How Important Was the Role of Bismarck in the Unification of Germany?

1625 Words Apr 19th, 2012 7 Pages
How important was the role of Bismarck in the unification of Germany? It has been said by several historians that the second half of the nineteenth century was the ‘Age of Bismarck.’ In the mid 1800’s Bismarck provided dynamic leadership- a trait which had been lacking during the events of 1848-89. Ian Mitchell stated “Bismarck was everywhere.” However, there has been a considerable degree of debate concerning the role of Bismarck in the unification of Germany. Some argue that unification would have been inevitable and had nothing to do with Bismarck, although others argue that the unification was solely down to Bismarck’s role. There are differing opinions on whether Bismarck was a planner or an opportunist or whether he was merely just …show more content…
Bismarck had brought Germany closer to unification, Thus, meaning Bismarck had an important role in the progression of the unification of Germany. Some historians argue whether or not Bismarck was an opportunist or a planner. In the case of the Austro-Prussian War of 1866 it is evident that Bismarck deliberately planned the outbreak of war against Austria. In William Carr’s Germany 1815-1945 he quotes a conversation between Bismarck to Disraeli in 1862: “when the army has been brought to such a state as to command a respect then I shall take the first opportunity to declare war with Austria” proving that Bismarck had planned to go to war with Austria. but he also took advantage of an opportunity which enabled him to go to war with Austria as he stated. Therefore Bismarck can be viewed as both a planner and an opportunist. The wars of unification helped unite Germany as all members of the Bund came together and fought as one in all of these wars.

However, some historians argue that Bismarck was a catalyst and he simply sped up the process of German unification. Prussia gained land in the Rhineland, which was many miles away from Prussian mainland. German States prompted the Prussian authorities to abolish all internal taxes within Prussia itself in 1818. This led to the creation of a large free trade area. Prussia’s control of the rivers of the Rhine and Elbe encouraged other German states
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