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The Importance of the Role Bismarck as a Cause of German Unification

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It has been said by several historians that the second half of the nineteenth century was the 'Age of Bismarck.' In the mid 1800's Bismarck provided dynamic leadership- a trait which had been lacking during the events of 1848-89. Ian Mitchell stated "Bismarck was everywhere." However, there has been a considerable degree of debate concerning the role of Bismarck in the unification of Germany. Some argue that unification would have been inevitable and had nothing to do with Bismarck, although others argue that the unification was solely down to Bismarck's role. Other factors are such as French revolutionary ideas swept across Europe, 1848 Revolutions, Prussian economic and military strength.

French Revolution was the first major success in Europe, which left his long term effects on Europe. It gave nations the idea of freedom, nationalism, national unity, so it was the kick to unification. German people became more united against Napoleon. At that time Bismarck wasn't even born.

German liberal nationalists made the first major attempt to unify Germany in 1848, it was an ultimate failure, but the failure to achieve unification in 1848 resulted in the late formation of the nation-state in 1871, which in turn delayed the development of positive national values. At that time Bismarck strongly opposed the revolution, but he changed his views later and started the unification.

Prussian economic and military development was also a factor for unification. J.M. Keynes said that "The German unification was built more truly on coal and iron than blood and iron". To him it was economic development of Prussia was a decisive factor. The economic unity of Prussia, in fact created political unity among German states. Establishment of Zollverein was a victory for free trade. It abolished internal customs and duties. It included almost all German states excluding Austria. In this way German economic development and Prussian economic domination led to military achievements. Army was equipped better, new technologies were used, which was decisive in wars with Austria and France. Overall it made German states united, economy developed and military strong in order for further success.

Above all, Bismarck's policies and clever diplomatic actions were the cause of German unification in 1871. He was clever opportunist and took advantages of events and made his aims occur. He had a realistic insight into politics of Europe. He displayed great diplomatic skills and whenever he wanted to go war, he isolated the enemy and secured allies to Prussian side, as with Denmark or France, he kept Russia and Great Britain neutral. Finally he used military force to achieve his aims, as he mentioned in his blood and iron speech. So he started his actions in 1863. It started with defeat of Denmark. Austria and Prussia invaded Denmark, and Prussia received Schleswig, while Austria received Holstein



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