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German Unification Essay

1210 words - 5 pages

Assess the success of German Unification under Otto von Bismarck.German Unification under Otto von Bismarck was a means of distracting and deflecting growing German calls for reform in the structure of society and politics. Bismarck's unification of Germany created a state that was politically backward and unprepared to change with the powerful social upheavals that the rest of Europe was undergoing. This is clearly evident in the emerging emphasis of military life in Prussian society at the beginning of Wilhelm I's reign, the growing dominance of the aristocratic elite in German politics, the wars of unification designed to distract from growing forces of change, Bismarckian Diplomacy designed to create the impression Socialist or Liberal reform. All of these factors left Germany unable to adapt to the changing social and political climate sweeping Europe and left a brittle and antiquated political structure which fell at the beginning of the twentieth century after the First World War.By the beginning of the 19th century in Prussia, the monarchy was already on shaky ground. Revolution had spread throughout europe, in economics, politics and thought. The philosophy of the enlightenment had questioned the rules and beliefs of the Christian church in Europe and the hierarchical feudal system in which wealth and political power rested with royalty and the nobility. The right of European kings and queens to govern with absolute power was questioned through passionate discussion of concepts such as human rights, liberty and the law. In England, monarchs had abandoned divine rule 300 years previously. Through the American War of Independence, it was declared that every man's had the right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" and that "whenever any form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it was the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new Government'. The irresistible atmosphere of revolution in Europe lead to the recognition of american independence in 1783. In 1789, French King Louis XIV was deposed and replaced with a new republican government of elected representatives in the pursuit of "liberty, equality and fraternity". Across Europe, a fear of revolutionary change and awareness that revolutionary ideas were not confined by national borders determined the actions of monarchs such as Wilhelm I of Prussia. This would breed the counter-revolution and conservative backlash to the spread of revolutionary thought that Otto von Bismarck would work in to preserve the Prussian social structure. Comment by Nicholas Manganas: Atmosphere of changeWithout Bismarck, there would still have been a German Unification of sorts. The push towards it was too strong. Liberal calls for unification, such as the 1859 the Nationalverein, set up to discuss unification on a Nationalist basis, The German Working Men's Association, set up in 1863, reflected a similar spirit of nationalism. The alarming factor for the...

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