Otto von Bismarck remains one of the most significant political figures of modern Germany. He is often referred to as the founder of the German Empire and today his legacy still remains embedded in the German Nation. This paper will briefly encompass his political career and achievements while delving into the reasons for his downfall and what legacy he left to his people.
Otto von Bismarck (1/4/1815 - 30/7/1898) studied law at Gottingen and Berlin University at Aachen to become a Judicial Administrator. In 1851 he was elected to the Prussian Landtag (Parliament) where his three decade long pursuit of Germany began. He quickly climbed the political ladder holding titles of Ambassador to Prussia (1859); France (1862); Prime Minister of Prussia (1862-73) and finally Chancellor of Germany (1872-90). During his time as Chancellor, Bismarck successfully defeated Austria in 1866 and then France in 1871 when Bismarck published the famous Ems dispatch. .
Some of Bismarck's greatest achievements were off the battlefield. During a time, which was often referred to as the "chancellor dictatorship" (1883 - 1887), Bismarck developed a common currency, a central bank, administrative reforms, and a single code of commercial and civil German law. He also instituted a programme of social reform which, despite violent opposition, saw a workers compensation programme for sickness, accident and old age insurance, limited woman and child labour and established maximum working hours. Particulars of this social security system included employee, employer and government contributions. Bismarck's revolutionary economic policy resulted in the rapid expansion of German commerce and industry along with the acquisition of overseas colonies.
Despite Bismarck's successful war victories and popularity amongst the nation his reign began to crumble with the death of Emperor Fredrick III. Bismarck clashed with Kaiser William II over the issue of German policy towards Russia.