THE UNIFICATION OF GERMANY by: Sarah Behrens
Background France and Russia had been keeping Germany divided, with the states quarrelling each other, and dependent upon outside powers Became dissatisfied with Germany’s position and nationalism during and after the Napoleonic Wars Different from the West; had a peculiar German way of life and a political system of their own
After 1848 By 1850, all the old states were restored and the loose confederation of 1815 was restored Output of coal and iron multiplied by six fold A Zollverein included almost all of Germany outside of Austria and Bohemia and provided economic unity Cities were growing and were joined by railroads and telegraphs
Prussia • Characterized by its army but was the smallest of the great powers, and thus largely ignored • Had a parliament after 1850 • Was dominated by men of wealth • Some were liberals who wanted parliament to have control over government policies • Appointed a new chief minister, Otto von Bismarck
Bismarck Was a Junker from the old Brandenburg, east of the Elbe Was intellectually superior and an accomplished man of the world He was not a nationalist and did not even consider Germany to be his Fatherland: He was a Prussian He did not trust the West, including Germany He thought if Germany was unified it would strengthen Prussia
Bismarck vs. Parliament Parliament refused the proposed tax, but the government collected it anyway Military policy was above the theory of government consent. He believed Prussia’s boundaries, set in 1815, were unsound needed to expand “Not by speeches and majority vote are the great questions of the day decided- that was the great error of 1848 and 1849- but by blood and iron.”
War Against Denmark Denmark wanted Schleswig, but it was part Dane and part German. Bismarck didn’t want to fight for a German cause, so he helped them by joining with Austria. They defeated Demark quickly. He wanted Schleswig to be occupied by Prussia and Holstein by Austria. Disputes broke out, and while he pretended to regulate them, Bismarck allowed them to ripen
Bismarck as a Democrat Did this to weaken Austria within Germany Recommended there be a popular chamber elected by universal male suffrage; he knew most Germans were not capitalistic liberals, dedicated to the existing government structures of the German states, nor to the House of Habsburg Used democracy to undermine established interests that stood in his way
Seven Weeks’ War There was a continued quarrel over Schleswig and Holstein. Austria tried to solve the problem using the diet in Germany, but Bismarck said they had no authority and ordered his army into Holstein. Prussia was in war with all the German states, but Prussia had a better army, made use of the railroads, and had a skilled commander. Austria was overthrown at the Battle of Sadowa and other German states were soon overthrown as well. Schleswig, Holstein, the kingdom of Hanover, the duchies of Massau and Hesse-Cassel and Frankfurt were all annexed. The North German Confederation was organized.
A New Constitution The King of Prussia became the hereditary head There was a parliament with two chambers Negotiated with even the socialists; in exchange for democratic suffrage for them, they agreed to accept the North German Confederation Bismarck was winning popular approval
Franco-Prussian War South Germany used to be more orientated towards France but was becoming nationalistic. Bismarck thought a war between Prussia and France would scare South Germany into a union with Prussia and would leave Austria outside, which is what he wanted. Spain’s queen was in exile, so the Spanish government offered the throne to Prince Leopold of Hohenzollern three times but he refused each time. He accepted the fourth time, but withdrew his acceptance after the French ambassador to Prussia asked him to.
Franco-Prussian War France went even further and approached the king again at Ems and asked that no Hohenzollern would ever accept a Spanish throne. The king declined and sent word of the conversation to Bismarck (the Ems dispatch), and Bismarck tweaked the telegram and published it so it sounded like the Prussian king had been insulted. When France saw this, they declared war of Prussia. All of Europe was against the French. Prussia was supported by the South German states, but France had no allies. The war lasted less than two months. The Third Republic was proclaimed in France; Prussia moved into France to siege the capital but Paris never did capitulate.
The German Empire, 1871 In the palace of France, in the Hall or Mirrors, the German Empire was proclaimed. The king of Prussia received the hereditary title of German emperor. The other German rulers (except for Austria and the rulers Bismarck had dethroned) accepted his imperial authority. Bismarck insisted on the election of a Constituent Assembly and that France pay the German Empire five billion gold francs and cede to it the region of Alsace and most of Lorraine. The French Constituent Assembly gradually proceeded to construct the Third Republic.
Strength of the German States The united all-German state was really a Germany conquered by Prussia Prussia embraced almost all of Germany north of the Main River Parliament legalized the tax collections ex post facto Adopted the constitution of the North German Confederation There was universal male suffrage and, in a sense, a democracy Each state kept its own laws, government, and constitution