discuss the problems faced by the nation state of Germany after 1871

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saintfester | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

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After the unification of Germany under Wilhelm I, the new Empire of Germany faced several challenges.

Class struggles became a thorn in the side of the new emperor almost immediately. The Socialist’s Workers Party threatened the authoritarian structure of Wilhelm’s government, so he tried to outlaw the party in order to stabilize his newly unified nation. He also tried to stem the outflow of migration to American by expanding social welfare and by placing high tariffs on foreign goods.

One of the most acute was religious influence. Germany’s  Catholic church held an enormous amount of power, so Wilhelm attempted to alay that power through a policy known as Kulturkampf. He jailed thousands of priests, closed several churches and schools to reduce Catholic influence, but the church was so popular in many states they were able to use their political connections to fight back. Eventually the policy was so unpopular it was abandon, and the two sides back down.

There were also many threats confronting Germany on the foreign front. One was the possible alliance of Russia and France, and the dread possibility of a two-front and unwinnable war, against Germany as revenge for the defeat of the French in the Franco-Prussian War. Wilhelm and Bismark tried to ally themselves more closely with Russia by playing on their mutual hatred of Socialism. Germany also hosted the Congress of Berlin in 1878 to try and prevent any war over colonial possession in Africa. Germany also made several secret Alliances to prevent itself from being attacked by France, one with Austria-Hungry and one with Italy. These defensive alliances would eventually lead to World War I, but provided Bismarck and Wilhelm with the security they sought.

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