Germany Under Bismarck

Herr Otto Von Bismarck was a man with a unique personality and an iron image. In Germany’s unification he was considered as a crucial factor. He had diplomatic skills. He reigned as a chancellor of Germany and Prussia. He was a master where foreign policies were concerned. Bismarck had the ability to make the rest of the leaders and other powers appear pathetic by outwitting them all.

Bismarck’s Background

Bismarck was born into the Junker class political principles and ideas which he inherited. Bismarck‘s mother Wilhelmina came from a cultured and middle class background and passed on her love for literature and music to Bismarck. Bismarck did not like his mother too much, however he revered his father. He accepted the beliefs of nobility in which he was born into, as his very own. He had a lot of interest in reading and gradually gained mastery in a large number of fields of knowledge. He gained a monarchial, conservative and autocratic outlook in life, due to his family background. He became a great patriot in Prussia.

Education And Employment

It was in the Prussian Civil Service that he sought employment with his Junker education. He studied at the Spartan boarding school Plenum Academy in Berlin where physical and religious exercises mainly dominated. After that he learnt foreign languages at the high school, Gymnasium. He studied law at the University of Gottingen in 1832 which was a strange choice where he learnt German liberalism. Instead of attending lectures, he womanized, fought and drank. In the time that was left he took up German philosophy and liberal literature. He kept on changing universities as he did not find Liberalism appealing enough. He finished education at the University of Berlin in the year 1835.

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His upbringing in Prussia conflicted with mob interference with authority in politics. So with opinions that were less liberal, he came back to Berlin and served as a sharpshooter in the military for one year compulsorily and entered into the Civil Service in Prussia. He began looking after his estates in 1839 after leaving the Civil Service, and married Johanna Von Puttkammer.

Restoring The German Bund

In 1847 he got his first break in politics when he was appointed to the United Diet in the place of a sick person. Here he rose as a Junker reactionary and defended monarchy. Bismarck was anti liberal and had a reactionary stance which helped him endear to the government of Prussia. For restoring the German Bund he got an appointment as representative of Prussia in 1851. For his reactionary stance in the United Diet, he was appointed, as part of a reward.

The anti Austrian view point was formed in the Bund during his time. At the Bund he emphasized attaining equal status for Austria and Prussia. In 1859, for his anti Austrian views he was side – lined by Regent William and was sent to Petersburg. For the Russian strength, he had great respect as an ambassador in the capital of Russia. Again in the year 1862 he became a ambassador in Paris. In other words he held a series of posts in the political front due to his attitudes and views.

Coming Back To Power

Bismarck came back to power due to crisis in the constitution. The Prussian King was William I who was also a soldier and felt convinced by the 1859 brief mobilization. A lot of inadequacies in the military in Prussia were revealed by him. William I, in collaboration with the General Staff Moltke and von Roon, the minister of war presented a number of proposals to the parliament in Prussia for increasing the army size and its reforms. Parliament was dominated by the Liberals who were determined on exercising at least one of the powers that is controlling the budget, which the 1849-1950 constitution had provided to the parliament.

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Huge expenditure was involved it expanding the army which in turn would lead to an increase in taxation to the extent of 1.5 million pounds yearly. This saw an opposition from the liberals as extra tax would have to be paid. Accordingly a militia of the small middle class, called Landwehr was consolidated into the Junker which the army from Prussia had dominated. Proposed reforms of the army were rejected after which ensued, a class struggle. William I was on the way to abdication but decided to take Bismarck’s help. Appointing him would mean that there would be no compromise at all. Bismarck had been waiting for such a chance since long and so acted fast and William tore the document on abdication. Bismarck gave all the encouragement to William to collect taxes that existed and creation of new units.

Unifying Germany

In other words Bismarck, instead of pursuing ideology pursued mainly realistic goals and that too with any of method available. He never wished to have enemies for a long duration and with the achievement of a foreign policy, worked towards pacifying the liberals especially toward unifying Germany. Bismarck avoided using liberal methods but by following the iron and blood policy achieved the unification in Germany. William played his card finally after the army reforms were rejected by the Liberals, by appointing Bismarck as Prussia’s Minister-President.

Bismarck later on went on to manipulate the Schleswig Holstein War to Prussia’s advantage. Germans had populated Holstein and Schleswig. The Danish King had ruled them for centuries. A constitution was newly formed by Danes in 1863 with the intention to incorporate both Holstein and Schleswig into Denmark. All over Germany eruption of nationalist sentiments took place which for Bismarck was the very first opportunity. To support Augustenburg the German Prince, troops were sent to Holstein by the Confederation Diet. Bismarck sent Hanoverian and Saxon troops as he did not wish to be seen as an aggressor.

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Even if it meant war with Denmark, Bismarck had the intentions of annexing both the duchies, which was clear from the very outset. He ensured that Denmark would get no help. Bismarck used his diplomatic skills and ensured that Denmark would get defeated and thus laid the foundations of the Austrian War, a war which he had predicted. Finally after the Danish war in 1864-1985, the Prussian Austrian war in 1866 and later the Franco Prussian war Bismarck finally unified Germany. His main aim was to unify states in Germany into a strong German Empire but at the same time wanted Prussia at its core.