Question #9e19a

2 Answers
Oct 12, 2017

He was the driving force behind the unification...


It is not widely enough known (at least in the US) that, prior to 1870, Germany was not a single nation, but instead was a confusingly subdivided jigsaw puzzle of kingdoms, duchies, principalities, and so forth.

Some of these were large, such as Prussia and Bavaria, but many were quite small. As the 19th century wore on, a national aspiration for unification grew stronger among the German speaking peoples in these entities. The largest, and most militarily powerful, was the kingdom of Prussia in the northern part of what is now Germany.

The Prussian kings saw themselves as the natural leaders of a unified Germany, but weren't quite confident of being able to accomplish unification. The great fear was that their large and powerful neighbors Russia and Austria would intervene militarily to prevent German unification.

Otto von Bismarck was named Minister President and Foreign Minister of Prussia in the early 1860s, and is widely held to have steered Prussia's policies brilliantly. He engineered a series of wars (against Denmark in 1863, Austria in 1866, and, finally, France in 1870), each of which Prussia won convincingly due to the efficient Prussian Army. Bismarck's genius was to arrange (via diplomacy) that each of these losing nations were first isolated diplomatically, so that Prussia only had to fight one enemy at a time.

The tremendous prestige Prussia earned from these military victories enabled Prussia to declare the creation of the German Empire. They did this in the palace of Versailles - the residence of the Kings and Emperors of defeated France, in 1870.

Bismarck wasn't done after this - he continued to serve until the early 1890s, and redirected the new German Empire's policy towards peace. He is given credit for steering German policy during these years with as much genius as he showed in the unification of Germany.

Oct 12, 2017

Too add..... also the establishment of Prussian (German) supremacy over Austria Hungary


Historically the many of the states that make up Germany were under the influence (religious and political) of Austria dating back to the 16th century and before with the Holy Roman Empire

Northern Germany was predominantly Protestant (Austria Catholic) so for Prussia to become pre-eminent in Germany she had to put Austria into second place - Bismark was the prime mover in Prussian militarisation and the victory over Austria in the 7 weeks war of 1866