Specimen Questions and Answers: German Unification



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Furthermore, by the settlement of 1815, Prussia exchanged a large share of her holding in Poland. For held of Saxony did for the Rhineland province and Westphalia. This tended to transform Prussia from as thoroughly agricultural state into the leading industrial state of Germany. By the Vienna Settlement, Prussia was meant to be a bulwark against France, this made her ultimately the national champion of Germany.
On the whole, the German Unification in 1871 meant a partial breach of settlement of 1815, but ironically the very seeds for the making of Germany were sown at first by the 1815 settlement.
Then came the formation of the Zollverein. Since it was through the relation between Prussia and other German States that the Zollverein was established, it was also regarded as a part of diplomacy. The formation of the Zollverein under Prussia fostered leadership. It first made Prussia essential to Germany.
The Zollverein was in large part, the result of Prussian determination. Its aim was to prevent economic union through the German Confederation, a protectionist union which would have been dominated by Austria and would have found its centre of gravity in the Danube Valley to the political and economic ruin of Prussia. So the Zollverein became a powerful instrument in Prussia's control of Germany. Thus the formation of the Zollverein facilitated Prussian leadership in German unification.
It was Bismarck who made use of diplomacy to bring about the unification. Bismarck tried to unite Germany by waging war on Austria, and then consolidate Prussian superiority in Germany by waging war on France. His use of force in each case went hand in hand with his brilliant diplomacy.
Firstly, at a meeting at Frankfurt in 1863, Austria proposed an reorganization of the Confederation, Prussia refused to enter the scheme. Other states realised that their survival depended upon the balance between Prussia and Austria; and therefore, refused to support the scheme. It was through diplomacy that Austria failed to restore influence in German Confederation.
Secondly, in the Polish Revolt of 1863, Bismarck made clear that he had little sympathy with the Polish rebels. A convention now signed with the Tsar by which the military forces of both states would co-operate within their own territories in putting down the Polish rebels. By doing so, Bismarck gained his first and most important ally.

Moreover, in the Schleswig-Holstein question, German nationalists championed the resistance of the two duchies against Denmark. They turned to Prussia for leadership in this affair. Bismarck saw this as an opportunity to annex both duchies which were of strategic value. Besides, he found lots to gain Prussia's prestige could be raised, the might of the reorganised army could be tested. Moreover, he might find a pretext for war against Austria over such thorny questions and he could also win the support of German nationalists.


In January, 1864 an Austro-Prussian alliance was formed. Denmark was finally defeated. By the Treaty of Vienna in October 1864, the king of Denmark renounced all rights over the two duchies. A year later, Prussia and Austria signed the Convention of Gastein, by which Prussia would administer Schleswig and Austria administer Holstein.
Bismarck later manipulated the term of the Convention to pick up quarrel with Austria. Some historians argued that his real intention of fighting the war was to start a quarrel with Austria later.
Lastly came the Austro-Prussia War in 1866. Preparation was complete after two years of rest. Diplomatically, Austria was isolated. Bismarck had a meeting with Napoleon at which he extracted a promise of French neutrality in case of war between Prussia and Austria. Agreement with Italy now also made by Bismarck who promised Italy would get back Venetia if it joined Prussia against Austria, if war took place. Russia was on good terms with Prussia since 1863. What was needed was a pretext for war. The issue of control over the two duchies gave Bismarck the chance. Bismarck made Austria declared war first and it seemed that Austria was an aggressor. Thus, Austria had been played into the hands of Bismarck. Bismarck also realised Austria would not accept mediation, so he allowed th mission of Arton Von Gablenz to seek peace between the two states. Due to such diplomatic skill of Bismarck, Austria seemed to be an aggressor which was unwilling to preserve peace.
The war ended quickly with the defeat of Austria. The Treaty of Prague was lenient to Austria. Austria agreed to have the German Confederation dissolved nd the North German Confederation was created under Prussian presidency.
