A Letter From Germany

WHEN the year 1900 began, public opinion in Germany was wholly engrossed with the war in South Africa. In its latter half, the Chinese muddle monopolized attention, waning in importance only as the year drew to a close.

The enthusiastic sympathy of Germany with the Boers at first was modified to some extent later, by the growing conviction among cooler heads that Germany had more to gain by maintaining a good understanding with England than she could possibly lose through the downfall of the two Boer republics. The seizure of German ships through the rather high - handed action of English authorities in South Africa only embittered the public feeling against England. The German government, while resenting these seizures energetically, kept its composure throughout the incident, so that it was possible, later in the year, to enter into a friendly agreement with England in favor of the “ open door ” policy in China. The coming and passing of Kruger at the beginning of December, while opening a sharp controversy between the German people and the government, marked the close of the South African War as a factor in German politics. The Kruger incident was interesting as illustrating the struggle between sentiment and reason in the minds of the German people in regard to the fate of the Boers. The passionate enthusiasm for Kruger among the people and in the press found a fitting answer in the firm refusal of the government to commit itself to the waning fortunes of the fallen republics, to the prejudice of larger political interests of the Empire. Throughout this whole incident the new Chancellor showed himself a pupil of Bismarck’s cool-headed policy of excluding all sentimental considerations and all racial antipathies from any influence upon Germany’s foreign relations, and in his determination to shape that policy solely with reference to Germany’s practical advantages.

The Chinese question occupied, in proportion to the immediate tangible German interests involved, a vast space in the public attention of Germany during the year. This was of course due chiefly to the murder of the German minister to China, and the determination of the Kaiser that adequate punishment for this atrocity should be exacted, involving the sending of a military expedition of about 23,000 men to China. It was a novel event in the history of the Empire. It had never before occurred that even a thousand German soldiers were sent across seas at one time. This large military expedition, composed of volunteers from all sections of the country, brought home the Chinese imbroglio to the doors of the German people. Hence, notwithstanding the critical attitude of a large section of the press, it must be owned that the expedition was at first popular with the unthinking masses. It was less so later.

The interest of the German people in the Chinese question was enhanced by the appointment of Count Waldersee to the supreme command of all the foreign forces in the province of Pe-cheelee. The German government, at a time when the commanders in China were in a hopeless deadlock over the appointment, repeatedly expressed its willingness to place its troops under any commander accepted by the other Powers. The controversy as to whether Waldersee’s appointment was suggested by the Czar, or whether the latter acted only after Waldersee’s name had been proposed to him by the Kaiser, is a question of minor moment. The important fact is that the other Powers readily accepted the appointment, and nowhere was it seriously maintained that Germany had made any undue attempt to seize upon the supreme command.

The attitude of the German government in the Chinese question was throughout influenced by two considerations; and this, it must be admitted, gave rise to a certain vacillation in German diplomacy. The first of these considerations was the preëminent importance of harmonious action on the part of the Powers in China, and the second was the feeling that it was necessary to inflict the severest possible punishment upon the authors of the Pekin atrocities. Germany started out by taking the attitude that no diplomatic relations should be opened with the Chinese government until the ministers in Pekin had designated the authors of the atrocities, and these had been delivered up by the Chinese government for condign punishment by the Powers. Later, owing to the attitude of the United States government, she found it advisable to abandon this position, and to give to the Chinese authorities the first chance of inflicting punishment upon the guilty. It may perhaps be justly claimed that Germany’s policy in China was shaped by that stern logic which can brook no deviations from regularity in her own internal administration ; and that she showed a certain shortsightedness in trying to deal with the complicated situation in China with an undiscriminating rigor which may have done more harm than good in its effect upon public Chinese opinion. Nevertheless, it must be recognized that Germany was willing to subject her plans of punishment to the larger interests of harmonious action by the Powers. By entering into an agreement with England for maintaining the “ open door ” in China, and against any partition of Chinese territory, Germany showed herself in harmony with the policy inaugurated by Mr. Hay.

