Dresden Conferences 1850/1851 - Dresdner Konferenzen 1850/1851

Dresden Ministerial Conference. Standing at the end of the table is the Austrian representative Schwarzenberg, sitting to his left (with glasses) the Prussian Prime Minister Manteuffel.

At the Dresden Conferences (also: Dresden Conference , Ministerial Conference ) the German states negotiated from December 3 and 23, 1850 to May 15, 1851. Essentially, it was about the conditions under which the German Confederation should be restored. With this federal reform, Prussia wanted closer cooperation in the German Confederation and equal rights with Austria . Austria tried to prevent this from happening. Instead, his non-German areas should join the German Confederation. Germany would be a Greater Austria and Austria's supremacy in the Confederation would have solidified.

Before that, the Frankfurt National Assembly in 1848/1849 and the Prussian union policy in 1849/1850 had tried to turn the German confederation into a federal state. Attempts to set up at least one German executive (a kind of government) in Dresden finally failed because of the opposition between Austria and Prussia. The German Confederation was reactivated in its old form as a mere confederation of states without federal reform. The era of reaction began in full: the German states, with the help of the German Confederation, reversed the liberal achievements of 1848/1849.

background

Conference schedule before the revolution

General Joseph von Radowitz , adviser to the Prussian King Friedrich Wilhelm IV.

Joseph von Radowitz was Plenipotentiary of Prussia at the Bundestag ; in September 1847 he won the king over to the idea of ​​national unification through an agreement of the German governments. On November 20, 1847, Radowitz submitted a memorandum on the measures to be taken by the German Confederation . [1]

Prussia was to provide the impetus for the creation of a central authority with the aim of: “Strengthening defensiveness; arrange and supplement legal protection; satisfy material needs. " The states that determined the 17 votes in the Select Council of the Bundestag should send ministers to a congress. This would determine the “highest norms” for the reform of the nation state. Alternatively, special associations would have to be founded, comparable to the Zollverein , in order to tackle individual tasks. These special associations should eventually merge under the umbrella of the federal government. [2]

Radowitz was immediately sent to Vienna (November – December 1847) to discuss the plan with Austria . However, even the question of intervention in Switzerland put the federal reform in the background. In February 1848 in Berlin, Radowitz made sure that the king committed his government to the plan (February 21). Radowitz then went back to Vienna, where he and Metternich signed a punctuation on March 10, 1848. She invited all German governments to a conference in Dresden on March 25th. This Austro-Prussian conference plan became the counter-model for an agreement from below through a parliament. The uprisings in Berlin and Vienna and the revolution of 1848 in general soon made this path impossible.[3]

Autumn crisis 1850

Otto von Manteuffel , the highly conservative Prussian Prime Minister

After the suppression of the revolution in spring 1849, the question still arose whether Germany should receive a new state order or whether the German Confederation, which had ceased its activities in the summer of 1848, should be continued . Many contemporaries wanted a more efficient and economically and legally unified Germany. [4]

Prussia wanted a German nation-state under Prussian leadership, more conservatively organized than the German Reich of the Frankfurt National Assembly . In addition to Prussia, this Erfurt Union also included many small states in northern and central Germany and the Grand Duchy of Baden when a Union parliament was elected in January 1850. Austria, on the other hand, declared the German Confederation to still exist and organized a rump parliament with Bavaria and other allies. At the end of 1850, the Rumpfbundestag planned federal interventions in Holstein and Kurhessento re-establish the rule of the oppressed sovereigns. Above all, Prussia saw its own position endangered in the case of Kurhessen, as the important military roads between the western and eastern parts of Prussia ran through this state. A war could be prevented at the last moment because Russia sided with Austria and Prussia had to give up its union plans.

In the Olomouc punctuation of November 29, 1850, Prussia and Austria agreed that the German Confederation should be reactivated. Prussia achieved a certain negotiating success: contrary to the Austrian view, the federal government had not yet been legally capable of acting again. A possible federal reform was to be discussed at a subsequent conference in Dresden.

