Author Topic: End of the Monarchies  (Read 44647 times)

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Offline Learning

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End of the Monarchies
« on: September 27, 2007, 10:06:43 AM »
There seems to be a contradiction in German history that I am having to understand. On the one hand some of the German monarchies were very popular, some popular, some not so popular. Yet the Revolution swept them all away. How does one account for the popularity of the King of Saxony and the King of Wurttemberg and yet they, too, were deposed. And the King of Bavaria was the first to go, but he was popular, too, correct?

Was German German society simply divided between those who wanted an end to the monarchies and those who didn't and, with the end of the war, the fomer got the upper hand?

During the discussions for the Weimar constitution was any serious attempt made to restore the monarchies, even if that meant one of the Kaiser's sons for example?

Thanks.

Offline imperial angel

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Re: End of the Monarchies
« Reply #1 on: September 27, 2007, 10:32:59 AM »
I have always wondered about this too. I thnk maybe there was just so much pressure for a different society after World War I, the considerations of popularity or not, didn't matter? But, then, I am not well versed in German history in particular.

Offline dmitri

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Re: End of the Monarchies
« Reply #2 on: September 28, 2007, 11:30:25 AM »
Sadly Bismarck's unification of Germany through military force reduced the former independent kingdoms, duchies and principalities to vassal states within the new German Empire. Everything was swept away in November 1918. Monarchy as a form of government was completely disallowed. Wilson saw to that. Since the American revolution there has been a hatred or distrust of monarchy from the United States anywhere. It is interesting to note that the Afghanistan assembly wanted to restore the monarchy and were told by the United States "we don't do monarchies". It's also interesting to note that the Americans learned after the mess post world war one not to repeat it in Japan at the end of world war two. That is why Hirohito stayed as Emperor. Everything could be changed while he remained. Without him it would have been extremely difficult. The Hohenzollerns should have stayed in some form but everything else should have stayed. Instead a complete power vacum occurred in Germany and the same in Austria-Hungary with the sweeping away of the Habsburgs. The great traitor in Hungary was Horthy. He claimed to be Regent but when the King of Hungary tried to return, the Regent failed to relinquish power. What a farce that was. Certainly the creation of republics in both Germany and Austria post world war one made it easy for Hitler to come to power. It is also interesting to note that Hindenburg's last will and testament was suppressed by Hitler as he had requested the restoration of the Hohenzollerns on his death.   

Offline HerrKaiser

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Re: End of the Monarchies
« Reply #3 on: September 28, 2007, 01:38:49 PM »
Sadly Bismarck's unification of Germany through military force reduced the former independent kingdoms, duchies and principalities to vassal states within the new German Empire.

to characterize the duchies and kingdoms within the German Empire as "vassal states" is misleading and unfair. The buy-in was largely embrased; Bavaria was least interested but quickly saw the huge benefit to a consolitdated union. The Bismarckian plan was the EU before its time. Kaiser Fritz, had he lived, was a huge proponent of not only a unified Germany but also an unified europe. Fritz is loved, Bismarck is loathed, but when they had the same visions one can hardly be critical when using the Bismarck association to the idea and give praise when Fritz' name is attached. That is the essense of bias.

I do agree that the Hohenzollerns should have retained power. This was a culture shock to not only Germans but most of western civiliation. Winning wars usually brought land grabbing and independence, but not complete toppling of sovereigns and governments. But the true reason that the Hohenzollerns got booted was not the Brits and American, rather the communist revolution that the Brits and Americans did not attempt to reverse.

True, had a revised constitutional monarchy in Germany been in place, the events of the 1920s and 1930s would likely have taken a different path, but there was no foresite. All the allies wanted was revenge and reparations and stomping on the vanquished. This threw the Germans into a tail spin. Massie in his book Dreadnought contrasts the cultural mentality of the British and Germans interestingly...he says the Germans tend to be bullies and pick fights, but like atheletes after the battle, look to shake hands and move on as semi-friends. Brits are a passive breed who, he said, don't pick fights, but when pushed to the breaking point, unleash an unforgiving response of no holds barred. Hence, the Germans were shocked to see what was being done to them and their country after WWI.

