Blood and Iron Speech

1862-09-29 - Otto Von Bismarck


The Conflict is viewed too tragically, and presented too tragically in the press; the regime does not seek war. If the crisis can be ended with honor, the regime will gladly do so. The great independence of the individual makes it difficult in Prussia to rule under the Constitution. In France it is otherwise; there, individual independence is lacking. The constitutional crisis, however, is no shame, but rather an honor. We are perhaps too educated to put up with a constitution - we are too critical. Public opinion wavers; the press is not public opinion; we know how that arises. There are too many Catilines, who have revolution at heart.
The members [of the House], however, have the task of standing over public
sentiment, and of guiding it. Our blood is too hot, we prefer armor too great for our small body to carry, but we should put it to service. Germany does not look to Prussia's liberalism, but to its power. Bavaria, Wurttemberg, and Baden would like to turn to liberalism, but they shall not assume Prussia's role. Prussia must collect its forces for the favorable occasion, which has several times been neglected; Prussia's borders are not favorable to a healthy national life. Not by speeches and decisions of majorities will the greatest problems of the time be decided - that was the mistake of 1848-49 - but by iron and blood. This olive branch (he drew it from his memorandum book) I picked up in Avignon, to offer, as a symbol of peace, to the popular party: I see, however, that it is still not the time for it.