The Info List - Kleindeutschland

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The German Question
German Question
was a debate in the 19th century, especially during the Revolutions of 1848, over the best way to achieve the unification of Germany.[1] From 1815 to 1866, about 37 independent German-speaking states existed within the German Confederation. The Großdeutsche Lösung ("Greater German solution") favored unifying all German-speaking peoples under one state, and was promoted by the Austrian Empire
Austrian Empire
and its supporters. The Kleindeutsche Lösung ("Lesser German solution") sought only to unify the northern German states and did not include Austria; this proposal was favored by the Kingdom of Prussia. The solutions are also referred to by the names of the states they proposed to create, Kleindeutschland and Großdeutschland ("Lesser Germany" and "Greater Germany"). Both movements were part of a growing German nationalism. They also drew upon similar contemporary efforts to create a unified nation state of people who shared a common ethnicity and language, such as the unification of Italy by the House of Savoy and the Serbian Revolution.


1 Background 2 March Revolution 3 Austro-Prussian War
Austro-Prussian War
and Franco-Prussian War 4 Later influence

4.1 East and West Germany
West Germany
and reunification

5 See also 6 References 7 External links


German unity as fiasco with each state viewing itself separate. Cartoon from Münchner Leuchtkugeln, 1848.

There is, in political geography, no Germany
proper to speak of. There are Kingdoms and Grand Duchies, and Duchies and Principalities, inhabited by Germans, and each separately ruled by an independent sovereign with all the machinery of State. Yet there is a natural undercurrent tending to a national feeling and toward a union of the Germans into one great nation, ruled by one common head as a national unit. — The New York Times, July 1, 1866[2]

On August 6, 1806, Habsburg Emperor Francis II had abdicated the throne of the Holy Roman Empire
Holy Roman Empire
in the course of the Napoleonic Wars with France, thereby ending the loose Empire. Despite its later name affix "of the German Nation", the Holy Roman Empire
Holy Roman Empire
had never been a nation state. Instead its rulers over the centuries had to cope with a continuous loss of authority to its constituent Imperial States. The disastrous Thirty Years' War
Thirty Years' War
proved especially fatal to the Holy Roman Emperor's authority, as the mightiest entities, the Austrian Habsburg Monarchy and Brandenburg-Prussia
evolved into rivaling European absolute powers with territory reaching far beyond Imperial borders. The many small city-states splintered, meanwhile. In the 18th century the Holy Roman Empire
Holy Roman Empire
consisted of over 1800 separate territories governed by distinct authorities. This German dualism phenomenon at first culminated in the War of the Austrian Succession and outlasted the French Revolution
French Revolution
and Napoleon's domination of Europe. Facing the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire, the ruling House of Habsburg
House of Habsburg
proclaimed the Austrian Empire
Austrian Empire
in the lands of the Habsburg Monarchy
Habsburg Monarchy
instead, retaining the imperial title. The 1815 restoration by the Final Act of the Vienna Congress established the German Confederation, which was not a nation but a loose association of sovereign states on the territory of the former Holy Roman Empire. While a number of factors swayed allegiances in the debate, the most prominent was religion. The Großdeutsche Lösung would have implied a dominant position for Catholic Austria, the largest and most powerful German state of the early 19th century. As a result, Catholics and Austria-friendly states usually favored Großdeutschland. A unification of Germany
led by Prussia would mean the domination of the new state by the Protestant House of Hohenzollern, a more palatable option to Protestant northern German states. Another complicating factor was the Austrian Empire's inclusion of a large number of non-Germans, such as Hungarians, Romanians, Serbs, Croats, and Czechs. The Austrians were reluctant to enter a unified Germany
if it meant giving up their non-German speaking territories. March Revolution[edit] Main article: German revolutions of 1848–49

