German Unification

  • Created by: OriC13
  • Created on: 04-01-19 15:23

Germany Before 1871

Germany Before Unification:

  • An Empire
  • 4 Kingdoms (Prussia, Bavaria, Wurttemberg, Saxony)
  • 18 Lesser States
  • 3 Free Cities
  • The Imperial Territory of Alsace-Lorraine

Germany By 1860:

  • Divided into 39 States
  • Prussia and Austria are the largest states
  • Many people shared a common language or culture
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Unification (1871)

Bismarck and Wilhelm I:

Prussian Prime Minister- Otto von Bismarck- united Germany under the policy of Blood (nationality) and Iron (military), and Wilhelm of Prussia was crowned Emperor on 18th Jan 1871.

4 Steps to Unification:

  • Economic Unification: Through the Industrial Revolution came growth of the railway which led to easier access to different resources and less dependency on the larger states (Austria and Prussia)
  • Schleswig-Holstein: German duchies won by Denmark in a war, but when Denmark broke the Treaty, another war broke out and Germany won. They won back Schleswig and Holstein, with the former put under the charge of Prussia and the latter of Austria. This led to conflict between the two
  • Austria-Prussian War: 1866, a 7 week war broke out over Schleswig-Holstein. Prussia won and the smaller states aligned themselves with Prussia
  • Franco-Prussian War: 1870, France declared war on Prussia, which Prussia won in 1871. This led to a wave of German nationalism which allowed Prussia to persuade the other kingdoms to unify.
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Unification (1871) cont.

Kleindeutsch vs Grossdeutsch:

  • A debate broke out as to whether to include Austria in the Second Reich (Grossdeutsch aka larger Germany) or to exclude Austria (Kleindeutsch aka smaller Germany)
  • Kleindeutsch won and Austria became its own country

Cultural Divide:

  • East Prussia spoke predominantly Polish
  • Schleswig-Holstein spoke mainly Danish
  • South West mostly spoke French
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The 1871 Constitution

The Constitution:

  • Initiated by Bismarck in 1871
  • A Federal system
  • Saw the removal of Austria from the Second Reich under Kleindeutsch vs Grossdeutsch
  • Each of the 25 states had a large amount of independence and decided their own forms of government
  • Bavaria and Saxony were ruled by Kings
  • Kaiser made head of the Empire, with the Chancellor directly under him
  • Introduced the Bundesrat and Reichstag

Karl Liebknecht:

Described the constitution as "a figleaf to cover absolutism" (tries to hide that it gives absolute power to the Kaiser)

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The Kaiser

Kaiser Wilhelm I:

  • King of Prussia and hereditary monarch
  • Appointed and dismissed the Chancellor and all ministers
  • Could dissolve the Reichstag at any point
  • Had the power to create treaties and declare war
  • Commander-in-Chief of the army
  • Had to approve all federal laws
  • Had the power of veto
  • Possessed the right to interpret the constitution
  • Indifferent to power and politics
  • Easily manipulated by Bismarck who threatened to resign if he was refused anything 
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The Chancellor

Chancellor Otto von Bismarck:

  • "Highest official in the Reich"
  • Appointed by the Kaiser
  • Prime Minister of Prussia
  • Foreign Minister
  • Presider of the Bundesrat
  • Answerable only to the Kaiser, rather that the Reichstag or the people
  • Doesn't represent a political party
  • Had to get Reichstag approval for any legislation he initiated
  • Could ignore resolutions passed by the Reichstag
  • Could dissolve the Reichstag with the Kaiser's approval
  • His ill health kept him from Berlin, limiting his power
  • Did not share his power with other ministers, did not use a Cabinet or consult with anyone

Lady Emily Russell:

The wife of a British Ambassador said that "Prince Bismarck terrorises Germany with the emperor's silent and cheerful consent", in 1870.

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The Bundesrat

The Bundesrat:

  • Represented the 25 different states
  • Had 58 members total
  • 17 members from Prussia
  • 6 members from Bavaria
  • 4 members from Saxony
  • 1 member from the other 22 states
  • Required 14 votes to veto any legislation- Prussia could stop any law from passing
  • Representatives were not directly elected by the electorate
  • Had the power to change the constitution
  • Their consent was required to pass laws
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The Reichstag

The Reichstag:

  • The national parliament
  • Members were elected by universal suffrage of males over 25
  • Members represented a political party
  • Elections were normally held every 5 years
  • Could not initiate any new legislation or amend any that came through
  • Could approve or reject the federal budget
  • Their assent was necessary to pass laws
  • Had no say in the appointment or dismissal of ministers or the Chancellor
  • Government ministers could not be members
  • Members were not paid, so the Reichstag was predominantly rich
  • Kaiser could dissolve it at any time (as could the Chancellor with the Kaiser's consent)
  • Bismarck dissolved the Reichstag in 1886 because they refused to pass an increase in military spending
  • The Septennial Law of 1874 agreed that the Reichstag would vote on the military budget every 7 years 
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The Constitution is democratic

It is democratic:

  • Men over 25 vote in the Reichstag deputies
  • Amount of advisors in the Bundesrat is proportional to the size of each state
  • All finances had to go through the Reichstag
  • Bismarck had to ally with political parties, so was kept in check and not given free reign
  • The Reichstag and Bundesrat had to approve all legislation
  • States had independence and regional governments
  • Reichstag had elections to elect deputies every 5 years
  • Septennial Law promised the Reichstag power over the army (although it did limit their previous power)
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The Constitution is not democratic

It is not democratic:

  • Bundesrat is not directly elected
  • The Bundesrat and Reichstag could not initiate or amend laws
  • Reichstag deputies had to be rich as they were not paid
  • Karl Liebknecht "a figleaf to cover absolutism"
  • Chancellor only kept in checked by the Kaiser rather than the public/Reichstag
  • Prussia had power of veto in the Bundesrat
  • Kaiser appointed and dismissed the Chancellor and ministers alone
  • Kaiser and Chancellor (with approval) could dissolve the Reichstag at any time
  • Lady Emily Russell "Prince Bismarck terrorises Germany with the emperor's silent and cheerful consent"
  • Bismarck refused to share power with ministers ("secretaries")
  • Press Law 1874, initiated by Bismarck, allowed the gov to prosecute editors who published material they did not approve of
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