Themes in modern European history, 1890-1945 by Paul Hayes

By Paul Hayes

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France, although still mainly a country of peasants, made great industrial progress during this period. The process had begun during the Second Empire and had continued in the early years of the Third Republic. By 1914 France was a substantial industrial power. Traditional strengths remained – the production of food, wine and many luxury items, especially porcelain, glassware, perfumes and high-quality cloth – but in addition many new industries had been developed and some old or decayed ones revived.

He and other ministers were appointed, or dismissed, by the emperor. They had no real obligation of accountability to the Reichstag or Bundesrat except that which they freely offered, a rare occurrence, or that implied by Article 72, which required the chancellor to present an annual account of expenditure; nor could they be dismissed by the Reichstag or Bundesrat. The emperor also had the power to France and Germany 43 dissolve the Reichstag, or to prorogue its sittings or those of the Bundesrat.

As long as the economy continued to grow, as long as most Germans became increasingly prosperous, and as long as Germany seemed secure, it is hardly surprising that relatively few Germans saw the risks attached to the perpetuation of an increasingly anachronistic authoritarianism. Those who did often had quite irreconcilable views on how to reform or change the system. Thus the structural crisis grew worse, but its collapse not more imminent. Bismarck and his successors, naturally enough, were reluctant to leave more than was necessary to chance.

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