Military Review

The defeat of France and the creation of the Second Reich

Defeat of France

As the first war of Bismarck (against Denmark) with logical inevitability caused the second war (against Austria), so this second war naturally led to the third war against France. Outside the North German Union remained South Germany - the kingdom of Bavaria and Württemberg, Baden and Hesse-Darmstadt. France stood in the way of the full unification of Germany led by Prussia. Paris did not want to see a united, strong Germany on its eastern borders. Bismarck understood this perfectly. War could not be avoided.

Therefore, after the defeat of Austria, Bismarck’s diplomacy was directed against France. In Berlin, the minister-president of Prussia introduced a bill into parliament that freed him from responsibility for unconstitutional actions. Parliamentarians approved it.

Bismarck, who did everything to ensure that Prussia did not look like an aggressor, played on strong anti-German sentiments in France. A provocation was needed so that France itself declared war on Prussia, so that the leading powers remained neutral. It was quite easy to do this, since Napoleon was eager for war no less than Bismarck. He was supported by the French generals. War Minister Lebefef openly declared that the Prussian army "does not exist" and that he "denies" it. Military psychosis seized French society. The French did not doubt their victory over the Prussians, without analyzing Prussia's victory over Austria and the changes that occurred in the Prussian army and society, united by successes.

The reason was the problem of Spain. After the revolution in Spain in 1868, the throne was vacant. He claimed the prince Leopold Hohenzollern. Bismarck and the Minister of War who supported him, Roon, and the Chief of General Staff Moltke convinced the Prussian king Wilhelm that this was the right step. The French Emperor Napoleon III was extremely displeased with this. France could not allow Spain to withdraw into the sphere of influence of Prussia.

Under pressure from the French, Prince Leopold, without any consultation with Bismarck and the king, declared that he was giving up all rights to the Spanish throne. The conflict has been settled. This step destroyed the plans of Otto von Bismarck, who wanted France to take the first step herself and declare war on Prussia. However, Paris itself gave Bismarck a trump against himself. To the King of Prussia, Wilhelm I, who is on holiday in Bad Ems, July 13, the French ambassador to Prussia Vincent Benedetti was sent 1870. He demanded that the Prussian king make a formal commitment to never consider Leopold Hohenzollern’s candidacy for the throne of Spain. Such audacity outraged Wilhelm, but he did not make trouble, without giving a clear answer. Paris contacted Benedetti and ordered him to deliver a new message to Wilhelm. The King of Prussia had to make a written promise to never again encroach on the dignity of France. Benedetti at the time of the king's departure stated the essence of the requirements of Paris. Wilhelm promised to continue the negotiations and informed von Abeken Bismarck, Foreign Ministry adviser.

When Bismarck was given an urgent dispatch from Ems, at that time he had dinner with War Minister Albrecht von Roon and the head of the General Staff of the Prussian army Helmut von Moltke. Bismarck read the dispatch, and his guests became disheartened. Everyone understood that the French emperor wanted war, and William was afraid of her, so he was ready to make concessions. Bismarck asked the military if the army was ready for war. The generals gave an affirmative answer. Moltke said that "the immediate start of war is more profitable than a delay." Then Bismarck “edited” the telegram, removing from it the words of the Prussian king, told to Benedetti about the continuation of negotiations in Berlin. As a result, it turned out that Wilhelm I refused to conduct further negotiations on this issue. Moltke and Roon were delighted and approved the new version. Bismarck ordered to publish the document.

As Bismarck had expected, the French reacted as they should. The announcement of the Ems despatch in the German press caused an uproar in French society. Foreign Minister Gramont indignantly stated that Prussia had slapped France in the face. 15 July 1870, the head of the French government, Emile Olivier, asked the parliament for a loan of 50 million francs and announced the government’s decision to start mobilizing in “in response to the call to war”. The majority of French deputies voted for the war. In France, mobilization began. 19 July, the French Emperor Napoleon III declared war on Prussia. Formally, the aggressor was France, which attacked Prussia.