A GREAT documentary film is "A letter without words" that shows an upper middle class Jewish family during/after WWI.

Can you tell the source of data that substantiates that Hirohito's remaining semi-intact in Japan was a direct decision based on the monday morning quarterbacking of not allowing wilhelm to remain as Kaiser 27 years earlier? I find nothing that suggests this; rather it was MacArthur who strongly urged that Hirohito remain a figure head in order that the occupation could progress reasonably peacefully and MacArthur wanted the Japanese to retain a minimal sense of dignity after the severe loss.


HerrKaiser

Offline Espella

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Re: End of the Monarchies
« Reply #4 on: September 29, 2007, 08:31:27 AM »
HerrKaiser,

Some seem to think that McArthur would have loaded the Lincoln Monument on a barge and given it to the Japanese if he could have.  Do you think he went overboard in coddling the Japanese after seeing what happened with the dismissal of the Hzs in Germany?

Offline HerrKaiser

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Re: End of the Monarchies
« Reply #5 on: September 29, 2007, 02:24:34 PM »
HerrKaiser,

Some seem to think that McArthur would have loaded the Lincoln Monument on a barge and given it to the Japanese if he could have.  Do you think he went overboard in coddling the Japanese after seeing what happened with the dismissal of the Hzs in Germany?


The direct cause and effect comparison of what MacArthur's mindset relative to the elimination of the Hohenzollern dynasty and post war Japanese strategy is somewhat apples and oranges. But it is indisutable that the Japanese were not treated or penalized as harshly as were the Germans after WWII. MacArthur was very much a military man in the genre of Kaiser Fritz...knock out the enemy but shake hands afterward and 'move on' together; this was not the mentality of Churchill, Eisenhower, Harris, etc. Had MacArther's ideas been implemented in Europe, especially if Patton and he got their way, what a difference would have occurred.

The vicious war crimes committed by Japanese military were equal or worse than those by the Wehrmacht, yet the outcry and penalites are a mere fraction of what the nazis and germans were held accountable for. The nazis should not have been held less accountable, but the point is the Japanese were given many passes. I knew men who survived the Bataan death march.

for example, survival rates in Japanese prisoner of war camps was an appalling 40% while in Geraman POW camps was 4%.

While it appears MacArthur did "coddle" the Japanese to some extent at the same time the victors in Europe had no such intention for the Germans, both situations did turn out to be what the victors sought, long term. Germany and Japan over the past 60 years have been the world's most exemplary democracies and human rights supporters/advocates, particularly Germany (Japan has racial issues admittedly). Many in America have said during the Iraq situation, "where are the Germans...". Well, the Allies made Germany (and japan) into what the nation is today...a non military, pacifist socielty that opts for peace at any price.

HerrKaiser

Offline Adagietto

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Re: End of the Monarchies
« Reply #6 on: October 05, 2007, 04:36:11 PM »
There is very little similarity between the situation in Germany after WW1 and the situation in Japan after WW2. The victors in WW1 did not have the same sort of total and direct control over the defeated nation. The monarchies were not removed by Germany's opponents, but as a result of events within Germany itself, as has been remarked. If the situation was to be reversed, it was necessary that the victor nations should make the restoration of the Hohenzollerns (or all the royal houses) a deliberate and central element in their policy. There could, of course, be no question of this, because the Hohenzollerns in particular, and indeed the monarchies in general, were regarded as having played a played a prime and essential irole in German militaristic culture. Although one has to make any number of nuances, there was a considerable element of truth in that view. Furthermore, the Kaiser had been vilified throughout the war as a symbol of German millitarism, which would have made it impossible for the leaders of the victor to have justified a Hohenzollern restoration to their people even if they had wanted to. And any how, who could they have had as the new Hohenzollern Emperor. Clearly not the Kaiser. The Crown Prince, a noted militarist who had been in command, moreover, at Verdun? Adalbert? Oskar? The wole idea is totally unrealistic as soon as one gets down to practicalities. And if the central monarchy was not be restored, the victor nations could have had lno reason to concern themselves with all the minor royal families. There was little sympathy for them, moreover, because so many of their members had held commanding positions during the war, and had been od such symbolic importance to the war effort. Once the monarchs had been deposed by fellow-Germans there was no question of anyone from outside making any effort on their behalf; they were doomed by the course of history. Though I personally wish it had been otherwise.

