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Category: History

"Exclusive law on socialists" of 1878 and Centre party

UDK - 943.08


O.V. Olkhovskaya

The policy of Kulturkampf begun by the government of Germany in 1871 failed. Persecutions against church, a difficult situation of workers promoted strengthening of influence of social democrats. In spite of the fact that social democrats drew on themselves a part of electorate of Centre, Catholics opposed adoption of the exclusive law on socialists. For the first time the Vindtkhorsta party put for itself national interests (and first of all protection of the rights and civil liberties) above the interests of Rome. But the threat of distribution of the ideas of socialism promoted rapprochement of Catholic church and state.

In 1871 with assistance of conservatives and national liberal Bismarck began policy of Kulturkampf. Its main goal was to prevent federalistic aspirations of Centre and intervention of Catholic church in affairs of the German empire. Nevertheless, steps taken within Kulturkampf policy did not bring desirable result. Contrary to expectations the anticlerical laws only strengthened authority of Catholic party: during the period from 1871 to 1878 the number of the mandates found by clericals in the Reichstag increased from 63 to 94. The Catholic population expressed an open protest to the pursued policy. After laws on the state school supervision and a civil marriage, Protestants also joined the camp of dissatisfied. In spite of the fact that the legislation of Kulturkampf was directed against Rome, the considerable blow had also across Wittenberg (center of the German Protestantism). Internal tension grew in the country. Kulturkampf, deterioration of the situation of workers as a result caused only exasperation of a people at large concerning the state which was favorable only to social democrats.

Even stronger recession in the German economy aggravated contradictions. The domestic production did not sustain the competition to foreign goods. The policy of a fritrederstvo failed. Under pressure of industrialists and land owners the government of Germany began to incline to introduction of protectionist laws. Within such policy the chancellor could not count on support of national liberal. Conservatives and clericals could only become an alternative to them. From now on the tendency to reconciliation of the conflicting parties was designated: Bismarck and leader of Catholic party Vindtkhorst. Rapprochement was promoted in many respects also by a position of Centre ready to go for negotiations. In 1875 during discussion of the law of "a basket for bread" the leader of Centre introduced the idea of cooperation: "Easily it would be possible to come to the peace agreement if some authorities on the government wanted to agree. I do not want to discuss today whether it corresponds to the interests of the state. From our party everyone would make everything to achieve the peace. However if certain authorities insist on a solution by force, then and we should give up thoughts of the world and to wait patiently until the head of state does not remember that Catholics are citizens too" [4, 8. 309].

During Kulturkampf the labor movement in Germany gained steam and became the real force. It was promoted by overcoming split among social democrats. In 1875 at a congress in Gotha there was a merging of the Social democratic Labour Party and General German labor union in the Socialist Workers Party of Germany (SWPG). Weakening of communication of church and the people paved favorable circumstances for perception by the population of socialist propaganda. It was obvious that in the absence of counteraction from the state, the increasing rates of industrialization of Germany will promote strengthening of influence of SRPG. Thanks to active propaganda the social democrats delayed on themselves a part of electorate of Centre. Elections of 1877 met expectations of supporters of socialists: social democrats received about half a million votes and won 12 mandates (after elections of 1871 the socialists took only 2 place in the Reichstag) [6, 8. 234]. Thus, the government was presented with a choice: the social reforms undertaken "from above" or radicalism "from below".

Bismarck saw obvious threat to the existing state order in social democrats: "I return to the question when and why I left the works in the field of the social relations and when, in general, my attitude to a social problem was changed. As the beginning it was served by a moment when at a meeting in the Reichstag... the deputy Bebel or Liebknecht pointed to French

the commune as on an example of political system it is also opened before the people and the gospel recognized himself as the supporter of these murderers and instigators. From this point I made sure it is in danger which threatens us... I distinguished in social democratic elements of the enemy against whom the state has to hold the fort" [3, 8. 70].

On May 11, 1878 attempt at the emperor was made. Though communication of the terrorist with socialist party was not proved, for the chancellor this act became a pretext which it so needed. On May 20, 1878 the draft of "The law against socially dangerous aspirations of social democrats" was submitted for consideration of the Reichstag. It was talked of extraordinary action against a certain class of citizens. In the document the ban of the unions and meetings, the printing works promoting the ideas of social democracy made a reservation. In essence all proposed measures came down to preventive police actions. Estimated period of validity of the law - 3 years. In justification it was said that "socialist propaganda has harmful impact on the population; to overthrow the existing order and to create the socialist state, the social democracy undermines moral and religious views, patriotism, respect and attention to the law, in general, all that is a basis of the state and stability of society" [2, 8. 1592].

