- Derived from junger Herr, “young nobleman,” a junker was a member of the landed aristocracy of Prussia and other regions of northeastern Germany east of the Elbe River. Descended from feudal nobility, in some cases dating as far back as the eleventh century, nineteenth-century Junker families represented a primary buttress of support for the Hohenzollern dynasty and held leading positions in the civil service, the army and the navy of the Second Reich. As a social class, Junkers were affiliated with the German Conservative Party and increasingly associated with reactionary politics and Prussian militarism. In 1808, the Scharnhorst-Gneisenau reforms officially ended a Junker monopoly in the Prussian officer corps by opening it up to talent from other social classes, but Junker influence in the army in particular remained strong right up to 1914, and jealousy concerning Kaiser Wilhelm II ’s enthusiasm for naval power influenced the Junker attitude concerning what might be risked or salvaged by a European war in that fateful year.See also <
>; < >.FURTHER READING:Craig, Gordon A. The Politics of the Prussian Army, 1640–1945. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1955.CARL CAVANAGH HODGE
Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.