Bismarck and a United German Nation

Author: Known as the “Iron Chancellor”, Otto von Bismarck lived from 1815 to 1898. Under his rule he established a modern German nation by uniting numerous German states. To establish his goals, “he manipulated European rivalries to make Germany a world power, but in doing so laid the groundwork for both World Wars.”[1]

Context: Written in 1866, he is witnessing first hand the need to united Austria and Prussia. In 1864, he led military campaigns in order to make Prussia an influential power in Europe. The Austro-Prussian War occurred in 1866 where the Austrian empire was defeated.

Language: His choices of words are meant to be powerful in describing the situation at hand.

Audience: His intended audience is the leaders of the numerous independent German states. He stresses the need of German national unity under the King of Prussia.

Intent: To provoke the need of unity under the leadership of the King of Prussia. He states, “Austria’s conflict and rivalry with us was no more culpable than ours with her; our task was the establishment or foundation of German national unity under the leadership of the King of Prussia.”[2]

Message: By avoiding the complete destruction of Austria, a friendship between Austria and Prussia needs to be established. If Austria were destroyed, the possibility of it becoming allies with France or any other enemy would be eminent. Prussia needs to unite with Austria to establish a powerful German nation.

Why: The various German states need to be united in order to fight against the other powers residing in Europe. It is a period of modern nationalism where the German states lacked an identity and needed one.



One thought on “Bismarck and a United German Nation

  1. One of the most important ideas mentioned is that the idea of nationalism is a modern concept. The ideas of the French revolution spawned ideas such as nationalism and democracy, and those ideas were cemented into the European consciousness further as a response to Napoleon’s conquests. Upon becoming a united nation with a common identity and goal, France became a dominant world power. In order to maintain influence and power in the modern world, the people of Europe recognized that establishing unity and nationalism was vital to maintaining any sphere of influence.

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