The only sensible politician in France turned out to be the historian Louis Adolf Thiers, who in the past had twice been the head of the French Foreign Ministry and twice headed the government. Thiers will become the 1 president of the Third Republic, make peace with Prussia and drown the Paris commune in blood. In July, 1870 was still MP Thierre trying to convince parliament to refuse the government in the loan and the call of reservists. He reasonably argued that Paris had already achieved its task - Prince Leopold refused the Spanish crown, and there is no reason to quarrel with Prussia. However, Thiers was not heard then. France was gripped by war hysteria.

Therefore, when the Prussian army began to smash the French, not a single great power stood up for France. It was Bismarck's victory. He was able to achieve non-interference of the main powers - Russia and England. Petersburg was not averse to punishing Paris for actively participating in the Eastern (Crimean) War. Napoleon III in the period before the war was not looking for friendship and alliance with the Russian Empire. Bismarck promised that Berlin would maintain friendly neutrality in the event of Russia's withdrawal from the humiliating Treaty of Paris, which forbade us to have a fleet on the Black Sea. As a result, the late requests of Paris for help could not change the position of St. Petersburg.

The Luxembourg question and the desire of France to seize Belgium made London an opponent of Paris. In addition, the British were irritated by the active policies of France in the Middle East, in Egypt and Africa. In London, it was believed that some strengthening of Prussia at the expense of France would benefit England. In the French colonial empire saw a competitor who must be weakened. In general, London’s policy in Europe was traditional: the powers threatening the domination of the British Empire weakened at the expense of their neighbors. England itself remained on the sidelines.

Attempts by France and Austria-Hungary to force Italy into an alliance were unsuccessful. The Italian king, Victor Emmanuel, preferred neutrality by listening to Bismarck, who asked him not to interfere in the war with France. In addition, the French were in Rome. The Italians wanted to complete the unification of the country, get Rome. France did not allow this and lost a potential ally.

Austria-Hungary was eager for revenge. However, Franz Joseph did not have a firm and belligerent character. While the Austrians doubted, it was all over. Blitzkrieg played a role during the Prussia war with France. Sedan disaster buried the possibility of Austria’s intervention in the war. Austria-Hungary "was late" to start a war. In addition, in Vienna, feared a possible strike to the rear of the Russian army. Prussia and Russia were friends, and Russia could oppose the Austrians. As a result, Austria-Hungary remained neutral.

A major role in the fact that no one stood up for France was the fact of its aggression against the North German Union. In the pre-war years, Bismarck actively demonstrated Prussia’s peacefulness, made concessions to France: he brought Prussian troops out of Luxembourg in 1867, declared his readiness not to claim Bavaria and make it a neutral country, etc. France looked like an aggressor in this situation. In fact, the regime of Napoleon III really led an aggressive policy in Europe and the world. However, in this case, one smarter predator outplayed the other. France fell into the trap of arrogance and arrogance. Bismarck forced France to pay for a long period of errors.

Therefore, when, in 1892, the original text of the Emsk Despatch was announced from the Reichstag tribune, practically no one except the Social Democrats began to interfere with Bismarck with mud. Success is never blamed. Bismarck played in stories the creation of the Second Reich and united Germany is a key role, and the main positive role. The process of unification of Germany was objective and progressive, bringing prosperity to the German people.

The defeat of France and the creation of the Second Reich

The solemn ceremony of proclamation of William I by the German emperor in Versailles. O. von Bismarck is depicted in the center (in white uniform).

Chancellor of the Second Reich

The time has come for the triumph of Bismarck and Prussia. The French army suffered a crushing defeat in the war. The French arrogant generals covered themselves with shame. In the decisive battle of Sedan (1 September 1870), the French were defeated. Fortress Sedan, where the French army sheltered, almost immediately capitulated. 82 surrendered thousands of soldiers led by Commander Patrice de MacMahon and Emperor Napoleon III. It was a fatal blow to the French Empire. The capture of Napoleon III was the end of the monarchy in France and the beginning of the establishment of the republic. September 3 in Paris learned about the Sedan disaster, September revolution broke out 4. The government of Napoleon III was deposed. In addition, France has almost lost its personnel army. Another French army led by Francois Bazin was blocked in Metz (October 27 170-thousand. The army surrendered). The road to Paris was open. France still resisted, but the outcome of the war was already predetermined.

