The following passage was written by a 10th grader
German unification was primarily achieved through militarism and alliances. In the late 1840’s, Germany turned towards Prussia for unification. Prussia, at this time, was well known for its militarism, or reliance on military strength. This factor is what would ultimately help unite Germany. In 1860, Otto von Bismarck was appointed the new prime minister of Germany under King William I. Bismarck’s main purpose was to levy new taxes to build an army. Creating this national power would enable Prussia to unify other European states. Bismarck proved to be a worthy minister by collecting more taxes and engaging in aggressive foreign policy. Bismarck soon found himself engaged in war. In 1864, he defeated Denmark and gained control of the duchies of Schleswig and Holstein. These newly acquired territories were essential for the expansion of Prussia, but still needed unification. As a result, Prussia organized the German states north of the Main River into a North German Confederation in 1866. The southern German states also agreed to aide the North German Confederation by providing military alliances in exchange for protection from France. At this point, France had been concerned with the newly developed European power that Germany had become. This eventually led to the Franco-Prussian War, which then allowed Germany to acquire French territories of Alsace and Lorraine. At the same time in 1871, the southern German states had agreed to officially enter the North German Confederation. Without this alliance, the German state would have existed.
Alliances, in fact, were as important as militarism in terms of unifying Germany. Germany defeated Denmark only with Austria’s help. Without the Austrians, Germany may not have acquired the duchies of Schleswig and Holstein. Shortly after, Germany created tensions with Austria and defeated them as well. Austria’s army was no match for the Prussian army, partly because Austria had recently defeated Denmark with Prussia. Although this would not necessarily be considered an alliance, it was a necessity nonetheless. Finally, the North German Confederation’s alliance with the southern German states aided in defeating the French in the Franco-Prussian War. Without this military alliance, German unification would not have taken shape and the Second German Empire would never have been born.