ungarn und Böhmen, (Crown Prince of Austria, Hungary and Bohemia,) the son of Franz Josef, shot himself at his hunting lodge.
The succession now passed to Franz Ferdinand’s father, Carl Ludwig.
When he died in 1896, Franz Ferdinand became the new heir to the throne.

Sophie von Chotkovato 

After attending the official reception at the City Hall, Franz Ferdinand and Sophie von Chotkovato were driven through the city.
Gavrilo Princip, the assassin, stepped forward, drew his gun, and at a distance of about five feet, fired several times into the car.
Franz Ferdinand was hit in the neck and Sophie von Chotkovato in the abdomen. Princip’s bullet had pierced the archduke’s jugular vein but before losing consciousness, he pleaded “Sophie dear! Sophie dear! Don’t die! Stay alive for our children!” Franz Urban drove the royal couple to Konak, the governor’s residence, but although both were still alive when they arrived, they died from their wounds soon afterwards.


The political objective of the assassination was to break off Austria-Hungary’s south-Slav provinces so they could be combined into a Greater Serbia or a Yugoslavia.
The assassins’ motives were consistent with the movement that later became known as ‘Young Bosnia’. Serbian military officers stood behind the attack.
At the top of these Serbian military conspirators was Chief of Serbian Military Intelligence, Dragutin Dimitrijević, his righthand man Major Vojislav Tankosić, and Masterspy Rade Malobabić. Major Tankosić armed (with bombs and pistols) and trained the assassins, and the assassins were given access to the same clandestine tunnel of safe-houses and agents that Rade Malobabić used for the infiltration of weapons and operatives into Austria-Hungary.
The assassins, the key members of the clandestine tunnel, and the key Serbian military conspirators who were still alive were arrested, tried, convicted and punished.
Those who were arrested in Bosnia were tried in Sarajevo in October 1914.
The other conspirators were arrested and tried before a Serbian kangaroo court on the French-controlled Salonika Front in 1916–1917 on unrelated false charges; Serbia executed three of the top military conspirators.
Much of what is known about the assassinations comes from these two trials and related records.
Assignment of responsibility for the bombing and murders of 28 June is highly controversial because the attack led to the outbreak of World War I one month later.


Consequences

The murder of the heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire and his wife produced widespread shock across Europe, and there was initially much sympathy for the Austrian position.
Within two days of the assassination, Austria-Hungary and Germany advised Serbia that it should open an investigation, but Secretary General to the Serbian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Slavko Gruic, replied “Nothing had been done so far and the matter did not concern the Serbian Government.”
An angry exchange followed between the Austrian Chargé d’Affaires at Belgrade and Gruic.
After conducting a criminal investigation, verifying that Germany would honor its military alliance, and persuading the skeptical Hungarian Count Tisza, Austria-Hungary issued a formal letter to the government of Serbia.


Serbia was a state in the Balkans that came into existence as a result of the Serbian Revolution which lasted between 1804 and 1817. Despite serious and extremely brutal oppression and revenge by the Ottoman authorities, the revolutionary leaders, first Karađorđe Petrović and then Miloš Obrenović I, succeeded in their goal to liberate Serbia after centuries of Ottoman rule.

The letter reminded Serbia of its commitment to respect the Great Powers’ decision regarding Bosnia-Herzegovina, and to maintain good neighborly relations with Austria-Hungary.
The letter contained specific demands aimed at preventing the publication of propaganda advocating the violent destruction of Austria-Hungary, removing the people behind this propaganda from the Serbian Military, arresting the people on Serbian soil who were involved in the assassination plot and preventing the clandestine shipment of arms and explosives from Serbia to Austria-Hungary.
This letter became known as the ‘July Ultimatum’, and Austria-Hungary stated that if Serbia did not accept all of the demands in total within 48 hours, it would recall its ambassador from Serbia.
After receiving a telegram of support from Russia, Serbia mobilized its army and responded to the letter by completely accepting point #8 demanding an end to the smuggling of weapons and punishment of the frontier officers who had assisted the assassins and completely accepting point #10 which demanded Serbia report the execution of the required measures as they were completed.
Serbia partially accepted, finessed, disingenuously answered or politely rejected elements of the preamble and enumerated demands #1–7 and #9.
The shortcomings of Serbia’s response were published by Austria-Hungary and can be seen beginning on page 364 of Origins of the War, Vol. II by Albertini, with the Austrian complaints placed side-by-side against Serbia’s response.
Austria-Hungary responded by breaking diplomatic relations.
The next day, Serbian reservists being transported on tramp steamers on the Danube crossed onto the Austro-Hungarian side of the river at Temes-Kubin and Austro-Hungarian soldiers fired into the air to warn them off.
The report of this incident was initially sketchy and reported to Emperor Franz-Joseph as “a considerable skirmish”.
Austria-Hungary then declared war and mobilized the portion of its army that would face the (already mobilized) Serbian Army on 28 July 1914.
Erzherzog Franz Ferdinand von Österreich
Under the Secret Treaty of 1892 Russia and France were obliged to mobilize their armies if any of the Triple Alliance mobilized.
Russia’s mobilization set off full Austro-Hungarian and German mobilizations.
Soon all the Great Powers except Italy had chosen sides and gone to war.
A review of the consequences of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria shows that it was the initial actions of the Serbian Government (see above – Serbian military officers stood behind the attack – probably members of the Black Hand – an organisation  formed on 6 September 1901 by members of the Serbian Army).

Dragutin Dimitrijević Apis (right) and his associates
Chief of Serbian Military Intelligence Dragutin Dimitrijević Apis stated that he had organized the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, in Sarajevo on June 28, 1914 –
(the assassin was Гаврило Принцип – (Gavrilo Princip) – who was an athiest. 

Гаврило Принцип – (Gavrilo Princip)
Gavrilo Princip was born in the remote village of Obljaj near Bosansko Grahovo, at the time de jure part of Bosnia Vilayet within the Ottoman Empire, however the province had since 1878 been occupied by Austria-Hungary which governed it as its condominium, a de facto part of Austria-Hungary. Princip was too young to receive the death penalty, being only twenty-seven days short of his twentieth birthday at the time of the assassination. Instead, he received the maximum sentence of twenty years in prison. He was held in harsh conditions which were worsened by the war. He contracted tuberculosis,[3] and had one of his arms amputated in 1917 when the disease infected an arm bone (probably because of a badly performed procedure to repair a bone broken during his capture).[10] He died on 28 April 1918 at Terezín 3 years and 10 months after he assassinated the Archduke and Duchess. At the time of his death, Princip weighed around 40 kilograms (88 lb), weakened by malnutrition, blood loss from his amputated arm, and disease.

His politics are unclear. Some of his associates were Muslims. ).
– in the process, Dragutin Dimitrijević Apis used not only his power over elements of the Serbian military, but also the Black Hand.

Dragutin Dimitrijević was born in Belgrade in 1876. At sixteen Dimitrijević went to the Belgrade Military Academy. A brilliant student, Dimitrijević was recruited into the General Staff of the Serbian Army immediately after his graduation.
Captain Dimitrijević and a group of junior officers planned the assassination of the autocratic and unpopular king of Serbia. On 11 June 1903, the group stormed the royal palace and killed both King Alexander and his wife Queen Draga. During the attack Dimitrijević was badly wounded, and, although he eventually recovered, the three bullets from the encounter were never removed from his body. When Dimitrijević heard that Archduke Franz Ferdinand was planning to visit Sarajevo in June 1914, he sent three members of the Young Bosnia group, Gavrilo Princip, Nedeljko Čabrinović, Trifko Grabež and four others from Serbia to assassinate him. At this time, Dimitrijević was Chief of Serbian Military Intelligence.

Leaders of the Black Hand in turn had penetrated Narodna Obrana and used the Narodna organization to infiltrate the arms and assassins into Sarajevo.

