The Unification of Germany

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Rasmus Puggaard                4/11/2007

                IB History HL                

The Unification of Germany and Bismarck

Germany was unified on January the 18th, 1871, by Otto Von Bismarck, the Chief Minister.

There are many events and people that needs to be considered when discussing the unification of Germany, however, Bismarck was a man of action and essentially, he managed to a number of independent German states into one nation, and so created the German Empire from which all the states bearing the name of Germany descend from. Historians worldwide have discussed the role of Bismarck for a long time, whether he was just taking advantage of skilful diplomacy and clever manipulation of situations that presented themselves to him between 1862 and 1871

This essay will focus on the unification of Germany from Bismarck’s point of view, as there is quite a lot of debate around whether he had a master plan to unify Germany of if it was luck that made it happen, or that his aims were simply to expand Prussia.

Bismarck was a man who had a very clear vision of unifying the German states into one strong nation, however, many different developments took place during and before Bismarck that eventually would change the situation without the influence of Bismarck himself. This can be seen by the fact that German nationalism grew at a very fast rate during the 18th and 19th century. The millions of Germans that lived in the various states started to feel that they needed to be unified and brought together. Many factors brought Germans together, while one was the fact that they discovered how weak their 39 states and armies were as independent states, when Napoleons French armies swept through the German states. As one nation, the German army would be better organized and morale would be higher. These feelings and events had nothing to do with Bismarck.

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Moreover, there were the economical aspects that led to unification. The most important aspect was the Zollverein which was extremely significant at the time. It was a voluntary customs union that basically got rid of the barriers of trade that were present between the 39 German states. This meant that trading would be free between the states which greatly improved the nationalist feelings. It made trading easier for the German states, but excluded trade with Austria which also provoked a later conflict. The Zollverein brought the German states together in a cooperation which promoted their feelings of nationalism. Also, ...

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