Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Otto von Bismarck, Otto Eduard Leopold, Prince of Bismarck, Duke of Lauenburg

German Statesman known as the "Iron Chancellor" who unified numerous German states into a powerful German Empire under Prussian leadership, 1st Chancellor of the German Empire

"The weak are strong because they are reckless. The strong are weak because they have scruples."

"When a man says he approves of something in principle, it means he hasn't the slightest intention of putting it into practice."

"Better pointed bullets than pointed speeches."

"A really great man is known by three signs - generosity in the design, humanity in the execution, moderation in success."

"Even in a declaration of war one observes the rules of politeness."

"A conquering army on the border will not be stopped by eloquence."

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

"A generation that has taken a beating is always followed by a generation that deals one."

"Be polite; write diplomatically; even in a declaration of war one observes the rules of politeness. "

"A government must not waver once it has chosen its course. It must not look to the left or right but go forward."

"A little caution outflanks a large cavalry."

"Beware of sentimental alliances where the consciousness of good deeds is the only compensation for noble sacrifices."

"Fools learn from experience. I prefer to learn from the experience of others. "

"History is a simple piece of paper covered with print. The main thing is still to make history, not to write it."

"I consider even a victorious war as an evil, from which statesmanship must endeavor to spare nations."

"It is the destiny of the weak to be devoured by the strong. "

"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."

"Man cannot control the current of events. He can only float with them and steer. "

"Hounds follow those who feed them. "

"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."

"Laws are like sausages. It’s better not to see them being made. "

"Laws are like medicine; they generally cure an evil by a lesser or a passing evil."

"Never believe anything in politics until it has been officially denied. "

"No question is so difficult to answer as that to which the answer is obvious."

"Numerous politicians have seized absolute power and muzzled the press. Never in history has the press seized absolute power and muzzled the politicians."

"Not by speeches and votes of the majority, are the great questions of the time decided — that was the error of 1848 and 1849 — but by iron and blood."

"People never lie so much as after a hunt, during a war, or before an election."

"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. "

"Politics is not an exact science."

"Politics is the art of the possible, the attainable ... the art of the next best."

"Politics is not a science, as the professors are apt to suppose. It is an art."

"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."

"Politics ruins the character."

"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. "

"The nation that has the schools has the future."

"Preventive war is like committing suicide for fear of death."

"We Germans fear God, but nothing else in the world; and that godliness is that which lets us love and foster peace."

"The three signs of great men are generosity in the design, humanity in the execution, moderation in success."

"Universal suffrage is the government of a house by its nursery."

"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."

"When you want to fool the world, tell the truth."

"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."

"With a gentleman I try to be a gentleman and a half, and with a fraud I try to be a fraud and a half."

"A statesman cannot create anything himself. He must wait and listen until he hears the steps of God sounding through events; then leap up and grasp the hem of his garment."

"A journalist is a person who has mistaken their calling."

"A Bavarian is half-way between an Austrian and a human being."

"An appeal to fear never finds an echo in German hearts."

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

"By the 1990s, advertising with celebrities had really taken off,"

"Concerning the blunders which had been made in our foreign policy public opinion is, as a rule, first enlightened when it is in a position to look back upon the history of a generation, and the Achivi qui plectuntur are not always immediately contemporary with the mistaken actions."