So it can be categorically stated that responsibility for the ‘Great War’ lies with the actions of the Serbian Government.
Subsequently Serbian reservists were mobilized and moved into Austro-Hungarian territory.
In response to this invasion of their territory (combined with the assassination of the heir to the Austrian throne by agents of the Serbian military, Austria-Hungary, in justified self-defense, declared war on Serbia.
Russia then mobilised in order to attack Austria.
Realising that Russian mobilisation threatened their Eastern borders, German mobilised against Russia, and Russia’s ally, France.
To prempt a French invasion of their Western borders, Germany, in accordance with the revised Schlieffen plan, sent her armies through Belgium.
In accordance with her treat obligations with regard to Belgium, Great Britain declared war on Germany.
REFLECTIONS
Bismarck’s emphasis on military force amplified the voice of the officer corps, which combined advanced modernization of military technology with reactionary politics.
The rising upper-middle-class elites, in the business, financial, and professional worlds, tended to accept the values of the old traditional elites.
The German Empire was a strange mixture of highly successful capitalist industrialization and socio-economic modernization on the one hand, and of surviving pre-industrial institutions, power relations and traditional cultures on the other, which produced a high degree of internal tension, which led on the one hand to the suppression of socialists, Catholics, and reformers, and on the other hand to a highly aggressive foreign policy.
The origins of Germany’s path to disaster lie in the 1860s–1870s, when economic modernization took place, but political modernization did not happen and the old Prussian rural elite remained in firm control of the army, diplomacy and the civil service.
The historiographical concept of a German Sonderweg has had a turbulent history.
Nineteenth century scholars, who emphasized a separate German path to modernity, saw it as a positive factor that differentiated Germany from the “western path” typified by Great Britain.
They stressed the strong bureaucratic state, reforms initiated by Bismarck and other strong leaders, the Prussian service ethos, the high culture of philosophy and music, and Germany’s pioneering of a social welfare state.
Traditional, aristocratic, pre-modern society battled an emerging capitalist, bourgeois, modernizing society. Recognizing the importance of modernizing forces in industry and the economy and in the cultural realm,  reactionary traditionalism dominated the political hierarchy of power in Germany, as well as social mentalities and in class relations (Klassenhabitus).
The catastrophic German politics between 1914 and 1918 may be interpreted in terms of a delayed modernization of its political structures.

Ludwig II Konig von Bayern

the best site for King Ludwig II of Bavaria – the ‘Swan King’
The Arms of the House of Wittlesbach
King of Bavaria was a title held by the hereditary Wittelsbach rulers of Bavaria in the state known as the Kingdom of Bavaria from 1805 until 1918, when the kingdom was abolished.
It was the second kingdom, almost a thousand years after the short-lived Carolingian kingdom of Bavaria.
Under the terms of the Treaty of Pressburg concluded December 26, 1805 between Napoleonic France and Holy Roman Emperor Francis II, several principalities allied to Napoleon were elevated to kingdoms.
One of the staunchest of these had been the prince-elector of Bavaria, Maximilian IV Joseph, and on January 1, 1806, he formally assumed the title King Maximilian I Joseph of Bavaria.
He was a member of the Wittelsbach branch Palatinate-Birkenfeld-Zweibrücken.
On 26 May 1818, the constitution of the Kingdom of Bavaria was proclaimed.

The parliament would have two houses, an upper house comprising the aristocracy and noblemen, including the high-class hereditary landowners, government officials and nominees of the crown.
The second house, a lower house, would include representatives of small landowners, the towns and the peasants.
The rights of Protestants were safeguarded in the constitution with articles supporting the equality of all religions, despite opposition by supporters of the Roman Catholic Church.
The initial constitution almost proved disastrous for the monarchy, with controversies such as the army having to swear allegiance to the new constitution.
The monarchy appealed to the Kingdom of Prussia and the Austrian Empire for advice, the two refused to take action on Bavaria’s behalf, but the debacles lessened and the state stabilized with the accession of Ludwig I to the throne following the death of Maximilian in 1825.

In 1864, Maximilian II died early, and his eighteen year-old son, Ludwig II (see left), arguably the most famous of the Bavarian kings, became King of Bavaria as escalating tensions between Austria and Prussia grew steadily. Prussia’s Minister-President Otto von Bismarck (see right), recognizing the immediate likelihood of war, attempted to sway Bavaria towards neutrality in the conflict. Ludwig II refused Bismarck’s offers and continued Bavaria’s alliance with Austria.
In 1866, violence erupted between Austria and Prussia and the Austro-Prussian War began. Bavaria and most of the south German states, with the exception of Austria and Saxony, contributed far less to the war effort against Prussia.
Austria quickly faltered after its defeat at the Battle of Königgrätz and was totally defeated shortly afterward.
Austria was humiliated by defeat and was forced to concede control, and its sphere of influence, over the south German states.
Bavaria was spared harsh terms in the peace settlement, however from this point on it and the other south German states steadily progressed into Prussia’s sphere of influence.
With Austria’s defeat in the Austro-Prussian War, the northern German states quickly unified into the North German Confederation, with Prussia’s King leading the state.
Bavaria’s previous inhibitions towards Prussia changed, along with those of many of the south German states, after French emperor Napoleon III began speaking of France’s need for “compensation” from its loss in 1814 and included Bavarian-held Palatinate as part of its territorial claims.
Ludwig II joined an alliance with Prussia, in 1870, against France, which was seen by Germans as the greatest enemy to a united Germany.
At the same time, Bavaria increased its political, legal, and trade ties with the North German Confederation. In 1870, war erupted between France and Prussia in the Franco-Prussian War.
The Bavarian Army was sent under the command of the Prussian crown prince against the French army.
With France’s defeat and humiliation against the combined German forces, it was Ludwig II who proposed that Prussian King Wilhelm I be proclaimed German Emperor or “Kaiser” of the German Empire (“Deutsches Reich”), which occurred in 1871 in German occupied Versailles, France.
The territories of the German Empire were declared, which included the states of the North German Confederation and all of the south German states, with the major exception of Austria. The Empire also annexed the formerly French territory of Alsace-Lorraine, due in large part to Ludwig’s desire to move the French frontier away from the Palatinate.
Bavaria’s entry into the German Empire changed, from jubilation over France’s defeat, to dismay shortly afterward, over the direction of Germany under the new German Chancellor and Prussian Prime Minister, Otto von Bismarck.
The Bavarian delegation under Count Otto von Bray-Steinburg had secured a privileged status of the Kingdom of Bavaria within the German Empire (Reservatrechte).
Within the Empire the Kingdom of Bavaria was even able to retain its own diplomatic body and its own army, which would fall under Prussian command only in times of war.
But the persecution of the Catholic Church in Bismarck’s Kulturkampf frustrated the predominantly Catholic southern German states, including Bavaria, although Bismarck was eventually compelled to moderate his policies.
After Bavaria’s unification into Germany, Ludwig II became increasingly detached from Bavaria’s political affairs and spent vast amounts of money on personal projects, such as the construction of a number of fairytale-like castles and palaces, the most famous being the Wagnerian-style Castle Neuschwanstein (see left and below).
Although Ludwig used his personal wealth to finance these projects instead of state funds, the construction projects landed him deeply in debt.
These debts caused much concern among Bavaria’s political elite, who sought to persuade Ludwig to cease his building; he refused, and relations between the government’s ministers and the crown deteriorated.
At last, in 1886, the crisis came to a head: the Bavarian ministers deposed the king, organizing a medical commission to declare him insane, and therefore incapable of executing his governmental powers.
A day after Ludwig’s deposition, the king died mysteriously after asking the commission’s chief psychiatrist to go on a walk with him along Lake Starnberg (then called Lake Würm).
Ludwig and the psychiatrist were found dead, floating in the lake.
An autopsy listed cause of death as suicide by drowning, but some sources claim that no water was found in Ludwig’s lungs.
These facts have led to many conspiracy theories of political assassination.

The crown passed to Ludwig’s brother Otto I, but since Otto had a clear history of mental illness, the duties of the throne actually rested in the hands of the brothers’ uncle, Prince Luitpold, serving as regent.
During the regency of Prince-Regent Luitpold, from 1886 to 1913, relations between Bavarians and Prussians remained cold, with Bavarians remembering the anti-Catholic agenda of Bismarck’s Kulturkampf, as well as Prussia’s strategic dominance over the empire.