Bismarck was sure that the church not less than the state is interested in defeat of social democracy. Really, the Pope Lev XIII was haunted by "the destructive exercises, dissolute and impudent aspirations menacing to a social, political and religious order" long ago [7, page 21]. Vatican perceived socialists as force, "the religion which is taking away from workers".

It would be logical to assume what Centre, acting in consent with Rome, will support the initiative of introduction of the law directed against social democrats. However clericals rejected the bill. They were convinced of hopelessness of counteraction to social democrats by methods of brute force. Unacceptable for Centre was an essence of the law which came down to restriction of the rights and freedoms. Catholics expressed the position in the following words: "We want to support all guarantees of civil liberty... Emergency laws do not belong to them. During Kulturkampf we received them so many that, at last, perhaps, understood, what does it mean" [5, 8. 326]. On May 24, 1878 on discussion in the Reichstag of Vindtkhorsg continued this thought: "We have to recognize that there are rights which are more senior, than the state that the state is rather designed not to create the rights, and to protect them" [1, 8. 1529]. In turn, the government insisted on need of extreme measures and supported extension of the legislation. The leader of Centre commented on such position as follows: "I consider that the available means by means of which the state can influence a situation are enough. And if the government applied against social democracy current laws at least twice with a smaller force, than in relation to our party, such situation would not develop". The religious party fairly noted that the policy of Kulturkampf pursued by the government promoted distribution of the socialist ideas: "For a long time fight against church was the main business of the state. The government so was fond that it did not notice what shoots generated these persecutions... Only where churches have a total freedom of activity, social democrats it is vain to pytayutsyarasprosgranit the doctrine" [1, 8. 1532-1533].

In turn, the president of the Reichstag Karl Hoffmann tried to incline Centre on the party of the government: "Fight against the ideas of social democracy has to be first of all business of church. Socialists work great mischief not to economy... They deprive of the worker of religion, just what does human life worthy the person. It concerns not only workers. The religion fills life of people with the present contents" [4, 8. 355]. On it the deputy of Centre Jörg noticed: "If you want the help to church, then release it" [1, 8. 1532]. Really, nobody repealed laws of Kulturkampf, and the Catholic church still experienced oppressions from the state. Karl Hoffmann was forced to give explanations: "I did not say about that the church did something for the state or did it favor in exchange on a reward. I said that the church, struggling with social democrats, would act for the benefits" [1, 8. 1534].

After discussion of the bill the vote took place on May 24. 251 deputies of the Reichstag acted against and only 57 - for. Among supporters there were an imperial party and conservatives. Thus, the law on socialists was rejected. Bismarck failed.

On June 2 there was the second attempt. The emperor was seriously injured. Again it was impossible to prove any communication with socialist party. Nevertheless, on June 11 the chancellor dismisses parliament. The public opinion which is warmed up by the national and liberal press inclined to drastic measures.

On July 30, 1878 elections to the Reichstag as a result of which there was a redistribution of forces took place: national liberal took 98 places, the Progress Party - 35, conservatives - 59, the German imperial party - 57, Centre - 94 [6, s. 234]. The era of power of national liberal came to an end. The Vindtkhorsta party began to play the leading role in political arena. Catholics depending on the resolved issue could form the majority either with right, or with left.

