When Diplomacy Fails

By Zack Twamley

On Going since May 2012 • Updated weekly

A weekly podcast covering the build up to, breakout of and consequences of various conflicts in history.

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  Direct Link   Download 107 Minutes 14 May 2020

Want to skip the queue and access all episodes of BismarckRise right NOW? OF COURSE YOU DO! Click here for moreUnsure of what's going on? Read this blog post for more information on BismarckRise.Episode 3 – The Ultimate Opportunist: 1853-59.The Crimean War changed everything in Europe. It left Austria alienated, her Russian ally bitter and the Tsar vengeful, after Austria’s display of perfidy. ‘Austrian ingratitude’, claimed the new Tsar Alexander II, ‘killed my father.’ Under these circumstances, it was possible that Prussia could take advantage. Could an agreement with Russia be created, to be directed against Austria? But then there was the issue of France, and what Napoleon III intended to do with this new power balance. In Bismarck’s view, France presented an opportunity. We ought to negotiate with France, or at least give the impression that we were negotiating to spook our enemies, Bismarck opined. But this was too much for his superiors, even with the change that came in the aftermath of the Crimean War. Austria was still the traditional friend of Prussia; France was still the traditional bogeyman of all true Junkers. To change this, Bismarck would have to get into power, and change the system from the inside. Until this happened, he would march on in Frankfurt, crafting a niche for himself among his fellow deputies, in the hope that some day soon, he would be noticed, and called upon for bigger and better things. In a long and detailed correspondence with his friend and mentor Leopold von Gerlach, Bismarck would explain his views and plans for Prussia’s future, but these letters, written in 1857, were not the product of a man in control of his own destiny. Bismarck had to go where the pace of events took him, and by the end of 1858, with King Frederick William incapacitated by a stroke, the moment seemed ripe to hope that now, under a new sovereign perhaps, Prussia would call upon this mad Junker at long last. It was a hope he would nourish right up to the point of his actual appointment in September 1862. Before he got there though, Bismarck would have to endure a great deal of disappointment and stress first. As was to be expected, he didn’t suffer these trials in silence… 
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