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Germany and the Origins of the First World War 1 Between 1866 and 1871 thanks to the skilful diplomacy of Prussias great minister Prince Otto von Bismarck and to the unexcelled military genius of his generals Albrecht von Roon and Helmuth von Moltke the situation in what had been the German confederation was completely altered During the first half of its existence the confederation had been dominated by the Austrian Hapsburgs As a result of Prussias decisive victory in the Austro- Prussian war of 1866 the Austrian Empire was expelled from the confederation and a new North German Confederation was created under a greatly enlarged Prussia1 By taking advantage of a wave of chauvinism in France Otto von Bismarck contrived to bring about the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871 in which the German states south of the Main fought as allies against France and at the close of which they joined in January 1871 with the states of the North German Confederation to establish the German Empire The Second Teutonic Reich was forged out of blood and iron a prophetic slogan for such a young nation state whose foreign policy would always be oriented towards the later The Prussian philosopher Carl von Clausewitz in 1832 described war as being compounded of a paradoxical trinity the governments for which it was an instrument of policy the military for whom it was the exercise of a skill and the people as a whole the extent of whose involvement determined the intensity with which the war would be waged2 It was the German people rallying behind the nationalistic militaristic rhetoric of their charismatic leaders who ultimately called for colonization of vacant lands on 2
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