Otto Von Bismarck Essay, Research Paper
Otto von Bismarck:
The Founding Father of Germany
?The nation did not recognize her savior, would, in fact, willingly have crucified him or burned him alive. He had saved the country as he once saved a groom from drowning, by gripping it by the throat. When he had won and the work was practically over, then they cheered and lauded him to the skies. But what was the value of such belated converts? From the vast majority of the nation there never came a spark of understanding for the statesman who gave them what they wanted but had been incapable of obtaining themselves.
Otto von Bismarck is considered the founding father of Germany; he was the architect of German unification and served as its chancellor for 19 years. Upon becoming the prime minister of Prussia, which was considered one of the weakest European powers, he was able lead Prussia to victory in three wars, and unifies one of the greatest powers in Europe in the late 1800?s. Bismarck being an ultraconservative, he opposed parliamentary form of government and opposed any evolution of government into a political democracy. He believed that Germany needed a strong industrial base and wished to destroy social democracy. He wished to complete his goals by drawing support to the monarchy and army, and away from the liberals.
At the time before the reign of Bismarck in Europe, Prussia had been considering a weak power in the European nations. Prussia and Germany had been a collection of un-unified states with poor economy, a lack of strong military, and poor forms of government. These weak nations needed unification to achieve any recognition as a European power. Otto von Bismarck was the man to make that happen.
Bismarck was educated through high school, he than later attend college in Berlin. As he student he had joined a society that had interests in the unification of Germany. He displayed strong interests in being a player in government, and not just a spectator. While having a driving ambition, he did not seek power for his own advantage. ?From 1851 to 1859, Bismarck served as the Prussian minister to the Frankfurt Diet of the German Confederation?(Kagan, Ozment, and Turner 809). He then went on to later become the Prussian ambassador to Russia and France. Soon after he had become the Prime Minister of Prussia.
Bismarck was in strong opposition to the parliamentary form of government. He believed that ?[t] he monarchical government was always to retain a basis of power of its own and for this reason never surrender its exclusive control of the army and foreign affairs?(Holborn 15). He was a strong believer in the monarchy, and sought to make the monarch and the army the most popular institutions in the country. Because of Bismarck?s strong conservative background (and his disbelief in the Parliament) he wanted to find away to attract all popular support away from the liberals. The main group that Bismarck focused on wooing away from the ideas of political radicalism was the working class.
The Prussian constitution of 1849 had created a bicameral (two-house) Parliament while maintaining the king as the independent head of government. It did not provide any institutional means for resolving disputes between Parliament and the king. Parliament was dominated by liberals and influenced by German nationalism. What was important to Parliament was the control of the budget, and they often refused to grant long-term founding. Bismarck, without approval of the Parliament, collected taxes needed for military reform (which was one of his aspirations). Bismarck was able to get away with this because of the standoff between the King and Parliament.
To gain his main goal of German unification Bismarck sought to acquire the two northern territories of Schleswig and Holestein. To gain these two Dutch territories Bismarck sought help from Austria. Aligned with Austria Bismarck gained control of Schleswig-Holestein. Bismarck than later on pushed for Prussia to go to war with Austria, and in 1866 the Austro-Prussian war had taken place. The result was Prussia?s defeat of Austria. This defeat of Austria had established Prussia as the ?only major power among the German states? (Kagan, Ozment, Turner 810). The unification of Northern Germany had been completed, and Bismarck had been named chancellor of Germany. Bismarck had succeeded in making the monarchy and the army the most popular institutions, thus making Germany a military monarchy and creating the North German Confederation.
To complete the unification of Germany Bismarck now had to bring in the southern states. To gain the southern territories Germany had to go to war with France. During the war with France the southern states of Germany had joined the North German Confederation. The Germans had won the war, and also captured Napoleon III. The unification of one of the strongest empires in Europe had been completed.
The new German state created was founded on ultra conservative ideas. Militarily and Economically Germany had become the strongest state on the Continent. This was a strong blow to liberalism, because this dominant empire had been founded and backed by conservative ideals. Thus resulting in the weakening of both the French and Austria Empires
Bismarck had achieved his goal of German unification. He had sought out to thwart ideas of democracy and liberalism, and he succeeded. Ideas of conservatism and monarchy had ruled over the German empire for 20 years. In 1890 Bismarck resigned his duties, leaving as one of the last representatives of cabinet diplomacy.