• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Of all the factors that contributed to the unification of the German people in the 19th Century, the economic one was the most important: discuss the validity of this statement.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Of all the factors that contributed to the unification of the German people in the 19th Century, the economic one was the most important: discuss the validity of this statement. Without doubt, the Prussian economic situation was a very important factor in the creation a unified Germany, but there were other factors to be considered. These are the Prussian military capability, the international affairs at the time, Nationalism, the Zollverien, and arguably, the most important factor, was Otto Von Bismarck. Without the introduction of this man there would have been no increase in the Prussian military, Austria would have been in the Zollverien and therefore gained economically as did Prussia. Italy would not of attacked Austria, helping the Prussian army to win the battle, Napoleon would not of stayed neutral if it was not for Bismarck. There would not of been a great nationalistic feeling without his intervention in the Danish war and the defeat of the French, and finally there would have been no Germany including the southern states without his brilliance. Heinrich Von Sybel in 1894 described Bismarck as an '...incommensurable political genius...who was a politician of great stock who sacrificed everything to the interests of the state.' 1 The Prussian military was already considered to be of great strength in comparison to other German states, but it was still an immature and weak army and not yet capable of defeating Austria. ...read more.

Middle

Eventually France feel for the bait and declared war with Prussia on July 15, 1870. Prussia gained the advantage and surprised France by attacking first, the French were quickly defeated and by 28th of January 1871, the Prussian army had control of Paris. Then Bismarck had his crowning moment by signing a peace treaty and more importantly, crowning William the first, as the Emperor of Germany. Bismarck would not of been able to achieve all he did without his ability to recognise and manipulate international affairs, he used and abused his neighbours hate for each other to gain an advantage for an ever growing Prussia. He did not just declare war on Austria, as he knew the capabilities of his forces and knew there would be repercussions from France and Russia. Bismarck knew he had that he could count on the neutrality of the Russians because of his support for them during the Polish revolution. In addition, the Austrians did not support Russia when it was asked for during the Crimean War. Therefore, Russia owed them no favours. France was a little more complicated, although France and Austria were enemies, he could not be sure that they would stay neutral. Bismarck coincidentally visited Biarritz the same time as Napoleon, and met with the emperor. ...read more.

Conclusion

The problem with this analogy is it allows no credit for the skill, guile and genius of a man who created the unification of Germany in such a short space of time. Yes, he had a lot of luck, but he was also extremely dedicated, once he set out to achieve something, he stopped at nothing until it had been accomplished. Bismarck knew himself that he had limitations, he expressed this by pointing out 'I am not so arrogant as to assume that the likes of us are able to make history. My task is to keep an eye on the currents of the latter and steer my ship in them as best I can.4' It is true that he would not of been able to achieve all he did without the backing of the Prussian economy, but money does not always equal success and power. It takes a great and strong man to control were the money is spent. In 1862 at the great expedition Disraeli asked Bismarck what would he do if he came to power Bismarck replied. '...he would reorganise the army, with or without the support of parliament; secondly, he would destroy Austrian domination of the German confederation; thirdly, he would unify Germany under Prussian leadership.5' Later in that year, he was appointed Prime minister of Prussia. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Modern European History, 1789-1945 section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Modern European History, 1789-1945 essays

  1. To what extent was the contribution of Bismarck to German unification the most important ...

    Although something's don't work out he can always twist events into something that would benefit him, for example the telegram. He is always one step ahead, what the consequences will be and how to use them. This lateral thinking is very successful and apparent in all his work.

  2. To what extent should Bismarck receive credit for the unification of Germany?

    Its purpose was to increase trade and prosperity in Prussia, by abolishing the tariff barriers that divided the German provinces. By 1836, the Zollverein contained 25 states and a population of over 26 million.

  1. To what extent was Bismarck responsible for German unification?

    This eventual development was crucial to ensuring the unification of Germany. If Bismarck had not engineered Prussia's innocent image then it is likely that not only would the Prussian people not have supported him (Prussia's wrongful image would have given them no impetus towards patriotism), but Prussia might have also

  2. 'In the context of the period 1715-1815 to what extent were economic factors the ...

    One can see that the ideas of liberty and equality were one motive for the Revolution by looking at its results. 'The Declaration of the Rights of Man' issued by the National Assembly in 1789 is strong evidence for the importance of Enlightenment theorists to the revolutionaries.

  1. Why did Prussia rather than Austria lead the unification of Germany?

    J.M. Keynes suggested that rather than 'blood and iron', the German Empire was founded on 'coal and iron'.16 Similarly, the German historian H. Bohme suggests that unification would have happened with or without Bismarck due to economic considerations. In the 1850's the industrial revolution reached its decisive phase where new factories, railways and exports reached new peaks.

  2. Political and Economic Factors behind German Unification

    In the Austro-Prussian War of 1866, Bismarck isolated Austria by assuring that Russia and France remained neutral. Upon Austrian defeat, Bismarck refused to create an enemy of Austria and demanded little reparations of Austria; this was politically done so so that Austria would not be revengeful and Prussia would not be looked upon as the "bad guy."

  1. To what extent was German Unification driven by primarily economic forces?

    This is fundamental reason why the Zollverein is important in this question, because as Prussia unites Germany through war and diplomacy, neither of these things would be possible is Prussia wasn't rich. The Zollverein provides a useful base as an economic force and a template for a later political union.

  2. In the process of consolidating his position, Napoleons reforms, had by 1808, destroyed the ...

    Therefore, the French public did not have the liberty to elect their representatives or ruler - this meant that in creating the position of 'First Consul', Napoleon was betraying the revolutionary principle of 'liberty'. However, although it was corrupt and a top-heavy constitution, Napoleon had still created a constitution that

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work