South German states then inclined closer to Prussia. They signed treaties of defensive alliance with the North German Confederation after joining the Zollverein to form a customs parliament called Zollparliament. Eventually, the German unification was achieved.
In conclusion, diplomacy played the most important part in the process of German Unification. Though internal army reform was also one of the factors, diplomacy was the major factor that led to success. The Vienna Settlement first paved the way for Prussian leadership. Then the formation of Zollverein further strengthened Prussia's position. It was the diplomacy of Bismarck that achieved the aim. Thus, diplomacy played a dominant role ion the process of German Unification.
5. "Germany was not united, but conquered." Discuss.
The nature of the unification of Germany was complex just as the personality of its architect--- Count Otto Von Bismarck, was. It is because the united Germany which came into existence in 1870 was actually constructed at various stages and by numerous people. Each had its own characteristics and to sum up the unification went back as early as 1815, when Bismarck was still a long way from the European political scene. In the following, each of the "stages" would be examined chronologically to see how there is A. J. P. Taylor's comment was in each case.
After the Congress of Vienna, in 1815, the thirty-nine German states grouped loosely together, willingly, to form a Germanic Confederation. This provided the earliest instruction of unification, though insignificant, should not be ignored. This league was reinforced when in 1818, Prussia proposed the an economic union of the states in the abolition of the numerous internal customs barrier to promote trade. A custom union or the Zollverein was formed in 1819, later attracting the other states to join in. A South German custom union and a Middle German Custom Union appeared, following. This provided a groundwork for further union with three cohesive economic groups rather than some thirty individual states. Gradually, the Zollverein prospered. It became undoubtedly, 'an economic weapon' that can 'achieve political ends." But, in reality, so far no arms had been used in uniting Germany. Without 'conquering', the foundation of a united Germany was laid, rather by the common economic interests of the states. The Zollverein was strengthened later in 1854 when Hanover joined and in 1854 when the states signed to agree on the continuance on the economic unity.
With the rise of Bismarck, the unification started to have a military small. In 1864, Denmark was defeated in the Danish-Prussian War. Prussia, of course, played "the role of the injured". It was Denmark who tried to annex Holstein-Schleswig violating the terms in the Treaty of London. As a result of this, Treaty of Gastein signed, in which Austria was to administer Holstein, and Prussia got Schleswig. This was, in effect, one step nearer to annexation. Thus, in this case, Prussia brought forth a step to a united Germany by conquest but it was conquering of a third part, and not the immediate state there was annexed. In June 1866, Prussia in another attempt to provoke Austria, occupied Holstein. This incident justified what A. J. P. Taylor commented.
The cause of the unification leaped forward drastically with the outbreak of the Austro-Prussian War in 1866, namely due to the conflicts over the duchies and the setting up of the German constitution. Austria was defeated, and so naturally, were her supporting states, among them Bavaria, Saxony, Hanover and Baden. The Treaty of Prague was signed and a North German Confederation including all states north of the River Main was recognised. This was a very important stage towards complete German unification. However, again, the annexed or united states, except for some like Hanover and Saxony, were not conquered by Prussia. The union was dependent upon, rather, a defeat of third party --- Austria. Taylor's account was therefore true only to a certain extent.
The final phase of German unification came with the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War during which the states of the South German Confederation joined the North German Confederation into a united military war. After the defeat of France, the treaty of Frankfurt was signed and a united German Confederation declared. The southern states helped the North German Confederation because they shared a common German nationality and an association in the past Zollverein. The military glory Prussia had gained and Bismarck's championship of their integrity against France by turning down her proposal to annex parts of southern Germany just before the war pleased the states. Therefore, this unification was totally voluntary and the conquering was again on a third party --- France.
