The Rise of German Nationalism 1830s-1870s
The Unification of Germany • This is a map of the German Confederation, which was established in 1815 and survived until 1867.
Economic nationalism • Industrialisation was gaining pace in Germany. Businessmen wanted to increase the markets available for their goods to maximise profits. Most existing trade was between the 39 states but developing this was hampered by tariff barriers. A single Germany without so many taxes and tariffs would help trade and increase prosperity. • In 1818 Prussia, the largest and most powerful German state, scrapped its trade tariffs between its own territories. • The following year, it offered an economic alliance (Zollverein) with similar trade concessions to other German states. • By 1836, 25 other German states had joined this economic alliance. Prussia developed its road and rail networks to maximise trade opportunities. This economic co-operation was so successful it made people think of political union.
The opponents of nationalism 1) Austria • The Austrian empire was extremely powerful in Europe and was competing politically and economically with the 39 German states. German nationalism might lead to unification of the states. This would make them stronger and more of a threat to Austria. • 20 % of the people in the Austrian empire were German. The Austrian Emperor feared nationalism might make them want to break away and join Germany. This would leave Austria weaker and cause other national groups in the Empire to demand their independence.
The opponents of nationalism 2) German Princes • Many princes feared that if the German states were unified they would lose power and influence over their own territories. • If the German states were unified, there could only be one person in charge. Prussia, as the dominant state, would be the prime candidate. 3) France and Russia • These countries feared that a strong, united Germany would be a political, economic and military rival to them.
Allies of nationalism • The educated middle-class had become important to German society. They were the doctors, lawyers and business men, who helped make the German states prosperous. Across all 39 states, this middle-class wanted more rights and freedoms as German subjects to reflect their contribution to German states' success. • They wanted freedom of speech and an elected parliament that would represent their interests. • They thought these ideals would best be realised and protected in a united Germany with a new constitution. • By 1859, groups of doctors, lawyers, teachers and businessmen formed the Nationalverein. This organisation became the Liberal Party, which actively campaigned for reforms such as parliamentary elections.
Political turmoil in Germany • Throughout the 1840s many German states were under pressure from nationalist and liberal demonstrators wanting greater political representation and reform. The reformers recognised that a unified Germany with popular elections and a constitution would be the best way of guaranteeing political freedoms. • German monarchs, such as Prussia's King Frederick William IV, feared that if Germany were to be united according to the demands of the nationalists they would lose power and influence in their territories.
A Prussian parliament • Despite being a staunch opponent of popular democracy and written constitutions, the King of Prussia was forced in 1848 to draft a Prussian constitution and to allow an elected parliament to meet and advise him. • He agreed to this after witnessing increasing civil unrest on the streets of Prussia's capital city, Berlin.
The Frankfurt Parliament of 1848 • After widespread revolts, not only across the 39 states but also across many other European nations such as France, a Parliament was called to discuss reforms and attempt to draft a constitution for a unified Germany. • This was seen as being the best way of stopping the political unrest.
A German constitution • The constitution was completed in March 1849. This would unite the German states as a German Empire headed by a German Emperor. • Government would be provided by an elected parliament that represented the populations of all 39 states. • This new German Empire would replace the existing Bund. • The Crown was offered to Prussia's Frederick William IV.
Victory for the old order • Frederick William refused to accept the crown because it had not been offered by the other German Princes, stating that he would not "accept a crown from the gutter". • By late 1849, the movement for political reform had lost its impetus and the German Princes and the Austrian Emperor were able to regain control of politics in their territories. • After the failure of the Frankfurt Parliament, Prussia put forward a plan to unify the German states under Prussian control. The question was whether a united Germany should contain Austria (Grossdeutschland) or leave it out (Kleindeutschland).
Total victory for the old order • The Prussians, as rivals of Austria, argued for Austria's exclusion. • The Austrians refused to agree with the Prussian plan since it would eliminate their influence in German affairs. The Austrians persuaded the Bund's Federal Diet to threaten sanctions against Prussia. • In 1850, with Russians supporting Austria, the Prussians backed down. • Another attempt at a unified Germany had failed.