Bavaria protested Prussian dominance over Germany and snubbed the Prussian-born German Emperor, Wilhelm II, in 1900, by forbidding the flying of any other flag other than the Bavarian flag on public buildings for the Emperor’s Birthday, but this was swiftly modified afterwards, allowing the German imperial flag to be hung side by side with the Bavarian flag.
In 1912, Luitpold died, and his son, Prince-Regent Ludwig, took over as regent of Bavaria.
A year later, the regency ended when Ludwig declared himself King of Bavaria and from that point on was known as Ludwig III.

In 1914, a clash of alliances occurred over Austria-Hungary’s invasion of Serbia following the assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand by a Bosnian Serb militant.
Germany went to the side of its former rival-turned-ally, Austria-Hungary, while France, Russia, and the United Kingdom declared war on Austria-Hungary and Germany.
Initially, in Bavaria and all across Germany, recruits flocked enthusiastically to the German Army. At the outbreak of World War I King Ludwig III sent an official dispatch to Berlin to express Bavaria’s solidarity.
Later Ludwig even claimed annexations for Bavaria (Alsace and the city of Antwerp in Belgium, to receive an access to the sea).
His hidden agenda was to maintain the balance of power between Prussia and Bavaria within the German Empire after a victory.
Over time, with a stalemated and bloody war on the western front, Bavarians, like many Germans, grew weary of a continuing war.
In 1917, when Germany’s situation had gradually worsened due to World War I, the Bavarian Prime Minister Georg von Hertling became German Chancellor and Prime Minister of Prussia and Otto Ritter von Dandl was made new Prime Minister of Bavaria.
Accused of showing blind loyalty to Prussia, Ludwig III became increasingly unpopular during the war.
In 1918, the kingdom attempted to negotiate a separate peace with the allies but failed.

By 1918, civil unrest was spreading across Bavaria and Germany; Bavarian defiance to Prussian hegemony and Bavarian separatism being key motivators.
In November 1918, William II abdicated the throne of Germany, and Ludwig III, along with the other German monarchs, issuing the Anif declaration, followed in abdication shortly afterwards. With this, the Wittelsbach dynasty came to an end, and the former Kingdom of Bavaria became the Free State of Bavaria.
Kings of Bavaria

Maximilian I Joseph 1805–1825

Ludwig I 1825–1848 (d.1868)

Maximilian II 1848–1864

Ludwig II 1864–1886

Otto 1886–1913 (d.1916)

Prince Luitpold of Bavaria, Regent 1886–1912

Prince Ludwig of Bavaria, Regent 1912–1913

Ludwig III 1913–1918

König Ludwig von Bayern 
Ludwig II (Ludwig Otto Friedrich Wilhelm; sometimes rendered as Louis II in English) (25 August 1845 – 13 June 1886) was King of Bavaria from 1864 until shortly before his death.
He is sometimes called the Swan King (English) and der Märchenkönig, the Fairy tale King, (German).
Additional titles were Count Palatine of the Rhine, Duke of Bavaria, Franconia and in Swabia.
Ludwig is sometimes also called “Mad King Ludwig”, though the accuracy of that label has been disputed. Because Ludwig was deposed on grounds of mental illness without any medical examination and died a day later under mysterious circumstances, questions about the medical “diagnosis” remain controversial.
One of his most quoted sayings was “I wish to remain an eternal enigma to myself and to others.”
Ludwig is best known as an eccentric whose legacy is intertwined with the history of art and architecture. He commissioned the construction of several extravagant fantasy castles and palaces, the most famous being Neuschwanstein, and was a devoted patron of the composer Richard Wagner. Since his legacy of grandiose castles lives on in the form of massive tourist revenue, King Ludwig is generally well liked and even revered by many in Bavaria today.
Ludwig II. Otto Friedrich Wilhelm von Bayern (* 25. August 1845 auf Schloss Nymphenburg, München; † 13. Juni 1886 im Würmsee, dem heutigen Starnberger See, bei Schloss Berg), aus dem deutschen Fürstenhaus Wittelsbach stammend, war vom 10. März 1864 an bis zu seinem Tod König von Bayern. Nach seiner Entmündigung am 10. Juni 1886 übernahm sein Onkel Luitpold als Prinzregent die Regierungsgeschäfte. Ludwig II. hat sich in der bayerischen Geschichte vor allem als leidenschaftlicher Schlossbauherr, unter anderem von Neuschwanstein, ein Denkmal gesetzt, weshalb er volkstümlich auch als Märchenkönig bezeichnet wird.
T H E   F A M I L Y
Ludwig’s father – Ludwig I
Ludwig (left) with his parents & brother Otto
Born in Nymphenburg Palace (today located in suburban Munich), he was the eldest son ofMaximilian II of Bavaria (then Crown Prince) and his wife Princess Marie of Prussia.
His parents intended to name him Otto, but his grandfather,Ludwig I of Bavaria, insisted his grandson was to be named after him, since their common birthday, 25 August, is the feast day of Saint Louis, patron saint of Bavaria.
A younger brother, born three years later, was named Otto.
Like many young heirs in an age when Kings governed most of Europe, Ludwig was continually reminded of his royal status.
King Maximilian wanted to instruct both of his sons in the burdens of royal duty from an early age.
Ludwig was both extremely indulged and severely controlled by his tutors and subjected to a strict regimen of study and exercise.
There are some who point to these stresses of growing up in a royal family as the causes for much of his odd behavior as an adult.
Ludwig was not close with either of his parents.
King Maximilian’s advisers had suggested that on his daily walks he might like, at times, to be accompanied by his future successor.
The King replied, “But what am I to say to him? After all, my son takes no interest in what other people tell him.”
Later, Ludwig would refer to his mother as “my predecessor’s consort”.
 Marie Friederike Franziska Hedwig von Preußen
Königin von Bayern

Ludwig’s mother was  (so it’s interesting that he so quickly submitted to Prussia’s military will; see post below). She married Ludwig’s father, Maximilian II, at 17 (he was twice her age), and gave birth to Ludwig at 19; she was also her husband’s cousin. Marie was considered a socially engaged monarch, and was well-liked by Bavaria’s Catholics, even though she herself was an Evangelical Protestant (not quite like today’s evangelicals, however; those of Marie’s day were dedicated to personal salvation and piety, and such social causes as temperance and abolitionism). While no intellectual – she once wondered aloud why anyone would spend time reading – Marie nevertheless revived the dormant Bavarian Women’s Association, a service organization which eventually was taken over by the Red Cross. She had the reputation of being a well-meaning, but distant, mother – by most accounts, Ludwig found what motherly affection he came by from his governess (not dramatized in Valhalla), Sybille Meilhaus. Meanwhile Ludwig’s father doted on his brother Otto, who was considered a far happier child than Ludwig, who even as a boy was perceived as inclined to romantic melancholy. To “correct” this tendency, his governess was replaced by a strict military tutor when Ludwig was nine (tellingly, he remained in touch with her for the rest of his life). After Maximilian’s death, Marie converted to Catholicism, at first living with Ludwig in the castle her husband had built for them. But as Ludwig grew more eccentric, she slowly withdrew, spending more and more of her time at her own estate in the Alps. She outlived Ludwig by three years.

