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Bismarck believed that “iron and blood” would decide the great issues of his time. This included the question of German unification, accomplished in the aftermath of a Prussian-led war against France in 1871. One of the most important issues for the new Empire’s domestic policy concerned how to deal with the labour movement. The inequality between the social classes was particularly marked in rapidly expanding industrial cities such as Berlin. Technological advances were progressing ever more rapidly around the turn of the century. Emperor Wilhelm II wanted to consolidate Germany’s role in world politics and set about expanding the naval fleet. The conflicts this caused with other European powers were a major contributing factor to the outbreak of World War I.

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