From the above, we can see that the statement was valid in only some cases, Bismarck's tactic, however skillful, and Prussia's military strength, however, threatening were insufficient to create the German Empire in 1871. Other factors, like the appearance of a foreign threat and the link up of the states by railways and communication, constituted a lot to unite the German states. The different German prince had always looked to Vienna, instead of Berlin, for leadership. It seems unlikely that they would change their attitudes willingly. Moreover, the Bismarckian Reich imposed in the German states after the Treaty of Frankfurt was one of dictatorship under the Prussian king who held the presidency hereditarily. There was unequal representation in the State Council with Prussia getting 17 out of 58 votes, while no other states had more than 4. The Empire was therefore nothing but an expanded Prussia. Surely, the states would never have agreed to such terms of it had not been for fear of Prussia's military power. But as history has shown that no military manoeuver took place, thus, the German unification could not be considered as totally a military conquer, but rather if possible, a psychological conquer over the states.
The statement of 'Germany was not united but conquered" applied in the case of Holstein, and some states that joined the Confederation after the Austro-Prussian War. However, in most cases, like many of the northern and all of the southern states joined willingly thus, invalidating the statement. However, it seemed very likely that Bismarck would use the Prussia arms to conquer the states to ensure a Prussian dominance over the German states if things had not happened so smoothly. But this is no more than conjecture. The various German states were united, very often, with the defeat or 'conquer' of a third country --- Denmark, Austria and France. However, this does not seem to be the case suggested by the statement, which implied more likely to the conquering of the states and so does not support it. With a 'blood and iron' policy, with war being 'the national industry of Prussia'. Prussia were able to unite Germany, but without extensive use of her policy and industry on the states united. Thus, the statement given is true only to a united extent the 'conquer' seldom appeared more than a psychological threat which was adequate in itself.
6. Was the unification of Germany a by-product of Bismarck's pursuit of Prussian interest?
There is no denying the unification of Germany was by-product of Bismarck's pursuit of Prussian interest, Bismarck was born in the year of Waterloo and belonged to the class of large Prussian landowners of Junkers. By the tradition of his family and class, as well as by personal temperament, Bismarck was intensely conservative in outlook and had a strong patriotism for Prussia. Prussia interest was always dear to heart.
Bismarck's patriotism for Prussia showed itself early in his careers. Then he became Prussia representative to the restored Diet at Frankfurt, he realised that Prussia had no future so long as she was tied to the Austrian-dominated Bund, Austria was the enemy, not only of German unity, but --- most ranked even higher in Bismarck's rank least equal with Austria in the conduct of German affairs. In 1859, when he was sent to St. Petersburg as Prussian ambassador to Russia his leading ideas had taken definite shape: devotion to Prussia, contempt for liberalism and its methods, belief in force as the arbitrator of destiny and a determination to end the hampering effect of Austrian dominance over German affairs.
Bismarck was first and always a Prussian nationalist who believed that Prussian interests demanded that she should dominate the whole of northern Germany and exclude Austria for German affairs. His policy towards Denmark, Austria and even France was guided therefore, only by the one ultimate task of the interests of the Prussia state. All else was a matter of detail and method, determined by circumstances of the polities understood them. The unification of Germany was incidental, a by-product of his never-ending pursuit of Prussian interests.
One aim Bismarck never pursued: that of uniting all Germans in a single national state. Greater Germany would mean the end of Junker Prussia. The Junkers had another the number of the capacity of run all central Europe, instead, German radicialism would run Prussia. Greater Germany would be predominantly Rome Catholics if the Austrian lands were excluded. Greater Germany mean a greater German foreign policy, protection, that is, of the German communities in eastern and South Eastern Europe, conflict therefore with Russia to the rui of Junkers, for co-operation between Russia and Prussia was vital for the subjugation of Poland and so for the security of the Junker estates. Ultimately Greater Germany, with its programme of central Europe united German authority, implied a conflict not only with Russia, but with all the world, a conflict which Bismarck knew the Junkers were not powerful enough to sustain. Bismarck was ceaselessly active and his mind endlessly fertile in expedients, but in the last resort his policy was, like Metternich's negative; to bar the way to Greater Germany. Metternich and Bismarck both despaired of the old order for which alone they cared. Metternich defended the old order without hoping for success. Bismarck went far with the new forces in order to draw their sting. He conjured up the phantom of unification in order to avoid the reality.
