The Unification of Germany Between 1863 and 1871 Essay

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The Unification of Germany Between 1863 and 1871

On the 18th January 1871, Wilhelm 1 was proclaimed Emperor of a united Germany. The unification of Germany was, like all historical events, multi- causal, the most influential reasons being the Bismark's cynical and unscrupulous diplomacy, military superiority of Prussia and economic power, and lastly, popular nationalist sentiment.

Bismark seems to be the most important factor of these. He was a successful diplomat with strong anti liberal views. Even though parliament refused to approve taxes for enlarging the Prussian army, Bismark simply carried on collecting them, showing his willingness to go to extreme measures to achieve his aims.
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Napoleon III feared the encirclement of France if a Hohenzollern became king and demanded that Prince Leopold withdraw. This was agreed but he then demanded guarantees that the candidature would not be renewed. Bismark altered the Ems telegram so that the French Government could only take it as a rebuff. The French public demanded a war which was again a triumph for Prussia, giving her Alsace and Lorraine and enabled Bismark to complete the unification of Germany.

Military superiority in Prussia also aided the unification process. The declaration of a German Reich followed the victories of the Prussian army over Austria and France. Within a month the French armies were decisively defeated, the Prussian capturing over 160 000 French soldiers. The Prussian army was able to mobilise at speed compared to France. The Austrian was lasted only seven weeks as Austria had to fight on two fronts and Prussia's planning and weaponry were far superior to that of Austria.

Chief of Staff, Von Moltke was a good organiser and planner of the army. He was able to increase their size, improve tactical mobility and also the provision of supplies. Without this strength of backing the unification of Germany would not have been possible. The Prussian army also had good quality weaponry, shown in the introduction of the
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