In connection with the Chinese muddle an outbreak of Jingoism was witnessed in Germany, such as the country had been comparatively unaccustomed to till that time. The bellicose and lurid talk in high places in connection with the expedition to China found a ready response among the larger part of the German people. The manner in which the appointment of Waldersee was received, together with his triumphal procession through Germany on his way to China, was also an indication that the Jingo spirit had invaded Germany. When, later, numerous letters from German soldiers in China were published in German newspapers, describing the summary manner in which the German military authorities dealt with the Boxers, and even villages infested by them ; and when the leading military periodical in Germany apologized for the German method of conducting operations in China, and defended the policy of taking no prisoners, it was felt that the spirit of Jingoism was but bearing its legitimate fruit.

It is pleasant to note that the relations between Germany and the United States underwent a decided improvement during 1900. The long-standing controversy between the two countries, in regard to the application of the “ most favored nation ” clause in cases where our government formed reciprocity treaties with other countries, was amicably settled by the Washington government yielding substantially to the German position. Germany, on the other hand, discontinued her absurd examinations of American dried fruit for the San José scale. The opening of the German Atlantic cable fulfilled a long-cherished wish for direct cable communication with our country, — a wish entertained both by the commercial classes and by the newspaper press, since the latter had grown suspicious about English sources of information from the United States. The raising of a German loan of $20,000,000 in New York came to the German public as a new and surprising chapter in the relations between the two countries. The German money market had been so recently a lender to us that the announcement that a German loan had been placed in New York was received with incredulity and no little chagrin. Trade between Germany and the United States reached larger proportions than ever before, and the interest of the German press and public in American commercial affairs underwent a marked development. The long-standing complaint of Americans, that German newspapers print so little American news, certainly holds good no longer, so far as commercial and financial news is concerned.

In the internal affairs of Germany the most prominent fact was the change of Chancellors. Prince Hohenlohe, who had taken office confessedly to tide over a period where a positive leader and positive policies were lacking, played that rôle satisfactorily. He was a safe Chancellor, calculated to pour oil upon the waters and calm the waves, as he said upon taking office ; but he lacked vigor and fertility in new ideas. His resignation was but the consummation in form of what had become substantially a fact months before ; for the leading rôle in determining Germany’s policies was fast passing from his hands into those of Count von Bülow. The resignation was accepted by the public without any deep regret at his passing from the stage, yet with general recognition of the fact that he had played at least a dignified and creditable part in German politics.

The appointment of Count von Bülow as Hohenlohe’s successor had been anticipated, and was recognized on all sides as the most fitting that could be made. In the brief period since Bülow’s appointment it has already become apparent that German politics, particularly German parliamentary life, has been enriched by a new force. During the Hohenlohe régime one of the most obvious facts in Germany’s internal politics was the lack of harmony in the ministry. Hohenlohe lacked the vigorous hand of a Bismarck to bend or break all opposing wills. Bülow, on taking office, emphasized the necessity of a homogeneous ministry, and there are already evidences that he will get what he wants. Bülow’s début as Chancellor before the Reichstag was a parliamentary success such as Germany has scarcely witnessed since the Empire was founded. The new Chancellor showed himself a debater with unusual powers of delicate raillery, a master of rhetorical fencing, and yet of such suavity of manner toward his opponents as to conciliate them at the same time that he marched triumphantly over them. When the Reichstag met it was in an ugly mood, since its constitutional rights had been ignored in the matter of the expedition to China ; and the indications were that the session would be a critical one for the government. It was no small achievement of Bülow to lay the storm so completely and in so short a time. The Chancellor’s future pathway is beset with difficulties, since it will prove an extremely delicate task to shape legislation so as to satisfy, even remotely, the conflicting interests of the Agrarians and the rest of the population. Another difficult task will be to conduct the affairs of state under a ruler who insists upon exercising personally a controlling influence. Over against the latter fact, however, Bülow evidently possesses the full confidence of his master. It augurs well, too, for the future, that Bülow has already improved the relations of the South German cabinets toward the imperial government, —those relations having latterly grown somewhat disturbed. Bülow has entered upon his duties as Chancellor under the device of conciliation ; it remains to be seen whether he has the firm hand, when the emergency arises, to hold in check the discordant political and economical elements in German life.

