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"events Shape People More Than People Shape Events." How Accurate Is This Statement in Relation to Bismarck?

Essay by   •  August 16, 2011  •  Essay  •  1,206 Words (5 Pages)  •  1,566 Views

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Events shape people, but people also shape events depending on the different circumstances they are faced with. Bismarck played an enormous role in national history and in the unification of Germany. The events Bismarck faced did shape his actions and decisions, but Bismarck's actions also helped in shaping events. A cycle may be seen, where events influenced Bismarck's actions, and those actions influenced events.

Bismarck's greatest influence was on the unification of Germany, and Bismarck did shape the events which took place for the unification of Germany to occur. In 1861 when Wilhelm I became the King of Prussia, he was determined to bring Prussia into a position of undisputed German leadership. Wilhelm began to strengthen the country's military power. To help him in this desire for Prussian dominance he called for the help of Bismarck. He believed in the divine right of the royals to rule and, was fiercely opposed to liberalism, socialism and democracy, which made the King which extremely found of Bismarck. In 1862 the Prussian king appointed Bismarck the Prime Minister-President. By appointing Bismarck this role, Wilhelm did help in shaping the events which were yet to follow.

Bismarck built the Prussian military immediately after being appointed the role of Prime Minister using methods such as conscription and establishing a military college to develop skilled officer elite, as it was an area of great importance to him. He wished to establish Prussian dominance over the German states using diplomacy and developing an aggressive foreign policy. Bismarck established fully negotiated alliances with some neighbours while isolating and moving Prussian military might against others. He gave his famous "Blood and Iron" speech which shows his authoritative rule "Prussia must gather up her strength and hold it in readiness for the opportune moment which has already slipped by several times... not by speeches and majority votes are the great questions of the day decided... but by iron and blood." Bismarck had literally been given ultimate control over the parliament by the king.

Due to the great training and organisation of the German army, Prussia, with Austria, won the war over Schleswig-Holstein in 1864, Prussia defeated Austria in the Austro-Prussian war, and defeated France in the Franco-Prussian War in 1871, after which Germany was united. British historian Michael Howard stated that "The social and economic development of the past fifty years had brought about a military as well as an industrial revolution. The Prussians has kept abreast of it and France had not" . Bismarck can be seen to have shaped the Prussian military, and therefore shaped the events which took place due to the victories of Prussia.

After the death of King Fredrick VII of Denmark, in November 1863, there was much dispute over who would govern the two duchies of Schleswig and Holstein between the German duke and Fredrick's heir, Christian IX. Bismarck saw this as a great opportunity to use "blood and iron" to gain more territory for Prussia. So in 1864 Prussia and Austria combined to go to war against Denmark over the provinces. They won the war after seven days; according to the "Gastein Convention" Prussia received Schleswig and Austria received Holstein. This homogenised idea of fighting against a common enemy brought people together to some extent and, also used force. This movement was extremely an important step towards uniting Germany, and although it was Bismarck's orders and actions

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