What were the causes of the failure of the Unification of Germany?

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Owing to the following causes, the efforts made by the patriots of Germany for the unification of their country proved in fructuous:

(i) The period between 1815 and 1848 was the age of Metternich in Europe. He was the greatest reactionary of Europe. The states of Germany were directly or indirectly under the influence of Austria.

Metternich always tried to suppress the national agitations of Germany. He always vehemently opposed the demands of the people for constitutions, political rights and democratic setup of administration.

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He believed in absolutism. It was, therefore, impossible for the patriots of German states to achieve the goal of national unity because of Metternich.

(ii) The Emperor of Austria always adopted a hostile attitude towards the national organization of Germany. When the elected Assembly met at Frankfort in 1848, it was Austria which bitterly opposed the decisions of the Parliament. He was indeed against any such scheme which might increase the influence of Prussia over the state of Germany.

(iii) Besides, the attitude of Frederick William IV, the King of Prussia, was also responsible for the failure of the national unification of Germany. He declined to accept the imperial crown of a united Germany.

It was clear that he feared the power and influence of Austria. When he rejected the offer of the Parliament, the patriots of Germany were very dis­appointed.

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(iv) The slow procedure and defective working system of the Frankfort parliament was also an important factor responsible for the failure of the attempts made for unification. The parliament of Frankfort was convened in May 1848.

It was a proper time to take early decisions. But the parliament wasted much time in deliberations over the fundamental rights of the people.

The members could not take firm decisions on important issues and wasted time in useless discussions and debates on meaningless and complicated issues. The imperial crown was offered to the King of Prussia on March 28, 1849, i.e., after a period of ten months from the beginning of the Parliament.

The political conditions and the circumstances were changing very quickly. The monarchs were waiting for a favourable opportunity.

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When they came to know about the discussions, differences and belated decisions of the Parlia­ment, they suppressed the agitations and again established their autocratic rule over the states.

(v) There was lack of unity and competent leadership among the patriots of Germany. They were not united. They had no competent leader. No person was ready to sacrifice his life for the national interest.

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