Unification of the German States

In 1871, the German states were unified to create a whole German nation. There were many factors that contributed to this, Otto von Bismarck, and his policies, being the most powerful of these. His influence over Prussia and the remainder of the states, his “blood and iron” policy of nationalism, and his use of opportunities in various circumstances all helped to achieve his end goal of German unification.

Bismarck pushed the idea of nationalism through Germany with a different perspective from others. He wanted all the states to come together and unite by the threat of a common enemy, particularly in the event of war. This was known as his “blood and iron” policy. This meant that the German states would unite in fear of being taken over by a greater power. The biggest and best example of Bismarck’s nationalism form is the Franco-Prussian war. After France strongly objected to Germany unifying, war broke out between Prussia and the French. In fear of a common enemy, Prussia is supported by the other states and the German forces combine to achieve victory over France in 1871. The French defeat moved Prussia along to persuade the other states’ princes to allow King Wilhelm I, of Prussia, to become the new German emperor, therefore resulting in German unification. As Bismarck’s “blood and iron” nationalism allowed the German states to unite under a common enemy, it is seen to be one of Bismarck’s most powerful key factors in the unification of Germany.

Another key factor in the journey to German unification was the isolation and departure of Austria from Germany. This occurred in 1866, not long after Prussia and Austria joined forces to take Schleswig and Holstein from Denmark in 1864. After jointly administering the Duchies, the two states began and continued to disagree which resulted in a war. Prussia won, and therefore Austria was now out of Germany and German affairs, leaving Prussia as the single most powerful German state. However, to be safe in the case...