Economic factors

Download 30.9 Kb.
Size30.9 Kb.



  • Zollverein (details of membership, transport etc from nationalism essay)

  • Acquired Rhineland from Austria in 1814/15: provided Prussia with most profitable piece of land filled with supplies of iron deposits.

  • Make point clear that economic strength was needed to fund technology, transport, military etc.

N.B. Economy, military and Bismarck are essentially inter-linked. All played a part in each factor leading to unification.



  • German – especially Prussian – industrial strength is regarded as crucial to German unification.

  • Zollverein provided Prussia with technical & military superiority over its enemies in the wars of 1864-1871

  • Economic strength allowed Prussia to dominate the Zollverein – an essential preliminary to its subsequent domination of Germany.

  • Isolated Austria and got southern states to join north confederation.


  • Highlight the importance of other factors.

  • E.G. Economy being used correctly etc. So, Bismarck’s guidance – forcing Landtag to increase taxes. Had this never happened, then would the economy have continued to thrive in the way that it did?

  • Importance also of urbanisation – cities required people to man factories to increase industrialisation


No historian disputes the importance of the economy. They all recognise it as crucial to Prussia’s development.

William Carr: The Zollverein was the “mighty lever of unification”.

JM Keynes “unification was gained only through coal and iron”



  • Bismarck’s ultimate aim: to increase power and strength of Prussia by whatever means possible!

  • Bismarck was a junker, conservative, anti-nationalist. According to Aronson “Contrary to what he was to claim later in life, the unification of Germany was never one of his original ambitions.”

  • Bismarck had great influence on Prussian King (as Chancellor from 1862) – seen with the dispute with Landtag army dispute.



  • Engineered a war with Denmark over the Schleswig-Holstein question gaining support and giving the opportunity to quarrel with Austria

  • Picked moment to argue with Austria and defeated her in war – BUT, did not claim much from her as hoped for neutrality

  • Ems Telegram & French war

Isolating Austria:

  • Deal with Italy – Italy would help against Austria if Prussia helped Italy gain Venezia in return.

  • Alliance with France - promised Napoleon III to invade & control Belgium

  • Alliance with Russia – Bis. refused to help Poland when it rebelled against Russia.


  • Economic development was taking place – could have led to unification without Bismarck? But…Bismarck made sure it happened.

  • Decline of Austrian power and influence in the 1850s – falling behind Prussia in particular.



O Pflanze “Only under the stimulation provided by Bismarck for his own political ends did German nationalism begin to move the masses.”

Craig: “If he never risen to the top in Prussian politics, unification of Germany would never have take place anyway.”
Williamson “Bismarck did not fashion German unity alone. He exploited powerful forces, which already existed; the industrial revolution in Germany, the growth of if liberalism and nationalism …the increasing determination of Prussia…to reassert her influence over Germany”

Sheeves “Bismarck was fortunate, when he came to power the economic, diplomatic, military and intellectual foundations for German unity had already been laid.”



  • Showed Bismarck to be both opportunist and master planner

  • First step in Bismarck weakening Austria’s power – move towards Kleindeutsch

  • The recently formed Prussian army was tested in an ‘easy’ war before taking on Austria

  • Territorial dispute over 2 small German states – Schleswig and Holstein. These were both under control of Denmark. King of Denmark declared that in 1863.

  • 1864: Prussia and Austria teamed up & declared war on Denmark. Easy win!

  • Bismarck had engineered a treaty with Austria (Treaty of Gastein - which he knew wouldn’t work. Prussia was to control Schleswig and Austria control Holstein.



  • Treaty of Gastein was designed by Bismarck to encourage hostility as it meant that Austrians would have to go through Prussia to get to Holstein!


  • Military factors just as important. Bismarck just used what was available to him. Without the skill of the army, Bismarck’s career would have been over and potential that unification would not have been achieved in same way – with Prussian dominance.


Bismarck on fighting with Austria: “I hitched the Duke as an ox to the plough to get it moving, once it was moving I unhitched the ox” – shows he was using them for Prussian advantage.

Treaty of Gastein referred to as: “paper over the cracks”

Medlicott: “Had the Prussian army not been as good as Bismarck believed it to be, he would have been a dead man before the day of the battle was over.” – highlights military power as unifying factor.

Why did Germany unite?



  • Bismarck used the unresolved situation left afer Gastein – Schleswig/Holstein to complain that Austria was not running Holstein properly! He complained that Austria was stirring up anti-Prussian feelings in Schleswig.

  • So…Prussian troops marched into Holstein.

  • When Austria was given support from southern states against Prussia, Bismarck used it as an excuse to attack.

  • When Prussia defeated Austria at Koniggratz, Bismarck suddenly declared end to war. He did only what was required to achieve his aim – nothing more.



  • Treaty of Prague created a North German Confederation - mainly Prussian territory.

  • Kleindeutsch had been created – a north Germany without Austrian influence

  • Germany seemed close to unity.

  • Pre-planner? Removed Austria from German affairs!


  • Military strength

  • Prussian domination of Austria.


Bismarck: “Blood and iron”

Bismarck: “We have to avoid wounding Austria too severely.”

Waller: “If he played his hand with great skills, it was a good one in the first place.”



  • Revolution in Spain led to search for new ruler & the Hohenzollern Candidature in 1868

  • Distant relative of Spanish was found – Leopold of Hohenzollern – he was Prussian which worried the French because if there was a future conflict she would be trapped between Prussia and Spain!

  • The French protested about it and insisted that the Hohenzollerns give up their claim to the throne



  • Bismarck altered the telegram William intended to send to the French and sent his version

  • Bismarck’s telegram resulted in the French declaring war. Bismarck got what he wanted.

  • Prussian victory led to German unification being declared in Hall of Mirrors (Versailles), 18th January 1871


  • Wouldn’t have won without strong military – military wouldn’t have existed had it not been for economy

  • Von Moltke and Von Roon had been strengthening the military before Bismarck!

  • Situation of the Spanish throne – chance!


Mosses: “German unification on Bismarck’s part was a series of favourable situations.”

Stiles: “Bismarck did not make Germany, Germany made Bismarck”

Share with your friends:

The database is protected by copyright © 2020
send message

    Main page