’s Contibution To The Unification Of Germany. Essay, Research Paper
In what ways did Bismarck contribute to the unification of Germany?
Bismarck contributed to the unification of Germany by convincing the surrounding states that they needed to side with Prussia in order to create a great nation and to feel safe from outside attacks. He achieved this by creating excuses to go to was against neighbouring countries, while still remaining to be seen as the good guy.
Bismarck once said that “Not through speeches and majority decisions are the great questions of the day decided, but through iron and blood”, basically saying that decisions are not made by people and their own thought and ideas but through battles and great wars.
He used this theory in his plan for the unification of Germany.
In 1861 he began his quest by doubling the size of the Prussian army, and increasing compulsory military service and training. Eventually the army became so strong Bismarck believed it could defeat anyone.
By creating such an army, he had great success in the wars which followed, thus gaining the support of many surrounding states.
By 1684 Bismark had the Prussian army prepared for war, he now needed to create that war. Knowing he must not appear to have stated it, he set out too create friction with Denmark, by deciding to claim two of it’s southern states.
In what became known as The Seven Day War’ Prussia in an alliance with Austria easily defeated Denmark, gaining the provinces of Schleswig and Holstein. Under Bismarck’s persuasion Prussia gave Holstein to Austria. Creating a situation which would be used by Bismarck later on.
He was always planning ahead. Giving the province of Holstein to Austria was the first step in his plan for the second war, which was to be against Austria, and which would play a major role in the unification of Germany.
Bismarck knew he needed another war to continue the process of creating a whole nation, but most of all to win control of the north German states. Two years after the Seven Day War’ against Denmark, war broke out between Prussia and Austria. By reclaiming Holstein form Austria on the basis that Austria was not treating the people of Holstein well enough, he had created friction.
The result was The Seven Week War’ in 1866. Austria was easily defeated, due to Prussians modernised defences and powerful army. The outcome of this war resulted in Prussia gaining all the German states north of the river Main.
Public opinion began shifting to Bismarck’s side and the German states were willingly joining what was now The North German Confederation’, ruled by Prussia.
To complete the unification of Germany, Bismark needed one more victory. But this next threat had to come from outside, to give the southern German states a reason to join with the north.
The opportunity came when the position for the king of Spain opened up. Among the candidates was Leopold, prince of Hohenzollern – Sigmaringen, a cousin of Prussia’s King William I. He accepted the candidacy under strong persuasion from Bismarck.
France was alarmed at the possibility of a Prussian-Spanish alliance as a result of Leopold holding the Spanish throne, they threatened war if Leopold did not withdraw.
But the French, still not content, were determined to humiliate Prussia. They demanded William I to send a personal letter of apology to Napoleon III and a guarantee that no Hohenzollern would ever become King of Spain.
William politely rejected the French Demands in a telegram sent from Ems, where ha was on holiday. Bismark got hold of the telegram (known as the Ems dispatch) and edited the document in a manner in which to aggravate the French toward the Germans.
Bismarck knew that this move would in all probability provoke war. He also knew that Prussia was prepared. He then convinced all of the neighbouring countries, including Austria to stay out of the forthcoming war, by promising them pieces of France if Prussia won. They all agreed.
In 1870 The Seven Month War’ between Prussia and France began. Bismarck’s hop was that on the national enthusiasm toward the war with France he could bring the reluctant south German States into a united Germany.
France lost the war. None of the neighbouring countries received their promised land, but Bismarck had never actually intended to take over France.
By 1871, the German Empire was formed. Bismarck had succeeded, he had contributed largely to the unification of Germany. And he had done it without forcing a single state to join, they had all joined voluntarily and the King of Prussia became the first new German Emperor.