Offline Learning

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Re: End of the Monarchies
« Reply #7 on: October 06, 2007, 08:21:32 AM »
Adagietto - I undestand what you are saying and I, too, regret the loss of the monarchies. That said, the revolution swept them away, yet they remained popular afterwards - at least to a degree, correct? I mean most continued to live in their former realms (after a brief exile and excluding the Kaiser). And most were well compensated financially. If I recall the Social Democrats tried to have their property expropriated without compensation but could never muster the votes. All of this seems to prove that the royals remained popular after the war and even to this day especially in Southern Germany. Yet the revolution happened. I just see this as a contradiction. In many ways the November Revolution reminds me of the American Revolution: the monarchy was ended but the same powers that be remained.

Offline Adagietto

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Re: End of the Monarchies
« Reply #8 on: October 06, 2007, 10:03:00 AM »
I don't have any great knowledge of the history of Germany after 1918, but I believe that most at least of the royal families remained fairly popular and were treated with respect. Perhaps one could look at it like this. The monarchies were swept away in the wave of disorder that followed the defeat of Germany. If that had not happened and votes had been held on the matter after the situation had become more stable, I imagine that the will would not have been there to get rid of them. (Someone may be able to say something more definite about this). But once a monarchy has been abolished it is quite difficult to re-establish because, instead of it just being there with all its appurtenances from time immemorial, a consensus has to be reached not only to restore it, but to reach all kinds of decisions about its powers, incomes, properties etc.  This raises such problems that it is much easier even for those who are broadly sympathetic to the monarchy to do nothing and let sleeping dogs lie. Furthermore, opinions inevitably become divided according to party lines. The left tends to have no love for monarchies if not to be postively republican, while the active pressure for restoration tends to come from the right (often fairly far right in conditions like those in Germany following the war, when opinions were so polarized). This, I think, is really fatal for any monarchy because, instead of being there by tradition, it is seen as representing a factional interest, and becomes an object of factional dispute. There was the further problem in Germany of the position of the Hohenzollerns. In view of the part that the Kaiser had played in German politics, it is understandable that the Social Democrats in particular would have had no wish to see another Emperor. It was not as if a constitutional and limited monarchy on the British model had been removed. Some of the smaller monarchies had still been fairly feudal in nature moreover. So there seem to have been quite a number of reasons why there was no political pressure to restore the monarchies even if the monarchies themselves may not have been unpopular.

[When talking of left-right divisions regarding monarchies, I was thinking of people who are actively engaged in politics. In my own country, the UK, for instance, left-leaning politicians tend to have less sympathy for the monarchy than right-leaning ones, but it is by no means the case that people who vote on the left are predominantly unsympathetic to the monarchy.  As a consequence, the matter has never really become a party issue. But if one can imagine that the British monarchy had been swept away in a coup or something in the 1980's and those same politicians had to decide whether or not to restore it, the matter would surely then become a party issue that would tend to divide on left-right lines. That does not mean that a monarchy cannot credibly present itself as standing above the pollitical fray as long as it remains stable. And monarchies in Europe do seem to be remarkably stable as long as disorder does not arise as a result of failure in war etc. ]

Offline dmitri

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Re: End of the Monarchies
« Reply #9 on: October 06, 2007, 10:03:24 AM »
I don't think the monarchies remained popular. There were no popular uprisings in favour of restoration anywhere in Germany after the November revolution or after world war two. There is also no popular support for restoration of monarchy anywhere in Germany in 2007. Those days are gone in Germany. Monarchy in Germany is not associated with democracy.