In November 1870, the South German states joined the united German Alliance, which was transformed from the North. In December, the Bavarian monarch proposed to restore the German Empire destroyed by Napoleon (in 1806, at the request of Napoleon, the Holy Roman Empire of the German nation ceased to exist). The Reichstag appealed to King William I of Prussia to accept the imperial crown. On January 18, the German Empire (Second Reich) was proclaimed in the mirror hall of Versailles. Wilhelm I appointed Bismarck Chancellor of the German Empire.

28 January 1871 France and Germany signed a truce. The French government, fearing the spread of revolution in the country, went to the world. For his part, Otto von Bismarck, fearing the intervention of neutral states, also sought to end the war. 26 February 1871 was a preliminary Franco-Prussian peace concluded at Versailles. Otto von Bismarck signed a preliminary treaty on behalf of Emperor Wilhelm I, approved by Adolf Thiers from France. 10 May 1871 in Frankfurt am Main signed a peace treaty. France ceded to Germany Alsace and Lorraine, pledged to pay a huge contribution (5 billion francs).

Thus, Bismarck achieved brilliant successes. The ethnic German lands, with the exception of Austria, were united into the German Empire. Prussia became the military-political core of the Second Reich. The main enemy in Western Europe, the French Empire, was crushed. Germany became the leading power of Western Europe (if we exclude island England). French money contributed to the rise of Germany.

Bismarck retained the post of German Chancellor until 1890. The Chancellor conducted reforms of German law, management and finance. Bismarck led the struggle for the cultural unification of Germany (Kulturkampf). It should be noted that at that time Germany was not united not only politically, but also linguistically and religiously-culturally. In Prussia, Protestantism prevailed. In the South Germanic states, Catholicism prevailed. Rome (Vatican) had a huge impact on society. Saxons, Bavarians, Prussians, Hanoverians, Württemberg and other Germanic peoples did not have a single language and culture. So a single German language, which we know at present, was created only at the end of the XIX century. Residents of individual German areas hardly understood each other and considered strangers. The division was much deeper than, say, between the Russians of modern Russia, the Ukraine, Ukraine and Belarus. After it was possible to unite the various German states, it was necessary to produce the cultural unification of Germany.

One of the main enemies of this process was the Vatican. Catholicism was still one of the leading religions and had a great influence in the principalities and regions that joined Prussia. And the Catholics of the Polish regions of Prussia (obtained after the division of the Commonwealth), Lorraine and Alsace were generally disposed towards the state hostile. Bismarck did not intend to tolerate this and launched an offensive. In 1871, the Reichstag banned any political propaganda from the church department, in 1873 - the school law put all religious educational institutions under state control. Registration of marriage by the state has become mandatory. Church funding has been blocked. Appointment to church positions has become necessary to coordinate with the state. The Jesuit Order, in fact, a former state in the state, was dissolved. Attempts by the Vatican to sabotage these processes were stopped, some religious leaders were arrested or expelled from the country, many dioceses were left without leaders. It is worth noting that "fighting" with Catholicism (in fact, with archaism), Bismarck went into a tactical alliance with the national liberals, who had the largest share in the Reichstag.

However, the pressure of the state and the confrontation with the Vatican led to strong resistance. The Catholic Party of the Center fiercely opposed the measures of Bismarck, and constantly strengthened its position in parliament. And the conservative party was also dissatisfied. Bismarck decided to retreat somewhat, so as not to "go too far." In addition, the new Pope Leo XIII was set up to compromise (the previous Pope Pius IX led an offensive policy). State pressure on religion has weakened. But the main thing Bismarck did was that the state managed to establish control over the education system. Further, the process of cultural, linguistic unification of Germany became irreversible.

In this regard, we should learn from Bismarck. Russian education is still under the control of the liberals, who adjust it to European-American standards, that is, they create a consumer society and lower standards for the majority of students in order to facilitate the controllability of society. The more stupid people are, the easier it is to manage them (Americanization of education). Russian liberals are in conceptual dependence on the West; therefore, they are pursuing their course towards the destruction of the distinctiveness of Russian civilization and the intellectual potential of the Russian superethnos. It is impossible for the Russian education to be controlled by the West (unstructured methods, through standards, programs, textbooks, manuals).

