| Member of the Reichstag |
from Lower Silesia
7 June 1920 –20 May 1928
| Member of the Imperial Reichstag |
13 January 1912 –10 November 1918
|Preceded by||Otto Pfundtner|
|Succeeded by||Reichstag dissolution|
31 October 1901 –25 January 1907
|Preceded by||Bruno Schönlank|
|Succeeded by||Otto Pfundtner|
|Born||6 January 1850|
Schöneberg, Kingdom of Prussia
|Died||18 December 1932 82) (aged|
Berlin, Free State of Prussia, Weimar Republic
|Political party|| SDAP (1872–1875)|
|Politics, economy, sociology|
| Social democracy |
|Part of a series on|
Eduard Bernstein (6 January 1850 – 18 December 1932) was a German social-democratic Marxist theorist and politician. A member of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), Bernstein had held close association to Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, but he saw flaws in Marxist thinking and began to criticize views held by Marxism when he investigated and challenged the Marxist materialist theory of history.He rejected significant parts of Marxist theory that were based upon Hegelian metaphysics and rejected the Hegelian dialectical perspective.
Social democracy is a political, social and economic philosophy that supports economic and social interventions to promote social justice within the framework of a liberal democratic polity and a capitalist mixed economy. The protocols and norms used to accomplish this involve a commitment to representative and participatory democracy, measures for income redistribution and regulation of the economy in the general interest and welfare state provisions. In this way, social democracy aims to create the conditions for capitalism to lead to greater democratic, egalitarian and solidaristic outcomes. Due to longstanding governance by social democratic parties during the post-war consensus and their influence on socioeconomic policy in the Nordic countries, social democracy has become associated in policy circles with the Nordic model in the latter part of the 20th century.
A politician is a person active in party politics, or a person holding or seeking office in government. Politicians propose, support and create laws or policies that govern the land and, by extension, its people. Broadly speaking, a "politician" can be anyone who seeks to achieve political power in any bureaucratic institution.
The Social Democratic Party of Germany, or SPD, is a social-democratic political party in Germany.
Bernstein distinguished between early Marxism as being its immature form as exemplified by The Communist Manifesto written by Marx and Engels in 1848 that he opposed for what he regarded as its violent Blanquist tendencies. He instead favoured Marxism in its mature form.This mature form of Marxism holds that socialism could be achieved by peaceful means through incremental legislative reform in democratic societies.
Some theorists consider Karl Marx's thought to be divided into a "young" period and a "mature" one. There is disagreement to when Marx's thought began to mature and the problem of the idea of a "Young Marx" is the problem of tracking the development of Marx's works and of its possible unity. The problem thus centres on Marx's transition from philosophy to economics, which has been considered by orthodox Marxism as a progressive change towards scientific socialism. However, this positivist reading has been challenged by Marxist theorists as well as members of the New Left. They pointed out the humanist side in Marx's work and how he in his early writings focused on liberation from wage slavery and freedom from alienation, that they claimed was a forgotten element of Marx's writings and central to understanding his later work.
The Communist Manifesto is an 1848 political pamphlet by the German philosophers Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. Commissioned by the Communist League and originally published in London just as the Revolutions of 1848 began to erupt, the Manifesto was later recognised as one of the world's most influential political documents. It presents an analytical approach to the class struggle and the conflicts of capitalism and the capitalist mode of production, rather than a prediction of communism's potential future forms.
Blanquism refers to a conception of revolution generally attributed to Louis Auguste Blanqui (1805–1881) which holds that socialist revolution should be carried out by a relatively small group of highly organised and secretive conspirators. Having seized power, the revolutionaries would then use the power of the state to introduce socialism. It is considered a particular sort of "putschism"—that is, the view that political revolution should take the form of a putsch or coup d'état.
