This was because the new middle class that had emerged in the 'German states', from industrialisation, wanted political representation, and felt that it could only be achieved in a united Germany. The Congress of Vienna wanted to make sure that no country could take over Europe in the way that France did in the early 1800s, it aimed to do this by allocating more land to Prussia and creating a 'barrier' that would block any attempts of French expansion and also war from Russia in the east. The German Confederation divided Germany into thirty-nine states, as Napoleon did during the French occupation. A reduction in the number of German states may seem like a move towards nationalism and in turn unification, however it was in fact a direct move against it, as can be seen in the second amendment of the confederation. This is known as 'particularism', the principle of leaving each state in a federation free to govern itself and promote its own interests.
Bismarck contributed to a great extent in the unification of Germany. However, his amazing diplomatic skill wasn't in having perfect planning to achieve the aim of unifying German states, but instead, he was skillful in utilising favourite circumstances to create a united Germany. A.J.P. Taylor commented that "Bismarck's greatness lay not in mastering events, but in going with events so as to seem to master them. He had no rigidly defined programme when he became Prime Minister in 1862."
Assess how vital Bismarck is to the process of German Unification Intro and historians shifting views: In January 1871 King Wilhelm became the first German Kaiser of the new German empire. The creation of the empire was one of the most important developments of the nineteenth century. However, the process by which Germany came to be unified has been an area of heated historical debate ever since. Historians always have argued that German was not unified by the push for the nationalist ideology lead by the “bloody and iron” chancellor Otto Von Bismarck. In order to shift attention away from the liberal pressure to reform and modernizing Prussia, Bismarck was able to keep modernization forces at bay by pushing for a united Germany.
The Weimar Government, whilst built in opposition to the wartime ideologies, was unable to detach itself from the power of the German military between the years of 1919 and 1934. The Weimar Republic was formed in 1919 after the abdication and exile of Kaiser Wilhelm II left the country leaderless and the Reichstag switched from imperial politics to democratic politics, a form which the German army famously did not support. As such the impact of the German Army upon the Weimar Republic was largely to support their own political – generally right-wing – agendas. This can be directly linked to the interference of military groups and military groups in the political sphere of Weimar Germany. The involvement of the German Army and other military groups in Weimar politics served to strengthen the Republic in the early years but later lead to its downfall.
During his reign Bismarck had practiced a very restrained continental policy and not heeded calls to acquire colonies for the German Empire. In 1896 however the Kaiser proclaimed that “nothing must henceforth be settled in the world without the intervention of Germany and the German Emperor” which signalled the beginning of the German Weltpolitik, or ‘world politics’ and which was formed to acquire colonies and achieve greater dominance for Germany. The unification between the old and emerging elites was to be achieved through a policy of protectionism and through the rallying of Germans through the following of a nationalist foreign policy. In reality however opportunities for colonial expansion under Bulow were actually very limited. Most territory had been seized by other European powers.
Collective security had a better response towards aggression rather than appeasement. This is because a lot more European countries didn’t approve of the decision made during the Munich Conference. Winston Churchill was one person who strong didn’t approve with this decision. He was a British politician who thought, “keeping peace depends on holding back the aggressor” (Document 6). Churchill believed that in order to guarantee the security of Czechoslovakia, Europe should have held Germany back and Britain and France should have worked together as an alliance.
The Kaiser of Germany, who was the King of Prussia, could be the main reason why Germany was conceived as an authoritarian monarchy, due to the Kaiser having such a powerful constitutional position that no-one could challenge him. Kaiser Wilhelm II was not elected as Emperor of Germany but was automatically selected which instantly shows signs of an authoritarian state, rather than a democratic one. On top of this Wilhelm II had the power to appoint to and dismiss the Chancellor; which he exercised 5 times including on Bismark (1890) and Bulow (1909) these did show signs of power from the Kaiser but also a weakness in the structure of Germany as the Kaiser was not able to choose a Chancellor that would provide leadership and loyalty to him. The Kaiser was also given the power direct Germany’s foreign policy and command all armed forces in peace and war which does show incredible amounts of dictatorship like qualities. However, it could be argued that because Germany was so widespread with many class divisions it was almost an impossible task for Kaiser Wilhelm to please everyone causing groups like the ‘middelstand’ to join
None the less, Bismarck was no fool; he took advantage of a situation which he hoped would never come. If he could strike an alliance with the Centre party in some way, he would be able to strengthen his political position elsewhere. For example, he was confusing the Austrians with his anti Catholic policies and as Bismarck wanted to make stronger links with Austria, by ending the Kulturkampf he could bring Austria and the Papacy both on his side. This is what Bismarck was able to do as in 1879 he agreed an alliance with Austria, showing his end to the Kulturkampf as a cleverly thought out political strategy. Despite this, the Kulturkampf coincidently came to an end the same year Pope Pius IX died and was replaced with Pope Leo XIII.
During the period between 1900 and 1914 Germany was socially, economically and politically stagnant. It is considered though that the cause of inactive political status was all the moderate reforms introduced by the weak political establishment. Despite the fact that other factors such as the military, the economy and the pressure groups contributed to the maintenance of the political status quo, it was to a large extent the responsibility of the establishment, as it is directly connected to the political status, and thus responsible for the introduction of better reforms that would help Germany grow politically which it did not, so it was not successful. Firstly, a reason why the political status quo was maintained as such was the constitution of Germany. Victory against France in 1871 led to the unification of the states of North Confederation with the rest of the kingdoms and a new constitution based on the North Confederation’s one was created.
How successful were successive German Chancellors in protecting the position of the Second Reich's ruling elite? Germany's ruling elite were made up primarily of Prussians, land owning aristocrats or high ranking military leaders. It also consisted of leading industrialists and the judiciary. However, their position as the ruling elite was under threat. Although the industrial revolution had a huge positive impact on German economy, it also lead to a rise in socialism which meant the emergence of pressure groups, such as the Nationalist pressure groups and the Economic pressure groups.