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From the day the “Iron Chancellor” was appointed into his position, the fate of Germany, and of Europe would forever be changed.
Otto von Bismarck was able to take the scattered remnants of a grand empire and mold it back into a great nation. According to the American Heritage Dictionary, a hero is defined as: A man noted for his special achievements in a particular field.By careful analysis of Bismarck’s role as prime minister in Prussia, one will easily see the extent to which he was a hero. Prior to the 19th century, a unified Germany seemed nothing more then an idealistic dream.
This dream was that the thirty-nine states of a once great empire could again be joined together and become a major power in central Europe.Many believed that a unified Germany was key to the aspect of peace between the warring superpowers of Europe.The unification came a step closer in 1815 with the formation of the German Confederation.However, the German states still felt little kinship with each of the thirty-nine states.
What they needed was a father figure to lead them, to bring them together.
This figure would be Prussia, and in 1834 the confederation established the Zollverein under Prussian leadership. As the revolutions of 1848 spread across Europe, it would be prudent to say that the revolution would make it to the German states.As nationalism and the economy grew, and the middle class wanting more say in the government, a unified Germany was inevitable to say the least. Prussia realized the potential of a unified Germany lead by their own government.Austria on the other hand, was not ready to give up their influences on the German states.With the Revolution over, Europe and Germany went back to the way they were before.It seemed as if nothing would ever change with the way the German Confederation would be run.
Bismarck was born in 1815, at Schönhausen, northwest of Berlin, the son of a landowning nobleman (Junker) and an upper-middle-class commoner. In 1862, the Prussian King Wilhelm I appointed him as Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Prussia. (Hollyday, 1970:11) To justify the increase of the army, Bismarck warned that “the great questions of the day [meaning German unification] will not be settled by speeches and majority decisions … but by blood and iron.”(Williamson, 1998: 94) Thus, Historians called Bismarck the Chancellor of Blood and Iron. Through the Danish- Prussian War of 1864, the Austro-Prussian War of 1866 and the Franco- Prussian War of 1870, he unified Germany. He was thefirst chancellor (1871-90) of the German Empire.
However, the successor of Wilhelm I, Wilhelm II, dismissed Bismarck in 1890. This speech was announced to the German Reichstag in 1888, its main point was to claim the necessity of strong German armament because of its geographical position and because it faced a potential anti German coalition. Germany is located in the heart of Europe and has at least three fronts open to an attack. France and Russia could make an alliance against Germany because of their abhorrence to Germany and warlike nature. At the same time, Bismarck expressed that Germany desired peace and was not interested in any kind of an aggressive war; they were willing to work for peace with their neighbors, especially with Russia.
The unspoken assumption of this document was to raise the nationalism in Germany and gain support from the nationalists and conservatives in the Reichstag. Thus, Bismarck emphasized the threats from Russia and France, and the glory of German unification. If Germany did not do anything to protect its achievements, it would lose everything again. A German army, stronger than any other nation of equal numbers in the world, was the best way to protect this great achievement.
Otto Von Bismarck was one of the most successful and influential statesmen of the nineteenth century.Bismarck had many political and diplomatic talents, which enabled him to strive towards the goal of unifying Germany under Prussian rule.During the rough times of 1848, Bismarck showed signs of being a champion of conservatism. Bismarck eventually rose to become the prime minister, a position that he held for thirty years.While prime minister, Bismarck’s main objective was to unify Germany under the rule of the Prussians.Bismarck believed that the best way for this to happen was through diplomacy and war.He thought that through “Blood and Iron” was the best way to achieve the unification needed under the Prussians.In 1871 Bismarck became thefirst chancellor of Germany. (Kishlansky, 216) Being prime minister and then chancellor of Germany meant having to deal with a lot of people.Therefore Bismarck had a lot of public officials under his rule to help him.”For all officials, we require examinations and a practical knowledge- difficult examinations.” (Kishlansky, 217)Bismarck had no tolerance for officials to teach about things that they did not know.He simply said that if you do not have experience in a certain field, then you should not pretend to know what you’re talking about.That is why these difficult examinations were given, so that the officials would become familiar with things.”And his advice, after this one year of practical training, would be of greater value to me than if he had been active.” (Kishlansky, 217)Bismarck would take into greater consideration advice from someone who had spent a year in training learning everything, rather than from someone who had no experience in the matter. Someone could not teach others if he himself had not experience it for himself. With experience comes true knowledge of a subject.
How successful was Bismarck’s domestic policy in unifying the new nation state between 1871 and 1890? By 1871 the process of unification of Germany had been completed when the German empire was declared in the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles.However many historians would argue that Germany was unified in name only and that between 1871 and 1890 Bismarck now faced the task of trying to unify Germany in real terms.Their has been considerable historical debate regarding the success of Bismarck’s Domestic Policy in unifying the new nation state between 1871 and 1890.He did make some progress towards real unification such as the introduction of a single currency, however their were 5 main area’s of division which continued to divide the main nation state – the political system, the Kulterkampf, the problems with the socialists, the economic policy and the treatments of the non Germans.In each are Bismarck encountered difficulties and they hindered his success in unifying the new Nation State. Bismarck did have some success in unifying the Nation State between 1871 and 1890.his Government did see some progress towards real unification of the states.First of all there was the creation of a unified railway system.By doing this their was not a physical link between all the states of Germany to help them come closer together.Also a unified postal and telegraph system was introduced, by unifying the postal service, people from different states could communicate more effectively with others and would take less time to be delivered.This allowed the German economy to grow.Another factor which helped the development of the country was the creation of a national army, this strengthened Germany as a whole and also helped create the sense of national feeling within the German people.