Who received the greatest military contract of all time

From Duke Friedrich Eugen to King Wilhelm II.

Introduction: Dieter Langewiesche (Lexicon of the House of Württemberg, pp. 273-284)

The fall of the Old Kingdom and the end of Old Wuerttemberg, the rise to royal power and its overthrow, from the old-class system to parliamentary democracy, from an agrarian to an industrial society - these key words mark the cornerstones between which Wuerttemberg from Duke Friedrich Eugen to King Wilhelm II changed. It was a change full of dramatic upheavals and creeping, but no less profound developments: revolutions and wars, famine and waves of emigration, but also better education and medical care, rising living standards and more opportunities for the citizen and - with a considerable delay - also for the citizen to get involved in politics. Politics and the state changed, as did economy and society. Duke Friedrich Eugen would no longer have understood the world of Wilhelm II, his royal descendant, with whom the young Württemberg monarchy had to give way to the republic after a little more than a century. And it would not have been any different for the “little people”.

The transition to modernity lay between Friedrich Eugen and Wilhelm II. Nothing remained as it was. The fact that Württemberg achieved this turning point under a dynasty which, despite all the conflicts and struggles, was anchored in the loyalty of the population and respected in all political directions, made it easier for the country to find its way into an uncertain future. To anticipate them, as the eminent French social analyst Alexis de Tocqueville had said in 1850, was "beyond human understanding".

The continuity of the dynasty gave people support in a time that constantly demanded the future and devalued experience. How deep the break was when the German monarchies did not survive the military defeat of World War I is shown in the history of the catastrophe that began soon afterwards. With the "bourgeois century" in 1918, the monarchies in Germany also came to an end. Your Württemberg branch was on the way to a state system that promised to unite monarchy and democracy. The fact that this path could not be continued was not due to her or to the political conditions in Wurttemberg. King Wilhelm II had to abdicate because the fall of the Prussian-led German Empire at the end of the revolutionary war carried the dynasties of the individual states with it.

When the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation dissolved under the pressure of the French Revolution and Napoleon, the political map changed fundamentally and permanently. The colorful diversity of the historically grown domains had lived under the roof of the Old Kingdom and disappeared with it. Southwest Germany was hardest hit. It was the classic land of small spaces. Imperial counts, imperial knights, imperial prelates, imperial cities - they all relied on the protection of the emperor and the imperial institutions. When this protection broke away, the less powerful imperial estates could no longer evade the grip of the militarily more powerful sovereigns. What, in retrospect, is mostly recognized as a salutary territorial land consolidation, which removed the patchwork of petty and micro-rulers and thus opened the way to the German nation-state, may look very different from the perspective of those affected. The strong state seemed to ruthlessly devalue law and morals. Just remember the plundering of the Benedictine monastery of Sankt Georgen by a Württemberg commission shortly before the agreed assignment of the area to Baden. Secularization and mediatization destroyed legal and rule systems to which people had become accustomed, and they also destroyed traditional social, economic and cultural systems when, for example, monasteries were dissolved and regions lost their traditional centers. In view of this break with the past, those princes whose states had survived the 1803 Reichsdeputationshauptschluss, 1806 the definitive end of the Old Empire and 1815 the reorganization of Europe at the Congress of Vienna were faced with a daunting task. This was particularly true for the new Württemberg. Because the duchy, increased to an electorate in 1803 and a kingdom in 1805, was one of the beneficiaries of the collapse and reorganization. Although it had to cede areas, it gained far more so that it doubled in area and population. To shape this new state into a unity was the great challenge of the future. Areas with very different rulership, but also social and economic traditions had to be integrated. The fact that more than half of the 120,000 new subjects were Catholics and the Lutheran Württemberg thus became a mixed denominational state also weighed heavily at a time when religion was a central social shaping force and the churches were among the most important institutions of government.

The new era began in Württemberg with a demonstration of power by reform absolutism, which in the Napoleonic era was given more opportunities for action than the sovereign had previously possessed. The empire to which the power-conscious Württemberg estates had often successfully turned in conflict with their sovereigns no longer existed, and a new supranational framework did not emerge until 1815 with the German Confederation. Friedrich took advantage of this institutional vacuum, which the Rhine Confederation had not filled, by rigorously eliminating class powers in the new parts of the country and declaring war on them in Old Wuerttemberg. Although he could not fully achieve his goals, the new Württemberg that he set on the path was the creature of a revolutionary break with the past: an unprecedented centralization push had created a state whose weight was in the federal order of the German Confederation was considerable, and the dualistic corporate state of Lutheran observance gave way to a denominational parity constitutional state. The central tasks that the new Württemberg faced during the long reign of King Wilhelm I (1816–1864) were to open it to the growing political demands for participation from the population and to enable it administratively to react appropriately to the great problems of the time saw.

