chapter  Chapter Three
40 Pages

Between Isolation and Integration, 1871–1918

WithStefan Berger

This chapter discusses the Grass's prominent literary treatment of Bebel and his funeral includes several references to the characteristics of Social Democracy in Imperial Germany. Although the Social Democratic Party of Germany's (SPD's) integration into Imperial German society was well advanced in some respects, it was nevertheless still very much an outsider in others. It occupied a curious and uneasy position somewhere between integration and isolation. The SPD indicted the Imperial German elites for their pursuit of Imperialist ambitions which increasingly isolated Germany in international politics and led to the fatal Anglo-German rivalry before 1914. Social Democratic culture was the most prominent and talked-about of all working-class cultures in Imperial Germany. In all participant countries of the First World War the composition of the labour force had changed dramatically. The war-time split of the SPD corresponded to that between the party left and the party right which had been a feature of Imperial German Social Democracy.