Thomas Edison’s 1889 Recording of Otto von Bismarck‎ Discovered

Otto von Bis­mar­ck (1815 – 1898) — he was a tow­er­ing 19th cen­tu­ry polit­i­cal fig­ure, the Iron Chan­cel­lor who uni­fied Ger­many under Prus­si­a’s lead­er­ship, and the man who invent­ed Realpoli­tik. And now, thanks to Thomas Edis­on’s wax cylin­der, you can hear the voice of this dis­tant his­tor­i­cal fig­ure. The recent­ly-dis­cov­ered record­ing was made back in 1889, when Edis­on’s assis­tant, Theo Wange­mann, head­ed to Europe to attend the World’s Fair in Paris, then trav­eled to Bis­mar­ck­’s cas­tle in Friedrich­sruh (near Ham­burg). Bis­mar­ck­’s wife urged the Chan­cel­lor to make the record­ing, and he went along with it, record­ing lines from the songs In Good Old Colony Times and Gaudea­mus igi­tur; the poem Als Kaiser Rot­bart lobe­sam; and France’s nation­al anthem, the Mar­seil­laise. (The last pick was kind of odd.) It con­cludes with the Chan­cel­lor offer­ing some words to his son Her­bert.

You can lis­ten to the audio above or here (be sure to crank up the vol­ume!) and read the full tran­script below the jump. Also don’t miss some vin­tage record­ings of oth­er 19th cen­tu­ry leg­ends: William Glad­stone, Walt Whit­man, Pyotr Tchaikovsky, and Alfred Lord Ten­nyson. Plus find Euro­pean his­to­ry cours­es in our big col­lec­tion of Free Cours­es Online.

In good old colony times,
When we lived under the King,
Three rogu­ish chaps fell into mishaps
Because they could not sing.

Als Kaiser Rot­bart lobe­sam
Zum heil’­gen Land gezo­gen kam,
Da mußt er mit dem from­men Heer
Durch ein Gebirge wüst und leer.

Gaudea­mus igi­tur,
juvenes dum sumus.
Post jucun­dam juven­tutem,
post molestam senec­tutem
nos habebit humus.

Allons enfants de la Patrie
Le jour de gloire est arrivé
Con­tre nous de la tyran­nie
L’é­ten­dard sanglant est levé.

Treibe alles in Maßen und Sit­tlichkeit, namentlich das Arbeit­en, dann aber auch das Essen, und im Übri­gen ger­ade auch das Trinken.
Rat eines Vaters an seinen Sohn.

When good Emper­or Red­beard
Was jour­ney­ing to the Holy Land,
He had to go with his pious army
Through moun­tains des­o­late and emp­ty.

Let us rejoice, there­fore,
While we are young.
After a pleas­ant youth
After a trou­bling old age
The earth will have us.

Arise, chil­dren of the Father­land,
The day of glo­ry has arrived! Against us of tyran­ny
The bloody ban­ner is raised.

Do every­thing in mod­er­a­tion and moral­i­ty, name­ly work, but then also eat­ing, and apart from that espe­cial­ly drink­ing.
Advice of a father to his son.

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