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

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

Extracts from this document...


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.


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.


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.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE International relations 1900-1939 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 GCSE International relations 1900-1939 essays

  1. To what extent was Austria the main obstacle to the unification of Italy in ...

    In contrast the Sicilians were revolting due to the King's failure to grant them independence and neglecting the Island. There was a similar contrast in aims in the 1848-1849 revolutions where Sicilians and the Neapolitans were essentially at war against each other since Sicily wanted independence from Naples and did

  2. Questions on World War One.

    French objectives at Versailles: Clemenceau's primary concern was to protect France against future German aggression. He proposed an independent Rhineland, but this idea ran contrary to the principle of national self-determination; instead France obtained the demilitarisation of the Rhineland, and its occupation for 15 years and also acquired the Saar coal mines.

  1. To what extent was the unification of Prussia due to weaknesses of Austria?

    influence on Germany as she had her own numerous issues to solve in the spring and summer of 1848. The trend of her not being able to fully commit herself to German affairs and to rise up to her Dual Power title that she shared with Prussia was continued during

  2. Was Nationalism the most Important cause of German Unification? Discuss

    Another possibility was the threat of French invasion of the Rhineland in 1840. Although this did not occur it created a massive increase in nationalist sentiment to resist the "old enemy" Another event that increased the shows of Nationalism in the unification of Germany was in 1864 when Denmark attempted to incorporate Schleswig and Holstein into its kingdom.

  1. What contribution did the Zollverein make to the unification of Germany?

    Even in 1830, Prussia's finance minister indicated to Frederick William III that such a union could isolate Austria from German affairs. Hence, in spite of Austria's preeminence in the Bund, Germany's principal political focal point, there was a separate entity around which Kleindeutschland enthusiasts could gather.


    He soon got a reputation as a liberal, non-revolutionary politician. In 1850 he was appointed Minister of Agriculture, Commerce and the navy. Cavour then put his economic beliefs into reality by making free trade treaties with France, Britain, Belgium and even Austria.

  1. Describe the Different Stages to Italian unification between 1856 - 1871.

    Garibaldi handed over his conquests for several reasons, firstly to unite Italy further under one ruler and secondly it his conquests were in the hands of the king he ensured that they would be looked after as what ruler would not look after his own territories?

  2. "Popular Nationalist Sentiment; Military Superiority; Economic Power; The Genius of Bismark." Which of these ...

    This was agreed but he then demanded guarantees that the candidature would not be renewed. Bismark altered the Ems telegram so that the French Government could only take it as a rebuff. The French public demanded a war which was again a triumph for Prussia, giving her Alsace and Lorraine and enabled Bismark to complete the unification of Germany.

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