Friday, October 4, 2013
For an American, Otto von Bismarck fits into an odd piece of German history. Some historians would write a thousand pages over the guy. Some journalists would try to spend an hour describing him.
For this blog....it is the simple and pure introduction only. Bismarck ends up being this pure politician of sorts....who is the friend and foe of the Kaiser, but also the architect of modern-day Germany. Everything you see today....is based off some simple taskings that Bismarck undertook, and achieved. Most positive....some negative.
Born in 1815....out of what is then Prussia....he will come out of a well educated family, and work his way into political life by his early 30's.
He is a foreign affairs guy....able to note relationships and occasions to drop the friendship.
By 1862, the Kaiser's position has been taken by Wilhelm I and he's come to some poor relations with the what is then the Bundestag. He needs their cooperation, and the man for the job is Bismarck. For the Kaiser.....it's pain. For every achieve that Bismarck gets for the Kaiser and his goals....there's something that has to be given in return. A yes-man....but always standing to ask for a second part to the deal.
Bismarck proves he has no problems in starting conflicts which are winnable. He forges relationships....which are dropped when necessary. Germany fights various small wars in the second half of the 1800s. They win all of them.
Prussians tend to view Bismarck at the same level as the Kaiser.....which is obvious today when you note statues around Germany of Bismarck.
Education standards, economics, and infrastructure improvement....are all goals accomplished during the Bismarck era.
Then, Kaiser Wilhelm I passes on. His son lasts roughly a hundred days, and Wilhelm II (the grandson) assumes the Kaiser position. It's safe to say that he hates political figures, the Bundestag structure at the time, the on and off relationships that Bismarck developed for other countries, and the general attitude of Bismarck himself.
You can count the weeks until Wilhelm II has dismissed the services of Bismarck. He goes off and has this odd feeling that he will be recalled....that he is indispensable and necessary for the operation of Germany. Wilhelm II progresses on....without the old guy.
From this brief period of history....you can note prior to this day....the Hapsburg Empire (Austria-Hungry).....was a on-and-off friend of Germany. They were mostly there to be used and Bismarck probably knew they were more of a dying empire than a thriving empire. Wilhelm II was of the opposite mind, and stood by the idea that the Hapsburgs were of the best of friends with Prussia.
You can count roughly twenty years passing after Bismarck leaves office, and the start of World War I with the murder of the Hapsburg prince.
A thousand pages could be written over what Bismarck would have done differently to resolve things, avoid world war, and move Germany into a better situation. Sadly, he's not there, and his wisdom is now forgotten.
So the best you end up with fifty years after his retirement.....is Germany's one and only battleship named after him. It's hard to say if he'd been pleased or not over this.
Health care development, common law, university structure, worker rights.....all were part of the agenda for Bismarck....a guy probably years ahead of his time. A thinker, a man of conviction, and someone capable of arguing to the ninth-degree if required. Remembered now....mostly as some history icon, a statue subject, and a page on Wikipedia.