History Optional Paper-2 Solution – 1987: Q.5 (b)
Q.5 (b) ‘The Unification of Germany was the one thing Bismarck was determined to prevent.’ Comment.
Bismarck’s whole purpose was the preservation of Prussian power against the rising tide of Liberalism and Radicalism. The demand for real German unity had been made clearly enough in 1848: but by the revolutionaries of Frankfort parliament and Bismarck would never have accepted that. Bismarck was against any plan which was likely to merge Prussia in Germany or would commit Prussian monarchy to a policy of compromise with democracy or constitutionalism. Hence he supported the refusal of king of Prussia to accept he crown given by revolutionaries of national parliament of Frankfort (1848).
Bismarck even supported Austria in the convention of Olmutz (1850), when Prussian king was forced by Austria to abandon his proposed union of all Geman states.
In considering Bismarck’s aims and methods in Germany it can be seen that he sought to limit the Nationalism he claimed to be fulfilling.
After 1871, Germany was unified but in reality, it was division of Germany as Bismarck had deliberately put all Germans of Austria and Bohemia out of united Germany. He was only concerned with Prussian dominance in the union which would not have been possible in case of Austria being included in the union. He wanted to unification of German states with Prussia, not Prussia with Germany.
Germany after 1871 was called Empire to disguise the fact that it was not a German Empire but a Prussian Empire. Bismarckian Empire did not give William I (King of Prussia) an Empire over all the Germans as it excluded of deliberate purpose all the Germans of Austria and Bohemia.
Hence, the historian L.C.B. Seaman had rightly remarked: ” The unification of Germany was the one thing Bismarck was determined to prevent.”