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The Unification of Germany. The French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars, 1789-1815. Exported the principles of liberty, equality and brotherhood ( Libert é , Egalité , Fraternité ) Broke the power of the old Monarchical regimes and states in Central Europe.

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the french revolution and napoleonic wars 1789 1815
The French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars, 1789-1815
  • Exported the principles of liberty, equality and brotherhood (Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité)
  • Broke the power of the old Monarchical regimes and states in Central Europe.
  • Saw the emergence of the idea of ‘Nationalism’ – the term first appeared in the writings of the Jesuit AbbéBarruel in 1798
  • ‘The Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars witnessed the first upsurge of Nationalism in European history, partly under the inspiration of the French armies and message of liberation, partly in reaction against those armies and the realities of occupation and oppression.’
    • Robert Gildea, Barricades and Borders: Europe 1800-1914 (Oxford: OUP, 1996)

Prior to Unity:

  • Before the process of German unification began, German speaking people lived in small, separate states, as well as in the Austrian Hapsburg Empire, and in Prussia.
  • When Napoleon began his invasions throughout Europe in 1807, many territorial changes throughout the German states were made.

This is the area in through which the German states were spread in 1800


Napoleon Impacts Germany:

  • Between 1807 and 1812, Napoleon made major changes to the territorial states of Germany.
  • As a French leader at the time, he gained a number of European lands and put many German -speaking states under French rule. (In red)
  • Many Germans welcomed him because they liked his policies. But soon, extreme German nationalism arose!!!

German Nationalism:

  • German nationalism slowly began to show in the early 1800’s.
  • Germany was divided into a number of small states and desired a unification within them.
  • Their goal was to become completely independent out of the control of all other nations as they had been in the past.
effects on germany
Effects on Germany
  • German nationalists, liberals and Romantics initially welcomed the French revolution and saw the French armies as liberators.
  • 1805: Defeat of Austria at the Battle of Austerlitz
  • 1806: Defeat of Prussia at the twin battles of Jena & Auerstadt
  • Napoleonic re-ordering of Germany:
    • Holy Roman Empire abolished
    • Number of states reduced to 39
    • Puppet rulers installed in German states
    • Confederation of the Rhine formed
    • French legal system imposed
  • Napoleon’s German campaigns and the experience of occupation turned popular and liberal nationalist sentiment against Napoleon.
what is a nation
What is a Nation?
  • Johann Gottfried von Herder (1744-1803): The Volk (‘nation’ or ‘race’) is the decisive determinant of human identity.
    • The nation is therefore identified not with the state (which is an artificial body), but with the ‘organic body’ of the Volk.
  • Johann Goethe (1749-1832): No need for a nation-state – Germany was a ‘cultural community’ like Ancient Greece.
  • Geog Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831): An individual only achieved their full potential through service to the state.
  • German nationalism based on the idea of a racial/cultural community with shared language, history, traditions, myths etc.
“A nation can therefore be defined as

a named human population

sharing an historic territory,

common myths and historical memories,

a mass public culture,

a common economy

and common legal rights and duties for all members.”

Anthony D. Smith, National Identity (Reno, Las Vegas, London) 1991, p. 14.

the congress of vienna 1814 15
The Congress of Vienna, 1814-15
  • Restored deposed monarchs to their thrones and sought to re-establish the ancien régime in Europe.
  • Granted Prussia extensive territory in the Rhineland – the population of the Kingdom of Prussia doubled overnight.
  • Established the German Confederation.

Congress of Vienna:

  • People began to demand a unified German state more and more as German Nationalism increased due to Napoleon’s invasion.
  • Many German Nationalists brought their demands to the Congress of Vienna. An Austrian politician, Clemens von Metternich, opposed these demands and stated that joining the governments of the many separated states would be extremely tricky.

Instead, the group formed a German Confederation, which was a very weak body headed by Austria.

