German Chancellor. He was the Prussian Statesman who united the German states into one country, the German Empire. His nickname, "The Iron Chancellor", comes from a speech in which he stated that "all great problems of this time are settled not with speeches and resolutions, but with blood and iron (Blut und Eisen)." Born in Schoenhausen (near Magdeburg), Germany, the son of a noble family, he studied law at the University of Berlin, and was admitted to the bar in 1835. He joined the Prussian army as a lieutenant in the famed regiment, the Life Guards, and then returned to manage his parents' estates. Becoming interested in politics, he was elected to the Prussian Diet (Parliament) in 1847, where his speeches brought him to the attention of King Frederick William IV. He became an ambassador to Russia, then to France, returning to Prussia to become Prime Minister and Secretary of Foreign Affairs. After three wars (1864 against Denmark, 1866 against Austria, and 1870-71 against France), he succeeded in getting Germany unified as the German Empire, and the King of Prussia (then Wilhelm I) named as Emperor of Germany. He became the first Reichschancellor of the new German empire. Bismarck's success was based upon a strong military, political cunning, and great diplomatic skill. He established an alliance with Austria-Hungary and with Italy, and made a treaty with Russia that guaranteed Germany's neutrality should Russia ever be attacked (this would also give Germany safety from having to fight a two-front war). When Wilhelm II came into power in 1888, he dismissed Bismarck as Chancellor from apparent jealously over Bismarck's popularity with the public. Bismarck then retired to his estate at Friedrichsruh, and died there on 30 July 1898.
Bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson