Was German Unification Inevitable?

In January 1871 Bismarck declared the German nation united. Following a tragic 20th century, Germany reunified once more in 1990. Four historians offer their perspectives on both events.

Proclamation of Prussian king Wilhelm I as German Emperor at Versailles, Anton von Werner, 1885. Wiki Commons.

‘The unity of the German-speaking lands goes back a long way’

Len Scales, Professor of Late Medieval History, Durham University.

There was once a time when German historians searched avidly for the emergence of the ‘first German state’ or ‘first Reich’. Usually they discovered it sometime in the late ninth or early tenth century. Unity, they were convinced, was the German people’s destiny and destination. Understandably and rightly, the days of such thinking are long gone.

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