What were the problems of divided Germany? Discuss the role of Bismarck’s “policy of blood and iron” in Germany’s unification.

What were the problems of divided Germany? Discuss the role of Bismarck’s “policy of blood and iron” in Germany’s unification.


  • Start with a brief introduction about divided Germany
  • Enumerate the problems of divided Germany.
  • Then, discuss the role of Bismarck’s policy in Germany’s unification.
  • Conclude appropriately.
Model Answer :

In the 18th century, Germany was divided into a number of states. Some of these states were very small and did not extend beyond the limits of a city. During the Napoleon wars, many of these states ceased to exist. At the end of wars, there were still thirty-eight independent states in Germany. Among them Prussia, Wurttemberg, Bavaria and Saxony were fairly large. Due to the large number of independent states, problems were manifold:

  • The economic development was hampered due to large number of states. Also, the social and political system in these states was very backward.
  • The growth of national consciousness, particularly after the French Revolution, provoked the people of these states to demand for the national unification of Germany.
  • In 1815, the German states along with Austria were organized into a Germanic Confederation. However, each state tried to preserve its independence and its oppressive political and social system.
  • In 1848, revolts occurred in every German state and the rulers were forced to grant democratic constitutions. To unite Germany and to frame a constitution for the united Germany, a constituent assembly met in Frankfurt.

With the failure of the revolution of 1848 to unify Germany, one phase come to an end. The other phase started with the Bismarck’s policy.

Role of Bismarck’s policy in Germany’s unification:

  • Under this policy, Bismarck wanted to preserve the predominance of the landed aristocrats and the army in the united German state and to achieve the unification of Germany under the leadership of the Prussian monarchy.
  • Under the policy of “blood and iron”, he eliminated Austria from the Germanic Confederation.
  • He aligned with Austria in a war against Denmark over the possession of Schleswig and Holstein. After that, he entered into an alliance with Italy against Austria, defeated Austria and dissolved the Germanic Confederation.
  • The unification of Germany was completed as a result of a war between Prussia and France.

After unification, many changes happened in the Germany. It emerged as a very strong power in Europe and underwent heavy industrialization in a very short period of time.

Subjects : History and Culture