20 Pages

The changing concerns of Prussian conservatism, 1830–1914

WithHermann Beck

Prussian conservatism was represented by a series of important personalities. There was no conservative party structure, and a conservative party as such came into being only in the 1850s in the form of different parliamentary groups, or Fraktionen, in the Prussian lower house; conservative organization in its most rudimentary form began in the form of associations only during the Revolution of 1848. This chapter concentrates, therefore, mostly on individuals, while subsequent sections focus on the political outlook of the party as a whole. Prussian conservatives thus found themselves in an inexorable predicament, since their natural champion, Erich Eyck, Bismarck — once called in with the express purpose of blocking the advance of liberalism — seemed to carry out a liberal programme. The party’s hostile yet unclarified attitude towards Bismarck’s policies at the time when the German chancellor was at his most influential, brought with it the real danger that Prussian conservatism would recede into insignificance.