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Otto von Bismarck
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 1/28/20

Otto von Bismarck
Chancellor of the German Empire
In office
21 March 1871 – 20 March 1890
Monarch Wilhelm I
Friedrich III
Wilhelm II
Deputy Otto Graf zu Stolberg-Wernigerode
Karl Heinrich von Boetticher
Preceded by Position established
Succeeded by Leo von Caprivi
Minister President of Prussia
In office
9 November 1873 – 20 March 1890
Monarch Wilhelm I
Friedrich III
Wilhelm II
Preceded by Albrecht von Roon
Succeeded by Leo von Caprivi
In office
23 September 1862 – 1 January 1873
Monarch Wilhelm I
Preceded by Adolf zu Hohenlohe-Ingelfingen
Succeeded by Albrecht von Roon
Chancellor of the North German Confederation
In office
1 July 1867 – 21 March 1871
President Wilhelm I
Preceded by Position established
Succeeded by Position abolished
Minister of Foreign Affairs
In office
23 November 1862 – 20 March 1890
Prime Minister Himself
Albrecht von Roon
Preceded by Albrecht von Bernstorff
Succeeded by Leo von Caprivi
Personal details
Born Otto Eduard Leopold von Bismarck-Schönhausen
1 April 1815
Schönhausen, Kreis Jerichow II, Province of Saxony, Kingdom of Prussia
Died 30 July 1898 (aged 83)
Friedrichsruh, Kreis Herogtum Lauenburg, Province of Schleswig-Holstein, Kingdom of Prussia, German Empire
Political party Independent
Spouse(s) Johanna von Puttkamer
(1847–1894; her death)
Children Marie
Parents Karl Wilhelm Ferdinand von Bismarck (1771–1845)
Wilhelmine Luise Mencken (1789–1839)
Alma mater University of Göttingen
University of Berlin
University of Greifswald[1]
Profession Lawyer
Net worth ℳ12 million (1887)[2] (equivalent to 76 million 2009 €)

Otto Eduard Leopold, Prince of Bismarck, Duke of Lauenburg (Born von Bismarck-Schönhausen; German: Otto Eduard Leopold Fürst[3] von Bismarck, Herzog zu Lauenburg; 1 April 1815 – 30 July 1898), known as Otto von Bismarck (German: [ˈɔto fɔn ˈbɪsmaʁk] (About this soundlisten)), was a conservative German statesman who masterminded the unification of Germany in 1871 and served as its first chancellor until 1890, in which capacity he dominated European affairs for two decades. He had previously been Minister President of Prussia (1862–1890) and Chancellor of the North German Confederation (1867–1871). He provoked three short, decisive wars against Denmark, Austria, and France. Following the victory against Austria, he abolished the supranational German Confederation and instead formed the North German Confederation as the first German national state, aligning the smaller North German states behind Prussia. Receiving the support of the independent South German states in the Confederation's defeat of France, he formed the German Empire (which excluded Austria) and united Germany.

With Prussian dominance accomplished by 1871, Bismarck skillfully used balance of power diplomacy to maintain Germany's position in a peaceful Europe. To historian Eric Hobsbawm, Bismarck "remained undisputed world champion at the game of multilateral diplomatic chess for almost twenty years after 1871, [and] devoted himself exclusively, and successfully, to maintaining peace between the powers".[4] However, his annexation of Alsace-Lorraine (Elsaß-Lothringen) gave new fuel to French nationalism and Germanophobia.[5] This helped set the stage for the First World War. Bismarck's diplomacy of Realpolitik and powerful rule at home gained him the nickname the "Iron Chancellor". German unification and its rapid economic growth was the foundation to his foreign policy. He disliked colonialism but reluctantly built an overseas empire when it was demanded by both elite and mass opinion. Juggling a very complex interlocking series of conferences, negotiations and alliances, he used his diplomatic skills to maintain Germany's position.

A master of complex politics at home, Bismarck created the first welfare state in the modern world, with the goal of gaining working class support that might otherwise go to his Socialist enemies.[6] In the 1870s, he allied himself with the low-tariff, anti-Catholic Liberals and fought the Catholic Church in what was called the Kulturkampf ("culture struggle"). He lost that battle as the Catholics responded by forming the powerful German Centre Party and using universal male suffrage to gain a bloc of seats. Bismarck then reversed himself, ended the Kulturkampf, broke with the Liberals, imposed protective tariffs, and formed a political alliance with the Centre Party to fight the Socialists. A devout Lutheran, he was loyal to his king, Wilhelm I, who argued with Bismarck but in the end supported him against the advice of his wife and his heir. While Germany's parliament was elected by universal male suffrage, it did not have much control of government policy. Bismarck distrusted democracy and ruled through a strong, well-trained bureaucracy with power in the hands of a traditional Junker elite that consisted of the landed nobility in eastern Prussia. He largely controlled domestic and foreign affairs, until he was removed by the young new headstrong Kaiser Wilhelm II. He retired to write his memoirs.

Bismarck – a Junker himself – was strong-willed, outspoken and overbearing, but he could also be polite, charming and witty. Occasionally he displayed a violent temper, and he kept his power by melodramatically threatening resignation time and again, which cowed Wilhelm I. He possessed not only a long-term national and international vision but also the short-term ability to juggle complex developments. As the leader of what historians call "revolutionary conservatism",[7] Bismarck became a hero to German nationalists; they built many monuments honoring the founder of the new Reich. Many historians praise him as a visionary who was instrumental in uniting Germany and, once that had been accomplished, kept the peace in Europe through adroit diplomacy.

Early years

Bismarck in 1836, at age 21

Bismarck was born in 1815 at Schönhausen, a noble family estate west of Berlin in the Prussian province of Saxony. His father, Karl Wilhelm Ferdinand von Bismarck (1771–1845), was a Junker estate owner and a former Prussian military officer; his mother, Wilhelmine Luise Mencken (1789–1839), was the well educated daughter of a senior government official in Berlin. In 1816, the family moved to its Pomeranian estate, Kniephof (now Konarzewo, Poland), northeast of Stettin (now Szczecin), in the then-Prussian province of Farther Pomerania. There Bismarck spent his childhood in a bucolic setting.[8]

Bismarck had two siblings: his older brother Bernhard (1810–1893) and his younger sister Malwine (1827–1908). The world saw Bismarck as a typical backwoods Prussian Junker, an image that he encouraged by wearing military uniforms. However, he was well educated and cosmopolitan with a gift for conversation, and knew English, French, Italian, Polish and Russian.[9]

Bismarck was educated at Johann Ernst Plamann's elementary school,[10] and the Friedrich-Wilhelm and Graues Kloster secondary schools. From 1832 to 1833, he studied law at the University of Göttingen, where he was a member of the Corps Hannovera, and then enrolled at the University of Berlin (1833–35). In 1838, while stationed as an army reservist in Greifswald, he studied agriculture at the University of Greifswald.[1] At Göttingen, Bismarck befriended the American student John Lothrop Motley. Motley, who later became an eminent historian and diplomat while remaining close to Bismarck, wrote a novel in 1839, Morton's Hope, or the Memoirs of a Provincial, about life in a German university. In it he described Bismarck as a reckless and dashing eccentric, but also as an extremely gifted and charming young man.[11]

Although Bismarck hoped to become a diplomat, he started his practical training as a lawyer in Aachen and Potsdam, and soon resigned, having first placed his career in jeopardy by taking unauthorized leave to pursue two English girls: first Laura Russell, niece of the Duke of Cleveland, and then Isabella Loraine-Smith, daughter of a wealthy clergyman. He also served in the army for a year and became an officer in the Landwehr (reserve), before returning to run the family estates at Schönhausen on his mother's death in his mid-twenties.

Around age 30, Bismarck formed an intense friendship with Marie von Thadden [de], newly married to one of his friends, Moritz von Blanckenburg [de]. Under her influence, Bismarck became a Pietist Lutheran, and later recorded that at Marie's deathbed (from typhoid) he prayed for the first time since his childhood. Bismarck married Marie's cousin, the noblewoman Johanna von Puttkamer (1824–94) at Alt-Kolziglow (modern Kołczygłowy) on 28 July 1847. Their long and happy marriage produced three children: Marie (b. 1847), Herbert (b. 1849) and Wilhelm (b. 1852). Johanna was a shy, retiring and deeply religious woman—although famed for her sharp tongue in later life—and in his public life, Bismarck was sometimes accompanied by his sister Malwine "Malle" von Arnim. Bismarck soon adopted his wife's pietism, and he remained a devout Pietist Lutheran for the rest of his life.

Early political career

Young politician

In 1847 Bismarck, aged thirty-two, was chosen as a representative to the newly created Prussian legislature, the Vereinigter Landtag. There, he gained a reputation as a royalist and reactionary politician with a gift for stinging rhetoric; he openly advocated the idea that the monarch had a divine right to rule. His selection was arranged by the Gerlach brothers, fellow Pietist Lutherans whose ultra-conservative faction was known as the "Kreuzzeitung" after their newspaper, the Neue Preußische Zeitung, which was so nicknamed because it featured an Iron Cross on its cover.[12][13]

Bismarck in 1847, at age 32

In March 1848, Prussia faced a revolution (one of the revolutions of 1848 across Europe), which completely overwhelmed King Frederick William IV. The monarch, though initially inclined to use armed forces to suppress the rebellion, ultimately declined to leave Berlin for the safety of military headquarters at Potsdam. Bismarck later recorded that there had been a "rattling of sabres in their scabbards" from Prussian officers when they learned that the King would not suppress the revolution by force. He offered numerous concessions to the liberals: he wore the black-red-gold revolutionary colours (as seen on the flag of today's Germany), promised to promulgate a constitution, agreed that Prussia and other German states should merge into a single nation-state, and appointed a liberal, Gottfried Ludolf Camphausen, as Minister President.[14]

Bismarck had at first tried to rouse the peasants of his estate into an army to march on Berlin in the King's name.[15] He travelled to Berlin in disguise to offer his services, but was instead told to make himself useful by arranging food supplies for the Army from his estates in case they were needed. The King's brother, Prince Wilhelm, had fled to England; Bismarck tried to get Wilhelm's wife Augusta to place their teenage son Frederick William on the Prussian throne in Frederick William IV's place. Augusta would have none of it, and detested Bismarck thereafter,[16] despite the fact that he later helped restore a working relationship between Wilhelm and his brother the King. Bismarck was not yet a member of the Landtag, the lower house of the new Prussian legislature. The liberal movement perished by the end of 1848 amid internal fighting. Meanwhile, the conservatives regrouped, formed an inner group of advisers—including the Gerlach brothers, known as the "Camarilla"—around the King, and retook control of Berlin. Although a constitution was granted, its provisions fell far short of the demands of the revolutionaries.[17]

In 1849, Bismarck was elected to the Landtag. At this stage in his career, he opposed the unification of Germany, arguing that Prussia would lose its independence in the process. He accepted his appointment as one of Prussia's representatives at the Erfurt Parliament, an assembly of German states that met to discuss plans for union, but he only did so to oppose that body's proposals more effectively. The parliament failed to bring about unification, for it lacked the support of the two most important German states, Prussia and Austria. In September 1850, after a dispute over Hesse (the Hesse Crisis of 1850[18]), Prussia was humiliated and forced to back down by Austria (supported by Russia) in the so-called Punctation of Olmütz;[19] a plan for the unification of Germany under Prussian leadership, proposed by Prussia's Minister President Radowitz, was also abandoned.

The German Confederation 1815–1866. Prussia (in blue) considerably expanded its territory.

In 1851, Frederick William IV appointed Bismarck as Prussia's envoy to the Diet of the German Confederation in Frankfurt. Bismarck gave up his elected seat in the Landtag, but was appointed to the Prussian House of Lords a few years later. In Frankfurt he engaged in a battle of wills with the Austrian representative Count Friedrich von Thun und Hohenstein. He insisted on being treated as an equal by petty tactics such as imitating Thun when Thun claimed the privileges of smoking and removing his jacket in meetings.[20] This episode was the background for an altercation in the Frankfurt chamber with Georg von Vincke that led to a duel between Bismarck and Vincke with Carl von Bodelschwingh as an impartial party, which ended without injury.[21]

Bismarck's eight years in Frankfurt were marked by changes in his political opinions, detailed in the numerous lengthy memoranda, which he sent to his ministerial superiors in Berlin. No longer under the influence of his ultraconservative Prussian friends, Bismarck became less reactionary and more pragmatic. He became convinced that to countervail Austria's newly restored influence, Prussia would have to ally herself with other German states. As a result, he grew to be more accepting of the notion of a united German nation. He gradually came to believe that he and his fellow conservatives had to take the lead in creating a unified nation to keep from being eclipsed. He also believed that the middle-class liberals wanted a unified Germany more than they wanted to break the grip of the traditional forces over society.

Bismarck also worked to maintain the friendship of Russia and a working relationship with Napoleon III's France, the latter being anathema to his conservative friends, the Gerlachs,[22] but necessary both to threaten Austria and to prevent France allying with Russia. In a famous letter to Leopold von Gerlach, Bismarck wrote that it was foolish to play chess having first put 16 of the 64 squares out of bounds. This observation became ironic, as after 1871, France indeed became Germany's permanent enemy, and eventually allied with Russia against Germany in the 1890s.[23]

Bismarck was alarmed by Prussia's isolation during the Crimean War of the mid-1850s, in which Austria sided with Britain and France against Russia; Prussia was almost not invited to the peace talks in Paris. In the Eastern Crisis of the 1870s, fear of a repetition of this turn of events would later be a factor in Bismarck's signing the Dual Alliance with Austria-Hungary in 1879.

Ambassador to Russia and France

In October 1857, Frederick William IV suffered a paralysing stroke, and his brother Wilhelm took over the Prussian government as Regent. Wilhelm was initially seen as a moderate ruler, whose friendship with liberal Britain was symbolised by the recent marriage of his son Frederick William to Queen Victoria's eldest daughter. As part of his "New Course", Wilhelm brought in new ministers, moderate conservatives known as the Wochenblatt after their newspaper.

Bismarck with Roon (centre) and Moltke (right), the three leaders of Prussia in the 1860s

The Regent soon replaced Bismarck as envoy in Frankfurt and made him Prussia's ambassador to the Russian Empire.[24] In theory, this was a promotion, as Russia was one of Prussia's two most powerful neighbors. But Bismarck was sidelined from events in Germany and could only watch impotently as France drove Austria out of Lombardy during the Italian War of 1859. Bismarck proposed that Prussia should exploit Austria's weakness to move her frontiers "as far south as Lake Constance" on the Swiss border; instead, Prussia mobilised troops in the Rhineland to deter further French advances into Venetia.

As a further snub, the Regent, who scorned Bismarck as a Landwehrleutnant (reserve lieutenant), had declined to promote him to the rank of major-general, a rank that the ambassador to St. Petersburg was expected to hold. This was an important refusal as Prussia and Russia were close military allies, whose heads of state often communicated through military contacts rather than diplomatic channels.[citation needed] Bismarck stayed in St Petersburg for four years, during which he almost lost his leg to botched medical treatment and once again met his future adversary, the Russian Prince Gorchakov, who had been the Russian representative in Frankfurt in the early 1850s. The Regent also appointed Helmuth von Moltke as the new Chief of Staff of the Prussian Army, and Albrecht von Roon as Minister of War with the job of reorganizing the army. Over the next twelve years, Bismarck, Moltke and Roon transformed Prussia; Bismarck would later refer to this period as "the most significant of my life".[This quote needs a citation]

Despite his lengthy stay abroad, Bismarck was not entirely detached from German domestic affairs. He remained well-informed due to Roon, with whom Bismarck formed a lasting friendship and political alliance. In May 1862, he was sent to Paris to serve as ambassador to France, and also visited England that summer. These visits enabled him to meet and take the measure of several adversaries: Napoleon III in France, and in Britain, Prime Minister Palmerston, Foreign Secretary Earl Russell, and Conservative politician Benjamin Disraeli. Disraeli, who would become Prime Minister in the 1870s, later claimed to have said of Bismarck, "Be careful of that man—he means every word he says".[This quote needs a citation]

Minister President of Prussia

Otto von Bismarck as Minister President of Prussia, shown wearing insignia of a knight of the Johanniterorden

Prince Wilhelm became King of Prussia upon his brother Frederick Wilhelm IV's death in 1861. The new monarch often came into conflict with the increasingly liberal Prussian Diet (Landtag). A crisis arose in 1862, when the Diet refused to authorize funding for a proposed re-organization of the army. The King's ministers could not convince legislators to pass the budget, and the King was unwilling to make concessions. Wilhelm threatened to abdicate in favour of his son Crown Prince Frederick William, who opposed his doing so, believing that Bismarck was the only politician capable of handling the crisis. However, Wilhelm was ambivalent about appointing a person who demanded unfettered control over foreign affairs. It was in September 1862, when the Abgeordnetenhaus (House of Deputies) overwhelmingly rejected the proposed budget, that Wilhelm was persuaded to recall Bismarck to Prussia on the advice of Roon. On 23 September 1862, Wilhelm appointed Bismarck Minister President and Foreign Minister.[25]

Bismarck, Roon and Moltke took charge at a time when relations among the Great Powers (Great Britain, France, Austria and Russia) had been shattered by the Crimean War and the Italian War. In the midst of this disarray, the European balance of power was restructured with the creation of the German Empire as the dominant power in continental Europe apart from Russia. This was achieved by Bismarck's diplomacy, Roon's reorganization of the army and Moltke's military strategy.[26]

Despite the initial distrust of the King and Crown Prince and the loathing of Queen Augusta, Bismarck soon acquired a powerful hold over the King by force of personality and powers of persuasion. Bismarck was intent on maintaining royal supremacy by ending the budget deadlock in the King's favour, even if he had to use extralegal means to do so. Under the Constitution, the budget could be passed only after the king and legislature agreed on its terms. Bismarck contended that since the Constitution did not provide for cases in which legislators failed to approve a budget, there was a "legal loophole" in the Constitution and so he could apply the previous year's budget to keep the government running. Thus, on the basis of the 1861 budget, tax collection continued for four years.[27]

Bismarck's conflict with the legislators intensified in the coming years. Following the Alvensleben Convention of 1863, the House of Deputies resolved that it could no longer come to terms with Bismarck; in response, the King dissolved the Diet, accusing it of trying to obtain unconstitutional control over the ministry—which, under the Constitution, was responsible solely to the king. Bismarck then issued an edict restricting the freedom of the press, an edict that even gained the public opposition of the Crown Prince. Despite (or perhaps because of) his attempts to silence critics, Bismarck remained a largely unpopular politician. His supporters fared poorly in the elections of October 1863, in which a liberal coalition, whose primary member was the Progress Party, won over two-thirds of the seats. The House made repeated calls for Bismarck to be dismissed, but the King supported him, fearing that if he did dismiss the Minister President, he would most likely be succeeded by a liberal.[28]

Blood and Iron speech

Main article: Blood and Iron speech

German unification had been a major objective of the revolutions of 1848, when representatives of the German states met in Frankfurt and drafted a constitution, creating a federal union with a national parliament to be elected by universal male suffrage. In April 1849, the Frankfurt Parliament offered the title of Emperor to King Frederick William IV. Fearing the opposition of the other German princes and the military intervention of Austria and Russia, the King renounced this popular mandate. Thus, the Frankfurt Parliament ended in failure for the German liberals.

Bismarck at 48, 1863

On 30 September 1862, Bismarck made a famous speech to the Budget Committee of the Prussian Chamber of Deputies in which he expounded on the use of "iron and blood" to achieve Prussia's goals:

Prussia must concentrate and maintain its power for the favorable moment which has already slipped by several times. Prussia's boundaries according to the Vienna treaties are not favorable to a healthy state life. The great questions of the time will not be resolved by speeches and majority decisions – that was the great mistake of 1848 and 1849 – but by iron and blood.[29]

Defeat of Denmark

Prior to the 1860s, Germany consisted of a multitude of principalities loosely bound together as members of the German Confederation. Bismarck used both diplomacy and the Prussian military to achieve unification, excluding Austria from a unified Germany. This made Prussia the most powerful and dominant component of the new Germany, but also ensured that it remained an authoritarian state and not a liberal parliamentary democracy.[30]

Bismarck faced a diplomatic crisis when King Frederick VII of Denmark died in November 1863. The succession to the duchies of Schleswig and Holstein was disputed; they were claimed by Christian IX, Frederick VII's heir as King, and also by Frederick von Augustenburg, a Danish duke. Prussian public opinion strongly favoured Augustenburg's claim, as the populations of Holstein and southern Schleswig were primarily German-speaking.[citation needed] Bismarck took an unpopular step by insisting that the territories legally belonged to the Danish monarch under the London Protocol signed a decade earlier. Nonetheless, Bismarck denounced Christian's decision to completely annex Schleswig to Denmark. With support from Austria, he issued an ultimatum for Christian IX to return Schleswig to its former status.[citation needed] When Denmark refused, Austria and Prussia invaded, sparking the Second Schleswig War. Denmark was ultimately forced to renounce its claim on both duchies.

At first this seemed like a victory for Augustenburg, but Bismarck soon removed him from power by making a series of unworkable demands, namely that Prussia should have control over the army and navy of the duchies. Originally, it had been proposed that the Diet of the German Confederation, in which all the states of Germany were represented, should determine the fate of the duchies; but before this scheme could be effected, Bismarck induced Austria to agree to the Gastein Convention. Under this agreement signed on 20 August 1865, Prussia received Schleswig, while Austria received Holstein. In that year Bismarck was given the title of Count (Graf) of Bismarck-Schönhausen.[31]

King William on a black horse with his suite, Bismarck, Moltke, Roon, and others, watching the Battle of Königgrätz

Defeat of Austria

In 1866, Austria reneged on the agreement and demanded that the Diet determine the Schleswig–Holstein issue. Bismarck used this as an excuse to start a war with Austria by accusing them of violating the Gastein Convention. Bismarck sent Prussian troops to occupy Holstein. Provoked, Austria called for the aid of other German states, who quickly became involved in the Austro-Prussian War.[32] Thanks to Roon's reorganization, the Prussian army was nearly equal in numbers to the Austrian army. With the strategic genius of Moltke, the Prussian army fought battles it was able to win. Bismarck had also made a secret alliance with Italy, who desired Austrian-controlled Veneto. Italy's entry into the war forced the Austrians to divide their forces.[33]

Meanwhile, as the war began, a German radical named Ferdinand Cohen-Blind attempted to assassinate Bismarck in Berlin, shooting him five times at close range. Bismarck had only minor injuries.[34] Subsequently, Cohen-Blind committed suicide while in custody.

Cartoon from 1867 making fun of Bismarck's different roles, from general to minister of foreign affairs, federal chancellor, hunter, diplomat and president of the parliament of the Zollverein, the Prussian-dominated German customs union

The war lasted seven weeks; Germans called it a Blitzkrieg ("lightning war"), a term also used in 1939.[35] Austria had a seemingly powerful army that was allied with most of the north German and all of the south German states. Nevertheless, Prussia won the decisive Battle of Königgrätz. The King and his generals wanted to push onward, conquer Bohemia and march to Vienna, but Bismarck, worried that Prussian military luck might change or that France might intervene on Austria's side, enlisted the help of the Crown Prince, who had opposed the war but had commanded one of the Prussian armies at Königgrätz, to dissuade his father after stormy arguments. Bismarck insisted on a "soft peace" with no annexations and no victory parades, so as to be able to quickly restore friendly relations with Austria.[36]

As a result of the Peace of Prague (1866), the German Confederation was dissolved. Prussia annexed Schleswig, Holstein, Frankfurt, Hanover, Hesse-Kassel, and Nassau. Furthermore, Austria had to promise not to intervene in German affairs. To solidify Prussian hegemony, Prussia forced the 21 states north of the River Main to join it in forming the North German Confederation in 1867. The confederation was governed by a constitution largely drafted by Bismarck.[citation needed] Executive power was vested in a president, an hereditary office of the kings of Prussia, who was assisted by a chancellor responsible only to him. As president of the confederation, Wilhelm appointed Bismarck as chancellor of the confederation. Legislation was the responsibility of the Reichstag, a popularly elected body, and the Bundesrat, an advisory body representing the states. The Bundesrat was, in practice, the stronger chamber. Bismarck was the dominant figure in the new arrangement; as Foreign Minister of Prussia, he instructed the Prussian deputies to the Bundesrat.[citation needed]

Prussia had only a plurality (17 out of 43 seats) in the Bundesrat despite being larger than the other 21 states combined, but Bismarck could easily control the proceedings through alliances with the smaller states. This began what historians refer to as "The Misery of Austria" in which Austria served as a mere vassal to the superior Germany, a relationship that was to shape history until the end of the First World War.[citation needed] Bismarck had originally managed to convince smaller states like Saxony, Hesse-Kassel, and Hanover to join with Prussia against Austria, after promising them protection from foreign invasion and fair commercial laws.

