Essay Example on Otto von Bismarck's political maneuvers from 1862 to 1871








Otto von Bismarck's political maneuvers from 1862 to 1871 the latter year in which he achieved his ultimate goal of German unification can best be described as a combination of meticulous planning as well as being able to make the best out of opportunities that came his way However whether Bismarck relied on long term strategization as much as he proclaimed to has been contested by historians who rather believe that his biggest moves towards unification were off the cuff Ultimately I disagree with those historians in my opinion Bismarck was a planner to an average extent best exemplified by his early days of power where he waged a figurative war against the liberal factions of Germany and his involvement of Austria in the Schleswig Holstein Crisis but as some historians believe Bismarck was an opportunist to a similar extent best seen by his leak of the Ems telegram One of the sharpest instances of Bismarck being a planner was his efforts towards making the German government a more imposing presence Unlike other examples of his planning prowess this instance manifested itself in several ways Bismarck detested western ideologies liberalism democracy socialism that put more power in the hands of the people choosing to keep social affinities to the East and stress duty service order and the fear of God through 1 Joel Colton and A A Palmer A History of the Modern World New York McGraw Hill 1995 552 Mariott 2 his job1

He outfaced the liberals in the Prussian parliament this meant that proposed taxes were collected respect for officials was maintained and most importantly the army was fortified and updated for modern combat2 He also promoted the army in the eyes of the people claiming that the great questions of the day are not decided by speeches and majority votes but by blood and iron 3 All of this points to Bismarck fulfilling his vision for a towering authoritative government by keeping more liberal ideologies at bay and making sure that the nation's army was top tier as it was the key for his eventually realized dream for German unification4 The Schleswig Holstein crisis was the result of Austria and Prussia's victory over Denmark during the Second Schleswig war Bismarck wanted both Schleswig and Holstein for himself but realized that it was better to arrange Austria to provisionally occupy Holstein for the time being5 However dispute soon arose leading Bismarck to work to discredit and isolate Austria this meant taking advantage of Britain's policy of nonintervention in the affairs of the 

Continent manipulating Russia s mood of hostility to Austria winning over Italy and Napoleon III and overriding his anti Western ideals to use democracy to undermine Austria6 This eventually provoked Austria and Prussia to go to war but the latter easily overtook the former thanks to the aforementioned upgraded army armed with the new needle gun and an imaginative strategy that made use of the new railroads 7 Prussia newly victorious was able 2 3 5 7 ibid 4It is worth noting that Bismarck's idea of forming a new German union developed only gradually in his mind and then as an adjunct to the strengthening of Prussia 12 Mariott 3 to annex Schleswig Holstein the whole kingdom of Hanover and a bevy of other territories8 By meticulously planning to overtake Schleswig and Holstein to eventually get to Austria Bismarck was able to fortify Prussia and set his sights on the bigger prizes of German unification and his home country being Europe's dominant power

The Ems telegram is arguably the clearest example of Bismarck s masterful ability to provoke France into war this time through a dash of improvisation The Ems telegram was a heavily modified conversation between a French ambassador Victor Benedetti and King Wilhelm I where the former instructed the latter to never recommend a Hohenzollern to become a candidate for the Spanish throne 9 To give some context Bismarck had attempted to leverage Spain to put a Prussian king in power to further alienate France from the rest of Europe Unfortunately this plan backfired to Bismarck s disappointment when France heard about the scheme but the now disenfranchised country s attempt to put a pin in future German intervention with the Spanish throne gave Bismarck a much needed opportunity to further instigate a potential war With the Ems telegram in hand he condensed the conversation for publication making the tone of the exchange much more curt than it actually was10 This ruse was a brilliant example of Bismarck s opportunism he may have spent years and countless hours of effort turning the tide of Europe against France but it was a simple edit of a conversation that he somehow got a hold of that pushed Napoleon III to irresponsibly declare war on Prussia11 8 12 ibid

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