Beginning and End? The Two German Unifications and the Epoch of Territoriality

  • Johannes Paulmann
Part of the New Perspectives in German Studies book series (NPG)

Abstract

Is there a story to be told about the two German unifications forming part of a single narrative with a beginning and an end?1 How can we link the first and second unification if not through a nationalist narrative? What are the appropriate reference points if we wish to compare 1870–1 with 1989–90? These questions are fraught with political implications and the path to their answer littered with historical traps. As we try to find our way through, major unforeseen events — such as the breakdown of the Soviet Empire and the second unification of Germany — give historians an excellent opportunity to search for a beginning of the end.

Keywords

Europe Steam Gall Sett Ling Cese 

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Notes

  1. 2.
    This relates to debates sparked by the publication of Fritz Fischer’s book, Germany’s Aims in the First World War (London 1967, originally published in German in 1961). See John A. Moses, The politics of ilhusion: the Fischer controversy in German historiography (London 1975).Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    Heinrich August Winkler, Der lange Weg nach Westen, Bd. 1: Deutsche Geschichte vom Ende des Alten Reiches bis zum Untergang der Weimarer Republik (Munchen 2000), P. 5.Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    Frankfiirter Allgemeine Zeitung, 11 November 1989, p.1; cf. Bemd Rother, ‘Gilt das gesprochene Wort? Wann und wo sagte Willy Brandt “Jetzt wiichst zusammen, was zusammengehört”?’, DeutschlandArchiv, 33 (2000), pp. 90–3.Google Scholar
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    See Paul W. Schroeder, ‘The nineteenth century system: balance of power or political equilibrium?’, Review of International Studies, 15 (1989), pp. 135–53; and Arno Strohmeyer, Theorie der Interaktion: Das europaische Gleichgewicht der Krafte in der frtihen Neuzeit (Wien 1994).Google Scholar
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    For a more detailed analysis see Paulmann, Pomp und Politik: Monarchenbegegnungen in Europa zwischen Ancien Régime und Erstetn Weltkrieg (Paderborn 2000), pp. 152–70.Google Scholar
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    Cf. the answers focusing on Bismarck as an independent actor given by Peter Kruger, ‘Das Problem der Stabilisierung Europas nach 1871: Die Schwierigkeiten des Friedensschlusses und die Friedensregelung als Kriegsgefahr’, in Peter Kruger (ed.), Das europaische Staatensystetn im Wandel. Strukturelle Bedingungen und bewegende Krafte seit der frilhen Neuzeit (Munchen 1996), pp. 171–88, and Eberhard Kolb, ‘Stabilisierung ohne Konsolidierung? Zur Konfiguration des europaischen Machtesystems 1871–1914’, in ibid., pp. 189–95. Bismarck’s devious methods certainly did not help to create a system built on mutual trust.Google Scholar
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    The term ‘System der Aushilfen’ (‘system of expedients ), which I would apply to Bismarck’s foreign policy, is used by Gall with reference to the domestic arrangements after 1881; Hildebrand only uses it for foreign affairs after 1885. See Lothar Gall, Bisrnarck: Der weife Revolutiondr (Frankfurt a. M. 1980), pp. 636–42; Klaus Hildebrand, Das vergangene Reich: Deutsche Auflenpolitik von Bismarck bis Hitler 1871–1945 (Stuttgart 1995), pp. 140–6.Google Scholar
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    The stance taken by Prussia might have been more convincing had it not been for the King’s chaotic and self-defeating way of conducting foreign policy. See Johannes Paulmann,‘Dearest Nicky 1…1: Monarchical Relations between Prussia, the German Empire and Russia during the Nineteenth Century’, in Roger Bartlett and Karen SchbnwAIder (eds), The German Lands and Eastern Europe: Essmjs on the History of their Social, Cultural and Political Relations (Basingstoke 1999), pp. 157–81.Google Scholar
  32. 46.
    This may perhaps best be understood as the end of early modern thinking in interstate relations. Metternich and his contemporaries had transplanted federal thinking from the Holy Roman Empire onto the international sphere for a brief period. For the relation between federalism and nationalism in the nineteenth century cf. Dieter Langewiesche, Nation, Nationalismus, Nationalstaat in Deutschland und Europa (Miinchen 2000).Google Scholar

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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2005

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  • Johannes Paulmann

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