61 of the Best Otto von Bismarck Quotes

Otto Von Bismarck Quotes

Otto Eduard Leopold von Bismarck was born in Berlin in the year of 1815. He was known to the world as Otto von Bismarck. He served as ambassador in St. Petersburg, Frankfurt and Paris from 1851-1862. Bismarck then went on to better things, serving as a chief minister for the king of Prussia, William I starting in 1862.

In 1864, Otto von Bismarck started wars that helped establish Prussian rule in Europe. Having served in those parts of Europe, Bismarck became highly familiar with the foundation of the Australian, French, and Russian foreign policies. Prussia’s army was feared by all of the others in Europe by the time Bismarck got done with shaping its army and balance of international rivalries.

Otto von Bismarck was actually known as ruthless, manipulative, strong and highly intelligent. He was responsible for the transformation of the small German states into the German empire, and became its first chancellor. He got the name ‘The Iron Chancellor’ because of a statement he had made about Germany only becoming powerful through blood and iron.

In 1890, the new King William II forced Bismarck out of power because he was too hard to control. After he had forced Bismarck out though, it was hard for King William II to remain in control of the unified states of Germany.

Otto Von Bismarck Quotes

  1. “Laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made.” – Otto von Bismarck
  2. “Only a fool learns from his own mistakes. The wise man learns from the mistakes of others.” – Otto von Bismarck
  3. “The main thing is to make history, not to write it.” – Otto von Bismarck
  4. “Be polite; write diplomatically; even in a declaration of war one observes the rules of politeness.” – Otto von Bismarck
  5. “All treaties between great states cease to be binding when they come in conflict with the struggle of existence.” – Otto von Bismarck
  6. “Government is cancerous in head and limbs; only its belly is sound, and the laws it excretes are the most strightforward sh*t in the world.” – Otto von Bismarck
  7. “Better pointed bullets than pointed words.” – Otto von Bismarck
  8. “There is a Providence that protects idiots, drunkards, children and the United States of America.” – Otto von Bismarck
  9. “What we learn from History is that no one learns from History” – Otto von Bismarck
  10. “Politics is the art of the possible.” – Otto von Bismarck
  11. “Preventive war is like committing suicide out of fear of death.” – Otto von Bismarck
  12. “When you say you agree to a thing in principle you mean that you have not the slightest intention of carrying it out in practice.” – Otto von Bismarck
  13. “When a man says he approves of something in principle, it means he hasn’t the slightest intention of putting it into practice.” – Otto von Bismarck
  14. “It is the destiny of the weak to be devoured by the strong.” – Otto von Bismarck
  15. “A conquering army on the border will not be stopped by eloquence.” – Otto von Bismarck
  16. “The nation that has the schools has the future.” – Otto von Bismarck
  17. “The great questions of the day will not be settled by means of speeches and majority decisions but by iron and blood.” – Otto von Bismarck
  18. “The Americans are a very lucky people. They’re bordered to the north and south by weak neighbors, and to the east and west by fish.” – Otto von Bismarck
  19. “Beware of sentimental alliances where the consciousness of good deeds is the only compensation for noble sacrifices.” – Otto von Bismarck, Bismarck and the German Empire by Erich Eyck
  20. “Man cannot control the current of events. he can only float with them and steer” – Otto von Bismarck
  21. “Political judgment is the ability to hear the distant hoofbeats of the horse of history.” – Otto von Bismarck
  22. “Faust complained about having two souls in his breast, but I harbor a whole crowd of them and they quarrel. It is like being in a republic.” – Otto von Bismarck
  23. “Crowned heads, wealth and privilege may well tremble should ever again the Black and Red unite!” – Otto on Bismarck
  24. “Revolutions in Prussia are started by kings, and since it is a revolution, it is better to start it ourselves than to suffer of it.” – Otto von Bismarck
  25. “People never lie so much as after a hunt, during a war or before an election.” – Otto von Bismarck
  26. “When a man says he approves of something in principle, it means he hasn’t the slightest intention of putting it into practice.” – Otto von Bismarck
  27. “Never fight with Russian. On your every stratagem they answer unpredictable stupidity.” – Otto von Bismarck
  28. “You can’t destroy the polish national-consciousness or Poles on the battlefield, but if you give them power, they will destroy themselves” – Otto von Bismarck
  29. “Hounds follow those who feed them.” – Otto von Bismarck
