108+ Best Otto von Bismarck Quotes: Exclusive Selection

Otto Eduard Leopold, Prince of Bismarck, Duke of Lauenburg, known as Otto von Bismarck, 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. Profoundly inspirational Otto von Bismarck quotes will challenge the way you think, and help guide you through any life experience.

Famous Otto von Bismarck Quotes

I have seen three emperors in their nakedness, and the sight was not inspiring. – Otto von Bismarck

When you want to fool the world, tell the truth. – Otto von Bismarck

Only a fool learns from his own mistakes. The wise man learns from the mistakes of others. – Otto von Bismarck

Do not expect that once taking advantage of Russia’s weakness, you will receive dividends forever. Russian has always come for their money. And when they come – do not rely on an agreement signed by you, you are supposed to justify. They are not worth the paper it is written. Therefore, with the Russian is to play fair, or do not play. – Otto von Bismarck

The nation that has the schools has the future. – Otto von Bismarck

A conquering army on the border will not be stopped by eloquence. – Otto von Bismarck

All treaties between great states cease to be binding when they come in conflict with the struggle for existence. – Otto von Bismarck

Love is blind; friendship tries not to notice. – Otto von Bismarck

Beware of sentimental alliances where the consciousness of good deeds is the only compensation for noble sacrifices. – Otto von Bismarck

Politics are not a science based on logic; they are the capacity of always choosing at each instant, in constantly changing situations, the least harmful, the most useful. – Otto von Bismarck

Great men have great dogs. – Otto von Bismarck

Laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made. – Otto von Bismarck

Fools you are who say you like to learn from your mistakes. I prefer to learn from the mistakes of others, and avoid the cost of my own. – Otto von Bismarck

Universal suffrage is the government of a house by its nursery. – Otto von Bismarck

There is only one greater folly than that of the fool who says in his heart there is no God, and that is the folly of the people that says with its head that it does not know whether there is a God or not. – Otto von Bismarck

A Bavarian is half-way between an Austrian and a human being. – Otto von Bismarck

I am bored. The great things are done. The German Reich is made. – Otto von Bismarck

Whoever speaks of Europe is wrong: it is a geographical expression. – Otto von Bismarck

Fools learn from experience. I prefer to learn from the experience of others. – Otto von Bismarck

Show me an objective worthy of war and I will go along with you. – Otto von Bismarck

You can do anything with children if you only play with them. – Otto von Bismarck

The Balkans arent worth the life of a single Pomeranian grenadier. – Otto von Bismarck

Politics ruins the character. – Otto von Bismarck

Not even the King himself has the right to subordinate the interests of his country to his own feelings of love or hatred towards strangers; he is, however, responsible towards God and not to me if he does so, and therefore on this point I am silent. – Otto von Bismarck

Better pointed bullets than pointed words. – Otto von Bismarck

A little caution outflanks a large cavalry. – Otto von Bismarck

One can put some trust in the gratitude of a sovereign, and also in that of his family; under certain conditions, one can even rely upon it; but one can never expect anything from the gratitude of a nation. – Otto von Bismarck

History is simply a piece of paper covered with print: the main thing is to make history, not to write it. – Otto von Bismarck

Revolutions in Prussia are started by kings, and since it is a revolution, it is better to start it ourselves than to suffer of it – Otto von Bismarck

Anyone who has ever looked into the glazed eyes of a soldier dying on the battlefield will think hard before starting a war. – Otto von Bismarck

You can do everything with bayonets, but you are not able to sit on them – Otto von Bismarck

I have found that nothing so deceives your adversaries as telling them the truth. – Otto von Bismarck

He who has his thumb on the purse has the power. – Otto von Bismarck

When a man says he approves of something in principle, it means he hasn’t the slightest intention of carrying it out in practice. – Otto von Bismarck

Even the most favorable outcome of the war will never lead to the decomposition of the main forces of Russia, which is based on millions of Russian … The latter, even if they break up international treaties, just as quickly re-connect with each other, like pieces of a particle of mercury. – Otto von Bismarck

Hounds follow those who feed them. – Otto von Bismarck

He obtained from Congress the right to borrow from the people by selling to it the ‘bonds’ of States … and the Government and the nation escaped the plots of the foreign financiers. They understood at once, that the United States would escape their grip. The death of Lincoln was resolved upon. – Otto von Bismarck

