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Bismark and German Unification
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Bismark and German Unification


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18th and 19th Century Europe

18th and 19th Century Europe

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  • 1. “The German difference from the American, British, and French models of society and politics does not lie in any German rejection of individual freedom in favor of absolute, or totalitarian, rule. Historical experience has instead left Germans more fearful of anarchy than of tyranny, inclining them to hedge, if hedge they must, on the side of good order. This they have done in a compelling belief that it is not freedom, once attained, but discipline, carefully maintained, that keeps a people free” -Historian Steven Ozment
  • 2. The Creation of Germany: From Blood and Iron, 1815-71
  • 3.  German people were divided among a host of states led by Austria & Prussia  Napoleon formed the Rhine Confederation  He was first welcomed  Seen as hero  Liked enlightenment policies  Struggle to overthrow France led to development of German Nationalism
  • 4.  Zollverein – German customs union led by Prussia; helped them have influence over smaller German states  Austria opposed creation of United Germany, but wanted expanded Zollverein  Conflict between Prussia & Austria was unavoidable
  • 5.  After the revolutions were crushed believers in unification of Germany divided into 2 parties:  Kleindeutsch (small Germany)— Austria & Bohemia excluded, Prussia main power; appealed to Prussians & smaller states & Protestants  Grossdeutsch (large Germany)— Austria & Bohemia included; appealed to larger states & Catholics  Mitteleuropa (mid-European Union)—much looser confederation of independent states; favored by Austria Impact of Revolutions of 1848
  • 6.  Born in 1815 to a Prussian Junker (rural aristocratic) class family  Rebellious youth, lacked direction  Tall (6’2”), imposing, confident  1832—begins years at liberal university in Gottingen  1847-51—delegate to German Confederation--develops ultraconservative outlook  1851-62 served in Prussian Diplomatic Corps in German Confederation, Russia, and France  1862 appointed Prime Minister to help King Wilhelm I with a crisis with Parliament over military Otto von Bismarck, Minister- President of Prussia Otto von Bismarck (1815-1898) Wilhelm I, King of Prussia
  • 7.  Ignores Parliament’s opposition  Collects taxes without their consent  Puts army under King’s control  Curtailed freedom of the press  Forced state officials to show loyalty  From 1862, Bismarck rules Prussia as dictator with Wilhelm’s permission  Ultra-conservative but later moderated views when in power  Strong willed, shrewd, manipulative  Master of Realpolitik  Machiavellian  Divide-and-conquer strategy  Used German nationalism to advantage  Ultimate goal: power Bismarck’s Rise to Power
  • 8.  1863 crisis over Control of Schleswig and Holstein— Danish King or German Duke?  Bismarck maneuvered Denmark into a war with PRU & AUS  Denmark was defeated and Austria and Prussia sign the Gastein Convention  Bismarck weakened Britain, and set Austria up
  • 9.  Prussia set up alliances or neutrality of other major powers  Austria failed to follow the Gastein Convention  Bismarck provoked Austria into declaring war on Prussia  Many German states side with Austria  Prussia was able to quickly defeat Austria & prevent French intervention
  • 10.  Prussia strengthened and dominates German States  End of the German Confederation & the creation of the Northern German Confederation  Prussia annexed most of the opposing N. German States  S. German States signed treaties w/Prussia  Austria weakened but not harshly punished—would not seek revenge  Italy takes territory from Austria  France belatedly recognizes rise of Prussian power
  • 11.  France fears rise of Prussian Power  Tensions rise over succession to Spanish throne—Ems Dispatch—angers France  Bismarck was able to isolate France from the rest of Europe—Napoleon III  Bismarck able to unite w/Southern German States— German Nationalism  France declares war on Prussia
  • 12.  Germany quickly mobilizes the German forces and invades France  French forces are quickly defeated in a series of battles (Metz & Sedan) and Napoleon III is captured  Paris is besieged and the 3rd Republic is formed  Battles between rival French political forces—Commune  Feb 1871 France surrenders
  • 13.  Treaty of Frankfurt officially ended the war  France  defeated & weakened  Republic formed  Loses territory (Alsace & Lorraine) and pays indemnity( 500 million francs)  Germany  Dominant power in Europe  Unification of Germany (18 Jan 1871)  Balance of power changed in Europe