The independent action of Prussia and the lack of co-operation between Prussia and the German states in the War against Denmark and Austria was another factor to illustrate that Bismarck fought the wars primarily for the purpose of satisfying Prussian interests. In the case of Schleswig and Holstein, the German Diet declared in favour of the Duke of Augustenburg, and forces of some smaller states marched into Holstein. Bismarck wanted the Duchies for Prussia, and not for a petty duke backed by the German Confederation. So he invited Austria to enter into war against Denmark. In this way it would indicate future leadership, and would raise Prussia's prestige. In the Austro-Prussian War, Bismarck again took no notice of the desire of the German states. The majority of the other German states supported Austria while Prussia acted independently.
The Treaty of Prague which terminated the war made Bismarck's dream of a united Germany under Prussian domination a reality. Austria was henceforth excluded from German. A North German Confederation was created. It was composed of the states north of the River Main. Schleswig-Holstein. However, Hesse-Cassel, Nassau and Frankfurt were annexed by Prussia. A constitution was drawn up by Bismarck and accept by or forced upon government of the states; for in this year 1866 German opinion as a whole was still on the side of Austria and even in Prussia, especially in the Rhinelands, there was a resistance to the war against Austria. They opposed to Prussian predominance in the Federal Council. The liberal class was alienated by Bismarck's unconstitutional government. It is true to say that north Germany was conquered, not united, because Bismarck's outlook on European politics was always Prussian rather than German. "Prussia we are and Prussians we will remain" he said. German unity was for him an extension of Prussian power.
The Seven Weeks' War was milestone on the road of German unification, by it Prussia hegemony in Germany was established, but German unity was still in complete. The South German states still remained out of the Prussian fold. The way Bismarck prepared for the absorption of the south states was a war with France aiming arousing the spirit of nationalism among them causes for a Franco-Prussian war were not lacking. Napoleon III's irritation and alarm at the growth of Prussian power across the Rhine and his failure to obtain territorial compensation as vaguely promised by Bismarck at Biarrity gave ground for conflict. Finally the problem about the purchase of Luxembourg and the Spanish candidacy lighted the power barrel of the Franco-Prussian War of 1870. Exactly to the wish of Bismarck, the South German states placed their arms at the disposal of the North German Confederation, so that when the Franco-Prussian War ended with the Treaty of Frankfurt 1871, the South German states were swept into the embrace of Prussia and a German Empire was declared at the coronation of the Prussian king in the Hall of Mirrors in Versailles.
The imperial constitution was simply a revised edition of the North German Confederation 1867. In the new empire, equality of the federated state was formal not material when the Emperor Frederick William I said "The empire is nothing but an expended Prussia" he told the truth. In short Prussia was predominant in the Federal Council, her king was emperor, sole ruler who was to exercise executive power to control foreign affairs. The German unity of 1871 was not a unity expressed in self-government by the German people. The new state was designed not to represent the will of the German people but to maintain as in the general past the subjection of the people to the will of a privileged minority.
This was simply the result of the Bismarckian policy. He purposely created a "Prussian Germany" instead of a "Greater Germany" which would mean the end of Junkers Prussia, the predominance of Roman Catholics and conflict with Russia or the world, a conflict which the Junker class to which Bismarck belonged, was not powerful enough to sustain.
In conclusion, we can say that the unification of Germany can be described as a "victory of Prussian imperialism" but it should be noted that without the industrial development and economic prosperity which preceded the political movement, Prussian imperialism could hardly be realised.
7. "The conquest of Germany by Prussia." Is this an accurate description of German Unification.
