German Unification Case Study

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A. What role did Bismarck’s policies play in the German Unification and in the development of Germany’s position in Europe after the unification wars?

Otto Eduard Leopold von Bismarck was the Prussian Prime Minister and Foreign Minister during the German unification; he is also considered the man who united the loose German states into a single empire with Prussia as its centre. During the next two decades of his reign he both lead Germany and dominated European affairs. He became the front figure of a new political climate and his foreign and domestic policies had great influence over the development of Germany and its position in Europe. He became known for his diplomacy and his approach to public affairs, which can usually be summarized
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Prussia competed with Austria-Hungary for dominance over these small principalities and when Bismarck came to office as Prime Minister in 1862 he provoked a war with Austria over a border dispute. This was the beginning of the German unification, which would last three wars between 1862-1871. After the unification became official in Versailles, France 1871 Bismarck became appointed as the first chancellor of Prussia and was destined to become one of the most influential diplomats in history. Bismarck sought to promote peace and gain time for Germany to grow as a new empire, and that was what his policies would be based upon during the next two decades of his time in…show more content…
He created a complex system with Prussia as its centre of government and aimed to build a new order that benefitted Prussia, and he wanted to maintain the new order through simultaneously strengthening the new German state. However, Bismarck had doubts that Germany wasn’t entirely united because there were many interest groups who worked against the empire, especially the catholic groups who existed primarily in south Germany and East Prussia. He started a campaign fighting against Catholicism called the Kulturkampf and it was designed to suppress catholic influence in the country. The state went through a series of regulations, inter alias letting the state take control of Catholic schools, appointment of clergy, limit the church’s legal power and the state obtains the power to expel the clergy if they refuse to adjust to the new order. However, this has the opposite effect of what it was originally intended, the Catholic support grew and by “1875 Pope Pius IX declares Germany’s anti-catholic laws illegal” and forces Bismarck to abandon the campaign. Although his resentment for the Catholic movement was soon accompanied by the Social Democrats, he

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