1900 in Germany

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See also:Other events of 1900
List of years in Germany

Events in the year 1900 in Germany.


National level[edit]

State level[edit]


Grand Duchies[edit]



Colonial Governors[edit]


  • 1 January:
    • The Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch (BGB), civil code of Germany. In development since 1881, it becomes effective on 1 January 1900, and is considered a massive and groundbreaking project.
    • The Handelsgesetzbuch (HGB), that was legislated on 10 May 1897, comes into force together with the Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch (BGB).
  • 4 January – Riots break out as miners go on strike.
  • 6 January – The German steamer Herzog is seized by the British warship HMS Thetis outside of Delagoa Bay in East Africa, on suspicions that it is carrying supplies to Boer troops. The Portuguese colonial Governor of Zambesia was among the passengers.[1] After none were found, the ship and its crew were released on 22 January.[2]
  • 1 March – The German flag is formally hoisted at Apia, the capital of Samoa, and Wilhelm Solf becomes the colony's first governor. Chief Mata'afa, who had fought against the Germans, and Chief Tamasese, who had been the puppet ruler during German occupation, reconciled.[3] Mata'afa is named as the Paramount Chief of the Western Samoa colony, although Germany's Kaiser Wilhelm II is designated as the Paramount King.[4]
  • 1 April – The 6th Royal Bavarian Division is raised as anew addition to the German Imperial Army
  • 13 June – When three Chinese Boxers came too close to the German legation, one of them, a young man, was captured by the German guards. Baron von Ketteler, the German minister thrashed the Boxer with his cane, ordered his guards to extend the beating, and warned the Chinese Foreign Ministry (the Zongli Yamen) that the boy would die. Over the next few days, the foreign diplomats began shooting at Chinese nationals near the legation quarter. Von Ketteler himself would be killed on June 20.[5] The same day, communication between the foreign embassies and the rest of the world was halted as their telegraph lines were severed.[6]
  • 14 June:
    • At 7:00 pm, German embassy guards, under the direction of Ambassador Ketteler, fire on Boxer rebels outside the legation quarter, killing 20. Lancelot Giles of the British embassy, recorded the incident in his diary that night, noting the furious shouts from a crowd trying to get into the city. G.E. Morrison, correspondent for the London Times, noted another incident where 45 Chinese were killed in a raid by the Europeans on a temple.[7]
    • The Reichstag approves a second law that allows the expansion of the Imperial German Navy.
  • 20 JuneClemens von Ketteler, the German ambassador to China, is murdered as he and an aide go to the Chinese Foreign Ministry (Zongli Yamen) without their guards. With seven hours left until a 4 p.m. deadline for all foreigners to leave Beijing, Baron von Ketteler defied his fellow ambassadors and left the safety of the diplomatic quarter. Von Ketteler was shot and killed (by a Boxer later identified as En Hai) as he approached the Zongli Yamen. His interpreter, Heinrich Cordes, survived to return to the embassy, at which point evacuation was no longer an option.[8] American ambassador Conger would later report that he had learned "that Prince Tuan had planned to have his soldiers massacre all the foreign ministers at the Tsungli Yamen on June 20. But...the impatient soldiers prematurely attacked and killed Baron von Kettler... we were not invited to the Tsungli Yamen, and so were saved. The directive to Mr. Conger stated, "The princes and ministers...beg that within twenty-four hours the minister of the United States, with his family... and taking his guards, keeping them under control, will leave for Tientsin, in order to avoid danger. An escort of troops has been dispatched to give protection en route, and the local officials have been also notified to allow the minister's party to pass."[9] At 4:00 p.m., Chinese troops began their siege of the foreign legations quarter, where 900 foreigners, 523 defenders, and 3,000 Chinese Christians held out behind the walls. The siege would last 55 days.[10]
  • 21 June – China formally declares war on Germany.
  • 14 July – In China, Tientsin (Tianjin) is captured by the Allied forces after a three-day battle. The Allies have 775 killed or wounded, mostly from Russian troops and Japanese troops under the command of the Japanese Colonel Kuriya. Parties of German and French soldiers destroyed the enemy's guns, while American, British, Japanese and Austrian troops, and the Welsh Fussillers captured the arsenal.[11]
  • 27 July – Kaiser Wilhelm II gives the infamous "Huns Speech" at Bremerhaven as he dispatched troops to fight in China. The most inflammatory line was, "Wie vor tausend Jahren die Hunnen unter ihrem König Etzel sich einen Namen gemacht, der sie noch jetzt in Überlieferung und Märchen gewaltig erscheinen läßt, so möge der Name Deutscher in China auf 1000 Jahre durch euch in einer Weise bestätigt werden, daß es niemals wieder ein Chinese wagt, einen Deutschen scheel anzusehen!".[12] "Just as the Huns under their King Atilla made a name for themselves a thousand years ago which still, in saga and tradition, makes them appear powerful, so may the name "German" be impressed by you for a thousand years, that no Chinese will ever dare again look askance at a German!" [13] The Germans were, for a century thereafter, referred to as "Huns".
  • 17 OctoberBernhard von Bülow becomes the fourth Chancellor of the German Empire, appointed by Kaiser Wilhelm I. The former Foreign Secretary succeeded Prince Chlodwig Hohenlohe, who resigned because of his age (81) and health.
  • 16 November – During a parade in Breslau, (now Wroclaw, Poland), a woman throws a hatchet at the open carriage of Kaiser Wilhelm II. Selma Schnapke, later ruled to be insane, threw well enough that the "hand chopper" struck the imperial carriage, and was arrested.[14]
  • 20 November – German diplomat Clemens von Ketteler is killed during the Boxer Rebellion in China.
  • 1 December – A census of the German Empire is taken. Provisional figures showed a population of 56,345,014.[15]
  • 31 December – At 3:00 in the afternoon in Beijing, Su-Hai, identified as the man who had killed Baron von Ketteler, Germany's minister to China, on June 20, becomes the last prominent person to die in the 19th century. Su-Hai was beheaded at the scene of the crime.[16]