He was far closer to his grandfather, the deposed and notorious King Ludwig I, who came from a family of eccentrics.
Ludwig’s childhood years did have happy moments.
He lived for much of the time at Castle Hohenschwangau, a fantasy castle his father had built near the Schwansee (Swan Lake) near Füssen.
It was decorated in the Gothic style with countless frescoes depicting heroic German sagas.
The family also visited Lake Starnberg.
Teenaged Ludwig became best friends with (and possibly the lover of) his aide-de-camp, the handsome aristocrat and sometime actor Paul Maximilian Lamoral, a scion of the wealthy Thurn and Taxis dynasty.
The two young men rode together, read poetry aloud, and staged excerpts from the operas of their idol, Richard Wagner.
Their relationship lapsed when Paul became engaged in 1866.
During his youth Ludwig also initiated a lifelong friendship with his half-first cousin once removed, Duchess Elisabeth in Bavaria, later Empress of Austria.
They loved nature and poetry; Elisabeth called Ludwig “Eagle” and he called her “Dove.”
Young Ludwig in Uniform

Ludwig’s brother – Prince Otto
Prince Otto served in the Bavarian army from 1863.
When King Wilhelm I of Prussia was proclaimed German Emperor on 18 January 1871 at the Palace of Versailles, Prince Otto represented his brother who refused to participate.
Otto then criticized the celebration as ostentatious and heartless in a letter to Ludwig.
It is claimed Otto suffered from severe mental illness.
He was declared insane in 1875.
The cause of his illness has not been revealed.
He was kept confined in Fürstenried Palace under medical supervision from 1875 until his death.
Otto became King of Bavaria upon his older brother’s deposition and unexplained death in 1886.
However, Otto never truly ruled as King and was by some accounts not even aware that he had become King.
Otto’s uncle, Prince Luitpold, served as Prince Regent for Otto until Luitpold’s death. Luitpold’s son Ludwig then became the next Prince Regent.
The constitution of Bavaria was amended on 4 November 1913, to include a clause specifying that if a regency for reasons of incapacity lasted for ten years with no expectation that the King would ever be able to reign, the Regent could proclaim the end of the regency and assume the crown himself.
The following day, Otto was deposed by his cousin, Prince Regent Ludwig, who then assumed the title Ludwig III.
The parliament assented on 6 November, and Ludwig III took the constitutional oath on 8 November. Otto was permitted to retain his title and honours until his death in 1916.
In this time Bavaria had “two kings”.
Otto’s remains were interred in the crypt of the Michaelskirche in Munich.
Bavarian tradition called for the heart of the king to be placed in a silver urn and sent to the Gnadenkapelle (Chapel of the Miraculous Image) in Altötting, beside those of his brother, father and grandfather.
Portrait of König Ludwig II 

König Ludwig II 

König Ludwig II von Bayern – Portrait
König Ludwig II – right
Prince Otto of Bavaria – standing – Prince Wilhelm of Hesse – left
(1863 Munich)
König Ludwig II and Duchess Sophie in Bavaria
Ludwig became engaged to Duchess Sophie in Bavaria, his cousin and the youngest sister of his dear friend, Empress Elisabeth of Austria.
The engagement was publicized on 22 January 1867, but after repeatedly postponing the wedding date, Ludwig finally cancelled the engagement in October.
A few days before the engagement had been announced, Sophie had received a letter from the King telling her what she already knew: “The main substance of our relationship has always been … Richard Wagner’s remarkable and deeply moving destiny.”
After the engagement was broken off, Ludwig wrote to his former fiancee, “My beloved Elsa! Your cruel father has torn us apart. Eternally yours, Heinrich” (the names Elsa and Heinrich came from characters from Wagner operas).
Ludwig never married, but Sophie later married Ferdinand d’Orléans, duc d’Alençon (1844–1910).
Ludwig and Josef Kainz
Throughout his reign, Ludwig had a succession of close friendships with men, including his chief equerry and Master of the Horse, Richard Hornig (1843–1911), Hungarian theatre actor Josef Kainz, courtier Alfons Weber (born c.1862) and Richard Wagner.
He began keeping a diary in which he recorded his private thoughts and his attempts to suppress his sexual desires and remain true to his Roman Catholic faith.
Ludwig’s original diaries from 1869 were lost during World War II, and all that remains today are copies of entries during the 1886 plot to depose him.
These transcribed diary entries, along with private letters and other surviving personal documents, suggest that Ludwig was homosexual and struggled with his orientation throughout his life.
Homosexuality had not been punishable in Bavaria since 1813.
Some earlier diaries have survived in the Geheimes Hausarchiv in Munich and extracts starting in 1858 were published by Evers in 1986.
Josef Kainz
Josef Gottfried Ignaz Kainz (2 January 1858 – 20 September 1910) was an Austrian actor of Hungarian birth. He was highly active in theatres in Austria and Germany from 1873–1910.
Revered as one of the greatest actors of the German-speaking theatre, the city of Vienna annually bestowed a theatre award for outstanding acting performance named after him, the Kainz Medal, from 1958 to 1999 (replaced by the Nestroy Award in 2000).
From 1880 he worked with Ernst von Possart at the National Theatre Munich and became one of the favourite actors of King Ludwig II of Bavaria appearing in private performance exclusively for the monarch’s delight. 
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013
LUDWIG II and RICHARD WAGNER

Richard Wagner’s great opera cycles might not exist were it not for the support of his patron Ludwig II, King of Bavaria (1845–86).

By 1864 Wagner’s life was at its lowest point,his marriage was over, many operas were unproduceable by musicians, and he was in heavy debts.
Wagner was almost suicidal with despair when on 3 May 1864, he received a card from Herr Pflstermeister, secretary to King Ludwig II of Bavaria, requesting to see him.

Franz Seraph von Pfistermeister 

Franz Seraph von Pfistermeister (14 December 1820 – 2 March 1912), was the court secretary and State Council of the Kingdom of Bavaria. Pfistermeister entered history not only as a politician, but also musically when in his first official administrative function he was ordered by King Ludwig II to find the composer Richard Wagner and bring him to Munich. Franz Seraph Freiherr von Pfistermeister was born on 14 December 1820 in Amberg, Germany. After attending the gymnasium in Amberg, Franz Pfistermeister began his career in the Royal Bavarian governmental service as military fiscal adjunct. In 1849 he was appointed to the Court Office in Munich, and by the year 1866 he then began working as Cabinet Secretary to Kings Maximilian II and Ludwig II.
Because of his opposition to Richard Wagner, and his costly promotion by King Ludwig II in 1866, his dismissal from the 1866 service was “the highest immediate service”. From 1864 to 1895 he served as State Council of the Kingdom of Bavaria. He died on the 2 March 1912 in his home on Knöbelstraße, Munich, where he lived from 1881

Not seeing any point to the visit, Wagner refused but Herr Pfistermeister persisted, and when Wagner eventually agreed to meet, he realised that his salvation was at hand – King Ludwig II had decided to pay all the debts of Wagner, and also finance his Operas.
The young, handsome King Ludwig was truly besotted with Wagner’s music and wanted to become his patron.
He offered to take all the financial burden away from Wagner leaving him free to create his art in an ideal atmosphere.
To this end, King Ludwig installed Wagner in a beautiful villa close to the royal castle of Hohenschwangau.

It was on May 5 1864 the monarch and the composer met for the first time.
After their first meeting in May 1864, King Ludwig wrote to Richard Wagner: 
Be assured that I will do everything in my power to make up for your suffering of the past.”
At the time Richard Wagner is in deep financial troubles, he is sickly and homeless. The king is his salvation.

Tristan und Isolde

After his audience with King Ludwig II. Wagner wrote: 
“…he loves me with the sincerity and glow of a first love… I am to complete the Nibelungen….he will give me everything necessary for me to perform my works. I shall be relieved of all problems. Can that be anything but a dream ?” 
The composer’s debts are paid, he receives the impressive salary of 4000 guilders and is able to move into a large house in Munich.Preparations begin for the performance of “Tristan und Isolde”.

More than 20 rehearsals place.
Stage scenery and costumes swallow up large amounts of money.
Following several postponements the day of the premiere the king had waited for so long finally arrived on June 10 1865.
The king was received with loud cheers and fanfare in the royal Court Theater.
The public broke out into enormous storms of applause, and the opera is a great triumph for Wager as well as for Ludwig.