The institutional basis for the departure into the future was created by a unified administrative structure and the constitution of 1819. Both put integration brackets around the new state. The result of struggles lasting several years, the constitution carried on old class institutions, but the time of class dualism was over. A constitutional monarchy emerged with a parliament that was modern for the time. The right to budget, which the constitution guaranteed him, developed into his strongest political weapon. When the July Revolution in Paris sparked political life in Germany in 1830, a new political era began in Württemberg. The Chamber of Deputies gained influence, and a pragmatic liberalism formed in the country, which had a solid social base in the communes. In the electoral associations, which were now growing in number, he appeared openly politically, and in the many municipal associations he gained social support that could also be used politically where people were apolitical. In the singers' associations, a movement with a large number of members grew up, which, especially in Württemberg, had a large social range with a bourgeois core, popularized early liberal ideas and made a significant contribution to promoting the social integration of the young state. As society organized itself, it became more capable of conflict with the state, but this politicization also led to an increasing awareness of belonging together. When the Swabian singers from all parts of their homeland have been gathering for their big celebrations since the 1920s, they meant Württemberg - a sign of how successful state integration had been. This was to be seen again in the revolution of 1848/49.

During the revolution it became evident that the time was ripe for a thorough reform of the bureaucratic state in Wuerttemberg too, which believed it knew what was pious for the population. But it also became apparent that hardly anyone questioned Württemberg as a state. Radical republicans who wanted to give the future German nation-state a centralized administrative structure on the French model in order to eradicate the particular traditions and with them to disempower the dynasties, remained an influential minority in Württemberg. Anyone who expressed their opinion at the countless popular assemblies, in the many political associations and on the ballot papers during the two years of the revolution demanded both: the German nation-state and Württemberg as an independent part of it. The people of New Württemberg were also apparently loyal to the young state. What was enforced in the Napoleonic era without asking the population was no longer available to them after almost half a century. This contributed considerably to the mild course of the revolution in Württemberg - so mild that some doubt whether one could even speak of a revolution here. However, there is no reasonable cause for that doubt.

As in all German states, a political dynamic set in in Württemberg in March 1848, which within a short time broke the previous development blockades. The king was forced to pay tribute to public opinion by appointing leaders of the liberal opposition as ministers. This “March Ministry” was a double signal: it promised reforms and it promised to fight back “anarchy”. Not revolutionary violence, but legal reform, decided by the government and parliament, was the name of the majority program of those who wanted to fundamentally change the state order from the municipalities to the individual state to the national level. Contemporaries had already called this evolutionary path in revolutionary times "reform revolution". Treading it did not mean "betraying" the revolution, as has often been said. However, it did mean channeling it as quickly as possible through reforms in order to prevent it from leading to a phase of terror and then to the dictatorship of an individual. The fear that 1848 might become the repetition of 1789 sparked fears that contributed to the early split in the revolutionary movement into liberals and democrats. In this, Württemberg did not differ from other German states. Here, however, the liberal reform course was particularly successful, because Wilhelm I recognized, albeit reluctantly, as the only German monarch the imperial constitution passed by the Frankfurt National Assembly.

Republic or constitutional monarchy were the battle slogans around which the two camps rallied, into which the pre-March unity of the opposition disintegrated as early as April 1848. This fundamental dispute over the form of government became explosive when the democrats called for the lower-class social classes to be given full civic rights immediately, in particular the right to vote. The democrats wanted to dare an open society with the civic equality of all men, which entrusts the solution of the social problems of the future. For the liberals, on the other hand, the republic became a term of fear, dramatically exaggerated in the catchphrase “Red Republic”, behind which the opponents holed up. This fear of republican experiments was fed by many sources: the hunger riots of 1847 had given many citizens of Württemberg the impression that they were on the verge of a proletarian overthrow. The social revolutionary revolutionary movement in France intensified these fears, and when sub-bourgeois social groups became politically active even in Württemberg in 1848, there was no longer any doubt for the liberals: the bourgeois-sub-bourgeois reform alliance that the democrats were striving for would destroy the order of state and society. It did not help the Württemberg democrats that they declared the republic to be an ideal of the future, while they affirmed a reformed monarchy for the present, and especially for Württemberg. The desired democratic monarch, a kind of crowned president, would have moved into the second tier in order to enable a parliamentary system of government. The liberals, however, uncompromisingly rejected a king without qualities. They too wanted to strengthen parliament considerably and to curb monarchical power constitutionally, but it should remain strong enough to be able to intervene in a social-revolutionary emergency, which they saw as a real danger.

