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German Unification


Major defeats for France occurred at Metz and Sedan. Fearing defeat, Nap. rode around at Sedan looking for a bullet'. Sept. 1870, Bis., Moltke and Nap. ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: German Unification

German Unification
Germany 1815
? Creation of the German Confederation under the
presidency of Austria. Prussia and Austria were
the two most powerful German states.
Traditionally Austria was recognized as the most
Europe 1848
Europe today
Otto Von Bismarck The Iron Chancellor1815-189
8See Flagship p71
Bismarck and Realpolitik
  • Realistic Politics based on the needs of the
  • Whatever actions necessary to achieve his desired
  • Power more important than principles
  • Blood and Iron Philosophy
  • He wanted to eliminate Austrian influence and
    bring about unification on Prussian terms.
  • Expand Germanys Economy and Industrial base with
    use of its resources.
  • Do not make the same mistakes that were made by
    the French in 1848-1849.

3 Wars for Unification
  • 1st An 1864 Austrian-Prussian invasion of
    Schleswig-Holstein led to the end of Danish
    control of these provinces. Prussia gained a lot
    of support especially among German nationalists
    who wanted to see these provinces come under
    German control.
  • 2nd 1866 Austro-Prussian War results in Prussian
    control (Annexes) of several northern German
  • Dissolved the old confederation and establishes a
    new one dominated by Prussia
  • Southern states were left independent, form
    military alliances with Prussia
  • 3rd 1870-71 Franco-Prussian War results in the
    completion of German Unification
  • William I of Prussia assumes the role of Kaiser,
    or emperor of Germany, with Otto Von Bismarck as

Tension After 7 Weeks War - Prussia v Austria,
  • Napoleon III (France) was shocked by speed of
    Bismarcks victory against Austria
  • Bismarck excluded Napoleon III from treaty
    negotiations (between Prussia and Austria)
  • Napoleon was looking for territory in the
    Rhineland as reward for staying neutral while
    Prussia fought Austria

Franco-Prussian War, 1870
  • Newspaper reports of German governments
    anti-French statements caused fury in France.
    French public and newspapers demanded war.
  • Napoleon III declared war on 19 July and Bismarck
    gained the support of all German states by
    claiming that Napoleon was the aggressor

Franco-Prussian War, 1870
  • French mobilisation was chaotic Prussian swift
  • Nap. had no aptitude for military affairs
  • Moltke led the Prussian forces

Franco-Prussian War, 1870
  • Foreign powers remained neutral
  • Russia promised to fight with Prussia if Austria
    joined France both stayed out
  • Italy made too many demands of France for their
  • British interests were not affected

Franco-Prussian War, 1870
  • Prussian technology (especially breech-loading
    rifle) and tactics were far superior.
  • Prussia used 6 railway lines, France had 2
  • Major defeats for France occurred at Metz and
  • Fearing defeat, Nap. rode around at Sedan
    looking for a bullet.
  • Sept. 1870, Bis., Moltke and Nap. met to agree
    the surrender

Meeting at Versailles
French Surrender
  • 84,000 French prisoners (inc. 39 generals and the
  • Nap. imprisoned at Cassel until 1872 then exile
    in Britain died 1873
  • Revolution in France replaced 2nd Empire with 3rd
  • War continued for a further 6 months and was
    ended in Jan. 1871 when Prussia laid siege to

Treaty of Frankfurt, May 1871
  • France fined 5000m
  • Germany annexed Alsace and Lorraine (buffer-zone
    contained fortresses of Metz and Strasbourg
    rich in iron ore)
  • Peace terms led to long lasting enmity between
    Germany and France
  • Von Moltke What we have gained by arms in half
    a year, we must protect by arms for half a

Germany 1871
? The new German Empire emerged as Europes
foremost military power. Prussia dominated this
new German state.
United German States
  • Prussia dominated the new Germany that was called
    the Second Reich.
  • The new constitution drawn up by Bismarck was a
    Federal system.
  • Each of the twenty-five states had considerable
    control over their affairs and decided their own
    form of government e.g. Bavaria and Saxony were
    ruled by kings.
  • Under the constitution there were to be three
    branches of the Federal government

The Presidency
  • The Presidency which was held by the King of
    Prussia (now German Emperor Kaiser Wilhelm I).
    The German Emperor had considerable powers. He
    had personal control of the armed forces. He
    appointed and dismissed all ministers including
    the Chancellor (Bismarck 1871-1890).

The Federal Council
  • The Federal Council (or Bundesrat) represented
    the different states of the Empire. It had
    fifty-eight members. Seventeen were from Prussia,
    six from Bavaria, four from Saxony. It had the
    power to change the constitution. However no
    change could be made to the constitution if
    fourteen delegates objected. This in practice
    meant that Prussia could always stop change.

The Parliament
  • The Parliament or Reichstag was elected by
    Universal Male Suffrage (all males over 25 could
    vote) and Secret Ballot. It voted on the Federal
    budget and its consent was needed for all
    legislation. This was the most advanced system in
    Europe at this time.
  • However, the powers of the Reichstag were
  • It could not initiate legislation.
  • The Kaiser (and in effect Bismarck) could
    dissolve it any time with the agreement of the
  • It had no say in the appointment or dismissal of
    the Chancellor or Imperial ministers. The
    Imperial Chancellor was appointed by the Emperor
    and was in charge of foreign policy.