  30. “Fools say that they learn by experience. I prefer to profit by others experience.” – Otto von Bismarck
  31. “Nothing should be left to an invaded people except their eyes for weeping.” – Otto von Bismarck
  32. “Anyone who has ever looked into the glazed eyes of a soldier dying on the battlefield will think hard before starting a war.” – Otto von Bismarck
  33. “One day the great European War will come out of some d*mned foolish thing in the Balkans (1888).” – Otto von Bismarck
  34. “You can do anything with children if you only play with them.” – Otto von Bismarck
  35. “With a gentleman I am always a gentleman and a half, and with a fraud I try to be a fraud and a half.” – Otto von Bismarck
  36. “Politics are not a science based on logic; they are the capacity of always choosing at each instant, in constantly changing situations, the least harmful, the most useful.” – Otto von Bismarck
  37. “The luxury of one’s own opinion.” – Otto von Bismarck
  38. “With a gentleman I am always a gentleman and a half, and with a fraud I try to be a fraud and a half.” – Otto von Bismarck
  39. “The great questions of the day will not be settled by means of speeches and majority decisions but by iron and blood.” – Otto von Bismarck
  40. “Whoever speaks of Europe is wrong: it is a geographical expression.” – Otto von Bismarck
  41. “Politics is the art of the possible, the attainable – the art of the next best” – Otto von Bismarck
  42. “The statesman’s task is to hear God’s footsteps marching through history, and to try and catch on to His coattails as He marches past.” – Otto von Bismarck
  43. “They treat me like a fox, a cunning fellow ( Schlaukopf ) of the first rank. But the truth is that with a gentleman I am always a gentleman and a half, and when I have to do with a pirate, I try to be a pirate and a half.” – Otto von Bismarck
  44. “Never believe anything in politics until it has been officially denied. Otto von Bismarck
  45. “We live in a wondrous time in which the strong is weak because of his moral scruples and the weak grows strong because of his audacity.” – Otto von Bismarck
  46. “The less people know about how sausages and laws are made, the better they’ll sleep at night” – Otto von Bismarck
  47. “Politics is not an exact science.” – Otto von Bismarck
  48. “Politics ruins the character” – Otto von Bismarck
  49. “My subject is my life, and my life is my subject.” – Otto von Bismarck
  50. “When you want to fool the world, tell the truth.” – Otto von Bismarck
  51. “A really great man is known by three signs: generosity in the design, humanity in the execution, moderation in success.” – Otto von Bismarck
  52. “You can do everything with bayonets, but you are not able to sit on them” – Otto von Bismarck
  53. “I have seen three emperors in their nakedness, and the sight was not inspiring.” – Otto von Bismarck
  54. “If there is ever another war in Europe, it will come out of some damned silly thing in the Balkans.” – Otto von Bismarck
  55. “He who has his thumb on the purse has the power.” – Otto von Bismarck
  56. “The secret of politics? Make a good treaty with Russia.” – Otto von Bismarck
  57. “A generation that has taken a beating is always followed by a generation that deals one.” – Otto von Bismarck
  58. “I am accustomed to pay men back in their own coin.” – Otto von Bismarck
  59. “The Balkans aren’t worth the life of a single Pomeranian grenadier.” – Otto von Bismarck
  60. “An appeal to fear never finds an echo in German hearts.” – Otto von Bismarck
  61. “I consider even a victorious war as an evil, from which statesmanship must endeavor to spare nations.” – Otto von Bismarck

See also: Thomas Carlyle Quotes

Otto Von Bismarck Video – Extra History #1

This is an excellent video if you want to learn more about Otto. It’s animated and fun and its only a few minutes. Even kids will enjoy it. In the video, they talk about how Otto von Bismarck became the greatest statesman of a generation, after being an intransigent and irresponsible youth. He did not work hard through college and was also dismissed from an early political appointment before he got his act together as the historical statesman that he became.


Although Bismarck was known for being ruthless and manipulative, but he was also known for having a sense of limits and moderation. He was also known for sort of keeping the peace in Europe for about 20 years, even though at the beginning he had started wars to unify the empire.

The German Empire Bismarck essentially unified, only survived him by 20 years. These quotes might be useful to you because Otto von Bismarck was an intelligent and powerful man, he was knowledgeable and good at what he did. Bismarck is an important part of German history and will remain so until the end of time.


Image Credit: ArtMechanic via Wikimedia Commons

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