My Bismarck essay title

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Lord Gort
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My Bismarck essay title

Post by Lord Gort » 28 Sep 2002 19:26

"Unification was totally planned by Bismarck."
Discuss.

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Marcus
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Re: My Bismarck essay title

Post by Marcus » 28 Sep 2002 19:28

Lord Gort wrote:"Unification was totally planned by Bismarck."
Discuss.


How about getting the discussion started with some thoughts of your own, rather than simply saying "Discuss" ?

/Marcus

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Lord Gort
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Post by Lord Gort » 28 Sep 2002 20:35

Sorry marcus, i do feel insulted though, you were quite blunt.


Some say that germanies unification was due to the Zollverien the economic union of north german states. Others say it was through war with france that germans states gathered around prussia. Other argue it was prussias industrial and military strenght demonstrated against austria in 1866 and france in 1870 that did it.

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sylvieK4
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Post by sylvieK4 » 28 Sep 2002 20:45

It was surely all you put in your second post combined. Many factors were at work to make the conditions right, not only the will of one man. Bismarck certainly did a lot to make it happen, but a lot of other things helped. Austria's weakened state contributed toward making Prussia more attractive too. It is probably important to remember the traditional longing for Germans to be united - perhaps most ardently expressed by the "romantics" of the early 19th century. The increasing rise of national individuality/ awareness on all levels of society around Europe helped, as well.

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Marcus
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Post by Marcus » 28 Sep 2002 21:10

Lord Gort wrote:Sorry marcus, i do feel insulted though, you were quite blunt.


It was definately not my intention to insult you, so sorry if you took it that way, but don't see anything insulting with my question.

/Marcus

Gwynn Compton
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Post by Gwynn Compton » 29 Sep 2002 04:43

Nationalism itself was a prevelant ideology during the 19th century, and one part of Nationalism is defining ones culture in opposition to "The Other". Germany of the 19th century can be seen as trying to define itself in opposition to Russia and France.

Added to the growth of Nationalism were the economic benefits of a greater union between the German states. A united Germany would have more sway on the world market and thus be better poised to compete with England and France.

Not only this, but the political incentive for unification also existed, with both France and Russia as strong neighbours, the German states - understandably - felt that they were threatened. The logical thing was for them to unite to defend themselves, and it ultimately became a question of whether Prussia or Austria would lead such a union. Starting with Metternich's fall in 1848, and then ending with the Prussian's defeating Austria in 1866, Austria vanished from the picture and was left to her Empire in the Balkans. Thus it was that Bismarck became the leading figure in German unification, rather than an Austrian.

It is interesting to consider that Metternich laid the foundations for German Unification, but under an Austrian lead, as early as the Vienna conference 1812. Metternich was just as important for formulating German unification as Bismarck was, however, as Metternich's country was ultimately the looser in the battle for dominance over German unification, he often looses the attention that should be paid to his role.

What ultimately cemented German unification, was the realisation following France's collapse in 1870, that this unification opened up new possibilities on the European stage for a greater Germany. Bismarck truly stepped into his own though, when he was able to perform his balancing act of alliances, which kept Germany safe from being singled out as the continental expansionist power of the late 19th century.

Following Bismarck's removal from the Chancellory, it was only a matter of time until the fear of the strength of a united Germany once again began to grow, and when France and Russia entered into Alliance, it was clear that German unification would take on a new posture, that of a defensive unification. For Germany would only have it's former suitor for leading unification, Austria, to fall back on for support, and the Germans did not delude themselves into thinking that Austria was still a smoothly functioning state.

Gwynn

Damian Andrews
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Bismarck

Post by Damian Andrews » 03 Jan 2003 02:24

Any title that doesn't contain the phrase "blood and iron" would be fine.

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Qvist
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Post by Qvist » 03 Jan 2003 15:28

Not only this, but the political incentive for unification also existed, with both France and Russia as strong neighbours, the German states - understandably - felt that they were threatened. The logical thing was for them to unite to defend themselves, and it ultimately became a question of whether Prussia or Austria would lead such a union. Starting with Metternich's fall in 1848, and then ending with the Prussian's defeating Austria in 1866, Austria vanished from the picture and was left to her Empire in the Balkans. Thus it was that Bismarck became the leading figure in German unification, rather than an Austrian.

It is interesting to consider that Metternich laid the foundations for German Unification, but under an Austrian lead, as early as the Vienna conference 1812. Metternich was just as important for formulating German unification as Bismarck was, however, as Metternich's country was ultimately the looser in the battle for dominance over German unification, he often looses the attention that should be paid to his role.


I think we should bear in mind that the defeat of Austria in 1866 was not an external circumstance that happened to give Bismarck an increased role, but rather an event that Bismarck basically engineered himself as a step towards his ultimate goals. I don't think Metternich's designs in 1812 are comparable to Bismarck's role, and in the end, German unification was brought about in a very different form from what Metternich ever intended, to say nothing of the differences from the policies pursued by Austria.

More generally: Nothing major in history happens for no other reason than that it is "totally planned" by one person. Due to circumstances of the time that had nothing to do with Bismarck, German unification in some form was a possibility, possibly even something that the constellation of factors tended towards. However, it seems impossible that it could have happened at the time and in the form it did without Bismarck in the Prussian chancellor's chair. As the chancellor of the weakest European power (which Prussia still was as he assumed his function), he brought about what is arguably the most far-reaching and fundamental shift in european politics in the modern age, a shift that was ultimately to the disadvantage of every other major power. He achieved this through a series of actions and events that he for the most part engineered himself, and always knew how to exploit to his advantage. He pursued a very far-reaching goal indeed with consistency for very many years, and he achieved it almost completely in the form he desired it. I can think of no other single person with a greater personal influence on European history.

cheers

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