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Bismarck - Judging 19th-Century Europe by 21-Century Standards

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in response to reader comment: Bismarck missed an opportunity

Submitted by Ludvikus (United States), Jun 18, 2014 at 09:04

What was Germany before Napoleon? It was the "Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation" [emphasis added]. Emperor of the French, Napoleon, didn't merely dissolve it in 1806, he also consolidate its constituent 200 states into 30 states - through Conquest.

Incidentally, I blame the Anglo-American scholarly community for dropping the last two words from this title (by abbreviation?).

Thereafter, there was the Reaction in response to the failed 1848 Revolutions.

And thereafter, Junker Bismarck, not yet Prince, competed against Prince Metternick's Austro-Hungarian Empire, on behalf of his non-German Kingdom, Prussia, for leadership of Germany.

The Machiavellian tactics which Bismarck used to restore Germany to it's Imperial status cannot be condemned in the context of the "Tsar" of the Russian Empire, and British Queen Victoria's subsequent assumption of her title as "Empress of India." It's clear that in Europe, everyone remembered "Caesar" - the conqueror, incidentally - and aspired to assume his role, as his successor, a dictatorial, all-powerful, head, who imposed Peace on Europe through military might.

Considering Prussia, a small state, its strength was based on military might - not unlike ancient Rome when Caesar created the model for Augustus to assume.

Prince, and Chancellor, Bismarck was forced to resign in 1890, at the age of 75, by the "Kaiser" (=Caesar in German), a title he created, the Kaiser being Emperor Wilhelm II.

Wikipedia is a good beginning for an appreciation of Bismark's genius in 19th century Statecraft: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Otto_von_Bismarck

The United States only became a model for peaceful Democratic methods after it entered WWI with its vast military-industrial skills, and President Woodrow Wilson presented his 14 Points which, incidentally, Congress didn't accept, and the USA didn't enter its League of Nations.

And, of course, the democratic Weimar Republic failed especially when Austrian Hitler became its Chancellor and resorted to Renaissance Machiavellian means of statecraft in which he almost succeeded.

There is an element of "bad luck" in history. However, the 19-th century genius of Bismarck shouldn't be confused with the 20-century Evil Genius of Hitler.

It was Bismarck who created the modern contemporary united state of Germany out of Prussia as its seed, a bit resembling the original 13 states that are the basis of our current 50 United States. And Germany today is the successful heart of the democratic European Union several constituent states.


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