Bernstein was born in Schöneberg (now part of Berlin) to Jewish parents who were active in the Reform Temple on the Johannistrasse where services were performed on Sunday. His father was a locomotive driver. From 1866 to 1878, he was employed in banks as a banker's clerk after leaving school. (a proponent of the Eisenach, named after the German town Eisenach, type of German socialism) and soon became known as an activist. Bernstein's party contested two elections against a rival socialist party, the Lassalleans (Ferdinand Lassalle's Allgemeiner Deutscher Arbeiterverein), but in both elections neither party was able to win a significant majority of the leftist vote. Consequently, Bernstein, together with August Bebel and Wilhelm Liebknecht, prepared the Einigungsparteitag ("unification party congress") with the Lassalleans in Gotha in 1875. Karl Marx's famous Critique of the Gotha Program criticized what he saw as a Lassallean victory over the Eisenachers whom he favoured; Bernstein later noted that it was Liebknecht, considered by many to be the strongest Marxist advocate within the Eisenacher faction, who proposed the inclusion of many of the ideas which so thoroughly irritated Marx.Bernstein's political career began in 1872, when he joined a socialist party with Marxist tendencies, known formally as the Sozialdemokratische Arbeiterpartei Eisenacher Programms
Berlin is the capital and largest city of Germany by both area and population. Its 3,748,148 (2018) inhabitants make it the second most populous city proper of the European Union after London. The city is one of Germany's 16 federal states. It is surrounded by the state of Brandenburg, and contiguous with its capital, Potsdam. The two cities are at the center of the Berlin-Brandenburg capital region, which is, with about six million inhabitants and an area of more than 30,000 km², Germany's third-largest metropolitan region after the Rhine-Ruhr and Rhine-Main regions.
The Social Democratic Workers' Party of Germany was a Marxist socialist political party in the North German Confederation during the period of unification. Founded in Eisenach in 1869, the SDAP endured through the early years of the German Empire. Often termed the Eisenachers, the SDAP was one of the first political organizations established among the nascent German labor unions of the 19th century. It officially existed under the name SDAP for only six years (1869–1875), but through name changes and political partnerships its lineage can be traced to the present-day Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD).
In the Reichstag elections of 1877, the German Social Democratic Party (SPD) gained 493,000 votes. However, two assassination attempts on Kaiser Wilhelm I the next year provided Chancellor Otto von Bismarck with a pretext for introducing a law banning all socialist organizations, assemblies and publications. There had been no Social Democratic involvement in either assassination attempt, but the popular reaction against "enemies of the Reich" induced a compliant Reichstag to approve Bismarck's Anti-Socialist Laws.
Federal elections were held in Germany on 10 January 1877. The National Liberal Party remained the largest party in the Reichstag, with 128 of the 397 seats. Voter turnout was 61.6%.
William I, or in German Wilhelm I, of the House of Hohenzollern, was King of Prussia from 2 January 1861 and the first German Emperor from 18 January 1871 to his death, the first Head of State of a united Germany. Under the leadership of William and his Minister President Otto von Bismarck, Prussia achieved the unification of Germany and the establishment of the German Empire. Despite his long support of Bismarck as Minister President, William held strong reservations about some of Bismarck's more reactionary policies, including his anti-Catholicism and tough handling of subordinates. In contrast to the domineering Bismarck, William was described as polite, gentlemanly and, while staunchly conservative, he was more open to certain classical liberal ideas than his grandson Wilhelm II.
Otto Eduard Leopold, Prince of Bismarck, Duke of Lauenburg, known as Otto von Bismarck, was a conservative Prussian statesman who dominated German and European affairs from the 1860s until 1890 and was the first Chancellor of the German Empire between 1871 and 1890.
Bismarck's strict anti-socialist legislation was passed on 12 October 1878. For nearly all practical purposes, the SPD was outlawed and throughout Germany it was actively suppressed. However, it was still possible for Social Democrats to campaign as individuals for election to the Reichstag and they did as despite the severe persecution to which it was subjected the party actually increased its electoral success, gaining 550,000 votes in 1884 and 763,000 in 1887.
The vehemence of Bernstein's opposition to the government of Bismarck made it desirable for him to leave Germany.Shortly before the Anti-Socialist Laws came into effect, Bernstein went into exile in Zurich, accepting a position as private secretary for social democratic patron Karl Höchberg, a wealthy supporter of social democracy. A warrant subsequently issued for his arrest ruled out any possibility of his returning to Germany and he was to remain in exile for more than twenty years. In 1888, Bismarck convinced the Swiss government to expel a number of important members of German social democracy from its country and so Bernstein relocated to London, where he associated with Friedrich Engels and Karl Kautsky. It was soon after his arrival in Switzerland that he began to think of himself as a Marxist. In 1880, he accompanied Bebel to London in order to clear up a misunderstanding concerning his involvement with an article published by Höchberg and denounced by Marx and Engels as being "chock-full of bourgeois and petty bourgeois ideas". The visit was a success and Engels in particular was impressed by Bernstein's zeal and his ideas.