"Politics is the art of the possible."
– Bismarck, 1867 interview

Bismarck, who by now held the rank of major in the Landwehr, wore this uniform during the campaign and was at last promoted to the rank of major-general in the Landwehr cavalry after the war. Although he never personally commanded troops in the field, he usually wore a general's uniform in public for the rest of his life, as seen in numerous paintings and photographs. He was also given a cash grant by the Prussian Landtag, which he used to purchase a country estate in Varzin, now part of Poland.[citation needed]

Military success brought Bismarck tremendous political support in Prussia. In the elections of 1866 the liberals suffered a major defeat, losing their majority in the House of Deputies. The new, largely conservative House was on much better terms with Bismarck than previous bodies; at the Minister President's request, it retroactively approved the budgets of the past four years, which had been implemented without parliamentary consent. Bismarck suspected it would split the liberal opposition. While some liberals argued that constitutional government was a bright line that should not be crossed, most of them believed it would be a waste of time to oppose the bill, and supported it in hopes of winning more freedom in the future.[citation needed]

Jonathan Steinberg says of Bismarck's achievements to this point:

The scale of Bismarck's triumph cannot be exaggerated. He alone had brought about a complete transformation of the European international order. He had told those who would listen what he intended to do, how he intended to do it, and he did it. He achieved this incredible feat without commanding an army, and without the ability to give an order to the humblest common soldier, without control of a large party, without public support, indeed, in the face of almost universal hostility, without a majority in parliament, without control of his cabinet, and without a loyal following in the bureaucracy. He no longer had the support of the powerful conservative interest groups who had helped him achieve power. The most senior diplomats in the foreign service ... were sworn enemies and he knew it. The Queen and the Royal Family hated him and the King, emotional and unreliable, would soon have his 70th birthday. ... With perfect justice, in August 1866, he punched his fist on his desk and cried "I have beaten them all! All!"[37]

Surrender of Napoleon III after the Battle of Sedan, 1 September 1870

Franco-Prussian War 1870–71

Main article: Franco-Prussian War

Prussia's victory over Austria increased the already existing tensions with France. The Emperor of France, Napoleon III, had tried to gain territory for France (in Belgium and on the left bank of the Rhine) as a compensation for not joining the war against Prussia and was disappointed by the surprisingly quick outcome of the war.[38] Accordingly, opposition politician Adolphe Thiers claimed that it was France, not Austria, who had really been defeated at Königgrätz. Bismarck, at the same time, did not avoid war with France, though he feared the French for a number of reasons. First, he feared that Austria, hungry for revenge, would ally with the French. Similarly, he feared that the Russian army would assist France to maintain a balance of power.[39] Still, however, Bismarck believed that if the German states perceived France as the aggressor, they would then unite behind the King of Prussia. To achieve this he kept Napoleon III involved in various intrigues, whereby France might gain territory from Luxembourg or Belgium. France never achieved any such gain, but it was made to look greedy and untrustworthy.[40]

A suitable pretext for war arose in 1870, when the German Prince Leopold of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen was offered the Spanish throne, vacant since a revolution in 1868. France pressured Leopold into withdrawing his candidacy. Not content with this, Paris demanded that Wilhelm, as head of the House of Hohenzollern, assure that no Hohenzollern would ever seek the Spanish crown again. To provoke France into declaring war with Prussia, Bismarck published the Ems Dispatch, a carefully edited version of a conversation between King Wilhelm and the French ambassador to Prussia, Count Benedetti. This conversation had been edited so that each nation felt that its ambassador had been slighted and ridiculed, thus inflaming popular sentiment on both sides in favor of war. Langer, however, argues that this episode played a minor role in causing the war.[41]

Bismarck wrote in his Memoirs that he "had no doubt that a Franco-German war must take place before the construction of a united Germany could be realised."[42] Yet he felt confident that the French army was not prepared to give battle to Germany's numerically larger forces: " If the French fight us alone they are lost." He was also convinced that the French would not be able to find allies since " France, the victor, would be a danger to everybody – Prussia to nobody." He added, "That is our strong point."[43]

France mobilized and declared war on 19 July. The German states saw France as the aggressor, and—swept up by nationalism and patriotic zeal—they rallied to Prussia's side and provided troops. Both of Bismarck's sons served as officers in the Prussian cavalry. The war was a great success for Prussia as the German army, controlled by Chief of Staff Moltke, won victory after victory. The major battles were all fought in one month (7 August to 1 September), and both French armies were captured at Sedan and Metz, the latter after a siege of some weeks. Napoleon III was taken prisoner at Sedan and kept in Germany for a time in case Bismarck had need of him to head the French regime; he later died in exile in England in 1873. The remainder of the war featured a siege of Paris, the city was "ineffectually bombarded";[44] the new French republican regime then tried, without success, to relieve Paris with various hastily assembled armies and increasingly bitter partisan warfare.

Bismarck quoted the first verse lyrics of "La Marseillaise", amongst others, when being recorded on an Edison phonograph in 1889, the only known recording of his voice. A biographer stated that he did so, 19 years after the war, to mock the French.[45]

Anton von Werner's patriotic, much-reproduced depiction of the proclamation of Wilhelm I as German emperor in the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles. Bismarck is in the center, wearing a white uniform. (1885)

Unification of Germany

Main article: Unification of Germany

Bismarck acted immediately to secure the unification of Germany. He negotiated with representatives of the southern German states, offering special concessions if they agreed to unification. The negotiations succeeded; patriotic sentiment overwhelmed what opposition remained. While the war was in its final phase, Wilhelm I of Prussia was proclaimed German Emperor on 18 January 1871 in the Hall of Mirrors in the Château de Versailles.[46] The new German Empire was a federation: each of its 25 constituent states (kingdoms, grand duchies, duchies, principalities, and free cities) retained some autonomy. The King of Prussia, as German Emperor, was not sovereign over the entirety of Germany; he was only primus inter pares, or first among equals. However, he held the presidency of the Bundesrat, which met to discuss policy presented by the Chancellor, whom the emperor appointed.

In the end, France had to cede Alsace and part of Lorraine, as Moltke and his generals wanted it as a buffer. Historians debate whether Bismarck wanted this annexation or was forced into it by a wave of German public and elite opinion.[47] France was also required to pay an indemnity;[48] the indemnity figure was calculated, on the basis of population, as the precise equivalent of the indemnity that Napoleon I had imposed on Prussia in 1807.

Historians debate whether Bismarck had a master plan to expand the North German Confederation of 1866 to include the remaining independent German states into a single entity or simply to expand the power of the Kingdom of Prussia. They conclude that factors in addition to the strength of Bismarck's Realpolitik led a collection of early modern polities to reorganize political, economic, military, and diplomatic relationships in the 19th century. Reaction to Danish and French nationalism provided foci for expressions of German unity. Military successes—especially those of Prussia—in three regional wars generated enthusiasm and pride that politicians could harness to promote unification. This experience echoed the memory of mutual accomplishment in the Napoleonic Wars, particularly in the War of Liberation of 1813–14. By establishing a Germany without Austria, the political and administrative unification in 1871 at least temporarily solved the problem of dualism.[citation needed]

Jonathan Steinberg said of Bismarck's creation of the German Empire that:

the first phase of [his] great career had been concluded. The genius-statesmen had transformed European politics and had unified Germany in eight and a half years. And he had done so by sheer force of personality, by his brilliance, ruthlessness, and flexibility of principle. ... [It] marked the high point of [his] career. He had achieved the impossible, and his genius and the cult of genius had no limits. ... When he returned to Berlin in March 1871, he had become immortal ...[49]

Chancellor of the German Empire

Bismarck in 1873

In 1871, Bismarck was raised to the rank of Fürst (Prince). He was also appointed as the first Imperial Chancellor (Reichskanzler) of the German Empire, but retained his Prussian offices, including those of Minister-President and Foreign Minister. He was also promoted to the rank of lieutenant-general, and bought a former hotel in Friedrichsruh near Hamburg, which became an estate. He also continued to serve as his own foreign minister. Because of both the imperial and the Prussian offices that he held, Bismarck had near complete control over domestic and foreign policy. The office of Minister President of Prussia was temporarily separated from that of Chancellor in 1873, when Albrecht von Roon was appointed to the former office. But by the end of the year, Roon resigned due to ill health, and Bismarck again became Minister-President.
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Bismarck launched an anti-Catholic Kulturkampf ("culture struggle") in Prussia in 1871. This was partly motivated by Bismarck's fear that Pius IX and his successors would use papal infallibility to achieve the "papal desire for international political hegemony.... The result was the Kulturkampf, which, with its largely Prussian measures, complemented by similar actions in several other German states, sought to curb the clerical danger by legislation restricting the Catholic church's political power."[50] In May 1872 Bismarck thus attempted to reach an understanding with other European governments to manipulate future papal elections; governments should agree beforehand on unsuitable candidates, and then instruct their national cardinals to vote appropriately. The goal was to end the pope's control over the bishops in a given state, but the project went nowhere.

Between Berlin and Rome, Bismarck (left) confronts the Pope, 1875

Bismarck accelerated the Kulturkampf. In its course, all Prussian bishops and many priests were imprisoned or exiled.[51] Prussia's population had greatly expanded in the 1860s and was now one-third Catholic. Bismarck believed that the pope and bishops held too much power over the German Catholics and was further concerned about the emergence of the Catholic Centre Party, organised in 1870. With support from the anticlerical National Liberal Party, which had become Bismarck's chief ally in the Reichstag, he abolished the Catholic Department of the Prussian Ministry of Culture. That left the Catholics without a voice in high circles. Moreover, in 1872, the Jesuits were expelled from Germany. In 1873, more anti-Catholic laws allowed the Prussian government to supervise the education of the Roman Catholic clergy and curtailed the disciplinary powers of the Church. In 1875, civil ceremonies were required for civil weddings. Hitherto, weddings in churches were civilly recognized.[52][53]

Kulturkampf became part of Bismarck's foreign-policy, as he sought to destabilize and weaken Catholic regimes, especially in Belgium and France, but he had little success.[54]

The British ambassador Odo Russell reported to London in October 1872 that Bismarck's plans were backfiring by strengthening the ultramontane (pro-papal) position inside German Catholicism: "The German Bishops, who were politically powerless in Germany and theologically in opposition to the Pope in Rome, have now become powerful political leaders in Germany and enthusiastic defenders of the now infallible Faith of Rome, united, disciplined, and thirsting for martyrdom, thanks to Bismarck's uncalled for antiliberal declaration of War on the freedom they had hitherto peacefully enjoyed."[55]

The Catholics reacted by organizing themselves and strengthening the Centre Party. Bismarck, a devout pietistic Protestant, was alarmed that secularists and socialists were using the Kulturkampf to attack all religion. He abandoned it in 1878 to preserve his remaining political capital since he now needed the Centre Party votes in his new battle against socialism. Pius IX died that year, replaced by the more pragmatic Pope Leo XIII who negotiated away most of the anti-Catholic laws. The Pope kept control of the selection of bishops, and Catholics for the most part supported unification and most of Bismarck's policies. However, they never forgot his culture war and preached solidarity to present organized resistance should it ever be resumed.[56]

Steinberg comments:

The anti-Catholic hysteria in many European countries belongs in its European setting. Bismarck's campaign was not unique in itself, but his violent temper, intolerance of opposition, and paranoia that secret forces had conspired to undermine his life's work, made it more relentless. His rage drove him to exaggerate the threat from Catholic activities and to respond with very extreme measures. ... As Odo Russell wrote to his mother, [Lady Emily Russell,] "The demonic is stronger in him than in any man I know." ... The bully, the dictator, and the "demonic" combined in him with the self-pity and the hypochondria to create a constant crisis of authority, which he exploited for his own ends. ... Opponents, friends, and subordinates all remarked on Bismarck as "demonic," a kind of uncanny, diabolic personal power over men and affairs. In these years of his greatest power, he believed that he could do anything.[57]


The Krupp factory in Essen, 1880

In 1873, Germany and much of Europe and America entered the Long Depression, the Gründerkrise. A downturn hit the German economy for the first time since industrial development began to surge in the 1850s. To aid faltering industries, the Chancellor abandoned free trade and established protectionist import-tariffs, which alienated the National Liberals who demanded free trade. The Kulturkampf and its effects had also stirred up public opinion against the party that supported it, and Bismarck used this opportunity to distance himself from the National Liberals. That marked a rapid decline in the support of the National Liberals, and by 1879 their close ties with Bismarck had all but ended. Bismarck instead returned to conservative factions, including the Centre Party, for support. He helped foster support from the conservatives by enacting several tariffs protecting German agriculture and industry from foreign competitors in 1879.[58]


Imperial and provincial government bureaucracies attempted to Germanise the state's national minorities situated near the borders of the empire: the Danes in the North, the Francophones in the West and Poles in the East. As minister president of Prussia and as imperial chancellor, Bismarck "sorted people into their linguistic [and religious] 'tribes'"; he pursued a policy of hostility in particular toward the Poles, which was an expedient rooted in Prussian history.[59] "He never had a Pole among his peasants" working the Bismarckian estates; it was the educated Polish bourgeoisie and revolutionaries he denounced from personal experience, and "because of them he disliked intellectuals in politics."[60] Bismarck's antagonism is revealed in a private letter to his sister in 1861: "Hammer the Poles until they despair of living [...] I have all the sympathy in the world for their situation, but if we want to exist we have no choice but to wipe them out: wolves are only what God made them, but we shoot them all the same when we can get at them."[61][62][63] Later that year, the public Bismarck modified his belligerence and wrote to Prussia's foreign minister: "Every success of the Polish national movement is a defeat for Prussia, we cannot carry on the fight against this element according to the rules of civil justice, but only in accordance with the rules of war."[61][64] With Polish nationalism the ever-present menace, Bismarck preferred expulsion rather than Germanisation.[65]


See also: State Socialism (Germany)

Worried by the growth of the socialist movement, the Social Democratic Party in particular, Bismarck instituted the Anti-Socialist Laws in 1878. Socialist organizations and meetings were forbidden, as was the circulation of socialist literature. Police officers could stop, search and arrest socialist party members and their leaders, a number of whom were then tried by police courts. Despite these efforts, the socialist movement steadily gained supporters and seats in the Reichstag. Socialists won seats in the Reichstag by running as independent candidates, unaffiliated with any party, which was allowed by the German constitution.[66]

Bismarck's strategy in the 1880s was to win the workers over for the conservative regime by implementing social benefits. He added accident and old-age insurance as well as a form of socialized medicine. He did not completely succeed, however. Support for the Social Democrats increased with each election.

Foreign policies

Early relations with Europe and its government

Main article: International relations of the Great Powers (1814–1919)

A main objective of Bismarck's was to prevent other powers from becoming allies of France (shown as the lonely girl on the far left).

Having unified his nation, Bismarck now devoted himself to promoting peace in Europe with his skills in statesmanship. He was forced to contend with French revanchism, the desire to avenge the losses of the Franco-Prussian War. Bismarck, therefore, engaged in a policy of diplomatically isolating France while maintaining cordial relations with other nations in Europe. He had little interest in naval or colonial entanglements and thus avoided discord with Great Britain. Historians emphasize that he wanted no more territorial gains after 1871, and vigorously worked to form cross-linking alliances that prevented any war in Europe from starting. By 1878 both the Liberal and Conservative spokesmen in Britain hailed him as the champion of peace in Europe.[67] A. J. P. Taylor, a leading British diplomatic historian, concludes that, "Bismarck was an honest broker of peace; and his system of alliances compelled every Power, whatever its will, to follow a peaceful course."[68]

Well aware that Europe was skeptical of his powerful new Reich, Bismarck turned his attention to preserving peace in Europe based on a balance of power that would allow Germany's economy to flourish. Bismarck feared that a hostile combination of Austria, France, and Russia would crush Germany. If two of them were allied, then the third would ally with Germany only if Germany conceded excessive demands. The solution was to ally with two of the three. In 1873 he formed the League of the Three Emperors (Dreikaiserbund), an alliance of Wilhelm, Tsar Alexander II of Russia, and Emperor Francis Joseph of Austria-Hungary. Together they would control Eastern Europe, making sure that restive ethnic groups such as the Poles were kept under control. The Balkans posed a more serious issue, and Bismarck's solution was to give Austria predominance in the western areas, and Russia in the eastern areas. This system collapsed in 1887.[69][70]

In 1872, a protracted quarrel began to fester between Bismarck and Count Harry von Arnim, the imperial ambassador to France. Arnim saw himself as a rival and competitor for the chancellorship, but the rivalry escalated out of hand, and Arnim took sensitive records from embassy files at Paris to back up his case. He was formally accused of misappropriating official documents, indicted, tried and convicted, finally fleeing into exile where he died. No one again openly challenged Bismarck in foreign policy matters until his resignation.[71]

Bismarck c. 1875


Main article: International relations of the Great Powers (1814–1919) § War in Sight crisis of 1875
France was Bismarck's main problem. Peaceful relations with France became impossible after 1871 when Germany annexed all of the province of Alsace and much of Lorraine. Public opinion demanded it to humiliate France, and the Army wanted its more defensible frontiers. Bismarck reluctantly gave in—French would never forget or forgive, he calculated, so might as well take the provinces. (That was a mistaken assumption—after about five years the French did calm down and considered it a minor issue.)[72] Germany's foreign policy fell into a trap with no exit. "In retrospect it is easy to see that the annexation of Alsace-Lorraine was a tragic mistake."[73][74] Once the annexation took place the only policy that made sense was trying to isolate France so it had no strong allies. However France complicated Berlin's plans when it became friends with Russia. In 1905 a German plan for an alliance with Russia fell through because Russia was too close to France.[75]

Between 1873 and 1877, Germany repeatedly manipulated the internal affairs of France's neighbors to hurt France. Bismarck put heavy pressure on Belgium, Spain, and Italy hoping to obtain the election of liberal, anticlerical governments. His plan was to promote republicanism in France by isolating the clerical-monarchist regime of President MacMahon. He hoped that surrounding France with liberal states would help the French republicans defeat MacMahon and his reactionary supporters.[76]

The bullying, however, almost got out of hand in mid-1875, when an editorial entitled "Krieg-in-Sicht" ("War in Sight") was published in a Berlin newspaper close to the government, the Post. The editorial indicated that highly influential Germans were alarmed by France's rapid recovery from defeat in 1875 and its announcement of an increase in the size of its army, as well as talks of launching a preventive war against France. Bismarck denied knowing about the article ahead of time, but he certainly knew about the talk of preventive war. The editorial produced a war scare, with Britain and Russia warning that they would not tolerate a preventive war against France. Bismarck had no desire for war either, and the crisis soon blew over. It was a rare instance where Bismarck was outmaneuvered and embarrassed by his opponents, but from that he learned an important lesson. It forced him to take into account the fear and alarm that his bullying and Germany's fast-growing power was causing among its neighbors, and reinforced his determination that Germany should work in proactive fashion to preserve the peace in Europe, rather than passively let events take their own course and reacting to them.[77][78]


Bismarck maintained good relations with Italy, although he had a personal dislike for Italians and their country.[79] He can be seen as a marginal contributor to Italian unification. Politics surrounding the 1866 Austro-Prussian War allowed Italy to annex Venetia, which had been a kronland ("crown land") of the Austrian Empire since the 1815 Congress of Vienna. In addition, French mobilization for the Franco-Prussian War of 1870–1871 made it necessary for Napoleon III to withdraw his troops from Rome and The Papal States. Without these two events, Italian unification would have been a more prolonged process.


After Russia's victory over the Ottoman Empire in the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–78, Bismarck helped negotiate a settlement at the Congress of Berlin. The Treaty of Berlin revised the earlier Treaty of San Stefano, reducing the size of newly independent Bulgaria (a pro-Russian state at that time). Bismarck and other European leaders opposed the growth of Russian influence and tried to protect the integrity of the Ottoman Empire (see Eastern Question). As a result, Russo-German relations further deteriorated, with the Russian chancellor Gorchakov denouncing Bismarck for compromising his nation's victory. The relationship was additionally strained due to Germany's protectionist trade policies. Some in the German military clamored for a preemptive war with Russia; Bismarck refused, stating: "Preemptive war is like committing suicide for fear of death."[80]

Bismarck realized that both Russia and Britain considered control of central Asia a high priority, dubbed the "Great Game". Germany had no direct stakes, however its dominance of Europe was enhanced when Russian troops were based as far away from Germany as possible. Over two decades, 1871–1890, he maneuvered to help the British, hoping to force the Russians to commit more soldiers to Asia.[81]

Triple Alliance

Caricature of the Triple alliance

The League of the Three Emperors having fallen apart, Bismarck negotiated the Dual Alliance with Austria-Hungary, in which each guaranteed the other against Russian attack. He also negotiated the Triple Alliance in 1882 with Austria-Hungary and Italy, and Italy and Austria-Hungary soon reached the "Mediterranean Agreement" with Britain. Attempts to reconcile Germany and Russia did not have a lasting effect: the Three Emperors' League was re-established in 1881 but quickly fell apart, ending Russian-Austrian-Prussian solidarity, which had existed in various forms since 1813. Bismarck therefore negotiated the secret Reinsurance Treaty of 1887 with Russia, in order to prevent Franco-Russian encirclement of Germany. Both powers promised to remain neutral towards one another unless Russia attacked Austria-Hungary. However, after Bismarck's departure from office in 1890, the Treaty was not renewed, thus creating a critical problem for Germany in the event of a war.

Colonies and imperialism

Hoisting the German flag at Mioko, German New Guinea in 1884

Bismarck had opposed colonial acquisitions, arguing that the burden of obtaining, maintaining, and defending such possessions would outweigh any potential benefit. He felt that colonies did not pay for themselves, that the German formal bureaucratic system would not work well in the easy-going tropics, and that the diplomatic disputes colonies brought would distract Germany from its central interest, Europe itself.[82] As for French designs on Morocco, Chlodwig, Prince of Hohenlohe-Schillingsfürst wrote in his memoirs that Bismarck had told him that Germany "could only be pleased if France took possession of the country" since "she would then be very occupied" and distracted from the loss of Alsace-Lorraine.[83] However, in 1883–84 he suddenly reversed himself and overnight built a colonial empire in Africa and the South Pacific. The Berlin Conference of 1884–85 organized by Bismarck can be seen as the formalization of the Scramble for Africa.

