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|Legislative body of Germany|
|Preceded by||North German Reichstag|
|Succeeded by||Weimar National Assembly|
|Seats||397 (at dissolution)|
|Limited Direct election|
|12 January 1912|
|Leipziger Straße 4, Berlin|
The Reichstag (German: [ˈʁaɪçstaːk] (
In modern politics and history, a parliament is a legislative body of government. Generally, a modern parliament has three functions: representing the electorate, making laws, and overseeing the government via hearings and inquiries.
The German Empire, also known as Imperial Germany, was the German nation state that existed from the unification of Germany in 1871 until the abdication of Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1918.
The Bundesrat of the German Empire was, at least in theory, the highest authority of the Empire. It existed from 1871 to 1918 and succeeded the same body of the North German Confederation. Until the 1902 spelling reform, its name was spelled Bundesrath.
The Reichstag had no formal right to appoint or dismiss governments, but by contemporary standards it was considered a highly modern and progressive parliament. All German men over 25 years of age were eligible to vote, and members of the Reichstag were elected by general, universal and secret suffrage. Members were elected in single-member constituencies by majority vote. If no candidate received a majority of the votes, a runoff election took place. In 1871, the Reichstag consisted of 382 members, but from 1874 it was enlarged to 397 members.
The term of office was initially set at three years, and in 1888 this was extended to five years. The Reichstag was opened once a year by the Emperor. In order to dissolve parliament, the approval of the Imperial Council and the emperor were required. Members of parliament enjoyed legal immunity and indemnity.
The Speech or Debate Clause is a clause in the United States Constitution. The clause states that members of both Houses of Congress
...shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their attendance at the Session of their Respective Houses, and in going to and from the same; and for any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place.
The Reichstag first met in the Landtag of Prussia (Parliament) building in Berlin. From 16 October 1871 until 04 November 1894 it met in a former porcelain factory at number 4, Leipziger Straße. That 23-year "temporary" location was the scene of passionate political debates that are associated with names like Bebel, Liebknecht, and Bismarck. The premises were generally considered too small, so in 1871 a decision was made to construct a new building. In 1872, there was an architectural competition which attracted 103 entries by architects. However, work did not start for some years, due to problems with purchasing land and to disagreements between Emperor Wilhelm I, Otto von Bismarck, and members of the Reichstag, about how the construction should be carried out.
The Landtag of Prussia was the representative assembly of the Kingdom of Prussia implemented in 1849, a bicameral legislature consisting of the upper House of Lords (Herrenhaus) and the lower House of Representatives (Abgeordnetenhaus). After World War I and the German Revolution of 1918–19 the Landtag diet continued as the parliament of the Free State of Prussia between 1921 and 1933.
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.
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.
Ten years on, in 1882, another architectural competition was announced, this time with some 200 architects participating. The winner of the second competition was the Frankfurt architect Paul Wallot, who would eventually see his plan executed. On 29 June 1884, the building's foundation stone was finally laid by the Emperor. The new building was acclaimed for its cupola of steel and glass, an engineering masterpiece of the time. In 1888, before it was completed, Emperor Wilhelm I died, and 1888 was the Year of the Three Emperors. The third of these, Wilhelm II, objected to a much greater extent to the very concept of parliament as a democratic institution. The new building opened in 1894. The famous inscription – DEM DEUTSCHEN VOLKE (to the German People) – was added in 1916 by Peter Behrens, and it still towers above the monumental entrance.
Johann Paul Wallot was a German architect of Huguenot descent, best known for designing the Reichstag building in Berlin, erected between 1884 and 1894. He also built the adjacent Palace of the President of the Reichstag, finished in 1904, and the former Saxon Ständehaus state diet building of 1906 at Brühl's Terrace in Dresden.
The Year of the Three Emperors, or the Year of the Three Kaisers, refers to the year 1888 during the German Empire in German history. The year is considered to have memorable significance because of the deaths of two German Emperors, or Kaisers, leading to a rapid succession of three monarchs within one year. The three different emperors who ruled over Germany during this year were Wilhelm I, Frederick III, and Wilhelm II. The mnemonic “drei Achten, drei Kaiser” is still used today in Germany by children and adults alike to learn the year in question.
|Presidents of the Reichstag (1871–1918)|
|No.||Name||In Office||End of Term|
|1||Eduard von Simson||1871||1874|
|2||Max von Forckenbeck||1874||1879|
|3||Otto Theodor von Seydewitz||1879||1880|
|4||Adolf Graf von Arnim-Boitzenburg||1880||1881|
|5||Gustav Konrad Heinrich von Goßler||1881||1881|
|6||Albert Erdmann Karl Gerhard von Levetzow||1881||1884|
|7||Wilhelm von Wedell-Piesdorf||1884||1888|
|8||Albert Erdmann Karl Gerhard von Levetzow||1888||1895|
|9||Rudolf Freiherr von Buol-Berenberg||1895||1898|
|10||Franz von Ballestrem||1898||1907|
|11||Udo Graf zu Stolberg-Wernigerode||1907||1910|
|12||Hans Graf von Schwerin-Löwitz||1910||1912|
Maximilian (Max) Franz August von Forckenbeck was a German lawyer and liberal politician who served as Mayor of Berlin from 1878 until his death. His is considered one of the most important mayors of the city because of his prudent governing style during Berlin's rise as the capital of a unified Germany.
