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Category: History

National liberal and Septenat of 1874 test for unity of party

UDK 943.083


Yu.N. Ustinova

In article it is about a militarism role in internal political development of Germany in the 70th of the 19th century. The question of financing of army closely coordinated with constitutional rights of the Reichstag where the majority of mandates belonged to the National Liberal Party. In 1871 the national liberal managed to adopt the three-year military budget with little effort. But approval in 1874 of "septenat" became fatal for unity of party and has an adverse effect on its power in the country.

The huge role in Germany was played by militarism - an integral part of state political system. Armed forces were also the influence tool on the foreign policy arena, and means of fight against revolutionary performances within the country. With O. fon Bismarka's appointment to a post of the chancellor of the empire who saw in army a stronghold of the conservative device of Prussia and Prussian hegemony in Germany the role of army in the state increased that was also promoted by the policy of creation of the troops, strongest in Europe, pursued by it. But the maintenance of well trained, efficient army case demanded considerable financial expenses which source were budgetary funds. The share of military expenses made 90%.

Desire of the government to have powerful army demanded huge allocations. One decade prior to formation of uniform Germany the country was in a condition of chronic readiness for war. Then need of creation of big army was connected with the purpose of association of all German lands under domination of Prussia. But liberally adjusted Prussian landtag opposed to big expenditure. The revolutionary situation became ripe. However, Bismarck found necessary funds for modernization of army and, appear, the conflict was exhausted. In 1863-1866 after the wars which are victoriously ended by Prussia even more increased a role of armed forces in society and confirmed a conducted political policy the North German union was formed. The question of financing of army found reflection in a number of articles of the constitution of the new state.

The quantitative structure of the all-union army case in peace time till December 31, 1871 was one percent of the population of 1867 and as much in the certain German states. The sum of the military budget has to be determined according to the allied legislation. The annual statement of public expenses, but "was provided... in special cases they can be established also for bigger term" [1, page 90-91]. What cases to consider "special" did not register in the basic law and its skillful use gave the Reichstag the exclusive rights. In 1867 the question was resolved in favor of the Ministry of Defence: the approved "iron budget" defined annual expenses on each soldier in 225 thalers for a period of 4 years [1, page 90].

Respectively until the end of 1871 the government estimate of military expenses for 1872 has to come to the Reichstag. The basis of the imperial constitution was formed by the provisions of the North German constitution and article devoted to military science which remained invariable [2, page 103]. At the end of November, 1871 the government bill which defined for three years the structure of imperial army in peace time in number of 401659 people with annual expenses in 90373275 thalers was submitted in the Reichstag by the head of imperial office, the right hand of the chancellor Bismarck R. Delbryuk [3, page 302]. In 1871

401659 thousand soldiers were the share of 41,010 thousand people that made 0.98% of the population [4, with. 52].

The approval of the military budget in 1871 passed without hours-long disputes. Representation, discussion of the bill and amendments to it and final vote took only 3 days. The line in support of the government proposal was developed on behalf of national liberal by the famous scientist Treychke for whom all question came down only to increase in number of army cases in comparison with 1867. Also referring to a dangerous foreign policy situation at empire borders, the historian concluded that "... now the government is able to spend money for restoration of army" [5, with. 599-600]. For most of the national liberal supporting this position, the offer read by R. Delbryuk looked attractive to which it is possible to agree without long disputes, having repeated experiment of 1867. "We will render big service to the Fatherland if we adopt the three-year military budget" [6, with. 342].

An attempt to change the course of discussion was made by the national liberal E. Lasker famous for the scrupulous relation to the right. The politician reproached the government with wastefulness [5, with. 614-618] also suggested to reduce the number of army cases. At the same time he demanded provision of guarantees in use of means. National liberal L. Bamberger, Y. Mikel and G.-V. to Unr supported reduction up to 2 years of term of allocation of means for army. It was talked only about 1872 and 1873 as the time gap between 2 and 3 years formed the whole abyss [5, with. 630-631]. However all offers which had attempt to change a privileged position of military in the country were called the head of imperial office unacceptable and rejected for the sake of preservation of that "... harmony with which the German Reichstag so far" [5 worked, with. 635].

