3 Wars to unify Germany
Causes and results (territories taken) of the FF:
a) Danish war of 1864 or Austria-Prussia vs. Denmark
Bismark brought about a war with Denmark over the provinces of Schlesweig and Holstein. Prussia joined by Austria easily defeated Denmark and compelled it to cede Schlesweig-Holstein. Prussia and Austria became the joint owners of the two provinces.
b) 7 Weeks war of 1866
Bismarck deliberately quarreled with Austria regarding the administration of the conquered provinces and provoked a war. Bismarck s purpose was to end Austrian power in Germany. Most German states suppoerted Austria since they were fearful of Prussian domination. Prussia was allied with Italy which wanted the Italian-inhabited territory held by Austria. General von Moltke s armies overwhelmed Austria so quickly that the war is also called Seven Weeks War.
To the surprise of military experts Prussian troops crushed the Austrian army in Seven Weeks War of 1866. Careful planning an efficient railway system and superior weapons gave Prussia the advantage despite Austria s greater size and larger population. Austria agreed to allow Prussia to annex Schlesweig and Holstein and a number of smaller German states.
After the war Prussia organized a new union of states called the North German Confederation with a constitution based on the Frankfurt Parliament of 1848. Austria was not included in the new confederation
therefore removing it from German affairs. Bismarck s goal of making Prussia the dominant German power had been achieved. Only the South German states now remained outside Prussia s control but the Catholic population of these states had little desire to be dominated by Protestant Prussia. By the treaty of peace Austria ceded Venetia to Italy and by treating Austria generously Bismarck expected to gain its friendship for the emerging German state.
c) Franco-Prussian War
Bismarck now desired a war with France so that the south Germans by fighting a common enemy and experiencing wartime nationalism would voluntarily merge into a Prussian-controlled unified Germany. When Napoleon III of France opposed a Prussian Hohenzolern candidate for the throne of Spain Bismark rewrote the Ems Dispatch a vital telegram dealing with the issue as to intensify Franco-German enmity. Thus provoked Napoleon III declared war upon Prussia which was joined by the four south German states. General von Moltke s armies invaded France destroyed the French forces at the battle of Sedan and quickly overran the country.
By the treaty of Frankfurt a) France ceded to Germany the provinces of Alsace and Lorraine (rich in coal and iron and inhabited mainly by French people) b) agreed to pay Germany a huge way indemnity and c) consented to German military occupation until the indemnity was paid. By treating France harshly Bismarck planted the seeds of World War 1.
The Franco Prussian war had been the last step in Bismarck s plan for unifying Germany under strong Prussian leadership. On January 1871 William I was crowned as Germany s emperor and soon after Bismarck became the nation s chancellor. Germany was ruled by a powerful emperor and chancellor both of whom were hostile to the ideals of democracy. The unification of Germany had great significance for Europe. A powerful aggressive new state had emerged in Central Europe. Its people were intensely nationalistic; it s army was the best in Europe; its population was growing and its industries were expanding. The new Germany threatened the balance of power in Europe and helped to create fears tensions and rivalries.
The Franco-German War of 1870-71 established Prussia as the leading state in the imperial German Reich. William I of Prussia became German emperor on Jan. 18 1871; the Prussian army absorbed the other German armed forces except the Bavarian army which remained autonomous in peacetime. Bismarck combined the offices of imperial chancellor and Prussian minister-president and Prussia’s history merged largely into that of the German empire.