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Nationalism in Germany. Two essay questions: Reasons for growth of German Nationalism , e.g. “How important were cultural factors in the growth of national feeling in Germany between 1815 and 1850?” (2011)

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nationalism in germany
Nationalism in Germany
  • Two essay questions:
  • Reasons for growth of German Nationalism, e.g. “How important were cultural factors in the growth of national feeling in Germany between 1815 and 1850?” (2011)
  • How much German nationalism, e.g. “How strong was nationalism in Germany by 1850?” (2012)
main factors for growth
Main factors for growth…
  • Political Nationalism(Napoleonic Wars, Deutscher Bund, Carlsbad Decrees, 1848 revolutions)
  • Cultural Nationalism(Geography, history, language, literature, music)
  • Economic Nationalism(Industrial Revolution, Zollverein, Railways)
  • There had never been a united Germany, the area we know as Germany up to 1789 had been a loose collection of 400+ states which were part of the Holy Roman Empire.
  • At this time nationalism (the desire for a united state)was weak.
  • However there were factors that would draw these states together.
The French writer Voltaire argued the following about the Holy Roman Empire
  • "This agglomeration which was called and which still calls itself the Holy Roman Empire was neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire."
  • There were distinct boundaries that separated Germany from other states e.g. the Rhine in the west, the Alps to the south.
  • THINK of Scotland’s borders.
  • A long history of struggle against its neighbours, especially the French, was something that most Germans were proud of.
1 political nationalism
1. Political Nationalism
  • Political nationalism grew with the spread of new ideas about Liberalism and Nationalism.
  • Nationalism was the desire of people with a common national identity to have their own country.
  • Liberalism was the desire to have a parliament where rulers were elected by the people of the country.
a the napoleonic wars 1789 1815
Between 1800 and 1815 the German states had been conquered by the French leader Napoleon Bonaparte.

Napoleon merged the hundreds of German states into 38 larger states called the Confederation of the Rhine.

(a) The Napoleonic Wars 1789-1815
At first German nationalists were inspired by the French Revolution’s ideas of liberty and nationalism, they hoped the invading French would free and unite them too.
  • By 1813 when it became clear Napoleon was a conqueror the Germans united to force the French out of Germany, this provoked strong nationalist feelings.
b the deutscher bund german confederation
(b) The Deutscher Bund(German Confederation)
  • After Napoleon’s defeat, and the expulsion of the French, ‘Germany’ was reformed in 1815 into 39 states.
  • The Confederation of the Rhine was replaced by the German Confederation.
  • Nationalists hoped that this ‘Bund’ would be the beginning of a united German state.
In 1815 Austria was the strongest European mainland power but new ideas like liberalism and nationalism threatened the unity of the Austrian Empire.

The man associated with protecting the unity and power of the Austrian Empire was Prince Metternich.