  • Germany was the last of the great European powers to achieve complete political unity
  • 1815 – 39 independent German states stretched from north to south and east to west
  • Austria and Prussia were the most powerful of these German states
  • Germany was divided and economically disadvantaged
  • Antagonisms between Protestant and Catholic states ran deep
steps toward unity
Steps Toward Unity
  • The Congress of Vienna had created the German Confederation in 1815 as a buffer against possible future French expansion
  • This established closer economic ties between the German states and helped pave the way for political union
  • The Confederation was loosely tied together with a diet, or assembly, sitting at Frankfurt
the german confederation
The German Confederation
  • Made up of 39 German States
  • Designed to help preserve the status quo rather than as a basis for a United Germany.
  • The Austrian Chancellor Metternich saw it as a means of preserving Austrian dominance over Germany.
  • The Federal Diet (parliament) met at Frankfurt and was made up of (unelected) representatives of all the states.
  • It was always chaired by the Austrian representative.
  • In theory the Diet could appoint ambassadors, negotiate treaties on behalf of members and organize a Federal Army.
  • In practice little was ever done because the unanimous agreement of all 39 states was required.
the german confederation1
The German Confederation
  • Replaced the Holy Roman Empire
  • Loose political association of German states
    • Most of the power remained in the hands of the individual German sovereigns
    • No central executive or judiciary
    • Diet met in Frankfurt to consider joint legislation


  • Loose federation of 39 States
  • Controlled by 2 Powers
    • Austria – Hapsburgs
    • Prussia Hohenzollern
where is germany
Where is Germany?
  • Both The Kingdom of Prussia and the Austrian Empire incorporated territory outside the German Confederation and non-German citizens.
  • Grossdeutschland(Greater Germany) – would incorporate the German-speaking parts of the Austrian Empire and would maintain Catholic Austria’s leadership of Germany.
  • Kleindeutschland (Little Germany) – would exclude Austria but include the whole of Prussia (including her ‘Polish’ territories), leaving Protestant Prussia as the dominant German state.
opposing ideas
Opposing Ideas
  • Grossdeutschland
    • A Germany including the Austrian Empire
  • Kleindeutschland
    • A Germany excluding the Austrian Empire
steps toward unity1
Steps Toward Unity
  • Austria dominated the Confederation
  • The position as head of the diet eventually brought it into conflict with Prussia
  • Austria and the smaller German states did not want a united Germany
  • Austria feared the economic competition
  • The smaller states feared domination by Prussia
  • The largest of the German states
  • Had a well-organized government and a strong economy
  • Political power lay in the hands of the influential aristocratic landowners called Junkers
  • Members of the rising business class demanded a share of political power

Prussia Enters the Picture:

  • Prussia, a great rival to Austria, took over the German states in the 1830’s.
  • Trying to create an economic union, they took away borders between the German states.
  • They still remained politically separate though.
  • At the Frankfurt Assembly in 1848, liberals offered the throne to a united Germany to the Prussian king, but they were refused. Germany remained divided but still had a desire for unity.
the zollverein
The Zollverein
  • Prussian Tariff Reform Law (1818): Designed to protect Prussian industry from cheap imports & break down internal barriers to free trade.
  • 1818-34: Prussia tried to encourage free trade within Germany by forming customs unions with neighbouring states.
  • By 1836 the Prussian Customs Union (Zollverein) was made up of 25 states with a population of 26 million.
  • Trade barriers & customs duties between members were abolished and there were moves towards standardization of weights and measures and currency.
steps toward unity2
Steps Toward Unity
  • German states formed a Zollverein, an economic union, in 1834
  • This reduced trade barriers
  • This step toward unity strengthened the influence of Prussia and weakened Austria
  • In 1848 power in the German states shifted to the liberals
  • Delegates met in the Frankfurt Assembly to unite the country under a liberal constitution
revolutions of 1848
Revolutions of 1848
  • Nationalism reaches ascendancy
  • German revolutions result in Frankfurt Parliament
    • Call for unified Germany
    • Austria said it would oppose a centralized government in Germany
    • Prussian king offered the crown of the unified German Empire
the revolutions of 1848
The Revolutions of 1848
  • Causes: Economic Crisis (1846-47)

Demographic change (growing population, urbanization etc.)

