Why and to What Extent did the German Revolutions of 1848 Fail?

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Why and to What Extent did the German Revolutions of 1848 Fail?


The German Revolution, which began in 1848, was one of many revolutions that were occurring across Europe at a similar time. The progression of revolution throughout Europe encouraged Germany and when news of the events in France reached Germany it sparked revolution in many of Germany’s small south-west German states. However, as revolution started to fail elsewhere in Europe this had a negative impact on the German Revolution.

There were several reasons why the German Revolutions of 1848 failed. The amount of active revolution was small and restricted; in Prussia it was restricted to riots in Berlin and there was unrest in the Rhineland and Silesia. There was little fighting in most states and the German leaders gave into revolutionary parties demands for more democratic governments. These concessions, however were only to prevent them being overthrown and so in most states they retained control of their armed forces and waited for their opportunity to regain power.

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The growing amount of disunity between the revolutionaries gave the monarchy this opportunity; there was a wide difference in political aims of liberals and radicals. Liberals wanted a constitutional Government in all states and a United Empire with a national parliament while the radicals wanted a complete political and social change writing a republic framework. There were not only divisions between political groups, different social groups had very different interests. It was the popular movements, which were the basis of the revolution, it was the middle-classes who seized power. The middle classes secured the election of their own assemblies, however ...

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