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Otto von Bismarck is often called the "George Washington of Germany;" as he more than any other individual was responsible for creating the German Empire.
Bismarck was named Chancellor of Prussia by King Frederick William IV in 1862 when Parliament had advocated a less militant society and liberal reforms. Bismarck began immediately to work for a unified German state, and at the same time moved to isolate Prussia's chief rival, Austria from that new German state. In rejecting liberal reforms and demanding a German state to be dominated by Prussia he stated:
Germany is not looking to Prussia's liberalism, but to its power; Bavaria, Württemberg, Baden may indulge liberalism, and for that reason no one will assign them Prussia's role; Prussia has to coalesce and concentrate its power for the opportune moment, which has already been missed several times; Prussia's borders according to the Vienna Treaties [of 1814-15] are not favorable for a healthy, vital state; it is not by speeches and majority resolutions that the great questions of the time are decided – that was the big mistake of 1848 and 1849 – but by blood and iron.
Bismarck provoked a short war with Austria, the Seven Weeks War, or Austro-Prussian war after he first gained promises of neutrality from Napoleon III of France. At the end of the war, Bismarck offered Austria very lenient terms; however by the terms of the treaty ending the war, the old German Confederation was dissolved. A new North German Confederation, consisting of all German states north of the Main river was formed with Prussia the leading state.
Bismarck then provoked a war with France which he knew would create a nationalist appeal to the southern German states who had not joined the North German Confederation. In the Franco-Prussian War, France was humiliated and a burst of patriotism swept over Germany. The southern states soon joined Prussia in creating a new German Empire; and Wilhelm was crowned Kaiser in the Great Hall of Mirrors at Versailles. Bismarck's actions, while brutal at times, united the various German states in the name of German nationalism and patriotism.
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