Disputes on the budget in the Reichstag more resembled inner-party negotiations of national liberal as the defense line of the government which is convincingly built by Treychke and the most radical, intriguing proposals were made in the Reichstag by members of fraction. According to the last, the made decision was a compromise between two trends within one, national and liberal, parties. Brisk fight of interests, but in any way not split [5 took place, with. 635].

Approval of the law was apprehended in the Reichstag with pleasure to avoid the difficulties by all means arising at annual discussion of the budget. Adoption of the long-term estimate of expenses for army the parliament itself lost the right to dispose of 90% of income of the empire, having rejected as superfluous a bargaining chip of legislative policy - the right of an approval of the budget. However the hope soared in the Reichstag that sometime, namely in 1874, Germany will manage to be freed from an excessive military burden, having reduced the numerical structure of army and respectively the estimate of expenses on its maintenance.

In 1874 the draft of the military law offered by the government contained the basic principles of creation of military science in the empire. In general its provisions had to exclude the gaps existing earlier between various special laws created from practical need, reflecting the principles of the organization of imperial army and also the rules regulating recruitment and legal relations of military faces [7, with. 70-71].

The center of a discussion made the most important first paragraph of the law repeating, in fact, requirements of the government in 1871. This time they were more radical, categorical: the number of army in peace time in the former number of 401659 soldiers was offered to be established for unlimited term ("eternat"). Respectively and expenses on its maintenance has to approve the Reichstag for ever. In case of approval of such contents of the paragraph the army turned into maintaining the Kaiser and under management of the chancellor. Approval of "eternat" would provide almost all budget of the empire in eternal use of the government and Ministry of Defence, having excluded intervention of parliament in military affairs. In this case the most important function of the Reichstag in

the approval of the budget of the country will remain only the farce. Representatives of the Ministry of Defence claimed that "each government, without thinking of economy, has to use the income in all spheres of the state life for the solution of essential tasks... The value of the military law for the country comes down to protection of the rights and freedoms of separate categories of the population; its value out of the country is only the power..." [7, page 81]. The main motive of 1871 - threat from the outside - willows of 1874 also remained the leading argument in favor of preservation of big army.

Allocation of funds for unlimited term was not explained to the Reichstag from positions of practical need and the main reason of emergence of "eternat" should be considered great-power ambitions of the German government. In 12 years the military budget was discussed only three times! The government skillfully used deputies of the Reichstag in the purposes in exchange for support and influence of "name" of the chancellor on parliamentary groups, in particular, the national and liberal fraction. Offering "этернат", members of the government led by Bismarck for the greatest tractability of deputies, were ready to use all constitutional means of pressure, such as, dismissal or dissolution of the Reichstag, the collaboration termination, the requirement of a vote of confidence, mobilization of public opinion against parliamentarians, etc.

For national liberal a main goal began not to allow approval of the government proposal by the Reichstag that demanded huge efforts, considering experience of last years. Long-term huge expenses on military science pushed them to awareness of need of economy. The case in point became for party not just manifestation of fight for increase in army or for the right of participation in lawmaking. Eternat would make activity of military absolutely independent of the Reichstag, having established the absolute power of the Ministry of Defence and the government over empire finance.

The National Liberal Party is party of national unity and civil liberties. Liberals are known for the pacifistic moods, unlike the conservatives supporting strengthening of militarism as a way to military dictatorship. Having voiced rule of law in the party program, national liberal proclaimed creation of "the state of the right". The state which spends the majority of funds for military needs, let proclaiming the peace purposes, becomes "the state of force". Till 1874 the Reichstag did not manage to break in own favor a dispute on financing of army.

The changed version of the law was offered by the parliamentary commission under the chairmanship of the leader of the national and liberal fraction R. Bennigsen. Its decision on the first paragraph of the law consisted in establishment of average minimum structure of army, in fact, the repeating offer E. Lasker in 1871. Very syllogism: if there is a need to change the quantitative structure of army towards its increase or reduction, the government is forced will address the Reichstag. On this Ministry of Defence specified: the number of army specified in the law is also a desirable minimum. Probably, such minimum figures the number of soldiers in Germany will not reach any day in a year. The decision was rejected, but the hope for a compromise of the Reichstag with the government remained.

