The Reunification of Germany.

The unification of Germany was a significant event that occurred in 1871 and marked the end of the German Confederation, which had been in place since the Congress of Vienna in 1815. The process of unification was initiated by Otto von Bismarck, the Chancellor of Prussia, and involved a series of military confrontations and diplomatic negotiations with other European powers.

Bismarck's desire for unification was driven by the belief that a unified Germany would be a dominant power in Europe, and that the divisions between the various German states were preventing the realization of this potential. He aimed to unify the German states under the leadership of Prussia, which was already the most powerful state in the region and had a well-organized army.

The process of unification began with the Austro-Prussian War of 1866, which saw Prussia emerge as the victor. Bismarck then turned his attention to the southern German states, which had remained independent of Prussian control. He managed to bring them into the fold through a combination of military threats and diplomatic persuasion, culminating in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71.

The war with France was crucial to the process of unification, as it enabled Bismarck to rally German sentiment around a common cause. The war resulted in a resounding victory for Prussia and its allies, with the capture of Paris and the abdication of Napoleon III.

The unification of Germany was formalized on January 18th, 1871, with the proclamation of the German Empire at the Palace of Versailles. King Wilhelm I of Prussia was crowned as Emperor Wilhelm I of Germany, marking the beginning of a new era in European history.

The unification of Germany was a major turning point in European history, as it created a new world power that challenged the dominance of the established powers in Europe. The creation of the German Empire also had significant implications for the balance of power on the continent, with France being significantly weakened and relegated to a secondary position.

The unification process was also significant in terms of the impact it had on German society. The emergence of a powerful, unified nation-state created a sense of national pride and identity among the German people, which had previously been fragmented across various independent states. The adoption of a common language (German) and a shared culture helped to reinforce this sense of national identity.

In conclusion, the unification of Germany was a complex and multifaceted event that had significant implications for European history and German society. It was driven by the vision and determination of Bismarck, as well as the military and diplomatic power of Prussia. The resulting German Empire went on to become one of the dominant powers of Europe in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and its legacy continues to be felt to this day.


Smith, H. (1991). The Unification of Germany, 1866-1871. New York: Routledge.

Evans, R.J. (1999). The Coming of the Third Reich. London: Allen Lane.