Conferences

course

Dresden Conference on December 23, 1850 in the Brühl'schen Palais , print after a painting by Karl Christian Vogel von Vogelstein

The presidential power Austria had to regard it as a success if Prussia could be held in second place in Germany. Prussia, on the other hand, could only try to save face after Olomouc. It could in principle envisage joining the non-German Austrian territories to the federal government, after all, since the spring of 1848, its own eastern regions also belonged to the federal government. But in return Prussia wanted to be on an equal footing with Austria: Prussia and Austria should alternately hold the chairmanship of the Federation. [5] In addition, Manteuffel still hoped that Austria would allow a closer union of northern German states. Prussian negotiator in Dresden was Prime Minister Otto von Manteuffel , who often byAlbrecht von Alvensleben was represented, and Austrian Prime Minister Felix zu Schwarzenberg . [6]

The conference began on December 23, 1850 and included negotiations in five commissions that met from January 2 to April 28, 1851:

  1. Organization of the highest federal authority, extent of the federal territory
  2. Competencies of the highest federal authorities and their relationship with the national governments
  3. Trade, customs, transport
  4. Federal court
  5. Minutes [7]

Preliminary results

German unification plans 1848–1850. States in surface color and confederations of states in border

After a long dispute, Prussia was satisfied with an Austrian proposal that an executive should be set up with nine members: two Austrians, two Prussians, one Bavarian, one Hanoverian, one Saxon, one Wuerttembergian, and finally three members, each a group of the others States represented. This authority should have considerably more powers than the Bundestag's narrower council before . For this, all Prussian and Austrian territories should belong to the Federation. [8th]

At the plenary session of February 23, 1851, the larger states were in favor and most of the smaller states against the proposal. When Manteuffel demanded on February 27 that Prussia should lead the presidency on an equal footing with Austria, Austria wanted to set up the executive authority and decide on equality later. Since Prussia refused, in the end only the previous state (the status quo ante ) was restored in the German Confederation without federal reform. [9]Prussia asked the former states of the Erfurt Union to send envoys to the German Confederation again. The proposals of all commissions were forwarded to the Bundestag after May 15, 1851, the end of the conferences. The common basis of Austria and Prussia was too narrow for federal reform. [10]

Motives for failure

Felix zu Schwarzenberg , Austrian Prime Minister. According to his Greater Austria or Schwarzenberg Plan, all of Austria (including the non-German areas in Hungary and Northern Italy) should belong to the German Confederation.

Prussia, which had previously fought in Olomouc to bring about the conference with the prospect of federal reform, now demanded the earlier situation. It feared that Austria's supremacy in the Federation would become even greater if the non-German areas of Austria with their many inhabitants joined the Federation. [11] One of the reasons for Prussia's behavior was the conclusion of secret negotiations with Hanover in February: Hanover wanted to enter the Prussian-ruled German Customs Union ; this enabled Prussia to significantly improve its position in Germany. [12]Conversely, Austria suddenly became a supporter of the conference because it saw an opportunity for its Greater Austria plan and because later resolutions had to be made unanimously again in the Bundestag. [13]

Among the medium-sized states such as Bavaria and Saxony there was still hope that the conference would bring about a stronger federal executive. With their longer constitutional history, most of the southern German states also wanted more civil liberties. Nevertheless, different interests prevented the medium and small states from directing their power towards a common goal. [14] During the Dresden Conferences, some of them understood that an unification between Austria and Prussia could be dangerous for their own situation. Bavaria and Saxony, on the other hand, who wanted to participate in the immediate reactivation of the federal government in May 1850, complained about a simple return to the old federal lawwhich contradicted the solemn promises of the state governments to the German nation. [15]

Foreign reactions

The German Confederation within Europe, outlined in red. Prussia, and above all Austria, owned large areas outside the federal borders.

The great powers Great Britain , France and Russia rejected German unity at this point in time, as they had the order of the Congress of Viennawould have shaken. But they only became active with their protest after February 23, 1851, when Prussia had already let the Schwarzenberg Plan fail. It wasn't until the end of February that France sent a gruff note of rejection. Like France, Great Britain also asked in March whether the Schwarzenberg Plan was even permissible under the Vienna Treaties of 1815. The Bundestag protested violently against the meddling attempts on July 17th. However, Austria and Prussia themselves were to blame for the failure of a federal reform; the subsequent threats from abroad served to distract them from it. [16]

outlook

Immediately after the conference, on May 16, 1851, a secret alliance agreement was concluded between Austria and Prussia. Accordingly, they should stand by each other when a third state attacks them. With this, Prussia also protected the non-German areas of Austria until 1857. Prussia hoped for future concession from Austria on the German question. Because that did not happen, Prussia did not extend the contract. [17]

The restored Bundestag then (further) carried out the ongoing federal interventions in Kurhessen and Holstein. In the German Confederation, the strivings for freedom were fought with a new wave of measures. The German question did not move again until around 1860 with new (futile) reform proposals. The German War of 1866 then brought Prussia to victory over Austria and the dissolution of the German Confederation. Prussia then founded the North German Confederation with its allies .