"While it is stormy - I'm at the helm"

The system of unions. Stabilization of Europe

Bismarck was completely satisfied with the victories over Austria and France. In his opinion, Germany no longer needed war. The main national tasks were solved. Given the central position of Germany in Europe and the potential threat of war on two fronts, Bismarck wanted Germany to live peacefully, but had a strong army capable of repelling an external attack.

Bismarck built his foreign policy based on the situation that developed in Europe after the Franco-Prussian war. He understood that France would not accept defeat and it was necessary to isolate it. For this, Germany must be on good terms with Russia and move closer to Austria-Hungary (from 1867 onwards). In 1871, Bismarck supported the London Convention, which lifted Russia's ban on having a navy in the Black Sea. In 1873, the Union of Three Emperors was formed - Alexander II, Franz Joseph I and Wilhelm I. In 1881 and 1884. Union extended.

After the collapse of the Union of Three Emperors, due to the Serbian-Bulgarian war of 1885 — 1886, Bismarck, in an effort to avoid Russian-French rapprochement, went on a new rapprochement with Russia. In 1887, a reinsurance contract was concluded. By its terms, both sides had to maintain neutrality in the war of one of them with any third country, except when the German Empire attacked France or Russia against Austria-Hungary. In addition, a special protocol was annexed to the treaty, according to which Berlin promised Petersburg diplomatic assistance if Russia deemed it necessary to “take over the defense of the entrance to the Black Sea” in order to “preserve the key to its empire”. Germany recognized that Bulgaria is in the sphere of influence of Russia. Unfortunately, in 1890, the new German government refused to renew this treaty, and Russia agreed to a rapprochement with France.

Thus, the union of Germany and Russia during Bismarck allowed to keep peace in Europe. After his removal from power, the basic principles of relations between Germany and Russia were violated. The period of misunderstanding and coldness began. Germany came close to Austria-Hungary, which violated Russian interests in the Balkans. And Russia went to an alliance with France, and through it with England. All this led to a great pan-European war, the collapse of the Russian and German empires. All the benefits received by the Anglo-Saxons.

In Central Europe, Bismarck tried to prevent France from finding support in Italy and Austria-Hungary. The Austro-German Treaty of 1879 of the Year (Dual Alliance) and the Triple Alliance of 1882 of the Year (Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy) solved this task. True, the 1882 agreement of the year somewhat undermined relations between Russia and Germany, but not fatally. To preserve the status quo in the Mediterranean, Bismarck helped create the Mediterranean Entente (England, Italy, Austria-Hungary and Spain). England received priority in Egypt, and Italy - in Libya.

As a result, Bismarck was able to solve the main foreign policy tasks during his reign: Germany became one of the leaders of world politics; in Europe they kept the peace; France was isolated; with Austria managed to get close; with Russia, despite some cooling periods, good relations were maintained.

Colonial politics

In the colonial policy, Bismarck showed caution, stating that "as long as he is the chancellor, there will be no colonial policy in Germany." On the one hand, he did not want to increase government spending, save the capital of the country, focusing on the development of Germany itself. Yes, and almost all the parties were against foreign expansion. On the other hand, an active colonial policy led to a conflict with England and could cause unexpected external crises. So France several times almost went to war with England from disputes in Africa, and Russia because of conflicts in Asia. However, the objective course of things made Germany a colonial empire. Under Bismarck, German colonies appeared in South-West and East Africa, in the Pacific Ocean. At the same time, German colonialism brought Germany closer to the old enemy, France, which ensured fairly normal relations between the two powers in the 1880-1890-s. Germany and France came close to Africa to oppose a more powerful colonial empire, Britain.

German state socialism

In the area of ​​domestic politics, Bismarck made a turn, moved away from the liberals, and became close with the conservatives and centrists. "Iron Chancellor" believed that there was not only an external threat, but also an internal one - a "red danger." In his opinion, liberals and socialists can destroy an empire (in the future, his fears came true). Bismarck acted in two ways: he introduced prohibitive measures and tried to improve the economic conditions in the country.

His first attempts to legally restrict the socialists were not supported by parliament. However, after several attempts on Bismarck and the emperor, and when conservatives and centrists received the majority in parliament at the expense of liberals and socialists, the chancellor was able to pass a bill against the socialists through the Reichstag. The exclusive law against the socialists ("The law against the harmful and dangerous aspirations of social democracy") from 19 in October 1878 (it remained in force until 1890) prohibited socialist and social democratic organizations and their activities in the German Empire outside the Reichstag and the Landtags.

