The permanent exhibition:

Otto von Bismarck and his time

The permanent exhibition provides a varied and diverse tour through Germany’s history of the 19th century and the life of Otto von Bismarck who was one of the political key figures of his time. Staged scenes convey an impression of historical situations; videos inform about the German Confederation and the Prussian constitutional conflict at the beginning of the 1860s. Selected objects throw light on certain aspects and illustrate the past. The most valuable historical item is the golden quill with which Otto von Bismarck signed the peace treaty with France in 1871.

The exhibition is made up of six rooms which display the long and winding road from the German Confederation to a unified modern nation-state, also showing Bismarck’s background and his early career (Rooms 1 and 2) as well as describing his foreign policy, through which he tried to keep up the balance of power in Europe (Room 3). Germany’s rise to a modern industrial state and the development of the bourgeois classes are presented in room 4. Bismarck’s domestic policy is presented in Room 5, which deals with the constitution of the Reich, the development of political parties and political culture, the Kulturkampf, and his anti-socialist measures. Room 6 illustrates why Bismarck already became an national cult figure during his lifetime. The exhibition ends with an outlook for the German Reich after Bismarck’s death.

Otto von Bismarck and Friedrichsruh

After Otto von Bismarck had received the Sachsenwald as a donation by Wilhelm I in 1871, who thus wanted to honor the latter’s achievements in unifying the German Empire, he stayed more frequently in Friedrichsruh. Here, he welcomed Wilhelm II, kings and princes of different countries as well as European statesmen. Many fellow citizens from all over the Reich also travelled to Friedrichsruh to show their admiration for the founder of the German Empire. Bismarck died in Friedrichsruh on July 30, 1898, and he was buried in a mausoleum near his palace.