I consider even a victorious war as an evil, from which statesmanship must endeavor to spare nations. – Otto von Bismarck

The government should cultivate the view also among the propertyless classes of the population, those who are the most numerous and the least educated, that the state is not only an institution of necessity but also of welfare. By recognizable and direct advantages they must be led to look upon the state not as an agency devised solely for the protection of the better-situated classes of society but also as one serving their needs and interests. – Otto von Bismarck

A government must not waiver once it has chosen its course. It must not look to the left or right but go forward. – Otto von Bismarck

You can’t destroy the polish national-consciousness or Poles on the battlefield, but if you give them power, they will destroy themselves – Otto von Bismarck

Laws are like medicine; they generally cure an evil by a lesser or a passing evil. – Otto von Bismarck

I have always found the word ‘Europe’ on the lips of those who wanted something from others which they dared not demand in their own names! – Otto von Bismarck

Your map of Africa is really quite nice. But my map of Africa lies in Europe. Here is Russia, and here… is France, and we’re in the middle – that’s my map of Africa. – Otto von Bismarck

Faust complained about having two souls in his breast, but I harbor a whole crowd of them and they quarrel. It is like being in a republic. – Otto von Bismarck

I have never lived on principles. When I have had to act, I never first asked myself on what principles I was going to act, but I went at it and did what I thought fit. I have often reproached myself for my want of principle. – Otto von Bismarck

man cannot control the current of events. he can only float with them and steer – Otto von Bismarck

Be polite; write diplomatically; even in a declaration of war one observes the rules of politeness. – Otto von Bismarck

No civilization other than that which is Christian, is worth seeking or possessing. – Otto von Bismarck

The main thing is to make history, not to write it. – Otto von Bismarck

What we learn from History is that no one learns from History – Otto von Bismarck

Never fight with Russian. On your every stratagem they answer unpredictable stupidity. – Otto von Bismarck

The division of the United States into federations of equal force was decided long before the Civil War by the high financial powers of Europe. These bankers were afraid that the United States, if they remained in one block and as one nation, would attain economic and financial independence, which would upset their financial domination over the world. The voice of the Rothschilds prevailed… Therefore they sent their emissaries into the field to exploit the question of slavery and to open an abyss between the two sections of the Union. – Otto von Bismarck

The Americans are a very lucky people. They’re bordered to the north and south by weak neighbors, and to the east and west by fish. – Otto von Bismarck

People never lie so much as after a hunt, during a war or before an election. – Otto von Bismarck

One day the great European War will come out of some damned foolish thing in the Balkans (1888). – Otto von Bismarck

God has a special providence for fools, drunks, and the United States of America. – Otto von Bismarck

The secret of politics? Make a good treaty with Russia. – Otto von Bismarck

Never believe anything in politics until it has been officially denied. – Otto von Bismarck

We live in a wondrous time in which the strong is weak because of his moral scruples and the weak grows strong because of his audacity. – Otto von Bismarck

A generation that has taken a beating is always followed by a generation that deals one. – Otto von Bismarck

The great questions of the day will not be settled by means of speeches and majority decisions but by iron and blood. – Otto von Bismarck

A really great man is known by three signs: generosity in the design, humanity in the execution, moderation in success. – Otto von Bismarck

The death of Lincoln was a disaster for Christendom. There was no man in the United States great enough to wear his boots and the bankers went anew to grab the riches. I fear that foreign bankers with their craftiness and tortuous tricks will entirely control the exuberant riches of America and use it to systematically corrupt civilization. – Otto von Bismarck

People who love sausage and people who believe in justice should never watch either of them being made – Otto von Bismarck

With bad laws and good civil servants it’s still possible to govern. But with bad civil servants even the best laws can’t help. – Otto von Bismarck

A bad plan that is well executed will yield much better results than a good plan that is poorly executed. – Otto von Bismarck

Preventive war is like committing suicide out of fear of death. – Otto von Bismarck