Historians have debated the exact motive behind Bismarck's sudden and short-lived move.[84] He was aware that public opinion had started to demand colonies for reasons of German prestige. He also wanted to undercut the anti-colonial liberals who were sponsored by the Crown Prince, who—given Wilhelm I's old age—might soon become emperor and remove Bismarck.[85][86] Bismarck was influenced by Hamburg merchants and traders, his neighbors at Friedrichsruh. The establishment of the German colonial empire proceeded smoothly, starting with German New Guinea in 1884.[82][87]

European officials staking claims to Africa in the Conference of Berlin in 1884

Other European nations, led by Britain and France, were acquiring colonies in a rapid fashion (see New Imperialism). Bismarck therefore joined in the Scramble for Africa. Germany's new colonies included Togoland (now Togo and part of Ghana), German Kamerun (now Cameroon and part of Nigeria), German East Africa (now Rwanda, Burundi, and the mainland part of Tanzania), and German South-West Africa (now Namibia). The Berlin Conference (1884–85) established regulations for the acquisition of African colonies; in particular, it protected free trade in certain parts of the Congo basin. Germany also acquired colonies in the Pacific, such as German New Guinea.[88]

Hans-Ulrich Wehler argues that his imperialistic policies were based on internal political and economic forces; they were not his response to external pressure. At first he promoted liberal goals of free trade commercial expansionism in order to maintain economic growth and social stability, as well as preserve the social and political power structure. However he changed, broke with the liberals, and adopted tariffs to win Catholic support and shore up his political base. Germany's imperialism in the 1880s derived less from strength and instead represented Bismarck's solution to unstable industrialization. Protectionism made for unity at a time when class conflict was rising. Wehler says the chancellor's ultimate goal was to strengthen traditional social and power structures, and avoid a major war.[89]

Avoiding war

In February 1888, during a Bulgarian crisis, Bismarck addressed the Reichstag on the dangers of a European war:

He warned of the imminent possibility that Germany will have to fight on two fronts; he spoke of the desire for peace; then he set forth the Balkan case for war and demonstrated its futility:

"Bulgaria, that little country between the Danube and the Balkans, is far from being an object of adequate importance... for which to plunge Europe from Moscow to the Pyrenees, and from the North Sea to Palermo, into a war whose issue no man can foresee. At the end of the conflict we should scarcely know why we had fought."[90]

Bismarck also repeated his emphatic warning against any German military involvement in Balkan disputes. Bismarck had first made this famous comment to the Reichstag in December 1876, when the Balkan revolts against the Ottoman Empire threatened to extend to a war between Austria and Russia:

Only a year later [1876], he is faced by the alternative of espousing the cause of Russia or that of Austria. Immediately after the last crisis, in the summer of 1875, the mutual jealousies between Russia and Austria had been rendered acute by the fresh risings in the Balkans against the Turks. Now the issues hung upon Bismarck's decision. Immediately after the peace, he had tried to paralyse the Balkan rivals by the formation of the Three Emperors' League. "I have no thought of intervening," he said privately. "That might precipitate a European war.... If I were to espouse the cause of one of the parties, France would promptly strike a blow on the other side.... I am holding two powerful heraldic beasts by their collars, and am keeping them apart for two reasons: first of all, lest they should tear one another to pieces; and secondly, lest they should come to an understanding at our expense." In the Reichstag, he popularises the same idea in the words: "I am opposed to the notion of any sort of active participation of Germany in these matters, so long as I can see no reason to suppose that German interests are involved, no interests on behalf of which it is worth our risking—excuse my plain speaking—the healthy bones of one of our Pomeranian musketeers."[91]

A leading diplomatic historian of the era, William L. Langer sums up Bismarck's two decades as Chancellor:

Whatever else may be said of the intricate alliance system evolved by the German Chancellor, it must be admitted that it worked and that it tided Europe over a period of several critical years without a rupture.... there was, as Bismarck himself said, a premium upon the maintenance of peace.[92]

Langer concludes:

His had been a great career, beginning with three wars in eight years and ending with a period of 20 years during which he worked for the peace of Europe, despite countless opportunities to embark on further enterprises with more than even chance of success.... No other statesman of his standing had ever before shown the same great moderation and sound political sense of the possible and desirable.... Bismarck at least deserves full credit for having steered European politics through this dangerous transitional period without serious conflict between the great powers."[93]

Franz von Lenbach's portrait of Bismarck in his 75th year

Social legislation

Early legislation

In domestic policy Bismarck pursued a conservative state-building strategy designed to make ordinary Germans—not just his own Junker elite—more loyal to throne and empire, implementing the modern welfare state in Germany in the 1880s.[94] According to Kees van Kersbergen and Barbara Vis, his strategy was:

granting social rights to enhance the integration of a hierarchical society, to forge a bond between workers and the state so as to strengthen the latter, to maintain traditional relations of authority between social and status groups, and to provide a countervailing power against the modernist forces of liberalism and socialism.[95]

Bismarck worked closely with large industry and aimed to stimulate German economic growth by giving workers greater security.[96] A secondary concern was trumping the Socialists, who had no welfare proposals of their own and opposed Bismarck's. Bismarck especially listened to Hermann Wagener and Theodor Lohmann, advisers who persuaded him to give workers a corporate status in the legal and political structures of the new German state.[97] In March 1884, Bismarck declared:

The real grievance of the worker is the insecurity of his existence; he is not sure that he will always have work, he is not sure that he will always be healthy, and he foresees that he will one day be old and unfit to work. If he falls into poverty, even if only through a prolonged illness, he is then completely helpless, left to his own devices, and society does not currently recognize any real obligation towards him beyond the usual help for the poor, even if he has been working all the time ever so faithfully and diligently. The usual help for the poor, however, leaves a lot to be desired, especially in large cities, where it is very much worse than in the country.[98]

Bismarck's idea was to implement welfare programs that were acceptable to conservatives without any socialistic aspects. He was dubious about laws protecting workers at the workplace, such as safe working conditions, limitation of work hours, and the regulation of women's and child labor. He believed that such regulation would force workers and employers to reduce work and production and thus harm the economy. Bismarck opened debate on the subject in November 1881 in the Imperial Message to the Reichstag, using the term practical Christianity to describe his program.[99] Bismarck's program centred squarely on insurance programs designed to increase productivity, and focus the political attentions of German workers on supporting the Junkers' government. The program included sickness insurance, accident insurance, disability insurance, and a retirement pension, none of which were then in existence to any great degree.

Based on Bismarck's message, the Reichstag filed three bills to deal with the concepts of accident and sickness insurance. The subjects of retirement pensions and disability insurance were placed on the back-burner for the time being.[100] The social legislation implemented by Bismarck in the 1880s played a key role in the sharp, rapid decline of German emigration to America. Young men considering emigration looked at not only the gap between higher hourly "direct wages" in the United States and Germany but also the differential in "indirect wages", social benefits, which favored staying in Germany. The young men went to German industrial cities, so that Bismarck's insurance system partly offset low wage rates in Germany and further reduced the emigration rate.[101]

Sickness Insurance Law of 1883

The first successful bill, passed in 1883, was the Sickness Insurance Bill. Bismarck considered the program, established to provide sickness insurance for German industrial laborers, the least important and the least politically troublesome.[102][103] The health service was established on a local basis, with the cost divided between employers and the employed. The employers contributed one third, and the workers contributed two-thirds. The minimum payments for medical treatment and sick pay for up to 13 weeks were legally fixed. The individual local health bureaus were administered by a committee elected by the members of each bureau, and this move had the unintended effect of establishing a majority representation for the workers on account of their large financial contribution. This worked to the advantage of the Social Democrats who, through heavy worker membership, achieved their first small foothold in public administration.[100]

According to a 2019 study, the health insurance legislation caused a substantial reduction in mortality.[104]

Accident Insurance Law of 1884

Bismarck's government had to submit three draft bills before it could get one passed by the Reichstag in 1884. Bismarck had originally proposed that the federal government pay a portion of the accident insurance contribution. Bismarck wanted to demonstrate the willingness of the German government to reduce the hardship experienced by the German workers so as to wean them away from supporting the various left-wing parties, most importantly the Social Democrats. The National Liberals took this program to be an expression of State Socialism, against which they were dead set. The Centre Party was afraid of the expansion of federal power at the expense of states' rights.

As a result, the only way the program could be passed at all was for the entire expense to be underwritten by the employers. To facilitate this, Bismarck arranged for the administration of this program to be placed in the hands of "Der Arbeitgeberverband in den beruflichen Korporationen" (the Organization of Employers in Occupational Corporations). This organization established central and bureaucratic insurance offices on the federal, and in some cases the state level to actually administer the program whose benefits kicked in to replace the sickness insurance program as of the 14th week. It paid for medical treatment and a pension of up to two-thirds of earned wages if the worker were fully disabled. This program was expanded, in 1886, to include agricultural workers.[100]

Old Age and Disability Insurance Law of 1889

The old age pension program, insurance equally financed by employers and workers, was designed to provide a pension annuity for workers who reached the age of 70. Unlike the accident and sickness insurance programs, this program covered all categories of workers (industrial, agrarian, artisans and servants) from the start. Also, unlike the other two programs, the principle that the national government should contribute a portion of the underwriting cost, with the other two portions prorated accordingly, was accepted without question. The disability insurance program was intended to be used by those permanently disabled. This time, the state or province supervised the programs directly.[105]


Final years and forced resignation

In 1888 Kaiser Wilhelm I died, leaving the throne to his son, Friedrich III. The new monarch was already suffering from cancer of the larynx and died after reigning for only 99 days. He was succeeded by his son, Wilhelm II, who opposed Bismarck's careful foreign policy, preferring vigorous and rapid expansion to enlarge Germany's "place in the sun".[107]

Bismarck was sixteen years older than Friedrich; before the latter became terminally ill, Bismarck did not expect he would live to see Wilhelm ascend to the throne and thus had no strategy to deal with him. Conflicts between Wilhelm and his chancellor soon poisoned their relationship. Their final split occurred after Bismarck tried to implement far-reaching anti-socialist laws in early 1890. The Kartell majority in the Reichstag, including the amalgamated Conservative Party and the National Liberal Party, was willing to make most of the laws permanent. However, it was split about the law granting the police the power to expel socialist agitators from their homes, a power that had been used excessively at times against political opponents. The National Liberals refused to make this law permanent, while the Conservatives supported only the entirety of the bill, threatening to and eventually vetoing the entire bill in session because Bismarck would not agree to a modified bill.[108]

Lenbach painting of Bismarck in retirement (1895)

As the debate continued, Wilhelm became increasingly interested in social problems, especially the treatment of mine workers during their strike in 1889. Keeping with his active policy in government, he routinely interrupted Bismarck in Council to make clear his social views. Bismarck sharply disagreed with Wilhelm's policies and worked to circumvent them. Even though Wilhelm supported the altered anti-socialist bill, Bismarck pushed for his support to veto the bill in its entirety. When his arguments could not convince Wilhelm, Bismarck became excited and agitated until uncharacteristically blurting out his motive to see the bill fail: to have the socialists agitate until a violent clash occurred that could be used as a pretext to crush them. Wilhelm countered that he was not willing to open his reign with a bloody campaign against his own subjects. The next day, after realizing his blunder, Bismarck attempted to reach a compromise with Wilhelm by agreeing to his social policy towards industrial workers and even suggested a European council to discuss working conditions, presided over by the Emperor.[109]

Still, a turn of events eventually led to his breaking with Wilhelm. Bismarck, feeling pressured and unappreciated by the Emperor and undermined by ambitious advisers, refused to sign a proclamation regarding the protection of workers along with Wilhelm, as was required by the German constitution. His refusal to sign was apparently to protest Wilhelm's ever increasing interference with Bismarck's previously unquestioned authority. Bismarck also worked behind the scenes to break the Continental labour council on which Wilhelm had set his heart.[110]

The final break came as Bismarck searched for a new parliamentary majority, as his Kartell was voted from power as a consequence of the anti-socialist bill fiasco. The remaining forces in the Reichstag were the Catholic Centre Party and the Conservative Party. Bismarck wished to form a new block with the Centre Party and invited Ludwig Windthorst, the parliamentary leader, to discuss an alliance. That would be Bismarck's last political maneuver. Upon hearing about Windthorst's visit, Wilhelm was furious.[111]

In a parliamentary state, the head of government depends on the confidence of the parliamentary majority and has the right to form coalitions to ensure their policies have majority support. However, in Germany, the Chancellor depended on the confidence of the Emperor alone, and Wilhelm believed that the Emperor had the right to be informed before his minister's meeting. After a heated argument in Bismarck's office, Wilhelm—to whom Bismarck had shown a letter from Tsar Alexander III describing Wilhelm as a "badly brought-up boy"—stormed out, after first ordering the rescinding of the Cabinet Order of 1851, which had forbidden Prussian Cabinet Ministers from reporting directly to the King of Prussia and required them instead to report via the Chancellor. Bismarck, forced for the first time into a situation that he could not use to his advantage, wrote a blistering letter of resignation, decrying Wilhelm's interference in foreign and domestic policy. The letter, however, was published only after Bismarck's death.[112][113]

"Dropping the Pilot" – Cartoon by Sir John Tenniel (1820–1914), first published in the British magazine Punch, 29 March 1890

Bismarck resigned at Wilhelm II's insistence on 18 March 1890, at the age of seventy-five. Steinberg sums up:

Thus ended the extraordinary public career of Otto von Bismarck, who ... had presided over the affairs of a state he made great and glorious. ... Now the humble posture that he had necessarily adopted in his written communications with his royal master had become his real posture. The old servant, no matter how great and how brilliant, had become in reality what he had always played as on a stage: a servant who could be dismissed at will by his Sovereign. He had defended that royal prerogative because it had allowed him to carry out his immense will; now the absolute prerogative of the Emperor became what it has always been, the prerogative of the sovereign. Having crushed his parliamentary opponents, flattened and abused his ministers, and refused to allow himself to be bound by any loyalty, Bismarck had no ally left when he needed it. It was not his cabinet nor his parliamentary majority. He had made sure that it remained the sovereign's, and so it was that he fell because of a system that he preserved and bequeathed to the unstable young Emperor.[114]

Bismarck was succeeded as Imperial Chancellor and Minister President of Prussia by Leo von Caprivi.[115] After his dismissal he was promoted to the rank of "Colonel-General with the Dignity of Field Marshal", so-called because the German Army did not appoint full Field Marshals in peacetime. He was also given a new title, Duke of Lauenburg, which he joked would be useful when traveling incognito. He was soon elected to the Reichstag as a National Liberal in Bennigsen's old and supposedly safe Hamburg seat, but he was so humiliated by being taken to a second ballot by a Social Democrat opponent that he never actually took up his seat. Bismarck entered into resentful retirement, lived in Friedrichsruh near Hamburg and sometimes on his estates at Varzin, and waited in vain to be called upon for advice and counsel. After his wife's death on 27 November 1894, his health worsened and one year later he was finally confined to a wheelchair.[116][117][118][119]

Last warnings and predictions

In December 1897, Wilhelm visited Bismarck for the last time. Bismarck again warned him about the dangers of improvising government policy based on the intrigues of courtiers and militarists:

Your Majesty, so long as you have this present officer corps, you can do as you please. But when this is no longer the case, it will be very different for you.[120]

Subsequently, Bismarck made this prediction:

Jena came twenty years after the death of Frederick the Great; the crash will come twenty years after my departure if things go on like this.[121]

The year before his death, Bismarck again predicted:

One day the great European War will come out of some damned foolish thing in the Balkans.[122]

Bismarck on his deathbed, 30 July 1898

Bismarck's tomb bearing the inscription,
Ein treuer deutscher Diener Kaiser Wilhelms I
("A loyal servant of German Emperor Wilhelm I")


Bismarck spent his final years composing his memoirs (Gedanken und Erinnerungen, or Thoughts and Memories), a work lauded by historians.[123] In the memoirs Bismarck continued his feud with Wilhelm II by attacking him, and by increasing the drama around every event and by often presenting himself in a favorable light. He also published the text of the Reinsurance Treaty with Russia, a major breach of national security, for which an individual of lesser status would have been heavily prosecuted.

Bismarck's health began to fail in 1896. He was diagnosed with gangrene in his foot, but refused to accept treatment for it; as a result he had difficulty walking and was often confined to a wheelchair. By July 1898 he was permanently wheelchair-bound, had trouble breathing, and was almost constantly feverish and in pain. His health rallied momentarily on the 28th, but then sharply deteriorated over the next two days. He died just after midnight on 30 July 1898, at the age of eighty-three in Friedrichsruh,[124] where he is entombed in the Bismarck Mausoleum. He was succeeded as Prince Bismarck by his eldest son, Herbert. Bismarck managed a posthumous snub of Wilhelm II by having his own sarcophagus inscribed with the words, "A loyal German servant of Emperor Wilhelm I".[125]
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Part 3 of 3

Legacy and memory


Historians have reached a broad consensus on the content, function and importance of the image of Bismarck within Germany's political culture over the past 125 years.[126][127] According to Steinberg, his achievements in 1862–71 were "the greatest diplomatic and political achievement by any leader in the last two centuries."[128]

Bismarck's most important legacy is the unification of Germany. Germany had existed as a collection of hundreds of separate principalities and Free Cities since the formation of the Holy Roman Empire. Over the centuries various rulers had tried to unify the German states without success until Bismarck. Largely as a result of Bismarck's efforts, the various German kingdoms were united into a single country.

Following unification, Germany became one of the most powerful nations in Europe. Bismarck's astute, cautious, and pragmatic foreign policies allowed Germany to peacefully retain the powerful position into which he had brought it, while maintaining amiable diplomacy with almost all European nations. France was the main exception because of the Franco–Prussian War and Bismarck's harsh subsequent policies; France became one of Germany's most bitter enemies in Europe. Austria, too, was weakened by the creation of a German Empire, though to a much lesser extent than France. Bismarck believed that as long as Britain, Russia and Italy were assured of the peaceful nature of the German Empire, French belligerency could be contained;[citation needed] his diplomatic feats were undone, however, by Kaiser Wilhelm II, whose policies unified other European powers against Germany in time for World War I.

Historians stress that Bismarck's peace-oriented, "saturated continental diplomacy" was increasingly unpopular, because it consciously reined in any expansionist drives.[citation needed] In dramatic contrast stands the ambition of Wilhelm II's Weltpolitik to secure the Reich's future through expansion, leading to World War I. Likewise Bismarck's policy to deny the military a dominant voice in foreign political decision making was overturned by 1914 as Germany became an armed state.

A statue of Bismarck in Berlin

German medal by Schwenzer 1898 (ND) commemorating Bismarck's death

Bismarck's psychology and personal traits have not been so favourably received by scholars. The historian Jonathan Steinberg portrays a demonic genius who was deeply vengeful, even toward his closest friends and family members:

[Bismarck's friend, German diplomat Kurd von Schlözer] began to see Bismarck as a kind of malign genius who, behind the various postures, concealed an ice-cold contempt for his fellow human beings and a methodical determination to control and ruin them. His easy chat combined blunt truths, partial revelations, and outright deceptions. His extraordinary double ability to see how groups would react and the willingness to use violence to make them obey, the capacity to read group behavior and the force to make them move to his will, gave him the chance to exercise what [Steinberg has] called his "sovereign self"[129]

Evans says he was "intimidating and unscrupulous, playing to others' frailties, not their strengths."[130] British historians, including Steinberg, Evans, Taylor, Palmer and Crankshaw, see Bismarck as an ambivalent figure, undoubtedly a man of great skill but who left no lasting system in place to guide successors less skilled than himself. Being a committed monarchist himself, Bismarck allowed no effective constitutional check on the power of the Emperor, thus placing a time bomb in the foundation of the Germany that he created.

Observers at the time and since have commented on Bismarck's skill as a writer. As Henry Kissinger has noted, "The man of 'blood and iron' wrote prose of extraordinary directness and lucidity, comparable in distinctiveness to Churchill's use of the English language."[131]

A 2011 biographer of Bismarck wrote that he was:

a political genius of a very unusual kind [whose success] rested on several sets of conflicting characteristics among which brutal, disarming honesty mingled with the wiles and deceits of a confidence man. He played his parts with perfect self-confidence, yet mixed them with rage, anxiety, illness, hypochrondria, and irrationality. ... He used democracy when it suited him, negotiated with revolutionaries and the dangerous Ferdinand Lassalle, the socialist who might have contested his authority. He utterly dominated his cabinet ministers with a sovereign contempt and blackened their reputations as soon as he no longer needed them. He outwitted the parliamentary parties, even the strongest of them, and betrayed all those ... who had put him into power. By 1870 even his closest friends ... realized that they had helped put a demonic figure into power.[132]

During most of his nearly thirty-year-long tenure, Bismarck held undisputed control over the government's policies. He was well supported by his friend Albrecht von Roon, the war minister, as well as the leader of the Prussian army Helmuth von Moltke. Bismarck's diplomatic moves relied on a victorious Prussian military, and these two men gave Bismarck the victories he needed to convince the smaller German states to join Prussia.[citation needed]

Bismarck took steps to silence or restrain political opposition, as evidenced by laws restricting the freedom of the press, and the anti-socialist laws. He waged a culture war (Kulturkampf) against the Catholic Church until he realized the conservatism of the Catholics made them natural allies against the Socialists. His king Wilhelm I rarely challenged the Chancellor's decisions; on several occasions, Bismarck obtained his monarch's approval by threatening to resign. However, Wilhelm II intended to govern the country himself, making the ousting of Bismarck one of his first tasks as Kaiser. Bismarck's successors as Chancellor were much less influential, as power was concentrated in the Emperor's hands.

Memorial to the young Bismarck at the Rudelsburg in Saxony-Anhalt

The Bismarck Monument, Hamburg


Immediately after he left office, citizens started to praise him and established funds to build monuments like the Bismarck Memorial or towers dedicated to him. Throughout Germany, the accolades were unending, several buildings were named in his honour, portraits of him were commissioned from artists such as Franz von Lenbach and C.W. Allers and books about him became best-sellers.[citation needed] The first monument built in his honour was the one at Bad Kissingen erected in 1877.

Numerous statues and memorials dot the cities, towns, and countryside of Germany, including the famous Bismarck Memorial in Berlin and numerous Bismarck towers on four continents. The only memorial depicting him as a student at Göttingen University (together with a dog, possibly his Reichshund Tyras) and as a member of his Corps Hannovera was re-erected in 2006 at the Rudelsburg.[citation needed] The gleaming white 1906 Bismarck Monument in the city of Hamburg, stands in the centre of the St. Pauli district, and is the largest, and probably best-known, memorial to Bismarck worldwide. The statues depicted him as massive, monolithic, rigid and unambiguous.[133] Two warships were named in his honour, the SMS Bismarck of the German Imperial Navy, and the Bismarck from the World War II–era.

Obverse of a WWI Judaica Silver Medal by Hugo Grünthal and Paul Sturm for Bismarck's 100th Birthday, 1915

The reverse of this medal is symbolising the war efforts by a giant carrying Germany.

Bismarck: memory and myth

Bismarck was the most memorable figure in Germany down to the 1930s. The dominant memory was the great hero of the 1860s, who defeated all enemies, especially France, and unified Germany to become the most powerful military and diplomatic force in the world. Of course, there were no monuments celebrating Bismarck's devotion to the cause of European peace after 1871.[134] But there were other German memories. His fellow Junkers were disappointed, as Prussia after 1871 became swallowed up and dominated by the German Empire. Liberal intellectuals, few in number but dominant in the universities and business houses, celebrated his achievement of the national state, a constitutional monarchy, and the rule of law, and forestalling revolution and marginalizing radicalism.[135][136] Social Democrats and labor leaders had always been his target, and he remained their bête noire.[137] Catholics could not forget the Kulturkampf and remained distrustful. Especially negative were the Poles who hated his Germanization programs.[138]

Robert Gerwarth shows that the Bismarck myth, built up predominantly during his years of retirement and even more stridently after his death, proved a powerful rhetorical and ideological tool.[139] The myth made him out to be a dogmatic ideologue and ardent nationalist when, in fact, he was ideologically flexible. Gerwarth argues that the constructed memory of Bismarck played a central role as an antidemocratic myth in the highly ideological battle over the past, which raged between 1918 and 1933. This myth proved to be a weapon against the Weimar Republic and exercised a destructive influence on the political culture of the first German democracy. Frankel in Bismarck's Shadow (2005) shows the Bismarck cult fostered and legitimized a new style of right-wing politics. It made possible the post-Bismarckian crisis of leadership, both real and perceived, that had Germans seeking the strongest possible leader and asking, "What Would Bismarck Do?" For example, Hamburg's memorial, unveiled in 1906, is considered one of the greatest expressions of Imperial Germany's Bismarck cult and an important development in the history of German memorial art. It was a product of the desire of Hamburg's patrician classes to defend their political privileges in the face of dramatic social change and attendant demands for political reform. To those who presided over its construction, the monument was also a means of asserting Hamburg's cultural aspirations and of shrugging off a reputation as a city hostile to the arts. The memorial was greeted with widespread disapproval among the working classes and did not prevent their increasing support for the Social Democrats.[140]

Place names

A number of localities around the world have been named in Bismarck's honour. They include:

• Bismarck Archipelago, near the former German colony of New Guinea.[141]
• Bismarck, Illinois[142]
• Bismarck, North Dakota, the only U.S. state capital named for a foreign statesman.[143]
• Bismarck, Missouri, a city in Missouri.[144]
• Bismarck Sea[145]
• Bismarck Strait, a channel in Antarctica.[146]
• Cape Bismarck, NE Greenland.[147]

Titles, styles, honours and arms

Styles of The Prince of Bismarck
Reference style His Serene Highness
Spoken style Your Serene Highness
Alternative style Sir

Titles and styles

• 1 April 1815 – 1865: Junker Otto von Bismarck
• 1865–1871: His High-born The Count of Bismarck-Schönhausen
• 1871–1890: His Serene Highness The Prince of Bismarck, Count of Bismarck-Schönhausen
• 1890 – 30 July 1898: His Serene Highness The Prince of Bismarck, Count of Bismarck-Schönhausen, Duke of Lauenburg

Bismarck was created Graf von Bismarck-Schönhausen ("Count of Bismarck-Schönhausen") in 1865; this comital title is borne by all his descendants in the male line. In 1871, he was further created Fürst von Bismarck ("Prince of Bismarck") and accorded the style of Durchlaucht ("Serene Highness"); this princely title descended only to his eldest male heirs.