The rôle played by the Kaiser in the politics of Germany during the year again calls for some remark. While the Kaiser scored a distinct success in securing the passage of the law doubling the German navy, the part he played — at least oratorically — in connection with the Chinese troubles was the subject of much criticism. The frequent description of the Kaiser as an impulsive man was never more aptly illustrated than in his speeches to the soldiers about to sail for China. It was felt in Germany that those speeches not only gave utterance to sentiments not in harmony with the best spirit of the time, but that they made the task of the German Foreign Office in dealing with a most delicate and complicated situation distinctly more difficult. The Kaiser had been gaining a reputation for greater steadiness of poise, greater self-restraint, greater prudence of utterance ; but his speeches last summer again gave cause for apprehension among many of the best minds of Germany.

This dissatisfaction with the Kaiser’s utterances was so strong and general that when the Reichstag met, in November, there was a feeling in all political parties that the old tradition of keeping the monarch out of the debates could no longer be adhered to. Consequently, the speeches of the Kaiser were discussed in the Reichstag by men of all parties, with a freedom that was new and refreshing in German political debates. Apart from the Kaiser’s speeches in connection with the Chinese troubles, the debates brought out some frank complaints from the more “loyal” sections of German politics, that the Kaiser is surrounded by advisers who systematically misinform him as to the actual state of public opinion. It has long been felt, and particularly during the past few years, that the present system of two cabinets — one of which is nominally responsible to the Reichstag and public opinion, while the other is merely a personal cabinet, responsible to neither, and yet exercising an enormous influence in shaping the monarch’s policies — has been growing more and more intolerable. This system of personal government is becoming the subject of chronic disquietude in Germany, and even the more loyal section of the press is growing restive under it. Bismarck’s wise maxim, “A monarch should appear in public only when attired in the clothing of a responsible ministry,” is finding more and more supporters among intelligent Germans.

In connection with this subject the question of ministerial responsibility has also come up for discussion. It is seen more and more clearly that the responsibility of the ministry to the Reichstag, as required by the Constitution, is quite illusive where the Reichstag has no practical means for enforcing it. Hence, toward the end of the year, a movement was begun in the Reichstag for the organization of a Supreme Court of the Empire, equipped with large powers, one of which shall be to decide, in questions of controversy, as between the Reichstag and the ministry. It must be regarded, however, as very doubtful, considering the weak and flabby state of public opinion in Germany on questions of popular rights, whether anything will result from this movement for the present.

The legislation of Germany during the year 1900 offers much that is interesting in many ways. For Americans, the most important measure was the Meat Bill. This measure had been introduced in the Reichstag early in 1899, but the sharp conflict of interests about it kept it for more than a year in committee. When the bill finally emerged for discussion in the Reichstag, it was found that the Agrarian majority had distorted it from a sanitary to a protective measure. Both in the new form they gave the bill and in their discussions of it in the Reichstag, the Agrarians showed that it was chiefly the exclusion of foreign meats, rather than a system of sanitary inspection, that they wanted. As finally passed in May the bill had lost some of the harsh prohibitory features given it by the Agrarians, the latter contenting themselves with the exclusion of canned meats and sausages. To the foreign student of German politics, the Meat Inspection Law is chiefly interesting as illustrating the tendency of the general government to seize upon functions which have hitherto been in the hands of the individual states and municipalities, as well as of bringing the private affairs of the people under the control of governmental authority. It is another long step of the German government away from the principle of laissez-faire. The task undertaken by the government here is itself a stupendous one. There is certainly no other great government in the world that would endeavor to organize the administrative machinery for inspecting every pound of meat that comes upon the markets of the country. What an illustration of the courage of government in Germany, when confronted with questions of infinite administrative details ! So stupendous is this task that the law as a whole has not yet at this writing been put in force, owing to the enormous amount of preliminary work required.

The passage of the Fleet Increase Law was one of the most important measures, in relation to Germany’s position as a world power, that has been adopted for many years. The bill was introduced in the Reichstag in January, with the declaration of the government that the increase of the fleet contemplated was necessary for insuring peace at sea, and for protecting Germany’s trade interests throughout the world. The course of discussion on the bill clearly brought out the fact that the great bulk of the German people enthusiastically favored it ; and when the measure came up for the final vote, it was carried by a two-thirds majority. The passage of this law will undoubtedly prove a momentous fact in Germany’s history, since it is openly confessed that Germany needs a great fleet in order to support and enforce her decisions in large international questions. If the increase of the fleet is to be interpreted as directed against any one nation, that nation is undoubtedly England.

