Unification of Germany
On January 18, 1871, the German Empire was proclaimedå®£ä½ˆæˆç«‹. It is a
turning pointè½‰æ©é»ž in the European history, and was one of the remote
causesé å› that led to the outbreak of the First World War. In fact, the
success of German unification was due to the interplayäº’ç›¸äº¤ç¹” of many
a. Liberalism: Ideas of liberalism had been sown by the French
Revolution and Napoleonic Wars. During the upheavalå·¨è®Š, such French
ideals of liberty, equality and fraternityåšæ„› were spread to Germans.
Besides, a varietyå„ç¨® of Napoleon's reforms like those in education,
trade, administration, taxation and laws had encouraged the rise of
middle class who then became the backboneéª¨å¹¹ of the German unification
b. Nationalism: Napoleon grouped all Germans into a big state, i.e.
the Confederation of the RhineèŠèŒµæ²³é‚¦è¯. The Germans tastedå˜—è©¦éŽnational
unity on one hand; yet they disliked the alien French rule on the
other. Nationalism thus appeared. Though Germany was once again
fragmentedåˆ†è£‚ in 1815, the desire for national unity lingeredæ®ä¹‹ä¸åŽ».
a. Rise of Prussia: In the Battle of Waterlooæ»‘éµç›§ 1814 Prussia played a
decisive role in defeating Napoleon. This raised her prestige
considerably among not only the German states but the European Great
Powers. Prussia became one of the "Big Five" which dominated the
Congress of Vienna. She got many territorial gains.
b. Vienna Settlement: At the Congress of Vienna, for the sakeç”±æ–¼ of her
contribution to the victory over Napoleon, and the need to
counterbalanceåˆ¶è¡¡ both France and Austria, Prussia was given additional
population and extra-territories such as 2/5 of Saxonyè–©å…‹æ£®,
Pomenraniaæ³¢ç¾Žéš†å°¼äºž, Posenå¡æ£®, the Rhineland, Danzigæ—¦æ¾¤ and so on. Her
population and size were almost doubled. She also shared dual
leadership with Austria in the German Confederationå¾·æ„å¿—é‚¦è¯ (the Bund).
Prussia was so in a strong position to challenge Austria in the German
c. Lessonæ•™è¨“ of 1848 Revolution: Nationalism and liberalism went hand
in hand during the 1848 Revolution. The Frankfurt Assemblyæ³•è˜å…‹ç¦è°æœƒorganized
by unarmedæ‰‹ç„¡å¯¸éµ and idealistic professors and university students
attempted in vainå¤±æ•—to create a liberal and united Germany. Henceforthè‡ªæ¤,
nationalism, or better say, Realpolitikç¾å¯¦æ”¿æ²», instead of liberalism,
became the chief driving forceå‹•åŠ› of the German unification movement.
As Bismarck said in 1862, "The great question of the day shall not be
decided by speechesè¨€è«– and resolutionsæ±ºè° of the majority, â€¦. which was
proven a failure in 1848, â€¦. but by blood and iron." Besides, that
Prussia did not abolish the liberal...