Duke of Lauenburg

Arms of Otto, Prince Bismarck

In 1890, Bismarck was granted the title of Herzog von Lauenburg ("Duke of Lauenburg"); the duchy was one of the territories that Prussia seized from the king of Denmark in 1864.

It was Bismarck's ambition to be assimilated into the mediatized houses of Germany. He attempted to persuade Kaiser Wilhelm I that he should be endowed with the sovereign duchy of Lauenburg, in reward for his services to the imperial family and the German empire. This was on the understanding that Bismarck would immediately restore the duchy to Prussia; all he wanted was the status and privileges of a mediatized family for himself and his descendants. This novel idea was rejected by the conservative emperor, who thought that he had already given the chancellor enough rewards. There is reason to believe that he informed Wilhelm II of his wishes. After being forced by the sovereign to resign, he received the purely honorific title of "Duke of Lauenburg", without the duchy itself and the sovereignty that would have transformed his family into a mediatized house. Bismarck regarded it as a mockery of his ambition, and he considered nothing more cruel than this action of the emperor.[148]

Upon Bismarck's death in 1898 his dukedom, held only for his own lifetime, became extinct.



• Kingdom of Prussia:
o Order of the Black Eagle, Knight with Collar and Diamonds
o Order of the Red Eagle, Grand Cross with Oak Leaves, Crown, Scepter and Swords
o Order of the Prussian Crown, Knight 1st Class with Diamonds
o Royal House Order of Hohenzollern, Grand Commander with Diamonds
o Pour le Mérite with Oak Leaves, 1884 (military);[151] 1896 (civil)[152]
o Iron Cross, 2nd and 1st Class, 1870; with Oak Leaves and Jubilee Clip, 1895
o Wilhelm-Orden, Knight with Collar, 1896
o Johanniter Order, Commander of Honour
o Lifesaving Medal
o Landwehr Service Medal, 1st Class
• Anhalt: Order of Albert the Bear, Grand Cross, 1862[153]
• Baden: House Order of Fidelity, Knight, 1869; with Golden Collar in Diamonds, 1871[154]
• Bavaria: Order of St. Hubert, Knight with Star in Diamonds, 1866[155]
• Brunswick: Order of Henry the Lion, Grand Cross, 1867[156]
• Ernestine duchies: Saxe-Ernestine House Order, Grand Cross, 1866[157]
• Hanover: Royal Guelphic Order, Grand Cross
• Hesse-Kassel: Order of the Golden Lion, Knight, 1 July 1865[158]
• Hesse and by Rhine:[159]
o Order of Philip the Magnanimous, Grand Cross, 7 January 1855
o Ludwig Order, Grand Cross, 9 March 1871
• Mecklenburg: House Order of the Wendish Crown, Grand Cross with Golden Crown
• Oldenburg: House and Merit Order of Duke Peter Frederick Louis, Grand Cross with Golden Crown, 24 October 1866; with Swords, 31 December 1870[160]
• Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach: Order of the White Falcon, Grand Cross with Diamonds, 3 September 1866[161]
• Saxony: Order of the Rue Crown, Knight with Diamonds, 1868[162]
• Württemberg: Order of the Württemberg Crown, Grand Cross with Diamonds, 1871[163]


• Austrian Empire:[164]
o Imperial Order of the Iron Crown, Knight 1st Class, 1853
o Royal Hungarian Order of St. Stephen, Grand Cross with Diamonds, 1864
• Belgium: Royal Order of Leopold, Grand Cordon
• Denmark: Order of the Dannebrog, Grand Cross, 11 June 1852[165]
• French Empire: Legion of Honour, Grand Cross, May 1865[166]
• Kingdom of Greece: Order of the Redeemer, Grand Cross
• Kingdom of Italy: Order of the Annunciation, Knight, 13 January 1867[167]
• Holy See: Supreme Order of Christ, Knight with Diamonds
• Empire of Japan: Order of the Chrysanthemum, Grand Cordon
• Netherlands: Order of the Netherlands Lion, Grand Cross
• Luxembourg: Order of the Oak Crown, Grand Cross
• Ottoman Empire:
o Order of Osmanieh, 1st Class with Diamonds
o Gold Imtiyaz Medal with Diamonds
• Beylik of Tunis: Husainid House Order
• Persian Empire:
o Order of the Lion and the Sun, 1st Class
o Order of the August Portrait in Diamonds
• Kingdom of Portugal: Order of the Tower and Sword, Grand Cross
• Kingdom of Romania: Order of the Star of Romania, Grand Cross
• Russian Empire:
o Order of St. Andrew, Knight in Diamonds
o Order of St. Alexander Nevsky, Knight
o Order of St. Anna, Knight 1st Class
o Order of St. Stanislaus, Knight 1st Class
o Imperial Order of the White Eagle, Knight
• San Marino: Order of San Marino, Grand Cross
• Kingdom of Serbia: Royal Order of the White Eagle, Grand Cross
• Siam: Order of the White Elephant, Grand Cross
• Spain: Order of the Golden Fleece, Knight, 6 March 1875[168]
• Sweden-Norway: Royal Order of the Seraphim, Knight, 31 May 1875[169]
• Zanzibar: Order of the Brilliant Star of Zanzibar, Knight 1st Class (Princely Class)

In popular culture


• Historian Robert K. Massie has noted Bismarck's popular image was as "gruff" and "militaristic", while in reality "Bismarck's tool was aggressive, ruthless diplomacy."[170]
• Bismarck is one of the principal characters in Royal Flash, the second novel in the Flashman series written by George MacDonald Fraser.[171]


• Bismarck, portrayed by Curd Jürgens, appears as a major character in the 1974 British television series Fall of Eagles.[172]
• In the 2014 Danish series 1864, Bismarck is portrayed by Rainer Bock.[173]
• Bismarck appears as the leader of the German civilization in the computer strategy games, Civilization III, Civilization IV and Civilization V.[174]

See also

• Germany portal
• Politics portal
• Conservatism portal
• Conservatism in Germany
• Gerson von Bleichröder, Bismarck's banker and economics advisor
• House of Bismarck
• Landtag of Prussia
• Bismarck towers



1. Steinberg, Jonathan (2011). Bismarck: A Life. p. 51. ISBN 978-0199782529.
2. Pflanze 1990, p. 68.
3. Regarding personal names: Fürst is a title, translated as Prince, not a first or middle name. The feminine form is Fürstin.
4. Eric Hobsbawm, The Age of Empire: 1875–1914 (1987), p. 312.
5. Hopel, Thomas (23 August 2012) "The French-German Borderlands: Borderlands and Nation-Building in the 19th and 20th Centuries"
6. Steinberg, 2011, pp. 8, 424, 444; Bismarck specifically referred to Socialists, among others, as "Enemies of the Reich".
7. Hull, Isabel V. (2004). The Entourage of Kaiser Wilhelm II, 1888–1918. p. 85. ISBN 978-0521533218.
8. George Hesekiel: Das Buch vom Fürsten Bismarck. Bielefeld und Leipzig 1873, p. 55.
9. Lowe, Charles (2005). Prince Bismarck: An Historical Biography With Two Portraits. Kessinger Publishing. pp. 538–40. ISBN 978-1419180033. French he speaks with the purity and fluency almost of a native, and the same may be said of his English. [...] Not so fluent is the Chancellor's Italian as his French, but yet he can read the journals of Rome. [...] Once, too, he boasted that he was 'about the only man in the Foreign Office who understands Russian'—a language which he [...] acquired during his residence at St. Petersburg. [...] And not only did he master Russian, but he also learned Polish to a degree enabling him to make himself understood.
10. Field 1898, pp. 603–04.
11. Steinberg, 2011, pp. 39–41.
12. Steinberg, 2011, p. 93.
13. Pflanze 1971, p. 56.
14. Steinberg, 2011, p. 89.
15. Steinberg, 2011, p. 86.
16. Steinberg, 2011, pp. 87–88.
17. Pflanze 1971, p. 64.
18. Alan Palmer, Bismarck [Charles Scribner Publishers: New York, 1976] p. 41.
19. Alan Palmer, Bismarck, p. 42.
20. Steinberg, 2011, p. 117.
21. Steinberg, 2011, pp. 142–43.
22. Quotations from letters between Leopold von Gerlach and Bismarck debating the topic of Napoleon III are in Steinberg, 2011, pp. 131–33.
23. Steinberg, 2011, ch. 5.
24. Steinberg, 2011, p. 147
25. Steinberg, 2011, ch. 6.
26. Eyck 1964, pp. 58–68.
27. Taylor 1969, pp. 48–51.
28. Eyck 1964, pp. 69–70.
29. Hollyday 1970, pp. 16–18.
30. Gordon A. Craig, Germany, 1866–1945 (1978), pp. 1–21.
31. Eyck 1964, pp. 58–106.
32. Eyck 1964, pp. 107–38.
33. Pearce 2010.
34. Staff (May 10, 1866) "Ueber das Attentat auf den Grafen Bismarck" Wiener Morgen-Post (Vienna) p. 1
35. Darmstaedter, Friedrich (2008). Bismarck and the Creation of the Second Reich. Transaction Publishers. p. 289. ISBN 978-1412807838.
36. Steinberg, 2011, p. 253.
37. Steinberg, 2011, p. 257.
38. Howard 1991, p. 40.
39. Bismarck, Otto von (1966). The Memoirs vol. II. New York: Howard Fertig. pp. 58–60.
40. Eyck 1964, pp. 139–86.
41. William Langer, "Bismarck as Dramatist," in Studies in Diplomatic History & Historiography in Honour of G.P. Gooch (1962) pp. 199–216.
42. Bismarck, Otto, The Man & the Statesman, Vol. 2, Cosimo Classics, 2013, 384 p. ISBN 978-1596051850, p. 58.
43. Poschinger, Heinrich, Conversations with Prince Bismarck, Kessinger Publishing, 2007, 304 p. ISBN 0548341362, p. 87.
44. Taylor 1969, p. 126.
45. Cowen, Rob (31 January 2012). "Restored Edison Records Revive Giants of 19th-Century Germany". The New York Times. p. D3.
46. Crankshaw 1981, pp. 294–96.
47. Stern, Fritz (2013). Gold and Iron. p. 139. ISBN 978-0307829863.
48. Taylor 1969, p. 133.
49. Steinberg, 2011, pp. 311–12.
50. Hollyday 1970, p. 6.
51. Blackbourn 1998, pp. 261–63.
52. Ross 2000.
53. Gross 2005.
54. Stone, James (1994). "Bismarck and the Containment of France, 1873–1877". Canadian Journal of History. 29 (2): 281–304. doi:10.3138/cjh.29.2.281. Archived from the original on 14 December 2014.
55. Quoted in Crankshaw 1981, pp. 308–09
56. Rebecca Ayako Bennette, Fighting for the Soul of Germany: The Catholic Struggle for Inclusion after Unification (Harvard U.P. 2012)
57. Steinberg, 2011, pp. 335–36.
58. E. J. Feuchtwanger, Bismarck (2002) p. 208.
59. Taylor 1969, p. 124.
60. Taylor 1969, p. 10.
61. Crankshaw 1981, p. 149.
62. Cited from Bismarck: Die gesammelten Werke, edited by H. von Petersdorff, et al. (Berlin, 1923), Volume XIV, p. 568. Letter to Malwine von Arnim, 14 March 1861
63. Norman Davies, God's Playground, a History of Poland: 1795 to the present (1982) p. 124 online
64. Cited from Bismarck: Die gesammelten Werke, edited by H. von Petersdorff, et al. (Berlin, 1923), Volume III, pp. 289–90. Letter to Albrecht von Bernstorff, 13 November 1861
65. Crankshaw 1981, p. 404.
66. Friedrich Darmstaedter, Bismarck and the creation of the Second Reich (2008) pp. xiv, xvii
67. Shirley, Michael H.; Larson, Todd E. A., eds. (2016). Splendidly Victorian: Essays in Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century British History in Honour of Walter L. Arnstein. Routledge. pp. 146ff. ISBN 978-1317243274.
68. A.J.P. Taylor, Europe: Grandeur and Decline (1967) p. 89.
69. Raymond James Sontag, European Diplomatic History: 1871–1932 (1933) pp. 3–58.
70. W. N. Medlicott, "Bismarck and the Three Emperors' Alliance, 1881-87," Transactions of the Royal Historical Society Vol. 27 (1945), pp. 61–83 online.
71. Crankshaw 1981, p. 322.
72. Mitchell, Allan (2018). The German Influence in France after 1870: The Formation of the French Republic. p. 190. ISBN 978-1469622927.
73. Kent, George O. (1978). Bismarck and His Times. Southern Illinois UP. p. 79. ISBN 978-0809308590.
74. See also Ullrich, Volker (2015). Bismarck. p. 57. ISBN 978-1910376249. and Clark, Christopher M. (2006). Iron Kingdom: The Rise and Downfall of Prussia, 1600–1947. Harvard University Press. p. 553. ISBN 978-0674023857.
75. John Keiger, France and the World since 1870 (2001) pp 111–17.
76. Stone, James (1994). "Bismarck and the Containment of France, 1873–1877". Canadian Journal of History. 29 (2): 281–304. doi:10.3138/cjh.29.2.281. Archived from the original on 14 December 2014.
77. Lothar Gall, Bismarck: The White Revolutionary, Volume 2: 1871–1898 (1986) pp. 46–48.
78. William L. Langer, European Alliances and Alignments, 1871–1890 (2nd ed. 1950) pp. 44–55.
79. Taylor 1969, p. 212.
80. Retallack 2008, p. 29.
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Further reading


• Crankshaw, Edward (1981). Bismarck. The Viking Press. ISBN 978-0670169825.
o Rich, Norman (January 10, 1982) "Sinking the Bismarck Legend" (review) The Washington Post
• Darmstaedter, Friedrich (2008). Bismarck and the Creation of the Second Reich. Russel & Russel. ISBN 978-0846206248.
• Dawson, William Harbutt (1908). The Evolution of Modern Germany. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. ISBN 978-1519547781.
• Engelberg, Ernst (1986–90). Bismarck (in German). 1–2. Fayard. ISBN 978-3827500243.
• Eyck, Erich (1964). Bismarck and the German Empire. W.W. Norton & Company; 1st edition. ISBN 978-0393002355.
• Feuchtwanger, Edgar (2002). Bismarck. Historical Biographies. Routledge. ISBN 978-0415216135.
• Gall, Lothar (1990). Bismarck: The White Revolutionary. 1. Unwin Hyman. ISBN 978-0044457787.
• Gall, Lothar (1990). Bismarck: The White Revolutionary. 2. Trans. J. A. Underwood. Unwin Hyman. ISBN 978-0044457794.
• Headlam, James Wycliffe (1899). Bismarck and the Foundation of the German Empire. IndyPublish. ISBN 978-1414232713.
• Heuston, Kimberley Burton (2010). Otto von Bismarck: Iron Chancellor of Germany. A Wicked History. Franklin Watts. ISBN 978-0531228241. for middle school students
• Hollyday, F. B. M. (1970). Bismarck. Great Lives Observed. Prentice-Hall. ISBN 978-0130773623.
• Kent, George O. (1978). Bismarck and His Times. Southern Illinois University Press. ISBN 978-0809308590.
• Lerman, Katharine Anne. (2004). Bismarck: Profiles in Power. Longman. ISBN 978-0-582-03740-3.
• Ludwig, Emil (1927). Wilhelm Hohenzollern: The last of the Kaisers. Trans. Ethel Colburn Mayne. New York: Kessinger Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-0766143418.
• Ludwig, Emil (1927). Bismarck: The Story of a Fighter. Skyhorse Publishing. ISBN 978-1620871768.
• Pflanze, Otto (1971). Bismarck and the Development of Germany: The Period of Unification, 1815–1871. 1. Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0691007656.
• Pflanze, Otto (1990) [1963]. Bismarck and the Development of Germany: The Period of Consolidation, 1871–1880. 2. Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0-691-05588-6.
• Pflanze, Otto (April 1955). "Bismarck and German Nationalism". American Historical Review. 60 (3): 548–66. doi:10.2307/1845577. JSTOR 1845577.
• Robertson, Charles Grant (1919). Bismarck. London: Constable and Company. ISBN 978-1357142797. online review calls it best study in any language
• Steinberg, Jonathan (2011). Bismarck: A Life. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0199975396.
o Kissinger, Henry A (31 March 2011). "Otto von Bismarck, Master Statesman". The New York Times (book review).
• Stern, Fritz (1977). Gold and Iron: Bismarck, Bleichröder and the Building of the German Empire. Vintage. ISBN 978-0394740348.
• Taylor, A.J.P. (1969) [1955]. Bismarck: the Man and the Statesman. New York: Alfred A Knopf. ISBN 978-0394703879.
• Berghahn, Volker (1994). Imperial Germany, 1871–1914: Economy, Society, Culture and Politics. Berghahn Books. ISBN 978-1845450113.
• Blackbourn, David (1998). History of Germany, 1780–1918: The Long Nineteenth Century (Revised second ed.). Blackwell. ISBN 978-0631231967.
• Clark, Christopher (2009). Iron Kingdom: The Rise and Downfall of Prussia, 1600–1947. Belknap Press: An Imprint of Harvard University Press. ISBN 978-0674031968.
• Craig, Gordon A. (1978). Germany, 1866–1945. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0195027242.
• Holborn, Hajo (1982). "The Constitutional Conflict in Prussia and the Early Years of the Bismarck Ministry". The History of Modern Germany 1840–1945. 3. Princeton University Press. pp. 131–72. ISBN 978-0691007977.
• Holborn, Hajo (1982). "The Founding of the New German Empire, 1865–71". The History of Modern Germany 1840–1945. Princeton University Press. pp. 173–229. ISBN 978-0691007977.
• Holborn, Hajo (1969). "Bismarck and the Consolidation of the German Empire, 1871–90". The History of Modern Germany 1840–1945. Princeton University Press. pp. 233–97. ISBN 978-0691007977.
• Langer, William L. (1931). European Alliances and Alignments, 1871–1890. ASIN B001GJV44A.
o Highly detailed diplomatic history of all major European powers.
• Retallack, James N. (2008). Imperial Germany, 1871–1918. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0199204878.
• Robinson, Janet; Robinson, Joe (2009). Handbook of Imperial Germany. AuthorHouse. ISBN 978-1449021139.
• Sheehan, James J. (1989). German History, 1770–1866 (Reprint ed.). Clarendon Press. ISBN 978-0198204329.
• Sheehan, James J. (1978). German liberalism in the ninetury century. University of Chicago Press; ACLS. hdl:2027/heb.01317.0001.001.

Specialized studies

• Beck, Hermann (1995). Origins of the Authoritarian Welfare State in Prussia, 1815–1870. The University of Michigan Press. ISBN 978-0-472-08428-9.
• Brandenburg, Erich (1933). From Bismarck to the World War: A History of German Foreign Policy 1870–1914 (Reprint ed.). Howard Fertig Publisher. ISBN 978-0865274228. Archived from the original on 15 March 2017.
• Carroll, E. Malcolm (1975). Germany and the great powers, 1866–1914: A Study in Public Opinion and Foreign Policy. Octagon Books. ISBN 978-0374912994.
• Clark, Chester Wells (1934). Franz Joseph and Bismarck: The Diplomacy of Austria before the War of 1866. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. ASIN B0006BUIOG.
• Field, W. G. (October 1898). "Bismarck's First School". The Journal of Education. 20: 603–04.
• Goddard, Stacie E. (2008). "When Right Makes Might: How Prussia Overturned the European Balance of Power". International Security. 33 (3 Winter): 110–42. doi:10.1162/isec.2009.33.3.110. JSTOR 40207143.
• Gross, Michael B. (2005). The War against Catholicism: Liberalism and the Anti-Catholic Imagination in Nineteenth-Century Germany (New ed.). University of Michigan Press. ISBN 978-0472031306.
• Hennock, E. P. (2007). The Origin of the Welfare State in England and Germany, 1850–1914: Social Policies Compared. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0521597708.
• Hennock, E. P. (2003). "Social Policy in the Bismarck Era: A Progress Report". German History. 21 (2): 229–38. doi:10.1191/0266355403gh283xx.
• Howard, Michael (1991) [1961]. The Franco-Prussian War: The German invasion of France, 1870–1871 (2nd ed.). Routledge. ISBN 978-0415266710.
• Kennedy, Paul M. (1988). The Rise of the Anglo-German Antagonism, 1860–1914. Humanity Books. ISBN 157392301X.
• Kissinger, Henry (1968). "The White Revolutionary: Reflections on Bismarck". Daedalus. 97 (3): 888–924. JSTOR 20023844.
• Lord, Robert H. (1923). "Bismarck and Russia in 1863". American Historical Review. 29 (1): 2–48. doi:10.2307/1839273. JSTOR 1839273.
• Medlicott, W. N. (1945). "Bismarck and the Three Emperors' Alliance, 1881-87". Transactions of the Royal Historical Society. 27: 61–83. doi:10.2307/3678575. JSTOR 3678575.
• Mork, Gordon R. (1971). "Bismarck and the 'Capitulation' of German Liberalism". Journal of Modern History. 43 (1): 59–75. doi:10.1086/240588. JSTOR 1877926.
• Paur, Philip (1981). "The Corporatist Character of Bismarck's Social Policy". European History Quarterly. 11: 427–60. doi:10.1177/026569148101100401.
• Ross, Ronald J. (1998). The Failure of Bismarck's Kulturkampf: Catholicism and State Power in Imperial Germany, 1871–1887. The Catholic University of America Press. ISBN 978-0813208947.
• Stone, James (2012). "Bismarck Ante Portas! Germany and the Seize Mai Crisis of 1877". Diplomacy & Statecraft. 23 (2): 209–35. doi:10.1080/09592296.2012.679466.
• Stern, Fritz (1979). Gold and Iron: Bismark, Bleichroder, and the Building of the German Empire. Vintage. ISBN 978-0394740348.
• Stone, James (1994). "Bismarck and the Containment of France, 1873–1877". Canadian Journal of History. 29 (2): 281–304. doi:10.3138/cjh.29.2.281.
• Waller, Bruce (1974). Bismarck at the Crossroads. The Reorientation of German Foreign Policy after the Congress of Berlin 1878–1880. The Athlone Press. ISBN 978-0485131352.
• Wawro, Geoffrey (2005). The Franco-Prussian War: The German Conquest of France in 1870–1871. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0521617437.
• Wawro, Geoffrey (2012). "The War Scare of 1875: Bismarck and Europe in the Mid-1870s". German History. 30 (1): 140–41. doi:10.1093/gerhis/ghr079.
• Wehler, Hans-Ulrich (1970). "Bismarck's Imperialism 1862–1890". Past and Present. 4 8 (48): 119–55. doi:10.1093/past/48.1.119. JSTOR 650484.
• Wetzel, David (2012). A Duel of Nations: Germany, France, and the Diplomacy of the War of 1870–1871. University of Wisconsin Press. ISBN 978-0299291341.
• Wetzel, David (2001). A Duel of Giants: Bismarck, Napoleon III, and the Origins of the Franco-Prussian War. University of Wisconsin Press. ISBN 978-0-299-17490-3.
Historiography and memory
• Cowen, Ron (30 January 2012). "Restored Edison Records Revive Giants of 19th-Century Germany". The New York Times. Retrieved 31 January 2012.
• Frankel, Richard E. (2003). "From the Beer Halls to the Halls of Power: The Cult of Bismarck and the Legitimization of a New German Right, 1898–1945". German Studies Review. 26 (3): 543–60. doi:10.2307/1432746. JSTOR 1432746.
• Frankel, Richard E (2005). Bismarck's Shadow. The Cult of Leadership and the Transformation of the German Right, 1898–1945. Berg Publishers. ISBN 978-1-84520-033-6.
• Gerwarth, Robert (2007). "Inventing the Iron Chancellor". History Today. 57 (6): 43–49.
• Gerwarth, Robert (2005). The Bismarck Myth: Weimar Germany and the Legacy of the Iron Chancellor. Clarendon Press. ISBN 978-0199236893.
• Hamerow, Theodore S. (1993). Otto von Bismarck and Imperial Germany: A Historical Assessment (2nd ed.). D C Heath & Co. ISBN 978-0669294446.
• Müller, Frank Lorenz (2008). "Man, Myth and Monuments: The Legacy of Otto von Bismarck (1866–1998)". European History Quarterly. 38 (4): 626–36. doi:10.1177/0265691408094517.
• O'Shea, John J. (1898). "Bismarck's Decline and Fall". The American Catholic Quarterly Review. XXIII: 836–51.
• Pearce, Robert (2010). "The Austro-Prussian War". History Review (66).
• Russell, Mark A. (2000). "The Building of Hamburg's Bismarck Memorial, 1898–1906". Historical Journal. 43 (1): 133–56. doi:10.1017/S0018246X99008961. JSTOR 3021016.
• Spencer, Frank. "Bismarck And The Franco-Prussian War" History 40#140 (1955), pp. 319–25 online historiography
• Steefel, Lawrence D. (1930). "Bismarck". Journal of Modern History. 2 (1): 74–95. doi:10.1086/235557. JSTOR 1871140.
• Stürmer, Michael (1971). "Bismarck in Perspective". Central European History. 4 (4): 291–331. doi:10.1017/S0008938900015399. JSTOR 4545614.
• Urbach, Karina (1998). "Between Saviour and Villain: 100 Years of Bismarck Biographies". Historical Journal. 41 (4): 1141–60. doi:10.1017/s0018246x98008206. JSTOR 3020865.