Another law passed by the Reichstag was one for currency reform. It increases the non-legal-tender silver circulation from ten to fifteen marks per caput ; and the metal needed for this new coinage is to be provided by gradually withdrawing the remaining stock of thalers from circulation. As the thalers have unlimited legal-tender quality, while other silver coins have not, the measure is, in effect, the final step in giving Germany a pure gold standard. The suspension of the sale of silver by Bismarck in 1879 left a large stock of thalers still in circulation, which at first proved dangerous for the gold standard. That danger vanished later ; and the Currency Law of 1900 merely gave the finishing touch legally to the gold standard system already in perfect operation. The last blow to silver in Germany was in striking contrast to the passionate appeals for the “ white metal ” that still survive in American politics. Silver, in Germany, died practically without a struggle, and “ passed in music out of sight.”

The sharpest controversy in the Reichstag in 1900 was over the so-called Lex Heinze. Certain paragraphs of this measure gave the police very wide powers in the control of literary, dramatic, and artistic productions, with a view to the exclusion of everything calculated to offend the public sense of delicacy. There was a large majority in the Reichstag for these paragraphs, but the determined opposition of the Left parties, led by the Social Democrats, brought on the severest parliamentary struggle that Germany has seen since the Empire was founded. Obstruction by a minority in the Reichstag through parliamentary tactics had hitherto been unknown in Germany ; but so intense was the feeling among German literary people and artists against the drastic provisions of the Lex Heinze that public opinion was concentrated in support of the obstructionists. It was a new phenomenon in German political life to see the Social Democrats coming forward as the acknowledged defenders of the views of the intellectual élite of the country. The result was that the Lex Heinze was finally passed with the objectionable paragraphs eliminated.

A measure that called forth strenuous opposition from the commercial classes of the country was the Increase of the Bourse Taxes ; that is to say, the stamp tax upon new issue of stocks and bonds, and that upon sales of securities. The heavy taxation of this kind already in existence has had the effect of driving much German business to London and Paris ; and it was pointed out to the Reichstag, by chambers of commerce and similar bodies, that an increase of these taxes would only divert more German business to foreign bourses. Furthermore, it was felt to be a great injustice to the bourses to make them defray the bulk of the increased expenditures under the new Fleet Law. Nevertheless, the Reichstag voted by a large majority to increase the stamp taxes, — some of them being raised by half, and others doubled.

The most important measure in the province of social reform legislation adopted by the Reichstag in 1900 was a revision of the Laborers’ Accident Insurance Law. The law as revised extends compulsory insurance to laborers in breweries, in blacksmiths’, locksmiths’, and butchers’ shops, and to window-cleaners ; and the wage limit entitling a laborer to be insured was lifted from 2000 to 3000 marks a year. In many cases the assistance given to the injured is raised ; and in cases where a laborer is so badly crippled that a permanent attendant is necessary, the pension is increased to the full amount of the wages previously earned. The law also makes a careless employer responsible for all expenditures growing out of a given accident, disbursed by coöperative societies and sick funds in providing for the injured. It is a striking proof of the popularity of social reform ideas in Germany that this measure was passed unanimously. Another measure of social reform was an ordinance decreed by the Bundesrath for the better protection of the health of laborers in zinc works.

The Gewerbe - ordnung, which was passed in May and went into effect October 1, gives the imperial authorities control over employment agencies, — an Agrarian provision intended to prevent employment agents from the great manufacturing centres from drawing away farm laborers to more lucrative employment. Another provision of this reform is that for early closing. A certain measure of self-government is left to the tradesmen of the various cities, since closing at eight o’clock can be enforced where two thirds of the merchants ask for it; otherwise closing is at nine o’clock. The bill also provides for the welfare of employees in stores and other places of business by fixing the manner of payment and regulating the terms of giving notice of discharge. Another step toward ameliorating the condition of this class of the population was taken in December, when the Bundesrath decreed that opportunities for sitting must be provided for salesmen and saleswomen.

