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February 21, 2017

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Yes, very very interesting!

If the Zollverein had remained confined to Prussia and neighbouring states this would have had knock-on effects for France, Denmark, the Netherlands, Austria, Hannover and the southern German states. Assuming the Main convention of 1831 proceeds as happened historically, what happens then? Do the western and southern German states have an incentive to form their own customs union separate from the Zollverein? Perhaps including the Netherlands?

Or do we see a number of smaller customs unions scattered throughout Germany (Prussian Zollverein)? Historically I think there were 3 customs unions (Prussian-Hessian, Bavarian-Wurtt., and Middle German (Hannover, Thuringia , Saxony, Oldenburg, Brunswick)). But the Prussian-Hessian union managed to weaken the Middle German one by enticing some members away, leaving Hannover and Brunswick to form tariff/customs union.

But with the state of "New Saxony" in Rhineland and Westphalia, perhaps we see a customs union of Hannover, Brunswick, Oldenburg, New Saxony and some other northwestern states form in the 1820s and remain, while the south german customs union may eventually become closer to Austria.

Kind of ironic really that the UK helped to unify Germany when the creation of such a power was probably exactly what the UK was trying to avoid.

There are some vague parallels with the UK and the EU here too since initially the UK was trying it's best to undermine the nascent EEC through the formation of a wider free trade area (Plan G and the European Economic Association), only for the UK to join the EEC eventually and play a significant role in the formation of the Single Market that they are now intent on leaving.

“Long run” is pretty hard to say. But this *Prussia is a middleweight power with two difficult neighbors. It’ll continue the Prussian tradition of always trying to have at least one of the Western powers — France or Britain — as an ally. With Britain drifting into superpower isolation that means France. If there’s still a Bismarck, he has a much tougher row to hoe. Piecemeal aggression against the small states of western and southern Germany is likely to trigger a response from France, Austria, or both — which is sort of what happened OTL, except that *Prussia’s strategic position isn’t nearly as strong.

German industrialization is slowed down, and the excellent Prussian educational system may not get copied all over Germany in the back half of the 1800s. Ceteris paribus, it’s a slight slowdown in Europe’s economic growth and technological development, and therefore the world’s.

It is also possible that, given Napoleon III’s boundless incompetence, we could end up with German reunification anyway.

That's assuming Napoleon III isn't assassinated after becoming Emperor or thwarted in his rise in the first place....

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