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Nationalism in German History - Essay Example

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Nationalism in German History

And this was the nationalism period of Germany.
The Congress of Vienna restored a Germany comprising thirty-nine states. Before 1789 these states had numbered over two hundred. At first glance it seemed that the 1815 arrangement was a move towards simplification and unity, but this was only an appearance (Hagen & Sarah 1991, pg. x). For one thing, many of the thirty-nine states were in possession of more territory after 1815 than they had ever had before, and they were far more interested in maintaining these gains than in any schemes for a single German government in which their own identity might be lost. Germany after 1815 was still a much divided country (pg. xi).
This division of Germany exactly suited the aims of the Austrian Chancellor, Metternich, who had a decisive voice in the settlement. Austria could control a disunited Germany far more easily than a united one. While the German princes were divided by political jealously and distrust, the Austrians would have no united opposition to their policies and could exert a decisive influence in the affairs of Germany.
An assembly for the whole Germany was created after 1815, but this was by no means an effective German parliament. It represented the princes, not the people, of Germany, and was not in any way elected by popular vote (Martin 2000, pg. 49). The Diet of the German Confederation met at Frankfurt and consisted of 17 members (pg. 50). Eleven of the big states had one member each, and various groups of the smaller states each had one member. Metternich secured the permanent presidency of the Diet for Austria, a position to be discussed and the procedure to be adopted (pg. 39). The Diet did discuss in 1816 the creation of a single Germany, but nothing came of these discussions, mainly because of jealousy between the states, and especially between the two largest states, Austria and Prussia. A scheme for the building of Federal fortresses for the defence of Germany was also abandoned. Lastly, whenever fundamental laws of the Confederation or the Federative Act itself were to be enacted, the Diet was expanded into a General Assembly of 69 members (pg. 30).
Those elements in Germany who had looked forward to real unity, the Nationalists, were intensely disappointed by this state of affairs. The Liberals, who had hoped at least for elected parliaments and governments responsible to the people in each of the German states, leading on to a united Liberal Germany, were also frustrated. A certain number of the German princes did introduce more liberal forms of government, especially in Bavaria where in 1818 a parliament was set up which represented the peasants, townspeople and nobles, and also in Baden, Wurttemberg and Saxe-Weimar (James 1990). But the great majority of thirty-nine states were governed by their princes in alliance with a highly privileged class of nobility, and politically the middle and peasant classes were ignored (James 1990).
It must not be thought that the majority of German people were clamouring at this time either for Liberalism or Nationalism in Germany (James 1990). There were scarcely interested. Liberalism had its strongest hold amongst the intellectual class of writers, poets, scholars, university professors, lecturers and students. In the universities of Germany a number of student movements developed in these years, such as the Gymnastic Clubs and Students' Unions or Burschenschaften2, ...Show more

Summary

During the years 1815-1848 the forces of Liberalism and Nationalism were weak, and the risings in Germany 1830-1832 were easily suppressed1. Yet underneath there were strong currents of discontent and a new idealism based on the growing influence of the European middle class…
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Nationalism in German History essay example
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