Sunday, November 25, 2012

Bismarck by Edward Crankshaw

  • "just as his Christianity amounted really to a special relationship with the Almighty, whom he appropriated to his own purposes, so his republicanism was essentially no more than a declaration of the special rights of Otto von Bismarck, which could be overridden only by divine sanction operating through a hereditary monarch." - 14
  • "with her illness and death Marie [von Thadden] accomplished what all the magic of her living presence had failed to do. In the shock of desolation Bismarck could no longer accept and live with the meaninglessness of life without God." - 24
  • "The man was energy incarnate, but the electricity had nowhere to flow, so it sparked and leapt gaps." - 28
  • April 1847: King of Prussia, Frederick William, acceding to liberalization and desperate for funds for a railroad, opened the proceedings of the United Diet - 36
  • "we have to consider those long absences from Berlin when he was virtual dictator, buried deep in the country...Many reasons have been offered for this behavior except the obvious one: that from time to time he was flooded with a complex and overpowering need: at one and the same time to get away from people and to assert himself absolutely" - 43
  • "what was happening all over the Continent [of Europe in 1848] was the breakup of the system devised by Metternich and imposed by the Congress of Vienna in 1815." - 45-6
  • "The only healthy foundation for a large state -- and this is what distinguishes it from a small state -- is state egoism rather than romanticism, and it is unworthy of a great state to fight for something which does not affect its own interest." - Otto von Bismarck, 62
  • "Frankfurt, though broadening his vision of Europe, at the same time blinkered it by confining it to diplomatic and manoeuvre. He had no occasion to think about Prussia as a living organism, developing  in response to the spirit of the industrial age." - 69
  • "Inevitability was a concept he instinctively rejected: the lives of nations as well as individuals were so full of accidents....the greatest service a statesman could do was to keep his mind open to all possibilities." - 71
  • "this strange man, who lashed himself into a genuine fury at what he considered Austria's perfidy and selfishness and unreliability (he meant, of course, her antagonism to Prussian expansionism), established himself as the prophet and champion of the self-centred state, concerned only with its own security and growth." - 87
  • September 15, 1859: Nationalverein (National Union) launched as an all-German association which "would look to Prussia to champion the cause of German unity in face of Austrian opposition." - 100-1
  • "it was against this background of incipient civil war, or at least the destruction of parliament in any form, that Bismarck came to power. He had not only the Liberals to deal with; he had to neutralize the Manteuffels [ie. the militarists] as well" - 115
  • Bismarck said to Disraeli, "I shall soon be compelled to undertake the army, with or without the help of the Landtag....As soon as the army shall have been brought to such a condition as to inspire respect, I shall seize the best pretext to declare war on Austria, dissolve the German diet, subdue the minor states, and give national unity to Germany under Prussia's leadership." - 122
  • September 30, 1862: Bismarck said, Prussia "must gather together her forces, conserving her strength for the favorable moment which has been missed several times already. Prussia's frontiers as drawn by the Vienna Treaty do not favour a healthy political existence. The great questions of the day will be decided not by speeches and majority votes -- that was the great mistake of 1848 and 1849 -- but by iron and blood." - 133
  • "A statesman wise in constitutional matters has said that all constitutional life is always a series of compromises. If compromise is made impossible...the series of compromises is broken and is replaced by conflicts. Since the life of a state cannot stand still, conflicts become questions of power; whoever has the power in his hands then proceeds according to his will." - Otto von Bismarck, 138
  • "He had only one idea, the idea summed up by the term Realpolitik, the exaltation of the Staatsrecht, the right and duty of the state to pursue its own advantage regardless of any other consideration and by whatever means comes to hand, coldly excluding morality, decency, honour." - 181
  • "At a time when the rest of Europe...was moving towards greater individual freedom...Bismarck was systematically transforming Prussia into a police state...He operated thus with one purpose only -- to subdue the Prussian people  for the enlargement and glorification of the Prussian state." - 184-5
  • March 1866: "Prussia signed a secret treaty of alliance with Italy with a life of only three months: Italy would fight Austria on Prussia's side if she went to war within those three months." - 201
  • "The failure of Austria was a failure of high command; the success of Prussia was a success of the high command." - 210, cf. Helmuth von Moltke the Elder
  • "Nothing has contributed more to the legend of Bismarck's statesmanlike moderation than his keep defeated Austria intact as a future ally." - 218
  • "What Bismarck had achieved was mastery of a new middle party, a National Liberal party, from which the extreme right and the extreme left split off." - 228
  • "Bismarck and Bucher between them digested this mass of material ['various other federal constitutions'] and produced out of it a constitution [of 1867] that was to serve first the North German Confederation, then the new Reich born out of the Franco-Prussian War, for good or ill until 1918. All in a matter of days." - 232-3
  • "Johann Gottlieb Fichte...invented German patriotism, which was really Prussian patriotism, in which the will of the individual, the will of the German people, became identified with the will of the universe, of God." - 237
  • "By the time the two great armies moved against each other on 28 July 1870, Bismarck had irretrievably set the German people on the path to the mastery of Europe -- or disaster." - 270
  • January 1871: "under extreme provocation from Moltke he demanded from William, and with surprising ease obtained, a categorical statement that he, the prime minister, was to be responsible for all dealings with the French authorities in the matter of the armistice and the ultimate peace-making [after the Franco-Prussian War]; further, that he must be kept fully informed about the course of all future military operations and given the opportunity to express his views." - 288
  • "Moltke was concerned with the humiliation of France, and that alone. For Bismarck victory was simply a critical stage on the way to the establishment of a unified imperial Germany with the Prussian king as emperor." - 291
  • "in the words of a distinguished British historian [W.N. Medlicott], 'Bismarck is judged to be right because he is the master diplomatist; he is the master diplomatist because he is right.'" - 304
  • "Bismarck was not interested in Europe, but only in Prussia, his Prussia: later in Germany, his Germany. He did not want a strong and healthy France as a neighbor. He was obsessed with 'the nightmare of coalitions,' with the perils of war on two fronts..., specifically with the horror of a Germany caught between France and Russia." - 324
  • "his main purpose...was to mould Europe into a safe haven in which the new Reich could flourish and extend her influence. Instead he made Germany the most distrusted power in Europe. Having alienated France, he proceeded to alienate first Britain, then Russia" - 336
  • "Bismarck was determined to destroy Socialism as he was determined to destroy Liberalism." - 356
  • "The defensive treaty with Austria of October 1879 was the first in a period of compulsive diplomatic activity which brought into being the Dual Alliance -- later, with the accession of Italy, to be the Triple Alliance. The climax was the so-called Reinsurance Treaty with Russia, triumphantly signed in June 1887." - 369
  • "Bismarckian diplomacy might be defined as secret agreements exacerbated by leaks...That is to say, he allowed others to see that something was going on, but gave them no idea what it was." - 369
  • "There were four main considerations in the forefront of his mind once the Three Emperors' League was attained: how to keep as close to Russia as possible and minimize Germany's commitment to Austria; how to secure the friendship of France; how to destroy Socialism once for all; above all, how to weaken the crown prince so that he, Bismarck, would be able to survive the emperor's death." - 394-5

No comments:

Post a Comment