The 19th century Europe witnessed waves of turmoil crushing across the surface of the continent, making fundamental changes which would have bearing in years to come.
It makes little difference if we take into consideration events such as the French revolution, the July revolution or the outburst of the nationalism, which was simply an result of the former, we couldn’t deny how that century brought radical changes for many people and nations. However, not everything ran so smoothly, as that radical change in some places failed miserably to perform its duty, some places were not even half ready for it and the people, as we could see later, were unable to embrace the basic premise of it. These places were Italy and Germany and in this article we will see what went wrong with the revolution of 1848 in the latter.
First of all, the main obstacle standing was the biggest fracture between the middle and working class in Germany, but they had to be the driving wheel in the revolution. The middle class was largely comprised of f merchants, bankers, and other professional occupations who profited from new business ventures and the wealth created by them. In addition to it, they were highly educated people, obtaining their degree from the universities across the country. The ideology they supported was the liberalism, which roots could be traced back by the ideas of Enlightenment. The latter extents its ideas in a notion that everyone should be given an opportunity to express their capabilities regardless their social status within the society while the liberal middle class in Germany only wanted to make profit without being disturbed by the government. What a witty thought! To top it all, the middle class didn’t want another meddler in their businesses, especially if it was someone from the working class. Moreover, they considered the middle class as people inferior to them, lacking the natural capability and educational knowledge to interfere in the economic or political life.
On the other side, there was another strong movement called ‘socialism ‘ which represented the working class or the proletariat. They too wanted control and means of power in their hands, but they were in contradiction with the liberals of the middle class as we stated above. Karl Marx and Freidrich Engels depicted explicitly clear the heart of the socialism movement in their The Communist Manifesto. However, they spend most of the time as mere distant witnesses of their dream, they were away from Germany to see the real prospect of the revolution and the struggle between the two classes which collapsed in universal dominance for power, not being able to compromise with one another, certainly not being able to see eye to eye with one another.
But the complexity of the situation didn’t end here, after the Napoleonic Era German was left in chaos with its survival states , from which it was needed to be created something much more stable with firm grounds. The solution was German Confederation, which was consisted of thirty –five states and five independent cities. By far the most strongest one was Prussia, the major aim of the confederation was creating conditions for further interaction among the states and mutual stability. For many people that was the first of the many steps ahead towards unified Germany , they, socialist and liberals, embraced the idea whole-heartedly having hoped for better future.
Nevertheless , all of it was only pipe dreams as soon as the real consolidation of power was in the hands of one person : the Kaiser, Frederick William IV (1840-1861). He was the person who made absolutely everything to stifle any attempt (imaginary or real) for something different from conservative government. Having been supported by Prussian Junkers and the nobility, whose influence and prestige hinge on him, he was almost invisible before the mob’s wishes and desires for brighter future.
Moreover, Klemens Lothar, Prince von Metternich (1773-1859), the foreign minister of the Austrian Empire dedicated his life in fighting any form of liberalism , which he had the pleasure to encounter. For example, after 1818 he imposed censorship on the universities , which ventured on bring about any kind of liberal ideas, the lectors’ presentations and materials were scanned and undertook strict control. Shortly after that, there was a newspaper restriction of certain materials, uniforms with the national colours were almost obligatory .
Finally, we need to take into account only one factor in order to finish this brief account of the unsuccessful revolution. Between 1815 and 1848 there was a massive wave of industrialization in Germany and the plight of it didn’t miss the opportunity to affect the people there. Here we don’t place our attention to the Fourteen hour days labour, arduous one, but we need to take into account the full overuse of childrens’and women labour , with the countless number of incidents and every minute struggle for survival . The working class was exhaustively tired, on the edge of their existence and struggling to subsist on minimal wages and many hours of working. While ,we had the middle class which own struggle was of different nature, they wanted the power and fought for their ideas while the former fought for their bread.