Within the Context of Germany 1789 – 1890 How Important a Role Did Bismarck Play in the Unification of Germany?

4340 Words Apr 28th, 2011 18 Pages
On 23 September 1862, Otto Eduard Leopold von Bismarck was appointed Minister-President and Foreign Minister of Prussia . Within nine years a new German nation state was created by the unification of the numerous independent German-speaking states in central Europe. The creation of Germany as a cohesive political and integrated country occurred on 18 January 1871 at the palace of Versailles in France. Following the military defeat of France by Prussia in the Franco/Prussian war, (July 1870 to January 1871), the leaders of the existing Germanic states attended a ceremony there to proclaim Wilhelm I of Prussia as Emperor Wilhelm of the German Empire .

Otto von Bismarck is widely recognized as the statesman who engineered the unification
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Hienrich Heien stated that the defiance to Napoleon displayed by ordinary Germans was based upon a duty of obedience to the ruling aristocracy . Walley comments that this fails to recognise the strength of anti French feelings at the time . Both these points are valid, however an undercurrent of German nationalistic feeling did start to flow following the Congress of Vienna in the same year that Bismarck was born. It is reasonable to assume that this developing Germanic nationalism would have had an effect on Bismarck as he grew from boy to man. If so it may be argued that his role in the unifying of Germany was that of a director, moulding the concept of a new country already forming in the minds of the people, into a formidable independent nation state. In 1818 an economic customs union (Zollverein) was founded within Prussian territories which facilitated a single system of tariffs for the movement of goods around Prussia. By 1834 it included nearly all German speaking states except Austria . This economic exclusion of Austria fueled the Austro-Prussian rivalry for dominance in German affairs. By 1868 the Zollverein was Prussian dominated and had produced economic agreements with non-German states like Sweden and Luxembourg as well. The real political and economic beneficiary of the Zollverein was Prussia. Economic

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