To be in exile means to be away from one's home, while either being explicitly refused permission to return or being threatened with imprisonment or death upon return.
Karl Höchberg was a German social-reformist writer, publisher and economist, with a Jewish family background, who acted under the pseudonyms Dr. Ludwig Richter and R.F. Seifert. In 1876, he became a member of the Social Democratic Workers Party of Germany (SDAP). From 1877 to 1878, he was responsible for editing the Zukunft ("Future") magazine. He was in exile in Switzerland from 1878 onwards, first to avoid conscription to the prussian military, and then due to the anti-socialist laws. Eduard Bernstein and Karl Kautsky were his secretaries and pupils in Zurich. Afterwards, between 1879 and 1881, he was editor of the Jahrbuch für Sozialwissenschaft und Sozialpolitik.
London is the capital and largest city of both England and the United Kingdom. Standing on the River Thames in the south-east of England, at the head of its 50-mile (80 km) estuary leading to the North Sea, London has been a major settlement for two millennia. Londinium was founded by the Romans. The City of London, London's ancient core − an area of just 1.12 square miles (2.9 km2) and colloquially known as the Square Mile − retains boundaries that follow closely its medieval limits. The City of Westminster is also an Inner London borough holding city status. Greater London is governed by the Mayor of London and the London Assembly.
Back in Zurich, Bernstein became increasingly active in working for Der Sozialdemokrat (Social Democrat) and later succeeded Georg von Vollmar as the paper's editor, a job he was to have for the next ten years. It was during these years between 1880 and 1890 that Bernstein established his reputation as a major party theoretician and a Marxist of impeccable orthodoxy. In this, he was helped by the close personal and professional relationship he established with Engels. This relationship owed much to the fact that he shared Engels's strategic vision and accepted most of the particular policies which in Engels's opinion those ideas entailed. In 1887, the German government persuaded the Swiss authorities to ban Der Sozialdemokrat. Bernstein moved to London, where he resumed publication from premises in Kentish Town. His relationship with Engels soon developed into friendship. He also communicated with various English socialist organizations, notably the Fabian Society and Henry Hyndman's Social Democratic Federation.In later years, his opponents routinely claimed that his "revisionism" was due to his having come to see the world "through English spectacles". However, Bernstein denied the charges.
Georg Heinrich Ritter (Chevalier) von Vollmar auf Veldheim was a democratic socialist politician from Bavaria.
Kentish Town is an area of northwest London, England in the London Borough of Camden, immediately north of Camden Town.
The Fabian Society is a British socialist organisation whose purpose is to advance the principles of democratic socialism via gradualist and reformist effort in democracies, rather than by revolutionary overthrow.
In 1895, Engels was deeply distressed when he discovered that his introduction to a new edition of The Class Struggles in France, written by Marx in 1850, had been edited by Bernstein and Kautsky in a manner which left the impression that he had become a proponent of a peaceful road to socialism. On 1 April 1895, four months before his death, Engels wrote to Kautsky:
I was amazed to see today in the Vorwärts an excerpt from my 'Introduction' that had been printed without my knowledge and tricked out in such a way as to present me as a peace-loving proponent of legality quand même (at all costs). Which is all the more reason why I should like it to appear in its entirety in the Neue Zeit in order that this disgraceful impression may be erased. I shall leave Liebknecht in no doubt as to what I think about it and the same applies to those who, irrespective of who they may be, gave him this opportunity of perverting my views and, what's more, without so much as a word to me about it.
In 1891, Bernstein was one of the authors of the Erfurt Program and from 1896 to 1898 published a series of articles entitled Probleme des Sozialismus (Problems of Socialism) that resulted in the revisionism debate in the SPD.He also published a book titled Die Voraussetzungen des Sozialismus und die Aufgaben der Sozialdemokratie (The Prerequisites for Socialism and the Tasks of Social Democracy) in 1899. The book was in great contrast to the positions of Bebel, Kautsky and Liebknecht. Rosa Luxemburg's 1900 essay Reform or Revolution? was also a polemic against Bernstein's position. In 1900, Berstein published Zur Geschichte und Theorie des Sozialismus (The History and Theory ofSocialism).