Primary sources

• Bismarck, Otto von (1899). Bismarck, the Man & the Statesman: Being the Reflections and Reminiscences of Otto, Prince von Bismarck. 1. Trans. A. J. Butler. New York and London: Harper & Brothers.
• Bismarck, Otto von (1898). Gedanken und Erinnerungen. I. Gotta. (German)
• Bismarck, Otto von (1898). Gedanken und Erinnerungen. II. Gotta. (German)
• Bismarck, Otto von (1898). Memoirs. II. New York Harper.
• Hohenzollern, William I; Bismarck, Otto von (1903). The correspondence of William I. and Bismarck: with other letters from and to Prince Bismarck. Trans. J. A. Ford. New York : Stokes.
• Coveney, Dorothy Kathleen; Medlicott, William Norton (1971). Bismarck and Europe. Hodder Arnold. ISBN 978-0312082253.

External links

• Otto von Bismarck at the Encyclopædia Britannica
• Otto von Bismarck at Curlie
• "Bismarck", BBC Radio 4 discussion with Richard J. Evans, Christopher Clark and Katharine Lerman, In Our Time, 22 March 2007
• Newspaper clippings about Otto von Bismarck in the 20th Century Press Archives of the ZBW
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Fri Jan 31, 2020 12:20 am

Annie Royle Taylor
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 1/30/20

Travellers taking this road are subjected to a first and very strict examination at the first gate-house at Phari. The first requisite is a witness, who for a consideration swears that the traveller is going into India on business for a short time, intending to come back. Then a little palm-oil procures the passport, armed with which he goes on to the second gate at Chumbi Samba. Here he produces the passport and goes on to the third gate at Pimbithang, where he is examined carefully by Chinese officials. The fourth gate is at Tomo Rinchen-gang at which the traveller receives a written certificate, which he has to show on reaching the great gate of Nyatong Castle. Here he has to do much bribery, and is strictly cross-examined. If he comes through the ordeal, he receives another paper which he has to take back to the fourth gate to be countersigned and viséd. At the fourth gate he gets some more papers which he has to take to the Chinese officer at Pimbithang, from whom he receives another document written in Chinese, which, together with the document received at the fourth gate, must be taken once more to the gate house at Nyatong Castle. At length, on the production of all these documents, he is allowed to pass through the castle gate into the village of Nyatong. Here he crosses a small bridge on the other side of which are some Chinese sentinels, the commander of these Chinese troops receiving from him the certificate which he has received at the third gate. The document from the fourth gate he takes with[621] him to his destination: its production on his return journey will enable him once more to be admitted to the sacred soil of Tibet.

Between Phari and Nyatong I came across a great number of friends and acquaintances—some of them were chance acquaintances, others who had known me at Darjeeling. There was a lady missionary, Miss Annie R. Taylor, who was living with her servants near the Nyatong Gate, and there were some ill-natured Tibetans who knew me so well that I was obliged to keep my eye constantly open. I might, I felt, have the good fortune to get into the gate-house, but whether I would come out again was a more difficult problem. I could hardly expect to get through without meeting any of my friends. If I were detained for any length of time at Phari, there was the danger that I might be arrested by messengers from Lhasa, though I knew that ten days must elapse before my absence from that city would be detected. The period from April 20 to April 30 (Tibetan style) is a period of confusion and bustle in Lhasa, and during that period it was almost impossible that I should be missed. The conclusion of the Panchen Lama’s rites would leave the officials with leisure on their hands: then my absence would be noted, and in the end they would send messengers after me.

The day on which I held my meditation was May 3, according to the Tibetan calendar, and I concluded therefore that two or three days more must elapse before my pursuers could reach me. But a delay of four or five days at Phari might be a very critical question for me, and it was just possible that while we were kept cooling our heels in the last of the gate-houses, the Government messengers might arrive, and all our labour be lost. Yet it was very strange that, in spite of all the difficulties of the way, it had been revealed to me in my meditation that the public road was the one I ought to take.

I had thought that the danger of the two roads was about equal; but I thought that I would rather be arrested on the public road and possibly be treated with violence, than fall among wild beasts or robbers on the secret path. I had moreover on several occasions tried the method of religious meditation, and always with success. I determined therefore to follow the path that had been revealed to me.

That night, I slept but very little, in a sitting position, and early the next morning I started off on horseback towards the great snowy peak of Chomo-Lhari. By going round the side of the mountain, and gradually proceeding south, after leaving lake Lham tso, we at last saw far to the east and south, the great peak towering up above the clouds almost like a snowy image of sitting Ḍharma. It was summer; yet the weather was so exceedingly cold that no plants could grow there, except lichens of flattened kinds. By dint of whipping my horse all the time, I tried very hard to reach Phari on that day; but as my servant walked on foot and could not keep up with me, it was quite dark when we came to the village of Chu-kya. It is on a very high plateau, and the climate is exceedingly cold. The land here is not only high, but large snow mountains stand round it on both sides in one continuous row and it has been said to be the bleakest and most barren wilderness in the Tsang district. At night unless dried yak dung can be collected, piled up and burned continually, the cold is almost intolerable. Notwithstanding that it was early summer, it was colder than our most rigorous winter in Japan: indeed it is the coldest, wildest, most barren place between Lhasa and Darjeeling. The next morning, June 11th, we took tea and started at four o’clock, going about five miles south along the river flowing through the wilderness. I came to the Phari Zong just at sunrise.

-- Three Years in Tibet, by Shramana Ekai Kawaguchi

Annie (Hannah) Royle Taylor
Miss Taylor with her Tibetan servant
Born: 7 October 1855, Egremont, Cheshire, England
Died: 9 September 1922, Cromwell Crescent, Kensington, London, England

Hannah Royle Taylor (7 October 1855 – 9 September 1922), known as Annie Royle Taylor, was an English explorer and Evangelical missionary to China. She was the first Western woman known to have visited Tibet. She attempted to reach the "forbidden" city of Lhasa in 1892-1893.

Early life

She was a daughter of John Taylor, one of the directors of the Black Ball Line of packet ships.[1] At the age of 13 she became converted to evangelical Christianity and determined to become a missionary, against her parent's wishes. After studying medicine and working in the slums of London and Brighton, she joined the China Inland Mission. (She was no relation to CIM founder Hudson Taylor.[2]) She sailed to Shanghai in 1884 and was posted to Lanzhou on the borders of Tibet in 1886. Recalled from Lanzhou in 1888 because of poor health, she recuperated in Australia and determined to evangelise within Tibet.

She described herself as a troublesome and unhealthy child.[3] She was a "lone bad at harmonious relationships with colleagues that she would have to be returned to Britain or stretched to her own limits." Hudson Taylor wrote in 1890 that she was "having a very hard time of it."[4] Her father's wealth permitted her to be independent, not needing financial support from CIM.[5]

Expedition to Tibet

In 1889, Taylor journeyed to Darjeeling, India and subsequently to Sikkim to study the Tibetan language at a Buddhist monastery. While there she converted to Christianity a young Tibetan named Pontso, about 19 years old, who was to accompany her on her expedition to Tibet. In March 1891, she left Sikkim with Pontso and traveled to China, making her way to Tianshui where she founded a mission. Tianshui was a jumping off spot for commerce with Tibet.[6]

Domka Nedo monastery near Gyegu. When Taylor passed through this region in November 1892 it was cold and snowy.

On 2 September 1892, Taylor and Pontso left Tianshui with three Chinese helpers (one died and another left the party shortly), sixteen horses, two months food and equipment, and the objective of reaching Lhasa, capital of Tibet, closed to foreigners. Taylor shaved her hair and wore Tibetan dress to disguise herself as a Tibetan.[7] They proceeded southwest, passing through lands belonging to Mongol and Golog nomads, losing some of their horses to bandits, and spending two months without seeing a house. They arrived in Gyegu (Jyekundo), the center of the tea trade between China and Tibet on 11 November, but bypassed the town, fearing they would be apprehended by the authorities. From Gyegu they followed a well-known caravan trail toward Lhasa.

By this time, the little caravan was riven with dissention with Taylor fearing that Noga, her hired Chinese Muslim guide, might betray or even murder her.[8] The transcriber of Taylor's diary, who knew Taylor well, suggests that Noga did not consider himself a servant, but rather an equal and that the dissention might have been due to misunderstanding of the hierarchy of their relationship. To Taylor's relief, Noga departed on 14 December.[9]

On 3 January 1893, cold, most of their horses dead or stolen and without food—but only three days march from Lhasa—Taylor, Pontsu, and another servant were apprehended by Tibetan authorities beyond Nagchu.[10] After several days of difficult negotiations, Taylor was told that she must return to China by the shortest route. She demanded food and horses from the Tibetans, complained about the quality of both, and traded her watch for a tent.[11] On 19 January, with a ten-soldier escort, she and her two companions departed Nagchu and returned to Gyegu. The soldiers soon left them in the company of merchants and she traveled onward in bitter cold, reaching Gyegu on 21 February. From Gyegu, she arranged to continue her journey with Chinese merchants via the tea road to Kangding (Tachienlu), paying Tibetans to carry their few remaining goods. On 12 April 1893 she and Pontso, her only remaining companion, arrived in Kangding. French missionaries there assisted her and two days later she departed to the coast of China and to return to England.[12]

Later life

Taylor became a minor celebrity in England. She formed an organization called the "Tibetan Pioneer Mission" and recruited 14 people to travel with her to Sikkim to study Tibetan and evangelize on the borders of Tibet. Within a year "the infant mission was in a shambles. The new missionaries repudiated her leadership and called on the CIM for assistance."[13] After the failure of the Tibetan Pioneer Mission Taylor remained in Sikkim and in 1904, she joined the Younghusband Expedition to Tibet, serving as a nurse.[14]

Taylor returned to London in 1907
, where she died on 9 September 1922. She was buried on 13 September 1922 at West Norwood Cemetery.


1., accessed 8 May 2011
2. Tucker, Ruth A. "Unbecoming Ladies" Christian History, 1 October 1996., accessed 8 May 2011)
3. Taylor, Annie R. Pioneering in Tibet London: Morgan and Scott, 1898, p. v
4. Tucker, "Unbecoming Ladies."
5. Taylor, Annie R., p. vi,
6. Carey, William. Travel and Adventures in Tibet. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1902, p. 164
7. "A Lady's Adventures in Tibet." China's Millions. Dec 1893. ... s_in_tibet, accessed 9 May 2011
8. Carey, pp. 219-222
9. Carey, p. 139, 236
10. Taylor, Annie R. "My Experiences in Tibet." The Scottish Geographical Magazine Vol X, Jan 1894, p. 6
11. Carey, 262
12. Carey, 278-285
13. Tucker,, accessed 9 May 2011
14., accessed 9 May 2011

Published works

• Taylor, Annie R. Pioneering in Tibet. London: Morgan and Scott, (1898)
• Taylor, A. R. My diary in Tibet, ed. W. Carey, in W. Carey, Travel and Adventure in Tibet: Including the Diary of Miss Annie R. Taylor's Remarkable Journey from Tau-Chau to Ta-Chien-Lu Through the Heart of the "Forbidden Land (1902) [1]

External links

• Taylor, Annie Royle (1855–1922), Dorothy Middleton, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, accessed 31 October 2010
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Fri Jan 31, 2020 2:45 am

Theos Casimir Bernard
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 1/30/20

Theos Bernard
Bernard practising Baddhapadmasana, in his 1943 Hatha Yoga: The Report of a Personal Experience
Born: December 10, 1908, Pasadena, California
Died: 1947 (aged 38–39), Punjab, Pakistan
Nationality: American
Known for: Explorer, author, expert on Tibetan Buddhism, experiencing old-style hatha yoga
Viola Wertheim (m. 1934-1938; divorced)
Ganna Walska (m. 1942–1946; divorced)
Helen (m. 1947; survived him)

Theos Casimir Hamati Bernard[1] (1908–1947) was an explorer and author, known for his work on yoga and religious studies, particularly in Tibetan Buddhism. He was the nephew of Pierre Arnold Bernard, "Oom the Omnipotent",[2] like him becoming a yoga celebrity.[3]

His account of old-style hatha yoga as a spiritual path, Hatha Yoga: The Report of A Personal Experience, is a rare insight into the way these practices, known from medieval documents like the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, actually worked.[4]

His biographer Paul Hackett states that many of the travel experiences that Bernard relates in his books are exaggerated or fabricated. There is however no doubt that he became fluent in the Tibetan language, travelled in Tibet, met senior figures and gathered an unmatched collection of photographs, field notes, manuscripts and ritual objects.


Early life

Theos was born on 10 December 1908 in Pasadena, the son of Glen Agassiz Bernard and Aura Georgina Crable.[5] The name Theos is the Greek for God.[1] His father's interest in the spiritual philosophy of the East and subsequent travel to India soon caused the marriage to fail. Aura and Theos, still a baby, went to live in her home town of Tombstone, Arizona.[6]

As a student of liberal arts at the new University of Arizona from 1926, he became seriously ill with rheumatic pneumonia after being thrown into a fountain during a hazing ritual on a cold day early in 1927, and was taken home to recuperate.[5] There, he read his mother's extensive library of books on yoga, and was intrigued by the claim in L. Adams Beck's The Story of Oriental Philosophy that it could provide "infinite energy", but none of the books gave any details on how to achieve any such results.[6][7]

From 1929 he trained in law at the University of Arizona, obtaining a bachelor's degree in 1931 and began an internship in 1932.[8][9] During the summer holiday he worked as a court clerk in Los Angeles and by luck met his father, who introduced him to Indian philosophy and a variety of yogic practices;[2][5] his father had been trained in yoga by Sylvais Hamati, a Syrian-Bengali Hindu yogin, accounting for one of Bernard's middle names; his father's trip to India after Theos's birth was probably to visit Hamati there.[5][10] His father had the knowledge that Theos had been seeking, and as his guru instructed him systematically in hatha yoga, a study that he kept entirely secret. His father also persuaded him to go back to Arizona to study philosophy, and from February 1932 he spent another two years there reading philosophy and psychology. Theos never felt able to admit who his yoga guru was, and in his books such as his 1939 Heaven Lies Within Us, he invented a guru "In Arizona ... who had just arrived from India". His biographer Douglas Veenhof notes that while as was customary in Tantra, he claimed to have been sworn to secrecy, he wrote "at great length" about his tantric practices, refusing only to speak about "the first thing that teachers of Buddhism or Yoga philosophy tell their students: the lineage of their teachers."[11]

Running into debt, he discovered by a chance reading of Fortune magazine that he had a rich uncle in New York, Pierre Arnold Bernard, who had also trained under Hamati.[5] Pierre was known as "the father of Tantra in America",[12] but he was also, in Alan Watts's words, "a phenomenal rascal-master ... as well-versed in the ways of the world as of the spirit",[13] Theos went to meet his uncle, who had made his money by a variety of activities, including working as a matchmaker for the rich and using his yogic skills as entertainment, something which caused a serious rift between his father and his uncle.[5] He fell in love with one of his uncle's acquaintances, Viola Wertheim, a doctor from a wealthy family; she was the half-sister of the investment banker Maurice Wertheim. They married on 3 August 1934.[6][2][14] With the financial support of his uncle, Theos was able to study at Columbia University (in Upper Manhattan, New York). He gained his Master of Arts degree at Columbia in 1936.[2][5]

India and Tibet

'Tibetan Children', 1936-37, from Penthouse of the Gods

'Headdress Worn by Noblewomen of Central Tibet' from Penthouse of the Gods

In 1936, he toured India with his wife and father; both went home after a few months.[5][2][15] He travelled all over India, from Ceylon to Kashmir, meeting religious and yoga gurus. In Calcutta he arranged a meeting with Lama Tharchin of Kalimpong, and studied the Tibetan language. After nearly a year, he obtained permission in Sikkim from the British political officer to visit Tibet. He met several high officials of the government of Tibet, studied Tantric Yoga and collected many books on Tibetan Buddhism.[2][16]

Bernard was an accomplished and energetic photographer, shooting "an astounding 326 rolls of film (11,736 exposures) as well as 20,000 feet of motion picture film"[17] during his three months in Tibet in a "near obsessive documentation"[17] of what he saw. In the view of Namiko Kunimoto, Bernard's photographs taken in the East served to authenticate the travel narrative and to construct Tibet "as a site of personal transformation."[17] Back in America, Bernard's photographs of himself, whether in Tibetan dress or performing yoga poses such as Baddhapadmasana in the studio (a photo that also appears as plate XX in his Hatha Yoga[a]), appeared frequently in The Family Circle magazine from 1938, "reveal[ing] his willingness to commodify spirituality and assumptions of exoticism".[17]

On his return to the United States in 1937, claiming to be a lama,[6] his experiences were published across the country over several weeks by the North American Newspaper Alliance and Bell Syndicate.[18] Viola divorced him soon afterwards.[2] This was followed by a series of lectures and radio appearances in 1939 and by the publication the same year of the memoir Penthouse of the Gods.[19] The book was released in Britain as Land of a Thousand Buddhas, attracting "sensationalistic reports" from the tabloid press about the "white lama", and the status of "a fraud and imposter" from British intelligence, who had been tracking him in Tibet.[2]

Bernard was also featured in popular magazines, including five cover stories in Family Circle in 1938 and 1939, followed shortly by his second book, Heaven Lies Within Us, which explored Hatha Yoga under the guise of an autobiography.[20][17] According to Paul Hackett's 2008 Barbarian Lands, many of the experiences Bernard describes in these books were exaggerated or fabricated, based on the experiences of his father.[21]

However, he had indeed learnt fluent Tibetan, travelled in Tibet, met senior lamas and government officials, and returned with an unmatched collection of photographs, film, field notes, and manuscripts, from essentially the only moment when Tibet had allowed foreigners in, and from its final years as an independent country with a vibrant spiritual culture. His Tibetan collection included 22 bronze statues of Buddhist gods, 40 thangka paintings, 23 rugs, 25 mandalas, over 100 cloth wood-block prints, 79 books, and many textiles, robes, hats, ritual implements, and household objects. The collection is stored at the University of California, Berkeley.[22]

In 1939, Bernard opened the American Institute of Yoga and Pierre Health Studios.[23][24]

Hatha yoga

Main article: Hatha Yoga: The Report of A Personal Experience

During the 1940s Bernard completed his Ph.D. at Columbia University under the supervision of Herbert Schneider.[2][25] It describes his experiences as a scholar-practitioner with asanas and the reason he was "prescribed" them, purifications (shatkarmas), pranayama, and mudras, and gives a more theoretical account of samadhi. He had learnt these around 1932-1933, while studying at the University of Arizona.[26] He published his dissertation in 1943 as the book Hatha Yoga: The Report of A Personal Experience.[27] It was illustrated with high-quality studio photographs of Bernard in the yoga practices he had mastered. It was one of the earliest references in the West, possibly the first in English,[ b] on the asanas and other practices of hatha yoga, as described in texts such as Hatha Yoga Pradipika.[28] It represents, in the yoga scholar-practitioner Norman Sjoman's words "virtually the only documentation of a [hatha yoga] practice tradition", the actual use of hatha yoga to achieve successive stages on a spiritual path towards moksha, liberation.[4]

Tibetland, Lotusland

Mansion entrance at Lotusland

While working on Hatha Yoga, he met and in 1942 married the Polish opera star Ganna Walska, becoming her sixth and last husband. They purchased the historic 37-acre (15 ha) "Cuesta Linda" estate in Montecito, California, naming it Tibetland as they hoped to invite Tibetan monks to come and stay. This proved impossible during the war. In 1946 they divorced and Walska renamed it to Lotusland.[2]

Final journey

In 1947, Bernard, with his third wife, Helen,[2] again visited northern India, on an expedition to the Ki monastery in Tibet in an attempt to discover special manuscripts. In October, while in the hills of Punjab in what is now Pakistan, inter-communal violence associated with the Partition of India broke out. He and his Tibetan companion were shot, and their bodies thrown in a river.[c][29] He was declared dead several months later, though his body was never found.[30]


• Penthouse of the Gods : a pilgrimage into the heart of Tibet and the sacred city of Lhasa (1939a)
• Heaven Lies Within Us: Yoga Gave Me Superior Health (1939b)
• Hatha Yoga: The Report of A Personal Experience (1943) illustrated with 37 black-and-white photographs of Bernard in different asanas
• The Philosophical Foundations of India (1945)


1. And as the lead image above
2. It was preceded by Sport és Jóga in Spanish in 1941.[28]
3. This account of his death was related by G. A. Bernard, Theos's father.


