Bismarck's Role in Unifying Germany

Bismarck's Role in Unifying Germany

To what extent was Bismarck responsible for German Unification in 1871?

Word Count: 1,431

Virtually since Germany was unified in 1871, historians have been at debate as to what factors brought about this significant change within Europe which lead to the formation of one of the strongest economic powers in the world before 1914. Despite these many arguments over various contributing factors, it can be stated that very few dispute the importance of one individual in particular, Otto Von Bismarck. One historian who argues that Bismarck wasn’t as significant as most people believe was Mosse, who argues that unification was inevitable and Bismarck, despite heavily contributing, was profoundly aided by the circumstances at the time[1]. Nevertheless, Bismarck can still be seen as a prominent catalyst for German unification. By taking advantage of the various wars, the influence of the Zollverein and as well as the contributing factors of Nationalism, Bismarck was able to play a significant role in unifying Germany.

When discussing Bismarck’s role in German unification, the idea that he used wars in order to complete his end goal must not be overlooked, and in fact, the wars played a significant role in bringing about unification. The first war which aided Bismarck’s goal of unification was that of the war with Denmark in 1864. By defeating the Danes, the German Confederation took over the respective administration of Schleswig and Holstein. Despite the clear benefit of the war being that the German Confederation gained more servants as well as resources, the Danish War also added to the growing nationalism and confidence felt by the people, however Abrams suggests that it also gave them a ‘taste of what a unified Germany would be like’[2], therefore adding to the favouritism of unification. The second war which aided Bismarck’s goal of a unified Germany was that of Austro-Prussia war of 1866. Many historians, including Hamerow, suggest that Bismarck saw war...

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