The Importance of Bismarck to German Unification

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The Importance of Bismarck to German Unification When Bismarck became chancellor of Prussia in 1862 nationalism had already started 47 years ago in 1815. Although Bismarck greatly helped the move towards unification there were also many other factors involved. These factors included things such as the economic power of the Zollverein and the fact that having a strong country would make them safer, and they all shared the same enemy: France. It is necessary to compare these factor with each other in order to asses the importance of Bismarck to German unification. Historians such as Frank Eyck believe that unification of Germany 'was a natural and desirable development.' In many ways this is true. From 1790s - 1814 French domination helped to modernize and consolidate Germany, thus sparking the first upsurge of German nationalism. When Napoleon defeated the most defiant state, Prussia, they were so distraught about their defeat that they started thorough reforms. This meant that smaller states who suffered under French rule started to turn to Prussia in their common hatred of the French. In this way it can be said that Germany was already starting to unify of her own accord. As the people continued to suffer during several decades of repression there came a strong desire for reform. Although at first this was only among the educated, wealthy bourgeoisie, unemployment among small artisans encouraged them to join the revolution in hopes of secure jobs. When an uprising occurred in France, the German liberals decided that they too would start to push their own claims. The violent revolutions of 1848 scared princes such as Metternic... ... middle of paper ... ...nto declaring war on Prussia. The south German states came to their aid and they had a glorious victory. Meanwhile Bismarck won the consent of the South German states to unite Germany with Prussia at its head. He had achieved his task and in January 1871 the Prussian King proclaimed the German empire. The proclamation of the German empire was the result of a long process to which many factors contributed to. 'German unification was, on the part of Bismarck, a series of favorable situations wisely grasped' (Aronson, the Kaisers) Although the Zollverein, Prussia's military power and industrialization all pointed Germany in the right direction of unification it would have taken many more years, or perhaps never, for Germany to unify. Bismarck took the pieces of jigsaw and put them all together to give us united Germany.
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