Evaluation of Otto Von Bismarck

Otto Von Bismarck (1815-1898) was a Conservative Statesman from Prussia. He was appointed as the Prime Minister of Prussia by William II. He remained the first chancellor of German federation from 1871 to 1890.

After joining the office, his primary objective was Unification of Germany. For this he chose the path of diplomacy throughout the process.

He believed in Real Politik, an ideology of Machiavelli, i.e. the policy to be applied rather than have a handbook. In his famous Blood Iron Speech he said:

"Germany doesn't look to Prussia's Liberalism but to her power... not by speeches and majorities will the Great queestions of the day be decided but by Iron and Blood."

Role in Unification of Germany


He won the support of Liberals and Socialists with following policies:

  • He banned Social Democratic Party but started Social Welfare Program which included health insurance, accident insurance and old age pensions.

For liberals he diminished church rights. Also made anti church and anti Catholic policies. The struggle between the church and Bismarck was called Kulturkamph.

Bismarck was also in favour of Industrialization which added points in favour of Liberals.

War strategies

i) Prussia + Austria againdst Denmark (1864)

(Diplomacy to gain Austrian support)

Denmark lost

Prussia and Austria took over Schelweig and Holstein respectively.

ii) Austria-Prussian War (1866)

(Prussia was supported by Italy)

prussia won in 7 weeks

Austria’s allies were annexed and Prussia became leader of German unification

iii) Franco Prussian War (1871)

(Planned to arouse Nationalism by France attack on Germany)

Aims of policy:

Wanted to isolate France thereby remaining in good terms with Austria and Russia

  1. Driekaiserbund (League of Three Emperors) was Bismarck’s policy of isolating France
  2. He hosted Congress of Berlin 1878. The result left Russia angry and signed out of Driekaiserbund.
  3. To safeside Germany he made Reinsurance Treaty 1887, with Russia.
  4. Dual Alliance 1879, with Austria became “the way to cornerstone of the foreign policy” says Caer.
  5. Bismarck wanted to remain neutral and did not want to disturb Balance of Power. However pressure built during Scramble of Africa.

Bismarck enjoyed formidable reputation. His handling of Vongress of Berlin helped prevent war in Europe. Biggest criticism for him is his disregard for people of small nations. He ignored the wish of people of Ottoman Empire during Berlin Conference.

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