On the other hand, Bismarck carried out protectionist economic reforms, which improved the situation after the 1873 crisis of the year. According to Bismarck, state capitalism would be the best cure for social democracy. Therefore, it is in 1883-1884. Sickness and accident insurance through Parliament (compensation was 2 / 3 from the average salary and started from the 14 week of illness). In 1889, the Reichstag passed a law on pensions due to age or disability. These labor insurance measures were a progressive phenomenon and were far superior to those taken in other countries, becoming a good basis for further social reforms.

Bismarck laid the foundations of the practice of German socialism, which introduced the principles of social justice and saved the state from destructive radical tendencies.

Conflict with William II and resignation

With the accession to the throne of William II in 1888, the “Iron Chancellor” lost control of the government. Under William I and Frederick III, who was seriously ill and ruled for less than six months, Bismarck could pursue his policy, and none of the power groups could shake his position.

The young emperor wanted to rule himself, regardless of the opinion of Bismarck. Already after Bismarck’s resignation, the Kaiser declared: “There is only one gentleman in the country — it is me, and I will not tolerate another.” The opinions of Wilhelm II and Bismarck diverged more and more. They had different attitudes towards the law against the socialists and the subordination of government ministers. In addition, Bismarck was already tired of fighting, his health was undermined by hard work for the good of Prussia and Germany, by constant unrest. German Kaiser Wilhelm II hinted to the chancellor about the desirability of his resignation and received from Otto von Bismarck a letter of resignation of 18 in March of 1890 of the year. 20 March resignation was approved. As a reward, 75-year-old Bismarck received the title of Duke of Lauenburg and the rank of colonel general of cavalry.

In retirement, Bismarck criticized the government and indirectly the emperor, wrote memoirs. In 1895, the whole of Germany celebrated Bismarck's 80 anniversary. The Iron Chancellor in Friedrichsruhe 30 July 1898 of the year died.

"The pilot leaves the ship"

Bismarck O. Thoughts and memories in 3-s volumes. M., 1940-1941 //
History of diplomacy: in 3 volumes. Ed. Potyomkina V.P. M., 1941-1945.
Ludwig Emil. Bismarck. M., 1999.
Palmer Alan. Bismarck. Smolensk, 1998.
Hillgruber A. Prominent politicians: Otto von Bismarck. Rostov-on-Don, 1998 //
Articles from this series:
Part 1. "Iron Chancellor" Otto von Bismarck
Part 2. The unification of Germany "iron and blood"
Part 3. The defeat of France and the creation of the Second Reich
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  1. Moore
    Moore April 9 2015 05: 56
    Bismarck's phrase "Generals do not win wars - school teachers and parish priests win wars ..." today, after the fursenoks and the rest of the gang, is more relevant than ever.
  2. apro
    apro April 9 2015 06: 29
    Bismarck the great man, studying his work on creating Germany, many parallels with the USSR, who took a lot of groundwork in the social sphere from Germany. The insidious policy of impudence made us enemies, I hope this does not happen again. Germany is a natural ally of Russia on the continent there are no natural contradictions.
  3. parusnik
    parusnik April 9 2015 06: 43
    the state managed to establish control over the education system. Further, the process of cultural, linguistic unification of Germany became irreversible... Now this is not enough for Russia ..
  4. Hairy Siberian
    Hairy Siberian April 9 2015 07: 14
    That's what happens when Napoleon is not real!
    1. Alex
      Alex April 9 2015 23: 42
      Quote: Hairy Siberian
      That's what happens when Napoleon is not real!

      It was not for nothing that he was called "the little nephew of the great uncle."
  5. fomkin
    fomkin April 9 2015 07: 57
    Education is a very sore subject. M. Zadornov often illuminates it. If during the Soviet era this was paid close attention, now something is going on that cannot be understood. The author is probably right, it is easier with ignoramuses.
  6. Aleksander
    Aleksander April 9 2015 11: 09
    Thus, the union of Germany and Russia during Bismarck allowed to keep peace in Europe. After his removal from power, the basic principles of relations between Germany and Russia were violated.

