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How did the World React to the Unification of Germany? (Short Animated Documentary)

3 minutes 16 seconds

Speaker 1

00:00:00 - 00:00:27

The 19th century saw many countries pop into existence as nationalist movements sprang up across the world. Few had as much of a lasting impact as the creation of Germany, which not only saw the birth of a new nation, but the rise of a great power. And given the power that this new country held, how did other states react to its creation? How did the world's great powers react to the birth of Germany? As you'll likely know, Germany came into existence after the North German Confederation and these smaller German-speaking states won a war against France in 1870.

Speaker 1

00:00:27 - 00:00:54

After the collapse of the French army, German leaders gathered in Versailles and proclaimed the creation of the German Empire, with the North German leader and Prussian king as its emperor. As such, you'll guess that the French reaction was 1 of anger, mostly because of the embarrassing defeat and occupation thing, but also because this new Germany took with it a part of France in the form of Alsace-Lorraine. That said, there was nothing they could do to oppose it and frankly, they had their own problems. In the North, the British position was mixed. On the 1 hand, France had just lost a thing, which would never not be funny.

Speaker 1

00:00:54 - 00:01:18

On the other hand, sheer panic, because there was now a new threat to British power. Prime Minister Gladstone denounced the unification and tried to get countries like Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Belgium on board. Shockingly, none of these wanted to upset the new major powers sitting right next to them, and so they said nothing. As such, Britain grumbled but understood that it was a done deal. And now, many in government saw that Germany, not France or Russia, would be the main threat from now on and for many that meant war was soon to follow.

Speaker 1

00:01:18 - 00:01:46

To Germany's south, the Austro-Hungarian Empire wasn't too pleased about this development. It had just lost a war to Prussia 5 years earlier and given the number of German-speaking people living in the empire, there were fears that they would be on the receiving end of any future German expansion. As such, the Viennese government was quick to accept any offers of alliance from Germany to protect itself. It also turned its attention to the Balkans from then on, recognising that expansion back into Italy or restoring its old German alliances were both dead ends. To the east, Russia was largely happy with German unification.

Speaker 1

00:01:46 - 00:02:07

Russia's main concern at this point was Britain, and so a powerful industrialised state in the centre of Europe was seen as a potential ally in any future war. Also, given both were absolutist conservative powers, there was 0 chance that they'd ever come to blows themselves, and thus, nothing could go wrong. Across the Atlantic, the United States welcomed the news. President Ulysses S. Grant saw German unification as somewhat analogous to the birth of the United States.

Speaker 1

00:02:07 - 00:02:28

And it was hoped that this new Germany, with its male suffrage, its elected parliament, and its many individual states, would see the liberalisation of Germany. But fun fact, No. The Italians, also freshly unified, were pleased with the birth of Germany. The war had seen French troops leave the Papal States, which allowed for Italy to quickly annex it. And it was hoped that a strong Germany would help Italy counter any Austrian attempts to return there in the future.

Speaker 1

00:02:28 - 00:03:02

And 1 thing that most nations had in common when thinking about German unification was the sheer surprise at how quickly France had lost. It wasn't just the creation of a new large economy or cultural centre. It was the birth of a massive military power, whose friendship could change the balance of power in Europe forever after, a fact which the new Germany was well aware of. I hope you enjoyed this episode and thank you for watching with a special thanks to my patrons... James Bizonette, Kelly Moneymaker, Korshow Wolf, Jordan Longley, Adam Stalter, Jerry Lambdin, Mark Osarsner, Wyan Hockey, Spencer Lightfoot, Words About Books Podcast, Gustav Swan, Captain Psydog, Rod D.

Speaker 1

00:03:02 - 00:03:02

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