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Old August 19th, 2011, 02:06 AM   #1

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Would Frederick III have saved the German Empire (and Europe)?


This a question I've been mulling over quite a bit lately. For those who aren't fully clued-up on the subject, the story of the would-be enlightened Kaiser goes thus:

In 1888 the liberal-leaning Crown Prince Frederick of Prussia became German Emperor following the death of his crusty old father, William I. After decades of reactionary conservatism both in Prussia and in Germany as a whole under William and his Chancellor, Otto von Bismarck. There was great hope that Frederick's accession will lead to a more liberalised Germany and a toning-down of the characteristic militarism that had been causing concern amongst the other powers of Europe.

Unfortunately for liberals everywhere, however, the new Kaiser Frederick III was already suffering from incurable cancer of the larynx and died just 99 days into his reign. This allowed his highly conservative and militaristic son (too conservative even for Bismarck), William II to become German Emperor and...... oh dear.

So what do you guys reckon would have happened had Frederick not died so soon into his reign? It's almost certain that Frederick would have taken Germany in a more liberal direction had he lived longer, making it less authoritarian and more democratic to the point that his son would not have been able to undo the changes. I suppose the big question is whether or not his intended reforms would have been enough to diffuse the growing tension in Europe and possibly even prevent the outbreak of the First World War, thus ensuring the continued survival of Imperial Germany (and many of its people).
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Old August 19th, 2011, 02:15 AM   #2

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The German Empire was a bastion of institutionalised militarism by the 1880's. Liberalising the German Empire would have been an herculean task for a Kaiser and I can see any such policy being blocked or subverted. I suppose there is an outside chance that Germany wouldn't have given Austria the "blank cheque" against Serbia and may have delayed mobilization in favour of diplomacy...
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Old August 20th, 2011, 03:16 PM   #3

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1. Take a squad of Pomeranian Grenadiers to Waldersee's office to help him pack up his stuff and make sure he gets home safe. Make Sigismund von Schlichting the new Chief of Staff.

2. Dismiss Bismarck and invite Windthorst to form a cabinet.
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Old August 20th, 2011, 03:21 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sleeming88 View Post
This a question I've been mulling over quite a bit lately. For those who aren't fully clued-up on the subject, the story of the would-be enlightened Kaiser goes thus:

In 1888 the liberal-leaning Crown Prince Frederick of Prussia became German Emperor following the death of his crusty old father, William I. After decades of reactionary conservatism both in Prussia and in Germany as a whole under William and his Chancellor, Otto von Bismarck. There was great hope that Frederick's accession will lead to a more liberalised Germany and a toning-down of the characteristic militarism that had been causing concern amongst the other powers of Europe.

Unfortunately for liberals everywhere, however, the new Kaiser Frederick III was already suffering from incurable cancer of the larynx and died just 99 days into his reign. This allowed his highly conservative and militaristic son (too conservative even for Bismarck), William II to become German Emperor and...... oh dear.

So what do you guys reckon would have happened had Frederick not died so soon into his reign? It's almost certain that Frederick would have taken Germany in a more liberal direction had he lived longer, making it less authoritarian and more democratic to the point that his son would not have been able to undo the changes. I suppose the big question is whether or not his intended reforms would have been enough to diffuse the growing tension in Europe and possibly even prevent the outbreak of the First World War, thus ensuring the continued survival of Imperial Germany (and many of its people).
Well if he wasn't going to get rid of Bismarck then yes the war could've been staved off.
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Old August 20th, 2011, 03:26 PM   #5

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Well if he wasn't going to get rid of Bismarck then yes the war could've been staved off.
If Frederick wasn't absolutely desparate to get rid of Bismarck right away then he probably could have just sat back and waited for him to retire/die. Didn't Bismarck only live on for about a decade after the events of 1888?
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Old August 20th, 2011, 03:30 PM   #6
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If Frederick wasn't absolutely desparate to get rid of Bismarck right away then he probably could have just sat back and waited for him to retire/die. Didn't Bismarck only live on for about a decade after the events of 1888?
Yes. All the Germans needed to keep World War from happening was a continuing of the insurance treaty with Russia.
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Old August 20th, 2011, 03:38 PM   #7

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Yes. All the Germans needed to keep World War from happening was a continuing of the insurance treaty with Russia.
Which insurance treaty was that? Sorry, I'm not totally up to scratch on my late-19th Century European diplomacy.
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Old August 20th, 2011, 03:42 PM   #8
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Which insurance treaty was that? Sorry, I'm not totally up to scratch on my late-19th Century European diplomacy.
Reinsurance_Treaty Reinsurance_Treaty
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Old August 20th, 2011, 03:52 PM   #9

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That treaty was never going to work particularly well considering the ambitions of William II and the web of conflicting interests among the European powers. I'm not sure even Frederick could have pulled it off.
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Old August 20th, 2011, 03:53 PM   #10
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That treaty was never going to work particularly well considering the ambitions of William II and the web of conflicting interests among the European powers. I'm not sure even Frederick could have pulled it off.
Well if Frederick didn't die we can assume Bismarck would still be in office helping out Frederick.
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