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Politics Student Essay

2718 words - 11 pages

Was Germany any closer to being unified by 1849?

The period from 1815-1849 is often described as “time period where nothing happened” in terms of unification, this can be seen with Germany remaining divided by 1849. However, throughout this period there was significant steps that both enhanced, and hindered how close Germany was to being unified, these include economic changes with the Prussian customs union, political changes within the congress of Vienna and social changes through the 1848-49 revolutions.
There were significant economic changes throughout the period from 1815-1849, most importantly the creation of the Prussian customs union in 1818 that then went on to become the ...view middle of the document...

The Zollverein was made up of over 35 states and 25 million German people, this brought Germany closer to unification as the majority of the German states were linked together in an economic union along with measures and currency begging to become the same. The main thing that the Zollverein did to bring Germany closer to Germany is it provided a template for the ‘Klein- Deutschland’ without an Austria and allowed Prussia to appear the natural leader of Germany This was the first time Prussia began to defy Austria ‘it was the first break in German settlement of 1815’ and led to it being described as ‘the mighty lever of German unification”
However, it could also be argued that the Zollverein did not bring Germany closer to unification but in fact prevented it as it can be argued that princes of the smaller states accepted this loss of sovereignty as they feared that if the growing industrial middle class were restricted by internal tariffs they would be angered and cause revolution and become a republic therefore by joining the Zollverein they were not encouraging unification, they were preventing it. It also highlighted the difference in political views between the nations as any state member could VETO a proposal at the Zollverein congress as some decisions were either held up or not made at all this evident in the Prussia v Austrian war in 1866, every member of the Zollverein opposed Prussia’s actions.
The Zollverein did bring Germany closer to unification in an economic sense and set up the framework for a united Germany however the political differences were still evident and the princes were still desperate to keep hold of as much power as possible.
There were also significant developments in the economies of German states concentrated in specific areas. The exploitation of Germany’s vast raw materials brought wealth for an emerging middle class the state which benefitted most was Prussia, which was granted control of industrial land on the River Rhine in 1815. There was also a significant rise in the urbanisation of the working class from the country side into the towns as people moved to work in the new industries, the population rose and people living in such close proximity meant there was potential for uprisings therefore bringing Germany closer to unification. The industrialisation took place throughout Germany, coal production increased from 1.2 million tonnes in 1815 to 6.1 millions of tonnes in 1848 along with woollen textiles went from 12.7 thousands of tonnes to 28.2 in the same amount of time. This industrialisation and economic growth along with the zollverein arguably brought Germany closer to unification as it increased the wealth and power of the middle class and took away power from the individual rulers, it also brought the working class in greater proximity to each other raising the chances of revolution, this view is supported by British economist JM Keynes who stated German unification was achieved through...

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