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The Effect Otto Von Bismarck's Leadership And Politics Had On Pre World War I Tensions In Europe

2253 words - 9 pages

A. Plan of Investigation
The focus of this study is the effect that Otto Von Bismarck's leadership and politics had on Pre-World War One tensions in Europe. This study investigates to what extent the actions of Otto Von Bismarck led to World War One. The focus of this study is the period between Bismarck's appointment to Minister President of Prussia on September 23, 1862 and the Austro-Hungarian declaration of war on Serbia on July 28, 1914. Bismarck's earlier career is discussed briefly but only as a method to understand his political attitudes. And similarly, as Bismarck was removed from office in 1890, the only events discussed between 1890 and 1914 will be based off of policies instilled by Bismarck, not those of Wilhelm II.
Research will be drawn from many sources including several historical studies and online articles. The sources used revolve around Bismarck's attitudes and actions toward German unification and general policy. Sources include works by historians A.J.P. Taylor and James Wycliffe Headlam. The policies of Bismarck during the interwar period were researched as well, through several scholastic journals and written works.

B. Summary of Evidence
Germany was already on its way to unification in the early 1800s. The Congress of Vienna in 1815 had set up the German Confederation, with both Prussia and Austria-Hungary lacking the power to impose their rule over the area (Greusel 71). Austria-Hungary was generally seen as the more dominant of the German states. The capital of the German Confederation was Frankfurt, in the Austrian state of Hesse-Kassel (Headlam 87). Two solutions were considered to this duality: "Großdeutsche" and "Kleindeutsche." The Großdeutsche approach suggested a unification of all German states including Austria, while the Kleindeutsche solution excluded Austria and was largely preferred by Prussian nationalists. This was exemplified in the "Nachmärz" March revolution of 1848. (Schofield 46).
The fervent nationalist forces of the 1800s, fuelled by The Romantic Period, greatly affected the perception of German unification. Many Germans saw value in creating an entirely German nation, inspired by Frederick The Great and his Hohenzollern Empire (McGowen 59). Bismarck was a natural spearhead of this unification movement. Bismarck's famous "Blut und Eisen" speech advocated that militarism rather than liberal government would unite Germany (Bew). Bismarck was a realpolitik, meaning he pursued policies to gain power, almost regardless of ideology. He was in no way a nationalist, and tended to shift his opinion quite frequently to suit the occasion (Steinberg 261). He had lived through the revolution of 1848 and supported their nationalist ambitions, but only to gain advantage over Austria-Hungary. As the Prussian envoy for the Diet of the German Confederation in Frankfurt in 1851, he made the realization that Austrian cooperation was not an option and began to champion the idea of Kleindeutsche...

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