german unification - ?· january 1871, german nationalists celebrated the birth of the second...
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In the early 1800s,German speakingpeople lived in anumber of small andmedium-sized states aswell and in Prussia andAustrian Hapsburgempire.
Napoleon Between 1806 and 1812
Napoleon madeimportant changes toGerman-speaking lands.He annexed lands alongthe Rhine River forFrance. He dissolved theHoly Roman Empire andforced the emperor ofAustria to take the lessertitle of king. He alsoorganized a number ofGerman states into theRhine Confederation.
At first, some Germanswelcomed the Frenchemperor as a hero withenlightened, modernpolicies. He encouragedfreeing of serfs, madetrade easier, abolishedlaws against Jews. Not allGermans liked Napoleonand his changes. Aspeople fought to freethemselves from Frenchrule, they began todemand a unifiedGerman state.
The defeat of Napoleondid not solve this issue.At the Congress ofVienna, Metternichpointed out that aunited Germany wouldrequire the dismantlingof the governments ofeach German state.Instead thepeacemakers createdthe GermanConfederation, a weakalliance, headed byAustria.
In the 1830s, Prussiacreated an economicunion called theZollverein. It dismantledtariff barriers betweenthe German states.Germany still remainedpolitically fragmented. In1848, liberals meeting inthe Frankfurt Assemblyagain demanded Germanpolitical union. Theyoffered the throne of aunified Germany toFredrick William IV ofPrussia. He rejected thenotion of a throne offeredby the people
Bismarck United Germany Otto Von Bismarck came
from Prussias Junkerclass made up ofconservative landowningnobles. Bismarck firstserved Prussia as adiplomat in Russia andFrance. In 1862, KingWilliam I made him primeminister. Within a decadehe became chancellor, orthe highest official of amonarch. He used hispolicy of blood and ironto unite the Germanstates under Prussianrule.
Bismarcks success was duein part to his strong will. Hewas a master of Realpolitik,or the realistic politicsbased on the needs of thestate. Although Bismarckwas the architect ofGerman unity, he was notreally a German nationalist.His primary goal was tobring more power to thePrussian Ruling family .Unification was seen as ameans to this end.
As Prussias prime minister,Bismarck first moved to buildup the Prussian army.Although the liberallegislature refused to votefunds for the military,Bismarck strengthened thearmy with money that hadbeen collected for otherpurposes. With a powerful,well equipped military, hewas then ready to pursue anaggressive foreign policy.Over the next decade, he ledPrussia into three wars. Eachone increased the Prussianprestige and power andpaved the way for Germanunity.
Bismarcks second movewas to form an alliance in1864 with Austria. Prussiaand Austria then seizedthe provinces ofSchleswig and Holsteinfrom Denmark.
In 1866, Bismarckinvented an excuse toattack Austria. TheAustro-Prussian Warlasted just 7 weeks andended in a Prussianvictory. Prussia thenannexed, or took controlof, several other northGerman states.
Bismarck dissolved theAustrian-led GermanConfederation andcreated a new onedominated by Prussia.He allowed Austria andfour other southernGerman states to remainindependent. He did thisfor practical reasons toavoid leaving behindany desire for revenge.
In France, the Prussianvictory over Austriaangered Napoleon III. Agrowing rivalry betweenthe two came to a head inthe Franco-Prussian War in1870.
Germans recalled only toowell the invasion ofNapoleon I some 60 yearsearlier. Bismarck played upthe image of the Frenchmenace to spur Germannationalism. For his part,Napoleon III did little toavoid war, hoping to maskproblems at home withmilitary glory.
Bismarck furthered thecrisis by rewriting andreleasing to the presstelegram that reportedon a meeting betweenKing William I and theFrench ambassador.Bismarck editing of theEms dispatch made itseem that William I hadinsulted theFrenchmen. Furious,Napoleon III declaredwar on Prussia, asBismarck had hoped.
A superior Prussianforce, supported bytroops from otherGerman states,smashed the badlyorganized and poorlysupplied Frenchsoldiers. Napoleon III,old and ill, surrenderedwithin a few weeks.France had to accept ahumiliating peace.
Delighted by the victoryover France, princesfrom the southernGerman states and theNorthern GermanConfederationpersuaded William I ofPrussia to take the titleKaiser, or emperor. InJanuary 1871, Germannationalists celebratedthe birth of the SecondReich, or empire.
The constitution drafted byBismarck set up a two-house legislature. TheBundesrat, or upper house,was appointed by the rulersof the German states. TheReichstag, or lower house,was elected by universalmale suffrage. Because theBundesrat could veto anydecision of the Reichstag,real power remained in thehands of the emperor andhis chancellor.