Otto von Bismarck

Author: Otto von Bismarck, who ruled between 1862 and 1890, helped to unify Germany. He helped to unite the German states with Prussian leadership by initiating wars with Denmark, Austria, and France. [1]

Context: He wrote this during the time when he was establishing power with Prussia. He began a series of wars in order to establish this Prussian power. He created tension between France and Prussia by editing a telegram to make these countries angry at each other. The French declared war on the Prussians, but the Prussians ended up defeating the French. [2]

Language: The language that he uses is not highly complex; rather, it is very to the point because he wants others to be able to easily understand him.

Audience: He is writing to the general people of Germany because he wants them to understand what is currently happening. He also addresses the leaders because he wants to stress the importance of having a unified Germany.

Intent: To stress the need of a unified Germany and to explain how he felt that war was inevitable.

Message: He explained how in order for Germany to be very powerful, it was important for Austria and Prussia to be allied.

Why: He wanted the people of Prussia to see what he what he had done for them. Also, he wanted the German states to be unified to create a national identity and to fight against other European states.

Do you think that Otto von Bismarck was effective in attempting to relay his message?

One thought on “Otto von Bismarck

  1. I agree with most of what you have said, but I would like to posit changes to your intent portion. At the time of Bismarck’s writing part one, Germany (Prussia) was at war with Austria, but it appeared as though the Germans were going to win the war. As such, he wanted to ensure that negotiations between the Germans (Prussia) and Austria went well so that there was not any hard feelings between the two nations, and the two could get along a bit more nicely. As an example, think about what happened at the end of WWI with the Treaty of Versailles – it left Germany bitter and in turmoil. That setting fostered spite towards other nations, making it easier for Adolf Hitler to rally the people of Germany to become great once more. It’s quite ironic how wise it would have been for the Triple Entente to follow a German’s ideas.

    Also, I would argue that von Bismarck did not fear war was inevitable, he just kept instigating them. War was a tool to create a common enemy, enabling German states to stop bickering with each other and take on a new threat. I do not see indication that he wanted war to continue, as repeated warfare leads to bitter resentment between peoples. (Ex: In the context of the period, the British and the French, and the French and the Germans.) If he thought warfare was inevitable, he would want to squish Austria until it quelled as a threat, before moving on to the next target. That is not to say that he did not wish for the Germans to be armed, unified, and prepared, but von Bismarck likely did not believe in the inevitability of warfare.

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