1. Veenhof 2011, p. 7.
2. "The Life and Works of Theos Bernard". Columbia University. Retrieved 11 August2016.
3. Love, Robert (2006). "Fear of Yoga". Columbia Journalism Review (November/December 2006).
4. Sjoman, Norman E. (1999) [1996]. The Yoga Tradition of the Mysore Palace (2nd ed.). Abhinav Publications. p. 38. ISBN 81-7017-389-2.
5. Patel, Niral (16 October 2017). "Theos Bernard – The American Explorer of Tibet". Retrieved 25 February 2019.
6. Parachin 2018.
7. Veenhof 2011, pp. 13–15.
8. Hackett 2008, pp. 196–197.
9. Veenhof 2011, p. 16.
10. Veenhof 2011, pp. 17–18.
11. Veenhof 2011, pp. 19–21.
12. Veenhof 2011, p. 31.
13. Veenhof 2011, p. 29.
14. Veenhof 2011, p. 40.
15. "Viola Bernard". Omnipotent Oom. 28 February 2010. Archived from the original on 24 March 2012. Retrieved 23 March 2015.
16. Syman 2010, pp. 119–120, 122.
17. Kunimoto, Namiko (2011). "Traveler-as-Lama Photography and the Fantasy of Transformation in Tibet". Trans Asia Photography Review. 2 (1: The Elu[va]sive Portrait: In Pursuit of Photographic Portraiture in East Asia and Beyond, Guest edited by Ayelet Zohar, Fall 2011).
18. Syman 2010, p. 123.
19. Hackett 2008, pp. 687-690.
20. Hackett 2008, pp. 695-701.
21. Hackett 2008, pp. 694-702.
22. Veenhof 2011, pp. 389–393, and passim.
23. Hackett 2008, pp. 726-730.
24. Syman 2010, p. 132.
25. Lopez Jr., Donald S. (2007). The Madman's Middle Way: Reflections on Reality of the Tibetan Monk Gendun Chopel. University of Chicago Press. p. 31. ISBN 978-0-226-49317-6.
26. Veenhof 2011, pp. 21–25.
27. Patterson, Bobbi (13 March 2013). "Theos Bernard, the White Lama: Tibet, Yoga, and American Religious Life". Practical Matters A Journal of Religious Practices and Practical Theology. Retrieved 23 February2019.
28. Jain, Andrea (July 2016). "The Early History of Modern Yoga". Oxford Research Encyclopedias. doi:10.1093/acrefore/9780199340378.013.163. Retrieved 23 February 2019.
29. Bernard, Theos (1982). Hatha yoga. Rider. p. vi. ISBN 0091500516.
30. Love, Robert (2010). The Great Oom: The Improbable Birth of Yoga in America. Viking Adult. p. 315.


• DiValerio, David M. (2013). "Theos Bernard, the White Lama: Tibet, Yoga, and American Religious Life Reviewed" (PDF). Journal of Buddhist Ethics. 20.
• Hackett, Paul (2008). Barbarian Lands: Theos Bernard, Tibet, and the American Religious Life. Ph.D. dissertation. Columbia University.
• Hackett, Paul. Theos Bernard, the White Lama: Tibet, Yoga, and American Religious Life. Columbia University Press, 2012. ISBN 0231158866.
• Parachin, Victor M. (February 2018). "Theos Bernard | Yoga Pioneer" (PDF). Yoga Journal: 53–55.
• Syman, Stefanie (2010). The Subtle Body: The Story of Yoga in America. Macmillan. ISBN 978-0-374-23676-2.
• Veenhof, Douglas (2011). White Lama: The Life of Tantric Yogi Theos Bernard, Tibet's Emissary to the New World. Harmony Books. ISBN 0385514328.

External links

• Columbia University: The Life and Works of Theos Bernard
• Tibet in the 1930s: Theos Bernard's Legacy at UC Berkeley (with a selection of his photographs)
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Fri Jan 31, 2020 3:07 am

Pierre Bernard (yogi) [Perry Arnold Baker] [The Great Oom] [The Omnipotent Oom] [Oom the Magnificent] [Peter Coon] [Homer Stansbury Leeds]
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 1/30/20

Pierre Bernard
Bernard in 1939
Born: Perry Arnold Baker, 31 October 1875, Leon, Iowa, United States
Died: 27 September 1955 (aged 79), New York City, United States
Spouse(s) Blanche DeVries Bernard [Wikidata]

Pierre Arnold Bernard (October 31, 1875 – September 27, 1955) — known as "The Great Oom", "The Omnipotent Oom" and "Oom the Magnificent"[1] — was a pioneering American yogi, scholar, occultist, philosopher, mystic and businessman.


Due to his practice of keeping his origins obscure, little is known for certain about his early life. He is reported to have been born Perry Arnold Baker[2] or Peter Coon[3] in Leon, Iowa, 31 October 1875,[4] the son of a barber.[5] He also called himself Homer Stansbury Leeds at some point.[5]

Bernard was trained in yoga by an accomplished Tantric yogi known as Sylvais Hamati, under whom Bernard studied for years.[6] He met Hamati in Lincoln, Nebraska in the late 1880s and they travelled together.[6] Hamati taught Bernard body-control techniques of hatha yoga. After several years of study, Bernard was able to put himself into deep trance, so his body could be pierced with long surgical needles.[7] He gave a public demonstration of what he termed the "Kali Mudra", a simulating death trance in January, 1898 to a group of physicians in San Francisco.[7] During the demonstration Dr. D. McMillan inserted a surgical needle "slowly through one of Bernard's earlobes". Needles were also pushed through his cheek, upper lip and nostril.[7] Bernard was featured on January 29, 1898, on the front page of The New York Times.[6]

Bernard took interest in hypnotism.[6] In 1905, he founded the Bacchante Academy with Mortimer K. Hargis to teach hypnotism and sexual practices.
The organization declined because of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and their partnership dissolved.[8]

Bernard claimed to have traveled to Kashmir and Bengal before founding the Tantrik Order of America in 1905 or 1906,[4][9] variously reported as starting in San Francisco, Seattle, Tacoma, Washington, or in Portland, Oregon; the New York Sanskrit College in 1910; and the Clarkstown Country Club (originally called the Braeburn Country Club), a seventy-two acre estate with a thirty-room mansion[10] in Nyack, New York, a gift from a disciple,[5] in 1918. He eventually expanded to a chain of tantric clinics in places such as Cleveland, Philadelphia, Chicago, and New York City. Bernard is widely credited with being the first American to introduce the philosophy and practices of yoga and tantra to the American people.[4] He also played a critical role in establishing a greatly exaggerated association of tantra with the use of sex for mystical purposes in the American mindset.[10]

Pierre Bernard demonstrating the "Kali Mudra" death trance.

In 1910, two teenage girls, Zella Hopp and Gertrude Leo,[5] feeling that he had taken too much psychic control over their lives, had him charged with kidnapping (alleging that Leo had been prevented three times from leaving the institute)[5] and briefly imprisoned.[10] Hopp reported that, for a pre-induction, Bernard had her strip and placed his hand upon her left breast, explaining that he was testing her heartbeat. "I cannot tell you how Bernard got his control over me or how he gets it over other people. He is the most wonderful man in the world. No women seem able to resist him.... He had promised to marry me many times. But when he began the same thing with my little sister [Mary, age sixteen] I decided I would expose the whole matter. If it had only been myself I wouldn't have done it for the whole world." Three months later, the charges were dropped.[5]

He remained popular with upper middle class women and the high society of New York throughout the 1920s and 30s. He married Blanche de Vries, who taught yoga in New York into her eighties,[4] combining yoga with Eastern-inspired sensual dance and contributing to a shift in attitudes about women's autonomy and sexuality.[11] Historian of religion Robert C. Fuller, has commented that Bernard's "sexual teachings generated such scandal that he was eventually forced to discontinue his public promulgation of Tantrism.
Yet by this time Bernard had succeeded in making lasting contributions to the history of American alternative spirituality."[12]

Bernard trained boxer Lou Nova in yoga.[13][14] Bernard was involved with more conventional businesses, including baseball stadiums, dog tracks, an airport, and became president of the State Bank of Pearl River in 1931.[10]

Lecturers at the Clarkstown Country Club included Ruth Fuller Everett and Leopold Stokowski. Among Bernard's students there was Ida Pauline Rolf.[15] Scholars from across the US visited Bernard's library, said to have been the best Sanskrit collection in the country and to contain some 7000 volumes of philosophy, ethics, psychology, education, metaphysics, and related material on physiology and medicine, to do research.[16]


He was uncle of Theos Bernard,[17] an American scholar of religion, explorer and famous practitioner of Hatha Yoga and Tibetan Buddhism. His half-sister Ora Ray Baker married Inayat Khan after they met in 1912 at Bernard's Sanskrit College, and she subsequently became the mother of Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan,[18] a Sufi teacher.


Bernard published the International Journal: Tantrik Order. Only one issue was published in 1906.[19][20]
• International Journal: Tantrik Order 1 (5).
• Vira Sadhana: A Theory and Practice of Veda (American Import Book Company, 1919)


1. Stirling 2006, pg. 6
2. Laycock 2013.
3. Tantra in America
4. Stirling 2006, pg. 7
5. Pierre Arnold Bernard[unreliable source?]
6. Kripal, Jeffrey J. (2007). Remembering Ourselves: On Some Countercultural Echoes of Contemporary Tantric Studies. Religions of South Asia 1.1: 11-28.
7. Weir, David. (2011). American Orient: Imagining the East from the Colonial Era through the Twentieth Century. University of Massachusetts Press. p. 252. ISBN 978-1-55849-879-2
8. Melton, J. Gordon. (1999). Religious leaders of America: A Biographical Guide to Founders and Leaders of Religious Bodies, Churches, and Spiritual Groups in North America. Gale Research. p. 52. ISBN 978-0810388789
9. Lattin, Don (August 19, 2013). "The Father of Tantra — Pierre Bernard". Spirituality & Health.
10. Urban, Hugh B. (2001). The Omnipotent Oom: Tantra and its Impact on Modern Western Esotericism. Esoterica: The Journal of Esoteric Studies 3: 218-259.
11. Joseph, Laycock (Winter 2013). "Yoga for the New Woman and the New Man: The Role of Pierre Bernard and Blanche DeVries in the Creation of Modern Postural Yoga". Religion and American Culture: A Journal of Interpretation. 23 (1): 101-36. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
12. Fuller, Robert C. (2008). Spirituality in the Flesh: Bodily Sources of Religious Experiences. Oxford University Press. p. 125. ISBN 978-0-19-536917-5
13. Sann, Paul. (1967). Fads, Follies, and Delusions of the American People. Crown Publishers. p. 186
14. Love, Robert. (2010). The Great Oom: The Improbable Birth of Yoga in America. Viking. p. 289. ISBN 978-0670021758
15. Stirling 2006, pg. 8
16. Library of Pierre Arnold Bernard
17. "The Life and Works of Theos Bernard". Retrieved 2008-05-27.
18. Columbia University Health Sciences Library: Archives & Special Collections. This is a link to a .doc file, but you can also see it as html at the Wayback Machine (archived November 8, 2005). See the content of "Box 20" and "Box 21".
19. Anonymous. (1908). The Tantrik Order in America. Historic Magazine and Notes and Queries 26: 163.
20. "Journal of the Tantrick Order". The International Association for the Preservation of Spiritualist and Occult Periodicals.


• Stirling, Isabel (2006), Zen Pioneer: The Life & Works of Ruth Fuller Sasaki; Counterpoint.
• Love, Robert (2010). The Great Oom: The Improbable Birth of Yoga in America. Viking. ISBN 978-0670021758.
• Laycock, Joseph (2013). "Yoga for the New Woman and the New Man: The Role of Pierre Bernard and Blanche DeVries in the Creation of Modern Postural Yoga". Religion and American Culture: A Journal of Interpretation. 23 (1): 101–136. doi:10.1525/rac.2013.23.1.101. JSTOR 10.1525/rac.2013.23.1.101.

External links

• Omnipotent Oom
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Fri Jan 31, 2020 3:14 am

Pirani Ameena Begum [Ora Ray Baker]
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 1/30/20

Pirani Ameena Begum

Pirani Ameena Begum (Hindustani: अमीरा बेगम / امینہ بیگم) (born Ora Ray Baker; 8 May 1892 – 1 May 1949)[1] was the wife of Sufi Master Inayat Khan[2] and the mother of their four children: WWII heroine Noor-un-Nisa (1914-1944), [url]Vilayat[/url] (1916-2004), Hidayat (1917-2016) and Khair-un-Nisa (Cliaire) (1919-2011).[3]

Baker first met Khan when she attended one of his lectures in San Francisco, after which the pair quickly fell in love. However, resistance from Baker's family prevented them from marrying until 1913, at which point she took the name "Ameena Begum".[4] After living in London and Moscow for a time, the family settled in Suresnes, near Paris. She left a collection of 101 poems, "A Rosary of one hundred and one beads". Some poems were lost during World War II, but 54 have been preserved and were published in 1998. She was a cousin of Mary Baker Eddy,[5][6][7] founder of the Christian Science Church in the USA.

Hidayat Inayat Khan wrote: "In 1926, Hazrat Inayat Khan gave my Mother an exceptional initiation as "Pirani", which was only to be given to her. That special initiation was not to be given to any one else in the Sufi Movement, either in the present or in the future".[8] Hazrat Inayat Khan said in his Autobiography that without Ameena Begum's help he would never have been able to bring his Sufi Message to the Western world.[9][1].

Articles and poetry

• A Mother's Revelation, by Amina Begum Inayat Khan. "The Sufi" magazine No. 1 Vol. I, Febr. 1915
• Women's Seclusion in the East, by Amina Begum Inayat Khan. "The Sufi" magazine No. 3 Vol. I, Sept. 1915
• The children of today, by Amina Begum Inayat Khan. "The Sufi" magazine May. 1917
• Poems from Thy Rosary of a Hundred Beads, a collection of poems written by 'Sharda, Pirani Ameena Begum Ora-Ray Inayat Khan'. "Caravanseari" magazine (Canada) November 1988 pp. 31–34 [2]
• Poems from Thy Rosary of a Hundred Beads by 'Sharda, Pirani Ameena Begum Ora-Ray Inayat Khan'. Published in book of Hidayat Inayat Khan "Once upon a time..." Groningen (Netherlands) 1998 pp. 53–87
• Rosary of a Hundred Beads 'Sharda' to 'Daya by Pirani Ameena Begum Ora Ray Baker. Published by Petama books (Zurich) ISBN 978-3-907643-03-7, paperback, 64 p.

Sources and notes

1. Noor-un-nisa Inayat Khan (Madeleine), George Cross, MBE, Croix de Guerre with Gold Star by Jean Overton Fuller. East-West Publications, London, Den Haag (1971); ISBN 0-85692-067-3; pp. 30-32, 47-49
2. The Columbia Sourcebook of Muslims in the United States by Edward E. Curtis IV. Columbia University Press 2007 p. 47
3. Elisabeth de Jong-Keesing: Inayat Khan. A Biography, East-West Publications, London, Den Haag (1974); ISBN 0-7189-0243-2, pp. 106, 119.
4. Spy Princess: The Life of Noor Inayat Khan. Shrabani Basu. Omega Publications, Inc.; 1st edition (August 1, 2007); ISBN 0-930872-78-9, pp. 19-21
5. Camille Adams Helminski. Women of Sufism: A Hidden Treasure, Shambhala (2003); ISBN 1570629676, p. 158
6. Melton, J. Gordon (1999), Religious leaders of America (2 ed.), Detroit, Michigan: Gale Research, p. 299, ISBN 0810388782, OCLC 41000889
7. Melton, J. Gordon; Clark, Jerome; Kelly, Aidan A. (1990), New Age Encyclopedia, Detroit, Michigan: Gale Research, p. 442, ISBN 0810371596, OCLC 20022610
8. Once Upon a Time. Early Days Stories About My Beloved Father and Mother by Hidayat Inayat Khan. Groningen. Netherlands 1998
9. The Biography of Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan. London/The Hague: East-West Publications, 1979 ISBN 0-85692-012-6 (in "Personal account" pp. 115-118)
• HJ Witteveen. Universal Sufism. Publisher: Element Books Ltd (September 1997); ISBN 1-86204-093-1, pp. 36–37
• Russo-Indian Relations in 1900-1917. A Selection of Documents. (in Russian). Moscow: The Oriental Literature (Russian Academy of Science). 1999; ISBN 5-02-018155-2
• Spy Princess: The Life of Noor Inayat Khan. Shrabani Basu. Publisher: Omega Publications, Inc.; 1st edition (1 August 2007); ISBN 0-930872-78-9
• Encyclopedia of Hinduism / Constance A. Jones and James D. Ryan. 2007 Facts On File, Inc. New York ISBN 0-8160-5458-4 (pp. 70–71)

External links

• "Noor Inayat Khan: Life of a Spy Princess",; accessed 24 September 2016.
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Fri Jan 31, 2020 3:59 am

SOAS’ incognito academic [Dr William Montgomery McGovern] inspires world’s most famous fictional archaeologist
by SOAS University of London [School of Oriental Studies, or School of Spies]
24 August 2015

The cadre reserved the greatest disapproval for William McGovern, an American lecturer from the School of Oriental Studies in London. McGovern was a member of a self-titled 'British Buddhist Mission' which visited Gyantse in 1922, but which was refused permission to visit Lhasa. The India Office had warned Bailey that the Mission, although otherwise composed of Oxford University graduates, 'are a queer crowd... (who), ...clearly show the cloven hoof'.[60]

McGovern returned with his fellows to India, but then secretly made his way back through Tibet in disguise, reaching Lhasa on 15 February 1923. He revealed his presence to the Tibetan authorities, who expelled him from Lhasa six weeks later. His subsequent book, and newspaper articles, widely publicised in Britain, made a number of comments on British policy in Tibet. [61]

McGovern's worst 'crime' in the Tibet cadre's eyes was his statement that there was a pro-Chinese party in Lhasa. Any evidence suggesting the Tibetans, particularly in Lhasa, in any way favoured the Chinese rather than the British was always denigrated. In this instance, Bailey obtained the assistance of Arthur Hinks, the Secretary of the Royal Geographical Society, with the result that the journal of the society published as strong an attack on McGovern's reliability and reputation as was legally possible to make. The journal claimed that 'whatever little value the story [of McGovern's journey] might have possessed is discounted by Dr. McGovern's obvious predilection for sensational journalism'. His conduct, they claimed, had done 'great disservice to good relations with Tibet', while his 'boast' that Indian frontier police were punished for failing to prevent his visit meant McGovern 'stands self-condemned'. Future references to him by cadre officers were inevitably derogatory; two decades later Bell described McGovern's book as 'a thriller' and incorrectly alleged that his disguise had been penetrated. [62]

The Government of India's embarrassment over the McGovern affair was compounded by Tibetan protests that McGovern had not been punished. Delhi had decided that the available penalty was so small as to be not worth enforcing, as it would only give McGovern more publicity. This led the Tibetans to suspect McGovern's journey was not an illicit one, and provided ammunition for conservative elements in Tibet to oppose Europeans' right to travel in Tibet.[63]

In retrospect it is difficult to see that McGovern’s visit had any great effect on Anglo-Tibetan relations, and it is perhaps surprising that none of the cadre officers, no strangers to illicit journeys themselves, revealed any admiration for McGovern. It may be that the cadre felt their failure to intercept McGovern reflected badly on the controls exercised by their government, and hence harmed their own prestige within the system.[64]

-- Tibet and the British Raj, 1904-47: The Influence of the Indian Political Department Officers, by Alexander McKay

Map of Tibet showing Dr. McGovern's Route to Lhasa

1922-1923. -- British scientific expedition. -- Experience of Dr. McGovern in Lhasa. - Dr. William W. McGovern, the scientific adviser of a British research mission to tibet made a perilous and significant visit to Tibet in 1923 reaching the Forbidden City of Lhasa. In July, 1922, the expedition called the British Buddhist Mission, sailed for India and proceeded to Tibet after receiving permission from the Indian government to travel to Gyantse via Yatung. The Tibetan government, however, refused it permission to continue to Lhasa. McGovern was forced with the others to return to India to keep his word of honor to the government of India but he had studied the country closely in order to return secretly in disguise. He spoke Tibetan fluently. Leaving Darjeeling on Jan. 10, 1923, he made a hazardous journey disguised as a coolie, straight through Sikkim, entering Tibet near Kampa Dzong thence north through the heart of Tsang Province to Shigatse and the Brahmaputra river and on to Lhasa. He arrived in Lhasa bout the middle of February in time for the Tibetan new Year's festivities, when, for twenty-one days the city government is turned over to a government of monks and the Dalai Lama and his cabinet have no control. The results of McGovern's unusual experience in the Forbidden city where he enjoyed the patronage of the Dalai Lama's favorite minister, Tsarong Shape, the strong man of Tibet (although he was compelled to become a prisoner of state to escape the fanaticism of the temporary priestly regime) were the securing of numerous priceless manuscripts and an extraordinary opportunity for observing the life and institutions of the country. Many of his impressions have been recorded in printed form and by the cinematograph camera secretly used. After six weeks stay in Lhasa McGovern was permitted to return to India under escort.

Also in: S. Hedin, Trans-Himalaya: Discoveries and adventures in Tibet.

-- The New Larned History for Ready Reference, Reading and Research: The Actual Words of the World's Best Historians Biographers and Specialists, Volume 10, by Josephus Nelson Larned

In 2015, few places in our world are inaccessible to the daring field academic or discerning traveller.

Lhasa, the capital city of Tibet in the Himalayas, is one of the world’s highest and remotest cities; yet, if you charter a plane from London, it can be reached in approximately 17 hours.

The story in the early 1920s, however, was very different. Quite apart from the physical challenges, to enter Tibet’s ‘forbidden city’ required the express permission of the Tibetan Government. Famously secretive, this permission was rarely if ever bestowed on ‘outsiders’. In 1922, however, an American lecturer at SOAS (then known as the School of Oriental Studies, or School of Spies, depending on who you speak to/what you read) embarked on the trip despite not having secured the written permission to do so. The reverberations of that decision resulted in a UK newspaper scandal and quite the diplomatic headache for the then Chair of the School’s Governing Body Sir J.P. Hewett. It also allegedly played a significant role in inspiring one of the most beloved and recognisable fictional film stars of all time, the intrepid adventurer Indiana Jones (‘Junior’, if you’re Sean Connery).

[Lieutenant Colonel Laurence Austine Waddell,[1] CB, CIE, F.L.S., L.L.D, M.Ch., I.M.S. RAI, F.R.A.S (1854–1938)] is regarded by some today to have been a real-life precursor of the fictional character Indiana Jones.[3]

-- Laurence Waddell, by Wikipedia

The real-life model arguably had the more interesting life. His name was Dr William Montgomery McGovern.

Dr McGovern was appointed as a lecturer in Japanese at the School of Oriental Studies (SOS) on 6 January 1919, one month before the School was set to celebrate its second year anniversary. At that point in its early history, the School specialised in the teaching of Eastern and Middle-Eastern languages (the 1920 Annual Report, in the academic staff section, shows teachers of Arabic, Malay, Sinhalese, Telugu, Pali, Marathi, and Persian to name a few). McGovern’s appointment added to what was already a remarkably international faculty.

Dr William Montgomery McGovern as he appeared on the inside sleeve of his book To Lhasa in Disguise

His Tibetan episode began in December 1921 when the Buddhist Society of Great Britain and Ireland approached the India Office for permission to send an Academic Mission to Lhasa, with McGovern identified as one of the leaders of the expedition. The mission’s benefactor was William Dederich, Esq, the same man who had part financed the famed Sir Ernest Shackleton’s 1914 Antarctic expedition. (McGovern would later dedicate his 1924 book to Mr Dederich.)

At that time, not a great deal was known about the city in the West. Furthermore, the physical location of Lhasa meant that it was logistically very difficult to reach whether you were a welcome visitor or not. Knowing that attaining permission to visit Lhasa would be difficult, perhaps impossible, the Mission set out its aims accordingly in order to maximise its chances. The Mission requested an audience with His Holiness the Dalai Lama in order to represent what was being done in the study of Buddhism in the Western world; to promote scientific knowledge of Tibet; and to obtain filmed footage of Tibet, notably the great cathedral at Lhasa.

