Stenographische Berichte über die Verhandlungen der Zweiten Kammer des preussischen Landtags 1849–1855
Stenographische Berichte über die Verhandlungen des preussischen Hauses der Abgeordneten 1855–1918
Stenographical Reports of the Debates
of the Prussian Representatives 1849–1918
369 tomes with about 230,000 pages
2.152 Mikcrofiches, 2009, ISBN 978-3-89131-513-2
Silver negative: EUR 9.000,– *
The stenographical reports
The stenographical reports of the debates of the Prussian Representatives are a first-class historical source, reflecting the discourse of an epoch characterized by numerous and different streams of development. For this reason the reports provide a unique foundation on which to evaluate historical processes.
1849 is justifiably regarded as a year of defeat for not just the Prussian, but for the entire German parliamentary system. The National Assembly in Frankfurt, the first democratically elected parliament of a proto-united Germany, was dissolved as a result of the revitalized forces of reaction. The Prussian king, Friedrich Wilhelm II, rejected with the remark «soiled by the folk» the crown of the German Empire offered to him by the Pauls Church Parliament, and the constitution, developed over months of work by parliamentary committee, was no longer worth the paper on which it was written. Such was the contemporary judgement of the vast majority. The revolutionary uprising of 1848 and the liberal forces of the separate states, however, had extracted two concessions from the kings of the German Union, the Prussian king and the Habsburg Kaiser: constitutions should be developed and representations of the people should be founded. These concessions were fulfilled, if only with major reservations.
Viewed from a contemporary standpoint, both the Prussian Parliament and the constitution, imposed at the kings mercy, can be regarded as a success for the forces of conservative reaction and offered only limited fulfilment of the fundamental requirements of a democratically elected representation of the people. The three class voting system, in conjunction with the pronounced possibilities for the Crown to exercise influence, demonstrate that the Prussian Constitution and the resulting parliament represent a step backwards in comparison to the acclaimed achievements of the Pauls Church in 1848-49. Whereas the later could be considered almost exemplary from the standpoint of democratic theory, the kings constitution represented a regression in the history of parliamentary systems. The success of the Prussian Parliament in the following 70 years can therefore be judged as all the more extraordinary. The defense in the 1860s of the highest privilege of the parliamentarians the right to determine the budget along with the development of social laws and securing of political-legal ministerial responsibility are testimony to the achievements of the Second Chamber of the Prussian Parliament and its successor, the Prussian House of Representatives.
The following important aspects can be presented as examples among the range of achievements:
- The development of political parties: the stenographical reports clearly delineate the development of political streams such as German Liberalism. The formulation of the corresponding contemporary liberal body of thought, as well as the founding of the first party groupings of liberal members of parliament, are excellent examples of the importance of these documents. Similarly, it is possible to trace the cohesion of the German Social Democrats within Prussia at the end of the 19th century, represented in parliament for the first time under this name at the beginning of the 20th century.
- Bismarck's Kulturkampf against the forces of political Catholicism between 1871 and 1887 is an impressive demonstration of the Prussian States concern over the exercise of influence by a second hierarchical structure, the Catholic Church. The conflict between the Prussian Government and the representatives of the Catholic Centre Party are reflected in exact detail in the parliamentary debates.
- The process of industrialization and its effect on the development of the first social laws as well as the development of civil law that was henceforth to partially replace and partially amend the existing general Prussian Common Law.
- An analytical perspective of central historical events: in the debates of the Prussian House of Representatives it is possible to recreate the motives and varying positions of interests in the Austrian-Prussian War of 1866 and the Franco-Prussian War of 1871, as well as the founding of the German Empire in the same year from the standpoint of the Prussian parliamentarians. In the same way the history of colonialism, the arms race between the European national states and the entry of the German Empire into the First World War can all be viewed from the standpoint of important contemporary witnesses.