History of the Monarchy, History of Mass Media
In late 19th century Germany the neo-absolutist monarchy of Wilhelm II and the breakthrough of modern mass media – tabloid newspapers, illustrated journals, film – coincided. Using a number of dramatic political scandals, among others the so-called Caligula-Affair, Eulenburg-Scandal and Daily-Telegraph-Affair, but also Wilhelm II’s flight to the Netherlands in 1918, the book seeks to uncover the interaction of the institution of the monarchy and the developing mass media. Against the background of a generally functioning rule of law (Rechtsstaat) and comparatively liberal press legislation, but also a very dynamic technological-economic development the media attained a remarkable critical potential and political relevance. It is interesting to note, that in a monarchic political system like the German Empire, fully-fledged media scandals were not only possible but, as it seems, might even have attained a relevance they did not have in parliamentarian political systems. These scandals served, it could be argued, as a surrogate for political participation, only very incompletely possible through parliament. This participatory ‘promise’, however, developed its own dynamic which on the long run could not be met by the monarchy. In a final chapter the study deals with the emergence of leadership-concepts in Germany well before the first-world war and the legacy of these concepts after 1918, up to the establishment of the Third Reich. The study seeks to combine political history and media history in order to come to new conclusions in both fields. Contributing to what has been branded new political history it deals with the institution of the monarchy in a wider social and cultural context.