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Otto Van Bismarck and German Unification
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  1. Otto Van Bismarck and German Unification

  2. A Little Background Music Please Although Italian unification had long term impacts on the Continent, the formation of a united Germany was the single most important political development in Europe between 1848 and 1914. It transformed the balance of economic, military, and international power as Germany was united by the conservative army, monarchy, and prime minister of Prussia.

  3. Execution of the War During the 1850s, German unification seemed unlikely. Their economies linked by railway, the major states in the German Confederation traded goods through the Zollverein. But Frederick William IV of Prussia had abandoned plans of unification under Prussian leadership as Austria continued to block any efforts that threatened its influence.

  4. A series of problems in Prussia changes Everything. In 1858 Frederick William was adjudged insane, so his brother William assumed the regency. William I became king in his own right in 1861. In 1860, Williams war minister and chief of staff recommended enlarging the army, increasing the # of officers, and extended conscription from 2 to 3 years. The liberal dominated Prussian Parliament refused to pass the taxes needed to fund the military expansion because they feared the additional power it would provide the Monarchy. From 1860 – 62, Parliament and the monarch were deadlocked in a political stalemate.

  5. Here He Comes to Save the Day . . . In September 1862, William I turned to Otto Van Bismarck for help. Bismarck was a Junker who’d joined a Burschenscraft and advocated for German unification while at university. Bismarck served in the provincial diet during the 1840s and from 1851 – 59 he was Minister to the Frankfurt Diet of the German Confederation. He later became Prussian Ambassador to Russia and had just been appointed Ambassador to France when William I made him Prime Minister of Prussia.

  6. Bismarck’s Political Ideas He opposed parliamentary gov’t in favor of a strong constitutional monarchy.* (why?) He knew that Prussia – and later Germany – needed a strong industrial base. Bismarck was a political pragmatist who favored power and action over ideas. “Germany is not looking to Prussia’s liberalism but to her power . . . The great questions of the day will not be decided by speeches and majority decisions – that was the mistake of 1848 – 49 – but by iron and blood.”

  7. Warmonger or Peace Keeper? Bismarck led Prussia into the Danish War (1864), the Austro-Prussian War (1866), and the Franco-Prussian War (1870 – 71). But after Germany achieved unification in 1871, spent 19 years installing an elaborate system of alliances THAT FOSTERED PEACE IN EUROPE FROM 1871 – 1914.*

  8. The Danish War (1864) Bismarck’s first step toward unification was to pursue a kleindeutsch in which Austria would be excluded from a united German state. The two northern duchies of Schleswig and Holstein, which had long been ruled by Denmark* provided the handle for this policy. The German dominated Holstein belonged to the German Confederation, so when the Danish parliament tried to incorporate the two provinces in 1863, the smaller states of the GC proposed a Pan-German war to stop them.

  9. The Danish War Austria and Germany defeated Denmark with ease in 1864. Giving the Danish a beat-down boosted Bismarck’s prestige and over the next two years he maneuverd Austria into war with Prussia. In August 1865, he negotiated the Convention of Gastein that gave Austria control of Holstein and Prussia control of Schleswig.

  10. Bismarck, the Fence Mender He gained Russian sympathies by supporting suppression of a Polish revolt in 1863. He persuaded Napoleon III to promise neutrality in the event of an Austro-Prussian conflict. In April 1866, he convinced Italy to attack Austria in support of Prussia when war broke out – in exchange for Venetia. I will not Fight!

  11. Tit for Tat & Austro-Prussian War (1866) Administering Schleswig and Holstein had caused constant tension between Austria and Prussia. So Bismarck ordered Prussian forces to be very obnoxious to the Austrians. Austria tattled on Bismarck (they appealed to the German Confederation to intervene). Bismarck claimed the request violated the terms of their alliance & the Convention of Gastein.

  12. Tit for Tat & Austro-Prussian War (1866) Bismarck opened up a can on Austria, and the Seven Week’s War that ensued in the summer of 1866 led to the decisive defeat of Austria at the Battle of Koniggratz in Bohemia. The Treaty of Prague settled the matter and Austria only lost Venetia, which it ceded to Napoleon III (I will not fight!), who in turn ceded it to Italy. The treaty permanently excluded the Hapsburgs from German affairs. As such, Prussia had established itself as the only major power among the German states.

  13. The North German Confederation In 1867 the states of Hanover, Hesse, and Nassau, and the city of Frankfurt – all of which had supported Austria during the war – were annexed by Prussia, and their rulers were deposed. All of Germany north of the Main River formed the German Confederation under Prussian leadership. Each state retained its own local government, but all military forces were under federal control. The king of Prussia was the President of the federation, represented by his chancellor, Otto Van Bismarck. Germany was now a military monarchy.

  14. The Franco-Prussian War and the German Empire (1870 – 1871) Bismarck now awaited an opportunity to complete unification by bringing the states of southern Germany into the confederation. In 1868, events in Spain provided him that opportunity. After Isabella II, the Bourbon queen was deposed, the Spanish chose Prince Leopolod of Hohenzollern – Sigmaringen, William I’s Catholic cousin.

  15. The Franco-Prussian War and the German Empire (1870 – 1871) On June 19, 1870, Leopold accepted the Spanish crown with Prussian blessings. On July 2, the Spanish government announced Leopold’s acceptance, and the French reacted strongly against the idea of a Hohenzollern Spain. Translation - (We will not fight! But we will send an ambassador – Count Vincent Benedetti- to consult with William I)

  16. The Franco-Prussian War and the German Empire (1870 – 1871) After several meetings between Benedetti and William I, Leopold’s father withdrew his son’s candidacy for the Spanish throne, fearing that the issue would cause war between Prussia and France. On July 13, the French gov’t instructed Benedetti to ask William for assurances that he would not allow future Spanish candidacy for Leopold. William said he’d think about it, then he telegramed Bismarck, who was itching to beat up the French to secure German Unification. Bismarck revised the chancellor’s message, insinuating that William had embarrassed the French ambassador.

  17. Somebody call an Ambulance The French fell for the bait and declared war on July 19th. Napoleon DID NOT WANT TO FIGHT, but he actually thought his government could defeat the German Confederation to give his empire renewed popular support. HE WAS WRONG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  18. Somebody call an Ambulance Once the fighting started, the southern German states honored the treaties of 1866 and happily joined Prussia against France. On Sept. 1 at the Battle of Sedan, the Germans defeated the French army and captured Napoleon III. By late September, Paris was besieged and it capitulated on January 28, 1871. On January 18, 1871 in the Hall of Mirrors at the Palace of Versailles, the German Empire had already been proclaimed.

  19. The New German State During the war, the states of southern Germany had joined the North German Confederation, and their rulers requested William I to accept the imperial title of German emperor. The princes remained heads of their respective states within the new federation. At the peace settlement with France, Germany received the Alsace-Lorraine territory. Go Germany, its your birthday, shake it, shake it!

  20. Long Term Impacts of German Unification Both the fact and manner of German unification produced long range effects in Europe. A powerful new state had been created in NW Europe, rich in natural resources and talented citizens. Militarily and economically, the German Empire would be far stronger than Prussia had been before. The unification of German was also a blow to European liberalism because the new state was a conservative creation.

  21. Long Term Impacts of German Unification Conservative politics was now backed not by a weak Austria or an economically retrograde Russia, but by the strongest state on the Continent. The two nations most immediately affected by German and Italian unification were France and Austria. The emergence of Italy and Germany revealed the weaknesses of the French and Hapsburg empires. Change had to come to each. France returned to republican government, and the Hapsburg’s came to terms with their Magyar subjects.