The most questionable experiment in legislation in Germany during the year was the special tax upon department stores, voted by the Prussian Diet. The measure came into being as the result of two forces : the first was represented by the theoretical reformers, who have a deep repugnance to all large accumulations of capital, and are happy only when trying to pull down the successful masters of organization to the level of men who can do things only on a small scale, or else submit themselves to the leadership of more capable men ; and the second force was the petty trade jealousy of these small men themselves, who never ceased to din it into the ears of the government that something must be done to preserve the “ middle classes.” Nearly all chambers of commerce in the country took a decided stand against this tax, because it was clearly seen that a principle was here being introduced which would eventually lead to special taxation of all concerns operating with large capital, whether banks, factories, or other enterprises. The government vacillated hopelessly between the opposing elements for the several years during which the agitation for such a tax was going on ; and Finance Minister von Miquel, in his defense of the bill in the Diet, showed a very muddled state of mind about the whole matter. The bill as passed is undoubtedly the most drastic piece of legislation directed against large capital that Germany has ever seen. This tax, it must be remembered, is a special tax in addition to the general income tax, and is levied according to a progressive scale upon the volume of business, reaching as high as two per cent upon the turnover of the largest department stores. It is provided, however, that the tax shall in no case exceed twenty per cent of the net earnings. The rabid, anticapitalistic temper of the legislators is well illustrated by the fact that an amendment for exempting department stores from this tax, in cases where it could be shown that the business had been conducted at a loss, was voted down, and instead of this a remission of only one half of the tax in such cases was adopted. In other words, the Prussian Diet voted to take in taxation one per cent of the turnover of a business conducted at a loss.

The year 1900 was the first year under the new Civil Code. Much progress was made by the courts in adjusting themselves to the new system of jurisdiction, and it is already apparent that Germany will derive great advantages from this reform. Another reform was that in the method of military court procedure, which went into effect October 1. This latter reform was forced upon the government by public opinion, which had long ago rejected the more antiquated features of justice prevailing in the army. One of the chief advances made under the new system is that of public military trials wherever discipline and the public interest admit. While the reform does not go so far as public opinion demanded, still it is believed that it will secure an administration of justice in the army more in harmony with the spirit of the age.

The movement in the Social Democratic party known as the “ moulting process”—that is, the process of casting off old, ultra-doctrinaire principles in favor of possible, tangible reforms — was further strikingly illustrated by the decision to nominate candidates for the Prussian Diet in all future elections. Owing to the peculiar electoral machinery in Prussia, rendering it well-nigh impossible for the working classes to make their influence practically felt in the Diet, the Socialists have hitherto contemptuously refrained from participating in the Diet elections. The year was also marked by Socialist gains in the Diets of Würtemberg, Gotha, LippeDetmold, and Oldenburg ; and the Socialists now have representatives in the Diets of all the German states except Prussia and Brunswick. Another indication of the growing practical sense of the party is that all the Socialist members of the Reichstag supported the government’s Laborers’ Accident Insurance Bill. It is significant of much for the future of Germany that the Socialists are thus accommodating themselves to the patient processes of history, and are growing more willing to take their millennium upon the installment plan.

The Polish question came in for a large amount of attention during the year. This question has undoubtedly grown more serious during the past few years. It is admitted that the government policy of buying up Polish estates and settling Germans upon them — for which purpose a fund of 200,000,000 marks was created some years ago — has been worse than useless, since it has only intensified the national self-consciousness of the Poles, without at the same time increasing the German population and fostering German spirit in the eastern provinces. It is frankly admitted that villages there which were once largely German are losing their German character, and reverting to that of Polish communities. Writers most favorable to the government admit that if this movement continues for two or three decades longer, the Polonization of the eastern provinces will be practically complete. Not only is there a Polish question in the eastern provinces, but also in western Germany ; for the immense development of the Rhine-Westphalian coal and iron region has attracted increasing numbers of Poles to that part of the country. Many villages there are now almost completely Polish, and the problem of policing the laboring population has been rendered much more difficult by their presence. To take the places of the Poles thus leaving the agricultural provinces of the east for the better wages of the industrial west, the Prussian government has for some years been allowing other Polish laborers to come into those provinces from Russian and Austrian Poland, during the busier months of the year. It is characteristic of the intense economic development of Germany at present that the period for which these immigrant laborers were permitted to cross the border has been constantly lengthened ; so that for this winter they are required to return to their homes for only six weeks.

