About the Author - Otto von Bismarck

Otto, Prince of Bismarck, Count of Bismarck-Schönhausen, Duke of Lauenburg (German: Otto, Fürst von Bismarck, Graf von Bismarck-Schönhausen, Herzog zu Lauenburg, pronounced [ˈɔtoː fɔn ˈbɪsmaʁk] ; 1 April 1815 – 30 July 1898; born Otto Eduard Leopold von Bismarck) was a Prussian statesman and diplomat who oversaw the unification of Germany. Bismarck's Realpolitik and firm governance resulted in him being popularly known as the Iron Chancellor (German: Eiserne Kanzler). From Junker landowner orig...

Otto, Prince of Bismarck, Count of Bismarck-Schönhausen, Duke of Lauenburg (German: Otto, Fürst von Bismarck, Graf von Bismarck-Schönhausen, Herzog zu Lauenburg, pronounced [ˈɔtoː fɔn ˈbɪsmaʁk] ; 1 April 1815 – 30 July 1898; born Otto Eduard Leopold von Bismarck) was a Prussian statesman and diplomat who oversaw the unification of Germany. Bismarck's Realpolitik and firm governance resulted in him being popularly known as the Iron Chancellor (German: Eiserne Kanzler). From Junker landowner origins, Bismarck rose rapidly in Prussian politics under King Wilhelm I of Prussia. He served as the Prussian ambassador to Russia and France and in both houses of the Prussian parliament. From 1862 to 1890, he was the minister president and foreign minister of Prussia. Under Bismarck's leadership, Prussia provoked three short, decisive wars against Denmark, Austria, and France. After Austria's defeat in 1866, he replaced the German Confederation with the North German Confederation, which aligned the smaller North German states with Prussia while excluding Austria. In 1870, Bismarck secured France's defeat with support from the independent South German states before overseeing the creation of a unified German Empire under Prussian rule. From 1871 onwards, Bismarck used balance of power diplomacy to maintain Germany's position in a peaceful Europe. While averse to maritime colonialism, Bismarck ultimately acquiesced to German elite and popular opinion by building an overseas empire. As the architect of Germany's domestic policies, Bismarck created the first modern welfare state, with the goal of undermining his socialist opponents. In the 1870s, he allied himself with the anti-tariff, anti-Catholic Liberals and fought the Catholic Church in the Kulturkampf ("culture struggle"). This failed, as the Catholics responded by forming the powerful German Centre Party and using universal male suffrage to gain a bloc of seats. Bismarck responded by ending the Kulturkampf, breaking with the Liberals, enacting the Prussian deportations and forming an alliance with the Centre Party to fight the socialists. Bismarck was loyal to German Emperor Wilhelm I, who argued with Bismarck but supported him against the advice of Wilhelm's wife and son. While the Imperial Reichstag was elected by universal male suffrage, it did not control government policy. A staunch monarchist, Bismarck inherently distrusted democracy and ruled through a strong, well-trained bureaucracy with power in the hands of the traditional Junker elite. Wilhelm II dismissed Bismarck from office in 1890, and he retired to write his memoirs. Bismarck is best remembered for his role in German unification. He became a hero to German nationalists, who built monuments honouring him. While praised as a visionary who kept the peace in Europe through adroit diplomacy, he is criticized for persecution of Poles and Catholics and the centralization of executive power, which some describe as Caesarist. He is criticized by opponents of German nationalism, as nationalism became engrained in German culture, galvanizing the country to aggressively pursue nationalistic policies in both World Wars.

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