Poor harvests leading to famine

Cholera epidemic

Dissatisfaction with conservative political climate

  • 24 Feb. 1848: Revolution in France – King Louis Philippe overthrown and a Republic established.
  • 13 March: Demonstrations in Vienna lead to the fall of Metternich
  • 24 October: The Austrian Emperor Ferdinand (1835-48) abdicates in favour of his nephew Franz Josef (1848-1916).
  • 13 March: Prussian troops fire on demonstrators in the palace square in Berlin, leading to 2 days of rioting
  • 16 March: News of Metternich’s fall reaches Berlin. King Friedrich Wilhelm IV (1840-61) agrees in principle to a new constitution, parliament and an end to censorship.
  • 18 March: More fighting in Berlin – at least 300 rioters killed by the Army.
  • 21 March: Friedrich Wilhelm grants a series of reforms including the appointment of a liberal ministry.
  • August-November: The Prussian King reasserts his control. Martial Law is introduced in November and the liberal constitution and parliament overturned.
the frankfurt parliament
The Frankfurt Parliament
  • 5 March 1848: The Heidelberg Declaration: calls for a single German state governed by a united German parliament.
  • 31 March: 574 representatives from the German states met in Frankfurt to agree on what form the new German parliament would take (the Vorparlament).
  • After elections in April the parliament met in Frankfurt in May 1848. It was largely made up of liberal middle-class professionals (teachers, lawyers etc.) and was moderate in character.
  • The Assembly soon became bogged down in debate over what form a united Germany should take and how it should be governed.
  • June: A provisional government led by the Habsburg Archduke John was elected, but it had no real power and an ill-defined role.
  • March 1849: A Constitution for a united German Empire agreed and the Imperial crown was offered to the King of Prussia, who refused it. The rulers of Bavaria, Saxony and Hanover also rejected the Constitution.
  • May 1849: The parliament expelled from Frankfurt and moved to Stuttgart.
  • June 1849: The parliament forcibly broken up by the King of Württemberg’ s troops.
proposed german unification
Proposed German Unification
  • Proposed country was one in which the parliament would have considerable power
    • With limitation of the royal prerogative, Frederick William IV of Prussia turns down the offer of the throne
      • Was opposed to any limitations on royal power
  • Frankfurt Parliament disbands
steps toward unity3
Steps Toward Unity
  • The liberals were weakened by internal feuding
  • This allowed conservatives to regain control
  • In 1849 the Prussian military forced the Assembly’s closure
  • Many liberal and radical Germans fled abroad
  • During the 1850s conservatives in Germany came to control nationalist causes
results of revolutions
Results of Revolutions
  • A reactionary return
    • Those who defied royal power were punished
    • Many reforms granted due to revolutionary violence were abrogated
signs of things to come
Signs of Things to Come
  • Frederick William IV of Prussia suffers a breakdown
  • Brother, William takes the regency
    • Announces reform
    • Government turns away from reactionary politics
the development of prussia
The Development of Prussia
  • Economic boom in the 1850s: industrial production, foreign trade & railway building all doubled between 1851 and 1858.
  • 1850-58: Minister-President Otto von Manteuffel pursued a policy of trying to bolster support for the monarchy through limited social (but not political) reform.
  • 1858: Friedrich Wilhelm IV declared insane and his brother Wilhelm becomes regent.
wilhelm i 1861 1858
Wilhelm I (1861-1858)
  • Born in 1797 in Berlin
  • A soldier by training and a conservative by instinct
  • Fought against Napoleon in the Wars of Liberation & Waterloo Campaign
  • Staunch opponent of Revolution
  • A devout Protestant, he believed that he was answerable only to God.
william or wilhelm i
William or Wilhelm I
  • German conservatives looked to Prussia for help in uniting Germany
  • In 1861 William I became king of Prussia
  • William was opposed to liberal ideas
  • He took steps to expand the Prussian army
  • Liberal nationalists saw no need for a strong military
  • They wanted the king to adopt democratic policies to gain support from the other German states
  • Liberal deputies in the Prussian assembly overwhelmingly defeated new taxes to support a larger army
the development of prussia1
The Development of Prussia
  • Economic boom in the 1850s: industrial production, foreign trade & railway building all doubled between 1851 and 1858.
  • 1850-58: Minister-President Otto von Manteuffel pursued a policy of trying to bolster support for the monarchy through limited social (but not political) reform.
  • 1858: Friedrich Wilhelm IV declared insane and his brother Wilhelm becomes regent.
  • 1858: The ‘New Era’ – Wilhelm appoints a mixed ministry of liberals and conservatives and the Liberals gain 55% of the seats in the Prussian Diet.
  • 1860: Army Reform Bill
  • 1860-1862: Constitutional Conflict.
  • 1862: Otto von Bismarck appointed Minister-President.
signs of things to come1
Signs of Things to Come
  • 1859
    • France and Piedmont defeat Austria in the Northern Italian War
  • Maintenance of authoritarian regime in Vienna relied upon respect for military prowess
    • Shaken by defeat
    • Popular unrest grows throughout the empire
  • To hold back unrest Franz Josef agrees to a constitution that establishes a parliament
realpolitik in prussia
Realpolitik in Prussia
  • Change in attitude of liberals
    • Came to feel that their defeat ten years before was due to idealism and exuberance
    • Fatal mistake was assumption that enthusiasm and selflessness could be translated into power and substituted for statesmanship
realpolitik in prussia1
Realpolitik in Prussia
  • Theory and rhetoric would not work
  • Negotiation and compromise would lead to unity and freedom
  • Hoped that giving the king sufficient time, he would lead them to where they wanted to be
    • Parliamentary government
    • Liberty
  • Progressive Party founded
    • Pushed for increased liberalization of the government
  • King thought he was being pushed too far
    • Became more adamant and uncompromising
  • King and Progressive Party waited for an issue to fight over
army reforms
Army Reforms
  • King wanted to increase the number of regular army regiments and decrease the militia
    • Parliament demanded a modification of the plan
      • Did not want an increase in the power of the conservative officer corps
    • King refused
      • Believed that parliament was trying to gain control of the royal army