The historian Jürgen Angelow on the Dresden Conference: [18]

“It was the first and only conference that brought all members of the German Confederation together in a German metropolis after the Vienna Final Act was passed (June 1815), and at the same time it was a significant social event that served to stage restored princely sovereignty. [...] The conference acted as a link, invoking pre-revolutionary continuity and at the same time processing the rich and contradicting legacy of the revolution. "

See also

Those

  • Ernst Rudolf Huber: Documents on German constitutional history. Volume 1: German constitutional documents 1803-1850 . 3rd edition, W. Kohlhammer, Stuttgart et al. 1978 (1961). No. 79 (76). Manifesto of the Austrian and Prussian governments of March 15, 1848 , pp. 331/332.

literature

  • Jonas Flöter, Günther Wartenberg (Ed.): The Dresden Conference 1850/51. Federalization of the German Confederation versus power interests of the individual states. Leipziger Universitätsverlag, Leipzig 2002

supporting documents

  1. ^ Ernst Rudolf Huber: German constitutional history since 1789. Volume II: The struggle for unity and freedom 1830 to 1850 . 3rd edition, Verlag W. Kohlhammer, Stuttgart [ua] 1988, p. 588.
  2. ^ Ernst Rudolf Huber: German constitutional history since 1789. Volume II: The struggle for unity and freedom 1830 to 1850 . 3rd edition, Verlag W. Kohlhammer, Stuttgart [ua] 1988, pp. 588/589.
  3. ^ Ernst Rudolf Huber: German constitutional history since 1789. Volume II: The struggle for unity and freedom 1830 to 1850 . 3rd edition, Verlag W. Kohlhammer, Stuttgart [ua] 1988, p. 589.
  4. Jürgen Angelow: The German Confederation . Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 2003, p. 95.
  5. Jürgen Angelow: The German Confederation . Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 2003, p. 96/97.
  6. ^ Ernst Rudolf Huber: German constitutional history since 1789. Volume II: The struggle for unity and freedom 1830 to 1850 . 3rd edition, Verlag W. Kohlhammer, Stuttgart [ua] 1988, p. 923.
  7. Jürgen Angelow: The German Confederation . Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt 2003, pp. 96–98.
  8. ^ Ernst Rudolf Huber: German constitutional history since 1789. Volume II: The struggle for unity and freedom 1830 to 1850 . 3rd edition, Verlag W. Kohlhammer, Stuttgart [ua] 1988, p. 923/924.
  9. ^ Ernst Rudolf Huber: German constitutional history since 1789. Volume II: The struggle for unity and freedom 1830 to 1850 . 3rd edition, Verlag W. Kohlhammer, Stuttgart [ua] 1988, p. 924.
  10. Jürgen Angelow: The German Confederation . Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 2003, pp. 96/98.
  11. ^ Ernst Rudolf Huber: German constitutional history since 1789. Volume II: The struggle for unity and freedom 1830 to 1850 . 3rd edition, Verlag W. Kohlhammer, Stuttgart [ua] 1988, p. 924.
  12. ^ Manfred Luchterhandt: Austria-Hungary and the Prussian Union Policy 1848-1851 . In: Günther Mai (ed.): The Erfurt Union and the Erfurt Union Parliament 1850. Böhlau, Köln et al. 2000, pp. 81–110, here p. 106.
  13. ^ Ernst Rudolf Huber: German constitutional history since 1789. Volume II: The struggle for unity and freedom 1830 to 1850 . 3rd edition, Verlag W. Kohlhammer, Stuttgart [ua] 1988, p. 924.
  14. Jürgen Angelow: The German Confederation . Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 2003, pp. 98/99.
  15. ^ Ernst Rudolf Huber: German constitutional history since 1789. Volume II: The struggle for unity and freedom 1830 to 1850 . 3rd edition, Verlag W. Kohlhammer, Stuttgart [ua] 1988, p. 924.
  16. Jürgen Angelow: The German Confederation . Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 2003, p. 100.
  17. ^ Ernst Rudolf Huber: German constitutional history since 1789. Volume II: The struggle for unity and freedom 1830 to 1850 . 3rd edition, Verlag W. Kohlhammer, Stuttgart [ua] 1988, p. 925.
  18. Jürgen Angelow: The German Confederation . Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 2003, p. 95.