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"It was war and nothing more and nothing less that united Germany"

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Introduction

Bianca Nardi History HL "It was war and nothing more and nothing less" To what extent is this a fair assessment of the process of unification in Germany from 1815 to 1871? The factors which led to the unification of Germany and their importance towards the latter have been an area of debate amongst historians in the early 1900s. Bismarck claimed, in a 1862 speech, that Germany would be united through "iron and blood". He believed in the use of preventive wars and in the paradoxical idea of war being a mere diplomatic act. However, there were evidently other factors which have influenced the process of unification of Germany such as the economical factors and the implementation of the Zollverein as well as Bismark's diplomacy and the revival of German nationalism. Hence, is the affirmation that "it was war and nothing more and nothing less that united Germany" a fair assessment of the process of unification from 1815 to 1871? Bismarck created an alliance with Austria in order to prevent intervention during his attack on Denmark. The treaty of Gastein was created, which ensured that only Austria and Prussia could make decisions of the future of the Duchies - Austria received Holstein and Prussia received Schleswig under the treaty. The war with Denmark and the treaty of Gastein were viewed as excuses to go to war with Austria in 1866- which is in fact what Bismarck claimed to plan since the beginning. ...read more.

Middle

According to AJP Taylor, "Bismark owed his success to the disunion and lack of will of his opponents. A coalition, or even a prolonged war, would have ruined him". His brilliance lies in managing to "minister his own vanity as an individual and to the cause of his indispensability as a politician", according to LCB Seaman, who claims that Bismarck had no "master plan", but had an obvious gift for public speaking and historical writing. Chance and diplomacy - and not the wars themselves - were crucial in the process of unification. The end of peaceful dualism and the creation of the union of the German states - the Erfurt union - were important factors which contributed to unification. It can be argued that the end of peaceful dualism was planned by Bismark to begin with, with the creation of the Treaty of Gastein. The Austro-Prussian war was the diplomatic end by which this alliance between Prussia and Austria was broken. Thus, although it can be argued that the war was essential to break Austrian dominance on Prussia, it wasn't the war itself which contributed to unification, and rather the act of ending the alliance. The Erfurt Union was a short-lived union of German states under a federation, proposed by the Kingdom of Prussia at Erfurt, for which the Erfurt Union Parliament was opened. ...read more.

Conclusion

Another factor which influenced the development of nationalism was the growth of the railways - which made Germans more mobile and broke down local and regional barriers. Additionally, the railway helped spread news and ideas - binding Germany together. The Germans felt as if the fatherland was constantly being attacked by international forces - such as the king of Denmark's decision in 1846 to incorporate Schleswig-Hostein into Denmark - and this gave birth to a feeling that Germany's role in Europe was unfulfilled and undermined. The people realized the need to be bound together as a stronger nation - and thus the nationalistic upsurge greatly contributed to unification. According to Bismarck, Germany was unified through war and through his master plan of unification. Keynes, however, states that Germany was united due to Prussia's strong economic growth and power. The historian AJP Taylor claims that Bismark's ability to appear to master events - that is, his diplomacy - was the main factor which contributed to unification. International apathy from Russia and Britain, as well as German nationalism, also contributed to unification as Europe's greatest powers did not stop Bismarck's actions. As mentioned in the paragraphs above, it becomes evident that the German unification required considerably more than wars in order to happen. The wars inarguably had a great impact on the process of unification, but it is incorrect to claim that "it was war and nothing more and nothing less" which contributed to German national unity. ...read more.

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