Ludwig’s enormous fairy-tale castles, Teutonic, neo-gothic and oriental versions of Versailles which virtually bankrupted the country, were the grand opera sets made flesh.
He endeavoured to be an absolute monarch at the dawn of the modern republican world, when such goals were impossible.
But having failed in the political and domestic realm, he made his dream reality in art and music.
No expense was spared for the staging of Wagner’s operas, which were often performed with Ludwig the sole member of the audience, and in return Wagner gave him his genius and his love.
Wagner acknowledged that :
Without him I am as nothing ! Even in loving him he was my first teacher. O my King ! You are divine! 
They exchanged some 600 letters, and it is hard to say who was more enthusiastic, at least in the beginning.
Wagner: “What bliss enfolds me! A wonderful dream has become a reality! . . . I am in the Gralsburg, in Parsifal’s sublime and loving care. . . . I am in your angelic arms! We are near to one another.” Or Ludwig: “My only beloved Friend! My saviour! My god! . . . Ah, now I am happy, for I know that my Only One draws near. Stay, oh stay! adored one for whom alone I live, with whom I die.”
Their relationship was almost certainly physical, though not necessarily “genital.”
Wagner at one time held homoerotic ideals, and in ‘Das Kunstwerk der Zukunft’ (The Art-work of the Future), comments on the love of comrades in Sparta :
“This beauteous naked man is the kernel of all Spartanhood; from genuine delight in the beauty of the most perfect human body – that of the male – arose that spirit of comradeship which pervades and shapes the whole economy of the Spartan State. This love of man to man, in its primitive purity, proclaims itself as the noblest and least selfish utterance of man’s sense of beauty, for it teaches man to sink and merge his entire self in the object of his affection. . . . The higher element of that love of man to man . . . not only included a purely spiritual bond of friendship, but this spiritual friendship was the blossom and the crown of the physical friendship. The latter sprang directly from delight in the beauty, aye in the material bodily beauty of the beloved comrade.”
Ludwig refused to get married, even for state reasons, and wanted to give up the throne to live with and for Wagner, but it was not to be, for Wagner loved women as well as music and power.

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© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013




LUDWIG’S DOWNFALL

Why, after years of eccentric behavior, was Ludwig finally declared insane and deposed by his Cabinet? The reasons were probably financial in nature.
While Ludwig paid for his palaces out of his own resources, his relentless building program had dragged him deeper and deeper into debt, and the scandal of royal bankruptcy had begun to loom.
In 1884 a loan had to be secured from the Bavarian State Bank to continue the work on Neuschwanstein, but rather than economize as a result, Ludwig only planned even grander projects – he had the site cleared for Castle Falkenstein, and announced Byzantine and Chinese palaces would soon follow.
When Ludwig turned to his Cabinet for a second loan, however, they refused; the king responded by sending servants out to other monarchs to beg for funds, and gossip arose that he was seeking men for a crazed plan to break into banks in Berlin, Frankfurt and Paris.
By 1886, it was rumored Ludwig had even begun seeking new ministers for his Cabinet, and the ruling clique decided it had to act.

The Cabinet settled on a plan to depose Ludwig for constitutional reasons (rather than through a coup d’etat), by removing him due to his unfitness to govern, by reason of insanity. One problem with this plan was that Ludwig’s brother Otto, next in line to the throne, was clearly incurably mad, and had been institutionalized since 1872. Ludwig’s uncle, Prince Luitpold, however, agreed to act as Regent, but only on the condition that he was convinced Ludwig was truly unfit to govern. Thus a team of four eminent psychiatrists, headed by Dr Berhard von Gudden – the leading German psychiatrist of the day – was chartered to compile an official report on Ludwig, and Count von Holnstein, Ludwig’s Master the Horse, set about collecting stories and gossip about the king.
There was no shortage of lurid rumors.
Ludwig’s public appearances were bizarre enough – he often chattered to himself, pulling his beard, and was so shy on state occasions that he sometimes hid behind screens of flowers. The king was also known to repeatedly hug various pillars and architectural features of his castles, and enjoyed dressing up as Lohengrin and other medieval heroes.

Otto Eduard Leopold
Fürst von Bismarck

But servants also told tales of beatings, children’s games, and stable-boys dancing naked before the king in the moonlight.
The report convinced Prince Luitpold, and a mission was sent to Neuschwanstein to arrest the king.
Appropriately enough, the mission ended in a debacle – alerted to its approach, peasants loyal to Ludwig swarmed the castle, and a baroness in love with the king caused a scene by brandishing her parasol menacingly at the gate.
Loyalists tried to persuade Ludwig to flee over the Alps, but he refused; the king then attempted to issue a proclamation protesting the mission, but it was suppressed by the government.
From Berlin, Bismarck – who was only partly sympathetic to the Cabinet – advised Ludwig that to hold onto the throne, he must show himself to the people, but the neurotic Ludwig refused this course of action, too.

Schloß Berg – Starnberg See
The Arrest of Ludwig

At 4 a.m. on 10 June 1886, a government commission including Holnstein and von Gudden arrived at Neuschwanstein to formally deliver the document of deposition to the king and place him in custody. 
Tipped off an hour or two earlier by a faithful servant, his coachman Fritz Osterholzer, Ludwig ordered the local police to protect him, and the commissioners were turned back at the castle gate at gun-point. 
That same day, the Government publicly proclaimed Luitpold as Prince Regent.
The king’s friends and allies urged him to flee, or to show himself in Munich and thus regain the support of the people.
Ludwig hesitated, instead issuing a statement, allegedly drafted by his aide-de-camp Count Alfred Dürckheim, which was published by a Bamberg newspaper on 11 June:
‘The Prince Luitpold intends, against my will, to ascend to the Regency of my land, and my erstwhile ministry has, through false allegations regarding the state of my health, deceived my beloved people, and is preparing to commit acts of high treason. I call upon every loyal Bavarian to rally around my loyal supporters to thwart the planned treason against the King and the fatherland.’
The government succeeded in suppressing the statement by seizing most copies of the newspaper and handbills.
As the king dithered, his support waned.
Peasants who rallied to his cause were dispersed, and the police who guarded his castle were replaced by a police detachment of 36 men who sealed off all entrances to the castle.
Eventually the king decided he would like to escape, but it was too late.
In the early hours of 12 June, a second commission arrived.
The King was seized just after midnight and at 4 a.m. taken to a waiting carriage.
Ludwig was then transported to Castle Berg (see above) on the shores of Lake Starnberg, south of Munich.
Starnberg See
On 13 June 1886, around 6:00 pm, Ludwig asked Gudden to accompany him on a walk through the Schloß Berg parkland along the shore of Lake Starnberg.
Gudden agreed; the walk may even have been his suggestion, and he told the nurses not to accompany them.
His words were ambiguous (“Es darf kein Pfleger mit gehen”) and whether they were meant to follow at a discreet distance is not clear.
The two men were last seen at about 6:30; they were due back at eight but never returned.
After searches were made for more than three hours by the entire castle personnel in a gale with heavy rain, at 11:30 that night the bodies of both the King and Gudden were found, floating in the shallow water near the shore.
The King’s watch had stopped at 6:54. Gendarmes patrolling the park had heard and seen nothing.
Ludwig’s death was officially ruled a suicide by drowning, but this has been questioned.
Ludwig was known to be a strong swimmer in his youth, the water was less than waist-deep where his body was found, and the official autopsy report indicated that no water was found in his lungs.
Ludwig had expressed suicidal feelings during the crisis, but the suicide theory does not fully explain Gudden’s death.
Gudden’s body showed signs of strangulation and of a struggle, leading to the suspicion that he was strangled to death by Ludwig.
Many hold that Ludwig was murdered by his enemies while attempting to escape from Berg.
Ludwig II Lying in State
Ludwig’s body was dressed in the regalia of the Order of Saint Hubert, and lay in state in the royal chapel at the Munich Residence Palace.
In his right hand he held a posy of white jasmine picked for him by his cousin the Empress Elisabeth of Austria.
After an elaborate funeral on 19 June 1886, Ludwig’s remains were interred in the crypt of the Michaelskirche in Munich.
His heart, however, does not lie with the rest of his body.
Bavarian tradition called for the heart of the king to be placed in a silver urn and sent to the Gnadenkapelle (Chapel of the Mercy) in Altötting, where it was placed beside those of his father and grandfather.
König Ludwig II von Bayern – Death Mask
König Otto von Bayern (1848-1916)
King Ludwig II was succeeded by his brother Otto, but since Otto was genuinely incapacitated by mental illness, the king’s uncle Luitpold remained regent.

