German Unification: Otto Von Bismarck

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By 1871, Otto Von Bismarck had accomplished total German Unification, which included the Southern German States. In my essay, I will analyse how Bismarck used combined politics in order to preserve his power over Germany, the role of the wars against France, Austria and Denmark and how it influenced German politics. I will also discuss how historians have describes his politics as Bonapartist and the previous actions already in place when he was appointed Minister President of Prussia.

Throughout his political career, Bismarck used combines politics as a method of maintaining power in an ever politically shifting country. After the revolution of 1848, a new wave of nationalism and liberalism had risen and it could not be quashed down, and
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Bismarck did not directly have any impact on how these wars were fought, however he did have a hand in how they started. The war of 1864, as suggested in his speech to Disraeli in 1862, as a pretext to go to war with Austria in the future. One of the reason was that after the Treaty of Vienna in 1815, Prussia had been given the rhineland, which was rich in natural resources, however it was separated from the rest of Prussia due to Hanover, a deeply catholic state that aligned with Austria. By winning over Austria, Bismarck could join all of Northern Germany under Prussian power. Bismarck knew that after beating Denmark, with an army of 61,000 to 38,000 at the outbreak of war, The treaty of Gastein, which would give Schleswig to Prussia and Holstein to Austria, was unlikely to work, as in order for the Austrians to reach Holstein they would have to pass through a hostile Prussia. This then allowed for Bismarck to provoke the Austrians into war in 1867, of which they would be seen as the aggressors and not Prussia. Therefore, in 1867 Austria and Prussia went to war, with Prussia having around 100,000 more men, in what is known as the Seven Weeks’ War. The victory against Austria was a boost for Bismarck popularity as it was the first victory under him, and allowed for a bigger military funding as before this the army had not seen real warfare since 1815. The feeling of…show more content…
Historian Allan Mitchell writes that Bonapartism was “a model for Bismarckian politics”. There is evidence that shows that Bismarck was indeed influenced by the way Napoleon III ruled in a fast changing society racked by tension between bourgeoisie and proletariat. Historian classify Bismarckism as Bonapartist as he never founded his own political movement and avoided becoming dependant on retaining confidence of the monarchy. Furthermore, there were some smaller German states that agreed with “Bonapartism” as they saw it as a desire to revise in a reactionary sense the constitution given in 1848. This is significant as Bismarck would have needed to appeal to all German states any by incorporating Bonapartist views into his policy he would be appealing to the smaller states, which in turn would support
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