  • Although it would be convenient to see the confederation as a step towards unification it would not be a fair assessment.
  • The rulers within the German Confederation did not support Liberalism or Nationalism. The German Confederation was mainly a renamed Confederation of the Rhine, with very few changes. The Assembly of the German Confederation – also called the DIET – represented the rulers of the German states, not the people. Rule 2 of the Confederation said “The aim of the German Confederation is to … guard the independence of the separate German states”.
c student societies and the carlsbad decrees
(c) Student Societies and the Carlsbad Decrees
  • Feelings of a common German identity had grown under the French occupation. With a common enemy to dislike, many German students were attracted to the idea of a stronger and more united Germany. As part of their university courses, these students moved between the German states and so nationalist ideas spread. The students hated Metternich.
In 1817, conflict between Metternich and the students reached a peak at the festival in Wartburg Saxony when a life sized model of Metternich was thrown onto a fire.
  • Metternich was furious and worried. If nationalist and liberal ideas spread, Austria’s power would be weakened.
The result was the Carlsbad Decrees of 1819, which banned student societies and censored newspapers.
  • The following year the power of the DIET was increased so that soldiers could be ordered to stop the spread of new ideas in any of the German states.
  • After the Carlsbad Decrees it seemed as if moves towards political nationalism were dead.
  • As people were forbidden to spread new ideas it would be very difficult for political nationalism to take hold.
  • Metternich appeared to have won his battle against nationalism and liberalism.
d 1848 revolutions
(d) 1848 Revolutions
  • Will study in detail in issue 2.
  • Issue 1 covers up to 1850 so be careful when reading the essay title – if title goes up to 1850 then the revolutions should be mentioned.
  • Revolutions occurred in most European countries during 1848. In March of that year, demonstrations took place in Berlin and other German cities.
Both Liberals and Nationalists supported the revolutions of 1848.
  • Nationalists wanted the creation of a united country ruled by an elected national parliament. Liberals wanted freedom of speech, freedom of the press and political rights.
  • Those revolutions suggest there was growing support for nationalism in Germany.
  • But the failure of the revolutions to bring about big changes by 1850 suggest that nationalists were not yet strong enough to challenge the power of Austria.
2 cultural nationalism
2. Cultural Nationalism
  • In 1806 the head of the University of Berlin, Fichte, summed up the meaning of cultural nationalism when he wrote in his ‘Address to the German Nation’ that Germans should see themselves as German rather than belonging to any small part of Germany. He described Germany as the fatherland where all people spoke the same language and sang the same songs. He ended by saying that freedom is the right to be German and sort out one’s own problems without interference from foreigners.
cultural nationalism language
Cultural Nationalism - Language
  • In 1815 there were strong pro – German feelings as most people within the borders of the old Holy Roman Empire spoke German, this was a powerful unifying force.
  • Think: Britain has a ‘special relationship’ with which country, what is the main thing they have in common?
  • A distinctive German literature – writers such as Hegel, Goethe and Schiller recognised common German characteristics – things that identified a person as German.
  • German folk tales compiled and published by the Brothers Grimm. The first collection of fairy tales Children\'s and Household Tales was published in 1812 and it contained more than 200 fairy tales. In the original published forms, the Grimm\'s fairy tales were very dark and violent, in contrast to the lighter, modern "Disney versions" of those tales –e.g. Snow White or Hansel and Gretel.
  • The music of Beethoven also helped to unify the German peoples.
  • Scotland has examples of a uniquely distinctive culture too.
cultural nationalism analysis
Cultural Nationalism - Analysis
  • The growing popularity of German musicians and writers gave people a sense of belonging – in other words, a national identity was growing.
  • Cultural nationalism is a factor in the growth of German nationalism but perhaps not the most important.
cultural nationalism analysis1
Cultural Nationalism - Analysis
  • Very few Germans could read and even less could afford to go to musical concerts to hear the music of Beethoven.
  • Historian Golo Mann questioned the importance of cultural nationalism when he wrote that most Germans ‘seldom looked up from the plough’. In other words most Germans either did not know about big national issues or were more concerned with surviving day to day.
3 economic nationalism
3. Economic Nationalism
  • You know that political nationalism was virtually dead between 1820 and 1848, suppressed by the Carlsbad Decrees.
  • You also know that cultural nationalism was important to some people but to most Germans it was not vital to their everyday lives.
  • However, economic nationalism had a much greater effect on the lives of most Germans and as a result was an important factor in encouraging nationalist feeling.
As Germany was divided into so many little states moving goods across Germany could be a slow and expensive business. As each small state imposed its own customs or taxes on goods passing through their borders this added to the overall price making goods expensive e.g. moving goods like coal from West Prussia to East Prussia meant passing through 4 other German states which could double the price!
  • In 1815 Prussia was lucky in that it had coal and iron, the vital ingredients for an industrial revolution. To encourage trade, Prussia formed a customs union in 1818. That meant members of the union would not have to pay taxes on goods as they were transported from one state to another.
By the 1830s the customs union was called the Zollverein.
  • This meant no country in the Zollverein would put heavy taxes on its member’s goods, this made them cheaper and so trade increased.
  • By 1836 25 German states were in the Zollverein and getting rich.
  • Only one German state was excluded – Austria.
  • As a result, the German states began to look to more nationalistic Prussia for leadership. At the same time Austrian trade lost out and the empire became weaker, increasingly Austria was pushed out of Germany and even the Catholic states of the south wanted to join the Zollverein and follow Prussia.
  • The Zollverein showed many Germans the benefits a united Germany would bring.
  • Without the Zollverein, Prussia would not have had the muscle to defeat the power of Austria. The Zollverein brought German states together, excluded Austria and increased the power of Prussia.
  • Historian William Carr has called the Zollverein the, ‘mighty lever of German unification’.
growth of railways
Growth of Railways
  • As trade increased, the rail network grew.
  • Again Prussia took the lead and became even richer and more powerful. The new rail network centred in Prussia.
  • Towns and cities grew in size.
  • Analysis - Railways did not only spread goods but also broke down barriers between states and spread the idea of nationalism. As more people were living closer together new ideas spread more easily.