Skip to comments.Bismarck's Blood and Iron Speech 150 Years Later
Posted on 04/02/2013 4:06:20 PM PDT by robowombat
Bismarck's Blood and Iron Speech 150 Years Later Written by Bruce Walker
One hundred and fifty years ago, on September 30, 1862, Otto von Bismarck gave his famous Blut und Eisen (Blood and Iron) speech before the Landtag, the Prussian legislature. In his speech, Bismarck claimed that the international policy of a modern state is built upon the willingness to fight Blut (blood) and the willingness to spend vast amounts of public treasure in creating giant armies Eisen (iron).
"The great questions of the time will not be resolved by speeches and majority decisions ... but by iron and blood," the minister president of the Kingdom of Prussia said. Nine years later after the expenditure of plenty of blood and iron Bismarck became the first chancellor of the new German Empire.
Less than two years after the speech, in 1864, Bismarck maneuvered Prussia and Austria into fighting an aggressive war against Denmark. The war was quickly won by the two larger nations, both of which gained additional territory.
In 1866 Bismarck instigated an aggressive war by Prussia against its erstwhile ally Austria, which was defeated in a mere seven weeks. Bismarcks terms drove Austrian influence out of northern Germany, leaving Prussia with effective hegemony.
In 1871 Bismarck tricked France into a war against Prussia that resulted in a crushing Prussian victory and the addition of all the smaller German states around the Rhine into the new German Empire. This empire included a large number of smaller German states that had been quite happy to remain independent but that felt pressured and helpless after the collapse of France.
The series of wars did not happen by accident. They were part of Bismarck's calculated plan of power politics, aggression, and annexation. The realpolitik Bismarck defined in his famous Blood and Iron nine years earlier had given birth to the German Empire.
What Bismarck successfully advocated in Prussia was the opposite of what Americans wanted from their government. George Washington had counseled against entangling alliance and the early U.S. Congresses were loath to appropriate more than was clearly essential for America's defense.
A state policy of huge armies and an aggressive attitude toward neighbors threatens liberty and morality in different ways. First, of course, a nation engaged in an arms race like Bismarcks Prussia can not only plot wars but can also stumble into wars, as was the case in the First World War.
Second, arms races dramatically increase national government spending, so after 1871, the German Empire, France and Britain all increased military spending (reducing the amount of their wealth that taxpayers could keep). It is impossible to have a vast, sprawling military without also having a vast, sprawling government.
Third, reliance upon force rather than consent upon military power rather than treaties, trade and legal immigration is no path to long term peace, prosperity, or moral government. Our nation was founded upon the theme that we would be on friendly and peaceful terms with any nation that would be on friendly and peaceful terms with us.
When we stray from that path, when we embrace the Machiavellian cynicism of Europe and imagine that empire can create peace and wealth, then we will find that we have neither peace nor prosperity.
Interestingly, about the time of Bismarcks speech and his later planned wars, Americans had discovered in our American Civil War just how ghastly modern war could be. Nothing has changed in the last 150 years.
Bismark was a bedwetting sissy who had to be held in order to sleep at night, Blood and iron my ass...
I don’t know a lot bout Bismarck but remember a few things he said or did.
I am pretty sure he started the idea of Social Security. I also remember his saying that all of the Balkans “was not worth the bones of a single Pomeranian grenadier”.
Another one was something like “Lieber Spitzkugeln Als Spitreden” if I remember my college German right. Anyway it meant “rather pointed bullets than pointed words”.
Not that there is anything wrong with being a pants pissing sissy who needs a nanny to lull them to sleep...just saying..
I admit I don’t know that much about Bismarck but with a nickname like “The Iron Chancellor”, one would think he was pretty tough.
Let’s also not forget that the Prussians’ reckless militarism led to them sponsoring Lenin’s revolt in Russia, simply to undercut a wartime enemy. So we have them to thank for the horrors of international communism that followed as well.
It is easy to be tough with everyone else’s lives....
Bismarck was the Second Reich of Hitler’s formulation “Third Reich.”
Prussian honor died with Schenk von Stauffenberg in July 1944...
His basic foreign policy following this period of expansion was rather conservative and avoided war - that eventually got him fired in 1890 by the young and very aggressive Wilhelm II, whose own policies came to a thundering head in August 1914. That one didn't end well for Germany.
We think our culture wars were unique but Bismarck launched his own culture war (Kulturkampf) against Christianity and won. The American left merely followed the blueprints of Bismarck and Marx.
Not to mention the fact that the Hapsburgs had set themselves up after the Napoleonic Wars to block German unification by Austrian manipulation of the German Confederation post-1815, which was a significant obstacle. We tend to forget the Austro-Hungarian Empire had its own agendas, even in its dotage.....
Viel danke for this posting
Jerk forced my ancestors to move out of Poland during the Kulturkampf.
Actually Bismarck lost in his efforts against the Catholic church, which was a surprising failure by someone considered perhaps the best diplomat of the 19th Century.
Though he arranged the Franco-Prussian war to dethrone the belligerent yet incompetent Napoleon III, he did so in such a way to make the war a surgical effort that would be quick and relatively painless.
Napoleon III was humiliated in Mexico, invading and conquering it only to look across the border to see 50,000 battle hardened Union army troops under the command of generals Sheridan and Grant. Two men you did not want to pick fights with.
So when the French army came home, Napoleon III started beating the drum against Germany. The Kaiser wanted to appease him, so sent him a telegram that was intercepted and rewritten by Bismarck, calling Napoleon III the equivalent of a “sissy boy”.
In a really stupid move, Napoleon III sent a few French military units to invade Germany to abuse Germans, not realizing that the fully prepared German army was waiting just over the border, and were in Paris within days. And Napoleon III was out of a job.
But after pulling off this huge coup, Bismarck begged and pleaded with the Kaiser to just pull out of France, and everything would be better. But the Kaiser decided to punish France by taking the territory of Alsace-Lorraine, which set the stage for World War I.
Grant did not want to send Sheridan to the boarder. That was insisted upon by Lincoln who had this paranoia about euro intervention into our civil war...some factual.
But Grant sent em, and the rest is history. WT Sherman, told a couple of Englishmen when in Savanna, that he would have liked to invade England and teach the nobility there a lesson they’d never forget. Sherman, could be called the father of the blitzkrieg in a way. The man was a loose cannon, yet at his funeral, Joe Johnston attended as a good friend.
Grant feared no man in the southern army like he feared Joe Johnston. Grant explains all of it in his civil war memoirs. And, he basically laughed at Napoleon III.
Grant was the greatest general this nation ever produced..my opinion I know, but read his books and one can not come to any other conclusion.
That depends on the definition of winning. Bismarck, the author of Realpolitik did have to back off on some of his anti-clericalism due to a perception that the socialists had become a greater threat. To combat the socialists he needed support from the Center Party which he received. However, the May Laws (Falk Laws) were not fully repealed until after Bismarck's death so, say he lost is not entirely accurate.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.