German unification

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Map of the German Empire from 1871–1918.

The German unification was the creation of a German nation-state , which in 1871 with the founding of the German Empire in a small German solution was made.


As early as the beginning of the 18th century, criticism of Germany's small states was occasionally expressed in early Enlightenment literature and the desire for a nation-state was publicly expressed. Above all in the circle around the scholar Johann Gottfried Gregorii , writings were created for an all-German reading public, which had the history , geography , cartography and legends of the cultural and linguistic nation as their content and thus manifested the unity of German literature.

A century later, during the Napoleonic occupation, a society of Weimar scholars around Friedrich Johann Justin Bertuch remembered the all-German view of the pioneer:

“... just with the otherwise fabulous Joh. Gottfried Gregorius (under the assumed name Melissantes) formed at the beginning of the XVIII. Century a view that would have been worthy of further pursuit if it had found the same great receptivity everywhere. His curious description of some previously famous, partly devastated and destroyed, but partly rebuilt mountain castles in Germany, combined with his newly opened scene of memorable history, on which the construction and devastation of many famous cities and castles is presented (2. Th. 1715) was calculated for a fatherland that was not restricted by the narrow boundaries of the sovereign territories, but since the fatherland lacked the fatherland, just as man lacked the patriot, the general interest that the patriot wanted to arouse went in the particular, and that special in the lack of general under ... "

The creation of a unified Germany had been the goal of liberals and students since the wars of liberation in 1813 . But the bourgeoisie failed in 1848 and 1849 ( March Revolution , Frankfurt National Assembly ). Paradoxically, the aristocracy and the ultra-conservative Prussian Prime Minister Bismarck, who were precisely the political opponents of the liberals , then achieved this very liberal goal .

Political agreement

The Frankfurt National Assembly after the March Revolution of 1848 failed to create a German nation-state.

The unification of the empire as a "revolution from above" took place in connection with the wars of unification , essentially in two steps: After the German war of Prussia against the Austrian Empire in 1866, the North German Confederation was founded, which in the following year became a federal state through a constitution . The war against France in 1870/71 finally offered the opportunity to found the German Empire , which amounted to an area expansion and expansion of the Confederation.

Common currency

From 1871 the mark was introduced as the uniform gold-covered currency of the German Empire ("Reichsgoldwurrency").

Uniform legal system

Already in the of the Frankfurt National Assembly after the March revolution of 1848 St. Paul's Church in Frankfurt developed and on 28. March 1849 as a condition of the German Reich proclaimed Paulskirchenverfassung should substantiate the nation state constitutionally. These efforts failed. A valid constitution of the German national state would only be created in the course of the agreement of 1871 with the Bismarckian constitution .

Before the Civil Code came into force , the territory of the German Reich , founded in 1871, was also fragmented in the area of ​​private law. a. Common law , the Prussian General Land Law (ALR) of 1794, the Civil Code of 1804, Baden Law of 1810, the Codex Maximilianeus Bavaricus Civilis of 1756, the Jutian Law of 1241, the Sachsenspiegel or the common Saxony Law and the Saxon Civil Code of 1865.

Gradually, however, the demands for a civil code increased. As early as 1867, an application was made to the Reichstag of the North German Confederation to assign competence to regulate civil law to the federal government, but this was rejected. Two years later, another application with the same content was submitted, which has now been accepted, but has no consequences. In 1873 , at the request of Reichstag deputies Miquel and Lasker from the National Liberal Party, the Reichstag and Bundesrat passed an amendment to the Reich constitution, which gave the Reich legislative competence for all civil law (see lex Miquel-Lasker ). The BGB came into force on January 1, 1900. It was accompanied by the Introductory Act to the German Civil Code (EGBGB), which contains the transitional regulations for the law that was previously in force in Germany and opening clauses for the legislation of the federal states (today: states) (so-called state private law).

