Author Topic: End of the Monarchies  (Read 42670 times)

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Offline Greenowl

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Re: End of the Monarchies
« Reply #120 on: February 09, 2008, 01:50:00 PM »
As well as allowing Bavaria special privileges, I have heard (perhaps Herr Kaiser could confirm, as I think there is a slight doubt about the following) that Bismarck paid Ludwig II of Bavaria a substantial annual grant in return for Ludwig writing the famous "Kaiserbrief" (on 30/11/1870), in which he invited his uncle Wilhelm to assume the title of Emperor/Kaiser of a united Germany. It appears that Ludwig II was always glad to receive extra cash in order to finance his building projects.

Offline HerrKaiser

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Re: End of the Monarchies
« Reply #121 on: February 09, 2008, 02:33:05 PM »
In the U.S., it's called 'ear marks' or 'pork barreling'. Nothing ever seems to happen without payoffs.

Sure, Bismarck worked with the variouis principalites and duchies to achieve a major reshaping of central europe without a bloody war. It had really not occured in prior times. Bismarck crafted a unification plan in which everyone got "compensated" much like a corporate buy out and even those who had had power got golden parachutes.

The unification was a milestone. It was Fritz' dream and a vision of Prince Albert as well. And it worked beautifully. The whole was greater than the sum of its parts, for sure.
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Offline Greenowl

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Re: End of the Monarchies
« Reply #122 on: February 09, 2008, 06:24:31 PM »
Thanks Herr Kaiser! Actually Bismarck's method of compensating the various kingdoms and and duchies makes good sense and it did avoid additional bloodshed, which is a very positive aspect.

Offline Adagietto

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Re: End of the Monarchies
« Reply #123 on: February 10, 2008, 05:15:13 AM »
'A major reshaping of central Europe without a bloody war': well, if one overlooks minor matters like the wars with Austria, Denmark and France. Bismarck's legacy was in fact highly equivocal because he set Germany on a militaristic course which was extremely dangerous when he was no longer in control.

Offline Learning

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Re: End of the Monarchies
« Reply #124 on: February 10, 2008, 07:53:26 AM »
'A major reshaping of central Europe without a bloody war': well, if one overlooks minor matters like the wars with Austria, Denmark and France. Bismarck's legacy was in fact highly equivocal because he set Germany on a militaristic course which was extremely dangerous when he was no longer in control.

True, but after the war with France, all Bismarck wanted was peace. I think that his only major mistake was Alsace-Lorraine. Had Germany not annexed that area perhaps much bloodshed could have been avoided.

Offline Adagietto

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Re: End of the Monarchies
« Reply #125 on: February 10, 2008, 10:27:09 AM »
Bismarck himself didn't want further wars, to be sure; but the problem was that the means that he had adopted to bring about the unification of Germany, and the form of government which he had engineered for it, meant that militaristic nationalism was central to the ethos of the new state. Nothing could be more symbolic of this than the setting in which the German Empire was proclaimed, among a crowd of uniformed men in a defeated nation.

« Last Edit: June 05, 2009, 04:29:07 AM by Svetabel »

Offline HerrKaiser

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Re: End of the Monarchies
« Reply #126 on: February 10, 2008, 01:26:01 PM »
'A major reshaping of central Europe without a bloody war': well, if one overlooks minor matters like the wars with Austria, Denmark and France. Bismarck's legacy was in fact highly equivocal because he set Germany on a militaristic course which was extremely dangerous when he was no longer in control.


The wars with Austria, Denmark and France were not fought to gain control of those nations/empires. The union of the German duchies and principalites was very different and could have been accomplished through force, but Bismarck did it via politics of negotiation. It is not correct or fair to claim the German Empire came as a result of the Austrian, French, Danish wars, in fact Austria and Prussia fought Denmark together and later when the Schleswig Holstein area was stalemated, Prussia and Austria went at it.

the freeing of Schleswig holstein and Alsace Lorraine both took on the same "right of self determination" argument that occured in Bosnia, Albania and the separation of Yugoslavia recently. today, self determination is hearlded by the west; when bismarck pushed for it, it was viewed as empire building.

The major long term militaristic and empire building nations long before Germany attempted to pull ethnic Germans into on union were Britain, France, Spain, the Netherlands. Bismarck played the same game only with much, much less enslavement or lost lives.

