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Blood & Iron Read and Respond

Name: ____________________________________________ Date: __________ Period: ______
1) Why does Bismarck have such a negative view of constitutional government and individual criticism?
2) What does Bismarck believe about the idea of a standing army? Why do you think he feels that way?
3) According to him, why are the other German states looking to Prussia (and Bismarck’s) leadership?
4) What you think Bismarck is suggesting when he states “Prussia’s borders according to the Vienna
Treaties of 1815 are not favorable for a healthy, vital state.”?
5) According to Bismarck, why did the Revolutions of 1848 fail to unite Germany?
6) In your opinion, what is the message about German unification that Bismarck is trying to promote
with his famous “blood and iron” comment at the end of the passage? Explain.
Prussian Prime Minister Otto von Bismarck (1815-1898) delivered his famous "Blood and Iron" speech at
a meeting of the budget commission of the Prussian Parliament on September 30, 1862.
There are members of the National Association that have achieved a reputation based
on the fairness of its demands – highly respected members who have stated that all standing
armies are unnecessary. Yes, if only a public assembly had this view! Would not a
government have to reject this?! – There was talk about the “wisdom” of the Prussian people.
Yes, the great independence of the individual makes it difficult in Prussia to govern with the
constitution. In France, things are different because there is no individual independence. A
constitutional crisis would not be disgraceful, but honorable instead. Furthermore, we are
perhaps too “well-educated” to support a constitution. We are too critical; people often
assess and criticize the government and the public assembly.
There are also many people in
the country who are ready to rebel against the government at any moment. This may sound
out of place, but everything proves how hard constitutional life is in Prussia.
Furthermore, everyone is too sensitive about the government’s mistakes. It is not
enough simply to say “this and that cabinet minister made mistakes”, but one has to
personally blame another for how their life is negatively affected. Public opinion changes,
but the press is not the same as public opinion. Everyone knows how the press is written.
Members of parliament should have a higher duty, and therefore should be set apart from
negative public opinion. But we are too hot-blooded, we have a preference for putting on
armor that is too big for our small body; and now we’re actually supposed to utilize it.
Germany is not looking to Prussia’s government, but to its power. Prussia has to unite and
concentrate its power for the right moment, which has already been missed several times.
Prussia’s borders according to the Vienna Treaties of 1815 are not favorable for a healthy,
vital state. It is not by speeches and majority resolutions that the great questions of the time
are decided – that was the big mistake of 1848 and 1849 – but by iron and blood.