The less people know about how sausages and laws are made, the better they'll sleep at night. -- Otto von Bismarck

otto von bismarck1
Otto von Bismarck
  • King appoints Bismarck as Prime Minister of Prussia
    • Arch-conservative
  • Parliament refused to approve budget until their army reforms were approved by the king
    • Bismarck and government continues to collect taxes and fund the army as before
  • William I appointed Otto von Bismarck as his prime minister and ambassador to Russia and France
  • He shared the king’s view that Prussia needed a stronger government and army to achieve German unity
  • He was a brilliant negotiator
  • Bismarck embraced the policy of realpolitik
    • Realpolitik: the right of the nation-state to pursue its own advantage by any means, including war and the repudiation of treaties
otto von bismarck2
Otto von Bismarck
  • Sought a government that would be parliamentary but at the same time allow authoritarian policies
  • Solution of crisis
    • Liberals wanted German unity and freedom
    • Bismarck would use the prospect of unity to tamper the drive for freedom
otto von bismarck3
Otto von Bismarck
  • Compromise
    • Bourgeoisie would obtain the benefits of economic consolidation
    • King retained the advantages of political domination
  • Saw answer to internal issues in foreign policy

“The great questions of the day will not be settled by speeches and majority decisions – that was the mistake of 1848 and 1849 – but by blood and iron.”

Otto von Bismarck

gross oder klein
Gross oder Klein
  • With the debate over a large or small Germany continuing Bismarck saw that the Austrian question had to be answered
    • He had to find a way to get Austria out of any possible solution to German unification
general european situation
General European Situation
  • Russian defeat in Crimean War keeps them out of continental politics
  • Britain concerned about internal reform
  • Napoleon III hopes that an internal German Civil War might let him expand the French Empire across the Rhine
german unification
German Unification
  • In a complex series of diplomatic maneuvers, Bismarck welded disunited kingdoms and small states into a major continental power independent of the other dominant German dynasty, the Habsburg monarchy.
  • Prussia’s use of force unified Germany politically, and almost immediately that unity unleashed the new nation’s economic potential.
  • An aristocratic and agrarian elite remained firmly in power, but a rapidly growing working class would soon become a political force to be reckoned with.
austro prussian conflict
Austro-Prussian Conflict
  • 1849-50: Austrian attempts to join the Zollverein come to nothing, leaving Austria as the political leader of the German Confederation, but economically isolated.
  • 1850: The ‘Capitulation at Olmutz’ – Prussia forced to abandon her plan to replace the German Confederation with a union led jointly by Prussia and Austria.
  • 1862: Bismarck demanded that Austria recognize Prussia as its equal within Germany.
  • 1864: German-Danish War – Austria & Prussia co-operate to prevent Denmark from annexing the Duchies of Schleswig and Holstein.
    • By the terms of the Convention of GasteinSchelswig was ceded to Prussia and Holstein to Austria.
  • 1866: Seven Weeks (Austro-Prussian) War – Austria brings an action against Prussia in the Federal Diet & Prussia walks out declaring the end of the German Confederation.
    • Prussia decisively defeats Austria a Sadowa (Königgrätz) on 3 July.
  • In September 1862 Bismarck defied the finance committee of the Prussian assembly
  • The lower house had refused to approve the new army budget
  • Bismarck simply collected the necessary taxes without authorization
  • He said that the great issues of the times would not be decided “by speeches and majority decisions…but by blood and iron.”
three wars
Three Wars
  • Bismarck’s initial goal was to raise money for army expansion
  • He wanted Prussia to use its military and economic power to reduce Austrian influence among the German states
  • He planned to arrange the unification of all German states except Austria and Switzerland under Prussian domination
1864 war with denmark
1864 – War with Denmark
  • Danish king rules over Schleswig and Holstein as a duke
    • These provinces were ethnically German
  • Denmark annexes Schleswig into the country
    • Nationalist sentiment in Germany was outraged
    • William I proposes joint action to Franz Josef
war against denmark
War Against Denmark
  • The king of Denmark ruled the territories of Schleswig and Holstein by inheritance
  • Schleswig’s population was part German and part Danish
  • Holstein’s population was entirely German
  • King Christian IX proclaimed Schleswig a Danish province in 1863
  • The Germans in both territories looked to the larger German states for support
war against denmark1
War Against Denmark
  • Bismarck persuaded Austria to join Prussia in declaring war against Denmark in 1864
  • Prussia and Austria won the war and forced Denmark out of the disputed provinces
  • Prussia took over Schleswig and Austria took over Holstein
  • This arrangement strained the relationship between these rival powers
1864 war with denmark1
1864 – War with Denmark
  • After a short was Denmark is defeated
    • Schleswig and Holstein are jointly supervised by Prussia and Austria
  • Austria wanted them to become an independent country in the German Confederation
  • Prussia sought outright annexation

