«Reformer» of Wilhelmine Era: Bernhard Martin von Bulow (1849-1929)

Nataliia Papenko

Ph.D.(History), Associate Professor

Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv

Kyiv, Ukraine

UDC 94(430) «18/19» Б. Бюлов

DOI: http://doi.org/10.17721/2524-048X.2020.15.9

In the article the author examines the socio-political development of the German Empire during the reign of Emperor Wilhelm II. The author of the article tries to reveal the complex mechanism of the methods of policy of the imperial chancellor B. von Bulow both in the sphere of foreign and domestic politics. He began his activities in a difficult historical time not only for Germany but also for most of Western Europe. It was the time of Germany’s struggle for world domination. The political leaders of the leading Western European countries were representatives of the new formation, therefore, they had to act with new methods of management of society and not only them. The Reichskanzler B. von Bulow was ready to enact political and social reforms in order to weaken social conflicts and improve society as a whole. The author of the article emphasizes that unlike Western Europe, Germany at the beginning of the twentieth century could not completely free itself from the feudal-absolutist heritage. However, the rapid capitalist-industrial development of the country had an impact on all strata of the society and political institutions of power.

At the beginning of the twentieth century in Germany, conservatism crystallized as a consistent ideology coupled with liberal tendencies. A bright representative of this ideology was B. von Bulow. Intelligent, charismatic, he was not against the democratic changes at all, insisting that all kinds of changes in the country be introduced in order to promote the organic development of generally recognized state and social institutions. So they are not in danger. As a leader of the country, he understood well the need to abandon extremes of conservatism, from violent methods, insisting on the combination of conservatism and liberalism, thus creating a bloc of party unity. Therefore, he tried to act in a consistent, active manner.

At the beginning of the twentieth century Germany failed to build a stable parliamentary system. The Europeans considered the Germans “behind the facade of democracy”, because the effects of liberalization appeared there only from time to time. The article emphasizes that the liberals were not prepared to consider the radical projects of B. von Bulow, for example, general suffrage, because there were authoritarian traditions of the court, the army, and so German liberalism was weak and could not play a leading political role in the country.

Relevance of the topic of study is determined by the historical significance of problems raised in it. Significant political parties, political and economic forces have created a “geopolitical consensus,” leading Germany to a struggle for world domination.

Key words: liberalism, conservatism, parliamentary, the Reichstag, the draft law.

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