The issue which brought Bismarck to power was the fear of German radicalism and the preservation of the domination of the military caste, that is the Junker class, in Prussia. Bismarck was to set up a German Confederation under the domination of Prussia and maintain Prussia's autonomy within the Confederation.
Bismarck belonged to the Junker caste which was the irreconcilable enemy of German unification. The Prussian army was the enemy of radicialism and liberalism. Bismarck's deliberate expulsion of Austria from Germany indicated how very far indeed Bismarck was from being the apostle of German nationalism. L. C. B. Seaman wrote "Bismarck's German Empire was based on the division of Germany, not its unification." Therefore, Bismarck's campaigns were not derived from the notion of German unification.
Bismarck conquered Germany in order to prevent its unification because a German Empire its unification because a German Empire included Austria and Bohemia would lead to incompatible clash with Russia, whose co-operation was essential for the maintenance of the Junker estates in Poland. A genuine German Empire would drive the Junker class to its ruins. Bismarck's alliance with Russia indicated future war of Prussia would be against the liberal West, that is, France and the German radicals.
Bismarck annexed Schleswig-Holstein was not due to the wishes of the Germans but the prestige and strengthening of the Junker class of Prussia. If Bismarck was a genuine nationalist, Schleswig-Holstein should have incorporated into the German Confederation but not annexed by Prussia. The annexation marked the beginning of the conquest of Germany was Prussia.
Bismarck forced the Dual Monarchy into war in order to bring her to the sense of defeat and win her back to the conservative cause. If Prussia was to unify Germany, the Hapsburg Monarchy should be incorporated into the German Confederation, or at least its German population. However, Bismarck had no desire on Austrian territory because the saw the Hapsburg Monarchy as an useful buffer state between the North German Confederation and Russia. This was a remarkable indication showing Prussia was to conquer Germany to prevent its unification.
Moreover, most of the other German states were on the side of Austria Anti-Prussia feeling prevailed Germany. Hanover and some other south German state withdrew from the Zollverein to show their antipathy. Therefore, the Austro-Prussian War, on the Prussian side, was not a people's war. Hence, A. J. P. Taylor says "Germany was conquered, not unified" and described Bismarck's campaigns as 'the conquest of Germany by Prussia." The North German Confederation was far from a democratic, liberal organisation. It was dominated by Prussia, through its Imperial Chancellor, Bismarck.
Moreover, before Bismarck's diplomatic and military campaigns. Prussia economic pressure had forced the other German states to join the Prussian Zollverein. The union of customs was based on Prussian form of customs. Although there were conference between the Zollverein member-states, the power of signing commerical treaties with foreign nations were not controlled by these conferences, but by Prussia. By this way, Germany was economically conquered.
A Prussian diplomat once said to Bismarck 'our power must fluid its limits when the supply of Junker officers given out." Bismarck replied, "I could not say that in public, but it is the basis of my plans." This indicated all the work of Bismarck was done for the benefit of the Junker caste, the dominating force in Prussia, not for Germany.
Bismarck's war against France was purely based on opportunism. Had Napoleon III been an absolute ruler in 1870, there would be no Franco-Russian War. Bismarck saw the opportunity to use the Ems Telegram Incident to change humiliation into prestige and triumph. Bismarck was nor to engage in a large-scale war in order to get the South German States incorporated into the German Confederation. It was only by name that the south states were not under the Prussian Confederation.
Therefore, Bismarck's campaigns was the process of 'Prussianization of Germany'. Germany was conquered by Prussia militarily, diplomatically and economically and Prussia was not absorbed into Germany until the reign of Kaiser William II. Hence the statement of "the conquest of Germany by Prussia" was an very accurate description of German unification.
8. To what extent was the German Unification by 1871 the outcome of Prussianization?
"Prussianization" meant a process to transfer the Prussia idea of monarchical, aristocratic and military state to the rest of Germany. However, after 1848, this process implied an assertion of the Conservatism of the Prussian type and the theory of constitutional balance, rather than the pre-1848 absolutism.
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