The India Office cleared the Mission to travel to the Tibetan city of Gyantse where it was then ordered to await the final decision of the Tibetan Government on its application for admittance to the capital.
(The Indian Government had secured the right to send certain selected peoples to the interior of Tibet, as a result of the Younghusband expedition, 1903-1904.) The Mission reached Gyantse in October of 1922 and was met a week later with a refusal from the Government of Tibet to continue on to Lhasa. No doubt disappointed with the decision, McGovern requested that just he and a colleague be allowed to travel on to Lhasa but this was met with the same refusal. He then requested permission to remain in Gyantse for a three month period in order to study Tibetan language and literature but was a third time refused, this time categorically -- the communiqué received by the Government of India expressed the desire of the Government that Dr McGovern and his colleague be sent back to India. Seemingly resigned to a failed Mission, Dr McGovern complied.

Were the story to end here, it would have made for a rather uninspiring and ordinary account; certainly it would not have aroused the interest of the broadsheets back in the UK. However, it is on McGovern’s return to India where this story takes a remarkable and drastic U-turn. Undeterred by his comprehensive refusal of admission to Lhasa, McGovern took matters into his own hands; he adopted the disguise of a Tibetan coolie and paid Tibetan guides to take him over the final treks of the mountains (during winter no less) all the way to the fabled ‘forbidden city’. On the hazardous journey, the clandestine troupe was hit by a sudden snowstorm that almost proved fatal; and at another stage, McGovern came down with a bout of dysentery, again a potentially fatal condition to have in that harsh environment. Other obstacles detailed in his book include leeches and malaria spreading mosquitoes.

Against all the odds, McGovern did reach the city at some point in February 1923. On arrival he revealed his presence to Tibetan authorities (a move McGovern later described as ‘foolish’) who provided him with dwellings and kept his presence secret from the city’s inhabitants. He was eventually discovered and a crowd of monks, angry at the deception, attacked the house he was staying in with rocks. Allegedly, McGovern adopted his disguise again and was able to sneak out the back door to join the crowds throwing stones at his house. The discovery of a Western man in Lhasa incensed the city and McGovern was expelled six weeks after his arrival at Lhasa. The research and newspaper articles he and others published on his return to the West indicate that he was not idle with his time there.

Upon his return to SOS in London, it was clear that the episode would not go overlooked. Between April and October 1923, much correspondence was shared between Sir J.P. Hewett, Chair of the School’s Governing Body, the India Office and Dr McGovern himself. In one lengthy letter, McGovern writes to Hewett with his version of events, stating he had committed no British legal or moral offence. He also suggested that all parties were “anxious to let the matter drop”. Hewett, in a follow up letter to Sir William Duke, Under Secretary of State for India at the India Office, inquired as to the ‘attitude of the India Office’ in regards to SOS’ retaining of McGovern as a member of staff. Despite the India Office’s reluctance to pursue the matter legally, Dr McGovern did eventually resign his post as lecturer at the School of Oriental Studies in a hand-written letter to the head of the department. In 1924, McGovern’s book To Lhasa in Disguise: A Secret Expedition through Mysterious Tibet was published.

The book's inside cover clearly showing that McGovern taught Chinese and Japanese at the School of Oriental Studies

McGovern went on to work for the Chicago Times as their Far East correspondent. He served as a Naval Officer in the Second World War, his Japanese language skills a major asset in the Pacific Theatre. After the war, he returned to academia: he taught at Harvard, the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago and gave lectures at around the USA at Army, Air and Naval War Colleges. Chicago’s Northwestern University would eventually become his academic home at the age of 33 when he was appointed a professor of Political Science, a position he would hold for the rest of his life. McGovern’s granddaughter is Academy Award nominated actor Elizabeth McGovern, perhaps best known for her most recent work as Cora, Countess of Grantham in the immensely popular TV series Downton Abbey.

The SOS stamp imprinted within McGovern's book, illustrating the School's first location at No. 2 Finsbury Circus

The lengths that McGovern would undertake for the sake of his research (and the scintillating anecdotes that came with it) were no doubt the reason he never seemed to have trouble filling his lectures and seminars with eager young academics and students. Whether he was right to do the things he did is of course a matter for debate, but what is abundantly clear is that McGovern was a man that was passionate about the world, its many cultures and its many peoples. SOAS is very proud to have him as a member of our academic alumni.
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Fri Jan 31, 2020 5:15 am

Sir Evelyn Berkeley Howell [E.B. Howell]
by Gajendra Singh, University of Exeter
Encyclopedia 1914-1918
March 27, 2015

Sir Evelyn Berkeley Howell1
M, #477083, b. 12 February 1877, d. 23 October 1971
Last Edited=1 Oct 2011
Sir Evelyn Berkeley Howell was born on 12 February 1877 at Calcutta, IndiaG.1 He was the son of Arthur Pearse Howell and Laura Maria Russell.1 He married Laetitia Cecilia Campbell on 26 November 1912 at Peshawar, India.1 He died on 23 October 1971 at age 94 at Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, EnglandG.1
He was appointed Companion, Order of the Indian Empire (C.I.E.)1 He held the office of Foreign Secretary [India].1 He was appointed Knight Commander, Order of the Indian Empire (K.C.I.E.)1
Children of Sir Evelyn Berkeley Howell and Laetitia Cecilia Campbell
Air Vice-Marshal Evelyn Michael Thomas Howell+1 b. 11 Sep 1913, d. 5 May 2008
Rosemary Laetitia Barbara Howell1 b. 21 Feb 1915, d. 14 Dec 1999
Lt.-Col. George Russell Walter Howell1 b. 15 Nov 1920, d. 14 Nov 2005


1. [S5590] Michael Howell, "re: Howell Family," e-mail message to Darryl Roger LUNDY (101053), 21 August 2011. Hereinafter cited as "re: Howell Family."

-- Sir Evelyn Berkeley Howell, by the



Howell, Evelyn Berkeley (E.B. Howell)
Colonial official; Chief Censor of Indian military correspondence in France
Born 12 February 1877 in Calcutta, India
Died 23 October 1971 in Cambridge, United Kingdom

Evelyn Berkeley Howell was appointed Chief Censor of Indian military correspondence in France in the winter of 1914. The thousands of letters that he and his staff translated and transcribed constitute the largest single compilation of colonial Indian soldiers’ testimonies. The article explores why these letters were recorded, explains who Howell was and what he made of the letters he was asked to censor.

During World War I

Evelyn Berkeley Howell (1877-1971) had a remarkable war-time career. He rose rapidly from a Second Lieutenant “serving in France as an interpreter attached to a regiment of Indian Cavalry,”[1] to Major and recipient of the Companion of the Order of the Indian Empire in January 1916 and eventually Revenue Secretary in British-occupied Mesopotamia in December 1918.[2] The reason for Howell’s sudden rise in position and prospects was his tenure as Chief Censor of Indian Mails in France from the winter of 1914 to December 1915 (after which Indian infantry divisions in France were diverted to Mesopotamia and only cavalry remained). Howell was the solution to a problem – a man with a long history of service in British India who could soothe fears that introducing Indian soldiers into Europe would fatally disrupt hierarchies of race and colonial military discipline. He was tasked with authoring fortnightly, supra-regimental digests of soldiers’ correspondence and an appraisal of sipahis’ (Indian soldiers) fears and concerns.

The appointment of Evelyn Howell as Chief Censor of private military correspondence was not by design. The decision to transport an Indian Corps (composed initially of two infantry divisions and two cavalry brigades) to a European theatre of war was planned from 1913. However, no contingency was ever made for the monitoring of Indian soldiers’ correspondence – beyond the ordinary unit-level censorship of a VCO (Viceroy’s Commissioned Officer or an Indian subaltern roughly equivalent to a Warrant Officer) reading out soldiers’ letters to a British Officer. The decision to implement and organize the special censorship of Indian military correspondence was taken hurriedly at the end of September 1914 after information was received that revolutionary Indian nationalists were trying to suborn Indian sipahis. Howell was charged with subjecting personal correspondence sent to soldiers to “systematic examination” in order to preserve the integrity of Indian battalions abroad from the wiles of “Indian agitators.”[3] Howell was well qualified for the task. He had spent fifteen years serving on the North-West Frontier Province (the site of constant low-intensity conflict and intermittent pacification campaigns) and was unusually proficient (by the standard of British colonial officials) in Pashto and Urdu.[4] And yet, Howell’s career as Chief Censor was one marked by perpetual frustration. Within a matter of weeks the purpose of his task had changed. Correspondence sent from soldiers was found to be far more dangerous. Letters sent from the trenches to India had rapidly increased in number and in length from January 1915 and were said to collectively emanate a chill of “fatalistic resignation” or “mental disquietude” even when any “hint of resentment or anti-British feeling” was absent.[5] The Censor and his small staff tailored their operations to try to better comprehend soldiers’ letters. They brokered extra funds, tried to find trustworthy translators for any scripts in which sipahis were literate[6] and strived to convince La Poste – the French Postal Service – to re-direct to his office in Boulogne any mail that may have been posted by Indians using civilian post offices.[7]

Replacement of Howell

It proved a futile task. Howell soon complained that it was “far beyond” his “powers” to examine even a small portion of the total letters passing through his office, let alone analyze them “in detail.”[8] Letters were passed on without any changes because of the reluctance of British censors to excise letters that may have been “the last will and testament” of the writer[9] and the difficulty in deciphering inscrutable nature of Oriental turns of phrase.[10] Howell continued his work until he was replaced in the last weeks of 1915 but without his earlier energy and enthusiasm. His reports bitterly remarked that only a work of history or “some other book” could make sense of the letters his staff had collated.[11] Howell’s advice was heeded in part. When Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936) was approached to author propaganda pieces for “neutrals at home” in the United States of America by Brigadier George Cockerill (1867-1957), Director of Special Intelligence to the British General Staff, he was first handed transcriptions of Indian soldiers’ letters, proceeded to read through them, and then promptly decided to write his own fictional versions of the letters as they ought to be.[12]

After the War

Howell nonetheless remains a significant figure. It is due to Howell that a substantive record exists (now housed in the British Library) of thousands of letters to and from Indian soldiers in the First World War. It remains one of the few preserved insights into the realities of war as experienced by colonial soldiers, even though many are cropped, badly translated and poorly transcribed. This has become the point of departure for a burgeoning number of historians trying to craft social histories of the colonial Indian Army.



1. Howell, Captain E.B.: Report on Twelve Months’ Writing of the Indian Mail Censorship, 7 November 1915; Reports of the Censor of Indian Mails in France, 1914-1918; Military Department Papers, Asia and Africa Collection, British Library, L/MIL/5/828, Part 1.
2. See the India Office List for a summary of Howell’s career. In December 1915, Howell was replaced as Chief Censor by Captain George Alfred Tweedy.
3. “While the force was in transit [in September] a member of the Indian Revolutionary Party, if it may be so called, was arrested in Toulouse, and upon examination his pockets were found to be stuffed with seditious literature intended for dissemination among Indian soldiery. The authorities, thus set upon their guard, decided that, at least during the stay of the Indian troops in Europe, their correspondence must be subjected to systematic examination, […].” Howell, Report on Twelve Months’ Writing 1915. The reference to the “Indian Revolutionary Party” and the “seditious literature” is a reference to Ghadar literature being disseminated by Madame Bhikhaiji Cama (1861-1936) and her contacts in France. See Sethna, Khorshed Adi: Madame Bhikhaiji Rustom Cama. New Delhi 1987 and Yadav, B.D.: Madam Cama: A True Nationalist, New Delhi 1992.
4. So much so that Howell later translated and co-authored a collection of the poetry of Khushal Khan Khattak (1613-1689), the famed 17th century Pashto poet: The Poems of Khushal Khan Khatak; with English Verse translations by Evelyn Howell and Olaf Caroe; and an introduction by Maulana Abdul Qadir, Peshawar 1963.
5. Howell, 23 January 1915; Reports of the Censor of Indian Mails in France, 1914-1915; Military Department Papers, Asia and Africa Collection, British Library, L/MIL/5/825, Part 1.
6. Some of the original staff assigned to the Chief Censor’s office at Boulogne never appeared and Howell had particular difficulty translating Punjabi in Gurumukhi script.
7. It took until 14 November 1917 before absolutely every letter was redirected to the Censor’s office. Reports of the Censor of Indian Mails in France, 1917- 1918; Military Department Papers, Asia and Africa Collection, British Library, L/MIL/5/827, Part 5.
8. Howell, 4 February 1915; Censor of Indian Mails, 1914-1915, Part 1.
9. “It was felt that it would be quite unfair to withhold the whole of a long letter containing as often as not what the writer believed to be his last will and testament, simply because here and there through the letter advice was given to younger relatives to stay at home or not to leave the village, or to be guided by the direction of so and so, or not to join the army.” Howell, 28 August 1915; Censor of Indian Mails, 1914-1915, Part 5.
10. “The first extract illustrates how almost impossible it is for any censorship of Oriental correspondence to be effective as a barrier. Orientals excel in the art of conveying information without saying anything definite. When they have a meaning to convey in this way, they are apt to use the phrase “Think this over till you understand it”, or some equivalent, to the reader. [...] It naturally follows that the news conveyed is extremely vague, and gives rise to wild rumours.” Howell, 15 February 1915; Censor of Indian Mails 1914-1915, Part 1.
11. Howell, Report on Twelve Months’ Writing 1915.
12. The fictional letters were serialized in the American Saturday Evening Post between May and June 1917, and then later published in the “Sussex Edition” and then as “Eyes of Asia.”

Selected Bibliography

1. Kipling, Rudyard: The eyes of Asia, 1917.
2. Markovits, Claude: Indian soldiers’ experiences in France during World War I. Seeing Europe from the rear of the front, in: Liebau, Heike (et al.) (ed.): The world in world wars. Experiences, perceptions and perspectives from Africa and Asia, Leiden 2010: Brill, pp. 29-53.
3. Omissi, David (ed.): Indian voices of the Great War. Soldiers' letters, 1914-18, Houndmills; New York 1999: Macmillan Press; St. Martin's Press.
4. Singh, Gajendra: The testimonies of Indian soldiers and the two World Wars. Between self and Sepoy, London 2014: Bloomsbury.


Singh, Gajendra: Howell, Evelyn Berkeley, Sir , in: 1914-1918-online. International Encyclopedia of the First World War, ed. by Ute Daniel, Peter Gatrell, Oliver Janz, Heather Jones, Jennifer Keene, Alan Kramer, and Bill Nasson, issued by Freie Universität Berlin, Berlin 2015-03-27. DOI: 10.15463/ie1418.10589.
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Fri Jan 31, 2020 5:54 am

1938–39 German expedition to Tibet
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 1/30/20

Expedition members with hosts in Gangtok, Sikkim are (from left to right) unknown, unknown Tibetan, Bruno Beger, Ernst Schäfer, Sir Basil Gould, Krause, unknown Tibetan [Norbu Dhondup [Rai Bahadur]], Karl Wienert, Edmund Geer, unknown, unknown

The 1938-1939 German Expedition to Tibet was a German scientific expedition from April 1938 to August 1939, led by German zoologist and SS officer Ernst Schäfer.


The Reichsführer-SS Himmler was attempting to avail himself of the reputation of Schäfer for Nazi propaganda and asked about his future plans. Schäfer responded he wanted to lead another expedition to Tibet. Schäfer requested that his expedition be under the patronage of the cultural department of the foreign affairs department or of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft ("German Research Foundation").[1] Himmler was fascinated by Asian mysticism and therefore wished to send such an expedition under the auspices of the SS Ahnenerbe (SS Ancestral Heritage Society), and he desired that Schäfer perform research based on Hanns Hörbiger’s pseudoscientific theory of "Glacial Cosmogony" promoted by the Ahnenerbe. Schäfer had scientific objectives and therefore refused to include Edmund Kiss, an adept of this theory, in his team and required 12 conditions to ensure scientific freedom. Wolfram Sievers, from the Ahnenerbe, therefore expressed criticism concerning the objectives of the expedition, and Ahnenerbe would not sponsor it. Himmler was agreeable to the expedition going ahead provided all members joined the SS and Schäfer found he had no alternative but to accept this condition even without sponsorship.[2]


While preparing the expedition, Ernst Schäfer used the term "Schaefer Expedition 1938/1939" on his letterhead and to apply for sponsorship from businessmen.[2] The official expedition name had to be changed on order of the "Ahnenerbe", however, to "German Tibet-Expedition Ernst Schaefer" (in big letters), "under the patronage of the Reichsführer-SS Himmler and in connection with the Ahnenerbe" (in small letters).[3][4][5]

After the German Consul-General in Calcutta criticised the letterhead in a report to the German Foreign Office, "arguing that the prescribed letterhead was counter-productive and immediately generated mistrust among the British", Schäfer "ordered a new, discreet letterhead in Antiqua font, which read 'Deutsche Tibet Expedition Ernst Schäfer'."[6] During the expedition, Schäfer used only the latter letterhead or his original "Schaefer Expedition" paper. The Ahnenerbe prescribed letterhead was only used prior to the expedition's departure.[7]

British writer Christopher Hale claims that one cannot infer that Schäfer was independent of the SS and was able to do "pure science" simply from the special letterhead that he got printed for the expedition: to all intents and purposes, the expedition remained under Himmler's patronage and Schäfer had no interest in losing his support.[8]

In its time, the expedition was also commonly referred to in German newspapers and academic journals as the "SS Tibet Expedition" as it had Heinrich Himmler as its patron and all five members were officers in the SS.[9] The "SS Tibet Expedition" designation was used by Ernst Schäfer himself in the Atlantis Journal.[10] "SS Tibet Expedition" is the title used in a 1946 report by US military intelligence in Western Europe.[11]

In the "Register of the Heinrich Himmler Papers", 1914–1944, archived at Stanford University's Hoover institution, the folder containing the material pertaining to the expedition bears the title "The SS-Tibet-Expedition, 1939.[12]

This designation is still in use by modern scholars, such as Mechtild Rössler in 2001[13] and Suzanne Heim in 2002,[14] as well as by writer Peter Lavenda in 2002.[15]


According to Christopher Hale, as Ernst Schäfer was demanding more than 60,000 Reichsmarks for his expedition and the coffers of the SS were depleted at the time, he was forced to raise the funds himself.[16]

According to researcher Isrun Engelhardt, the expedition was not funded by the Ahnenerbe.[17] Ernst Schäfer raised the funds by himself, 80% of which came from Public Relations and Advertising Council of German Industry (Werberat der deutschen Wirtschaft) as well as large German business enterprises, Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Foundation) and Brooke Dolan II. Himmler's personal friends sponsored only the flight back to Germany.[18]

According to the United States Forces, the expedition's funding was provided by various public and private contributors, with the return flight to Germany paid for by the SS. The cost of equipping the expedition was RM 65,000, and the expedition itself cost another RM 65,000, excluding the flight back.[19]


Edmund Geer in Tibet, 1938.

Ernst Schäfer in Tibet, 1938.

Ernst Schäfer was a member of the SS when he arrived at the German consulate in Chungking in 1935. Schäfer had just returned from a trip through parts of Asia, mainly India and China, in which the other two heads of the expedition had abandoned him in fear of native tribes.[20] Schäfer turned the expedition from a complete failure into a great success, and the SS took note, sending him a letter informing him of a promotion to SS-Untersturmführer and summoning him back to Germany from Philadelphia. In June 1936, Schäfer met with Himmler, who consequently informed Sievers and Galke to start organizing an expedition to Tibet.

Schäfer recruited young, fit men who would be well suited for an arduous journey.[20] At age 24, Karl Wienert (an assistant of Wilhelm Filchner, a famous explorer) was the team's geologist. Also age 24, Edmund Geer was selected as the technical leader to organize the expedition. A relatively old teammate at the age of 38 was Ernst Krause (not to be confused with the German biologist of the same name), who was to double as a filmmaker and entomologist. Bruno Beger was a 26-year-old Rassekunde expert and student of Hans F.K. Günther's who was to be the team's anthropologist.


Ernst Krause filming blue vetch.

Karl Wienert taking photogrammetric measurements.

Researcher Roger Croston described the objective of the expedition as "an holistic creation of a complete biological record of Tibet alongside a synthesis of inter-relating natural sciences with regard to geography, cartography, geology, earth magnetics, climate, plants, animals and mankind."[21][22]

Reacting to Dr Isrun Engelhardt's conclusions that the Schäfer Expedition was "purely scientific" and her claim that the historical context of Germany in the 1930s makes the expedition's goals appear as somehow sinister,[23] British writer Christopher Hale observes that "while the idea of ‘Nazi botany’ or ‘Nazi ornithology’ is probably absurd, other sciences are not so innocent – and Schäfer's small expedition represented a cross-section of German science in the 1930s." To Hale, this has considerable significance as "under the Third Reich anthropology and medicine were cold-bloodedly exploited to support and enact a murderous creed."[24] There have been allegations that one of the expedition's purposes was to determine whether Tibet was the cradle of the "Aryan race". The taking of cranial measurements and making of facial casts of local people by anthropologist Bruno Beger did little to dissipate the allegations.[25]

Hale also recalls the existence of a secret warning issued by propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels to German newspapers in 1940 saying that "the chief task of the Tibet expedition," was "of a political and military nature" and "had not so much to do with the solution of scientific questions," adding that details could not be revealed.[24]

However, Croston agrees with Engelhardt and states that the expedition "was planned as a scientific mission […] but it was caught up in the politics of the time. […] Schaefer’s vehement refusal to accept Himmler’s plans led, eventually, to the expedition not being sponsored by Himmler’s SS or its organisations 'because it would lie outside the scope of his work'."[21]

Chinese journalist Ren Yanshi, quoting the Austrian weekly Wochenpresse, writes that the first major task of the expedition was "to investigate the possibility of establishing the region as a base for attacking the British troops stationed in India" while its second major assignment was "to verify Heinrich Himmler's Nazi racial theory that a group of pure-blooded Aryans had settled in Tibet."[26]

According to American journalist Karl E. Meyer, one of the expedition's aims was to prepare maps and survey passes "for possible use of Tibet as a staging ground for guerrilla assaults on British India."[27]

Italian essayist Claudio Mutti states that the official plan included research on the landforms, climate, geography, and culture of the region,[28] and contacting the local authorities for the establishment of representation in the country.[29]

Photograph of the expedition

According to Claudio Mutti, the group of five researchers intended to contact the Regent of Tibet[30] and visit the sacred cities of Lhasa and Shigatse. Even with wartime difficulties the group was able to contact the Tibetan authorities and people.[31] They returned to Germany with a complete edition of the Tibetan sacred text the Kangyur (108 volumes), examples of Mandala, other ancient texts, and one alleged document regarding the "Aryan race". These documents were kept in Ahnenerbe archives.

Under SS pennants and a swastika, the expedition members are entertaining some Tibetan dignitaries and the Chinese representative in Lhasa; left: Beger, Chang Wei-pei Geer; in the centre: Tsarong Dzasa, Schäfer; right: Wienert, Möndro (Möndo)

Expedition details

Ernst Schäfer with Tashi Namgyal (Maharaja of Sikkim) and Tashi Dadul General Secretary to the Chogyal

Mission school in Lachen, a Finnish missionary with her assistant and a native pastor

In July 1937, the team suffered a setback when Japan invaded Manchuria, China, ruining Schäfer's plans to use the Yangtze River to reach Tibet. Schäfer flew to London to seek permission to travel through India, but was turned down by the British government who feared an imminent war with Germany.

Another problem in the preparations for the Tibetan expedition occurred during a duck hunting accident on November 9, 1937, when Schäfer, his wife of four months and two servants were in a rowboat. A sudden wave caused Schäfer to drop his gun which broke in two and discharged, mortally wounding his wife. Despite subsequent emotional problems, Schäfer was back to work on the expedition in eight weeks.[20]

In a move that lost the Ahnenerbe's support, Schäfer asked Himmler for permission to simply arrive in India and try to force his way into Tibet. Himmler agreed with this plan, and set about furthering it by contacting influential people, including Germany's foreign minister Joachim von Ribbentrop. On April 21, 1938, the team departed from Genoa, Italy, on their way to Ceylon where they would then travel to Calcutta, British India.