Austria and Prussia • During the early 19th century, Prussia was the only German state that could match the power and influence of the Austrian Empire. • They were comparable in terms of size, population and wealth. Austria opposed the idea of German unification as it saw this as a threat to its own empire. • Although they were a minority, there was a significant percentage of German-speakers in the empire. If they broke away to join a unified Germany, Austria would be smaller and weaker. To this end, Prussia and Austria were rivals.
Austria in decline • Austria had lost key allies and was losing influence in Europe. • Austria had refused to help Russia in its war against France and Britain (the Crimean War, 1854-56) and lost a major ally as a result. • Austria was defeated in a war against the French and northern Italian states. As a result, it had been forced to surrender some territories.
Prussia strengthened • Prussia had become the most industrialised state in Germany. She was now a force to be reckoned with in Europe. • Prussia was producing more key resources such as coal and iron than Austria and it had surged ahead of its rival in building road and rail networks to help promote trade. • Prussia had successfully set up an economic alliance (Zollverein) with other German states that made trade between states easier and more profitable.
Images of Bismarck • Two images of Otto Von Bismarck
Enter Otto • The man who did most to unite the German states was Otto Von Bismarck. He was the Prussian Chancellor and his main goal was to strengthen even further the position of Prussia in Europe. His primary aims were to: • unify the north German states under Prussian control • weaken Prussia's main rival, Austria, by removing it from the Bund • make Berlin the centre of German affairs - not Vienna • strengthen the position of the King of Prussia, William I, to counter the demands for reform from the Liberals in the Prussian parliament (the Reichstag).
Bismarck’s early career • In 1849, aged 34, he was elected to the Prussian Diet. • He was reactionary, intensely monarchist and class prejudiced and rejected the whole idea of Liberal parliamentary government. • Despising the middle-class Liberals in the Prussian parliament, he made it clear that his only interest was the power of the Prussian monarchy. • In 1851 he was appointed Prussian representative to the Bund, the Austrian-dominated German Confederation, in Frankfurt. • There he pursued an anti-Austrian line, relentlessly emphasising Prussia as Austria’s equal.
Bismarck’s hour arrives • In 1862, having been Prussian ambassador to Russia and then France, Bismarck was recalled in a moment of constitutional crisis, Bismarck was made Minister-President (Prime Minister) on September 25th, 1862, aged 47. • The King of Prussia, Wilhelm I, having witnessed French and Austrian troops fighting in 1859, insisted that Prussia needed to modernise its army. • However, the liberal majority in Parliament objected to the length of service in the army and the high expense.
Iron and Blood • Von Roon, the Minister for War, advised Wilhelm to send for Bismarck as a political ‘hard man’ to push through his desired reforms. • When the parliament refused to authorise Bismarck to collect the taxes, he ignored them and ordered the increased taxes to be collected anyway. In a famous speech to the parliament, Bismarck explained his ideas: “Not by means of speeches and majority verdicts will the great decisions of the time be made- that was the great mistake of 1848 and 1849- but by iron and blood…”
Congress of Princes, 1863 • To counter Prussia's growing influence, Austria tried to strengthen its position in the Bund. A Congress of Princes was to be hosted by Austria to revitalise the Bund. • Since it was in theory the leading member of the Bund, an increase in the power of the Bund would strengthen Austria. • Although Wilhelm wanted to attend, Bismarck blackmailed him into not attending, pointing out that to go would be to confirm Austria’s supremacy. Wilhelm surrendered and stayed at home. • Bismarck further thwarted Austria's plans by insisting on popular elections to the Diet (the Bund's parliament). • Bismarck had successfully ruined Austria's plans and was seen, ironically, as a defender of the Liberal nationalists.
Isolating Austria • Bismarck knew Austria was a major obstacle to unification. To succeed in his aims war seemed inevitable. Before he fought the powerful Austrian empire, however, he needed to weaken its position in Europe.
