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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Über Alles? Bavarian Particularism and German Integration during the Limbo Years

  • Author(s): Kempf, Elena Vanessa Caroline
  • et al.

One of the fundamental challenges the 28 member-states of the European Union face today is a dichotomy between state-level and European priorities.

The Kingdom of Bavaria faced a similar situation between 1866 and 1871, as the state gradually ceded sovereignty to Prussia in the process of German unification.

This essay seeks to illuminate how the members of the Bavarian state legislature responded to Prussian efforts of national integration.

Documents examined include parliamentary records of the Upper and Lower Chambers of the Bavarian legislature, a pamphlet published by the Bavarian branch of the Progress Party (Fortschrittspartei), and the state’s court reference books. Legislative records of the 1867 Treaty Regarding the Continuance of the Customs and Trade Union with Prussia as well as of the 1870 Treaty between the North German Confederation and Bavaria regarding the Founding of a German Federation are also discussed.

This paper’s proposed conclusion is that in the process of German unification, Prussia’s imposed unity further exacerbated traditional divisions in the Bavarian legislature. Split between a National Liberal fraction eager to join a unified Lesser Germany, and a federally, if not democratically, minded Conservative wing that would in 1869 organize the Patriot Party, Bavarians were far from forming a united front vis-à-vis an expansionist Prussia.

Of course this conclusion is very much specific to late 19th century Bavarian politics. However, it does suggest that sustainable (supra)national integration ought to be instigated from the bottom up; spearheaded by, and tailored to the needs of EU member-states.

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