First German National assembly at St. Paul's Church, Frankfurt 1848/49

In 1848, German liberals and nationalists united in revolution, forming the Frankfurt Parliament. The Greater German movement within this National Assembly demanded the unification of all German-populated lands into one nation. In general, the left favored a republican Großdeutsche Lösung, whereas the liberal center favored the Kleindeutsche Lösung with a constitutional monarchy. Those supporting the Großdeutsche position argued that since the Habsburgs had ruled the Holy Roman Empire
Holy Roman Empire
for 400 years, Austria
was best suited to lead the unified nation. However, Austria
posed a problem because the Habsburgs ruled large chunks of non-German-speaking territory. The largest such area was the Kingdom of Hungary, which also included large Slovak, Romanian and Croat populations. It further comprised numerous possessions with predominantly non-German populations, including Czechs
in the Bohemian lands, Poles, Rusyns
and Ukrainians
in the Galician province, Slovenes in Carniola, and Italians
in Lombardy–Venetia and Trento, which was still incorporated into the Tyrolean crown land, all together making up the larger part of the Austrian Empire. Except for Bohemia, Carniola and Trento, these territories were not part of the German Confederation because they had not been part of the former Holy Roman Empire, and none of them desired to be included into a German nation state. The Czech politician František Palacký
František Palacký
explicitly rejected the offered mandate to the Frankfurt assembly, stating that the Slavic lands of the Habsburg Empire were not a subject of German debates. On the other hand, for Austrian prime minister Prince Felix of Schwarzenberg, only an accession of the Habsburg Empire as a whole was acceptable because it had no intention to part from its non-German possessions and dismantle in order to remain in an all-German Empire. Thus, some members of the assembly and namely Prussia promoted the Kleindeutsche Lösung, which excluded the whole Austrian Empire
Austrian Empire
with its German and its non-German possessions. They argued that Prussia, as the only Great Power with a predominantly German-speaking population, should lead the unified Germany. Yet, the drafted constitution provided for the possibility for Austria
to join without its non-German possessions later. On March 30, 1849, the Frankfurt parliament offered the German Imperial crown to King Frederick William IV of Prussia, who rejected it. The revolution failed and several subsequent attempts by Prince Schwarzenberg to build up a German federation headed by Austria
came to nothing. Austro-Prussian War
Austro-Prussian War
and Franco-Prussian War[edit] Main articles: Austro-Prussian War
Austro-Prussian War
and Franco-Prussian War

Prussia's expansion into the German Empire
German Empire
from 1807 (dark blue): green territories added according to the 1815 Congress of Vienna, light blue territories after the Austro-Prussian War
Austro-Prussian War
of 1866. Yellow territories joined the German Empire
German Empire
in 1871 after the Franco-Prussian War.

These efforts were finally terminated by Austria's humiliating defeat in the 1866 Austro-Prussian War. After the Peace of Prague, the Prussian chancellor Otto von Bismarck, now at the helm of German politics, pursued the expulsion of Austria
and managed to unite all German states except Austria
under Prussian leadership, while the Habsburg lands were shaken by ethnic nationalist conflicts, only superficially resolved with the Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867. At the same time, Bismarck established the North German Confederation, seeking to prevent the Austrian and Bavarian Catholics in the south from being a predominant force in a mainly Protestant Prussian Germany. He successfully used the Franco-Prussian War
Franco-Prussian War
to convince the other German states including the Kingdom of Bavaria
Kingdom of Bavaria
to stand with Prussia against the Second French Empire; Austria-Hungary
did not participate in the war. After Prussia's speedy victory, the debate was settled in favor of the Kleindeutsche Lösung in 1871. Bismarck used the prestige gained from the victory to maintain the alliance with Bavaria and declared the German Empire. Protestant Prussia became the dominant power of the new state, and Austria-Hungary
was excluded remaining a separate polity. The Lesser German solution prevailed.

Later influence[edit] Further information: Anschluss

Austrian Chancellor from 1934 to 1938, Kurt Schuschnigg
Kurt Schuschnigg
strongly opposed Hitler's annexation of Austria
to the Third Reich.

Voting ballot from 10 April 1938. The ballot text reads "Do you agree with the reunification of Austria
with the German Reich that was enacted on 13 March 1938, and do you vote for the party of our leader Adolf Hitler?" The large circle is labelled "Yes", the smaller "No".