Austria’s isolation, cont’d • Prussia refused to help Poland when it rebelled against Russian control. Bismarck then formed a powerful alliance with Russia. • Bismarck then formed another key alliance with France. In a meeting with Napoleon III, he promised to support France in its plans to invade and control Belgium. • Bismarck also struck a deal with Italy. Italy promised to help Prussia in any war against Austria, providing Austria were the aggressor and Italy gained Venezia in return.
Schleswig-Holstein • Bismarck got his excuse for a war against Austria during a territorial dispute over two small German states, Schleswig and Holstein. These were under the control of Denmark but not technically a part of it. • In 1863, the King of Denmark declared Schleswig and Holstein to be a part of Denmark. • In 1864, Prussia and Austria teamed up and declared war on Denmark. They won easily.
Austro-Prussian war • Bismarck then engineered a treaty with Austria (the Treaty of Gastein) which he knew was unlikely to work. Prussia was to control Schleswig and Austria would control Holstein. This treaty was designed to provoke, since Austrians would have to go through a hostile Prussia to reach Holstein. • The Austrians tried to use their influence in the German Bund to pressure Prussia to address the Schleswig-Hostein issue. • The Bund backed Austria in the dispute over Schleswig-Holstein. • In response, Prussia said that the Bund was invalid, declared war on Austria and invaded the German states of Hanover, Hesse and Saxony. The Austrians were quickly defeated by the Prussian army during the Seven Weeks War, with the help of Italy.
Consequences of Austro-Prussian war • Bismarck's plan to isolate Austria was working. As a result of the Seven Weeks War: • Prussia kept all the territories it had captured. (See next slide) • A North German Confederation was set up under the control of Prussia. (See subsequent slide) • A federal Diet (parliament) was established for the states in this North German Confederation. The Diet would be elected and each state could keep its own laws and customs. • The southern German states formed their own independent confederation. • Austria promised to stay out of German affairs. • Austria paid compensation to Prussia but did not lose land to it. Prussia did not want to weaken Austria too much since it might be a useful ally in the future against Prussia's enemies
Isolating France • With Austria weakened, Bismarck now turned his attention to the other great stumbling block to unification - the French. • France had watched Prussia's growing power with alarm. As he had with Austria, Bismarck tried to weaken France as much as possible before war started.
The ‘national swindle’ • At the end of the Austro-Prussian war, France demanded lands from Prussia as the price of her neutrality. • Bismarck was preparing for the North German Confederation and explained to Napoleon III that he could not grant German land to France as German national feeling was running so high. • In private, however, he spoke of the ‘national swindle’: he was sceptical about the notion of a German nation instead of separate states, seeing it as a middle-class invention. • In other words, his desire for a more united Germany was dishonest, he was only using it as an excuse to not weaken Prussia’s position, relative to France.
Isolating France, cont’d • Officially, Russia was an ally of France but Bismarck used diplomacy to make sure Russia stayed out of the up-coming war. • Bismarck also made sure Italy stayed neutral and wouldn't fight for France. • Bismarck gambled that the British would stay out of the war since it didn't want France to become any more powerful than it already was.
Hohenzollern Candidature • Bismarck found his excuse for war when Spain offered its vacant crown to Leopold of Hohenzollern, a cousin of Wilhelm I. • France was outraged since it didn't want Prussia becoming more powerful. The French insisted King William make his relative refuse the crown. King William refused to guarantee this. • Bismarck used the King's refusal as a way to provoke the French. He published a heavily edited and provocative telegram, known as The Ems Telegram, of the King's refusal, making it seem he had insulted the French ambassador. The French Emperor, responding to fury from the French press and public, declared war on Prussia. In the Franco-Prussian war, France was heavily defeated and its ruler, Napoleon III, was overthrown by a French rebellion.
Victory • In the build up to war, the southern confederate German states voluntarily joined the Prussian-controlled Northern German Confederation. Germany was now unified. • In the Treaty of Frankfurt, as a result of the Franco-Prussian war France lost the territory of Alsace-Lorraine on its border with Germany. • It also had to pay Germany £200 million in compensation. A new imperial constitution was set up within the now unified German states, with William I as Emperor (Kaiser) and Prussia firmly in control.
