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Germany - Nationalism (causes)

How important were cultural factors in the growth of nationalism pre-1850?

Alana McPake

on 27 January 2014

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Transcript of Germany - Nationalism (causes)

Napoleonic Wars
Although they take place outwith the time period given, they are still important. The rationalisation of states from 300+ down to 39 caused people to realise that further reducing from 39 into 1 would not be so implausible. Furthermore, Napoleon unintentionally presented himself as a common enemy.
Economic (cont)
EVAL: Economic factors were the most important as the economy affected everyone, from the ruling elite to the lowest of the working classes.

The Zollverein demonstrated the benefits of a united Germany, appealing to people's practicality.

It also showed that the Germanic states could survive without the guidance/dominance of Austria, and preferred it like this, as they rejected the idea of the 'Zollunion', an extremely similar organisation under Austrian control.
Image by Tom Mooring
How important were cultural factors in the growth of nationalism pre-1850?
Political (cont)
Erfurt Union - an assembly of German princes under Prussian control. A prototype for what 'Germany' could possibly be like when unified. Union was disbanded by Austria soon after its conception as part of the Treaty of Olmutz (otherwise known as the Humiliation of Olmutz).
Industrial Revolution - benefited Prussia greatly, increasing its wealth and power.
Student societies (Burschenschaften) were established to spread and discuss ideas, though these were banned by Austrian Prince Metternich through the Karlsbad Decrees, which also censored newspapers.
Cultural (cont)
EVAL: Not extremely important, but still worth mentioning - no progress had been made, but the thoughts and beginnings of nationalism could certainly be said to be partly because of these wars.
Many writers and thinkers encouraged a 'German consciousness'.
= example of Johann Fichte, head of Berlin University.

All the Germanic states spoke the same language and shared the same culture (cultural commonality).

One obstacle was religion - the northern states were generally Protestant, and the southern Catholic.
EVAL: Cultural factors only really important to the literate middle classes and academics. Lower classes did not have the time or money to access things such as philosophy, music and literature. Thus its impact was limited.

There was still some interest among the increasingly literate urban working class, but these numbers were small.
HISTORIOGRAPHY: "Liberalism and nationalism remained largely middle-class before 1848." - Stiles

"They are, by nature, one and inseparably whole." - Fichte, regarding the Germanic states.
EVAL: political nationalism quietened, but not stamped out. This is proved by the 1848 revolutions.
1848 revolutions clearly showed an interest in nationalism and the desire for unification.
EVAL: At first, the revolutions were successful, but by 1850, the old powers had been restored. This showed that the rebels lacked the power and ability to seize control, and the collapse of the Frankfurt Parliament also demonstrated a lack of decisiveness. Despite these setbacks, political national still continued.
EVAL: After Olmutz, it could be assumed that political nationalism had been completely eradicated. However, it still endured, as the ideas surrounding liberalism and nationalism could not be silenced.

In addition, Prussia's real strength and power remained untouched - its economy and its military.
HISTORIOGRAPHY: "Germany does not look to Prussian Liberalism, but to its power."
The Zollverein - attempt to end trade barriers, and was quite successful. The introduction of railways meant that businessmen could travel more easily, and things such as goods and newspapers were able to be transported quickly.
HISTORIOGRAPHY: "The mighty lever of unification." - Carr
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