• GERMANIC MIGRATIONS AND
  • FRANKISH KINGDOM
  • JOHANNES REUCHLIN
  • THE WEIMAR CONSTITUTION
  • W
  • INFLATION, REPARATIONS, AND
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  • A
  • ALLIED PLANS AND CONFERENCES
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  • T
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  • AN UNPLANNED REVOLUTION
  • N
  • POLITICAL PARTIES UNPREPARED
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  • A REPUBLIC PROCLAIMED
  • A SEVERE ARMISTICE
  • T
  • ESTABLISHMENT OF A REVOLUTIONARY
  • EBERT MAKES A DEAL WITH THE
  • THE SPARTACISTS
  • INTERPRETATION OF THE
  • A VENGEFUL PEACE
  • V
  • THE GOALS OF THE PEACEMAKERS
  • TERMS OF THE TREATY
  • WAR GUILT AND REPARATIONS
  • DENUNCIATION AND RELUCTANT
  • GERMANIC MIGRATIONS AND
  • R

    style='font-size:31.5pt;font-family:ATClassicRoman;color:black'>ESTORATION, ROMANTICISM, AND REVOLUTION

     

    THE GERMAN CONFEDERATION

    In place of the old Empire the Congress of Vienna devised a new and looser federal

    union called the German Confederation (Deutscher Bund). Its form, functions,

    and powers were expressed in the Federal Statute of June 8, 1815. The federation

    comprised 35 principalities and free cities of the old Empire, and not surprisingly,

    the hereditary presidency was given to Austria. As one statesman

    remarked, Germany was not much more than a geographic expression, yet the

    territory it encompassed was larger than today and included all of the present

    states of Austria, Luxembourg, Limburg, and sections of Denmark, Poland, Italy,

    and Czechoslovakia. The powers and duties of the confederation were vested in

    its sole organ, the federal diet (Bundestag), a legislative council consisting of the

    plenipotentiaries of the member states. It met in Frankfurt am Main. Both Austria

    and Prussia had to agree before the Diet could act, and only three other states,

    Baden, Württemberg, and Bavaria could substantially influence its decisions.

    Since there was no popular representation, it generally attempted to keep the status

    quo of the restoration. Its main accomplishment was to suppress any efforts

    aimed at greater freedom and national unity. The press and publishing were kept

    under strict censorship, universities were closely supervised, and liberal political

    activity was suppressed. The most infamous legislation of this type was the Carlsbad

    Decrees (1819), which suppressed any expression of democratic ideas or

    advocacy of national unity. The latter was treated as a form of sedition and punished

    accordingly. The most zealous in executing the decrees was Austria, and

    Prussia under Metternichs influence was not far behind. When a liberal revolution

    broke out in Paris in 1830, liberal hopes were raised, but the power of reactionary

    rulers was too strong. In 1837, when Hanover became detached from the

    British Crown, its ruler demonstrated his opposition to the post-Napoleonic

    reforms by repealing the moderate constitution of 1819.

    Metternich, a nobleman from the Rhineland, whose faith in the rationalism

    of the Enlightenment was crushed by the extremes of the French Revolution,

    believed that only the oligarchy of the landed nobility and state administrators

    could be relied on to govern. So Metternich followed an intransigent and

    reactionary policy for Austria, as did most of the other kings who had promised

    to their people direct participation in government. Certainly the Confederation

    was not the reward politically conscious Germans had expected for the fighting,

    support, and suffering during the War of Liberation. In a few states, however,

    like Baden, Bavaria, Hanover, Nassau, Weimar, and Württemberg, more

    enlightened princes did introduce constitutions (monarchical constitutions).

    68

    These constitutions did not provide for popularly elected assemblies but a very

    restricted suffrage with representatives who had to be civil servants of the state.

    Their concerns were limited to municipal government, taxation, and the elimination

    of old restrictions in the mercantile and farming community. Jewish

    emancipation also was a prominent issue.

    The tremendous enthusiasm engendered in Germany during the War of Liberation

    against Napoleon subsided considerably during the years immediately

    following the settlement of 1815. The hopes of nationalists and reactionaries

    for glorious and final solutions to the problems of central Europe were left

    unrealized. A cultural style that developed during the restoration as people

    desired a more peaceful and traditional way of life came to be known as Biedermeier.

    It was a social and political style that was typified by provincialism,

    middle-class social propriety, rococo furniture, the music of Schubert, the writings

    of Goethes golden years, and a generally apolitical attitude. The German

    educational ideal of Bildung, which emphasized rationality and improvement,

    now focused more on the individual rather than on society. The period also

    manifested a reaction against the secular and anticlerical tendencies of the previous

    age and saw a strong revival of interest in religion.

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