Growing out of the agitation in connection with the Lex Heinze, the Goethebund, a union of many of the leading writers and artists, was formed, for the purpose of protecting art, literature, and dramatic performances from the clumsy efforts of legislation and police administration to force narrow and prudish ideals upon them. This organization has spread rapidly over all Germany. It held its first national conference at Weimar in November, when some strong words were spoken against the antiquated conception of life with which the authorities are trying to fetter the German mind. The Goethebund directs its efforts particularly against the dramatic censorship which still lags superfluous upon the stage in Germany ; and it petitioned the Reichstag to abolish this “ unseemly tutelage of the German people.”

This utterance of the Goethebund was drawn out by the fact that the dramatic censorship was exercised with unusual rigor in the latter half of the year. It was commonly believed that this was due to the influence of the Kaiser, to express his displeasure at the defeat of the rigid paragraphs of the Lex Heinze. As a result of this greater rigor an unusual number of plays were rejected by the censor, some of which, however, were later admitted to production, after appeal to the courts. A practical proposition, put forward as a remedy for the arbitrary and often unintelligent decisions of the censor, is the appointment of a committee of literary people to act as a committee of experts in cases of questionable literary productions. This proposition attracted wide attention, and was supported by so eminent an author as Professor Mommsen.

In the sphere of education the chief event of the year was the Kaiser’s decree of November 26, for the reform of gymnasium instruction. This reform is of special interest to English-speaking people, since it gives to the English language a position in the German Gymnasien which it has never hitherto occupied. It is an incredible mark of the unprogressive spirit that has hitherto prevailed in the old Gymnasien, that English occupied in their curricula the same level with Hebrew. The Kaiser’s decree changes all that, and makes English perhaps the most important foreign language taught in these schools. English will be compulsory in the Gymnasien for the last three years, French becoming for these years merely optional.

In the classes prior to the three highest, English can now be offered in place of Greek ; and in respect to Greek itself, the teachers are enjoined to avoid, so far as possible, insistence upon useless forms, and to emphasize more the intellectual and æsthetic relations between Greek and modern culture. The decree also emphasizes the necessity of more attention to modern German history, which has hitherto been neglected in favor of the ancient history. The practical study of the natural sciences through experiments and excursions is to be fostered ; and in teaching modern languages attention is to be given to speaking. All these points illustrate the bent of the Kaiser’s mind toward modernizing and reforming German life, whatever may be said of his views in other directions.

In university matters the chief event of the year was another decree of the Kaiser, which was issued in December. This prolongs the period of medical study to five years, broadens the medical curriculum, and introduces a year of probationary practice before the final license is given. It also admits the graduates of Real-gymnasien and Ober-realschulen to the medical examinations.

In the woman movement some progress is to be recorded, both in the struggle for larger educational opportunities and in opening up gainful occupations to women. The movement for the better education of women made further progress, both in respect to the establishment of “ gymnasium courses ” for girls, and in the admission of women to the universities as hearers. The Medical Society of Berlin refused to admit women as members ; but the medical faculty of Heidelberg University voted to admit them as regular hearers to the lectures. While the number of women students at the German universities is somewhat smaller this winter than last, the cause is to be found not in any flagging of interest on the part of women themselves, but in the fact that the University of Berlin introduced more rigid entrance conditions for women, which had the effect of largely diminishing the number of Russian women in attendance. The Prussian minister of education sanctioned the inauguration of gymnasium courses for women at Breslau. The movement for establishing a gymnasium for girls at Frankfort-on-the-Main also took definite shape, and the institution will be opened April 1. A significant movement of the year was the increase of women’s clubs in various cities. Another indication of the growing conviction of the importance of woman as a social force is the resolution of the Socialist National Diet to make larger use of women in the propaganda work of that party. Statistics published during the year show that the number of women employed in factories has been growing at an accelerated pace.

Toward the end of the year public attention was painfully drawn to the fact of the increase of immorality and crime among the higher classes. Sensational cases in the Berlin courts showed a state of morals in social circles and in police administration that gave a shock to the public conscience. The jeunesse dorée of Berlin passed before the public gaze as professional gamblers ; a great banker, moving in high social life, was unmasked as a corrupter of morality by the most loathsome means ; and a coterie of mortgage bank directors were imprisoned for the grossest dishonesty. Another incident belonging here is the Konitz murder, which called out antiSemitic excesses reminding one of American lynch law, — excesses due to the superstition of “ ritual murder ” being practiced by Hebrews.

