Bismarck was the greatest politician and diplomat of his times. He endeavoured his best to make Prussia a topmost power in Europe. His contemporary politicians accepted his skill and genius.

The influence he exercised on Europe can be clearly discerned by his foreign policy. The historians have compared him with ‘a juggler who could manage to perform the skilful feat of handling five balls at a time, the two of these being always in the air.’

The question, “was his foreign policy just or unjust?” may be a matter of debate but one thing was sure that it fulfilled the need of the time. Bismarck had based his foreign policy on farsightedness.

Sometimes immorality and contradictory views were also visible in this policy and even a raw man in the field of politics could very easily conclude that it would not prove durable as it was full of improbabilities and unnaturalness.


But it was a matter of surprise that so long as Bismarck remained the Chancellor of Germany; he did not let it fall. The following were the aims of his foreign policy:

Aims of Bismarck’s Foreign Policy

(i) Goodbye to Territorial Expansion:

Bismarck completed the unification of Germany in 1870 for which he had to incorporate several states into Prussia. People of Europe began to consider him as a great expansionist but after 1870, Bismarck assured the people that ‘Germany is a saturated country’ and he would not indulge in wars any more.


(ii) To establish status quo:

He adopted the principle of maintaining status quo in Europe. In other words, he was in favour of peace in place of war.

(iii) Continental Interest:

After becoming Chancellor of the German federal state, he declared that Germany was a continental country and not a colonial one. He did not pay much attention to the establishment of colonies beyond the seas and his diplomacy remained confined to Europe only.


(iv) Land Interests:

Bismarck used to call Germany a land rat. He never tried for the development of naval force nor he ever organised a fleet because he always considered himself to be a hero on land and did not wish to spoil his relations with England by making Germany strong in navy.

(v) Isolation of France:

Bismarck had taken the provinces of Alsace and Lorraine after defeating France in the battle of Sedan. The provinces were well known for their mines and industries.


He knew well that France would try her best to get them back and therefore enmity between Germany and France had become inevitable.

Bismarck decided to keep France friendless and isolated so that she could not wage a war of revenge against Germany. Actually the pivot of Bismarck’s foreign policy was keeping France isolated in Europe.

(vi) Special Attention towards Russia:

Russia could be a friend of France. Therefore, the foreign policy of the German Empire since 1871 had been the maintenance of peace and the prevention of anti-German coalition and the pivot of his policy was Russia.


(vii) Friendship with Austria:

Austria could also join hands with France as she was also defeated in 1866 by Bismarck in the battle of Sadowa but he managed to have friendly relations with Austria from 1879 to 1914 and did not allow France to break out of her isolation by establishing harmonious relations with Austria.

(viii) Policy of Appeasement towards England:

Bismarck knew well that England was following the policy of ‘Splendid Isolation’ because she considered herself to be a colonial country.


Bismarck did not increase his naval force nor established colonies, so that he could ingratiate himself with England and her favour. Thus he adopted the policy of appeasement towards England to avoid bitterness with her.

(ix) Distrust of Italy:

Bismarck had no faith in Italy. Though Italy was a small country, yet she was very clever. Bismarck used to call her a jackal due to her opportunistic attitude.

(x) Disinterest in Eastern Question:

Bismarck always regarded the Eastern Question as a useless riddle. He used to say that “I do not open the mail that comes from Constantinople.” So long as he remained in the chair, he did not take any interest in the Eastern Question.

(xi) Worried about Triple Alliance:

Bismarck considered Germany, Austria, Russia, France and Italy to be the powerful countries of Europe. He always regarded England to be a separate entity in the European politics and always planned to be united with at least three. Once he said to the Russian ambassador:

“You forget the importance of being a party of three on the European chess board. Nobody wishes to be in a minority. All politics reduce themselves to this formula; try to be a trios in a world governed by five powers.”

Though he used to profess that “Coalitions are his nightmare”, yet in fact, he was the person who started entering into coalitions in Europe to isolate France in European politics.