Otto Von Bismarck

Otto Von Bismarck biography
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Otto Von Bismarck biography

Otto von Bismarck (April 1, 1815 – July 30, 1898) politician and former Chancellor of Germany. He was the creator of the well-known German unit. He was born in Schoenhausen, Magdeburg, Prussia. Bismarck grew up in a noble Prussian family, was educated with great discipline because his father, Karl Wilhelm Ferdinand von Bismarck, was a Junker landowner and had been an officer of the Prussian Army.

On the other hand, his mother, Luise Wilhelmine Mencken, was the daughter of a senior government official of Berlínera military. But really in his youth, he had a totally contrary behavior. He was a young man who did not follow the rules, very curious, and, in many aspects, he developed as a self-taught person and his life was full of religious and political doubts.

When he was a child he was living the definitive defeat of Napoleon in Waterloo. Growing up he was sent by his mother to Berlin to study, first at the Plamannsche Lehranstalt, then at the Friedrich Wilhelm Gymnasium and finally at the Grauen Kloster. Bismarck was not a prominent student. From his youth, he began to develop the idea that the republic was the most appropriate form of government to be rational. The foregoing warns that Bismarck questioned the educational institutions of the time; influenced by the bourgeois spirit and humanism that by the monarchist-conservative tradition.

In 1832, he entered the University of Gottingen to study law. One of the teachers who most influenced his thinking was the historian and professor of public law Arnold Heeren, Bismarck admired his ideas on the European political map. Later he was a member of the Corps Hannovera student fraternity, but really his derailed adolescent adventures did not allow him to make the most of his academic life. Despite this, Bismarck finished his studies.

Subsequently, he worked in the courts of Berlin and Aachen. As a result, he reaffirmed his aversion to bureaucracy and to the formalism of a rigidly regulated service. He spontaneously left his work in Aachen for a trip with a beautiful English woman. Months later he returned to continue his work in Potsdam. Although many superiors admired his intelligence, they felt that indiscipline was a great factor against him. Then, he got married and his life took a turn. He started the path in conservative policy dye. Indeed, he started as a deputy of the Prussian Parliament since 1847, he was reluctant to liberal ideas that were then advancing throughout Europe.

From 1848 his positions were described as reactionary, making him forever a paradigm of Prussian authoritarianism and militarism. He had the opportunity to learn about international affairs firsthand because he held diplomatic posts in Frankfurt, St. Petersburg and Paris. By that time the clarity of his nationalist political ideology, between constitutionalism and Germanic traditions, was already experienced. Bismarck claimed that the unification project he was harboring for Germany should not be based on the appeal to the masses, but on the intelligent use of diplomacy and military force. Such ideas generated that many saw it as a realistic politician separated from all idealism, sensitivity or moral prejudices.

In 1862 King William I appointed him chancellor. From that moment Bismarck started his plan to impose the hegemony of Prussia on the whole of Germany, as a prelude to a possible national unification. First, he watched over the reorganization and reinforcement of the Prussian army. When the previous thing had been fulfilled they carried out several warlike confrontations, in which they were winning: War of the Duchies (1864), where they allied with Austria to snatch the territories of German speech (Schleswig and Holstein) to Denmark; the Austro-Prussian War (1866), and the Franco-Prussian War (1870), diplomatic conflict with the France of Napoleon III concerning the succession to the vacant Throne of Spain, the intention was to annul France from European politics.

In each of those wars, Prussia increased its power and extended its territory. In 1867, Prussia had the power to unite most of the independent states that subsisted in Germany, forming the Confederation of North Germany. Years later, annexed the French regions of Alsace and Lorraine, and also imposed the creation of a single German Empire under the crown of William I, which only excluded Austria. The studied internal policy of Bismarck laid his foundation in a regime of authoritarian power, despite the constitutional appearance given by the establishment of the federal Constitution of 1871 and universal suffrage to neutralize the middle classes.

Bismarck made the determination to work together with the liberals, with the intention of counteracting the influence of the Catholic Church and in favoring the interests of large landowners through an economic policy of free trade; but in 1879 he broke with the liberals and joined the Catholic party, promoting protectionist positions that favored the way for the industrial revolution. In that second epoch, he concentrated his efforts in restraining the German workers’ movement, with the Antisocialist Laws what he did was to make them illegal, while trying to attract the workers with the most advanced social legislation of the moment.

He was a very strategic and astute chancellor. In foreign policy, he managed to consolidate the newly conquered German unity: on the one hand, he forged a network of diplomatic alliances with Austria, Russia and Italy against France and in anticipation of his possible rematch. On the other hand, it kept Germany apart from the imperialist turbulence that was dragging the rest of the European powers at the time. It was precisely because of the above that he was confronted with the new emperor, Wilhelm II, a supporter of prolonging the rise of Germany with the acquisition of an overseas empire.

The new emperor opposed the careful foreign policy of Bismarck because he saw more rapid expansion. The conflicts between Guillermo II and his chancellor were remarkable. Bismarck showed little respect for his policies. In 1890 they split up when William II put antisocialist laws into practice. Finally, this situation only resisted a few more years until the emperor decided to replace him as Chancellor of Germany and Minister-President of Prussia by Leo von Caprivi.

Bismarck decided to move to Varzim. On November 27, 1894, his wife died and then moved to Friedrichsruh where he compiled his memoirs: Gedanken und Erinnerungen. He died on July 30, 1898.

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