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German Unification Timeline

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    Economic development

    Germany before 1800 was heavily rural, with some urban trade centers. In the 19th century it began a stage of rapid economic growth and modernization, led by heavy industry. The population grew, natural resources were put to use, and the economy flourished.
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    Napoleon invades German Lands

    The time when Napoleon invaded German lands was called the Napoleonic Wars. It took place from 1803 to 1815. It was a series of wars between Napoleon's French Empire and opposing coalitions.
  • House of Krupps

    House of Krupps
    The Krupp industrial empire was one of Germany's wealthiest and most powerful corporations, and it contributed to the armaments used in several of its country's wars. The Krupp family was a German dynasty of industrialists. The Krupps started the first major steel-works in Germany in 1811, and their enterprise expanded rapidly to become one of the world's largest companies and Germany's leading supplier of armaments.
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    Congress of Vienna

    The Congress of Vienna was a conference of ambassadors of European states chaired by Austrian statesman Klemens Wenzel von Metternich, and held in Vienna from September 1814 to June 1815. The objective of the Congress was to provide a long-term peace for Europe by settling critical issues arising from the French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars.
  • Otto von Bismarck Birth

    Otto von Bismarck Birth
    Otto von Bismarck was born in Schönhausen, Germany. He was a Prussian statesman who dominated German and European affairs with his conservative policies from the 1860s to his dismissal in 1890 by Emperor Wilhelm II.
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    The Zollverein was a coalition of German states formed to manage tariffs and economic policies within their territories. Friedrich List first popularized the idea of a combination to abolish the customs barriers that were inhibiting trade among the numerous states of the German Confederation. Prussia abolished internal customs and formed a North German Zollverein, which in 1834 became the German Zollverein after merging with two similar unions, the South German Zollverein and the trade unit.
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    Frankfurt Assembly demands unity

    The Frankfurt Assembly was the first freely elected parliament for all of Germany. This constitution fulfilled the main demands of the liberal and nationalist movements and provided a foundation of basic rights.The parliament also proposed a constitutional monarchy headed by a hereditary emperor Kaiser.
  • Frederick William IV is offered the Throne

    Frederick William IV is offered the Throne
    The Prussian monarch, Frederick William IV, had refused the crown offered by the Frankfurt Assembly. He did come up with his own scheme for the unification of Germany, which involved the creation of a Prussian Union.
  • William I of Prussia becomes Emperor

    William I of Prussia becomes Emperor
    On 2 January 1861 Frederick William died and William ascended the throne as William I of Prussia. In July a student from Leipzig tried to assassinate William, but he was only lightly injured. Like Frederick I of Prussia, William travelled to Königsberg and there crowned himself at the Schlosskirche.
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    Bismarck becomes prime minister

    Bismarck became Minister President of Prussia. He provoked wars that made Prussia dominant over Austria and France, and lined up the smaller German states behind Prussia. His work benefitted Prussia and created a stronger coutry.
  • Blood and Iron speech

    Blood and Iron speech
    Blood and Ironis the title of a speech by German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck given in 1862 about the unification of the German territories. It is also a transposed phrase that Bismarck uttered near the end of the speech that has become one of his most widely known quotations.
  • Bismarck declares war on Denmark

    Bismarck declares war on Denmark
    Bismarck got his excuse for a war against Austria during a territorial dispute over two small German states, Schleswig and Holstein. These were under the control of Denmark but not technically a part of it. The King of Denmark declared Schleswig and Holstein to be a part of Denmark. Prussia and Austria teamed up and declared war on Denmark. They won easily.
  • Bismarck declares war on Austria

    Bismarck declares war on Austria
    Bismarck knew Austria was a major obstacle to unification. To succeed in his aims war he knew he had to become more powerful. Therefore, he formed a powerful alliance with Russia and France. In a meeting with Napoleon III, he promised to support France in its plans to invade and control Belgium. Bismarck also struck a deal with Italy. Italy promised to help Prussia in any war against Austria, providing Austria were the aggressor and Italy gained Venezia in return.
  • Constitution drafted by Bismarck

    Constitution drafted by Bismarck
    The North German Constitution was the constitution of the North German Confederation, which existed from 1867 to 1871. On 16 April it accepted the constitution, which was essentially written by Otto von Bismarck, the Prussian minister-president and first minister of the confederation. North German liberals had their influence within it.
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    Franco Prussian War

    Bismarck found his excuse for war when Spain offered its vacant crown to a relative of the Prussian King. The French insisted King William make his relative refuse the crown so that Prussia would not become more powerful. Bismarck used the King's refusal as a way to provoke the French. He published a heavily edited and provocative telegram. The French Emperor, responding to fury from the French press and public, declared war on Prussia. In the Franco-Prussian war, France was heavily defeated.
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    Campaign against the church (Kulturekampf)

    Kulturekampf means a cultural struggle. This refers to German policies in relation to secularity and reducing the role and power of the Roman Catholic Church in Prussia. It took place from 1871 to 1878 by the Prime Minister of Prussia, Otto von Bismarck.
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    Population growth 1871-1914

    German society grew and changed dramatically in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. In the twenty years prior to the First World War, the rate of population growth averaged 1.34 percent, as compared to .47 percent annual growth in 1871. The result was that Germany’s population – 41 million in 1871 – grew to 49.7 million by 1891 and increased to 65.3 million by 1911.
  • Second Reich is created

    Second Reich is created
    Bismarck created the Second Reich (1871-1918) in a period of unification that reached its climax in the Franco-Prussian War. This empire ended with German defeat in World War I.
  • Bismarck becomes chancellor

    Bismarck becomes chancellor
    Otto von Bismarck became the first Chancellor of a united Germany. This occured after the 1871 Treaty of Versailles and largely controlled its affairs until he was removed by Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1890. His diplomacy of Realpolitik and powerful rule gained him the nickname the "Iron Chancellor".
  • Campaign against the Socialists

    Campaign against the Socialists
    The Anti-Socialist Law of 1878 was perhaps the most important repressive law of Bismarck’s chancellorship. Bismarck, who had never hidden his distaste for the teachings of socialism, made several attempts to curtail the growth of German Social Democracy during the 1870s.But opponents successfully resisted almost all of these measures, and the number of votes cast for socialist candidates in Reichstag elections continued to increase.
  • William II becomes Kaiser

    William II becomes Kaiser
    William II was crowned in 1888, he dismissed the Chancellor, Otto von Bismarck, in 1890 and launched Germany into a new course. He was the last German Kaiser and King of Prussia, ruling the German Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia from 15 June 1888 to 9 November 1918.
  • Bismarck resigns

    Bismarck resigns
    After Kaiser Wilhelm II’s accession to the throne in June 1888, conflict between the old chancellor Bismarck and the emperor were almost inevitable. Kaiser called Bismarck to visit but it resulted in a bad scene it left Bismarck no choice but to offer his resignation