Obstacles To German Unification Essay

The Napoleonic Wars

In the last decade of the 18th century, Napoleon’s forces were strong enough to conquer and control the whole of mainland Europe, including the numerous German states. He reorganised the ‘German’ lands to 39 larger states. He also established the Confederation of the Rhine, which brought further unification to the most influential German states.

The German princes organised military resistance. They promised their subjects constitutional government in the event of Napoleon’s defeat.

When Napoleon was defeated (firstly at Leipzig in 1813 and then at Waterloo in 1815), the German princes broke this promise.

The German princes did not feel long-lasting reform was necessary for their survival. They promised liberal reforms when it was politically useful. But they repeatedly reversed these decisions.

Opposition to unification

The German princes felt threatened by unification:

  • their power was based on the idea of absolute control of their individual states
  • they saw their position as bestowed by God - they and their kin were the rightful rulers of the German states
  • liberal ideas would remove a great deal of their power
  • a written constitution and parliament elected by the people would shift policy away from their interests
  • they would lose their status in a unified Germany - only one prince could rule a united Germany with the rest subservient to him

Opposition to Prussia

Apart from Austria, Prussia was the strongest German state. It was the only state that showed any real ability to unite Germany. It was clear that unification would mean being ruled by the Prussian King. This was not acceptable to the other German princes. They felt threatened by Prussia’s strength, particularly its military strength.

In 1850, the German states sided with the Austrians as they reasserted power over Germany and re-established the German Confederation. This showed how opposed many German princes were to Prussia.

Presentation on theme: "An evaluation of the obstacles to German unification, 1815–50"— Presentation transcript:

1 An evaluation of the obstacles to German unification, 1815–50
Issue 3 GermanyAn evaluation of the obstacles to German unification, 1815–50


FactorsDivisions among the nationalists;Austrian strength;German princes;religious differences;economic differences;indifference of the masses;resentment towards Prussia.Other countriesMOST OF THESE SHOULD ALREADY BE FAMILIAR

4 Divisions among the nationalists
(v important)

5 Internal obstacles to German Nationalism
3 Divisions within NationalistsGross or Klein Deutschland?Monarchy or Republic?Who would be the monarch?How would they create a Republic ? Who could vote?What would be in the constitution?All these issues had to be agreed on and caused argument and indecision

6 The 1848 RevolutionWhy did political nationalism fail to unite Germany in 1848/49?Revolutions relatively ineffective – no sweeping changes madeMonarchs not overthrownArmies remained loyal to monarchs – especially in PrussiaReforms granted by monarchs were easily reversed.FW IV refused the crown of united Germany.KleinD decision disgruntled AustriaFrankfurt Assembly took too long to make decisions about issues they disagreed on.Lack of clarity, purpose and strong leadership among nationalists and liberalsLack of power from below to unify.

7 taskMake a mind map of all the things the Nationalists were divided on.Gross or Klein Deutschland?Monarchy or Republic?Who would be the monarch?How would they create a Republic ? Who could vote?What would be in the constitution?Importance- This is a big obstacle, if the Nationalists are not united then even without the other obstacles they would struggle to unite the people.EVIDENCE IS 1848 REVOLUTION

8 Austrian strength(v important!)

9 External obstacles to German Nationalism
Austrian opposition/Prince MetternichIf Kleindeutschland created Austria feared Prussia would become a rival power in the north.If Grossdeutschland created, Austria feared it would get drawn into German affairs with no benefitsMetternich (Austrian Chancellor) was very conservative, anti nationalist, anti unification because the threat these posed to the unity of the Austrian empire whose wealth and power lay with the Hapsburgs, Metternich’s employer!

10 Austrian OppositionPrince Metternich (The Austrian Minister of Foreign Affairs) was strongly opposed to German nationalism and was personally an major obstacle to the unification of Germany, as Austria was one of the leading German states and Austria held the Presidency of the Bund.Metternich was a conservative and therefore strongly opposed to liberal ideas. Most German nationalists at this time were also liberals.QUOTE‘We will not let our power slip in Germany. A strong united Germany would not be so easy to control. It is in our interests to keep the identity of Germany divided.’ (Metternich, 185)Metternich regarded the demands for nationalism and liberalism as ‘dark, evil forces’. He regarded the university students as a potential danger, as they moved around and could spread these ideas which many of them supported.Therefore he passed the Carlsbad Decrees in 1819 which :Abolished student societies and unionsCensored newspapersPrevented students expelled from one university from going to another, And in 1832, the Six Articles which permitted intervention in states threatened with constitutional demands. Note the power and influence of Austria (and Metternich) in affairs at this time.* Carlsbad as evidence*

11 Austrian Opposition (contd.)
The Austrians were keen to keep a ‘lid’ on nationalist sentiment in the German states, as, if it was left unchecked, nationalism could lead to the disintegration of Austria’s vast empire in south-east Europe.If a Kleindeutschland was created, Austria would be excluded from German affairs.It was, therefore, very much in Austrian interests to maintain the status-quo (i.e. the Bund).

