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German Unification Essay

1040 words - 5 pages

Austria, though a leading German state in 1815, disliked the idea of a united Germany since it would put her in a very embarrassing position. Although the Habsburg was of German origin, Austria was reluctant to become part of a united Germany because it would oblige her to give up her vast non-German population and territories in the Austrian Empire. What is more, she even opposed the idea of a united Germany since it would create a strong neighbor next to her. This was by no means desirable for Austria politically or strategically. Besides, the success of German Unification might lead to the disintegration of the Austrian Empire since it would stimulate the independence movements among ...view middle of the document...

In 1849, when the Frankfurt Parliament offered the crown of united Germany to Prussia, Austria protested bitterly and threatened war on Prussia. War was only avoided when Prussia declined the throne. But a war could no longer be avoided when Prussia was determined to unify Germany in 1866. The Austro-Prussian War was the last attempt made by Austria to prevent the materialization of German Unification. Despite all these attempts, Germany was finally unified in 1871 under the leadership of Prussia.

Although Austria was determined to suppress German Unification, her opposition was finally overpowered by the mighty Prussians. With her internal decline especially after 1848, Austria could no longer stop the ambitious and powerful Prussia from unifying Germany. In fact, the success of Prussia was very much enhanced by her ever-growing strength since 1815. As a result of the Vienna Settlement, the size of Prussia was almost doubled and she became one of the two leading German states. On the other hand, Prussia benefited immensely from the Zollverein. With the abolition of customs dues, industries and commerce among the members grew rapidly. Prussia, being the leader of the Zollverein, was able to reap a lion share of these economic benefits. Apart from economic benefits, which greatly improved her military strength, Prussia also gained much administrative experience and prestige. As a consequence, the leading position of Prussia among the German states had been firmly established by the 1850s. The Zollverein had in fact laid the foundation for the later political unification of Germany in 1871.

Besides economic strength, the military strength of Prussia, which was so essential in clearing the way for unification, must not be overlooked. Under the leadership of William I and Bismarck, a vast program of military reforms was carried out to strengthen the Prussian army. The army was expanded and intensively trained, better equipment was installed and strategic railways built. With a powerful army at hand, nothing could stop Prussia from unifying Germany After a series of military victories in 1864, 1866 and 1871, Prussia finally accomplished the task of unification in 1871.

Of course, the diplomatic...

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