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How far was Bizmarck responsible for Prussian domination of Germany by 1866?

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Introduction

History Essay- Luke Vaggers 14/10/02 How far was Bizmarck responsible for Prussian domination of Germany by 1866? In 1866 Prussia defeated Austria, which enabled Bizmarck to dissolve the German Confederation and exclude Austria from German affairs for good. However there is a great historical debate over how much of a role Bizmarck actually played in the eventual Prussian domination of a united Germany. There is no doubt that he played an important part but other factors must be considered for instance how important the years previous to 1862 when Bizmarck came to power were. Whether he had a master plan all along and therefore very skilfully brought about unification or whether he was a great opportunist who simply took advantage of events as they happened will be discussed. Undeniably he played a major role but he didn't unify Germany single-handed on his entry to power he was given a great situation in which unification was possible. W.E Moss once said "If Bismarck played his hand with great skill, it was good hand in the first" he was given these good cards in 1862 after years of political, military and nationalistic advancement he was able to take the final step and unify Germany. ...read more.

Middle

Fortunately for him the situation in Germany was quite favourable as well. Nationalism and Liberalism two beliefs quite closely related had been on the increase since 1815 after the successful economic union people were a lot less against union. Most Prussians and the king resented the defeat at Olmutz and so were not really opposed to Bismarck's anti-Austrian policy. Also Prussian liberals in the Lantag were ready to trade in their liberal views in exchange for German unification, also the businessman of the powerful organisation the Nationalverin were for unification. The image that Bizmarck struggled alone to unite Germany is a false one he had the favourable situation both foreign and at home for which unification could take place. The defeat of Austria in the 1866 war is clearly a very important, it gave Bizmarck the ability to dissolve the German confederation and exclude Austria from German affairs. This took Prussia a long way in following the Kleindeutsch plan and the reason for the victory was certainly not all down to Bizmarck but again to the years previous to 1862 and to the minister presidents before. Generations of Prussian leaders had pumped large amounts of money into the army e.g. ...read more.

Conclusion

However as always there is also a strong argument against this belief, they believe his real aim was to preserve and extend Prussian control and that he followed the clever policy of "two irons in the fire" meaning that there were always possibilities. They believe he intervened in the Schleswig-Holstein affair because of his hatred of the poles, that he never ensured French neutrality, seen by how wary he was of it being a long war as France could intervene and take all their gains and that he actually hoped to unite Germany peacefully without war if possible. 'The Master' planner view is probably the most unlikely from letters and speeches at the time the idea that he was at heart just a Junker who wanted to keep the same strong society in Prussia is probably more realistic. However the fact of the matter is in 1862 Otto Von Bizmarck came to power and in a matter of years German Unification took place, how much of a part he actually played is part of an endless debate the situation and prospects for Prussia were so good, the analogy that he was given a great hand on his entry into power and all he had to do was play it with good timing is probably quite a good one. ...read more.

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