Unification of Germany

creation of a politically and administratively integrated nation state of German-speaking populations on 18 January 1871, in the form of the German Empire

The unification of Germany was the process in which numerous German states merged to become the first German nation-state. Prussia and its Minister-President Otto von Bismarck played an important role in this process. It began with the formation of the North German Confederation at the end of the Austro-Prussian War of 1866 and ended with the proclamation of the German Empire at the end of the Franco-Prussian War.


  • Nationalism at first had seemed to pose a threat to Europe's monarchies. In the 1860s, however, the kingdoms of Piedmont and Prussia had created new nation states by combining the national principle with their own instincts for self-preservation and self-aggrandizement. The results - the kingdom of Italy and the German Reich - were no doubt very far from being perfect nation states. To Sicilians, the Piedmontese were as foreign as if they had been Frenchmen; the true unification of Italy came after the triumphs of Cavour and Garibaldi, with what were in effect small wars of colonization waged against the peoples of the south. Many Germans, meanwhile, lived outside the borders of Bismarck's new Reich; what historians called his wars of unification had in fact excluded German-speaking Austrians from a Prussian-dominated Kleindeutschland. Nevertheless, an imperfect nation state was, in the eyes of most nationalists, preferable to no nation state at all.
    • Niall Ferguson, The War of the World: Twentieth-Century Conflict and the Descent of the West (2006), p. 75

See also

Wikipedia has an article about: