The Key Factors of German Unification
Germany became a unified country in 1871 under the leadership of Otto Von Bismarck. The separate states up until this time were independent, Prussia being the strongest and most influential, followed by Austria. There are several contributing factors to the unification of Germany, the most influential of which being the leadership of Otto Von Bismarck. The three wars that Prussia fought with Denmark, Austria and France also played significant roles in the unification of the German states. Another factor to consider is the increase in support of nationalism around Western Europe at the time, and the changes in German society. Through an evaluation of these factors and relevant sources one can …show more content…
As president, Bismarck led Germany into unification through his opportunism and his various policies. Charismatic yet aggressive by nature, Bismarck was known for his ability to seize opportunities and manipulate situations to his advantage. It is debatable whether or not Germany would have achieved unification under the power of anyone other Bismarck. In his 1996 book The Problem of the German Nation State, Wolfgang Mommsen said, “Bismarck’s policies- admirable or satanic... occupy centre stage.” This is particularly true for his infamous policy of “blood and iron”. Also, Bismarck’s diplomatic abilities are able to be seen when looking at his foreign policy of 1871 to 1890. Bismarck’s policies and opportunism are predominantly evident when looking at the Three Wars.
During the period of 1864 to 1871, Bismarck led Prussia into three significant wars. As said by G.A Craig in The Germans, 1991, the unified Germany was “created in 1871 by Bismarck’s diplomacy and Prussian military power.” The first of these wars was the war with Denmark over the provinces of Schleswig-Holstein in 1864. Prussia and Austria combined their military forces and won against the much weaker Denmark with considerable ease. This was a contributing factor in the second of the three wars, which was fought against Austria, as the two states
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Germany started out as a divided nation fighting for dominance in Europe. Otto Von Bismarck was able to take this struggling complexity and unify it. During this process Bismarck turned the small country of Prussia into a powerhouse, growing the population from 11 to 18 million. Bismarck sprung from a landlord class and moved his way up the political ladder as realpolitik, realistic Politician. He was a man of simple ideals; he stressed duty, service, order, and the fear of God. These ideals along with manipulative tactics are what lead Bismarck on his journey of the unification of Germany, proving that without Bismarck’s diplomatic efforts between 1871 and 1890 Europe would not be the stabilized continent it is today.
Under the guidance of Bismarck, the Prussian chancellor, the unification of a Kleindeutsch (small Germany) took place in 1871 after Prussia defeated France. There is often historical debate over who was responsible for the unification of Germany. Controversy is caused amongst those who believe that Bismarck was fully responsible for German unification and those who believe other factors played an equally or even more important part. The historian Pflanze is an example of someone who considers Bismarck to be solely responsible, as opposed to Bohme, who gives full credit to economic factors in unifying Germany. However, there is also a middle view, supported by historians such as Medlicott, who argue that Bismarck and other relevant factors
Despite the fact that Italy was unified, it wasn’t as nearly as strong as Germany was becoming. Bismarck joined both authoritarianism and nationalism to increase Prussia’s power. He was a very clever diplomat and used whatever means possible to work towards his goal. Bismarck’s Realpolitiks, the pursuing of realistic goals by any available method instead of the pursuit of an ideology. Bismarck never wanted to have enemies for long and hoped to pacify the Liberals with foreign policy achievement, notably the unification of Germany. He wanted to exclude Austria from the unification process. This led to the Austria-Prussian and Franco-Prussian wars. His plan was successful. Even with the fact south German states were reluctant to join in his unification because of strong religious and political traditions. After the overpowering of France in 1871 the southern states finally joined. This was the defeat the brought them together.
While the religious division of the Prussia Protestant and that of the dominating Austria Catholics was an important factor, the opposition from Austria and the rulers were more important. Nationalism became this progressively intensifying cycle that eventually climaxes into war. Many began to put aside the idealistic ideas of society and began to embrace the realities of society as competitive and combative. Under the calculated guidance of Otto von Bismarck, Germany would finally be on the promising path of unification.
