Germany Never Unifies

Jul 2006
128
Nutley, New Jersey, USA (near New York City)
In 1871 at the end of the Franco-Prussian War the united German Empire was created due to the efforts of Otto Von Bismarck. Due to his skillful diplomacy and carefully crafted wars the countless German principalities all accepted Prussia as the dominate state and all united with it creating a power that in a mere 40 years would be fully industrialized and attempt to conquer Europe.

What would history look like if Otto Von Bismarck never existed? What if he never rose to power and attempted to unite the German principalities? Would the German states naturally have united with Prussia due to economic influences of the Zollverein? Would a greedy France have gobbled up the principalities? What about the two World Wars, were the something bound to happen even without Germany? What do you think?
 
Jun 2006
340
Kentucky
The German states viewed France as the aggressor, but I'm not sure that was the case. I think Otto Von Bismarck was the agressor. He unified the German states and then declared war on france on numerous occassions.

If he never exsisted, the Franco-Prussian wars would have never happened. Germany would have never united as one state. I think they would have stayed separated until after World War 1.
 
Jun 2006
309
Virginia, United States
France was unquestionably the aggressor in the Franco-Prussian War. They were seething for war, particularly Napoleon (the III that is, not the one we're all familiar with; that guy was dead at this point), who hoped that war would mitigate his rampant unpopularity. The French also thought they would get an easy victory; French commanders told Napoleon that the war could go on for a hundred years and they would only need a gaiter button to win. Damn were they wrong.

"He unified the German states and then declared war on france on numerous occassions."

Huh? The German states and France only fought once, from 1870 to 1871, under Bismarck. I don't know where this comment came from.

"...the united German Empire was created due to the efforts of Otto Von Bismarck"

It should be noted that, contrary to popular opinion, Bismarck's original intentions were not to create a unified German nation. He was mostly an old-style Junker aristocrat whose prime concerns and interests lay with Prussia, not Germany as a whole. Events eventually ran their course and Bismarck agreed to form a German nation.

No united Germany? Hmmm.....the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian empires would have survived much longer than they actually did. That's one. Other possible consequences may be no World War I and hence no World War II, no Cold War, no European Union, and so forth.
 

CelticBard

Historum Emeritas
Aug 2006
758
Roving
Without the Fredericks and Bismark, I don't think Germany would have flowered.
 
Sep 2006
1,453
Korea (but I'm American!)
If Germany had not come along, I think the two main antagonists in Europe would be the UK and Russia. They had been enemies in the latter half of the 19th century and early 20th century because of Russian agression toward Turkey, Persia, Afghanistan, and China. Germany's unification provided a balancer to the Russian Empire. Germany had the only military in Europe that could go mono e mono with the Russians from about the 1890's up until 1945. Therefore it is my opinion that there would be a series of hegemonic wars from the 1890's until perhaps, the 1940's or whenever, between Russia and The Allies. The Allies would be lead by Great Britain and would probably include France, Austria, Turkey, Japan and Prussia.
The situation in East Asia would be changed as well. Japan and Russia would probably go at it a few times. Possibly with the US supporting Japan or in a military alliance with Japan. Following the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-1895, Japan wanted the liaotang peninsula(it's a very strategic peninsula jutting out of Manchuria) from China. The Japanese were prevented from getting this because Germany, France, and Russia collectively threatended Japan. If Germany did not exist, then France and Russia would never have allied with one another, thus only Russia would be challenging Japan. The Russo-Japanese War would have come sooner, with an unknown outcome. Russia would have a difficult time getting soldiers to East Asia because the Transiberian Railroad was not finished until 1904. Japan would have a hard time because their military wasn't built up enough until about 1901. Thus, if Japan were in a tight bind, the US might come to it's aid.
I'm through blabbing on for now.
 

Lucius

Forum Staff
Jan 2007
16,363
Nebraska
This is a very interesting question.

There is a certain school of thought which teaches that Europe "took over the world" because it's, uh, highly indented geography fostered the appearance of many different sovereign states. That is, the emulation of the successes(and avoidance of the failures) of so many active rivals served as a spur to progress of all kinds. The crossbow, firearms, cast cannon, the general staff, mapmaking, deploying in open order, banking, insurance, paper money, public debt, anything, everything. The overshot wheel, eyeglasses,(somebody stop me!), pivoting front wagon axles!

Pre-1871 "Germany" consisted of 22 sovereign principalities and 4 free cities. That would have been plenty of scope for rivals to emulate each other. Who knows what they would have come up with?

And if anyone tried to gobble up one of the small fry, the Prussian Army could hardly not regard that as counter to the interests of the House of Hohenzollern.

But nationalism was the spirit of the age everywhere, more's the pity.
 
Aug 2006
55
If Bismarck never existed, then who would've united Germany? I dont think we'll ever know the answer to that question, but if his accomplishments never happened then what would be the result is one we can answer. The world would look and be a very different place right now. Neither World Wars would have happened and that in turn would have set up for an interesting twentieth century. European Imperialism would have taken a different course too because Germany was England's antagonist in thi theater. My question is would the German states united to prevent assimilation by another European power or would they have eventually united because of assimilation by nationalism and an ambitious German state?
 
Feb 2007
538
Ohio
In 1871 at the end of the Franco-Prussian War the united German Empire was created due to the efforts of Otto Von Bismarck. Due to his skillful diplomacy and carefully crafted wars the countless German principalities all accepted Prussia as the dominate state and all united with it creating a power that in a mere 40 years would be fully industrialized and attempt to conquer Europe.

What would history look like if Otto Von Bismarck never existed? What if he never rose to power and attempted to unite the German principalities? Would the German states naturally have united with Prussia due to economic influences of the Zollverein? Would a greedy France have gobbled up the principalities? What about the two World Wars, were the something bound to happen even without Germany? What do you think?
World War I likely never would have happened without German unification and so there would have been no World War II either. Here's why: the unification of German creates one powerful central European state where there had been some 30 squabbling little princelings (and, before Napoleon, there had been 300), thus upsetting the European balance of power. Hence there came to be a system of entangling alliances wherein any small disturbance in any obscure corner of Europe could drag all of the major powers of Europe into war.
 

Lucius

Forum Staff
Jan 2007
16,363
Nebraska
Dr Realism,

Thank-you. Yes, quite right. I only meant that when these were, uh, "invented" (discovered?) in Europe, they served as spurs to more "inventions" (discoveries?) in the great multi-century rivalry of nations within Europe which propelled Europe to the domination of the rest of the planet.

I have all the respect in the world for all of the civilizations of the world and their contributions to human advance. But in a certain way, while China can claim "pride of place" in many regards, such matters are irrelevant. The famous Europeans, Marx and Lenin took over China, didn't they? After that it was Adam Smith and W. Edwards Deming.

Just now however, the world is flat. China, and India, are leading the way. There's some controversy about whether it's a race to the bottom or to the top. Nevertheless, here we go.