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

Was Nationalism the most Important cause of German Unification? Discuss

Extracts from this document...


Alex Mansfield 13/2 Was Nationalism the most Important cause of German Unification? Discuss Many historians have disputed how important Nationalism was in the unification of Germany. Some believe that nationalism was the most important cause, others believe that it was Prussia's economic power that caused eventual unification. However, other historians believe that it was a combination of factors that led to the unification of Germany in 1871. Nationalism was part of the cause for German unification. In 1848 revolutions that swept through Europe established the first elected parliament, the Vorparliament although this did discuss the possibility of unity through the declaration of Heidelberg it should not be overemphasised. Indeed, it was the diverging ideologies of Nationalists that contributed to the collapse of the Vorparliament in late 1848. Hence nationalism was not the most important cause of German Unification. The principal goal of all German Nationalists was to unite "Germany". However there were two contrasting parties, Kleindeutschland and Grossdeutschland. ...read more.


However, the main cause of German unification was Prussia's economic dominance of the confederation. In 1818 at the behest of the industries in the Rhineland the Prussian Tariff reform law was initiated. This removed all domestic trade barriers and increased railway production, bringing the scattered German states closer together, thus increasing the chances of national unity. Although the Zollverein brought economic unity it should not be over emphasised as a force for political unity as many people at the time still saw this as undesirable. The basis of Prussian power, to a great extent was its domination of the Zollverein and its rapidly developing economy, Prussia was an established economic power in Europe outstripping both Austria and France economically. Perhaps recognising the need to unify Germany by force Prussia's military chiefs saw the potential in the railways to mobilise their troops. The Zollverein, although not directly responsible for the unification of Germany played an important part in Prussia's victory over Austria in 1866 and France in 1870, eventually leading to national unity. ...read more.


However, it is clear that in the war against France in 1870 he used nationalism to his advantage. Bismark doctored the Ems telegram to incite the French public opinion against Prussia, many "Germans" still viewed France as the "old enemy" so when France declared war on Prussia the Nationalistic feeling in the southern German states led them to fight alongside Prussia. However, these states were already obliged to fight for Prussia due to their military alliances Bismark, implied that the war was not an attack on Prussia, but on the Fatherland, on all Germans. He persuaded the southern states that to join with Prussia would ensure their safety against an aggressive France. Although Nationalism contributed to German unification it would be incorrect to say that it was the most important cause. The historian EJ Feuchtwanger pointed out "1848 demonstrated crushingly the impotence of ideas without power". Prussian Patriotism was the driving force behind unification combined with Prussia's growing economy ensured national unity under Prussian leadership. Otto Von Bismark described it best "Germany doesn't look to Prussia's Liberalism, but to its power." ...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. How and why did Piedmont-Sardinia play an important part in Italian Unification

    However the Italian failures of 1848-9 convinced had Cavour that Italy would not be able to achieve independence or unity without foreign help. Cavour was provided the perfect opportunity to ask for help during the Crimean War of 1854. Piedmont sent troops to assist England and France in their fight.

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

    Cooperation between the major revolutions and in turn the parochial nature of the society was most definitely an obstacle which prevented all round success. Firstly, the purpose of revolutionary activity was different and hence the aims of the various divisions within Italy were different.

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

    the setting up of the Erfurt Parliament by Prussia; this, again, added up to Austria's weaknesses, as now her Frankfurt Diet was rivalled by the Erfurt Parliament. Although the situation heated up between the two assemblies over the Hesse-Cassel dispute, forcing Prussia to abandon the Prussian Union Plan at the

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

    All this helped moved Germany towards the Kleindeutschland solution and towards a greater unity. By the time Austria realised how important the Zollverein had become in the early 1850s, it was too late as Prussian dominance of the German Customs Union had 'tied virtually all of non-Austrian Germany to [Prussian] leadership'viii.


    saw the penniless revolutionaries on their way to exile, begging in the streets. He was shocked by their distress but at the same time impressed by their devotion to a political cause. After getting bored while studying law, he joined the Carbonari (a secret that society which in translation means coal burners)

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

    In October the Piedmontese army had reach Napolitan territory where he met Victor Emmanuel. On the 7th of November Garibaldi and Victor Emmanuel rode out together into Naples. This was where Garibaldi officially handed over his conquests to Victor Emmanuel.

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

    The 'Peace of Prague' Treaty was then signed which achieved Bismark's main aims of Prussian domination. Bismark's third war came over the issue of the succession of the Spanish throne in 1870. Napoleon III feared the encirclement of France if a Hohenzollern became king and demanded that Prince Leopold withdraw.

  2. To what extent did nationalism within the Austria-Hungarian Empire contribute to the outbreak of ...

    Only Britain, with whom he would have also liked an alliance, and France were outside his system. The Austro-German-Italian combination represented a strong monarchical phalanx against the forces of liberalism that was "corrupting" Britain, and the republicanism that had already taken over France.

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