German Unification

German Unification

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  • Austria and Prussia had a long-standing conflict and rivalry for supremacy in Central Europe during the 18th and 19th centuries. The image above shows the Prussian lion circling around the Austrian elephant, which symbolizes the rivalry.
  • Politics is the Art of the Next Best
  • On July 8, 1848, John Middleton, the Secretary of State, stated that the United States was prepared to recognize any unified German Government that "appeared capable of maintaining its power".
  • The third and final act of German unification was the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71, orchestrated by Bismarck to draw the western German states into alliance with the North German Confederation. The German Empire was proclaimed in January 1871 in the Palace at Versailles, France. From this point forward, foreign policy of the German Empire was made in Berlin.
  • The second attempt at German unification undertaken by Otto von Bismarck, the Prime Minister of Prussia, was successful. Bismarck was a supporter of “smaller” Germany. German unification was achieved by the force of Prussia.
  • The first war of German unification was the 1862 Danish War, which begun over the duchies of Schleswig and Holstein. Bismarck allied with Austria to fight the Danes in a war to protect the interests of Holstein, a member of the German Confederation.
  • The second war of German unification, the 1866 Austro-Prussian War, settled the question of “smaller” versus “greater” Germany. Prussia won and annexed some of the German states that had sided with Austria. In 1867 Bismarck created the North German Confederation, a union of the northern German states under the hegemony of Prussia which served as a model for the future German Empire.
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