Friedrich Ebert was a German politician of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) and the first President of Germany from 1919 until his death in office in 1925.
Philipp Heinrich Scheidemann was a German politician of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD). On 9 November 1918, in the midst of the German Revolution of 1918–1919, he proclaimed Germany a republic. Later, beginning in the early part of the following year, he became the second head of government of the Weimar Republic, acting in this post for 127 days.
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.
The German Revolution or November Revolution was a civil conflict in the German Empire at the end of the First World War that resulted in the replacement of the German federal constitutional monarchy with a democratic parliamentary republic that later became known as the Weimar Republic. The revolutionary period lasted from November 1918 until the adoption in August 1919 of the Weimar Constitution.
The National Liberal Party was a liberal party of the North German Confederation and the German Empire which flourished between 1867 and 1918.
The Free Conservative Party was a moderate right-wing political party in Prussia and the German Empire which emerged from the German Conservative Party in the Prussian Landtag in 1866. In the federal elections to the Reichstag parliament from 1871, it ran as the German Reich Party.
This article aims to give a historical outline of liberalism in Germany. The liberal parties dealt with in the timeline below are, largely, those which received sufficient support at one time or another to have been represented in parliament. Not all parties so included, however, necessarily labeled themselves "liberal". The sign ⇒ denotes another party in that scheme.
The Constitution of the German Empire was the basic law of the German Empire of 1871-1918, from 16 April 1871, coming into effect on 4 May 1871. German historians often refer to it as Bismarck's imperial constitution, in German the Bismarcksche Reichsverfassung (BRV).
Hugo Haase was a German socialist politician, jurist and pacifist. With Friedrich Ebert, he co-chaired of the Council of the People's Deputies after the German Revolution of 1918–19.
The German Progress Party was the first modern political party in Germany, founded by liberal members of the Prussian House of Representatives in 1861 in opposition to Minister President Otto von Bismarck.
The German Free-minded Party or German Radical Party was a short-lived liberal party in the German Empire, founded on 5 March 1884 as a result of the merger of the German Progress Party and the Liberal Union, an 1880 split-off of the National Liberal Party.
The Anti-Socialist Laws or Socialist Laws were a series of acts, the first of which was passed on October 19, 1878 by the German Reichstag lasting until March 31, 1881, and extended four times. The legislation was passed after two failed attempts to assassinate Kaiser Wilhelm I by the radicals Max Hödel and Dr. Karl Nobiling; it was meant to curb the growing strength of the Social Democratic Party, which was blamed for influencing the assassins.
Wilhelm Hasenclever was a German politician. He was an originally a tanner by trade but later he became a journalist and author. However, he is most well known for his political work in the predecessors of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD).
Albert Hänel was a German jurist, legal historian and liberal politician. He was one of the leaders of the German Progress Party, and served as Rector of the University of Kiel. He served as a member of the Prussian Chamber of Deputies, the Reichstag of the North German Confederation and the Imperial Reichstag, and was Vice President of both the Prussian Chamber of Deputies and the Imperial Reichstag.
The Liberal Union was a short-lived liberal party in the German Empire. It originated in 1880 as a break-away from the National Liberal Party and is therefore also called Secession and merged with the left liberal German Progress Party to form the German Free-minded Party in 1884.
The Reichstag was the Parliament of the North German Confederation, founded after the Austro-Prussian War of 1866. It functioned until the establishment of the German Empire in 1871. Parliamentary sessions were held in the same building as the Upper House of the Prussian Landtag, the Prussian House of Lords, located at 3 Leipziger Straße in Berlin, Germany. The same location is now the home of the German Federal Bundesrat.
Karl Paul August Friedrich Liebknecht was a German socialist, originally in the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) and later a co-founder with Rosa Luxemburg of the Spartacist League and the Communist Party of Germany which split way from the SPD. He is best known for his opposition to World War I in the Reichstag and his role in the Spartacist uprising of 1919. The uprising was crushed by the SPD government and the Freikorps. Liebknecht and Luxemburg were executed.
The Spartacus League was a Marxist revolutionary movement organized in Germany during World War I. The League was named after Spartacus, leader of the largest slave rebellion of the Roman Republic. It was founded by Karl Liebknecht, Rosa Luxemburg, Clara Zetkin, and others. The League subsequently renamed itself the Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands (KPD), joining the Comintern in 1919. Its period of greatest activity was during the German Revolution of 1918, when it sought to incite a revolution by circulating the newspaper Spartacus Letters.
Kurt Rosenfeld was a German lawyer and politician (SPD). He was a member of the national parliament ("Reichstag") between 1920 and 1932.
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