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To what extent was 'blood and iron' the MAIN reason for the unification of Germany by 1871?

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Introduction

HISTORY ESSAY To what extent was 'blood and iron' the MAIN reason for the unification of Germany by 1871? In 1862, Bismarck said that 'the great questions of the day will be settled by blood and iron.' Although there is undoubtedly some degree of accuracy in this statement, the most important reason for the unification of Germany, which ended 'the great questions of the day,' was 'coal and iron.' This is a quote from British economist John Maynard Keynes, who argued that the industrial and economic preparation before the wars, which united Germany, were more important. This is because the economic strength created by the rapid industrialisation enabled the creation of a powerful Prussia. It was under this powerful Prussia, with some skilful diplomacy and opportunism, that Germany was successfully united in the wars of German Unification. Without such economic development and prosperity, it is questionable whether Germany would have been united by 1871. The main reason for the unification of Germany by 1871 was 'coal and iron.' This includes important factors such as the presence of raw materials in Prussia, the development of the railways and the Zollverein in Germany, and the industrialisation, which took place in Prussia, particularly in the 1850s. ...read more.

Middle

This was because Austria was excluded was the customs union, and thus it helped to establish Prussia as the dominant German state, which could go forward and unify the many states into a single Germany. Moreover, the Zollverein made the movement of goods more efficient and in turn this helped to maintain the excellent financial climate. The economic growth that Prussia experienced, under pinned it's military expansion which was essential in winning the wars of unification and uniting Germany. Without these longer terms economic and industrial factors, it is arguable that unification wouldn't have happened. One of the direct consequences of the economic growth and period of prosperity was the power of the Prussian army. Under the reforms of the Minister of War, Albrecht von Roon, the annual intake was increased by 23 000 to 63 000. The efficiency of the army was also improved by reorganising the structure and organisation of the army. Some of the funding for this expansion would have from the industrialisation and economic growth. This is therefore further evidence that the longer terms reasons such as the industrialisation enabled the shorter-term reasons, such as success in the wars of unification, to take place. ...read more.

Conclusion

This would have set back the process of unification. Likewise, Bismarck's alliance with Austria in 1866 gave him greater military presence, which was important in defeating Austria and moving forward to unite the German states. This skilful negotiation and opportunism was significant in the progression of the movement towards German unification. The main reason for German unification by 1871 was 'iron and coal.' The most important reason was industrialisation. This was because this enabled the creation of thousands of miles of railways, and helped to provide a sound, stable financial environment. This enabled a strong and successful Prussia to emerge. Prussia was then able to progress to unite Germany. This was because the strong economy permitted the establishment of a strong military force. This strong military force was then able to go forward and unite Germany by 'blood and iron.' This process was undoubtedly assisted by the skilful negotiation and opportunism of Bismarck. The longer-term factors - the economic and industrial factors - enabled the shorter-term reasons for unification to occur. Without a strong financial backdrop, Prussia would not have had such a powerful and efficient army, which was clearly important in the unification of Germany. It was 'iron and coal' that enabled the new German Reich to be proclaimed in the Hall of Mirrors, Versailles on 18th June 1871. ...read more.

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