Anti-Socialist Laws

Laws of the German Empire / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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The Anti-Socialist Laws or Socialist Laws (German: Sozialistengesetze; officially Gesetz gegen die gemeingefährlichen Bestrebungen der Sozialdemokratie, approximately "Law against the public danger of Social Democratic endeavours") were a series of acts of the parliament of the German Empire, the first of which was passed on 19 October 1878 by the Reichstag lasting until 31 March 1881 and extended four times (May 1880, May 1884, April 1886 and February 1888).[1]

Official publication of the first Anti-Socialist Law, 1878

The legislation gained widespread support after two failed attempts to assassinate Kaiser Wilhelm I of Germany by the radicals Max Hödel and Karl Nobiling. The laws were designed by Chancellor Otto von Bismarck with the goal of reversing the growing strength of the Social Democratic Party (SPD, named SAP at the time) which was blamed for inspiring the assassins. However, the laws caused the socialist movement to strengthen at times. This resulted in Bismarck dropping the laws[citation needed] and changing his coalition, eventually becoming an ally of his former enemies the Catholic Centre Party which appealed to Catholic workers who opposed socialism.[2]