21 March 1871

Otto von Bismarck is appointed as the first Chancellor of the German Empire.
Otto von Bismarck (1815–1898) was a towering figure in 19th-century European politics, particularly known for his role in the unification of Germany and his adept diplomacy.

Early Life and Education: Bismarck was born on April 1, 1815, into an aristocratic family in the Kingdom of Prussia, which is now part of Germany. He studied law at the Universities of Göttingen and Berlin.

Political Career: Bismarck began his political career in the Prussian civil service. He served as a diplomat in various capacities before being appointed as Prussian representative to the German Confederation in 1851.

Realpolitik: Bismarck was a master of Realpolitik, a political philosophy that prioritizes practical and realistic approaches over ideological or moral considerations. He famously stated that “Politics is the art of the possible.”

Unification of Germany: Bismarck’s most significant achievement was the unification of Germany. Through a series of carefully orchestrated wars and diplomatic maneuvers, he managed to unify the German states under Prussian leadership. Key conflicts include the Danish War (1864), Austro-Prussian War (1866), and Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871).

Iron Chancellor: Bismarck served as Chancellor of the North German Confederation from 1867 and later as Chancellor of the German Empire from 1871 until 1890. He was known as the “Iron Chancellor” due to his authoritarian governing style and strong leadership.

Social Reforms: Despite his conservative leanings, Bismarck implemented several social reforms to counter the growing influence of socialism in Germany. These reforms included the introduction of health insurance, accident insurance, and old-age pensions, known as the “Bismarckian welfare state.”

Resignation and Legacy: Bismarck’s resignation in 1890 marked the end of an era in German politics. He had a profound impact on European politics and is often credited with shaping the balance of power that existed on the continent leading up to World War I.

Death and Rememberance: Bismarck died on July 30, 1898. He remains a controversial figure in history, admired for his political skill and criticized for his authoritarian methods. Nevertheless, he is widely regarded as one of the most influential figures in modern German and European history.