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Old December 7th, 2017, 01:02 PM   #1
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Otto von Bismarck: the great peace maker?


Obviously it depends on your point of view, but his priorities did change after German unification was achieved. He led the Concert of Europe to contain Russia and avoid war and considered Germany "sated" after 1871. He sought stable alliances and did not want Germany to challenge British naval superiority or seek overseas colonies. In short his priority was to and prevent a Franco-Russian alliance through diplomacy and avoid a major European war

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Old December 7th, 2017, 01:05 PM   #2

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He turned his view inward, to make sure Germany stayed/ became more “German.” I don’t believe he advocated any sort of military downsizing. Prussia/Germany had just fought two wars within the previous decade. There as really nobody left to fight but Great Britain. He needed a better navy for this and I believe he went to work on that.
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Old December 7th, 2017, 02:15 PM   #3
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He turned his view inward, to make sure Germany stayed/ became more “German.” I don’t believe he advocated any sort of military downsizing. Prussia/Germany had just fought two wars within the previous decade. There as really nobody left to fight but Great Britain. He needed a better navy for this and I believe he went to work on that.
Well the Germans didn't want conflict with the UK, Bismarck's goal was to isolate the French(who were beyond partnership at this point and couldn't fight the Germans on their own) which required making nice with everyone else. The big challenge of Bismarck's time was walking the thin wire between Russia and the Hapsburgs whose main potential opponents in a potential conflict would be each other, making Germany making an alliance with either complicated. Bismarck was very successful in keeping France isolated and naval development was one of the many decisions after his tenure that led to France getting allies/strategic partners as the British weren't really pro German or French in this period,the French were British rivals in Africa and the future Kaiser and his wife were viewed very positively by the British and likewise. I was reading it a few years ago but Germany was very close to getting an alliance with the UK before an election voted out the PM who was going to push for it. Until dreadnought time, UK and German partnership was far from a pipe dream and could have happened.

No the naval development largely if not entirely started after Bismarck. I think (but am not certain, haven't read the relevant texts in a while) that Bismarck opposed it's initial development into a force that would challenge the British or might have supported that dude(pre Tirpitz) who wanted the German navy to be a bunch of torpedo boat's(much cheaper and less threatening) that would flood the channel and sink everything(he was probably thinking French ships here not British ones) rather than build capital ships. Kaiser Wilhelm(his uncle who he was jealous of had a big fleet and he wanted one too) and Tirpitz(the guy who was telling him this made sense) were the ones who put an end to that and wanted to build capital ships which provoked the UK as the German navy was really the only thing that threatened the UK in Europe. I do know that Bismarck refused to give the navy medals after the Franco-Prussian War and certainly was not in favor of developing the navy.
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Old December 7th, 2017, 02:29 PM   #4
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Bismarck saw the future war would be between Germany and France, and his way of preventing that war lay in keeping France too weak to challenge Germany while Germany had no interest in another war with France. It would have worked as long as France accepted being in a weaker position, which no country likes to do. Also, Alsace-Loraine was an aggravating factor. Bismarck was opposed to annexing those two provinces but his kaiser overruled him.
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Old December 7th, 2017, 04:07 PM   #5
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Also, Alsace-Loraine was an aggravating factor. Bismarck was opposed to annexing those two provinces but his kaiser overruled him.
Quite true and I think not well known. I think Bismarck did not want his initial position to become public. Bismarck knew the annexations would result in the unshakable determination of France to get them back. Without the annexations, he believed Franco-German relations could improve making his diplomatic efforts much easier.
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Old December 7th, 2017, 05:03 PM   #6
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Quite true and I think not well known. I think Bismarck did not want his initial position to become public. Bismarck knew the annexations would result in the unshakable determination of France to get them back. Without the annexations, he believed Franco-German relations could improve making his diplomatic efforts much easier.
Kaiser's are responsible for basically all of Germany's diplomatic mishap. That being said I think Bismarck might have supported annexing one of the two from when I read Bismarck. Don't remember if he was trying to compromise with the Kaiser or if he thought he could get away with it without French anger but yeah the thought process was not hurting the French enough where they wanted revenge, which failed.
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Old December 7th, 2017, 05:16 PM   #7
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Kaiser's are responsible for basically all of Germany's diplomatic mishap. That being said I think Bismarck might have supported annexing one of the two from when I read Bismarck. Don't remember if he was trying to compromise with the Kaiser or if he thought he could get away with it without French anger but yeah the thought process was not hurting the French enough where they wanted revenge, which failed.
The Kaiser in 1871 was Wilhelm I, an elderly man at the time (b 1797) who relied heavily on Bismarck. I believe he might have been expressing the views of the General Staff who probably thought Bismarck was getting soft. From a purely military viewpoint, Alsace provided an excellent defensive barrier to a French attack.

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Old December 8th, 2017, 04:33 AM   #8
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My understanding is that Wilhelm I insisted on having a trophy - otherwise there would be no proof that Germany had won the war. When looked at along traditional lines, without Alsace-Lorraine, the Franco-Prussian War would seem to be rather pointless - just a lot of fighting without a prize for the winner.. Yes, Bismarck fought the war with the object to unify Germany, but that's an unconventional reason to fight a war.
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