In 1901, Bernstein returned to Germany after the end of a ban that had kept him from entering the country. He became an editor of the newspaper Vorwärts that yearand a member of the Reichstag from 1902 to 1918. He voted against the armament tabling in 1913, together with the SPD fraction's left-wing. Although he had voted for war credits in August 1914, he opposed World War I from July 1915 and in 1917 was among the founders of the Independent Social Democratic Party of Germany (USPD) which united anti-war socialists (including reformists like Bernstein, centrists like Kautsky and revolutionary socialists like Karl Liebknecht). He was a member of the USDP until 1919, when he rejoined the SPD. From 1920 to 1928, Bernstein was again a member of the Reichstag. He retired from political life in 1928.
Bernstein died on 18 December 1932 in Berlin. A commemorative plaque is placed in his memory at Bozener Straße 18, Berlin-Schöneberg, where he lived from 1918 until his death. His grave in the Eisackstrasse Cemetery became a Protected Grave (Ehrengrab) of the city-state of Berlin.
Die Voraussetzungen des Sozialismus (1899) was Bernstein's most significant work. Bernstein was principally concerned with refuting Karl Marx's predictions about the imminent and inevitable demise of capitalism and Marx's consequent laissez-faire policy which opposed ameliorative social interventions before the demise. Bernstein indicated simple facts that he considered to be evidence that Marx's predictions were not being borne out as he noted that while the centralisation of capitalist industry was significant, it was not becoming wholescale and that the ownership of capital was becoming more and not less diffuse.Bernstein's analysis of agriculture (according to which Bernstein believed that land ownership was becoming less concentrated) was largely based on the work of Eduard David and was in its marshalling of facts impressive enough that even his orthodox opponent Karl Kautsky acknowledged its value.
As to Marx's belief in the disappearance of the middleman, Bernstein declared that the entrepreneur class was being steadily recruited from the proletariat class and therefore all compromise measures such as the state regulation of the hours of labour, provisions for old-age pensions and so on should be encouraged. For this reason, Bernstein urged the labouring classes to take an active interest in politics.Bernstein also indicated what he considered to be some of the flaws in Marx's labour theory of value.
Looking especially at the rapid growth in Germany, Bernstein argued that middle-sized firms would flourish, the size and power of the middle class would grow and that capitalism would successfully adjust and not collapse. . He warned that a violent proletarian revolution as in France in 1848 produced only reactionary successes that undermined workers' interests. Therefore, he rejected revolution and instead insisted the best strategy was patiently building up a durable social movement working for continuous nonviolent incremental change.
In his work, The Quest for Evolutionary Socialism: Eduard Bernstein and Social Democracy, Manfred Steger touches on Bernstein’s desire for socialism through peaceful means and incremental legislation. Some say this is Marxism in its mature form after the revisionists said much of Marx' theories were wrong and came up with theories of their own, including socialism coming through democratic means.
Bernstein was vilified by the orthodox Marxists as well as the more radical current led by Rosa Luxemburg for his revisionism.Nonetheless, Bernstein remained very much a socialist, albeit an unorthodox one as he believed that socialism would be achieved by capitalism, not by capitalism's destruction (as rights were gradually won by workers, their cause for grievance would be diminished and consequently, so too would the motivation for revolution). During the intra-party debates about his ideas, Bernstein explained that for him the final goal of socialism was nothing; progress toward that goal was everything.
Luxemburg argued that socialism has its end in social revolution and revisionism "amounts in practice to the advice [...] that we abandon the social revolution—the goal of Social Democracy—and turn social reform from a means of the class struggle into its final aim".She says revisionism has lost sight of scientific socialism and reverted to idealism and therefore lost its predictive force. Since reformists underestimate the anarchy of capitalism and say it has adaptability and viability, by which they mean that the contradictions of capitalism would not of historical necessity drive it to its doom, Luxemburg said they would abandon the objective necessity for socialism and give up all hope for a socialist future. The movement would collapse unless revisionism is repudiated. Trade unionists, who could see the successes of capitalism and the improvement of working conditions and who wanted to improve working conditions through parliament, generally followed Bernstein while those who were more orthodox hardliners generally followed Luxemburg.
