What was the political system in Germany during WWI?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The political system in Germany before and during WWI was a federal monarchy.  There were many states in Germany, all united under the leadership of the German kaiser.

During the war, the reigning kaiser, Kaiser Wilhelm II was not simply a figurehead monarch.  Instead, he truly ruled the country.  It was Wilhelm who was in charge of Germany's foreign policy.  It was he who pushed for Germany to achieve its "place in the sun."

Germany did have a parliament and it did have political parties.  It was not a dictatorship.  However, the kaiser did have powers that were significant enough that Germany was classified as a monarchy.

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mkoren | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted on

During World War I, Germany was led by a King. His name was Kaiser Wilhelm II. He became King after his father, Kaiser Wilhelm I, had died. During his rule, Germany did have an elected Parliament that made laws even though Germany was considered a monarchy.

Kaiser Wilhelm II made several blunders as the emperor of Germany. For example, he really didn’t believe going to war was a good idea, but he went ahead and declared war against Russia and then against France after Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia and Russia declared war on Austria-Hungary. Even though he was the head of the army, it was really a few generals who made most of the decisions for Germany during World War I.

As Germany faltered in the war, the Kaiser lost the support from political leaders, and he was forced to give up the throne. He went to the Netherlands where he lived until his death in 1941.

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thetall | (Level 3) Educator

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Germany during World War 1 was a federal monarchy under the leadership of Kaiser Wilhelm II. Under the federal monarchy, the emperor was the head of state and also the president of the federated monarchs.

The political system began with Wilhelm 1 who was accorded the title German Emperor. This was done to avoid imminent conflict associated with the alternative title Emperor of Germany, which would have entitled him to authority over land within the federated monarchs’ territories.  The federal monarchy turned Germany into an empire through the confederation of states.

The federal monarchy ended with Kaiser Wilhelm II who supported Austria-Hungary leading to the conflict in 1914, which eventually culminated in the First World War.

He became unpopular during the war due to poor leadership and the army withdrew their support for the emperor. This forced him to abdicate and flee to exile in Holland.

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gsenviro | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Germany was known as the German Empire or Reich from 1871 to 1918, a period spanning from the unification of Germany to the 1918 Revolution. During this time, the 27 constituent territories were ruled by royal families. The last leader of the empire was Kaiser Wilhelm II, Kaiser being the title of the emperor. The empire did have a senate or Reichstag, elected by males only and the rural areas were grossly underrepresented in the electoral system. The Kaiser was assisted by a Chancellor, chosen mostly from the most powerful state of Prussia. Even though other states had their local governments, they hardly had any sovereignty, since currency and postage stamps were common. Political parties were allowed, however electing representatives was severely skewed towards the urban rich populace.

 During WWI, dissent among Germans was increasing, ultimately leading to revolution and establishment of a Republic.

Good luck.

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