1800 the population was predominantly rural, as only 10% lived in communities of 5,000 or more people, and only 2% lived in cities of more than 100,000 people. After 1815, the urban population grew rapidly, due to the influx of young people from the rural areas. Berlin grew from 172,000 in 1800, to 826,000 inhabitants in 1870, Hamburg from 130,000 to 290,000, Munich from 40,000 to 269,000 and Dresden from 60,000 to 177,000.takeoff stage of economic development came with the railroad revolution in the 1840s, which opened up new markets for local products, created a pool of middle managers, increased the demand for engineers, architects and skilled machinists and stimulated investments in coal and iron. Political disunity of three dozen states and a pervasive conservatism made it difficult to build railways in the 1830s. However, by the 1840s, trunk lines did link the major cities; each German state was responsible for the lines within its own borders. Economist Friedrich List summed up the advantages to be derived from the development of the railway system in 1841:
1. As a means of national defence, it facilitates the concentration, distribution and direction of the army.
2. It is a means to the improvement of the culture of the nation. It brings talent, knowledge and skill of every kind readily to market.
3. It secures the community against dearth and famine, and against excessive fluctuation in the prices of the necessaries of life.
4. It promotes the spirit of the nation, as it has a tendency to destroy the Philistine spirit arising from isolation and provincial prejudice and vanity. It binds nations by ligaments, and promotes an interchange of food and of commodities, thus making it feel to be a unit. The iron rails become a nerve system, which, on the one hand, strengthens public opinion, and, on the other hand, strengthens the power of the state for police and governmental purposes.
Lacking a technological base at first, engineering and hardware was imported from Britain. In many cities, the new railway shops were the centres of technological awareness and training, so that by 1850, Germany was self-sufficient in meeting the demands of railroad construction, and the railways were a major impetus for the growth of the new steel industry. Observers found that even as late as 1890, their engineering was inferior to Britain. However, German unification in 1870 stimulated consolidation, nationalisation into state-owned companies, and further rapid growth. Unlike the situation in France, the goal was the support of industrialisation. Eventually numerous lines criss-crossed the Ruhr area and other industrial centers and provided good connections to the major ports of Hamburg and Bremen. By 1880, 9,400 locomotives pulled 43,000 passengers and 30,000 tons of freight a day.
Newspapers and magazines
Main articles: History of German journalism and History of newspapers and magazines § Germany
While there existed no national newspaper the many states issued a great variety of printed media, although they rarely exceeded regional significance. In a typical town existed one or two outlets, urban centers, such as Berlin and Leipzig had dozens. The audience was limited to a few percent of male adults, chiefly from the aristocratic and upper middle class. Liberal publishers outnumbered conservative ones by a wide margin. Foreign governments bribed editors to guarantee a favorable image. Censorship was strict, and the imperial government issued the political news that was supposed to be published. After 1871, strict press laws were enforced by Bismarck to contain the Socialists and hostile editors. Editors focused on political commentary, culture, the arts, high culture and the popular serialized novels. Magazines were politically more influential and attracted intellectual authors.
Science and culture during the 18th and 19th century
19th-century artists and intellectuals were greatly inspired by the ideas of the French Revolution and the great poets and writers Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832), Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (1729-1781) and Friedrich Schiller (1759-1805). The Sturm und Drang romantic movement was embraced and emotion was given free expression in reaction to the perceived rationalism of the Enlightenment. Philosophical principles and methods were revolutionized by Immanuel Kant’s paradigm shift. Ludwig van Beethoven (1770–1827) was the most influential composer of the period from classical to Romantic music. His use of tonal architecture in such a way as to allow significant expansion of musical forms and structures was immediately recognized as bringing a new dimension to music. His later piano music and string quartets, especially, showed the way to a completely unexplored musical universe, and influenced Franz Schubert (1797–1828) and Robert Schumann (1810–1856). In opera, a new Romantic atmosphere combining supernatural terror and melodramatic plot in a folkloric context was first successfully achieved by Carl Maria von Weber (1786–1826) and perfected by Richard Wagner (1813–1883) in his Ring Cycle. The Brothers Grimm (1785–1863 & 1786–1859) collected folk stories into the popular Grimm’s Fairy Tales and are ranked among the founding fathers of German studies, who initiated the work on the Deutsches Wörterbuch (“The German Dictionary”), the most comprehensive work on the German language.
University professors developed international reputations, especially in the humanities led by history and philology, which brought a new historical perspective to the study of political history, theology, philosophy, language, and literature. With Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770–1831), Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling (1775-1854), Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860), Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900), Max Weber (1864-1920), Karl Marx (1818-1883) and Friedrich Engels (1820-1895) in philosophy, Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768–1834) in theology and Leopold von Ranke (1795–1886) in history became famous. The University of Berlin, founded in 1810, became the world’s leading university. Von Ranke, for example, professionalized history and set the world standard for historiography. By the 1830s mathematics, physics, chemistry, and biology had emerged with world class science, led by Alexander von Humboldt (1769–1859) in natural science and Carl Friedrich Gauss (1777–1855) in mathematics. Young intellectuals often turned to politics, but their support for the failed revolution of 1848 forced many into exile.
18th- and 19th-century German artists, scientists and philosophers
Immanuel Kant (1724–1804)
Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (1729-1781)
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832)
Joseph von Fraunhofer (1787-1826), physicist and optical lens manufacturer (1787-1826)
Friedrich Schiller (1759-1805)
Alexander von Humboldt (1769–1859)
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770–1827)
Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831)
Carl Friedrich Gauss (1777–1855)
Brothers Grimm (1785–1863 & 1786–1859)
Werner von Siemens (1816-1892)
Karl Marx (1818-1883)
Prussia now had full control over church affairs, with the king himself recognized as the leading bishop. Opposition to unification came from the “Old Lutherans” in Silesia who clung tightly to the theological and liturgical forms they had followed since the days of Luther. The government attempted to crack down on them, so they went underground. Tens of thousands migrated, to South Australia, and especially to the United States, where they formed the Missouri Synod, which is still in operation as a conservative denomination. Finally in 1845 a new king Frederick William IV offered a general amnesty and allowed the Old Lutherans to form a separate church association with only nominal government control.