War over Schleswig-Holstein, 1864.  Members of the Order of Saint John  and Rauhe-Haus Friars collecting the wounded.

schleswig holstein compromise
Schleswig-Holstein Compromise
  • 1865 Compromise
    • Holstein
      • Governed by Austria
    • Schleswig
      • Governed by Prussia
    • Joint sovereignty reaffirmed
  • Tension between Austria and Prussia continued to grow
war against denmark2
War Against Denmark
  • The war accomplished two of Bismarck’s objectives
  • It made Europe aware of Prussia’s military might and influence
  • The tension resulting from the war settlement gave Bismarck the excuse he wanted to go to war with Austria
austro prussian war
Austro-Prussian War
  • 1866
  • The Seven Weeks War
  • Austrian Army destroyed at the Battle of Königgrätz
    • Prussian needle gun
  • Destroyed the balance of power achieved at the Congress of Vienna, 50 years before
seven weeks war
Seven Weeks’ War
  • Bismarck prepared for war by stripping Austria of possible allies
  • He offered the Russian czar aid against Polish rebels in 1863
  • He offered France possible “compensations” for its neutrality in case of an Austro-Prussian war
  • He also forged an alliance with Italy by supporting its claim to Venetia
seven weeks war1
Seven Weeks’ War
  • Austria sided with the duke of Augustenburg, gaining Bismarck public support for his actions
  • Bismarck ordered Prussian troops into Austrian-occupied Holstein to prevent an alliance between Austria and the duke
  • Austria then asked the German Confederation to take military action against Prussia for this invasion
  • Bismarck responded by declaring war against Austria
seven weeks war3
Seven Weeks’ War
  • The war between Austria and Prussia began on June 15, 1866
  • It ended in Prussian victory just 7 weeks later
  • For Bismarck the war was limited and had limited objectives
  • The purpose of the war was to separate Austria and Germany and end the chance for a united Germany under Austrian control
seven weeks war4
Seven Weeks’ War
  • Bismarck did not want to destroy Austria with a harsh peace settlement
  • The treaty ending the war was negotiated in the city of Prague
  • The settlement dissolved the German Confederation
  • The settlement gave Holstein to Prussia and Venetia to Italy
  • The Confederation’s constitution gave each state, but Prussia still controlled foreign policy and domestic affairs
seven weeks war5
Seven Weeks’ War
  • Legislative authority was vested in a federal council
  • The council was composed of representatives from the various governments and an assembly elected by universal male suffrage
  • The establishment of a strong confederation by Prussia made Bismarck a hero among German nationalists
treaty of prague
Treaty of Prague
  • Austria retains all possessions except Venetia
    • Promised to Italians by Prussians before the war
  • Franz Josef forced to agree to Prussian land gains
  • Bismarck did not want to destroy Austria
treaty of prague1
Treaty of Prague
  • Prussia gains
    • Hanover
    • Nassau
    • Hesse-Kassel
    • Schleswig-Holstein
    • Frankfurt am Main
  • German Confederation dissolved
  • Northern German Confederation established
prussian internal politics
Prussian Internal Politics
  • Bismarck’s military triumph led to a constitutional triumph
  • Bismarck did not seek to destroy liberalism but to come to an accommodation with it
  • Triumph of nationalism led to the subjugation of liberalism
north german confederation
North German Confederation
  • Federal Constitution
    • Did not have
      • Bill of Rights
      • Ministerial Responsibility
      • Civilian supervision of the army
    • Did have
      • Uniformity of currency, weights, measures, commercial practices
      • Industrial laws
      • Financial regulations
north german confederation1
North German Confederation
  • Federal constitution
    • Created economic unity the middle class had been looking for
      • Helped reconcile the middle class to the defeat of its hopes for greater political freedom
the southern german states
The Southern German States
  • The southern German states were largely Catholic
  • They were outside of the new German confederation
  • They feared Protestant Prussia’s military strength and its control of Germany
  • The kingdoms of Bavaria and Wurttenberg steadfastly opposed German unification under Prussia
beginnings of war
Beginnings of War
  • The only way that the southern states would accept unification is if Prussia gave up some of its authority in a united gov’t
  • France posed the most serious obstacle to a united Germany
  • Napoleon III would not accept German unification unless France received some territory
  • To resolve this situation, Bismarck again chose war
conflict with france
Conflict with France
  • A powerful new nation now existed in Central Europe
  • France had hoped for a war between Austria and Prussia
    • Napoleon III had hoped that they would each emerge from the conflict exhausted
    • Then France could expand to the east
conflict with france1
Conflict with France
  • France now faced a strong German state
  • France wanted compensation in the Rhineland, Luxembourg, or Belgium
  • Berlin kept this from happening
  • It became obvious to all that France and Prussia were on the road to war
conflict with france2
Conflict with France
  • Bismarck was willing to accept the coming war
    • Wanted to bring the southern German states into the Prussian fold
    • Knew that it would take a common patriotic struggle against foreign aggression
prelude to war
Prelude to War
  • Prince Leopold, a relative of the Prussian king, was invited to take the Spanish throne
    • He accepted
  • Paris demands that he be ordered to withdraw his acceptance
    • His father renounces his acceptance for him
  • Paris demands that William I forever renounce any attempt to put a Hohenzollern on the throne of Spain
prelude to war1
Prelude to War
  • French demand presented to the king at Ems
    • William I refused to promise, but conference ended in a friendly fashion
    • Bismarck doctored the report of the conference to make it sound like the king refused to see the ambassador again
    • French used this as an excuse to declare war
the franco prussian war
The Franco-Prussian War
  • Some historians believe that Bismarck was responsible for the Franco-Prussian War
  • Bismarck knew that he had to lure France into war
  • He took advantage of Napoleon III’s weakness in foreign policy and of the French public’s current anti-Prussian feeling
the franco prussian war1
The Franco-Prussian War
  • In 1868 a revolution in Spain deposed Queen Isabella from the throne
  • The Spanish government offered the throne to Prince Leopold of Hohenzollern
  • Napoleon III feared a Spanish-German alliance against France and protested the offer
  • Leopold voluntarily declined the throne
  • France demanded from Prussia that a Hohenzollern would never sit on the Spanish throne
  • William refused to make this promise
the franco prussian war2
The Franco-Prussian War
  • William I described the meeting with France to Bismarck in a telegram
  • Bismarck altered the telegram to make it appear that William had insulted the French and released it to the press
  • Newspaper coverage of the supposed insult enraged the French
unedited telegram
Unedited Telegram
  • His Majesty the King has written to me:  "Count Benedetti intercepted me on the promenade and ended by demanding of me in a very importunate manner that I should authorize him to telegraph at once that I bound myself in perpetuity never again to give my consent if the Hohenzollerns renewed their candidature.  I rejected this demand somewhat sternly as it is neither right nor possible to undertake engagements of this kind [for ever and ever]. Naturally I told him that I had not yet received any news and since he had been better informed via Paris and Madrid than I was, he must surely see that my government was not concerned in the matter.”
unedited telegram cont d
Unedited Telegram (cont’d.)
  • [The King, on the advice of one of his ministers] "decided in view of the above-mentioned demands not to receive Count Benedetti any more, but to have him informed by an adjutant that His Majesty had now received [from Leopold] confirmation of the news which Benedetti had already had from Paris and had nothing further to say to the ambassador.  His Majesty suggests to Your Excellency that Benedetti's new demand and its rejection might well be communicated both to our ambassadors and to the Press.“
bismarck s edited telegram
Bismarck’s Edited Telegram
  • "After the news of the renunciation of the Prince von Hohenzollern had been communicated to the Imperial French government by the Royal Spanish government, the French Ambassador in Ems made a further demand on His Majesty the King that he should authorize him to telegraph to Paris that His Majesty the King undertook for all time never again to give his assent should the Hohenzollerns once more take up their candidature. His Majesty the King thereupon refused to receive the Ambassador again and had the latter informed by the adjutant of the day that His Majesty had no further communication to make to the Ambassador."
the franco prussian war3
The Franco-Prussian War
  • The insult led Napoleon to declare war on Prussia
  • Fighting began on July 19, 1870
  • The southern German states allied with Prussia
  • The Prussians easily defeated the French

The Prussians surrounded Paris, set up their HQ at the Palace of Versailles, to the SW, and were able to bombard much of the city with Krupps' big new cannons.