12 Repressive MeasuresMetternich’s work to repress liberalism and nationalism – Carlsbad Decrees + Six ActsMcKichan - The Carlsbad Decrees certainly succeeded in keeping Germany quiet for a considerable period of timeTreaty of Olmutz 1850 – re-established the Bund – huge disappointment for the liberals and nationalists

13 Austria as an obstacleNationalism a threat to multi ethnic empire of Austria – therefore Austria determined to curb nationalismViolently anti-nationalistChairmanship of the Bund given permanently to AustriaAim of confederation to divide and keep states independent – Article 2Mitchell - The Bund was more a means to perpetuate the division of Germany (than to unite it)Carr – He (Metternich) had no doubt that demands for freedom would inevitably lead to the destruction of the Austrian Habsburg Empire

14 summary YOU WOULD MENTION: Why Austria Hated Nationalism

15 Example infoNationalism and liberalism were two political philosophies that usually went hand-in-hand at this time. The arch-conservative Austrian Chancellor Prince Metternich was very much aware of the dangers of such philosophies. Nationalism, if allowed to spread unchecked, could potentially lead to the disintegration of the vast Austro-Hungarian Empire. He was also keen to ensure that Austria would not be excluded from German affairs by the creation of some sort of Kleindeutschland. There are several clear instances of Austrian opposition to German nationalism; the two most important coming in 1819 and 1850.In 1819 the Austrians passed the notorious Carlsbad Decrees which effectively suppressed the student Burschenscaften which had been flourishing in German universities since the end of the Napoleonic Wars. These nationalist organisations had been responsible for nothing more serious than a few demonstrations and the burning of an effigy of Metternich at Wartburg in However, Metternich recognised the spirit of these organisations and was quick to deal with it when given the excuse in 1819 when the member of one of the Burschenshaften murdered the anti-liberal writer and Tsarist agent Kotzebue. The Carsbad Decrees, as F. McKichan stated effectively suppressed German nationalism ‘for a generation’.In 1850, after recovering from the revolutions of the new Austrian Chancellor Scwartzernburg forced the Prussians to accept the ‘humiliation’ of the Treaty of Olmutz. This meant that the Efrurt Union – a Prussian-led attempt to replace the Bund and unite the German states on the terms of their rulers was abandoned. Thus it is clear that while Austria remained strong the prospects for the unification of the German states were slim. Before 1850 opposition from Austria was definitely the main stumbling block for German nationalists in their attempts to unite the German states.

16 German Princes

17 Internal obstacles to German Nationalism
1. Various RulersThe influence of the privileged members of the ruling classes in the German states. (the “ancien regime”)The aristocrats who ruled the 39 German states had to defend the system to ensure their own survival. Each state had sovereign powers over its laws, taxes and armed forces.

18 The Other Individual States
Austria influenced the other states - the leaders of each state were encouraged to keep the status quo and obstructed unityLeaders protective of their individual powersArticle 2 of the Act of Confederation - 'The aim of this confederation shall be the maintenance of the external and internal security of Germany as well as the independence of the individual German states‘McKichan - The way in which the confederation worked was designed to make it difficult for it to develop into a united GermanyMcKichan – To keep the dark forces of nationalism at bay, Metternich relied on the prestige of Austria and the goodwill and co-operation of the German princes

19 sqaThe leaders of the German states obstructed unification – protective of their individual power and position. They wanted to maintain the status quo which would safeguard this for them.• Particularism of the various German states – autonomous and parochial in many ways.• Self-interest among German rulers led to opposition to the actions at Frankfurt.*EVIDNCE*- Getting rid of Frankfurt Parliament

20 importance Important as stopped revolution from above
BUT even if they HAD helped this would have been shot down by Austria e.g Olmutz.

21 Religious differences
Not very important

22 Internal obstacles to German Nationalism
2. Religious differencesProtestant Prussia and North German StatesCatholic South German States and much of Austriaagainst

23 Religious Divisions – the states divided between north and south on religious grounds. Northern states Protestant > looked to Prussia for help, Southern states Catholic > looked to Austria for help. A divisive force

24 Example paragraph/The loyalty of the Protestant northern German states historically was to Protestant Prussia and the loyalty of the Catholic southern German states was to Catholic Austria. Thus, it was more than just religion that divided the German states. The tension and rivalry that existed between the two largest German states exacerbated the existing religious divisions and made the possibility of unification more problematic.An indication of how strong the traditional cultural and religious ties between the southern Catholic states and Austria were came in the 1866 Austro-Prussian War. Before 1850, however, whilst the religious division in the German states was clearly an obstacle to any future unification, there were other far more important factors – not least of all being the opposition of Austria to any form of unification.

