Otto von Bismarck, presented in heroic fashion in this 19th century image celebrating the architect of German unification and the creation of the Second Reich in 1871.
Otto Eduard Leopold von Bismarck was a German-Prussian statesman of the late 19th century, and a dominant figure in world affairs. Historians praised him as a statesman of moderation and balance who was primarily responsible for the unification of the German states into a nation-state in 1871. Although he used wars with Denmark, Austria and France to achieve German unification, afterwards he used balance-of-power diplomacy to keep Europe peaceful in the 1870s and 1880s.
Bismarck created a new nation that became an economic powerhouse with a benevolent social policy. For example, he created safety nets such as the Sickness Insurance Law of 1883, the Accident Insurance Law of 1884, and the Old Age and Disability Insurance Law of 1889.
As a result of his efforts, emigration to the United States was dramatically reduced as the quality of life in the new German Empire compared favorably to America.
Bismarck, a devout Lutheran who was loyal to his Prussian King and Kaiser, was a conservative who promoted a strong central government…a Prussian style bureaucracy that was well-trained and a model of honesty and efficiency. During his 19 years as Chancellor of the German Empire he was proudly hailed by Germans as “Our Bismarck”.
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