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"Popular Nationalist Sentiment; Military Superiority; Economic Power; The Genius of Bismark." Which of these Factors Seems to you to be the Most Important in the Eventual Unification of Germany Between 1863 and 1871?

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Introduction

"Popular Nationalist Sentiment; Military Superiority; Economic Power; The Genius of Bismark." Which of these Factors Seems to you to be the Most Important in the Eventual Unification of Germany Between 1863 and 1871? On the 18th January 1871, Wilhelm 1 was proclaimed Emperor of a united Germany. The unification of Germany was, like all historical events, multi- causal, the most influential reasons being the Bismark's cynical and unscrupulous diplomacy, military superiority of Prussia and economic power, and lastly, popular nationalist sentiment. Bismark seems to be the most important factor of these. He was a successful diplomat with strong anti liberal views. Even though parliament refused to approve taxes for enlarging the Prussian army, Bismark simply carried on collecting them, showing his willingness to go to extreme measures to achieve his aims. Between 1864 and 1871 Bismark engaged in three wars which brought about the unification of Germany. Firstly, the Danish war of 1864. This successful war for Bismark meant that he presented himself as the champion of German interests. By the convention of Gastein in 1865, Prussia took Schleswig and Austria took Holstein. This gave Bismark the chance to pick a quarrel with Austria whenever he saw the need. ...read more.

Middle

Military superiority in Prussia also aided the unification process. The declaration of a German Reich followed the victories of the Prussian army over Austria and France. Within a month the French armies were decisively defeated, the Prussian capturing over 160 000 French soldiers. The Prussian army was able to mobilise at speed compared to France. The Austrian was lasted only seven weeks as Austria had to fight on two fronts and Prussia's planning and weaponry were far superior to that of Austria. Chief of Staff, Von Moltke was a good organiser and planner of the army. He was able to increase their size, improve tactical mobility and also the provision of supplies. Without this strength of backing the unification of Germany would not have been possible. The Prussian army also had good quality weaponry, shown in the introduction of the 'breech-loading Dreyse gun.' Also, in 1866 Prussian soldiers had three times the rate of fire in comparison to Austrians. There was also major training carried out to improve the use of this new technology. Economic factors such as the Zollverein inspired a desire for greater national unity, which excluded Austria, setting the scene for eventual Prussian takeover. ...read more.

Conclusion

However, this feeling was not strong throughout Germany as people could see that the German nation would be dominated by Prussia, so were not so favourable towards unification. In conclusion, although Bismark does seem the most important and influential factor in the unification of Germany, other factors were of great importance in aiding him to carry this out. He relied upon the Prussian military power, as only military strength could overcome Austria's hostility, who wanted a divided Germany. Similarly, it was likely that France would eventually try to prevent the emergence of a greater power to its east. Therefore, the roles of Roon, Moltke and the minister of war in building up the Prussian army, were crucial to Bismark's success. The economic development of Prussia also underlay its military power. Prussia was already the most industrialised state in Germany before Bismark came to power, and the zollverein allowed it to gain economic supremacy over other German states. However, there was little popular demand for unification amongst the German nation as a whole and the majority of Germans were uninspired. However, the leaders of Prussia decided it was time for unification and they had the power to achieve this. Laura Westwood 1 ...read more.

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