The offer read on April 13 by R. Bennigsen became a turning point in discussion: the Reichstag will agree to the required number of troops, but not for an indefinite term, and for seven years ("septenat"): from January 1, 1875 to December 31, 1881 [8, page 444]. Addressing deputies, the leader of national liberal allocated two parties of the estimated decision: "to .garantirovat integrity and safety of our statehood from the outside and, proceeding from this principle, to approve the military constitution for long term... The people which are not able to refuse temporarily the rights because of force majeure. are sick, unhealthy; his political figures and political parties are deprived of dedication and patriotism." [9, page 753-754]. In

the general and whole, referring all to the same "a special case", the constitution allowed to approve the budget for long-term term.

In party opponents of "septenat" as willows of 1871, united near the same E. Lasker. He considered the seven-year term of the military budget illegal, accepting only the four-year term of allocation of means. According to opinion of the politician, the long-term solution of a question, was the beginning of new problems. The deputy reminded parliamentarians of the offer of 1871 on reduction of army. The political figure regarded the constitutional decision as of paramount importance, being afraid that activity of the Reichstag will become formal and the offered seven years' truce will be used by competitors already on new elections.

National liberal considered "септенат" as temporary solution, planning through seven laid down to return to execution of the constitutional obligations in the financial sphere. But up to World War I the Reichstag did not come to the annual approval of the military budget. R. Bennigsen truly noticed that the military constitution is a skeleton of the constitution of each state and in Germany the military had long time special powers therefore the empire does not deserve the status of the constitutional state [9, page 754]. On the way of creation of the constitutional state it is more true to call steps taken by party half measures, derogation from the principles, than persistent gradual achievement of the goal.

The Ministry of Defence unambiguously adopted the amendment. Many parties of the Reichstag apprehended the law and, in particular, the major first paragraph sharply negatively. In spite of the fact that "septenat" was opposed a part of national liberal led by E. Lasker, by progressionists, the Center party, representatives of ethnic minorities and social democrats, gained a victory the coalition of national liberal and conservatives. Approved both Bennigsen's amendment, and the military law in general. In a foreign press the adoption of the seven-year military budget was christened "brilliant failure" of national liberal [10, page 825].

Bennigsen's proposal became a compromise of the National Liberal Party and government. National liberal sought to subordinate all the actions to the interests of the state. "Everything that we do, we do not want to do on a half; and not with joyful heart, but with full of confidence... we seek to follow the Kaiser, the chancellor, the allied government..." [9, page 766]. The number of troops and military expenses were recorded for seven years though did not lead to a full arbitrariness of military and limited the rights of the Reichstag. Any ministry had no such powers as military. And the parliament kept the right of an approval of the budget only in the theory, having suspended its execution for the following two legislative terms.

National liberal endangered unity of the fraction. Later they treated the step so: ".ma had to keep the right of national representation in the statement of military expenses and at the same time consciously maintain the peace with the government in order to avoid the victims which are not so highly commensurable in relation to the achieved objective." [11, page 167].

Consequences of discussion of the military budget in 1874 were visible for party. It became the first serious test of its unity. Further the National Liberal Party continued to act in the Reichstag as whole, but it became more difficult to make the common decisions. Its unity was won by the treachery price: having approved "септенат", national liberal caused damage and to liberalism ideals, and betrayed the interests of the people. The opponents of seven-year term who united around E. Lasker began to move away more and more from party and by the principles approached left liberals. The decline of power of party began, more it did not reach such heights and for a role of leaders in parliament moved forward the Center party and social democrats.

The article deals with the role of militarism in the home-policy development of Germany in the 70s of the 19-th century. The problem of financing the army was closely tied with the constitutional rights of the Reichstag where most of the

mandates belonged to the National-liberal party. In 1871 the national-liberals managed to adopt the military budget for three years. But the approval of the & #34; Septennate" became fatefUl for the unity of the party and influenced her power in the country negatively.

of The key words: militarism, national-liberal party, military budget, & #34; Septennate" & #34; Eternate, \

List of references

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II. Nationalliberale Parlamentarier 1867-1917 des Reichstages und der Einzellandtage. Beiträge zur Parteigeschichte. Berlin: Centralbüro der Nationalliberalen Partei, 1917. 484 s.

About the author

Yu.N. Ustinova — aspir. Bryansk state university of the academician I.G. Petrovsky, e-mail:

Samuel Frank
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