Our German Ancestry

Excerpts From Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia.

"After the collapse of the Empire in 1806 and Napoleon's final defeat at Waterloo, the Congress of Vienna in 1815 redrew the map of Europe. A united German state was not formed; instead, the sovereign German states only formed a loose confederation, the German Confederation, which which the two dominant players, Austria and Prussia, competed. (6)

"The Zollverein represented a move toward economic integration and modern industrial capitalism and the victory of centralism over localism, quickly bringing the era of guilds in the small German princely states to an end. This would take the form of the revolt of the Silesian Weavers in 1844, who witnessed their livelihood destroyed from the floodgates of new manufactures. Unable to compete with industrial efficiency, textile weavers quickly saw their economic base vanish. This base of small artisans, textile weavers, journeymen, guildsmen, and small businessmen would later pose a threat to the Second Reich, dominated by an emerging coalition of the landed upper class and industrialists, posing problems the Second Reich later on. These sharp class conflicts, the weakness of democratic traditions, and the narrow a social base of the landowning and military aristocracy, would be later quelled by authoritarian means of rule under the Second Reich, especially during Bismarck's suppression of Catholics and Socialists. " (6)

The first half of the 19th century saw a prolonged struggle in Germany between the forces of liberalism, which wanted a united federal Germany under a democratic constitution, and the forces of conservatism, which wanted to keep Germany as a patchwork of weak independent states, with Prussia and Austria competing for influence. In 1848 the liberals got their chance when revolutions broke out across Europe. An alarmed Frederick William IV agreed to convene a National Assembly and grant a constitution. But when the Frankfurt Parliament offered Frederick William the crown of a united Germany, he refused, on the grounds that revolutionary assemblies could not grant royal titles. Prussia obtained a semi- democratic constitution, but the grip of the landowning classes (the junkers) remained unbroken."  (6)

In France, where the conservative aristocracy was soundly pushed aside by the Revolutions of 1789, 1830, and 1848, the new Second Republic erupted into civil war between rival revolutionary groups—the bourgeois moderates who favored order and constitutional democracy and the socialists, supported by mobs the Parisian working class. In Paris unemployed workers, with the cry of "bread or lead", hoisted the red flag, the first time that the red flag emerged as a symbol of the proletariat, a nd erected barricades to overthrow the Second Republic. Not since the Reign of Terror had Paris seen fighting on this scale, later crushed by savage repression that left a bitter hatred between the French working class and bourgeois elements."

"From May to December (1848), the Assembly eloquently debated academic topics while conservatives swiftly reacting against the reformers. Meanwhile, such competition intensified authoritarian and reactionary trends among the landed upper class, as it did under Metternich's Austria and Russia under staunch reactionary Nicholas I, as it found its economic basis sinking. Thus, it would turn to political levers to preserve its rule. As the Prussian army proved to be loyal, and peasants proved to be uninterested, King Fredrick Wilhelm regained his confidence. While the Assembly issued its Declaration of the Rights of the German people, and a constitution was draw (excluding Austria since it downright refused the offer), the leadership of the Reich was offered to Fredrick Wilhelm, who refused to "pick up a crown from the gutter". Most delegates returned home, and the Prussian army responded to quell some rioting. Thousands of middle class liberals fled abroad, especially to the United States." (6)

Other events of the period

The Crimean War lasted from 1854 to 1856. It was fought between Russia and an alliance of the United Kingdom, France, the Ottoman Empire joined somewhat tardily by Piedmont-Sardinia. The majority of the conflict took place around the Crimean peninsula on the Black Sea."

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