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Extended Essay: Bismarck and The Unification of Germany

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Introduction

Extended Essay To what extend does Otto Von Bismarck deserve his reputation as the man who united Germany? On the 18th of January, 1871, Bismarck proclaimed the German Empire in the Hall of Mirrors in the Palace of Versailles. Germany had been unified be Prussia, under its prime minister Otto von Bismarck. The unification involved three wars and, it has been claimed, was not created by a desire for nationalism but a struggle to determine Prussian dominance within the German states. Up until World War II, it was widely accepted that Bismarck alone was responsible for unification. However, modern historians agree that Bismarck did not begin unification from nothing and have identified other factors influencing unification and the spread of nationalist ideas from 1815. These historians argue that if it weren't for factors such as the Zollverien, cultural and political nationalism and the Strength of Prussia and decline of Austria, Bismarck would not have been nearly as successful. Before Bismarck burst onto the political scene in 1862, it is clear to see that the foundations for unification were already laid, this is shown in the economic strength of Prussia prior to 1871. The Zollverien was and important factor as it brought many German states together economically and excluded Austria. Prussia had gained valuable land in the west in 1815. this land provided her with valuable coal and iron resources. ...read more.

Middle

Undoubtedly, most would agree that eit gave the German states a taste for unification in the very format it followed, even if, it was more of a means to perpetuate the divisions of Germany. After the revolutions of 1848, the Frankfurt diet was set up and was a further development which aided unification. Despite failing after a short period of time, it did set the climate for future development and gave middle classes a sample of a united Germany. Political factors were very important as they improved relationships between the states and made co-operation and co-ordination easier. Bismarck was able to build on these relations later when it came to uniting the South German States and the North German States. In addition to these factors, the key position of Prussia after 1862 played a big part in the achievement of Kliendeutch unification. By 1836, Prussia had already emerged as the economic leader of the states due to her control of the Zollverien, which Austria had no say in, and she controlled the main trade rivers of central Europe. This, in addition to the mineral output of Prussia gave her an upper hand in disputes and decisions. Additionally, Prussia's political system was one of modern bureaucracy and was politically stable holding a liberal, nationalistic stance ready to be expanded to the other states in the event of unification. ...read more.

Conclusion

King Willhelm was on holiday at a health resort called Ems when he received the French demand; he politely refused and send Bismarck a telegram informing him of what had happened and how he intended to reply to the French. Bismarck saw his chance and altered the telegram slightly to make it sound as id the king had insulted the French ambassador by refusing to meet him. Bismarck then sent his own version of the Ems telegram to the French and German newspapers for publication. The edited version of the telegram had the effect Bismarck intended. The French government responded to the anger of the public over the "Prussian insult" by declaring war. Bismarck had what he wanted. France appeared as the aggressor in a war against Prussia, thus ensuring the neutrality of the other powers. The strong Prussian army was able to defeat the French and a peace settlement was reached in the Hall of Mirrors in Versailles, in which the German states achieved unity. Therefore, Bismarck's role arguably acted as a catalyst and his ability to manipulate events and engineer situations saw the unification occur in 1871. In conclusion, Several factors aided German unification, for example cultural nationalism, which romanticised the idea of a united Germany, bringing the spirit of nationalism to the upper classes and universities. Political nationalism also helped with organisations like the Bund debating a Kliendeutch/Grossdeutch approach to nationalism, a reduction in the number of fragmented states made cooperation and coordination much easier. Most would argue however that more important was the economic factors oHolHHa Graaaaa Kim Reid 5C1 ...read more.

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This is a very strong response that goes into a great deal of detail and includes thoughtful evaluation to link back to the question. To improve further, the author could reconsider the order of her paragraphs so they flow more logically and come to a more developed judgment in the conclusion.

Marked by teacher Natalya Luck 10/04/2013

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