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Austrian Memorandum (1863)

In July 1863, to gain the support of individual German states in order to prevent the formation of a "small German"-Prussian nation-state, the Austrian government offered a proposal for the reform of the German Confederation. The proposal was to be discussed at a meeting of German rulers in Frankfurt. On Bismarck's advice, the King of Prussia boycotted the meeting, thus thwarting the initiative.

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I. The more uncertain the situation in Europe becomes, the more incontrovertibly are the German princes confronted with the task of assuring themselves a tenable position in light of domestic and foreign perils. Obviously, under the circumstances that have developed over the last several years, such a position cannot be based simply on the existing confederal constitution. For a long time, the confederal agreements of 1815 and 1820 have rested on shaky foundations. Gradually, a series of factors acting in combination has undermined the structure of these agreements ever more deeply. The entire course of Germany's domestic development over the last decade has had the most unfavorable effect possible on the institution of the Confederation in its form until now. In part, the fruitlessness of all efforts to promote common German interests through the Confederation devalued the Confederation in the general opinion; in part, the conditions under which the confederal agreements were concluded underwent momentous changes owing to modern political events. In Austria as in Prussia, new institutions of state were created, institutions that must exercise a powerful influence on the relationship of both monarchies to the Confederation, but which until now have been bereft of any mediation and any regular connection with the organism of the Confederation. All other German governments have repeatedly and solemnly recognized the need for a fundamental reform of the German Confederation. Thus, in Germany there has been an unstoppable and progressive process of turning away from the existing Confederation; but until now a new Confederation has not been concluded, and thus the most recent period in German history is nothing but a condition of complete fracture and general disintegration. One does not, in fact, think too unfavorably about this condition when one admits that German governments now are basically no longer standing together in a solid, mutual contractual relationship, but rather are just lingering on alongside each other, foreboding impending catastrophe. But the German revolution, quietly stoking, awaits its hour.

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