25 IMPORTANCE NOT VERY- Couldn’t unite or dissuade Germany.
Before 1850, however, whilst the religious division in the German states was clearly an obstacle to any future unification, there were other far more important factors – not least of all being the opposition of Austria to any form of unification.

26 economic differences;
Middling importance

27 Economic Factors FROM 2014 past paper mark scheme
The smaller states of the West had more advanced economies than the Prussian heartlands, where political reading was confined largely to the upper class.• Even within Prussia there were significant social differences between the industrially advanced territories on the Rhine and the largely agricultural areas in the East, which were dominated by the Junkers (although less so than in the 18th century), who were adversely affected by the agricultural depression of the 1820s.PUT THIS INTO YOUR OWN WORDS!

28 Importance Not as important as other factors,
Even if this hadn't divided them Austria still would have, as would have the other Nationalist divisions.

29 indifference of the masses;
Quite important

30 Internal obstacles to German Nationalism
Limited appeal of the nationalistsDespite the economic and social changes between 1815 and 1862 Germany remained an area where local loyalties remained important for a mainly rural population.Nationalism only appealed to literate people – the growing urban middle classes-”talkers and dreamers with no real plan of action” (McKichan)The peasants and the new urban working classes were not educated enough to see any advantages for them in nationalism.

31 Limited appeal of Nationalism
A middle class movement with little interest from the w/cMany people had other prioritiesMost Germans had little desire to see a united GermanyNo consensus among the nationalists on defining Germany – Klein v GrossLack of clear aims and no united armyLack of clear leadershipRevolutionaries in 1848 at odd with each other – the workers and the employersMcKichan – Most historians agree that these ideas were held by relatively limited numbers of educated town dwellersStiles “Liberalism and nationalism remained largely middle-class before 1848”McKichan “ the events of 1848 and 1850 seemed to show that German nationalism was too weak and divided to ahchieve its aims by pressure from below”.

32 importanceImportant as stopped w/class getting involved so stopped revolution from below (the potential power of which could be seen in 1848 Rev)HOWEVER EVEN if this had existed Austria would shoot down any attempt at Nationalism AND The Divisions of Nationalists would lead to failure. i.e Frankfurt Parliament

33 resentment towards Prussia
Quite important

34 Internal obstacles to German Nationalism
Fear of Prussian domination and militaryLargest state of German states.Becoming more industrial, and rebuilding military strength after French occupation.A dominant political voice in the Bund. Wants to extend its own power, not really interested in unification, rather ‘prussification’.

35 Other countries

36 Other European powersOther European powers opposed a united Germany and the growth of nationalismFrance, Russia and Britain all feared unity and the prospect of a strong opponentThe German states had proved weak when they were divided – that suited others

37 External obstacles to German Nationalism
2. Opposition from other countries French opposed a united Germany because it could be a new European power on her border which could expand west. Russia also opposed for same reason as France but for expansion east. Either way it could upset the balance of power

38 summary

39 Summary Q’s- Obstacles to Unification
Turn to p. 102 (BLUE). Answer these questions in your own words. p.2 (Gold) and (Gold) p.23-29What does Mitchell’s quote mean?Why does Mitchel think this? Read the paragraph on p.102 and p.103 to help you.Read p.103 Who did the Catholic states look to for protection?Explain Kleinedeuschland and grossdeutschland in your own words.P.104 (blue)Which 3 countries did not want a united Germany?P.105(blue) Why was France against a united Germany

40 Summary of obstacles to unity
Austria and Metternich – violently anti nationalist stance, Austrian empire felt threatened by unitySix Acts, 1832Reinforced the Carlsbad Decrees, gave more powers to individual states to crush nationalismCarlsbad Decrees 1819Newspaper censored, student societies banned, inspectors into universities, professors sackedFrance, Britain and Russia against unity – a united Germany would be a security threat and also a strong economic competitorRepressive MeasuresThe Bund / ConfederationObstacles to UnityThe 39 leaders were against unityDividing forcesArticle 2 of the Confederation stated that it’s aim was to keep the states separateAnt-nationalist Austria at the helm of the bund ensured unity was repressedReligious divisions between north and south

41 By 1850, Germany was still not unified Forces Repressing Unity- checklist
The Confederation / BundThe 39 leadersAustria + MetternichCarlsbad Decrees 1819/ Six Acts 1832Religious Divisions – North + SouthOther European powersNo consensus on defining Germany – Klein v Gross

42 IMPORTANCE. Divisions among the nationalists; Austrian strength;
German princes;religious differences;economic differences;indifference of the masses;resentment towards Prussia.Other countriesPut these factors in order of importance and ensure you have reasons for your choice.