Date unknown[edit]



  • 3 June – A series of meat inspection laws, at the time the most comprehensive in the world, are introduced.[17]
  • 1 September – The German-American Telegraph Company opened the first direct line between Germany and the United States. At 7,917 kilometers or 4,919 miles, the line was the longest transatlantic cable to that time, running from Emden to New York City, via the Azores Islands.[18]
  • The Adler automobile company is established.


  • 14 January – The United States Senate accepts the Anglo-German treaty of 1899, in which the United Kingdom renounces its claims to the Samoan islands.
  • 16 February – In Washington, British Ambassador Lord Pauncefote, and German Ambassador Baron Theodor von Holleben meet with Secretary of State Hay at the State Department, and exchange ratifications of the Samoan Treaty signed by all three nations. "Secretary Hay retained for the United States the copy of the treaty which was ratified by the United States Senate. He handed to Lord Pauncefote and to Herr von Holleben copies of the treaty bearing the signatures of the President and himself", reported the New York Times. Similar proceedings take place in London and in Berlin with the foreign ministers and ambassadors, completing the Tripartite Convention of 1899. Under the treaty, the Pacific islands of Samoa are divided between the U.S. (as American Samoa) and Germany (later the Independent State of Samoa).[19]
  • 16 October – Germany and the UK sign an agreement in London, providing that they would oppose the partition of China into spheres of influence. The "Yangtze Agreement", signed by Lord Salisbury and Ambassador Hatzfeldt, is an endorsement of the Open Door Policy proposed by the United States for free trade in China.[20]
  • 5 December – Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy sign a treaty providing that their navies would work together in the event of an attack on either nation by France or Russia.[21]


  • Women in Germany demand the right to participate in university entrance exams.


  • 7 March – A new era in transportation safety begin on reports of the first successful transmission of wireless signals from a passenger ship to a distant receiver. The German steamer SS Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse, carrying 1,500 passengers, transmits from on ship to Borkum, fifty miles away.[22]
  • 7 April – At Thomas Edison's laboratory, an agent of the Goldschmidt Chemische-Thermo Industrie of Essen, Germany, demonstrates a process to melt iron in five seconds. "Louis Dreyfus of Frankfort-on-Main...showed Mr. Edison his new process for attaining an enormous degree of heat in an incredibly short space of time by the combustion of a certain chemical compound which the inventor keeps a secret," the New York Times reported, "then placed a six-inch long iron wrench in a crucible and created a fire that reached 3,000 degrees centigrade."[23]
  • July – Ferdinand von Zeppelin completes his first airship, the LZ 1 in July 1900.
  • 16 August – At a German excavation at the Tel Amran ibn Ali, near the Babylonian temple at Etemenanki (near modern Al Hillah, Iraq), German excavators unearth a glazed amphora with 10,000 coins dating from the 7th century BC.[24]
  • 15 October – Questionnaires are sent to every physician in Germany in the first attempt to make a study on the prevalence of cancer.[25]
  • 14 December – On a date now considered to be the birthday of quantum mechanics, Max Planck presents his paper Zur Theorie des Gesetzes der Energieverteilung in Normalspektrum (On the Theory of the Law of Energy Distribution in Normal Spectrum) at a meeting of the German Physical Society in Berlin and proposes Planck's law and Planck postulate.[26]


Date unknown[edit]

  • The inaugural BMW Open tennis event is held by the Münchner Tennis- und Turnierclub (MTTC) Iphitos club.