On this point the loyal Protestants and Catholics agreed with them, however deep the rifts otherwise were between them and the bourgeois revolutionary movement, the liberal as well as the democratic. In the concept of the “Red Republic” a semantic bulwark emerged, behind which an ideologically and politically completely inhomogeneous defense alliance came together. In the multitude of Catholic and Protestant voices that created a specifically ecclesiastical public, only a minority saw democratic and Christian principles as compatible. The majority were convinced that the doctrine of the divine origin of government excludes the principle of popular sovereignty.

The revolution failed, but it had lasting consequences. The peasants, whose unrest in the spring of 1848 had contributed significantly to the rapid yielding of the state authorities and thus to the success of the first wave of revolution, brought a rich harvest to their chests in Württemberg with the favorable conclusion of the agrarian reforms. Above all, however, a radical politicization had taken place in the cities, which, although restoratively contained for a few years after the revolution, could not be permanently reversed. For the first time, a political public had formed that reached all social groups and was at least partially accessible to women. State and municipal electoral bodies remained male domains, but women took part in popular assemblies as well as in protests, they read newspapers and signed petitions, they got involved in social and church circles, organized themselves in various kinds of associations, expressed their national consciousness and became part of a street public that shaped the political life of the revolutionary years. Even those who believed they perceived the abysses of a chaotic dissolution of all state and social order during the revolution adjusted their behavior to the new political conditions. In order to be able to represent their own interests effectively, the opponents of the revolution also formed associations, organized addresses and petitions, founded newspapers and thought about aid for social reform. Whoever wanted to defend tradition had to mobilize his followers. That is why the Inner Mission flourished and the Catholic People's Missions became the largest mass movements in Württemberg in the years after the revolution, when political organizations were banned. This surge of politicization, which also affected the supposedly non-political, could be tied in with when political life began to move again in 1859. But now the situation had changed completely.

Like the Napoleonic era half a century earlier, the sixties became one of the great upheavals in recent German history. The hope for a German nation-state now developed a dynamic that no one could escape, not even the individual dynasties. For them, the “national question” became an existential question. Anyone who wanted to assert oneself in the wake of the national idea had to prove its usefulness. Monarchical legitimacy now had to justify itself more than before through performance for society. Therefore, a kind of reform competition between the German states for the favor of their people began. That was also the case in Württemberg, supported by the change of the throne in 1864, which resulted in a change of government. A chain of liberalization measures changed life in the country: Jews received full citizenship rights, although social emancipation remained an unfinished process; existing marriage restrictions were dropped, so that the poor could now marry without official permission; Freedom of trade and freedom of movement were guaranteed; censorship of the press ceased and state institutions ceased to control political organizations. In 1868 a constitutional reform finally succeeded, which did not yet transform the Second Chamber into a pure People’s Chamber - that did not happen until 1906.But a democratic male suffrage was introduced, which raised Württemberg above most other German states and was intended to provide a political counterweight to the attraction of the North German Confederation. This federation, which emerged from the internal German "fratricidal war" of 1866, united northern Germany under Prussian leadership. It became the national gravitational core against which the still independent states tried to assert themselves. However, their sovereignty was limited by military treaties with Prussia and by a customs union, which was also given political weight by a German customs parliament.

In the struggle for the state autonomy of Württemberg, the crown found an ally whom it had fought as its main opponent in the revolutionary years and also in the following decade of reaction: the democrats. As in 1848, in the sixties the political public in Württemberg split into two sharply separated positions, which were grouped around two parties: the pro-Prussian national-liberal German party and the anti-Prussian democratic people's party. If in 1848 the dividing line ran along the dispute over the future constitutional and socio-political order, it was now a matter of conflicting national political programs. This conflict tore apart the Wuerttemberg Progress Party, which had become the strongest political force in Wuerttemberg in the early 1960s. While the Liberals have been relying on Prussia as the national unification power since the German-Danish war for Schleswig-Holstein, the People's Party expected a “Prussianization” of the South to overpower all of Germany by militarism. This would "destroy all conditions of civil liberty", wrote the organ of the democrats on January 19, 1868. In order to prevent a Prussian-hegemonic German nation-state, both sides did not shy away from entering into national political alliances with domestic opponents. The broadest anti-Prussian alliance found the strongest support in the population of Wuerttemberg, which ranged from the court and the government to the particular state conservatives and the Greater German Catholicism, which was still oriented towards Habsburg, to the democrats. Greater Germans and Democrats won the elections to the state parliament and the customs parliament, and they triggered a wave of signatures against the military alliance with Prussia. But in the end the main decisions were made in the war.

