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German History in Documents and Images
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Otto von Bismarck, Forging German Unity (c. 1880)
This mass-produced print is entitled The Blacksmith of German Unity [Der Schmied der deutschen Einheit]. It is based on an 1866 painting, since destroyed, by Guido Schmidt (1834-1922). It combines stock elements that appeared in countless allegories celebrating Bismarck’s role in German unification – the German chancellor, for example, is dressed up in a blacksmith’s apron, and the figure of Germania is clad in armor. Like so many other images of its kind, the print captures the moment when the newly-forged sword of unity is passed, like a torch, from the one to the other.