König Ludwig III von Bayern
Ludwig III (Ludwig Luitpold Josef Maria Aloys Alfried), (January 7, 1845 – October 18, 1921) was the last King of Bavaria, reigning from 1913 to 1918.
Ludwig was born in Munich, the eldest son of Prince Luitpold of Bavaria and of his wife, Archduchess Augusta of Austria (daughter of Grand Duke Leopold II of Tuscany).
Hailing from Florence, Augusta always spoke in Italian to her four children.
Ludwig was named for his grandfather, King Ludwig I of Bavaria.
Ludwig spent his first years living in the Electoral rooms of the Munich Residenz and in the Wittelsbacher Palace.
When he was ten years old, the family moved to the Leuchtenberg Palace.
In 1861 at the age of sixteen, Ludwig began his military career when his uncle, King Maximilian II of Bavaria, gave him a commission as a lieutenant in the 6th Jägerbattalion.
A year later he entered the Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich where he studied law and economics.
When he was eighteen, he automatically became a member of the Senate of the Bavarian Legislature as a prince of the royal house.
In 1866, Bavaria was allied with the Austrian Empire in the Austro-Prussian War.
Ludwig held the rank of Oberleutnant; he was wounded at the Battle of Helmstedt, taking a bullet in his thigh.
He received the Knight’s Cross 1st Class of the Bavarian Military Merit Order
M Ü N C H E N
Residenz – Műnchen
As admirer of ancient Greece and the Italian renaissance Ludwig patronized the arts as principal of many neoclassical buildings, especially in Munich, and as fanatic collector.
Among others he had built were the Walhalla temple, the Befreiungshalle, the Ludwigstrasse, the Bavaria statue, the Glyptothek, the Old and the New Pinakothek.
His architects Leo von Klenze and Friedrich von Gärtner also strongly influenced the cityscape of modern Athens. The king collected Greek and Roman sculptures, Early German and Early Dutch paintings, masterpieces of the Italian renaissance, and contemporary art for his museums and galleries.
He placed special emphasis on collecting Greek and Roman sculpture.
One of his most famous conceptions is the celebrated “Schönheitengalerie” (Gallery of Beauties), in the south pavilion of his Nymphenburg Palace in Munich. A collection of 36 portraits of the beautiful women painted between 1827 and 1850 mostly by Joseph Karl Stieler.
After his abdication, Ludwig remained an important and lavish sponsor for the arts. This caused several conflicts with his son and successor Maximilian. Finally Ludwig financed his projects from his own resources.
Melchio Frank – Thronsall -Residenz Műnchen – Bayern Deutschland
München – Glyptothek
The Glyptothek is a museum in Munich, Germany, which was commissioned by the Bavarian King Ludwig I to house his collection of Greek and Roman sculptures (hence γλυπτο- glypto- “sculpture”, from the Greek verb γλύφειν glyphein “to carve”). It was designed by Leo von Klenze in the Neoclassical style, and built from 1816 to 1830. 
The Glyptothek was commissioned by the Crown Prince (later King) Ludwig I of Bavaria alongside other projects, such as the neighboring Königsplatz and the building which houses the State Collection of Greek and Roman Antiquities, as a monument to ancient Greece.
He envisioned a “German Athens”, in which the ancient Greek culture would be remembered; he had this built in front of the gates of Munich.
The layout of the Königsplatz complex was designed by the architects Karl von Fischer and Leo von Klenze in 1815, the latter arranged it in the style of a forum, with the Glyptothek on the north side.
Colorful frescoes and stuccos made by distinguished artists such as Peter von Cornelius, Clemens von Zimmermann, and Wilhelm von Kaulbach adorned the walls of the museum.
Propyläen – München
The Propyläen is constructed in Doric order and was completed by Leo von Klenze in 1862, and evokes the monumental entrance of the Propylaea for the Athenian Acropolis.
The gate was created as a memorial for the accession to the throne of Otto of Greece, a son of the principal King Ludwig I of Bavaria.
The reliefs and sculptures celebrating the Bavarian prince and the Greek War of Independence were created by Ludwig Michael Schwanthaler.
Bavaria with Ruhmeshalle 
Bavaria is the name given to a monumental, bronze sand-cast 19th-century statue in Munich, southern Germany. It is a female personification of the Bavarian homeland, and by extension its strength and glory.
The statue is part of an ensemble which also includes a hall of fame (Ruhmeshalle) and a stairway.
It was commissioned by Ludwig I of Bavaria, with the specific design being chosen by competition.
It was cast at the Munich foundry of J.B. Stiglmair between 1844 and 1850 and is the first colossal statue since Classical Antiquity to consist entirely of cast bronze.
It was and is up to the present day considered a technological masterpiece. Because of its size it had to be produced in several parts; it is 18.52 meters high and weighs about 87.36 tons.
It rests on a stone base which is 8.92 meters high.
L U D W I G ‘ S C A S T L E S
SCHLOß  HOHENSCHWANGAU
Hohenschwangau Castle or Schloss Hohenschwangau (lit: High Swan County Palace) is a 19th century palace in southern Germany.
It was the childhood residence of King Ludwig II of Bavaria and was built by his father, King Maximilian II of Bavaria.
It is located in the German village of Schwangau near the town of Füssen, part of the county of Ostallgäu in southwestern Bavaria, Germany, very close to the border with Austria.
Schloß Hohenschwangau
Schloß Hohenschwangau
As a boy Ludwig lived for much of the time at Castle Hohenschwangau, a fantasy castle his father had built near the Schwansee (Swan Lake) near Füssen.
In 1832, Ludwig’s father King Maximilian II of Bavaria bought its ruins to replace them by the comfortable neo-Gothic palace known as Hohenschwangau Castle. Finished in 1837, the palace became his family’s summer residence.
It was decorated in the gothic style with countless frescoes depicting heroic German sagas.
The family also visited Lake Starnberg.
As an adolescent, Ludwig became best friends with his aide de camp, Prince Paul of Bavaria’s wealthy Thurn und Taxis family. The two young men rode together, read poetry aloud, and staged scenes from the Romantic operas of Richard Wagner. 
Schloß Hohenschwangau
Schloß Hohenschwangau
Schloß Hohenschwangau
Music Room with the ‘Wagner Piano’


Richard Wagner
portrait by Franz Von Lenbach
One of Ludwig’s first royal acts was to become an official patron of Wagner, and he invited the composer to visit his court, despite Wagner’s controversial political past, and what was perceived as the “radicalism” of his operas.
Wagner’s ‘Lohengrin’, with its Swan Knight hero, had particularly captured the young king’s fancy, and no wonder – his childhood home, Schloss Hohenschwangau, was built by Ludwig’s father, Maximilian, on the remains of the fortress Schwanstein (or “Swan Stone” Castle), which was first mentioned in records from the 12th century.
Legend had it that a family of knights was responsible for its construction.
After the demise of their order in the 16th century, the fortress changed hands several times, and had fallen into ruin by the time Maximilian ascended the throne.
Ludwig’s awareness that his home was built on the ruins of this legendary fortress would eventually combine with his obsession with Lohengrin to produce his greatest architectural folly – the castle later known as Neuschwanstein (“New Swan Stone” Castle).
Ludwig outlined his vision in a letter to Wagner, dated 13 May 1868; “It is my intention to rebuild the old castle ruin at Hohenschwangau near the Pollat Gorge in the authentic style of the old German knights’ castles…the location is the most beautiful one could find, holy and unapproachable, a worthy temple for the divine friend who has brought salvation and true blessing to the world.
The foundations of the building were laid on September 5, 1869 – although Ludwig would not live to see the project completed. Neuschwanstein was designed by Christian Jank, a theatrical set designer, which explains much of its fantastic decoration.
Despite its faux-medieval appearance, however, the castle was built on a steel frame and came outfitted with every modern convenience.
During Ludwig’s life, the building was known as ‘Schloß Neuhohenschwangau’  (New Hohenschwangau Castle); it was only after his death that the name “Neuschwanstein” became popular, melding Ludwig’s identity with that of the Swan Knights.