Starved of news and communications with the rest of France, the city used the unused main-line railway stations and its precious reserves of coal-gas to make paper balloons, which volunteers used to take post out past the Prussians - a hazardous one-way trip.

franco prussian war
Franco-Prussian War
  • All German states joined in a war against France
  • Overwhelming German victory
  • Results of War
    • French Empire collapses
      • Third Republic declared
    • France loses Alsace-Lorraine
    • France pays Germany 5,000,000,000 francs
    • France accspts an army of occupation
political cartoons of france s defeat
Political Cartoons of France’s Defeat

Louis Napoleon as a friend of death.

the german empire
The German Empire
  • January 18, 1871
    • William I proclaimed Emperor of the Germans at Versailles
formation of an empire
Formation of an Empire
  • In 1871 William I assumed the title of Kaiser of a united Germany
  • His kingdom stretched form the Baltic Sea in the north to the Alps in the south
  • Bismarck became the German chancellor
  • The new empire united 25 German states into one federal union
  • Each state had its own ruler, armies, and diplomatic staffs
formation of an empire1
Formation of an Empire
  • The Kaiser headed the national government
  • He had authority to:
    • Make appointments
    • Command the military in time of war
    • Determine foreign policy
  • Prussian Junkers now shared power with wealthy industrialists

"Nothing can be more absurd than the practice that prevails in our country of men and women not following the same pursuits with all their strengths and with one mind, for thus, the state instead of being whole is reduced to half." -Plato

  • A constitution proposed by Bismarck and a two house legislature was set up for the Second Reich.
  • The two houses were made up of the Bundersat (upper house) and the Reichstag (lower house).
  • The houses were elected by rulers of German states and universal male suffrage.

Otto von Bismarck, 1886.

german unification timeline
German Unification Timeline

1862 – William I



Head of cabinet

1818 – Prussia eliminates tariffs

1866- 7 Weeks’ War;

German Confederation

Dissolved; Prussia takes Schleswig & Holstein

1848 – Revolution &

Frankfurt Parliament

1870 - Franco-Prussian War;

France loses



1864 – Austria &

Germany defeat Denmark:

Austria takes Schleswig,

Prussia takes Holstein

1871: German






1819 - Carlsbad Decrees

1844 – Zollverein includes

Almost all German states

prince frederick and bismarck
Prince Frederick and Bismarck
  • William’s son, Prince Frederick of Prussia, was a liberal and supporter of reform
  • Frederick deplored the means Bismarck used to bring about unification in Germany
  • He wrote in his diary
    • “We are no longer looked upon at the innocent victims of wrong, but rather as arrogant victors.”
  • Frederick foresaw the consequences of Bismarck’s policies, but did nothing to change them
bismarck and the church
Bismarck and the Church
  • Bismarck faced the Kulturkampf
    • Kulturkampf – cultural struggle between Church and state
  • Catholics in Germany organized the Center party to represent their interests in opposition to Protestant Prussians
  • Bismarck viewed Catholicism as an antinationalist force
  • He supported the Protestants in political affairs
bismarck and the church1
Bismarck and the Church
  • A proclamation made by Catholic bishops in Rome in 1870
  • This doctrine stated that the pope, when speaking on matters of faith and morals, was infallible, or free from error
  • This worried Bismarck
  • He launched a campaign against the Jesuits
  • Bismarck believed the Jesuits were papal agents working to destroy the German Empire.
  • Bismarck expelled the Jesuits from Germany in 1872
may laws
May Laws
  • In 1873 German legislature passed a series of laws aimed at destroying Catholic influence in Germany called May Laws
  • The laws deprived Catholic bishops of much of their authority
  • Required that weddings be performed by secular officials
  • Pope Pius IX declared the laws invalid and broke diplomatic ties with Germany
bismarck and the church2
Bismarck and the Church
  • After the pope declared the laws invalid Bismarck realized he was fighting a losing battle
  • Instead of trying to weaken the Center party he began to strengthen it
  • In the legislative elections of 1877, the Center party gained even more seats
  • The Junker-controlled Conservative party began to oppose Bismarck’s policies
bismarck and the church3
Bismarck and the Church
  • Bismarck knew that he needed support from the Center party to defeat a challenge from the Socialists
  • He sought to make peace with the Catholics
  • Pope Pius IX died in 1878 and his successor, Leo XIII, made an effort to heal the rift with Germany
  • The German legislature repealed most laws directed against the Catholics
  • By 1881 the Kulturkampf was over
industrial growth
Industrial Growth
  • Germany’s position as major political and military power depended on a strong economy
  • German political and business leaders worked to expand the nation’s industry
  • Established Zollverein encouraged economic growth and spurred efforts to improve transportation
  • Investment capital from other countries helped to modernize industrial production and establish a mechanized factory system
industrial growth1
Industrial Growth
  • The development of deep-pit coal mining and the opening of new coal mines made available large reserves of cheap fuel for new plants
  • Cities grew rapidly
  • Young men and women streamed in from the villages to find work in factories
  • The economic changes in Germany led to the highest standard of living in Europe
workers and socialism
Workers and Socialism
  • Workers looked forward to a democratic social order in which they would no longer be exploited
  • Ferdinand Lassalle founded the Universal German Workingmen’s Association in 1863
  • Lassalle called himself a socialist and a disciple of Karl Marx, but did not preach revolution
  • Lassalle advocated mass political action to change the system
bismarck and the socialists
Bismarck and the Socialists

“The support given to (socialists by workers) rests on the fact that the judgment of the masses is sufficiently stultified and undeveloped to allow them, with the assistance of their own greed, to be continually caught by the rhetoric of clever and ambitious (socialist) leaders.”

workers and socialism1
Workers and Socialism
  • Lassalle was a national celebrity who knew Bismarck and lectured him on workers’ plight
  • He was killed in a duel in 1864
  • He did not live to finish his fight
  • The party he founded grew slowly until it merged with the Social Democratic party in 1875
  • This helped it to become a major political force
bismarck and the socialists1
Bismarck and the Socialists
  • Bismarck believed that any Socialist party was out to change the government
  • Socialists therefore posed a serious threat to the German Empire in Bismarck’s mind
  • Bismarck set out to destroy the Socialist movement in Germany
  • In 1878 the German legislature passed on an anti-Socialist bill introduced by Bismarck
  • The bill banned all Socialist meetings and publications
industrial growth2
Industrial Growth
  • The middle class and business leaders benefited enormously from the rapid industrialization
  • Workers faced lower wages and higher unemployment with every improvement in factory machinery
  • Workers lived in crowded, filthy tenements and toiled long hours under dangerous working conditions
bismarck and the socialists2
Bismarck and the Socialists
  • Bismarck’s efforts to suppress the Socialists met with only temporary success
  • He changed his tactics
  • He tried to show the workers that the government had their true interests at heart
  • Bismarck directed the passage of several bills that gave workers some measure of comfort and security
  • In 1883 the Sickness Insurance Law gave limited compensation to those who missed work because of illness
  • In 1998 the Old Age Insurance Law protected industrial workers in retirement
bismarck and the socialists3
Bismarck and the Socialists
  • Bismarck’s reform efforts did not go far enough to end the popularity of the Socialists
  • In 1890 the Social Democratic party won 35 seats in the legislature
  • The party refused to renew Bismarck’s anti-socialist law
the fall of bismarck
The Fall of Bismarck
  • In 1888 Kaiser William I died at the age of 91
  • Prince Frederick was crowned Kaiser
  • About 100 days after his coronation Frederick II died
  • William II, Frederick’s son, succeeded him in 1888
  • William II was only 29 years old when he took the throne
  • He was a man of great energy and strong conservative opinions
the fall of bismarck1
The Fall of Bismarck
  • William II favored militarism, support for a powerful military prepared for war
  • His belief in the absolute authority of the emperor brought him into conflict with Bismarck
  • Bismarck often got his way by threatening to resign
  • In 1890 William II accepted Bismarck’s resignation
the fall of bismarck2
The Fall of Bismarck
  • Bismarck’s policies had kept Germany strong
  • His strict rule prevented the development of a parliamentary democracy
  • With Bismarck gone, William II was free to pursue his own policies
  • During William II’s reign Germany became one of the world’s major industrial and military powers