How Successfully Did Bismarck Unite Germany?
Initially being appointed in 1862 by King Wilhelm I to solve Prussian domestic quarrels over army reforms, Bismarck was given the opportunities and power he desired to pursue his goal of uniting Germany under Prussia. In order to do this he had to apply sharp foreign politics to secure Prussian dominance in Germany by 1971, but then also secure domestic unification in the German states by religious, economic and political means. Bismarck was dismissed from office by 1890, and it remains controversial how successful he was in uniting Germany and its people. This matter will be examined in this essay, taking into account Bismarckâ€™s contributions to German Unification from 1862 through 1890 and assessing his ultimate success.
In 1848/49 German Unification had already been attempted by the liberal democrats, yet the established National Assembly was ineffective, and eventually crushed by the Prussian military. Otto von Bismarck also longed for a united Germany, however he was delighted this did not happen under the banner of liberalism, but was determined to bring united Germany under the control of the conservative, anti-liberal Prussian monarchy. However between 1858 and 1862 Prussia was facing domestic problems, King Friedrich Wilhelm and the parliament could not come to agreement over the question of military budget. This crisis forced the King to abdicate and be replaced by his brother Prince Wilhelm, who appointed Otto von Bismarck in 1862 as the new Prime Minister and later also as Foreign Minister of Prussia. This provided Bismarck with the power he desired and his first action in office was to restore the Kings executive power and ensure that he, Bismarck, alone decide over Prussiaâ€™s military budget. Bismarck was not only rigorous in his domestic, but also in his foreign policies, he knew, that to unite Germany under Prussia, he had to eliminate Austrian influence.