Foreign policy was Bernstein's main intellectual interest between 1902 and 1914, with many articles in the Sozialistische Monatshefte (Socialist Monthly). He advocated policies positions for Germany that were aggressively nationalist, imperialist and expansionist.
Bernstein considered protectionism (high tariffs on imports) as helping only a selective few, being fortschrittsfeindlich (anti-progressive) for its negative effects on the masses. He argued Germany's protectionism was based only on political expediency, isolating Germany from the world (especially from Britain), creating an autarky that would only result in conflict between Germany and the rest of the world.Germany did have protectionism and Bernstein wanted to get rid of it, arguing that tariffs did not increase grain production, did not counter British competition, did not increase farm profits and did not promote improvements in farming. Instead it inflated rents, interest rates and prices, hurting everyone involved. In contrast, he argued that free trade led to peace, democracy, prosperity and the highest material and moral well-being of all humanity.
Bernstein rejected reactionary bourgeois nationalism and called instead for a cosmopolitan-libertarian nationalism. He recognized the historical role of the national factor and said that the proletariat must support their countries against external dangers. He called on workers to assimilate themselves within nation-states which entailed support for colonial policies and imperial projects. Bernstein was sympathetic to the idea of imperial expansions as a positive and civilizing mission which resulted in a bitter series of polemics with the anti-imperialist Ernest Belfort Bax.Bernstein argued that colonialism was a good idea because it uplifted backward peoples and it was working well for both Britain and Germany. Bernstein supported such policies in an intensely racialised manner, arguing in 1896 that "races who are hostile to or incapable of civilisation cannot claim our sympathy when they revolt against civilisation" and that these "savages [must] be subjugated and made to conform to the rules of higher civilisation". However, he was disturbed by the Kaiser's reckless policies. He wanted strong friendship especially with Britain as well as France and protection against the Russian threat to Germany. He envisioned a sort of league of nations.
Bernstein's views on Jewish matters evolved. He never identified as a Zionist. Yet after initially favouring a wholly assimilationist solution to "the Jewish Question", his attitude toward Zionism became considerably more sympathetic after World War I.Bernstein is also noted for being "one of the first socialists to deal sympathetically with the issue of homosexuality".
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Rosa Luxemburg was a Polish Marxist theorist, philosopher, economist, anti-war activist and revolutionary socialist who became a naturalized German citizen at the age of 28. Successively, she was a member of the Social Democracy of the Kingdom of Poland and Lithuania (SDKPiL), the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD), the Independent Social Democratic Party (USPD) and the Communist Party of Germany (KPD).
Ferdinand August Bebel was a German socialist politician, writer, and orator. He is best remembered as one of the founders of the Social Democratic Workers' Party of Germany (SDAP) in 1869, which in 1875 merged with the General German Workers' Association into the Socialist Workers' Party of Germany (SAPD). During the repression under the terms of the Anti-Socialist Laws, Bebel became the leading figure of the social democratic movement in Germany and from 1892 until his death served as chairman of the Social Democratic Party of Germany.
Wilhelm Martin Philipp Christian Ludwig Liebknecht was a German socialist and one of the principal founders of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD). His political career was a pioneering project combining Marxist revolutionary theory with practical legal political activity. Under his leadership, the SPD grew from a tiny sect to become Germany's largest political party. He was the father of Karl Liebknecht and Theodor Liebknecht.
Social Reform or Revolution? is an 1899 pamphlet by Polish-German Marxist theorist Rosa Luxemburg. Luxemburg argues that trade unions, reformist political parties and the expansion of social democracy—while important to the proletariat's development of class consciousness—cannot create a socialist society as Eduard Bernstein, among others, argued. Instead, she argues from a historical materialist perspective that capitalism is economically unsustainable and will eventually collapse and that a revolution is necessary to transform capitalism into socialism. The pamphlet was heavily influential in revolutionary socialist circles and along with Luxemburg's other work an important precursor to left communist theory.