The day before the team left Europe the Völkischer Beobachter ran an article on the expedition, alerting British officials of its intentions. Schäfer and Himmler were both enraged: Schäfer complained to SS headquarters and Himmler in turn wrote to Admiral Barry Domvile. Domvile was a Nazi supporter and former head of British naval intelligence who gave the letter to Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain. Chamberlain permitted the SS team to enter Sikkim, a region bordering Tibet.[20]

Journey through Sikkim

In Sikkim's capital of Gangtok, the team assembled a 50-mule caravan and searched for porters and Tibetan interpreters. Here, the British official, Sir Basil Gould, observed them, describing Schäfer as "interesting, forceful, volatile, scholarly, vain to the point of childishness, disregardful of social convention," and noted that he was determined to enter Tibet regardless of permission.[20]

The team began their journey June 21, 1938, traveling through the Teesta River valley and then heading north. Krause worked light traps to capture insects, Wienert toured the hills making measurements, Geer collected bird species and Beger offered locals medical help in exchange for allowing him to take measurements of them.

Beger busy taking cranial measurements

In August 1938, a high official of the Rajah Tering, a member of the Sikkimese royal family living in Tibet, entered the team's camp. Although Beger wished to ask the guest's permission to measure him, he was dissuaded by the Tibetan porters who encouraged him to wait for Schäfer to return from a hunting trip. Schäfer met with the official, and presented him with mule-loads of gifts.[20]

In December 1938 the Tibetan council of ministers invited Schäfer and his team to Tibet, but forbade them from killing any animals during their stay, citing religious concerns.[24] After a supply trip back to Gangtok, Schäfer learned he had been promoted to SS-Hauptsturmführer, and the rest of the team had been promoted to SS-Obersturmführer.[20]

Trip To Lhasa

A Tibetan labeled Passang.

During the trip to Tibet's highlands, Beger began making facial casts of local people, including his personal servant, a Nepalese Sherpa named Passang. During the first casting, paste got into one of Passang's nostrils and he panicked, tearing at the mask. Schäfer threatened to terminate the employment of the porters who had seen the incident, if they told anyone. Most of the Tibetans had a much more friendly and light-hearted attitude, however, and photographic and film footage remains of smiling and laughing Tibetans undergoing facial and skull feature measurements.

Beger with the Regent of Tibet, in Lhasa.

The Yumbulagang fortress as photographed by Ernst Krause in 1938

On January 19, 1939, the team reached Lhasa, the capital of Tibet. Schäfer proceeded to pay his respects to the Tibetan ministers and a nobleman. He also gave out Nazi pennants, explaining the reverence shown for the shared symbol in Germany.[20] His permission to remain in Lhasa was extended, and he was permitted to photograph and film the region. The team spent two months in Lhasa, collecting information on agriculture, culture, and religion.[20]

As the arrival of the expedition had been announced in advance, its members, according to Bruno Beger's testimony, were welcome everywhere in Tibet and provided with all the things they needed for their trip and sojourn. In Lhasa itself, they got into close touch with government officials and other noteworthy people.[32]

Schäfer met the Regent of Tibet, Reting Rinpoche, on several occasions. During one of their meetings, the Regent asked him point blank whether his country would be willing to sell weapons to Tibet.[33]

Trip to Gyantse and Shigatse

In March 1939, the expedition left Lhasa, heading for Gyantse and escorted by a Tibetan official. After exploring the ruins of the ancient deserted capital city of Jalung Phodrang, they reached Shigatse, the city of the panchen lamas, in April. They received a warm welcome from the locals, with thousands coming out to greet them.[30][34] In a 1946 "Final Interrogation Report by American Intelligence", Schäfer claims to have met "the pro-German regent of Shigatse"[35][36] (the 9th Panchen Lama had died in 1937 and the 10th was not to arrive before 1951). In May, the expedition returned to Gyantse where negotiations were held with local British officials about the trip back to India and transport of the expeditions's gear and collections.

Communications with Germany

Throughout his stay in Lhasa, Ernst Schäfer remained in touch with Germany through mail and the Chinese Legation's radio.[37] Himmler is reported to have followed the expedition enthusiastically, writing several letters to Schäfer and even broadcasting Christmas greeting to him via shortwave.[38]

Results of the research

A Golok woman [girl], photographed by Ernst Schäfer

The Germans collected anything they could: thousands of artifacts, a huge number of plants and animals, including live specimens. They sent back specimens of three breeds of Tibetan dogs, rare feline species, wolves, badgers, foxes, animal and bird skins.[39]

The expedition members collected a huge quantity of plants, in particular hundreds of varieties of barley, wheat and oats. The seeds were later stored in the SS-Institute for Plant Genetics in Lannach near Graz, Austria, a research centre run by SS botanist Heinz Brücher. Brücher entertained hopes of using both the Tibet collection and that of the Vavilov Institute in the Eastern territories to select crop plants able to withstand the climate of Eastern Europe – considered at the time as part of the Nazi Lebensraum or "living space" – with a view to reaching autarky.[40]

Wienert took four sets of geomagnetic data. Krause studied Tibetan wasps. Schäfer observed Tibetan rituals, including sky burial (he even bought some human skulls). They took stills and film footage of local culture, notably the spectacular New Year celebrations when tens of thousands of pilgrims flocked to Lhasa. Bruno Beger recorded the measurements of 376 people and took casts of the heads, faces, hands and ears of 17 more, as well as fingerprints and hand prints from another 350. To carry out his research, he posed as a medicine man to win the favour of Tibetan aristocrats, dispensing drugs and tending to monks with sexually transmitted diseases.[39]

Schäfer kept meticulous notes on the religious and cultural customs of the Tibetans, from their various colorful Buddhist festivals to Tibetan attitudes towards marriage, rape, menstruation, childbirth, homosexuality and masturbation. In his account of Tibetan homosexuality he describes the various positions taken by older lamas with younger boys and then goes on to explain how homosexuality played an important role in the higher politics of Tibet. There are pages of careful observation of Himalayan people engaged in a variety of intimate acts.[41]

Schäfer presented the results of the expedition on 25 July 1939 at the Himalaya Club Calcutta.[42]

Return home

After Schäfer read a letter from his father who reported to him about the imminent threat of war, and urged him to return to Germany as quickly as possible, Schäfer decided to return to Germany. After being given two complimentary letters – one to Hitler and the other to Himmler, Schäfer and his companions left Lhasa in August 1939.[19] They also took with them two presents for Hitler consisting of a Lhama dress and a hunting dog, as well as a copy of the Tibetan "Bible", the 120-volume Kangyur. They headed south to Calcutta, boarding a seaplane at the mouth of the Hooghly River, and began the journey home.

According to Engelhardt:[43]

From Calcutta the expedition first took a British Airways seaplane to Baghdad, which developed engine trouble and was forced to make an emergency water landing in Karachi. In Baghdad they were fortunate to be able to continue their flight to Athens on a Lufthansa JU 52. They learned a few hours later that their previous British Airways seaplane had sunk off Alexandria. A surprise awaited them in Athens, where they boarded a special new aircraft that was placed at their disposal by the German government for their safe return home.

According to Trimondis at Tempelhof Airport in Berlin, they were greeted on the runway by an ecstatic Heinrich Himmler[24] who presented Schäfer with the SS skull ring and dagger of honor.[44]

When grilled by US military intelligence in February 1946, Schäfer stated that after his return, he had a meeting with Himmler in which he outlined his plans to launch another expedition to Tibet in case of war. The idea was to win Tibet over to the German side and organize a resistance movement there.[19] The project never took off.

After returning to Germany, Wienert, Krause and Geer went back to civilian life and were heard of no more.[45] Beger worked together with August Hirt at the Reichsuniversität Straßburg. His assignment, which he carried out, was to provide the Nazi physician with a selection of detainees of diverse ethnic types from Auschwitz in order to serve Hirt's racial experiments.[46][47]

In 1943, Schäfer was given his own institute within the Ahnenerbe. He named it "the Sven Hedin Institute for Inner Asian Research" after a Swedish explorer who visited Tibet in 1907.[39]

1943 also saw the release of the film Geheimnis Tibet put together from the various rolls brought back from Tibet. It premiered on January 16, during the inauguration of the Sven Hedin Institute, with the Swedish explorer himself in attendance.[48]

Because of the war, Schäfer's writings about the trip were not published until 1950, under the title "Festival of the White Gauze Scarves: A research expedition through Tibet to Lhasa, the holy city of the god realm."

All through the expedition, Beger kept a travel diary which was published in book form 60 years later, Mit der deutschen Tibetexpedition Ernst Schäfer 1938/39 nach Lhasa (Wiesbaden, 1998). Only 50 copies of it exist.[49]

See also

• 1939 Japanese expedition to Tibet
• Seven Years in Tibet


1. (in French) Detlev Rose, L'expédition allemande au Tibet de 1938-39. Voyage scientifique ou quête de traces à motivation idéologique ? Archived 2008-11-20 at the Wayback Machine, in Synergies européennes - Bruxelles-Munich-Tübingen, novembre 2006 (article tiré de la revue Deutschland in Geschichte und Gegenwart, No 3-2006).
2. Isrun Engelhardt, The Ernst-Schaefer-Tibet-Expedition (1938-1939):/new light on the political history of Tibet in the first half of the 20th century in McKay Alex (ed.)
3. Detlev Rose, L'expédition allemande au Tibet de 1938-39. Voyage scientifique ou quête de traces à motivation idéologique ? Archived 2012-11-02 at the Wayback Machine, in Synergies européennes - Bruxelles-Munich-Tübingen, novembre 2006 (article taken from the Deutschland in Geschichte und Gegenwart journal, No 3-2006): "Le nom officiel de l’expédition était le suivant : « Expédition allemande Ernst Schäfer au Tibet » (= « Deutsche Tibetexpedition Ernst Schäfer »).
4. Isrun Engelhardt, The Ernst-Schaefer-Tibet-Expedition (1938-1939) : new light on the political history of Tibet in the first half of the 20th century , in McKay Alex (ed.), Tibet and Her Neighbours : A History 2003, Edition Hansjörg Mayer (London), ISBN 3-88375-718-7: "The expedition’s name, however, had to be changed on the order of the 'Ahnenerbe' to 'German Tibet-Expedition Ernst Schaefer' (in big letters), under the patronage of the Reichsführer-SS Himmler and in connection with the Ahnenerbe (in small letters)."
5. This designation is also used by the Namgyal Institute of Tibetology, Historic photographs of Sikkim ‘Who is behind the camera?’ Archived 2010-06-28 at the Wayback Machine
6. »Tibet in 1938–1939: The Ernst Schäfer Expedition to Tibet«, Engelhardt 2007, p.17 and Note 38 p.250.
7. The Nazis of Tibet: A Twentieth Century Myth, Isrun Engelhardt, in: Monica Esposito (ed.), »Images of Tibet in the 19th and 20th Centuries.« Paris: École française d’Extrême-Orient (EFEO), coll. Études thématiques 22, vol. I, 2008, pp. 77–78.
8. Christopher Hale (2003): "He was careful to remove that second line when he arrived in Gangtok in British India. [...] Some German historians have concluded from this that Schäfer was independent of the SS and was thus able to do 'pure science'. This was not the case. Himmler remained the expedition's patron and Schäfer clearly had no interest in losing his support."
9. Konrad von Rauch, Die Erste Deutsche SS-Tibet-Expedition, in Der Biologe 8, 1939, S. 113-127.
10. "an article by Ernst Schaefer from the magazine Atlantis date October 1939. This article had the sub-heading 'von Dr Ernst Schaefer Leiter der SS-Tibet-Expedition' ", (Ofcom, Broadcast Bulletin, Issue number 85 - 21/05/07, Fairness and Privacy Cases, Not Upheld, Complaint by Mr Roger Croston on behalf of Dr Bruno Beger Secret History: The Nazi Expedition, Channel 4, 12 July 2004 Archived 2007-05-23 at the Wayback Machine).
11. The Activities of Dr. Ernst Schaefer, United States Forces - European Theater Military Intelligence Service Center, APO 757 Final Interrogation Report (OI-FIR) No. 32, Feb. 12, 1946: "A new Tibetan expedition, to be called the SS Tibet Expedition, was then in preparation."
12. Online Archive of California (OAC).
13. "Probably the best known expedition was the SS Tibet expedition, undertaken in 1943" (Mechtild Rössler, Geography and Area Planning under National Socialism, in Margit Szöllösi-Janze, ed.), Science in the Third Reich, Oxford and New York: Berg Publishers, 2001, 289 p., pp. 59-79, p.71.
14. "SS-Tibet-Expedition Schäfer 1938-1939" (Suzanne Heim, Geschichte der Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gesellschaft im Nationalsozialismus, 2002, p. 131)
15. Peter Levenda, Unholy alliance: a history of Nazi involvement with the occult, 2nd edition, Continuum International Publishing Group, 2002, 423 p., p. 192: "the efforts and adventures of the SS-Tibet expedition."
16. Christopher Hale, Himmler's Crusade. The Nazi Expedition to Find the Origins of the Aryan Race, John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken (NJ), 2003, 422 p.: "the coffers of the SS were much depleted (Schäfer was demanding more than sixty thousand Reichsmarks [...] Schäfer was now faced with a formidable task: he would have to raise the funds himself."
17. Isrun Engelhardt, The Ernst-Schaefer-Tibet-Expedition (1938-1939) : new light on the political history of Tibet in the first half of the 20th century in McKay Alex (ed.), Tibet and Her Neighbours : A History 2003, Edition Hansjörg Mayer (London), ISBN 3-88375-718-7,
Schaefer, in order to obtain the scientific freedom he needed, asked for the acceptance of twelve conditions, all of which were granted by Himmler himself. However, Sievers, the head of the "Ahnenerbe", declared in January 1938, "The task of the expedition in the meantime had diverged too far from the targets of the Reichsführer-SS and does not serve his ideas of cultural studies." Thus, in the end, the expedition was not sponsored by the "Ahnenerbe"
18. Isrun Engelhardt (2003)
19. The Activities of Dr. Ernst Schaefer, United States Forces - European Theater, Military Intelligence Service Center, APO 757 Final Interrogation Report (OI-FIR) No. 32, Feb. 12, 1946.
20. Pringle, Heather, The Master Plan: Himmler’s Scholars and the Holocaust, Hyperion, 2006.
21. Roger Croston, Is the Space Buddha a Counterfeit?, 24 Oct. 2012.
22. Ernst Schäfer, Geheimnis Tibet. München: Bruckmann 1943, 7-16, see also Engelhardt, Isrun, Nazis of Tibet: A Twentieth Century Myth. In: Monica Esposito (ed.), Images of Tibet in the 19th and 20th Centuries.Paris: École française d'Extrême-Orient (EFEO), coll. Études thématiques 22, vol. I, 2008, p.76.
23. Christopher Hale (2003): "Dr Isrun Engelhardt has concluded that the Schäfer Expedition was ‘purely scientific’. It is only because of the historical context of Germany in the 1930s, she argues, that we view its goals as somehow sinister."
24. Christopher Hale, Himmler’s Crusade: The Nazi Expedition to Find the Origins of the Aryan Race, Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley & Sons, 2003, p. 200.
25. John J. Reilly, Review of Christopher Hale's book, Himmler's Crusade Archived 2006-06-21 at the Wayback Machine, John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken (NJ), 2003.
26. Ren Yanshi, Nazi Author's Seven Years in Tibet (article first published in March 1998 in Beijing Review), Embassy of the People's Republic of China in the State of Israel, April 14, 2008.
27. Karl E. Meyer, Nazi Trespassers in Tibet, The New York Times, 7 July 1999: "Schäfer's team filmed and measured Tibetans, but also prepared maps and surveyed passes for possible use of Tibet as a staging ground for guerrilla assaults on British India."
28. Ernst Schäfer, Forschungsraum Innerasien, in Asienberichte. Vierteljahresschrift für asiatische Geschichte und Kultur, No 21, April 1944, pp. 3-6: "the geology, flora, wildlife and people (of Tibet) were the objects of our expedition."
29. (in French) Claudio Mutti, Les SS au Tibet, in, Octobre 10, 2005: "Le but officiel de l'expédition était d'étudier la région tibétaine du point de vue anthropologique, géographique, zoologique et botanique. Mais pour Himmler il importait aussi d'établir le contact avec l'abbé Reting, devenu Régent du pays en 1934, un an après la mort du treizième Dalaï-lama.
30. Claudio Mutti, Les SS au Tibet,, 10 October 10, 2005.
31. John J. Reilly, Review of Christopher Hale's book, Himmler's Crusade, John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken (NJ), 2003.
32. Dr. Bruno Beger, The Status of Independence of Tibet in 1938/39 according to the travel reports (memoirs),, 1996: "The arrival of our expedition had been announced beforehand in advance, and for this reason we were welcome and well-received everywhere and provided with the necessary things on our way through the Chumbi Valley, then from Gyantse to Lhasa and from there via Samye across the Yarlung Valley to Shigatse and back again to Gangtok via Gyantse. In Lhasa itself we were received in a very friendly way and got into close contact with government officials and other influential people of the country."
33. John J. Reilly, Review of Christopher Hale's Himmler's Crusade. The Nazi Expedition to Find the Origins of the Origins of the Aryan Race, John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken (NJ), 2003: "The Regent granted Schäfer long interviews at short notice, a most unusual practice, during one of which he asked point blank whether Germany would be interested in selling arms to Tibet."
34. Christopher Hale, Himmler's Crusade. The Nazi Expedition to Find the Origins of the Aryan Race, John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken (NJ), 2003, 422 p.: "When the German Tibet Expedition arrived in Shigatse, thousands came out to greet them."
35. The Activities of Dr. Ernst Schaefer: "In any event he claims to have been told by the pro-German regent of Shigatse" [...].
36. Alex McKay, The History of Tibet: 1895-1959, the encounter with modernity, RoutledgeCurzon, 2003, 737 p., p. 32: "As with the Dalai Lama, Regents were appointed at Shigatse during the periods between ruling Panchen Lamas."
37. John J. Reilly, Review of Christopher Hale's "Himmler's Crusade. The Nazi Expedition to Find the Origins of the Origins of the Aryan Race" Archived 2006-06-21 at the Wayback Machine: "Not that mail was Schäfer’s only means of communication: the Chinese legation let him use their radio."
38. The Activities of Dr. Ernst Schaefer: "Himmler followed the expedition with enthusiasm and wrote several letters to Schaefer [...]. Himmler promoted Schaefer to SS Hauptsturmfuehrer, and on Christmas 1938 broadcast special Christmas greetings to him via shortwave.
39. Kathy Brewis, Quest of the Nazis, The Sunday Times, July 20, 2003.
40. Thomas Wieland, Autarky and Lebensraum. The political agenda of academic plant breeding in Nazi Germany[permanent dead link], Host, Journal of Science and Technology, vol. 3, automne 2009: "Due to the growing interest of breeders in wild-type plants, in 1939, geneticist Fritz von Wettstein(1895–1945) argued for an institute for crop plant research to be established by the Kaiser Wilhelm Society. About the same time, members of Himmler’s research and teaching community Das Ahnenerbe also developed the idea of founding an institute. Its objective should be to analyze the wild-type plants compiled during the 1938 expedition of the SS to Tibet […]. The SS-Institute in Lannach was set up and directed by Heinz Brücher (1915–1991), who, in June 1943, joined a task force established by the SS to rob the assortments of wild and cultivated plants from the Vavilov institutes in the occupied territories. Drawing upon these assortments as well as on those of the 1938 SS Tibet expedition, Brücher wanted to start "breeding cold and drought resistant crop plants for the Eastern territory".
41. Peter Levenda, Unholy alliance: a history of Nazi involvement with the occult, 2nd edition, Continuum International Publishing Group, 2002, 423 p., p. 194.
42. Engelhardt Isrun, Tibet in 1938–1939: The Ernst Schäfer Expedition to Tibet, pp. 55–57, 2007, in Tibet in 1938-1939: Photographs from the Ernst Schäfer Expedition to Tibet, Edited by Isrun Engelhardt,1-932476-30-X.
43. Engelhardt Isrun (2003), p. 57.
44. Victor and Victoria Trimondi, The Shadow of the Dalai Lama – Part II – 12. Fascist occultism and its close relationship to Buddhist Tantrism: "Upon his return in August 1939, the scientist was presented with the SS skull ring and dagger of honor in recognition."
45. Joseph Cummins, History's great untold stories, National Geographic, 2006, 367 p., p. 333.
46. Pringle (2006), p. 254.
47. John J. Reilly (2003): "The SS wanted racial classifications of its prisoners, so Beger was sent to Auschwitz to select interesting subjects (...). He made the familiar measurements of the living subjects. Soon after the measurements were taken, these people were gassed and pickled. The idea was to reduce them to skeletons for a large collection that could be systematically compared with the measurements taken from living bodies."
48. (in French) Victor Trimondi and Victoria Trimondi, Le film SS « Le secret du Tibet », Online Magazine, 2003.
49. (in French) Detlev Rose (2006): "Bruno BEGER, Mit der deutschen Tibetexpedition Ernst Schäfer 1938/39 nach Lhasa, Wiesbaden, 1998, page 6. Ce livre récapitule les notes du journal de voyage de Beger, réadaptées pour publication. Il n’a été tiré qu’à une cinquantaine d’exemplaires."


• Pringle, Heather (2006). The Master Plan: Himmler's Scholars and the Holocaust. Hyperion. ISBN 978-0-7868-6886-5.
• Hale, Christopher (2003). Himmler’s Crusade: The Nazi Expedition to Find the Origins of the Aryan Race. Hoboken, N. J.: John Wiley & Sons. p. 200. ISBN 0-471-26292-7.
• Schellenberg, Walter (1956). The Schellenberg Memoirs. London: Andre Deutsch.
• Levenda, Peter (2003). Unholy Alliance: A History of Nazi Involvement with the Occult. New York: The Continuum International Publishing Group Inc. pp. 191–202. ISBN 0-8264-1409-5.
• The Activities of Dr. Ernst Schaefer, United States Forces - European Theater, Military Intelligence Service Center, APO 757 Final Interrogation Report (OI-FIR) No. 32, Feb. 12, 1946.
• Michael H. Kater, Das "Ahnenerbe" der SS 1935-1945; ein Beitrag zur Kulturpolitik des Dritten Reiches, Stuttgart, Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, 1974 (paperback edition 2001, Oldenbourg Verlag, 2001, ISBN 3-486-56529-X)
• (in French) Detlev Rose, L'expédition allemande au Tibet de 1938-39. Voyage scientifique ou quête de traces à motivation idéologique ?, in Synergies européennes - Bruxelles-Munich-Tübingen, novembre 2006 (article originating from Deutschland in Geschichte und Gegenwart, No 3-2006)."
• Peter Mierau, Nationalsozialistische Expeditionspolitik. Deutsche Asien-Expeditionen 1933–1945, Múnich, 2006 (contains an account of Schäfer's expeditions).
• Isrun Engelhardt, «Tibetan Triangle. German, Tibetan and British relations in the context of E. Schäfer's expedition, 1938-1939», in Asiatische Studien, LVIII.1, 2004.
• Isrun Engelhardt, «Tibet in 1938-1939 : Photographs from the Ernst Schäfer Expedition to Tibet», Serindia, Chicago, 2007. Online: «Tibet in 1938–1939: The Ernst Schäfer Expedition to Tibet», pp. 11–61.
• Isrun Engelhardt, «Mishandled Mail : The Strange Case of the Reting Regent's Letters to Hitler», in Proceedings of the Tenth Seminar of the International Association for Tibetan Studies 2003, Oxford.
• Isrun Engelhardt, «The Nazis of Tibet : A twentieth century myth», in Monica Esposito, Images of Tibet in the 19th and 20th Centuries, Ecole française d'Extrême Orient, coll. «Etudes thématiques», 2008.
• Wolfgang Kaufmann, "Das Dritte Reich und Tibet. Die Heimat des 'östlichen Hakenkreuzes' im Blickfeld der Nationalsozialisten", Ludwigsfelder Verlagshaus 2009 (962 p.).
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