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Otto von Bismarck

Otto von Bismarck exemplified realpolitik as he cajoled, bribed, and lied his way to German unification. He built a powerful industrial, military state; yet he knew his goals and rejected a conquest of the European continent in favor of a strong empire within secure borders.

On April 1, 1815, Bismarck was born to Ferdinand von Bismarck and Wilhelmina Mencken at the Schönhaausen family manor in Brandenburg state. His father was a Brandenburg squire, and his mother came from a wealthy family. In 1816, Otto's parents moved to Kniephof, a family estate in Prussian Pomerania. At age seven, he went to Plamann's Institute, a preparatory school. In 1832, he entered the University of Gottingen and in 1834 transferred to the University of Berlin. He did not excel and contemplated a military career, but his mother influenced him to join the civil service.

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Life and Career

  • Otto von Bismarck
  • Bismarck and the Making of Modern Germany
    BISMARCK AND THE MAKING OF MODERN GERMANY The Bismarck Myth: Weimar Germany and the Legacy of the Iron Chancellor. Robert Gerwarth. Oxford University Press. £45.00. xii + 216 pages. ISBN 0-19928184-X. more
  • The Failure of Bismarck's Kulturkampf: Catholicism and State Power in Imperial Germany, 1871-1887
    The Failure of Bismarck's Kulturkampf Catholicism and State Power in Imperial Germany, 1871-1887. By Ronald J. Ross. (Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press. 1998. Pp. xvi, 219.$66.95.) more
  • How France Missed a Chance to Sink Bismarck
    He was the man who famously unified Germany and ended France's domination of Europe. But new documents found in a dusty town hall reveal that the German chancellor Otto von Bismarck nearly drowned while swimming at the French seaside... more
  • A man with two irons in the fire GREAT LEADERS: OTTO VON BISMARCK: Philip Coggan looks at the skills of the Prussian Juncker with a flexible turn of mind
    Otto von Bismarck is best known to popular history through the phrase Blut und Eisen (blood and iron) which he once used to describe his policies. more
  • Bismarck-Schonhausen, Otto von
    "Red reactionary, smells of blood, to be used only when the bayonet reigns," King Frederick William IV had noted of Otto von Bismarck in 1848. Yet Bismarck was first and foremost a Prussian, convinced that the struggle with Austria for... more

Opinion and Legacy

  • Bismarck and the Cartoonists
    In the political cartoons of his own day Bismarck appeared in both guises. On the one hand, he was admired and honoured as the man whose unique resolution and political wisdom had re-established national unity and grandeur; but on the other... more
  • Bismarck Statue Plan for Berlin Polarises Nation
    GERMANY'S uneasy relationship with its Iron Chancellor, Otto von Bismarck, has been exposed by a fierce debate over whether to place a statue of the country's unifier in front of the parliament in Berlin. more
  • The Historian update: Bismarck
    Readers of this journal will need no introduction to Otto von Bismarck. There are almost as many English-language biographies of him as those written in German. The four short studies by Lynn Abrams, Bismarck and the German Empire,... more
  • Inventing the Iron Chancellor
    IN EARLY JULY 1944, BARELY three weeks before the attempted assassination of Adolf Hitler by Claus von Stauffenberg, one of the leading members of the German resistance movement, Ulrich von Hassel, travelled through the war-torn Third... more


  • Young Chancellor
  • Naughty Prince
  • Winner And Loser
  • After the Party: Birthday of the Prince of... Journal', 14th April 1895 (litho)