How far did the political system successfully overcome the key divisions facing Germany in 1871?

  • Created by: becky.65
  • Created on: 29-03-18 11:49

Trying to reconcile unity and division:

  • 1815 - Congress of Vienna created the German Confederation; 36 sovereign states that were loosely connected
  • Ideas of German nationalism were growing
  • However, regional identity and the ruling families of the differing areas remained very strong
  • Germany was divided along religious lines
  • Nationalist writers of the early 19th century focused upon language as the key definer of national unity
  • However, Prussia and Austria incorporated large populations that did not speak German or consider themselves ethnically German
  • German unification was driven by Prussia under its military and political dominance; it was not a shared process
  • Willhelm was crowned Kaiser of Germany, symbolising Prussia's power over the newly created state
  • Whilst 1871 created a united German nation, it was the beginning of the process to create a united German people
  • Religion:
    • One-third of the new German state was Catholic - viewed themselves as a discriminated minority within the Protestant-dominated Germany
  • Junkers, southern Germans, non-Prussians and peasants viewed the newly created nation with distrust
  • The constitution constructed by Bismarck aimed to:
    • enshrine Prussian power
    • overcome the key divisions
  • Dynastic rivalry:
    • The potential for this was overcome by allowing the 22 different royal rulers to maintain substantial power under the Prussian King
    • The constitution proclaimed that all German sovereigns were equal
    • As the Emperor controlled the civil service and military this was not really true
    • The Emperor took precedence over the separate states through his ability to proclaim imperial law, which superseded state powers
  • The Reichstag:
    • Constitution established an elected parliamentary body, the Reichstag
    • Its role in politics is questionable
    • Served as a key aspect of unification
    • Universal suffrage for all over 25 meant the Reichstag elections were the only aspect of the political process that Germans from across the country could engage in equally
  • The creation of:
    • a single currency
    • sole measurements and weights
    • a national legal system
    • a national civil service
    • a German military
    • the linking of Germany's railway system
  • all helped to establish a greater sense of a unified nation
  • 1892 - creation of the German flag; national symbols helped to create unity
  • King Wilhelm I played a key role in the emotional respect of creating a unifying figure in the Kaiser and the German Empire he represented
  • The Military
    • The army was made up of the Prussian, Bavarian, Saxony and Wurttemberg armies
    • Each army owed allegiance to the king of that particular state
    • In a time…


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