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Causes for German Uniifcation

  • Date Submitted: 08/07/2010 05:35 PM
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Essay Question: Explain the factors that promoted unification in Germany and assess Bismarck’s role in the unification of Germany.

The process of German unification and the ultimate union of the German states had a profound influence on the history of Europe and the world during the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. There were numerous factors which promoted the unification of Germany; including emerging political ideologies, a series of strategic wars, and the establishment of the Zollverein. Otto von Bismarck, the Prime Minister of Prussia, also proved to be a pivotal factor, using his political prowess to accelerate the unification process.

One significant factor that contributed to German unification was the Zollverein, which was a customs union among the German states, whereby the tariff barriers were removed. This union was effectively an economic unification, drawing the German states together and stimulating economic growth by facilitating cheap trade between German states. Statistical evidence in the form of graphs showing iron and coal productions reflects this exponential economic growth subsequent to the Zollverein. As it was initiated by Prussia, it firmly established them as the economic leader in Germany. Whether or not the Prussians had planned the Zollverein as a precursor to political unification is unknown. According to Andrina Stiles “The argument is that those who found financial advantage in an economic union under Prussian leadership might be expected to take a favourable view of similar arrangements in a political union”.

Another factor that promoted German unification was the potent force of nationalism that transpired during the late nineteenth century. The prevalence of nationalism is reflected through contemporary cartoons, such as the one published in ‘Punch’ in 1873. This cartoon features the national flag, symbolizing the potency of the emergent nationalistic ideology. Indeed, it was nationalism that advocated the...


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