  • 10 January – The Deutschland, operated by the Hamburg-American Line and promising to be the fastest passenger ship to that time, is launched from the shipyards at Stettin, Germany (now Szczecin, Poland).[27]
  • 16 June – In Lübeck, Germany, the Elbe-Lübeck Canal, 41 miles (66 km) in length, is formally opened by Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany. The canal took five years to build at a cost of nearly six million dollars at the time, and joins the Elbe River to the Trave, which in turn provides ocean access at the Baltic Sea.[28]
  • 30 June – At Pier 8 in Hoboken, New Jersey, cotton bales and barrels of turpentine and oil catch fire around 4 o'clock in the afternoon. In less than 15 minutes, high winds spread the blaze a quarter of a mile along the port and on to the four German steamships moored there. The Saale and the Main, each with 150 crew on board, are destroyed, and the Bremen is heavily damaged. On the Saale, the portholes are too narrow for the men inside to escape, and most on board burn to death. The huge liner SS Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse is saved by being towed into the Hudson River.[29] Despite the best efforts of the Hoboken and New York fire departments to save the piers and the ships, respectively, 326 people were killed.[30]
  • 2 July – Starting at 8:03 pm, the first rigid airship flies from a floating hangar on Lake Constance near Friedrichshafen. Luftschiff Zeppelin 1 (or LZ1), with Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin and four others aboard, flies at an altitude of 1,300 feet (400 m), going 3.75 miles (6.04 km) in 18 minutes before being forced to land due to a broken part.[31]
  • 12 July – A German cruise liner, the SS Deutschland, breaks the Blue Riband record for the first time with an average speed of 22.42 knots (41.52 km/h).
  • 16 December – The German training frigate Gneisenau, with 450 naval cadets on board, sinks in a storm during exercises off of the Spanish coast at Malaga, drowning 136.[32]


  • 24 DecemberIskra, a newspaper published by Vladimir Lenin in support of Bolshevik rebellion in Russia, is published for the first time, printed in Leipzig.[33]




  1. ^ "One German Steamer Released," NYT January 10, 1900, p. 1
  2. ^ Herbert Whittaker Briggs, The Law of Continuous Voyage, (William S. Hein Publishing, 2003) pp. 83–84
  3. ^ "Germany in Samoa", New York Times, March 15, 1900, p. 7
  4. ^ "Tutuila (U.S.)", The Atlantic Monthly, 1904, p. 213
  5. ^ Lanxin Xiang, The Origins of the Boxer War, pp. 268–269.
  6. ^ Max Boot, The Savage Wars of Peace (Da Capo Press, 2003), p. 76
  7. ^ Lanxin Xiang, The Origins of the Boxer War, p. 269
  8. ^ Lanxin Xiang, The Origins of the Boxer War pp. 335–337
  9. ^ Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States (G.P.O. 1902) p. 191
  10. ^ Max Boot, The Savage Wars of Peace (Da Capo Press, 2003), pp. 79–80
  11. ^ "Allies Victorious; Tien-Tsin Captured", New York Times, July 18, 1900, p. 1
  12. ^ http://www.wereldoorlog1418.nl/keizer-wilhelm/hunnenrede.html
  13. ^ Manfred Jonas, The United States and Germany: A Diplomatic History (Cornell University Press, 1985) p. 63
  14. ^ "Attempt to Kill Emperor William", New York Times, November 17, 1900, p. 7
  15. ^ The American Monthly Review of Reviews (July 1901) p. 90; "Geographic Notes" National Geographic (July 1901), p. 123
  16. ^ "His Head Is Off", Fort Wayne Sentinel, January 1, 1901, p. 1
  17. ^ Robert von Ostertag, Handbook of Meat Inspection (translated by Earley Vernon Wilcox) (Jenkins, 1907), p iii
  18. ^ Anton A. Huurdeman, The Worldwide History of Telecommunications (Wiley-IEEE, 2003), pp308-309
  19. ^ (Annual Register of World Events 1900, p6; "Samoa Treaty in Full Effect", New York Times February 17, 1900, p4
  20. ^ "Yangtze Agreement", Historical Dictionary of the British Empire (Greenwood Publishing Group, 1996), pp1176
  21. ^ The Secret Treaties of Austria-Hungary, 1879-1914 Translated by Denys Peter Myers, John Gilman D'Arcy Paul p115
  22. ^ "Messages From a Vessel", New York Times, March 8, 1900, p. 1
  23. ^ "Iron Melts in Five Seconds", New York Times, April 9, 1900, p. 1
  24. ^ T. Boiy, Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta (Peeters Publishers, 2004), p. 46
  25. ^ Isabel dos Santos Silva, Cancer Epidemiology: Principles and Methods (IARC, 1999), p. 386
  26. ^ Jagdish Mehra and Helmut Rechenberg, The Historical Development of Quantum Theory: The Quantum Theory of Planck, Einstein, Bohr, and Sommerfeld : Its Foundation and the Rise of Its Difficulties 1900-1925 (Springer, 2000), pp. 50–53
  27. ^ "News of the Week", Public Opinion, January 18, 1900, p. 91
  28. ^ History of the Canal System of the State of New York (1905), pp. 1481–82
  29. ^ "Over 200 Perish in Burning Liners", New York Times, July 30, 1900, p1
  30. ^ Brian J. Cudahy, Around Manhattan Island and Other Maritime Tales of New York (Fordham Univ Press, 1997).
  31. ^ "Zeppelin, Ferdinand", The Americana (Scientific American, 1911)
  32. ^ "The Loss of the Gneisenau", New York Times, December 18, 1900, p. 1
  33. ^ Leonard Bertram Schapiro, The Government and Politics of the Soviet Union (Taylor & Francis, 1977), p. 22