SCHLOß   NEUSCHWANSTEIN

‘Schloß Neuhohenschwangau’

Schloss Neuschwanstein, is a 19th-century Gothic Revival palace on a rugged hill above the village of Hohenschwangau near Füssen in southwest Bavaria, Germany.
The palace was commissioned by Ludwig II of Bavaria as a retreat and as an homage to Richard Wagner.
Neuschwanstein is comprised of a gatehouse, a “Bower,” the Knight’s House with a square tower, and a Palas, or citadel (above), with two towers to the Western end.
On the exterior, it is a fanciful pastiche of medieval and Romanesque elements; its interior, however, was intended as an even more flamboyant evocation of the chivalric ethos of Richard Wagner’s operas.
The rooms within the Palas that were finished by Ludwig are so overdecorated as to be almost overwhelming; the Throne Room in particular was intended to resemble the legendary Grail-Hall of Parsifal (father of Lohengrin), and so was designed in an elaborate Byzantine style by Eduard Ille and Julius Hofmann.

Lohengrin – Schwan Ritter – Swan Knight

Lohengrin first appears in the written record as “Loherangrin,” the son of Parzival, the Grail King, in the epic Parzival of Wolfram von Eschenbach (1170-1220). The Knight of the Swan story was part of a long oral tradition associated with Godfrey of Bouillon, but von Eschenbach was the first to tie the tale to the Arthurian legend of the Holy Grail. In this version of the story, Loherangrin serves his father as one of the Grail Knights, who are sent out in secret to guard kingdoms that have lost their protectors. Loherangrin is eventually called to this duty in Brabant, where the duke has died without a male heir. The duke’s daughter Elsa fears the kingdom will be lost, but Loherangrin arrives in a boat pulled by a swan and offers to defend her, though he warns that she must never ask his name. They fall in love and eventually wed, but one day Elsa asks what she knows is verboten. The Swan Knight answers, but then regretfully steps back onto his boat, never to return.
In 1848 Richard Wagner adapted the tale into his wildly popular opera Lohengrin,the work through which the story is best known today. In the opera, Lohengrin appears on his favorite mode of transport to defend Princess Elsa from the false accusation of killing her brother (who turns out to be alive and well at the end of the opera). Intriguingly, Wagner extends the theme of the Holy Grail, and its symbolism of masculine purity, further into the story by adding an explanation for Lohengrin’s keeping his true identity in the closet: the Grail, recovered by Lohengrin’s father, imbues the Knight of the Swan with mystical powers that can only be maintained if their source remains unspoken.

Inspired by the Hagia Sophia, the two-story Throne Room was only completed in the year of the king’s death; the throne itself was never made.
The Grotto, which was not underground, as one might expect, but was located between Ludwig’s living room and his study, was one of the most unusual rooms in Neuschwanstein, and was used by the increasingly-isolated king as a refuge in which to indulge his melancholy moods.
Its artificial stalactites were built of oakum and plaster-of-Paris by the famed landscape sculptor Dirrigl of Munich.
Dirrigl had already built a far more extravagant grotto in the park of the Schloss Linderhof.
This artificial lake was designed as a kind of real-life stage set for the “Venus Grotto” scene from Wagner’s Tannhäuser.

Schloß Neuschwanstein
The building design was drafted by the stage designer Christian Jank and realized by the architect Eduard Riedel.
Initial ideas for the palace drew stylistically on Nuremberg Castle and envisaged a simple building in place of the old Vorderhohenschwangau Castle, but they were rejected and replaced by increasingly extensive drafts, culminating in a bigger palace modelled on the Wartburg.
The king insisted on a detailed plan and on personal approval of each draft.
His control went so far that the palace has been regarded as his own creation rather than that of the architects involved.
Whereas contemporary architecture critics derided Neuschwanstein, one of the last big palace building projects of the 19th century, as kitsch, Neuschwanstein and Ludwig II’s other buildings are now counted among the major works of European historicism.
Schloß Neuschwanstein – Plan – showing proposed un-built Chapel
Schloß Neuschwanstein under construction 1882-1885
Schloß Neuschwanstein under construction 1886
Schloß Neuschwanstein – Photochrom print c.1900
For financial reasons a project similar to Neuschwanstein – Fanstelkein Castle – never left the planning stages.
The palace can be regarded as typical for 19th century architecture.
The shapes of Romanesque (simple geometric figures such as cuboids and semicircular arches), Gothic (upward-pointing lines, slim towers, delicate embellishments) and Byzantine architecture and art (the Throne Hall décor) were mingled in an eclectic fashion and supplemented with 19th century technical achievements.
The Patrona Bavariae and Saint George on the court face of the Palas (main building) are depicted in the local Lüftlmalerei style, a fresco technique typical for Allgäu farmers’ houses, while the unimplemented drafts for the Knights’ House gallery foretell elements of Art Nouveau.
The basic style was originally planned to be neo-Gothic but was primarily built in Romanesque style in the end. The operatic themes moved gradually from Tannhäuser and Lohengrin to Parsifal.
for more information about Christian Jank, Fanstelkein and Parsifal see –

for more information about Richard Wagner see:
Schloß Neuschwanstein
Neuschwanstein Castle, or “New Swan Stone Castle”, is a dramatic Romanesque fortress with Byzantine, Romanesque and Gothic interiors, which was built high above his father’s castle: Hohenschwangau.
Numerous wall paintings depict scenes from the legends Wagner used in his operas.
Christian glory and chaste love figure predominantly in the iconography, and may have been intended to help Ludwig live up to his religious ideals, but the bedroom decoration depicts the illicit love of Tristan & Isolde (after Gottfried von Strasbourg’s poem).
The castle was not finished at Ludwig’s death; the Kemenate was completed in 1892 but the watch-tower and chapel were only at the foundation stage in 1886 and were never built.
The residence quarters of the King – which he first occupied in May 1884 – can be visited along with the servant’s rooms, kitchens as well as the monumental throne room.
Unfortunately the throne was never completed although sketches show how it might have looked on completion.
Schloß Neuschwanstein
Schloß Neuschwanstein
Schloß Neuschwanstein
Schloß Neuschwanstein – Turm – (Tower)
Schloß Neuschwanstein – Turm – (Tower)
Schloß Neuschwanstein – Pforte
Schloß Neuschwanstein
SCHLOß  NEUSCHWANSTEIN

I N T E R I O R
Vestibule – Schloß Neuschwanstein
Staircase – Schloß Neuschwanstein
Corridor – Schloß Neuschwanstein
Salon – Schloß Neuschwanstein
Study – Schloß Neuschwanstein
Study – Schloß Neuschwanstein
Salon – Schloß Neuschwanstein
Salon – Schloß Neuschwanstein
Chapel – Schloß Neuschwanstein
Grotto – Schloß Neuschwanstein
Minstrel’s Hall – Schloß Neuschwanstein
Minstrel’s Hall – Schloß Neuschwanstein