    Downright great achievement - "peace in Europe"! Yes, let them there fight among themselves endlessly, weakening each other. What has Russia gained from this union? Eliminate the results of the Paris Congress? So he and so exhausted by itself by 1871, as Russia grew stronger. Yes, even in those days, these agreements were concluded by dozens, dozens were terminated in a year - everything depended on the brute force of the contracting parties. And Germany's attitude towards Russia has cooled for a simple reason, it has become NOT NEEDED for Germany, it has already achieved its goal, with the help of Russia. Thanks to such a short-sighted position, Russia has grown to incredible size and strength. german monster, which for almost a thousand years already went in waves to the East in the form of the Livonian and Teutonic orders, Prussian militarism, even in the army of Napoleon, 35% were Germans. As a result, there are two terrible World Wars that brought Russia terrible troubles. And if there remained the North German Union and several other German principalities gnawing among themselves, there would not be this terrible force. It was necessary to support France, as a very distant and natural counterweight to the German countries.
    In 1873, the Union of Three Emperors was formed - Alexander II, Franz Joseph I and William I.

    Good Union, yeah! But what about 1878? While offering lengthy panegyrics to Germany and Bismarck, the author somehow modestly did not mention the Russian-Turkish war of 1878-88, when these "allies" stabbed a knife in the back of Russia, which suffered terrible casualties in this war - more than 100 thousand people! Many results of that war (Treaty of San Stefano) were canceled by the Berlin Treaty because of their betrayal.
    There were no allies in Russia, it was never, it was necessary to pursue its own policy, develop its economy and army, and not rely on treaties, hopes of gratitude for the good and decency done.
    1. m13urah1
      m13urah1 April 9 2015 11: 51
      It was necessary - it was not necessary .... By the back mind we are all strong ...
  7. Self-willed
    Self-willed April 9 2015 11: 38
    The position of the Russian imperial family is very curious about the Franco-Prussian war. If we use this sports and football terminology, then Emperor Alexander II was "rooting" for the Germans. But the heir, the future Emperor Alexander III, "rooted" for the French.
  8. 23424636
    23424636 April 9 2015 12: 28
    very good article thanks to Bismarck for punishing the Franks for Sevastopol and Balaklava and discovering the right to build a fleet in the Black Sea.
    1. The comment was deleted.
    2. Aleksander
      Aleksander April 9 2015 20: 48
      Quote: 23424636
      very good article thanks to Bismarck for punishing the Franks for Sevastopol and Balaklava and discovering the right to build a fleet in the Black Sea.

      Yes, yes, "thanks" to Bismarck, who created such a strong Germany, which was able to arrange TWO world slaughter.
  9. Robert Nevsky
    Robert Nevsky April 9 2015 21: 10
    Unification of Germany brought only war and death - for the Germans and for the whole world!
  10. AllXVahhaB
    AllXVahhaB April 9 2015 21: 42
    Quote: apro
    this will not happen again. Germany is a natural ally of Russia on the continent there are no natural contradictions.

    And what is this nature expressed in? After Bismarck, we were never allies! Germany's interests have always contradicted ours! And today is the same thing! Maybe it's time to stop taldychit mantra about a natural union? It doesn’t bring anything good!
  11. Alekst
    Alekst April 11 2015 14: 32
    Actually, I don’t understand why all the time they say about a certain natural union of Russia and Germany, what is it expressed in and when did it even exist? a huge flag is waving before our eyes - Germany will, of course, grow into eastern lands, the last story with Ukraine says a lot, Germany wanted to occupy Ukraine with a quiet glander, economically, with the help of the EU in which it plays the first role, but after Russia's intervention in this process, another major player entered the arena - the USA, which, however, has recently been losing ground in Ukraine and entrusting it to the same Germany, and you are all repeating about some kind of natural alliance, a natural ally in Europe could France yt that the way it was for a while, if France has not lost in their recent economic and political independence. The same article refers to the rivalry between Russia and Austria-Hungary in the Balkans, and no matter how much they talked about natural alliance, dynastic ties, and Russia's help to Germany during the Franco-Prussian war, Germany still sided with Austria for some time -Hungary.