In an address to the Prussian Parliament on 30 September 1862, Bismarck made an important statement: Not by means of speeches and majority verdicts will the great decisions of the time be madethat was the great mistake of 1848 and 1849but by iron and blood
The obvious implication of this statement is that Germany was going to be unified by means of war and territorial conflict, as opposed to speeches and majority verdicts, which Bismarck obviously deemed ineffective and inconsequential. German unification, in the short run, did indeed come about as a result of war and territorial gains on the part of Prussia, as Prussia waged war on her neighbors to piece together the Reich of 1871as such this statement does hold some truth.
However, although this statement is quite true, especially if one sees the process of unification as being associated with Prussian expansionism, this statement also disregards all other underlying and long-term factors and forces that were striving towards German unification, and is therefore more applicable in 1860 to 1870 than any other period. Furthermore, given that diplomacy was also used as another method of achieving German unification, I feel that the statement Iron and Blood ignores Bismarck's reliance on diplomacy to minimize the risks that he took during the period directly leading up to German unification. I thus only agree with the statement to a limited extent.
[...] Bismarck himself states that he constantly kept irons in the fire” as tools for German unification, one being war and the other diplomacy. Cowie reinforces the point: any political situation he liked to leave his options open and to have several possible courses of action, one of which might be the best to undertake as events unfolded themselves”. While the possibility of creating a Germany through diplomatic talks alone seemed very slim, Bismarck made use of diplomatic relations with other countries to minimise the risks of war as and when he had to declare it. [...]
[...] Singapore: Longman Leonard W. Cowie and Robert Wolfson, Years of Nationalism: European History 1815-1890. London: Hodder & Stoughton Frank B. Tipton, A History of Modern Germany since 1815. Great Britain: University of California, 2003. [...]
[...] According to this view, industrialisation was significantly accelerated by the creation of external tariff barriers and a larger domestic market”. The Zollverein thus transformed Prussia into an economic power, and thus put them in a position such that they were the most powerful of the German states besides Austria, and thus gave them the economic backing and power with which they could go on to unify Germany. Perhaps more importantly, the Zollverein prompted economic growth in the states of Germany with the help of Prussia, and thus helped establish Prussia as a natural leader of Germany in the eyes of many German nationalists. [...]
[...] To what extent does this phrase sum up German unification? In an address to the Prussian Parliament on 30 September 1862, Bismarck made an important statement: by means of speeches and majority verdicts will the great decisions of the time be made—that was the great mistake of 1848 and 1849—but by iron and blood The obvious implication of this statement is that Germany was going to be unified by means of war and territorial conflict, as opposed to “speeches and majority verdicts”, which Bismarck obviously deemed ineffective and inconsequential. [...]
[...] On this point, “Iron and Blood” does not take into account the nationalist forces that did to a certain extent influence the actions of Bismarck and thus shape the course of events leading to unification. Lastly, in the years leading to German Unification, one cannot doubt the fact that Bismarck had great political fortune and opportunities that he constantly seized upon to his own advantage, thus hastening the speed of unification. German unification could have been greatly affected if not for Bismarck's “extraordinary political good fortune, which he was able to exploit to his advantage”. [...]
using our reader.