The census taken on December 1 — so far as the returns have been published at this writing — shows an acceleration of the movement of population from the country toward the great cities. The growth of the urban population in five years has been astonishing. The population of Berlin, for example, increased more than twice as much in the last five years as in the preceding five. The fourteen German cities now having a population of above 200,000 have increased more than seventeen per cent since 1895. The census returns show that Berlin and its suburbs gained 392,730 in the past five years, their total population now being 2,469,676. No other European capital is growing so fast in wealth and numbers as Berlin ; and the city is rapidly assuming a dominant position in all spheres of German life.

In the economic life of Germany in 1900, the fact that strikes the eye first is the culmination of the great wave of prosperity that had prevailed in the country for above five years. Both in its duration and in its intensity this advance was the most remarkable that German industries and commerce ever experienced. The direct impulse that caused the deep change in the business situation of Germany came from the United States ; and throughout the year, the dependence of the German iron market as well as of the German stock markets upon the United States became apparent to a degree that would have been considered utterly impossible so recently as three years ago. Notwithstanding the declining business activity of Germany, a coal famine, such as the country has never seen before, continued till toward the close of 1900; and one of the burning questions of the year, in commercial circles, was that of adopting measures of relief for the scarcity of coal. With the high tide of Germany’s prosperity a change in the situation of the working classes set in. During the protracted upward movement in business wages had steadily risen, and had reached the highest point in the history of the country ; since the changed conditions have manifested themselves, wages have also begun to decline, and the opportunities of employment have been diminished.

The rapidity of the fall of industrial shares on the German bourses, after the middle of April, was remarkable. This phenomenon was extensively commented upon as illustrating the evil workings of the German Bourse Law passed in 1896, which prohibited all dealings in those shares for future delivery. In this connection the Bourse Law underwent the sharpest criticism from chambers of commerce and all other organs of public opinion in commercial affairs. The unwelcome phenomenon of operators refusing to settle debts incurred in bourse speculations by retreating behind the provisions of the Bourse Law only intensified the agitation against that ill-advised measure. All the German chambers of commerce joined in a crusade for its reform ; but the government has hitherto maintained a waiting and non-committal attitude. The whole matter — the details of which cannot be dwelt upon here — is another interesting episode in the perennial contest between the progressive commercial classes of Germany and those who would hinder her development into a great manufacturing, commercial, and financial power in the world.

It is a significant fact that the rapid downward movement of stock values, and the entirely changed situation in many of Germany’s leading industries, have been accompanied by no serious failures or other financial troubles. The flurry caused in December, in connection with certain mortgage banks of Berlin, was in no way a sign of the general economic situation, and is no exception to the statement just made. The fact that German industries and German banks could shoot the rapids of the year 1900 without any serious disaster is the best possible proof of the solid and honest business methods that prevailed among German industrial and financial institutions.

In the development of the German colonies there is nothing striking to report for the year 1900. Trade with them is gradually increasing, but the colonial budget is increasing still more rapidly. For 1901 it reaches 40,750,000 marks, an increase of more than 7,000,000 marks as compared with the previous budget. The growth of the colonial budget has been very rapid during the past five years. As recently as 1895 the expenditures amounted to only 9,000,000 marks. A subject which attracted much attention in colonial circles during the year was that of investment of capital in the colonies. The more chauvinistic colonial enthusiasts made a sharp attack, at the annual meeting of the Colonial Society at Coblentz, in June, upon the colonial administration and upon the chief commercial company operating in German Southeast Africa, on the ground that concessions had been too freely granted to English capitalists there. The lack of faith among the German people in the future of the colonies is shown by the fact that the Reichstag refused a grant of 100,000 marks for preliminary surveys for the East African Central Railway ; and that it was left for the enthusiasts of the Colonial Society to present this amount to the government out of its own funds. As for the rest, it is admitted that everything in the colonies is still in an experimental stage. Experiments are to be undertaken in cotton-growing in Togo, and with sheep-raising in Southwest Africa.

William C. Dreher.