Germany

The Fight for Unification

Conflict

The main cause for this fight for Unification originated in Prussia. The Prussian king, William I, wanted to increase his military might, and the most logical way to do this was through raising taxes enforced on the people. However, one thing stood in his way: the mostly-liberal Parliament. The Parliament refused to pass the taxes as they instead wanted unification for the German states. Otto von Bismarck, a conservative statesman who later became the Prussian Prime Minister and ruler over the new German Confederation, solved this fracture in the government. He would unite Germany if Parliament would pass the taxes. Both parties agreed, and von Bismarck set about his task, gaining land through provoking wars with various nations, and forming the German Confederation.
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Important Leaders

The main leader for the Unification of Germany was Otto von Bismarck. He led the fight for it and also served as the Confederation's president (as a representative for King William I). He also added territory to the Confederation, gained by the wars he spurred on (The Danish War of 1864, Austro-Prussian War of 1866, and Franco-Prussian War from 1870-1871). See more about von Bismarck in his profile below.

Battles and Results

In order accomplish unification for the German states, Otto von Bismarck needed to gain land. The way he chose to do this was by warring. Altogether, he provoked three wars: the Danish War, the Austro-Prussian War, and the Franco-Prussian. The Danish War (1864) was intended to keep Austria from any involvement with the future united Confederation. Allied with Austria, Prussia easily defeated Denmark. The victory gave von Bismarck more political power, and the alliance with Austria gave Prussia the ability to provoke Austria over the administration of the newly conquered territory. This gave Prussia the opportunity to fight Austria, as it now had a cause. Otto von Bismarck skillfully manuevered the chess pieces to benifit his upcoming war by supporting Russia in a Polish revolt, promising Italy Venetia for their support, and having Napoleon III promise French neutrality. After accomplishing all of this, he started the Austro-Prussian War (1866), which only lasted seven weeks. The Prussians easily won again, and reached their goal of keeping Austria out of German affairs. Finally, the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871) was spurred on by a relentless Otto von Bismarck in order to complete the Unification, by inducting the southern states into the Confederation. The opportunity for war arose when Spain chose a new king to replace the corrupt Isabella II. Spain chose Prince Leopold of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, a cousin of William I. France reacted strongly against this, as they did not want a Spain ruled by a Prussian. Otto von Bismarck saw his chance and inserted Prussia into a war against France. The war ended in Prussian victory, with Paris surrounded and Napoleon III captured. Otto von Bismarck's Unification of Germany was complete.

Resolution

The cleverness of von Bismarck was evident after the completion of the German Confederation. The new state was built upon conservative ideologies, even though it was a liberal project. This upset the liberals, but it was too late to change anything. Otto von Bismarck had kept both his and William I's ideals in mind, had the taxes passed, and created a new confederation. He served, in place of King William I, as its president, and became an advocate for peace in Europe. Through his cleverness, he created a new state, found it on conservative ideas, and led it to success.

Commentary

Germany, built on its conservative base, will be a dominant force in Europe for years to come. The prevention of Austria in its development will weaken the Austrian Hapsburg empire, giving it less competition. Germany will thrive and survive long past Prussia.