• 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...


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.


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.


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 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. Why did the Franco-Prussian war happen and why were the Prussians able to defeat ...

    The superior leadership makes Prussia able to win the Franco-Prussian War because with better leaders than the French the Prussians were able to quickly get the army mobilised and gain quick victories, e.g. the siege of Metz of 1870, with decent officers the Prussians were generally better fighters because they were better led.

  1. To what extent do the economic factors account for the unification of Germany between ...

    working silently but irresistibly to remove the rigidities and divisions within our nation"5 By the middle of century, the Zollverien had generated a substantial political momentum in that its non-Prussian members had come to identify their economic interest with integration with Prussia.

  2. "To What Extent Can Bismarck Claim The Credit For German Unification".

    at Biarritz when he was underestimated by Napoleon and ended up playing Napoleon for a fool. Bismarck was very skilled at intrigue and diplomacy and regularly used diplomacy to isolate and neutralise likely victims as he went. He wanted to rid the German states of Austrian domination.

  1. 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."

  2. Why was Prussia able to win the war with Austria in 1866?

    Borsig's trains and Krupp's weapons and steel. Prussia had the capacity for massive industrial production through this it made Prussia wealthy and economically stable. Also Prussia had large reserves of Coal and Iron, the essentials of an industrial society, with these reserves in the Saar, Silesia and the Ruhr, coal

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

    Tension mounted when a new Spanish government invited a member of the Prussian King's family to take the Spanish crown in 1869. France, appalled at the prospect of the Hohenzollern dynasty at both its east and west borders, managed to stop the candidate from accepting the offer, a candidate who

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

    Already he sees the duchies as a way to rid Prussia of Austria- to become closer to being independent. Even when control was decided for the duchies he has out smarted the Austrians and gained control of both duchies even though he officially he only controls Schleswig.

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