Unification of Germany
Social & Economic condition
- social conditions were similar to those witnessed in any Feudal society
- In Germany, the landlords were called Junkers, who dominated the affairs of the state
- the division of Germany into multiple states resulted in poor economic development because of restrictions these states brought on free movement of goods.
Role of Napoleonic Wars & French Revolution
- In 18th century, Germany was divided into many states
- The Napoleonic wars ended the artificial boundaries of many states and united them, but still 38 states remained
- Prussia was the biggest and the most powerful of them
- After the French revolution, the German people started demanding democratic form of government and economic reforms
- All these undercurrents resulted in formation of the German Confederation in 1815
- included parts of Austrian & Prussian Empire and some German states
- Confederation’s purpose was to coordinate economic policies of the constituent members
failed because of following
- Each of the constituent state tried to assert its independence and did little to meet the anti-feudal aspirations of the people
- 1848 revolts for establishment of a democracy in a unified Germany.
- Rivalry between Austria and Prussia for dominating the affairs of the German Confederation.
- Failure to unite under a Democracy
- 1848 was a year of revolts in most of Europe for establishment of democracy.
- In 1848, revolts started in all German states for overthrow of the present political system of Monarchy rule
- the rulers were forced to grant a democratic form of government
- Constituent Assembly thus formed, met in Frankfurt with the goals to unite all the German States and to draft a new constitution.
- Prussian King refused to the proposal of a constitutional monarchy for united Germany.
- Consequently, the rights granted so far to appease the nationalists were withdrawn and the monarchy of Prussia emerged the strongest
Unification under Bismarck: Policy of Blood & Iron
- unification of Germany was still to happen but not under a democratic government but under the iron hand of Bismarck, the military commander of Prussia
- policy was to preserve the interests of the landed aristocracy and the domination of Army in affairs of the State.
- Bismarck followed the policy of Blood and Iron under which he coerced the states into unison.
- The aim of the policy was to unite Germany under the Prussian Monarchy and this required bringing down the German Confederation
To implement his policy:
- Bismarck’s Prussia first fought a war in 1864 in alliance with Austria against Denmark to annex most of the territory of German Confederation.
- Then he allied with Italy in 1866 to defeat Austria and removed it from the German Confederation.
- Consequently the Confederation itself was ended.
- In 1867, Bismarck formed the North German Confederation.
- The constitution of this Confederation made the Prussian King the hereditary head of the state
- Franco-Prussian war in 1870 led to final unification of Germany
- French King Louis Bonaparte declared war on Germany in 1870.
- The result was that France was defeated and it declared itself republic in 1871. The war and the consequent German victory allowed Bismarck to absorb rest of the German states into a united Germany (1871)