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Why was Germany unified by Prussia and not by Austria?

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Introduction

Why was Germany unified by Prussia and not by Austria? From the 1800s Germany was divided into separate states controlled by the Austrian Empire; but almost at the end of the century (1871), Germany gained its independence and later became one of the most powerful nations in Europe, due to the great influence by Prussia and chancellor Otto Von Bismarck. The exact reason for the unification of Germany is still unclear but there are several speculations for the causes of the unification by the Prussians. First the Austrians were humiliated/ weakened due to its international foreign affairs, Prussia had stabilized industry and rich territories which the Prussians considered very important, and the 'Zollverein' had a huge impact on the German unification. Out of all the separate states before the German unification, Prussia was the largest and most powerful in terms of its economy and military strength. They believed that economy was one of the major factors on improving the nation's strength and wealth. During the Congress of Vienna in 1815, it was confirmed that Prussia would receive Rheinland, which the territory had crucial resources such as coal and iron ore; through this benefit the nation/ state was able to achieve its desire on having stabilized economy. However the most important factor of economic success for Prussia was the establishment of the German Customs Union, known as the 'Zollverein in 1834. ...read more.

Middle

Bismarck main goal was basically to unify Germany under Prussian rule. Bismarck himself said : 'As soon as the army shall be brought into such a condition as to inspire respect, I shall seize the first best pretext to declare war on Austria, dissolve the German Diet, and give national unity to Germany under Prussian leadership'. This speech basically tells us that he was desperate for the war against Austria, but in reality according to historians, he tried to avoid wars if possible. In general it seemed that Bismarck served only those who could benefit his goals. Historian A.J.P. Taylor wrote: 'He claimed to serve sometimes the King of Prussia, sometimes Germany, sometimes God. All three were cloaks for his own will.' Another important reason for why Germany was unified under Prussia was due to Prussia's strong army. Prussia's army improved during the years 1850 to 1860. When Helmut von Moltke was appointed chief of staff in 1857, he transformed the army. The Prussian army became much more organized and was trained harder; the success of the army was largely due to the nation's rapid economic growth since the nation's successful economy produced effective railway system, which made transport of troops to the frontier much faster. The first objective for the Prussian army was to protect the Germans, who lived near France. ...read more.

Conclusion

The victory set a influence in the southern states, and soon most of the states became part of the new Confederation. By 1871, Wilhelm I was honored emperor of Germany, and the last states joined forming Germany. Prussia's major aim was first to stabilize its economy, and when Bismarck was appointed as the minister President, the nations aim extended (officially) on unifying Germany. In terms of military strategies/ strengths, Prussia had much more power than the Austrians, and their economy was much better too. Basically a successful economy was one of the key points on strengthening the military and therefore unifying Germany. Historian such as Helmut Bohme believes that the dynamics of the German economy were of greater importance than political priorities of the Prussian government. Other experts believe that the political priorities (Bismarck) were the main reasons of unification. However without the Austrians, Prussia might not have been able to unify Germany. The general reason why Austria was not able to unite Germany was because they were always below (or later) Prussia (in terms of economy, military strength, government, etc...). also they have made lots of unwise or unlucky decisions and these basically caused crisis to the nation; Prussia though did not just watch the Austrians falling but used this chance (such as meeting alliance with western powers, excluding Austria from Zollverein, etc...) to destroy Austria and unify Germany by themselves. So basically the Prussians had deep ambitions on unifying Germany. ?? ?? ?? ?? 9/11/08 ...read more.

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