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Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, Volume 11, Slice 8 "Germany" to "Gibson, William"

Commonly called the Umsturz Vorlage


Mittelstandpolitik.

Another class which, seeing itself in danger from the economic changes in society, agitated for special legislation was the small retail traders of the large towns. They demanded additional taxation on the vast shops and stores, the growth of which in Berlin, Munich and other towns seemed to threaten their interests. As the preservation of the smaller middle class seemed to be important as a bulwark against Socialism, they won the support of the Conservative and Clerical parties, and laws inspired by them were passed in Bavaria, Wurttemberg and Prussia. This _Mittelstand-Politik_, as it is called, was very characteristic of the attitude of mind which was produced by the policy of Protection. Every class appealed to the government for special laws to protect itself against the effects of the economic changes which had been brought about by the modern industrial system. Peasants and landlords, artisans and tradesmen, each formed their own league for the protection of their interests, and all looked to the state as the proper guardian of their class interests.

Moral and religious policy.

Umsturz-Vorlage.

Lex Heinze.

After the fall of Caprivi the tendency of the German government to revert to a strong Conservative policy in matters of religion, education, and in the treatment of political discussions became very marked. The complete alienation of the working classes from Christianity caused much natural concern, combined as it was with that indifference to religion which marks the life of the educated classes in the large towns, and especially in Berlin. A strong feeling arose that social and political dangers could only be avoided by an increase in religious life, and the emperor gave the authority of his name to a movement which produced numerous societies for home mission work, and (at least in Berlin) led to the erection of numerous churches. Unfortunately, this movement was too often connected with political reaction, and the working classes were inclined to believe that the growth of religion was valued because it afforded an additional support to the social and political order. The situation was somewhat similar to that which existed during the last years of Frederick William IV., when the close association of religion with a Conservative policy made orthodoxy so distasteful to large sections of society. The government, which had not taken warning by the fate of the School Bill, attempted to carry other measures of the same kind. The emperor had returned to Bismarck's policy of joining social reform with repressive legislation. In a speech at Konigsberg in November 1894, he summoned the nobles of Prussia to support him in the struggle for religion, for morality, for order, against the parties of _Umsturz_, or Revolution, and shortly afterwards an amendment of the Criminal Code, commonly called the _Umsturz-Vorlage_, was introduced, containing provisions to check attempts to undermine the loyalty of the soldiers, and making it a crime punishable with three years' imprisonment to attack religion, monarchy, marriage, the family or property by abusive expressions in such a manner as to endanger public peace. The discussion of this measure occupied most of the session of 1895; the bill was amended by the Centre so as to make it even more strongly a measure for the defence of religion; and clauses were introduced to defend public morality, by forbidding the public exhibition of pictures or statues, or the sale of writings, which, "without being actually obscene, might rudely offend the feeling of modesty." These Clerical amendments aroused a strong feeling of indignation.


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