Age of Empires, 1871–1914
This chapter dissects how the revolutionary unification of Germany into an empire by Chancellor Otto von Bismarck transformed the German myth of the East, creating anxieties about frontiers even as a new form of statehood was celebrated in official nationalism as a culmination of German culture. Bismarck pursued a foreign policy based on conservative solidarity with Russia while also caught in an internal struggle over the ethnic future of the ‘Eastern marches’ within Germany, its eastern provinces, and Slavic populations. The turn towards ethnic confrontation that came to the forefront after Bismarck's dismissal in 1890 can be traced in a turn towards Social Darwinism, racism, and the organized chauvinism of the nationalist leagues in both Imperial Germany and Austria-Hungary. As a result, earlier conservative solidarity between the empires now changed into a mutual terror focused on threatened frontiers.
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