National transport network

For Friedrich List , overcoming the internal German customs barriers and building the railway were the “Siamese twins” of German economic history and thus the tools to overcome the industrial backwardness of the German states. As a result, he was therefore committed to building an all-German railway network. He wrote a small pamphlet, which he had distributed free of charge in large numbers: "About a Saxon railway system as the basis of a general German railway system and in particular about the creation of a railway from Leipzig to Dresden", Leipzig 1833. List has the economic advantages of such Railway clearly stated: According to this, the railway enables cheap, fast and regular mass transport, which is conducive to the development of the division of labor, the choice of location for commercial operations and ultimately higher sales of products. Innovative was List's offensive publicity to a wide audience. On the basis of this document, a preparatory committee was founded, which worked out a convincing cost and profitability calculation, later negotiated the necessary concessions with the government and finally issued shares to finance the route. With the commissioning of the Leipzig-Dresden Railway in 1839, the first German long-distance railway line was realized. Most of the other railway projects that followed were also based on the model developed by List in their organization. As a result, he tried to initiate similar projects in other German states or supported existing projects in public. In 1835, for example, he wrote a memorandum to promote a route from Mannheim to Basel, another from Magdeburg to Berlin and a connection from there to Hamburg. In 1835, List founded the "Eisenbahnjournal und National-Magazin für die progress in Handel, Gewerb und Ackerbau" to propagate his railway political and other economic ideas. His contribution on the railway system in the State Lexicon was published in 1838 as a special edition under the title "Das deutsche National-Transport- System in national and national economic importance. "

See also


  • Helmut Böhme : The establishment of an empire. Munich 1967.
  • Hagen Schulze : The way to the nation state. The German National Movement from the 18th Century to the Founding of the Empire. In: Martin Broszat , Wolfgang Benz , Hermann Graml (Hrsg.): German history of the latest time from the 19th century to the present. Munich 1985.
  • Kurt Jaeger: The German coins since 1871: with minting numbers and ratings (ratings with current market prices; with all German euro coins). 19th, adult Edition, edit. by Helmut Kahnt, H. Gietl Verlag, Regenstauf 2005, ISBN 3-924861-97-8 .
  • Wolfgang Trapp , Torsten Fried: Handbook of the coinage and the monetary system in Germany. Reclam, Stuttgart 2006, ISBN 3-15-010617-6 .
  • Jörg-Detlef Kühne : The imperial constitution of the Paulskirche. Model and realization in later German legal life. 2nd edition, Neuwied 1998, ISBN 3-472-03024-0 .
  • Karl Binding : The attempt to found an empire by the Paulskirche. Schutterwald / Baden 1998, ISBN 978-3-928640-45-9 .
  • Sérgio Fernandes Fortunato: From Roman Common Law to the Civil Code. In: ZJS 4 (2009), pp. 327–338 (PDF; 175 kB) .
  • Hans Schlosser : Fundamentals of the modern history of private law. UTB 882, 10th edition 2005, ISBN 3-8252-0882-6 , in particular pp. 180-206.
  • Franz Wieacker : History of private law in modern times with special consideration of the German development. 2nd, revised edition. 1967, ISBN 3-525-18108-6 .
  • Friedrich Bülow: Friedrich List. An economist fights for Germany's unity. (Personality and History; 16). Musterschmidt, Göttingen / Zurich / Frankfurt 1959, ISBN 3-7881-0016-8 .
  • Friedrich Lenz: Friedrich List and German Unity (1789–1846). German publishing house, Stuttgart 1946.

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Johann Gottfried Gregorii alias Melissantes: GEOGRAPHIA NOVISSIMA , Part 1, 1st edition, Frankfurt am Main, Leipzig [and Erfurt] 1708, p. 1126.
  2. Ed .: Burkhard Gotthelf Struve : Explained teutsche Reichs-Historie. Jena 1720.
  3. ^ Johann Christoph Weigel and Johann Gottfried Gregorii: Continued ATLAS PORTATILIS GERMANICUS. Nuremberg 1723–1780.
  4. Melissantes: The renewed antiquity, or curieuse description of some previously famous, partly devastated and destroyed, partly rebuilt mountain castles in Germany / presented from credible historicis and geography with many memorable antiquities, and together with two registers drawn up by Melissantes. Frankfurt, Leipzig [and Erfurt] 1713/1721.
  5. Friedrich Justin Bertuch: General geographical ephemeris. Volume 34, Weimar 1811, pp. 71/72.
  6. ^ Ulrich Eisenhardt : German legal history. 3. Edition. 1999, ISBN 3-406-45308-2 , especially pp. 404-411
  7. ^ Hans-Werner Hahn: The industrial revolution in Germany . (Encyclopedia of German History, Vol. 49). Munich 2005, ISBN 3-486-57669-0 , p. 22.
  8. Thomas Nipperdey: German History 1800–1866. Citizen world and strong state. Munich 1998, ISBN 3-406-44038-X , p. 191.