I do agree that the declaration of the Empire should have occurred in Konigsberg or Berlin. But, one has to go back even farther to appreciate the historic reason for such, the single word--Napoleon.
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Offline Adagietto

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Re: End of the Monarchies
« Reply #127 on: February 10, 2008, 04:29:40 PM »
The Schleswig-Holstein question was immensely complex, but the German seizure of the whole of Schleswig could not seriously have been justified on grounds of self-determination, since everyone was aware that the great majority of the inhabitants of Northern Schleswig would have preferred to have remained in Denmark; when a referendum was finally permitted after the First World War, the people of that region voted to rejoin Denmark by a large majority. The annexation of Alsace-Lorraine was determined entirely by German domestic considerations, even if it could be argued that the inhabitants mainly spoke Alemannic dialects. Bismarck cannot be blamed for that most unfortunate move, he realized that it would store up problems for the future and tried to oppose it. The various wars that Bismarck engineered all formed part of the elaborate chess-game that he was playing to unite Germany under Prussian leadership; naturally it was not his purpose to seize Habsburg territories or conquer France or Denmark.

Offline Learning

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Re: End of the Monarchies
« Reply #128 on: February 11, 2008, 12:05:08 PM »
Would it be correct to view the North German Confederation as a Prussian Empire but not to view the German Empire as such?

Offline HerrKaiser

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Re: End of the Monarchies
« Reply #129 on: February 11, 2008, 07:06:10 PM »
The Schleswig-Holstein question was immensely complex, but the German seizure of the whole of Schleswig could not seriously have been justified on grounds of self-determination, since everyone was aware that the great majority of the inhabitants of Northern Schleswig would have preferred to have remained in Denmark;

Actually, it was not that complex, I think, at least not at the beginning. In 1863, Denmark illegally adopted a joint constitution for Denmark AND all of Schleswig. This was completely in violation of international treaties in place that guaranteed the indivisibility of Schleswig and Holstein. That's what started the ball rolling, not Bismarck. Only the farthest northern parts of Schleswig were predominantly Danish, but the central and southern parts of the duchy were a vast majority of ethnic Germans who vehemently opposed this violaiton of their sovereighty.

The ensuing war cost about 3000 Dane lives and about 1000 German lives. In terms of wars, not too many casualites, especially at that time when medical care was limited. Again, though, this war was not a war for German unification. Very different.

So, it still seems fair to say that Bismarck's unification was effectively put in place without harm to life or limb. A truly great feat that has not been achieved in world history since.
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Offline grandduchessella

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Re: End of the Monarchies
« Reply #130 on: February 11, 2008, 09:31:02 PM »
The war with Austria came at a fairly high cost though. Just at the (decisive) battle of Koniggratz, (involving the largest number of combatants in Europe until that time), ended with an extremely high casualty rate. For the Prussians it was nearly 9,000 men killed, wounded or missing. The Austrians and thier allies had over 44,000 men killed, wounded or missing, with 22,000 of these being prisoners. What made the losses for the Austrians higher was that Austria had refused to sign the First Geneva Convention. Because of this, their medical personnel were regarded as combatants, and withdrew from the field with the main bulk of the forces, leaving wounded to die on the field. Battle after battle, regardless of the sides, ended up in bloodbaths for the Austrians--in some cases, whole battalions being lost. On the Austrian side, they often suffered 10 times the number of casualties as the Prussians. In one battle, they lost 3000 men in one hour. I think the final totals were about 71000 killed or wounded for the Austrians and their allies and  37000 for the Prussians and theirs.

This war (to go back to the main topic) effectively ended the monarchy in Hannover, which had sided with the Austrians. Not even the relationship between Hannover & England was enough to spare the King his throne. Those German states that sided with Austria included the Kingdoms of Saxony, Bavaria, Württemberg, and Hanover. Southern states such as, Baden (home of the Kaiser's son-in-law), Hesse-Kassel, Hesse-Darmstadt (home of the Crown Princess's sister Alice), and Nassau as well as Saxe-Meiningen, Reuss-Greiz, and Schaumburg-Lippe also joined with Austria. Some of those siding with Prussia, included Mecklenburg-Schwerin (home of the Kaiser's brother-in-law), Mecklenburg-Strelitz, Oldenburg, Anhalt, Brunswick, Saxe-Altenburg, Saxe-Coburg and Gotha and Waldeck-Pyrmont.


For those interested in the topic, there's a book The Austro-Prussian War: Austria's War with Prussia and Italy in 1866. Blending military & social history, it basically breaks down the campaigns, battle by battle.
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