Otto von Bismarck was feared and admired for his political skill and abilities. His one aim was to unite Germany and place it in the forefront of Europe and the world.
The methods he used were often reprehensible.
He was a master of playing off one section of society, one leader or country off against the other. He played on their vanity and fears. While he flattered one person, he bullied another. He used any and every avenue to achieve his political ends.
Through his machinations Prussia fought and won three wars and became the head of a united Germany.
When Bismarck became chancellor, he sacked or fined those who were opposed to his methods and those he did not like. He forced newspapers out of business and started his own. He made full use of the Berlin rumour mill to blacken the name and reputation of his opponents. To get his way on one issue he would promise reforms on another issue. To distract Germans from internal issues, he turned their attention to international issues.
In short while he was a master of politics and statecraft, his way of doing things was little more than skullduggery.
Disliking the heir to the thrones pro English and liberal leanings, he played on the Prussian Kings autocratic stance and sidelined his son crown prince Frederick and his wife eldest daughter of Queen Victoria. Bismarck coddled and flattered Frederick’s son the future Kaiser Wilhelm the second, who later turned the tables on Bismarck and dismissed him.
It would be an interesting study to find out whether the things Bismarck did achieve could have been brought about without the need for such methods. He would no doubt justify himself by saying that human nature and international relations being what they were, he could have acted in no other way.
Wherever we look in the world today we see in varying degrees the same misuse of wealth and power and position. We see the methods political and business leaders use and wonder why they need to resort to lies, bribes, blackmail and suppression of the truth in order to further their agenda and personal fame and wealth.
It is only by looking at Jesus that we see the true way of leadership. It is the exact opposite of the World’s methods and means.
Rejecting worldly gain, it sacrifices self. Ignoring earthly pomp and selfishness it seeks the good of all. Instead of making man the centre of everything it acknowledges God as the one on the throne of the Universe and the true source of blessing and joy.
The world and its leaders may be sparing with the truth but Christ is always truthful and is Himself the “Truth”. This truth we need desperately today.
What might have been?
Frederick the third of Germany was only Kaiser for ninety nine days in 1888. Although an accomplished soldier, he abhorred war and was praised by friend and enemy alike for his humane conduct.
Even though he was brought up in a militaristic atmosphere, he was a gentle and forward thinking man.
He found himself opposed to the methods used by the German chancellor Bismarck.
Bismarck feared the influence Frederick might have and dreaded his accession to the throne. So he poisoned his father against him and branded the English influence of his wife as unpatriotic and weakening.
As mentioned above he flattered and manipulated Wilhelm, Frederick’s heir who rejected his parent’s ideology.
When Frederick became Kaiser he was suffering from throat cancer and died aged fifty six not having the opportunity to accomplish the reforms he hoped for.
His son later sacked Bismarck and started Germany on a path that lead to the First World War.
We can only speculate whether this war would have been avoided and Germany a better, kinder place had Frederick lived longer.
We know that God rules over history. One man is raised up, one is thrown down. Good men die young, bad men prosper. God is not behind the curve of history. Rather He sees the end from the beginning. How little of His ways we understand.
God brings good out of evil and salvation out of a cross.
Our alternative is either to shake our heads or TRUST in HIM.