Minstrel’s Hall – Schloß Neuschwanstein
Throne Hall – Schloß Neuschwanstein

Thronsaal – Schloß Neuschwanstein
Thronsaal – Schloß Neuschwanstein
Thronsaal – Schloß Neuschwanstein
Thronsaal – Schloß Neuschwanstein
Thronsaal – Schloß Neuschwanstein
Thronsaal – Schloß Neuschwanstein
Thronsaal Dome – Schloß Neuschwanstein
View from Schloß Neuschwanstein
View from Schloß Neuschwanstein
Schloß Neuschwanstein – Project
Schloß Neuschwanstein – Swan Fabric
Because of its obvious beauty and elegance, the swan had long been a favored emblem of European nobility; nobles across Britain, Germany and France wanted swans in their moats and peacocks pecking at their lawns.
There seems to have been a “perfect storm” of swan imagery around Ludwig II, however.
The name of his childhood home, Hohenschwangau, literally translates as “High Swan District,” and it overlooked the Schwansee (“Swan Lake”), a natural habitat for the birds .
The foundation of Hohenschwangau had also been built centuries before by the Knights of Schwangau, or the Swan Knights; it’s not so strange, having grown up in this environment, that Ludwig should have been especially drawn to the mythical Swan Knight Lohengrin.
SCHLOß   LINDERHOF
Schloß Londerhof
Linderhof Palace (German: Schloss Linderhof) is in Germany, near Oberammergau in southwest Bavaria near Ettal Abbey.
It is the smallest of the three palaces built by King Ludwig II of Bavaria and the only one which he lived to see completed.
Atlas Sculpture – Schloß Linderhof
Schloß Linderhof – Fountain
The water parterre in front of the castle is dominated by a large basin with the gilt fountain group “Flora and puttos”. The fountain itself is nearly 25 meters high.
Schloß Linderhof at Night
Schloß Linderhof – Plan
Linderhof Castle is an ornate palace in neo-French Rococo style, with handsome formal gardens.
Just north of the palace, at the foot of the Hennenkopf, the park contains a Venus grotto where Ludwig was rowed in a shell-like boat on an underground lake lit with red, green or “Capri” blue effects by electricity, a novelty at that time, provided by one of the first generating plants in Bavaria.
In the forest nearby a romantic wooded hut was also built around an artificial tree (see Hundinghütte above).
Inside the palace, iconography reflects Ludwig’s fascination with the absolutist government of Ancien Régime France.
Ludwig saw himself as the “Moon King”, a romantic shadow of the earlier “Sun King”, Louis XIV of France.
From Linderhof, Ludwig enjoyed moonlit sleigh rides in an elaborate eighteenth century sleigh, complete with footmen in eighteenth century livery.
He was known to stop and visit with rural peasants while on rides, adding to his legend and popularity.
The sleigh can today be viewed with other royal carriages and sleds at the Carriage Museum (Marstallmusem) at Nymphenburg Palace in Munich.
Its lantern was illuminated by electricity supplied by a battery.
There is also a Moorish Pavilion in the park of Schloß Linderhof.
Schloß Linderhof – State Bedroom
Schloß Linderhof – State Bedroom
Schloß Linderhof – Salon
Schloß Linderhof – Salon
Schloß Linderhof -Ludwig’s Private bedroom
Schloß Linderhof – Peacock
Schloß Linderhof – Gardens
Schloß Linderhof – Garden Temple
Schloß Linderhof – Maurischer Kiosk
This building was designed by the Berliner architect Karl von Diebitsch for the International Exhibition in Paris 1867.
Ludwig II wanted to buy it but was forestalled by the railroad king Bethel Henry Strousberg. Ludwig bought the pavilion after the bankruptcy of Strousberg.
The most notable piece of furniture of this building is the peacock throne.
Schloß Linderhof – Maurischer Kiosk
Schloß Linderhof – Maurischer Kiosk
Schloß Linderhof – Maurischer Kiosk
Schloß Linderhof – Maurischer Kiosk
Schloß Linderhof – Maurischer Kiosk – Interior
Schloß Linderhof – Maurischer Kiosk – Interior


Schloß Linderhof – Maurischer Kiosk
The Peacock Throne
Schloß Linderhof – Venusgrotte
The building is wholly artificial and was built for the king as an illustration of the First Act of Wagner’s “Tannhäuser”.
Ludwig liked to be rowed over the lake in his golden swan-boat but at the same time he wanted his own blue grotto of Capri. Therefore 24 dynamos had been installed and so already in the time of Ludwig II it was possible to illuminate the grotto in changing colours.
Schloß Linderhof – Venusgrotte
SCHLOß  HERRENCHIEMSEE
Schloß Herrenchiemsee
Herrenchiemsee is a replica (although only the central section was ever built) of Louis XIV’s palace at Versailles, France, which was meant to outdo its predecessor in scale and opulence – for instance, at 98 meters the Hall of Mirrors is a third longer than the original.
The palace is located on the Herren Island in the middle of the Chiemsee Lake.
Most of the palace was never completed once the king ran out of money, and Ludwig lived there for only 10 days in October 1885, less than a year before his mysterious death.
It is interesting to note that tourists come from France to view the recreation of the famous Ambassadors’ Staircase.
The original Ambassadors’ Staircase at Versailles was demolished in 1752.
Schloß Herrenchiemsee
Schloß Herrenchiemsee
The unfinished Neues Schloss (New Palace) was designed by Christian Jank, Franz Seitz, and Georg von Dollmann and built between 1878 and 1885.
Between 1863 and 1886 a total of 16,579,674 Marks was spent constructing Herrenchiemsee. An 1890 ’20 Mark’ gold coin contained 0.2304 troy ounce (7.171 g) of gold. Therefore, 16,579,674 Marks would equate to 190,998 oz of gold.
Ludwig only had the opportunity to stay within the Palace for a few days in September 1885. After his death in the following year, all construction work discontinued and the building was opened for the public.
In 1923 Crown Prince Rupprecht gave the palace to the State of Bavaria.
Schloß Herrenchiemsee
Schloß Herrenchiemsee – Spiegelgalerie – (Hall of Mirrors)
Schloß Herrenchiemsee – Ambassador’s Staircase
Schloß Herrenchiemsee – Ambassador’s Staircase
Schloß Herrenchiemsee – Spiegelgalerie – (Hall of Mirrors)
Unlike the medieval design of Neuschwanstein Castle begun in 1869, the New Palace is, in a sense, a Neo-Baroque monument to Ludwig’s admiration of King Louis XIV of France.
In the great hall of mirrors of the palace the ceiling is painted with 25 tableaux showing Louis XIV at his best.
It was to have been an equivalent to the Palace of Versailles, but only the central portion was built before the king died in 1886, where-after construction was discontinued leaving 50 of the 70 rooms of the palace incomplete.
It was never meant to be a perfectly exact replica of Versailles and in several places surpasses it.
With a length of 98 m (322 ft) and 23 arches the Hall of Mirrors is larger than the Versailles equivalent.
The dining room features an elevator table and a huge chandelier of Meissen porcelain, the largest in the world.
The building also benefits from nearly two centuries of technological progress, while the original Versailles palace did not have a single toilet and the only running water was outside in the fountains.
King Ludwig’s “copy” has more modern facilities including a central heating system and a large heated bathtub.
Schloß Herrenchiemsee – Gardens & Fountains
Also, unlike Versailles, it was built on an island and is now only accessible by a small ferry.
The formal gardens are filled with fountains, a copy of the Versailles Bassin de Latone and statues in both the classical style typical of Versailles and in the fantastic style typical of romanticism that was favored by King Ludwig. Cool maidens which look as if they have stepped out of a museum of classical antiquity are never too far from dragons, winged warriors, giant lizards and other extravagant beings which look as if they have come from one of Richard Wagner’s romantic operas.
Adolf Hitler visiting Schloß Herrenchiemsee
c1930s

Adolf Hitler visiting Schloß Herrenchiemsee
c1930s

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Wappen Freistaat Bayern
Bavaria, formally the Freistaat Bayern (Free State of Bavaria), pronounced is a state of Germany, located in the southeast of the country.
With an area of 70,548 square kilometres (27,200 sq mi), it is the largest German state by area, forming almost 20% of the total land area of Germany.
Bavaria is Germany’s second most populous state (after North Rhine-Westphalia) with almost 12.5 million inhabitants, more than any of the three sovereign states on its borders.
Bavaria’s capital is Munich.
One of the oldest states of Europe, it was established as a duchy in the mid first millennium.
In the 17th century, the Duke of Bavaria became a Prince-elector of the Holy Roman Empire. The Kingdom of Bavaria existed from 1806 to 1918, and Bavaria has since been a free state (republic).
Modern Bavaria also includes parts of the historical regions of Franconia and Swabia.

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a fascinating, fully illustrated study of this
truly remarkable period of modern history
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Richard Wagner’s greates music drama
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