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
Prince Otto von Bismarck was seen as both a political genius and a power monger, like a German version of Alexander the Great by the people. Bismarck was a conservative, who used the people around him to reach his goals; and in doing so, he pitted people against one another. According to the book 19th Century Germany by John Breuilly, modern historians have found it very hard “to separate the man from his achievements” (Breuilly 172). The historians have run into a roadblock that consists mostly of “Bismarck’s individuality and his responsibility for the political development of the Empire” (Breuilly 172). Bismarck was known to support nationalism and patriotism, and he believed in the Burschenschaften or student organizations. He also believed in the concept of faith in power, more in ideas. Bismarck only cared for two things: Prussia and Prussian power, and he would do anything to obtain Prussian domination. Although Bismarck did not care for Germany, he was all for German Unification. Historians cannot decide if Bismarck’s legacy is positive or negative but they agree that he was a “brilliant and shrewd tactician who succeeded in postponing the problem of political mobilization for 60 years” (Breuilly 172). In Otto von Bismarck, some people saw a great man who was ahead of his time, while others saw nothing more than a bloodthirsty power monger, who wanted a united Germany to
Otto von Bismarck was the prime minister of Germany during the time of German unification, formerly the prime minister of Prussia. Bismarck struck quite the nationalist chord in the German peoples, convincing the southern German states to join the the northern ones. He was known as a hardcore conservative, however he was a practitioner of realpolitik, and was able to approve policies that appealed to different ideologies for the sake of the country. Otto von Bismarck’s specific brand of conservatism was different than classic conservatism in that Bismarck attempted to appeal more to the working class, and he had a good few liberal policies. However, Bismarck also had traditionally conservative ideas, such as suppressing opposing views.
Bismarck’s political successes were remarkable, but he demonstrated an undeniably unethical way of treating internal opposition, coupled by significant opportunism. However, he was succumbing to the broad demands of the public only to be able to carry out the foreign politics necessary to secure the German Reich for the future.
Germany's industrial emphasis can be seen as heightening in this period as a result of their unification; now they had the means of exploiting materials as well as manufacturing it. Part of the reason that during this period, Germany was not seen as an aggressor is due to its Chancellor, Bismarck, who was conscious of the importance of pursuing a peaceful foreign policy and abstained form excessive Imperialism. Berlin, in 1894-95, was the centre for the diplomatic partition of Africa, with Bismarck heading up the talks between the powers. Germany's approach to other countries, and its foreign policy underwent a dramatic change in 1890, when Bismarck was dismissed from office and Caprivi was instated to the position. In
had one of the best education rates to be seen in a long time. Along
During the 19th century, Nationalism was a big player when it came to unity in Europe. The man who played the main role in unification in Germany was Otto von Bismarck. He made progression through three wars. The question people still ask today is, did Otto von Bismarck plan to unify Germany, or did he just take advantage of the opportunities that fell into his lap. Otto Von Bismarck was most definitely a planner as shown through countless actions and statements shown threw his time of power during the three wars. The first war was the Danish war were Germany with the help of Austria took control of the provinces of Schleswig and Holstein. The second war was the Austrian-Prussian war, where there was a disagreement over administrations of Schleswig. The third and final war was the Franco-Prussian war, were France was determined to prevent German Unification.
He provoked three short, decisive wars against Denmark, Austria, and France, aligning the smaller German states behind Prussia in its defeat of France. In 1871 he formed the German Empire with himself as Chancellor, while retaining control of Prussia. His diplomacy of realpolitik and powerful rule at home gained him the nickname the "Iron Chancellor." German unification and its rapid economic growth was the foundation to his foreign policy. He disliked colonialism but reluctantly built an overseas empire when it was demanded by both elite and mass opinion. Juggling a very complex interlocking series of conferences, negotiations and alliances, he used his diplomatic skills to maintain Germany's position and used the balance of power to keep Europe at peace in the 1870s and
The leading drive in Prussia for unification was a man named Otto Von Bismarck. Otto Von Bismarck was a master strategist that initiated a series of
Value: As this source is written from previous biographies and a few monographs, it’s value is that it covers the events from the time Bismarck rose to power up to the unification of Germany and beyond. It reveals how Bismarck made all his political moves and it gives a better insight of Bismarck’s personal life and decisions he made regarding the at the time when the issue of German unification was
Many believe that Prince Otto Edward Leopold von Bismarck, later known as just Bismarck, was the main reason for German unification. Bismarck was the first chancellor of this new country as Bismarck had changed 39 smaller states, into one large industrial power. The unification of Germany had a large impact on the balance of powers in Europe. Bismarck dominated Germany and European politics for nearly 30 years. However some historians argue that Bismarck was only this successful and powerful because of circumstances out of his control. Nationalism and liberalism were rising as an ideology, the decline of Austria had an effect and 1848 was nicknamed as a year of revolutions due to the amount of revolutions that took place also factored in, but at the heart of all these is Bismarck’s use of deception and realpolitik and manipulating situations to his advantage.