Explaining History

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German Militarism and Social Cohesion in 1914

Despite a decade of social conflict prior to the First World War between German trade unions and bosses, the declaration of war by Germany against Russia in the summer of 1914 led to a temporary but significant period of social unity in the Reich. The SPD, Germany's Social Democratic Party, showed its loyalty to the Kaiser's government by voting for his war credits to fund the army, and were recognised by the Chancellor Bethman Hollweg as a pliant and passive organisation that did not need to be repressed. National minorities in Silesia, Alsace Lorraine and Schleswig Holstein did not fare quite as well, with their leaders facing arrest and imprisonment at the start of the war.


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