43 Argument Austrian strength
Carr – He (Metternich) had no doubt that demands for freedom would inevitably lead to the destruction of the Austrian Habsburg Empire1848 revolution was only possible due to Austria’s engagement in her Empire’s affairs. This shows how big an obstacle she is, but also that she is not a constantRepressive MeasuresNot as important as it was only the liberals and intellectuals it affected.McKichan - The Carlsbad Decrees certainly succeeded in keeping Germany quiet for a considerable period of time.Individual states (German princes and religious differences)McKichan – To keep the dark forces of nationalism at bay, Metternich relied on the prestige of Austria and the goodwill and co-operation of the German princesGorman- The rulers of the separate states of the confederation did not want to surrender their powers to a higher authority. Consequently the small, but growing, middle class made little headwayEuropean powersLess important despite these issues it was the fact that Germany herself was not united in her aims rather than others stopping her that prevented unification.Gorman- it suited the purpose of the Great Powers to keep Germany divided.Weakness of Nationalism Important- Without a widespread movement there was not support to attack the other obstacles.1848 shows that no matter how strong other factors were without AN ORGANISED Nationalist campaign nationalism WOULD NOT HAPPEN.McKichan – Most historians agree that these ideas were held by relatively limited numbers of educated town dwellersStiles “Liberalism and nationalism remained largely middle-class before 1848”Carr-the diverse personalities of liberal leaders hindered the growth of a unified movement

44 IMPORTANCEAustrian strength MOST IMPORTANT- WOULD CRUSH REVOLUTION FROM ABOVE OR BELOW (1848 REV/OLMUTZ).Divisions among the nationalists- it meant that no matter how many attempts there were at unity the Nationalists would always fail if they did not fix this e.g Frankfurt ParliamentIndifference of the masses- Prevented Nationalism from below an prevented a pressure which would have helped change those in power’s minds.German Princes- Prevented a Revolution from above however most were not powerful enough alone to enact this and the one attempt at this (Erfurt) was crushed by Austria.Resentment towards Prussia- would affect chances of both a revolution from above or below (remember not all the states joined the Erfurt Union) however not enough to make a major change e.g the 1848 Rev had happened despite thisEconomic Differences- Not that important if the other obstacles were not there these could have been overcomereligious differences; Not that important, if the other obstacles were not there these could have been overcome.Other countries- Not that important, Britain France etc did not seem likely to do anything about it so who cared if they didn’t like it!!!!

45 Example introductions
Nationalism is the desire of a people with a common language, culture and traditions to be united in their own state with their own ruler. Between 1815, the year the Napoleonic Wars ended, and 1850 the German states experienced a growth of nationalism and desire for unity. However, by 1850 the German states were still not united., despite two attempts at doing so in 1848 and Historians have since debated what the obstacles to unification were. Some argue that the religious divisions in Germany were the main obstacle to unification. Others suggest that the opposition from Austria was more important, or that the individual rulers’ fear of losing power played a vital part. This essay will establish that, while religious division was an important factor, the opposition from Austria and the rulers were more important.Between1815 and 1850 there had been two real attempts to unify Germany, however, both of these failed. Germany was still composed of 39 states as it had been in Although nationalism had grown, it was not successful by Religious divisions between the German states were one of the many obstacles to German unification, however they were certainly not the most important. Austrian opposition was the largest obstacle to German unification, closely followed by divisions amongst nationalists. Other reasons included the lack of a wide support base, economic divisions and opposition from rulers of states.

46 Factors Divisions among the nationalists; Austrian strength;
German princes;religious differences;economic differences;indifference of the masses;resentment towards Prussia.Other countriesOn the next slides are examples of how you could group them together for an essay THOUGH YOU ARE ALSO FREE TO KEEP THEM SEPARATE.

German states and PrussiaOpposition from LeadersAustrian strengthWeakness of nationalismAttitude of foreign statesCONLUSION

48 Factors Grouped together
GERMANYS INTERNAL DIVISIONS (religious differences/resentment towards Prussia/ economic differencesWEAKNESS OF NATIONALISM (Divisions among the nationalists/indifference of the masses)LACK OF SUPPORT FROM LEADERS(German princes/Other countries)AUSTRIAN STRENGTH


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