Offline Adagietto

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Re: End of the Monarchies
« Reply #10 on: October 06, 2007, 10:41:45 AM »
If the monarchies were to be restored, it had to happen within fifteen or twenty years.  Of course there is no desire for restoration nowadays, the historical continuity has been entirely lost, and the imperial rule in particular is associated with militarism and anti-democratic trends.  It is wholly different matter as to whether a majority of Germans in the 20's would not have been happy to see the monarchies restored, with proper constitutional limitations. As to the fact that were not uprisings over the issue, that reveals nothing at all because this is not an issue of the first importance to most people in the modern era. A monarchy is, so to speak, a luxury that people can perfectly well live without. The monarchy was very popular in Britain at the beginning of the last century, but if it had been swept away in disorders following defeat in WW1, I cannot believe that there would have been popular uprisings to restore it! 

Offline Learning

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Re: End of the Monarchies
« Reply #11 on: October 06, 2007, 04:40:36 PM »
Dmitri - When I said that the monarchies remained popular, I was thinking of the good will shown to some of the monarchs. Perhaps I should have said that they remained popular with a segment of society. I do not see how the whole imperial system could have been revived easily, although it could have been done. The German monarchs fared fairly well after the revolution compared with French and Russian monarchs. It is my understanding that some of the royal families are still popular especially the Bavarian royal family.

Offline HerrKaiser

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Re: End of the Monarchies
« Reply #12 on: October 11, 2007, 02:33:49 PM »
One thing to keep in mind is that when one says "monarchies" there was only one deposed--the hohenzollerns. the other states had aristocratic powers, but the monarchy was in the control of the Kaiser.

the hundreds of nobles, royals, and other arristocrats beyond the Kaiser did, in fact, remain as positivlety viewed individuals, by and large. The change in government was a separate social and political issue vs the way the population in general felt about the aristocracy and the indiviuals who made it up. And just because even a majority of people may have "liked" or admired many of the royals, it would not follow that the people would continue to support a relatively antquated form of government.

After the wall fell in 1989, the spontaneous parades and celebrations in Dresden, for example, featured the former royals leading the parades to the cheers of the crowds. such was not to be confused with wishing the royals were heading the government.
HerrKaiser

Offline Learning

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Re: End of the Monarchies
« Reply #13 on: October 12, 2007, 11:40:03 AM »
One thing to keep in mind is that when one says "monarchies" there was only one deposed--the hohenzollerns. the other states had aristocratic powers, but the monarchy was in the control of the Kaiser.

But the various monarchs still had powers within their own realms and in accordance with their own constitutions, correct?

Quote
And just because even a majority of people may have "liked" or admired many of the royals, it would not follow that the people would continue to support a relatively antquated form of government.

Antiquated? As it existed, yes. But it would have been nice had some form of true constitutional monarchy evolved.

Quote
After the wall fell in 1989, the spontaneous parades and celebrations in Dresden, for example, featured the former royals leading the parades to the cheers of the crowds. such was not to be confused with wishing the royals were heading the government.

I did not know this. So the Wettins had some role in public life. But they still have not recovered their properties in Saxony have they?

Thanks.
[/quote]

Offline HerrKaiser

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Re: End of the Monarchies
« Reply #14 on: October 16, 2007, 11:07:47 AM »
Yes, the German Empire was a amalgamation of kingdoms and duchies...a predecessor to the EU and a similar organization to the United States. This was the vision of Bismarck and Frederich and a good one indeed. Great Britain and Russia feared the idea immensely. Like governors of states in the U.S., they have power, but the President is ultimate.

I am not aware of the Wettins financial or property status in Saxony and beyond. but, for sure, they brought out their classic cars and paraded through the region in parades marking the downfall of the communist regime.
HerrKaiser