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Robert Koch
About 1905
Deutsches Historisches Museum, Berlin, Germany

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The social situation: between hope and disappointment

Germany’s population grew rapidly in the the 19th century and the expanding economy and industrialisation changed how this population earned its livelihood. There was considerable migration from the countryside to urban areas, where most industry was located. Poor employment conditions and low wages were ignored by the state for a long time but the revolution of 1848 gave the impulse for union organisation. However, many people emigrated, especially to the USA, to avoid economic hardship and unemployment, with numbers increasing dramatically from the 1870s. The social environment and life of the people changed radically. Other technical inventions, growing food production developed alongside progress in medicine and hygiene.