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How has Otto von Bismarck been a significant figure in the history of the world?

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lifeinlove | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted May 3, 2013 at 3:44 PM via web

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How has Otto von Bismarck been a significant figure in the history of the world?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted May 3, 2013 at 4:07 PM (Answer #1)

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Otto von Bismarck lived from 1815 to 1898.  He was a Prussian aristocrat and statesman.  He was important in world history because he played the leading role in unifying Germany and in creating a new order in Europe after that unification.  Many feel that if he had remained in control of Germany, WWI might have been averted.

Bismarck’s major role in history was to unify Germany.  In the mid-1800s, what is now Germany was made up of a number of little states.  They were loosely connected to one another.  The biggest ethnically German powers were Prussia and Austria.  These two competed for influence over the rest of the ethnic German states. 

In 1862, Bismarck became prime minister of Prussia.  He then set out to unify Germany.  Through clever diplomacy and use of military force, Bismarck was able to accomplish this.  This process culminated in the Prussian defeat of France in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870.  At the end of that war, the previously independent German states united and Germany became one country.

Bismarck remained in power as the chancellor of the new Germany (a post like that of a prime minister).  From then until he was ousted by Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1890, Bismarck worked to maintain peace in Europe.  He is, therefore, important for having united Germany and for his efforts to create a peaceful order in Europe in the late 1800s. 

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