The Importance Of Bismarck To German Unification
Essay, Research Paper
When Otto von Bismarck was recalled from Paris to become Minister-President of Prussia in 1862, German nationalism was already more than 40 years old. First apparent in the opposition to Napoleon´s occupation of the German states, national feeling grew into a movement after 1815. This feeling was encouraged by a growth of interest in German literature and music and by increased economic cooperation between the north German states. By1848 it was strong enough to make the creation of a united Germany one of the main demands of the revolutionaries. Otto von Bismarck was a Prussian patriot who inherited the traditions of love of king, army and country from his family. Bismarck believed that Germany should be united under Prussian leadership and that Austria should have nothing to do with Germany. Bismarck was chosen as chancellor by the Prussian king as he had a proven record as a monarchist and had little time for liberal and excessive parliamentary ideas. Bismarck helped his long term plan to unite Germany and to be the ruler by getting in a strong position with the king. The king owned Bismarck a ‘favour´ as Bismarck had solved the king´s constitutional crisis. Bismarck played a crucial part in the unification of Germany as he helped to set up the Northern German Confederation after defeating Austria in the second of three wars. The first war was a bit ‘weird´ as Bismarck´s goal was to get Austria out of Germany but it was the start of a long plan, he teamed up with Austria and together they quickly defeated the Danish. The duchies of Holstein were to be controlled by Austria and the duchies of Schleswig were to be controlled by Prussia. This was to be a major decision to let Austria control Holstein. Bismarck overcame the barrier that was the threat of Austria. Bismarck was very clever in the way that he provoked war with Austria he complained that Austria was not running Holstein properly. The German confederation backed Austria so Bismarck had what he wanted an excuse to attack the small German states which he quickly defeated Prussia with. He held off Italy, which Bismarck planned, defeated Austria. In the treaty were the terms that Austria was to take no further part in German affairs which Bismarck needed in his unification plans step towards another major step towards the formation of the northern German confederation in the treaty. Germany was not unified, yet, as the southern states were still separate. Bismarck´s` most opportunistic point was when he provoked a war with France he done this by editing a telegram from the King to the French. He edited it so that it sounded as if the king insulted the French. This made the French declare war on Prussia just as Bismarck had wanted. The southern states declared their support for the Prussians. The Prussians won the war and made the treaty harsh on the French as it was a hard fought war and he wanted to weaken them. Bismarck then pressured the southern German states into unification by saying that if any Kings or Dukes opposed it then they would be overthrown. The last thing he had to do was persuade the King William, he done this by getting King Ludwig of Bavaria to offer Bismarck the throne and he in turn allowed King William to remain King of Prussia. However Bismarck was not solely responsible for the unification of Germany. Nationalism in Germany with cultural and nationalising was the reason for the creation of the Zollverein, which was in many people´s views a major factor in the unification of Germany. The Zollverein allowed trade between the 39 German states by lowering the tax, which was set by the country very high. This brought the German states closer and with more unity. Prussia had increased its military power by increasing its army and when the northern German confederation was created. The Prussians had an army fit to face any European force. This lead to a unity between the northern German states. Since Prussia was in control of the northern German confederation then they were in a greater military position to unite Germany. Prussia also had a great economic development. Their money was getting greater and greater by the Zollverien, which made Prussia a very wealthy trading country. It also made all of the other countries tag on to Prussia, as they also wanted to be wealthy The proclamation of the German Empire in 1871 was the climax of a long process, to which several factors contributed. The growth of nationalism brought about the demand for a united country. Prussian economic development, aided by the Zollverien, allowed the build up of its military power and strengthened its influence, at least among the northern states. Together, these developments made possible unification under Prussian leadership, but they did not make it certain. What made Bismarck´s contribution decisive was his ability to exploit this potential for unity and to overcome the barriers, which still lay in the path of unification, especially the opposition of France and Austria. His diplomatic skills in isolating his enemies and his willingness to seize opportunities turned the possibility of unification into reality.