Again presented the bill on socialists which Bismarck proved on October 9, 1878 in the performance to the Reichstag: "I dared to notice at the first reading that I promote each aspiration directed to improvement of the situation of workers... If from social democrats any constructive proposal on a new society organization at which position of workers would become better arrived, I would not evade from it. However as the situation actually is? 11 years we have an advantage to sit together with social democrats... But in their long speeches - only the ideas of denial, blasting, overthrow, there is no positive thought, the project on the future... I believe that I know why misters socialists are silent how they want suit the world in the future. Just they do not know it" [3, s. 125]. The arguments given by the chancellor took the effect: national liberal in the union with right came over to the side of the government. The Reichstag was kind of divided into 2 poles: pro-governmental (German imperial party, national liberal and conservatives) and antigovernmental (Centre, progressionists and other small fractions). In spite of the fact that Catholics appeared in minority, Vindtkhorst continued firmly defended the position: "As for our relation to the discussed law, we categorically said still on May 24 that all necessary means for fight against social democracy have common law... The chancellor and his team insist on police brutality... However reprehensible, on our belief, the offer will cause this opposite expected result" [3, s. 248-250]. Deputies of religious party paid attention that the legislation of Kulturkampf and the offered bill are similar: it is the state arbitrariness directed to discrimination of a certain group of people (in the first case - party of Centre, in the second - social democrats), and only the guarantee equal for all rights and freedoms will be able to protect from this arbitrariness. Conservatives who accused Catholics of simple opposition to the government vividly reacted to this attack. To this Vindtkhorst it was forced to object: "We are not opponents of the governments in general. They have to be. But we are opponents of this government which already long time subjects to prosecutions 15 million people because of their belief" [3, s. 206].

A debate of the Reichstag on the bill continued 6 weeks. On October 19 vote took place. National liberal together with right could stand together and form the necessary majority. 149 people voted against, 221 - for. On October 21, 1878 "The law against socially dangerous aspirations of social democrats" came into force. In spite of the fact that Centre was strong fraction, it could not affect the result of vote.

The threat from social democracy promoted rapprochement of church and state. Bismarck imagined Centre the Catholic party acting only for the benefits of dad. Therefore the refusal of clericals to support the law directed against socialists became big surprise for the chancellor. For the first time the Vindtkhorsta party showed that national interests which it saw in protection of the civil rights and freedoms, for it above the interests of Rome. At the same time during the debate of Centre clearly let know that it is ready to cooperate with the government on condition of turning of policy of Kulturkampf: "We will be happy if Kulturkampf ends, and we will be able to work together with all for the benefit of the state again" [1, s. 1533]. After elections of 1878 the parliamentary influence of Catholics amplified. Bismarck understood that for carrying out the new economic policy not to do it without assistance from Vindtkhorsta party. However the stronger the chancellor needed support of Catholics, the their requirements about cancellation of the May legislation became more unshakable. And the government was forced to make concessions: in 1878 - 1882 the majority of anti-catholic laws was repealed, since Kulturkampf remained only supervision of the government over schools and the law on a civil marriage.

The Kulturkampf, started by the German government in 1871, ended in a failure. The church persecution, hard working position favored social democrats& influence. In spite of the fact that social democrats won over to their side the part of the Centre Electorate, Roman Catholics came out against the Exceptional Law. For the first time the Windthorst Party raised its national interests (and, first and foremost, protection of rights and civil liberties)

above Rome interests. But the threat of dissemination of socialism ideas favored the rapprochement of the Catholic Church and the State.

The key words are: Catholic Centre Party, Kulturkampf, Social-Democrats, Working-class movement, Exceptional Law about Socialists, Reichstag elections of1878.

List of references.

1. Stenographische Berichte über Verhandlungen des Reichstags. 3 Legislaturperiode. 2 Session. Bd. 2. B., 1878. S. 783 1558.
2. Stenographische Berichte über Verhandlungen des Reichstags. 3 Legislaturperiode. 2 Session. Bd. 3. B., 1878. S. 981 1623.
3. Stenographische Berichte über Verhandlungen des Reichstags. 4 Legislaturperiode. 1 Session. Bd. 1. B., 1878. S. 390.
4. Bachem K. Vorgeschichte, Geschichte und Politik der Deutschen Zentrumpartei. Bd. 3 Das neue zentrum der Kulturkampf in Preussen, 1870-1880. B., 1927. S. 451.
5. Lill R Zur Politik Ludwig Windthorsts//Politische Ideologien und nationalstaatliche Ordnung. - Munchen, 1968. S. 317-335.
6. Loth W. Das Kaiserreich. Obrigkeitsstaat und politische Mobilisierung. B., 1997. S. 242.
7. Falcons B.K. Catholic church and the state in Germany in the second half of the XIX century (historico-critical essay of the German Kulturkampf). Kazan, 1912. Page 351.

About the author

O.V. Olkhovskaya is the graduate student of the Bryansk state university of a name of academician I.G. of neTpoBCKoro, olch_hel ga@mail. ru

Laura Henderson
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