Policy / Role of Bismarck



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Policy / Role of Bismarck
Firstly, Bismarck strengthened the power of the Prussian government and army. In order to expand the Prussian army, Bismarck put the newspaper under censorship and dismissed all liberal elements from the government. At the same time, he raised taxes without the approval of the parliament. He was able to do so because he had firm support of the Prussian army and king William I. After the strengthening of Prussia, Bismarck turned to plan the steps of unification.
Secondly, Bismarck began his blood-and-iron policy. This policy aimed at unifying Germany through wars. The first war aimed against Denmark for providing an excuse to fight Austria later. In 1863, Schleswig-Holstein, two German states that ruled by Denmark, asked for help because Denmark wanted to annex them. Bismarck asked Austria for assistance to settle the question. Prussia and Austria then declared war to Denmark whom was quickly defeated. In the Convention of Gastein, 1865, Prussia got Schleswig while Austria got Holstein. Bismarck accused Austria that she had stirred up troubles in Schleswig. Being irritated, Austria declared war on Prussia in 1866.
After defeating Austria, Bismarck planned next step against France. In the Treaty of Prague with Austria, Prussia unified with northern German states and formed North German Confederation. Bismarck treated Austria leniently in the Treaty of Prague because he was planning a war against France since some of the south German states were more close to France than Prussia. Therefore, a future war against France needed a friendly Austria.
By making use of the Spanish succession question, Bismarck amended the Ems Telegram which stirred up nationalism among the south German states who supported Prussia to fight against France. After defeating France, Prussia then unified with south German states and became the Second German Empire. In the Treaty of Frankfurt, France was treating harsh for preventing the reunion of France and south German states.
Thirdly, Bismarck tried to ensure Prussian victory in each war by isolating enemies. In 1864, Bismarck gained Russian friendship by helping the Tsar to suppress Polish revolt. From then onwards, Russia kept her neutrality until 1870. In 1866, Bismarck got French neutrality by promising him some lands along the Rhine or in the lowland. Besides, he asked for Italian help against Austria. In 1870, Bismarck also got Austrian neutrality because of the lenient Treaty of Prague. Bismarck also calculated that Italy would remain neutral because of the French occupation of Rome. Besides, Bismarck also believed that Britain would not involve in German unification because she was busy in Asian expansion, especially in China. Hence, Prussian enemies were isolated in each war. As a result, Prussian victory was guaranteed.


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