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"Germany's Unification" (1843)

Published in the Düsseldorfer Zeitung (September 3 and 5, 1843), the article "Germany's Unification" criticizes the existing German Confederation. It calls for a unified German nation-state on economic grounds, particularly noting the need for a uniform industrial code and the elimination of trade barriers.

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As painful as it is for us when we look back at the millennium gone by and feel the loss of the pieces torn off from Germany, and as much as we long for reunification with them, there is for Germany, just as it now is, a heartfelt inner connection of much greater importance. In this feeling lies the justification of the fact that while the voice of the time was proposing in regard to France only the negative of the status quo, it has elevated German unity as a positive emblem.

And wherein could this unity reside other than in heartfelt political unification? Everything else that one wants to use on behalf of Germany’s unification – communal monuments, similar coins, measures, weights, and wagon gauges, even a general customs union – acts only as a means to an end or would follow naturally of its own accord from Germany’s political unity, should this be first achieved. The natural weakness of the current main focus as it conflicts with the national desire gives rise to these peculiar twitches and mistaken ideas; this hysteron-proteron* of a good-natured popular politics and all the drivel about initiating German unity from behind ultimately discredit the cause itself or make it appear like a utopian dream, which it most certainly is not.

No, Germany’s unity is no utopian dream; it must be achieved just as surely as it is impossible, over the long run, to omit something felt to be necessary, and the idea itself will come all the closer to realization, the more unbearable it becomes to compare the condition in which one [actually] lives with that magnificent [condition] in which one could live, the quicker the age aims at unification on a massive scale, and the greater the accumulation of moments of domestic or external distress that rouse the sleepy German consciousness to action. But there is, above all, a transformation from the condition of an uncertain feeling to one of a clear recognition, of a firm perseverance along the path of right, but then also of resolute direction of all the means that present themselves toward the set goal.

This goal is a powerful, political main focus, whose form may be left completely open for the time being. But the natural weakness of the current unification focus resides in the way we have everywhere only a diplomatic, but not a political unification focus, a confederation [Staatenbund] instead of a federal state [Bundesstaat]. Thus we have, instead of a single Germany, 38 German states [Länder], just as many governments, almost as many [princely] courts, so and so many assemblies of estates, 38 different laws and administrations, legations, and consulates. What an enormous savings it would be if all this would be taken care of by a central government; what a savings in money and ranks would result if Germany maintained a single army! But much worse than the current waste of expenditure is the way that, among 38 different states, just as many special interests are at work disadvantaging and quashing daily commerce down to the last detail. No mail can be expedited, no postage facilitated, or else it requires conventions; no rail line can be proposed that won't be kept in its own state for as long as possible, and what help is it if the Confederal Act grants the freedom to move from one German state into another if this other state sternly turns away the poor emigrant. And just as with one state against another, one municipality will close itself off from another, and thus we have gotten to the point with Germany’s residence laws where the old glebae adscripto**, which had been legislatively abolished as shameful, is factually present again in a different form.

*i.e., putting the cart before the horse – trans.
**Servile bondage to the land – trans.

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