In 1866, Württemberg had been at war with Prussia on Austria's side. When the Habsburg emperor withdrew from Germany after the defeat of his troops, the smaller states, the “Third Germany” between the two main powers, as contemporaries said, lost their support. Nonetheless, from 1866 to 1871 the path to the Prussian-dominated small German nation-state was not as straightforward as was often claimed after this radical event in German and European history. The variety of national policy options that had determined public discussion and government action before 1871 was only lost during the war against France and has now been forgotten. The opponents of Prussia in Germany also felt this war to be a national one, and that is why it overcame all resistance to a German nation-state under Prussian leadership. It was the national war that created a whole new situation. But its result, the Prussian-hegemonic German Reich, was by no means the fulfillment of German history, as the new historical myth asserted, which was now tirelessly propagated. The German world went under in 1871, but its historical legacy survived in the form of federalism.

Württemberg became one of the most important pillars of the basic federal structure of the young German nation-state. There are many reasons for this. Among the most important is: Württemberg was a monarchy and it was respected among the population. The fact that the king lost political power enabled him to become the core of integration for a Württemberg identity that was not directed against the German nation-state, but certainly contributed to preserving its federal diversity. What is specifically Württemberg can be seen in very different areas.

In politics, the contrasts were less pronounced than in other parts of Germany, especially in Prussia. This was already evident in the struggle against the so-called “enemies of the Reich”, “ultramontanes” and socialists, immediately after the establishment of the nation state. Württemberg was spared from the Kulturkampf, an “oasis of silence”, as it was said, and the socialist laws were also handled more leniently. A Catholic party did not emerge in Württemberg until 1895, over two decades later than at the national level. Those who voted for the center in the Reichstag elections up to then opted for a party that was not confessionally determined in the state elections. The fact that the Social Democrats in Wuerttemberg were ready early on to conclude election agreements with bourgeois parties and to participate in local politics also points to the peculiarities of the country. The more balanced, less industrialized economic and social structure was just as much a part of it as the right to vote and the practice of government. While three-class suffrage poisoned the political climate in Prussia, almost all men over 25 years of age were allowed to vote in the Württemberg state parliament, and municipal suffrage was, despite the existing restrictions, more democratic than in most other German states. Social Democrats earlier found access to community bodies, and the transition to a parliamentary system of government became apparent at the state level. Those who lived in the south of Germany were convinced that they belonged to a higher political culture than Prussia was able to offer. At least she was different. The Bismarck cult of the Wilhelmine era found far less resonance in Württemberg than in northern Germany, and the country closed itself off completely to the folk-like monumental monuments of the late Empire.

The territorial patchwork quilt of the Old Reich, which states such as Württemberg have taken up, was probably not just a ballast of tradition on the way to the "modernity", as a historical image of 1871 fixed on Prussia and the nation state claims. In these small spaces, which resisted the model of a nation-state centralism, a political culture had developed in which rule did not take place in the distance of an absolutist residence. Rule remained recognizable, it was more likely to be influenced and did not have the same means of power as the larger states had at their disposal. From the legacy of the Old Reich, Württemberg inherited a population willing to participate who lived in densely populated urban areas. This legacy and the corporate tradition of Old Württemberg, which did not allow for a developed absolutism, created favorable conditions for the liberalization of state and society in the 19th century. In the nation-state too, the differences that set Württemberg apart from Prussia remained visible to everyone - not least at the top of the state. Wilhelm II, German Emperor and Prussian King, offered a sharp contrast to his namesake on the Württemberg throne. In the two monarchs, contemporaries had the span of federal political culture in Germany vividly before their eyes. However, they also reveal how the political weights were distributed. The image of the German monarchy was determined by the emperor. His fall also forced the other German princes to resign, even if the Württemberg Social Democrats regretted the fate of their king. However, the special consciousness of Württemberg and southern Germany survived this caesura of the revolutionary transition from monarchy to republic. When the Kapp-Lüttwitz Putsch put the Weimar Republic at risk of civil war, the Rottenburger Zeitung, organ of the Diocese of Württemberg, wrote on March 15, 1920: “The Swabian people have absolutely no point in the Berlin experiments. ... The call for the heavyweight of the main line is getting loud again. The German people have outgrown the masterminds of the East. The small German, large Prussian idea has sinned too much for 60 years due to its one-sidedness, myopia and unworldliness. No more Greater Prussia! "