Summary of Bismarck’s contribution to Unification • Economic co-operation meant that unification may have happened eventually anyway, but Bismarck made sure that it happened. • He made sure that the army reforms took place. • He successfully isolated other countries by making them look like aggressors. • He made Prussia appear to be the defender of the German states and protector of their rights.
Historiographical debate #1Did Bismarck plan for war with France? • The secret treaty he signed with the Southern states came into effect in the event of mutual danger- war with France was just such a danger. • Recent elections in these southern states had shown a resurgence of anti-Prussian feeling- Bismarck had motive to assert his control over them quickly • France had no allies at this stage- a situation that was only likely to deteriorate with time as they were negotiating with Austria
Historiographical debate #1Did Bismarck plan for war with France? • However, the NGC did not need the southern states- it was an economic success and they would only increase the religious tension between the mainly Protestant north and the predominantly Catholic south. • There was no guarantee that a war with France would be brief- they had a reserve of nearly a million men and much new equipment. • Bismarck himself said, “Arbitrary interference in the course of history has never achieved anything but to shake down unripe fruit. That German unity is not yet a ripe fruit is obvious.” • Also, Bismarck had no way of knowing that the Spanish throne would become an issue of contention at that time. • Finally, he had been much distressed by the grim realities of the Austrian war that had left thousands dead or crippled.
So what do the historians say? • A.J.P. Taylor, writing in 1958, said that the war came about not because of plans, but because events overtook them and they were forced to react (Hohenzollern at the heart of this argument). • D.G. Williamson (1998) attributes the war to short term events- the appointment of the strongly anti-Prussian Gramont as French foreign secretary and the Hohenzollern Candidature being two central ones. • Otto Pflanze (1963) has spoken of Bismarck having ‘a strategy of alternatives’, having a number of different possible paths and options and thus being able to respond to developments. This replaced the idea of Bismarck as having a master plan which many of his early biographers had claimed. • Bismarck himself cast doubts on any notion of a master plan for unification when he said “Man cannot create the current of events; he can only float with it and steer.”
Historiographical debate #2Was Bismarck alone responsible for unification? • Quite simply, no. • Firstly economic developments were important: ‘iron and blood’ needed a vibrant industry to produce the iron (railways and weapons), for the army to be able to shed the blood • Had Austria been slightly stronger the Zollverein would not have happened- denying Prussia much of the economic might on which its successes of the 1860s were built • D. Blackbourn claims that “Prussia was always likely to come out on top. Austria not only had chronic financial problems and non-German distractions; it also lagged well behind Prussia in economic development.”
Historiographical debate #2Was Bismarck alone responsible for unification? • Secondly, as noted at the beginning, German nationalism was a growing force and was certainly one that Bismarck made use of (quite cynically if the ‘national swindle’ idea is to be believed). • In addition, the Prussian ‘war machine’ (initiated by Von Roon and Wilhelm) gave Bismarck the necessary means for success and simultaneously rendered some of the smaller states vulnerable/insecure enough to come under Prussia’s auspices.
Historiographical debate #2Was Bismarck alone responsible for unification? • International developments were certainly favourable to German unification. • J. Breuilly (1996) points out that in the Franco-Prussian war, Britain and Russia were very unlikely to intervene, Italy was anxious to secure Venice; French policy was undone by the rapid and unexpected Prussian military success and, “any ordinary statesman in Berlin bent on war with Austria would not have done significantly worse.”
Historiographical debate #2Was Bismarck alone responsible for unification? • The Zollverein is worthy of attention • Was it merely a means to increase revenue or a precursor to national unity? • Historians are divided; Bohme argues that it gave Prussia an important instrument of control over the German states. • Sheehan, however, suggests it was mainly an instrument of taxation and was not an important factor- in either economic or political terms. • It certainly increased collaboration between states, allowed them to see ‘common cause’ and was, of course, a way of increasing Prussian influence at the cost of Austria.
Versailles, 1871 • The new Emperor is on top of the steps. The figure in white stands proudly surveying what he has achieved. It is Bismarck.