It is the destiny of the weak to be devoured by the strong. – Otto von Bismarck

The position of Prussia in Germany will not be determined by its liberalism but by its power … Prussia must concentrate its strength and hold it for the favorable moment, which has already come and gone several times. Since the treaties of Vienna, our frontiers have been ill-designed for a healthy body politic. Not through speeches and majority decisions will the great questions of the day be decided – that was the great mistake of 1848 and 1849 – but by iron and blood (Eisen und Blut). – Otto von Bismarck

The most significant event of the 20th century will be the fact that the North Americans speak English. – Otto von Bismarck

With a gentleman I am always a gentleman and a half, and with a fraud I try to be a fraud and a half. – Otto von Bismarck

A journalist is a person who has mistaken their calling. – Otto von Bismarck

There is a Providence that protects idiots, drunkards, children and the United States of America. – Otto von Bismarck

When you say you agree to a thing in principle you mean that you have not the slightest intention of carrying it out in practice. – Otto von Bismarck

An appeal to fear never finds an echo in German hearts. – Otto von Bismarck

To retain respect for sausages and laws, one must not watch them in the making. – Otto von Bismarck

A statesman… must wait until he hears the steps of God sounding through events, then leap up and grasp the hem of His garment. – Otto von Bismarck

There are two things civilized Man should never see being made: Sausages and Laws. – Otto von Bismarck

War should only be used for a policy worth its sacrifices. – Otto von Bismarck

Nothing should be left to an invaded people except their eyes for weeping. – Otto von Bismarck

Politics is not a science, as the professors are apt to suppose. It is an art. – Otto von Bismarck

God always looks after the fools and — and the United States. – Otto von Bismarck

The luxury of one’s own opinion. – Otto von Bismarck

They treat me like a fox, a cunning fellow ( Schlaukopf ) of the first rank. But the truth is that with a gentleman I am always a gentleman and a half, and when I have to do with a pirate, I try to be a pirate and a half. – Otto von Bismarck

Vanity is a mortgage that must be deducted from the value of a man. – Otto von Bismarck

This policy cannot succeed through speeches, and shooting-matches, and songs; it can only be carried out through blood and iron. – Otto von Bismarck

My subject is my life, and my life is my subject. – Otto von Bismarck

Politics is like sausages, you don’t want to watch either being made. – Otto von Bismarck

Let them stew in their own grease (or juice). – Otto von Bismarck

I do not regard the procuring of peace as a matter in which we should play the role of arbiter between different opinions … more that of an honest broker who really wants to press the business forward. – Otto von Bismarck

I am accustomed to pay men back in their own coin. – Otto von Bismarck

We are better off not knowing how sausages and laws are made. – Otto von Bismarck

We Germans fear God, but nothing else in the world; and it is the fear of God, which lets us love and foster peace. – Otto von Bismarck

The Catholic priest, from the moment he becomes a priest, is a sworn officer of the pope. – Otto von Bismarck

Physicians still retain something of their priestly origin; they would gladly do what they forbid. – Otto von Bismarck

I must protest that I would never seek foreign conflicts just to go over domestic difficulties; that would be frivolous. I was speaking of conflicts that we could not avoid, even though we do not seek them. – Otto von Bismarck

Let us put Germany, so to speak, in the saddle! you will see that she can ride. – Otto von Bismarck

Our German forefathers had a very kind religion. They believed that, after death, they would meet again all the good dogs that had been their companions in life. I wish I could believe that too. – Otto von Bismarck

In England the more horses a nobleman has, the more popular he is. So long as the English are devoted to racing, Socialism has no chance with you. – Otto von Bismarck

The less people know about how sausages and laws are made, the better they’ll sleep at night – Otto von Bismarck

If you like laws and sausages, you should never watch either one being made. – Otto von Bismarck

Life has taught me to forgive much, but to seek forgiveness still more. – Otto von Bismarck

I have only one ambition left: I should like to have a good epitaph. – Otto von Bismarck

I have wished to crush Rome that I might crush Christianity. – Otto von Bismarck

The statesman’s task is to hear God’s footsteps marching through history, and to try and catch on to His coattails as He marches past. – Otto von Bismarck

Earthly majesty is always akin to the fallen angel, who is proud and unhappy, beautiful but troubled, and whose plans and efforts, though vast, are denied access. – Otto von Bismarck

I have often regretted what I have eaten, but never what I have drunk. – Otto von Bismarck

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