The Erfurt Program was adopted by the Social Democratic Party of Germany during the SPD congress at Erfurt in 1891. Formulated under the political guidance of Eduard Bernstein, August Bebel, and Karl Kautsky, it superseded the earlier Gotha Program.
The National-Social Association was a political party in the German Empire, founded in 1896 by Friedrich Naumann. It sought to synthesise liberalism, nationalism and non-Marxist socialism with Protestant Christian values in order to cross the ideological front lines and draw workers away from Marxist class struggle. However, it never grew beyond a minor party of intellectuals which failed to gain mass support in elections.
Die Neue Zeit was a German socialist theoretical journal of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) that was published from 1883 to 1923. Its headquarters was in Stuttgart, Germany.
While Marxists propose replacing the bourgeois state with a proletarian semi-state through revolution, which would eventually wither away, anarchists warn that the state must be abolished along with capitalism. Nonetheless, the desired end results, a stateless, communal society, are the same.
Within the Marxist movement, the word revisionism is used to refer to various ideas, principles and theories that are based on a significant revision of fundamental Marxist premises.
Revolutionary socialism is the socialist doctrine that social revolution is necessary in order to bring about structural changes to society. More specifically, it is the view that revolution is a necessary precondition for a transition from capitalism to socialism. Revolution is not necessarily defined as a violent insurrection; it is defined as seizure of political power by mass movements of the working class so that the state is directly controlled or abolished by the working class as opposed to the capitalist class and its interests. Revolutionary socialists believe such a state of affairs is a precondition for establishing socialism and orthodox Marxists believe that it is inevitable but not predetermined.
In Marxist philosophy, the dictatorship of the proletariat is a state of affairs in which the working class hold political power. Proletarian dictatorship is the intermediate stage between a capitalist economy and a communist economy, whereby the government nationalises ownership of the means of production from private to collective ownership. The socialist revolutionary Joseph Weydemeyer coined the term "dictatorship of the proletariat", which Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels adopted to their philosophy and economics. The Paris Commune (1871), which controlled the capital city for two months, before being suppressed, was an example of the dictatorship of the proletariat. In Marxist philosophy, the term "Dictatorship of the bourgeoisie" is the antonym to "dictatorship of the proletariat".
Orthodox Marxism is the body of Marxism thought that emerged after the death of Karl Marx (1818–1883) and which became the official philosophy of the socialist movement as represented in the Second International until the First World War in 1914. Orthodox Marxism aims to simplify, codify and systematize Marxist method and theory by clarifying the perceived ambiguities and contradictions of classical Marxism.
Reformism is a political doctrine advocating the reform of an existing system or institution instead of its abolition and replacement. Within the socialist movement, reformism is the view that gradual changes through existing institutions can eventually lead to fundamental changes in a society’s political and economic systems. Reformism as a political tendency and hypothesis of social change grew out of opposition to revolutionary socialism, which contends that revolutionary upheaval is a necessary precondition for the structural changes necessary to transform a capitalist system to a qualitatively different socialist economic system.
Karl Johann Kautsky was a Czech-Austrian philosopher, journalist, and Marxist theoretician. Kautsky was recognized as among the most authoritative promulgators of Orthodox Marxism after the death of Friedrich Engels in 1895 until the outbreak of World War I in 1914.
Forerunners of Modern Socialism is a four volume work that documents the history of primitive communist and socialist ideas, edited by Karl Kautsky and including contributions by a number of prominent intellectuals of the Second International, including Eduard Bernstein, Paul Lafargue, C. Hugo, Franz Mehring, and Georgii Plekhanov. The first volume was published in 1895.
Crisis of Marxism was a term first employed in the 1890s after the unexpected revival of global capitalist expansion became evident after the Great Depression of Europe from 1873-1896, which eventually precipitated a crisis in Marxist theory. The crisis resulted in a series of theoretical debates over the significance of economic recovery for the strategy of the socialist movement, leading to ideological fragmentation and increasingly sectarian debates. By the 1890s, orthodox Marxists came to believe that capitalism was on the “verge of breakdown,” while the socialist movement was on the “verge of revolutionary triumph,” but due to a renewed burst of capitalist and industrial activity such interpretations could no longer be maintained in Western Europe.
The Stuttgart Congress of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) was held between October 3–October 8, 1898, in Stuttgart, Kingdom of Württemberg.