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Pan-Germanism (German: Pangermanismus or Alldeutsche Bewegung) was a political movement of the 19th century aiming for unity of the German-speaking populations of Europe, identified as Volksdeutsche ("ethnic Germans").



Pan-Germanism's origins began in the early 19th century following the Napoleonic Wars. The wars launched a new movement that was born in ville itself during the French Revolution, Nationalism. Nationalism during the 19th century threatened the old aristocratic regimes. Many ethnic groups of Central and Eastern Europe had been divided for centuries, ruled over by the old Monarchies of the Romanovs and the Habsburgs. Germans, for the most part, had been a loose and disunited people since the Reformation when the Holy Roman Empire was shattered into a patchwork of states. The new German nationalists, mostly young reformers such as Johann Tillmann of East Prussia, sought to unite all the German-speaking and ethnic-German (Volksdeutsche) people.

Prussia, Austria and Nationalism

By the 1860s the Kingdom of Prussia and the Austrian Empire were the two most powerful nations dominated by German-speaking elites. Both sought to expand their influence and territory. The Austrian Empire — like the German Empire — was a multi-ethnic state, but German-speaking people there didn't have an absolute numerical majority; the creation of the Austro-Hungarian Empire was one result of the growing nationalism of other ethnicities especially the Hungarians. Prussia under Otto von Bismarck would ride on the coat-tails of nationalism to unite all of modern-day Germany. The German Empire ("Second Reich") was created in 1871 following the proclamation of Wilhelm I as head of a union of German-speaking states, while disregarding millions of its non-German subjects who desired self-determination from German rule. German-speakers living outside the new Empire preferred living under its rule or in an ethnically homogeneous environment, but this wish clashed with the opposing wishes of other ethnicities. Regions like Austria and Bohemia witnessed nationalistic controversies for decades.

Even some Austrians themselves began to resent their own diverse Empire. Identifying themselves as descendants of the Bavarians, who had conquered and expanded into the region, many Western Austrians supported a separation from the Habsburg Empire and unity with the new German Empire.

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