The idea of Austrian territories with a significant German-speaking population joining a Greater German state was maintained by some circles both in Austria-Hungary
and Germany. It was again promoted after the close of World War I
World War I
and the dissolution of the Austro–Hungarian monarchy in 1918 by the proclamation of the rump state German Austria. Proponents attempted to incorporate German Austria
into the German Weimar Republic; however, this was prohibited by the terms of both the Treaty of Saint-Germain and the Treaty of Versailles, though the major Austrian political parties such as the Greater German People's Party
Greater German People's Party
or the Social democrats pursued this idea regardless. The Austrofascism
of Austria
between 1934 and 1938 focused on the history of Austria
and opposed the absorbing of Austria
into the Third Reich (according to the belief that Austrians were "better Germans")[3] and the Austrian Chancellor Kurt Schuschnigg
Kurt Schuschnigg
(1934-1938) called Austria
the "better German state" but struggled to keep Austria independent. Nevertheless, German nationalists desire for a unified nation-state incorporating all Germans into a Greater Germany persisted. In 1938, Adolf Hitler, an Austrian German by birth, completed his long desired union between his birthplace Austria
and Germany
(Anschluss), which violated the terms of the Treaty of Versailles. This was met with an overwhelming approval of the German-Austrian people. Unlike the political situation in the 19th century, Austria
was a shadow of its former power in 1938, and became by far the subordinate partner in the new unified German-speaking state. In a reference to the 19th century "Greater German solution," the enlarged state was referred to as the Großdeutsches Reich ("Greater German Reich") and colloquially as Großdeutschland. The names were informal at first, but the change to Großdeutsches Reich became official in 1943. As well as Germany (pre- World War II
World War II
borders), Austria, and Alsace-Lorraine, the Großdeutsches Reich included the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, Sudetenland, Bohemia and Moravia, the Memel Territory, the Polish areas annexed by Nazi Germany, the Free State of Danzig, and the "General Government" territories (territories of Poland
under German military occupation).

The Greater German Reich in 1943

Postage stamp issued in 1944 by the "Greater German Reich"

East and West Germany
West Germany
and reunification[edit] Further information: German reunification

Occupation zone borders in Germany, 1947. The territories east of the Oder-Neisse line
Oder-Neisse line
under Polish and Soviet administration and Saar Protectorate shown as white.

This unification lasted only until the end of World War II. With the defeat of the Nazi regime in 1945, "Greater Germany" was separated into West Germany, East Germany, and Austria
by the Allied Powers. In addition, Germany
was stripped of much of historic eastern Germany (i.e. the bulk of Prussia), which was annexed in part by Poland
and in part by the Soviet Union. Luxembourg, the Czech (via Czechoslovakia), and the Slovenian lands (via Yugoslavia) regained their independence from Germany. The division of Germany
started with the creation of four occupation zones, continued with establishing two German states ( West Germany
West Germany
and East Germany), was deepened in the period of Cold War
Cold War
with the Berlin Wall from 1961 and existed until 1989/1990. After the Uprising of 1953 in East Germany, the official holiday in the Federal Republic of Germany
was set on 17 June and was named "Day of German Unity", in order to remind all Germans of the “open” (unanswered) German Question (die offene Deutsche Frage), which meant the call for reunification. Modern Germany's territory, after the reunification of East and West Germany
in 1990, is closer to what the Kleindeutsche Lösung envisioned than the Großdeutsche Lösung, for Austria
remains a separate country. Because of the idea's association with the Third Reich, there are no mainstream political groups in Austria
or Germany that advocate a "Greater Germany" today; those that do are often regarded as fascist and/or neo-Nazis. See also[edit]

Inner German border Legal status of Germany German nationalism
German nationalism
in Austria


^ Robert D. Billinger (1991). Metternich and the German Question: States' Rights and Federal Duties, 1820–1834. University of Delaware Press. ^ "The Situation of Germany". (PDF) The New York Times, July 1, 1866. ^ Birgit Ryschka (2008). "Constructing and Deconstructing National Identity: Dramatic Discourse in Tom Murphy's The Patriot Game and Felix Mitterer's In Der Löwengrube". Peter Lang. ISBN 9783631581117. Retrieved 27 June 2014. 

External links[edit]

Maps of German and European revolutions of 1848-49 and German unification (omniatlas.com)

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