Bismarck, Otto Eduard Leopold Von Schönhausen
Bismarck, Otto Eduard Leopold Von Schönhausen
Born Apr. 1, 1815, in Schönhausen; died July 30, 1898, in Friedrichsruh. German state figure; prince. Came from the Pomeranian Junker class.
In 1847 and 1848, Bismarck was one of the most reactionary deputies at the first and second joint Landtags of Prussia, an advocate of the use of armed forces to suppress the revolution. From 1851 to 1859 he was Prussia’s representative at the Bundestag in Frankfurt am Main; he was the Prussian envoy to Russia from 1859 to 1862 and to France in 1862. From 1862 he was minister president and minister of foreign affairs of Prussia. In defiance of constitutional norms, without taking into consideration the budgetary rights of the Landtag, Bismarck carried out a military reform in the 1860’s that considerably increased Prussia’s military power. He was the initiator of the convention of 1863 with tsarist Russia on possible measures for joint suppression of the uprising in Poland.
Relying on the power of the Prussian Army, Bismarck carried out—as a result of the Danish war of 1864, the Austro-Prussian War of 1866, and the Franco-Prussian War of 1870–71—the unification of Germany “from above” on a Prussian militarist basis. In 1871 he gave active support to the government of Thiers against the Paris Commune.
After the creation of the North German Confederation in 1867, Bismarck became Bundeschancellor. From 1871 to 1890 he was Reichschancellor of the German Empire, in which Prussia played the dominant role. Endowed with very broad rights, Bismarck energetically consolidated the domination of the country’s Junker-bourgeois bloc. In the so-called Kulturkampf of the 1870’s, he worked against clerical and particularist opposition, which was supported by the Catholic Church. During the period 1878–90, he unsuccessfully attempted, by means of an emergency law against socialists and a demagogic program of social legislation (compulsory insurance for certain groups of workers and other measures) to prevent the growth of the revolutionary workers’ movement. Bismarck’s government struggled against the Polish national liberation movement in the Polish lands that were part of Germany, carrying out a policy of germanizing the Polish population. He implemented an active protectionist policy (the 1879 tariff) that was advantageous to the Junker class and the upper bourgeoisie.
In the area of foreign policy, Bismarck believed it essential to prevent revanche by France and to prepare a new war against France before it had yet reestablished French military power in the aftermath of the Franco-Prussian War. He strove in every way possible to avert the possibility of the creation of an anti-German coalition. Bismarck was the initiator of the Russo-Austro-German agreement of 1873 (the Three Emperors’ League). He achieved the conclusion of an alliance with Austria-Hungary in 1879 (Austro-German Treaty of 1879) and of the Triple Alliance in 1882 (Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy), which was aimed against France and Russia. However, attempting to prevent the possibility of a war on two fronts, Bismarck renewed the Three Emperors’ League in 1881 and 1884, and in 1887 he signed the “Reinsurance Treaty” with Russia. In the late 1880’s he opposed the intention of German military circles to begin a preventive war against Russia, believing that such a war would be too dangerous forGermany. However, relations between the two countries were worsened by German penetration of the Balkans, Germany’s support there of Austria-Hungary against Russia, measures taken against Russian exports, and so on. The provocation of “war scares” also furthered the rapprochement between France and Russia, which was crowned by a Franco-Russian agreement in the period 1891–93. Bismarck did not allow for the depth of Anglo-German contradictions and attempted to achieve a rapprochement with England. However, the policy of colonial expansion that he carried out in the 1880’s exacerbated Anglo-German relations. The collapse of the policy of suppressing the workers’ movement and failures in foreign policy foreordained Bismarck’s retirement (March 1890).
WORKSDie gesammelten Werke, [vols. 1–15]. Berlin, 1924–35.
In Russian translation:
Mysli i vospominaniia, vols. 1–3. Moscow, 1940–41.
For Bismarck’s diplomatic correspondence after 1870, see Die Grosse Politik der Europäischen Kabinette. ¡871–1914, vols. 1–6. Berlin, 1922.
REFERENCESMarx, K. “Grazhdanskaia voina vo Frantsii.” K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 17.
Marx, K. [“Rech’ o Parizhskoi Kommune.”] Ibid., p. 629.
Engels, F. “ ’Krizis’ ν Prussii.” Ibid., vol. 18.
Engels, F. “Sotsializm g-na Bismarka.” Ibid., vol. 19.
Engels, F. “Bismark i germanskaia rabochaia partiia.” Ibid.
Engels, F. “Rol’ nasiliia ν istorii.” Ibid., vol. 21.
Lenin, V. I. “Pravitel’stvo, Duma i narod.” Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 13.
Lenin, V. I. “Ob otnoshenii rabochei partii k religii.” Ibid., vol. 17, pp. 416–17.
Lenin, V. I. “O politicheskoi linii.” Ibid., vol. 22, pp. 102–104.
Lenin, V. I. “Burzhuaziia i reformizm.” Ibid., p. 315.
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M. N. MASHKIN