August Bebel (1840-1913) was one of the towering figures of late nineteenth century European socialism and the leading figure of the German labour movement from the 1860s until his death in 1913. Born into a modest family, and a half-orphan from the age of four, his advancement to a pivotal role in the politics of Imperial Germany mirrored the success of German social democracy in this period. Bebel was not only the founder and first leader of the Social Democratic Workers Party of Germany (SDAP), a political movement that became the largest socialist party in nineteenth-century Europe, but he was also a powerful orator and leading member of the German parliament. He was described by contemporaries as the `king of the German workers' and the `shadow emperor' of Germany. In this biography, Jurgen Schmidt situates Bebel's life and career in the political, social and cultural history of modern Europe. He also provides an overview of the growth of the labour movement and working class political activism in late-nineteenth century Germany. This is an essential biography of one of Germany's most influential and unique politicians, living at a time of great political, social and industrial change in Europe.
Jurgen Schmidt is a Research Associate in History at re:work Research Centre at the Humboldt University, Berlin and at The History and Future of Work Research Centre in Berlin.. He was previously a Research Fellow at the Social Science Research Centre (WZB), Berlin and holds a PhD from the Free University, Berlin. He is the author of Bruder, Burger und Genossen. Die deutsche Arbeiterbewegung zwischen Klassenbewegung und Burgergesellschaft 1830-1870; Arbeiter in der Moderne. Arbeitsbedingungen, Lebenswelten, Organisationen and Zivilgesellschaft. Burgerschaftliches Engagement von der Antike bis zur Gegenwart.
List of Plates List of Abbreviations Preface and Acknowledgements Introduction 1. On the Edge of the Lower Class: Poor and Yet Privileged 2. Artisan and Entrepreneur: A Success Story 3. The Path into Politics: `Who is That Man with Such an Appearance?' 4. A Life for Politics: `Taking the Bull by the Horns' 1867 - 1872: Bebel develops his talents 1872 - 1884/9: The dangerous member of the Reichstag 5. Family, Friends and Everyday Life: The Private Side to Bebel 6. Politics as a Vocation: `One is No More than a Hackney' 7. Politics until Death: Battles of Words and War Prophecy 8. `Anti-Emperor of the Masses': Worshipping a Hero? Epilogue Chronology Short Biographical Notes Glossary of Associations and Parties at Local, National and International Level Notes Sources and Literature Index