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Between 1815 and 1848 nothing of real significance happened to encourage the growth of German nationalism. How far can that view be supported? Prior to the 1850s, the area which is now called Germany was divided into numerous smaller states which made up the Holy Roman Empire. The dominant states were Austria and Prussia and the other states were too small to compete with their power. However, in the run up to the 1850s, nationalism was on the rise. It would be unfair to say that nothing of real significance led to the growth of nationalism in Germany. Various factors meant that relations between the states improved. Firstly, political nationalism emerged whereby ideas of liberalism and nationalism began to spread, influenced by the French Revolution. Some people in the states began to argue that the individual states should join into one single Germany for political reasons as together they would be stronger. In addition, cultural nationalism is the notion that people in the individual states shared things like a common language, music and literature which created a sense of German identity and led to a growth in nationalism and cultural awareness. Furthermore, economic factors played a major part in the growth of nationalism in this period and the individual states saw the clear benefits of the Zollverein. Overall, it would not be fair to say that nothing happened between 1815 and 1848 leading to a growth of nationalism as various factors contributed to the growing feeling of a German identity. The first clear reason for the growth of nationalism in Germany is down to political nationalism. This was on the rise in Germany during the early to mid-nineteenth century with ideas of liberalism and nationalism spreading throughout the states. During the Napoleonic Wars of 1789-1815, Napoleon merged many of the states of the conquered Holy Roman Empire into 38 larger states which he called the Confederation of the Rhine. This collection of states brought them closer together leading to a greater sense of nationalism. Eventually, the states forced Napoleon out and renamed them and this new group of states was similar to the Germany which was eventually formed in 1851. The occupation by Napoleon has sparked a negative reaction and led to a growth of nationalistic feelings in the states. After the French had been forced out, the Confederation was renamed the ‘Deutscher Bund’ (German Confederation). To many nationalists in Germany this seemed to be the beginning of the formation of a new German state. This clearly shows that it would be inaccurate to say that no particular factor led to the growth of nationalism in Germany between 1815 and 1848. However, perhaps political factors were not the most important reason for nationalism developing in the German states. Under Prince Metternich, the Austrian Empire was able to largely suppress the emergence of nationalism. German students who had been inspired by the coming together of the German states in forcing out the French started to spread ideas of a common German identity. Their natural enemy was Metternich and they protested against him by, for example, burning his effigy at a festival in Wartburg Saxony. In response, Metternich introduced a series of measures known as the Carlsbad Decrees to clamp down on student protests. These decrees banned student societies and censored newspapers. This meant that nationalists found it difficult to spread their message and so suggests that perhaps political reasons were not of great importance in bringing about feelings of German nationalism. Revolutions occurred in many European states in 1848 and these organised protests spread to parts of the Deutscher Bund. In March 1848, there were demonstrations on the streets of Berlin and other major German cities. Liberals who protested wanted democracy and freedom of speech whilst nationalists demanded the formation of a German state. These protests show a clear rise in feelings of a German identity. Although they were not ultimately successful, it is clear that this was a factor in bringing about nationalism in Germany. Political reasons were clearly important in bringing about nationalism in Germany, although perhaps other factors were more important. Another factor which proves that there were reasons why nationalism emerged is the notion of cultural nationalism. The area of Europe in which the states of the Holy Roman Empire were situated had natural borders. To the west was the River Rhine and to the south the Alps. Within these borders a distinct culture had developed over the centuries. In addition, the shared history of the states was characterised by rivalry with the French which had culminated in the Napoleonic occupation of the 19th century. Some historians have argued that the distinct culture in the German states actually brought about the growth of German nationalism. The German states, as well as sharing a common language, celebrated noted writers including Hegel, Goethe and Schiller. The literature produced by these writers recognised common German characteristics and this certainly contributed slightly to nationalism emerging in the old states of the Holy Roman Empire. Furthermore, German folk tales compiled and published by the Brothers Grimm, including their first collection, Children’s and Household Tales, were popular across the states and this similarly highlights the common ground the states had in terms of culture. It has also been argued that the music of Beethoven helped to unify the German peoples and masterpieces such as his Fifth Symphony gave Germans a sense of pride. The growing popularity of German musicians and writers brought about a feeling of a German identity and so it is clear that cultural nationalism was a factor in bringing about feelings of nationalism. However, it could be argued that it was not a significant factor. The historian Golo Mann has argued that most Germans “seldom looked up from the plough”. This suggests that Germans did not have time to follow national issues and that they did not embrace ‘German’ culture. Clearly then, cultural nationalism did exist and was a factor in bringing about a sense of German identity, however it was not a significant factor. Perhaps the most important reason for the growth of nationalism in Germany in the early to mid-nineteenth century was down to economic factors. Cultural and political nationalism existed but the driving force of the growth of nationalism was certainly economic nationalism. The economy was relevant to all people in the former states of the Holy Roman Empire. As Germany was divided into so many states, trade was slow and expensive. Each state imposed its own customs and taxes on goods passing through borders and this meant that prices ended up being high. For example, moving goods such as coal from West Prussia to East Prussia meant passing through four different states which could double the price of the coal. Therefore, if there was an agreement between the individual states, perhaps they could benefit economically. In 1818, Prussia formed a customs union. Members of this union did not have to pay tax on goods transported from one state to another. By the 1830s, this union was known as the Zollverein. This made goods cheaper for member states and so trade improved. By 1836, 25 German states were getting rich because they were members of the Zollverein. Austria was excluded and so the states began to look to Prussia for leadership. Eventually, even the Southern Catholic states abandoned Austria and joined Prussia in the union. The Zollverein showed people in the states the economic benefits of a united Germany. This certainly led to feelings of nationalism as people realised that together they could prosper. The historian William Carr referred to the Zollverein as the “mighty lever of German unification”. Clearly then, the Zollverein as an economic customs union was the most important single reason for the emergence of nationalism in Germany between 1815 and 1848 as it united people from all social classes and areas of Germany. Linked to economic factors was the growth of the railway network in Germany which certainly enabled ideas of nationalism to spread more easily. Prussia was at the forefront of the rail network which enabled her to become richer and this wealth was eventually passed on to neighbouring states. This led to a growth of nationalism as the rail network did not only allow people and goods to travel but also ideas such as nationalism. As people were now more closely connected in towns and cities, nationalism spread which shows that the emergence of the railway system in Germany was an important reason for the growth of nationalism in Germany. In conclusion, it would be wrong to say that nothing of real significance happened to encourage the growth of German nationalism. A number of important reasons led to the growth of the idea of a common German identity. Political factors played a part. The defeat of Napoleon and the emergence of the Deutscher Bund gave Germans an idea of how powerful they could be if they united. In addition, cultural factors played a part as they people in the different states recognised common ground in terms of music and literature. However, it could be argued, as Golo Mann suggests, that most ordinary working class Germans did not have time to concern themselves with political or cultural nationalism. By far and away the most important factor for the emergence of nationalism was down to the economic union the Zollverein. This union benefited all Germans and, as Carr argues, was crucial in leading to the eventual unification of Germany. The growth of the railways in Germany also enabled ideas of nationalism to spread. Overall, various factors combined to encourage the growth of German nationalism, but by far the most important single factor was the emergence of economic nationalism.