Yet Bismarck's program showed that conditions for workers could be improved without a revolution. Later, Germany and other European nations would build on Bismarck's social policies, greatly increasing government's role in providing for the needs of its citizens.
Why did Bismarck try to dissolve socialist groups?
Bismarck tries to push the scary looking “Socialist Jack” back into the box. What did Bismarck do after his anti-socialist laws strengthened the socialist cause?
In 1888, William II succeeded his grandfather as kaiser. The new emperor, supremely confident, wished to put his own stamp on Germany. In 1890, he shocked Europe by asking the dominating Bismarck to resign. “There is only one master in the Reich,” he said, “and that is I.” William II seriously believed that his right to rule came from God.
My grandfather considered that the office of king was a task that God had assigned to him…. That which he thought I also think…. Those who wish to aid me in that task … I welcome with all my heart; those who oppose me in this work I shall crush.
Not surprisingly, William resisted efforts to introduce democratic political reforms. At the same time, however, his government continued the idea of social welfare, or programs provided by the state for the benefit of its citizens. These programs, designed to combat support for socialists, helped improve conditions not only for workers and the elderly, but also German society in general.
His government also provided services such as cheap transportation and electricity. An excellent system of public schools, which had flourished under Bismarck, taught students obedience to the emperor along with reading, writing, and mathematics.
Otto von Bismarck leaves his Berlin office in 1890 after Kaiser William II forced him to resign as chancellor.
Like his grandfather, William II lavished funds on the German military machine, already the most powerful in Europe. He also launched an ambitious campaign to expand the German navy and win an overseas empire to rival those of Britain and France. William's nationalism and aggressive military stance helped increase tensions on the eve of World War I.