Bismarck Sources

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Bismarck and the Unification of Germany
Source 1:
In view of the attitude to France, our national sense of honour compelled us, in my opinion to go to war; and if we did not act according to the demands of this feeling, we should lose... the entire impetus towards our national development won in 1866, while the German national feeling south of the Main, aroused by our military successes in 1866;… would have to grow cold again… Under this conviction I made use of the royal authorization communicated to me... to publish the contents of the telegram…I reduced the telegram by striking out words.. The difference in the effect of the abbreviated text of the Ems telegram… made this announcement appear decisive. After I read out the edition to my two guests, Moltke remarked: ‘Now it has a different ring; it sounded before like a parley; now it Is like a flourish in answer to a challenge’; Bismarck: ‘The Man and the Statesman’, July 1870 [ A.J.P Taylor] Volume 1. This exert was written by Otto Von Bismarck, July 1870. In this source Bismarck refers to his decision to edit and modify the Ems Telegram to provoke tension amongst France and Prussia by altering the dispatch to make it appear decisive. Bismarck states his ambition to go to war with France in order to achieve national unity amongst the German states which he believed would provoke German Unification. He explains in the source that with this aspiration in mind he decided to edit the telegram; to give it a more severe and direct tone. This secondary source is written from the perspective of Otto Von Bismarck therefore it contains some bias, as it is written in a subjective tone which supports Bismarck’s actions and does not give an objective view of the events. The source is also written with hindsight and therefore has a limited reliability due to Bismarck's context. Hindsight has allowed Bismarck to project his own recollection of events, which may not have been strictly correct. Through Retrospect Bismarck has been able to promote his role in the unification process and project himself as the prime motive for war. Bismarck may have altered Molke’s reaction in order to glorify his own actions and to make his role in the unification process seem more important and influential. However what Bismarck claims in his memoir is not strictly correct. Although Bismarck triggered events which fuelled Germany’s unification he was not the primary motive for the Prussian-French conflict. The war was accomplished by much more complex objectives such as the Prussian prince’s Candidacy to the Spanish throne. Otto Von Bismarck had an un-deniable opportunity to develop a well-prepared response that may have enabled him to polish his story to suit his purpose and encourage support for his motives. This text is written with hindsight after Germany’s unification has been achieved. Consequently Bismarck’s recollections of the circumstances surrounding the event promote his involvement and therefore cannot be viewed as objective making the source unreliable. Thus, historians cannot solely rely on this source alone when investigating Otto Von Bismarck and his role in the Em’s dispatch. The source effectively captures an emotive and personal response from Bismarck and reveals Bismarck’s motive for editing the telegram. Therefore, the source is extremely useful in terms of investigating Bismarck’s involvement and perspective in Germany’s unification. However, the source provides inadequate evidence when researching an objective, unbiased view on the subject condemning it as only somewhat useful. Source 2:

Bismarck- Blood and Iron speech made to Prussian parliament 1862 Source 2 depicts Otto Von Bismarck’s speech, addressed to the Land tag Budget committee in 1862. In this exert Bismarck debates Prussia’s need for a ‘military power’ in order to obtain an increase in military funding which he believes will solve issues throughout Prussia. Bismarck concludes that liberalism is insignificant in...
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