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Session 3: From Bismarck's Diplomatic Order to the Coming of WWI

Bismarcks alliance system was a tribute to his ingenuity but lacked both utility and
cohesion. Would you agree?

Context: Otto von Bismarck is known as the founder of the German Empire. He was Prussia's
prime minister from 1862 to 1873 and was Germanys first chancellor from 1871 to 1890. He
lead the Germans to victory in the Austro-Prussian war of 1866 and in the Franco-Prussian war
of 1870. According to Steinberg, his achievements in 186271 were "the greatest diplomatic
and political achievement by any leader in the last two centuries."
How does it show Bismarck ingenuity? Did it lack utility/cohesion?

Three Emperors Treaty 1873 Alliance between the German Empire, On one hand, Slaves in Austria were
Dreikaiserbund The Russian Empire and Austria-Hungary. sympathetic to their Balkan brothers in
(1873-75 & 81-87) -Showed Bismarcks plan to eliminate the Serbia and Herzegovina. On the other,
threat of a two front war for Germany in case Russia wanted to protect the Orthodox
of a Franco-German war. christians in the Ottoman Empire
=> Territorial conflicts in the Balkans in
1881 Treaty was renewed and stated that no the so called the Great Eastern Crisis
territorial changes should take place in the
Also, Germany refused to create a
Balkans without prior agreement and that
german-Russian army
Austria could annex Bosnia and Herzegovina
when it wished
Treaty lacked cohesion between coun-
tries, which led to Russias withdrawal.

Dual Alliance (1879) Context: Events in the Balkans This treaty was signed secretly so Russia
Russia withdrew the Dreikaiserbund a fter the woudnt make an alliance with France. It
Congress of Berlin in 1878 because of stated mutual protection in case of a war
tensions with Austria. Germany and Austria against Russia, but neutrality if it was
then signed the Dual Alliance, which: against another country.
Would secure Germanys southern frontier in This treaty and the fact that Germany
the event of a war with Russia didnt intervene in the Eastern Crisis was
Would frighten Russia into seeking a closer seen as an anti-Russian act.
relationship with Germany.

Triple Alliance (1881) The Dual alliance was enlarged into the Triple Bismarck didnt see Italy as a real ally, as
Alliance when Italy joined in 1882. he thought its military and political power
Renewed until WWI were poor. The alliance lacked unity as
Bismarck only signed it with Italy in order
to deprive France of a potential ally.

The reinsurance treaty 1887- 1890 Secret Agreement between When the treaty was not renewed in 1890,
(1887-1890) Germany and Russia. a Franco-Russian alliance rapidly began
Bismarck wanted to avoid a combined two to take s hape.
front attack from French and Russian.
The major issue of this treaty is that each party
would remain neutral if the other became
involved in a war with a third great power.
Conclusion: Kissinger: Although I admire Bismarcks subtle power games, I believe their result
is what sowed the seeds of Germanys 20th century tragedies.