The German concept of small states ended on the 18th of January 1871, the day of the foundation of the German Reich, in which all small states where united in one German national state. This was mainly due to the Prussian governor Otto von BismarckOtto von Bismarck served as Prime minister of Prussia since 1862 and formed the German Empire with himself as Chancellor in 1871 who managed to compensate the domestical conflicts during the wars of German unification with successes in foreign-policy. Consequently the national consciousness surpassed the political turmoil.
The longstanding frame work that had maintained European peace for years crumbled in the 1850s.
The European states mainly followed their own power politics and forced the establishing of national states by starting wars. Especially PrussiaFor centuries, the House of Hohenzollern ruled Prussia, successfully expanding its size by way of an unusually well-organised and effective army. In 1871, Prussia united german states in creating the German Empire unter its own leadership , the biggest country in the German confederation, assumed extensive claims to power and pursued the extent of their power and territory by the so called “realpolitik”. Due to this tactic Prussia finally managed to unite the German small states in one national state as the revolutionists from 1848/49The Revolutions of 1848 demonstrated popular discontent with the traditional, largely autocratic political structure in german states had desired ever since their failed attempt. However this patriotism overpowered the claims for a liberal constitution that was never passed in the German empire1.
Foundation of the German Reich from the brass
The foundation of the German Reich was by no means a success of the liberal movement, as it was enforced by 22 monarchs in the hall of mirrors in Versailles. It is often called Foundation of the Reich from the brass to demonstrate that the German Reich was an authoritarian state. In fact liberals had hardly any influence on the foundation of the Reich, as they had split up into the National Liberal Party and the German Progress Party during the Wars of German Unification and thus followed very defensive politics. They hoped to realise their reforms as time passed but as a matter of fact Germany did not become a democracy until 19182.
The foundation of the German empire inspired new hopes for liberal reforms in many politicians. The national euphoria was promoted by the increasing relevance Germany obtained as an economic super power within Europe. Thus the National Liberals’ urge for Freedom and democracy attenuated over time. Especially Otto von Bismarck reinforced the internal solidarity by imposing new enemy stereotypes, as for example Catholicism and later on social democrats3.