Otto von Bismarck received fan mail and marriage proposals

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Otto von Bismarck, the 'Iron Chancellor' who forged modern Germany, was the subject of thousands of letters of fan mail including marriage proposals from women devoted to the dashing leader.

More than 6,000 personal letters, which have been made available to scholars for the first time by the Bismarck Foundation in Friedrichsruh, were sent to the 19th century leader while in office and retirement.

Professing love and devotion to the Prussian leader, who died in 1898, they detail how many Germans saw Bismarck as a messiah figure long before the cult of Adolf Hitler.

"Bismarck, forever and forever and forever!" wrote one Prussian woman on a postcard showing a floral tea-cosy.

A married woman from the Saarland wrote to him saying: "I am unhappy in love but know that we could be wonderful together. I am a very good cook and stuffed pig's stomach is my speciality."

One doctor, concerned about Bismarck's circulation, addressed him as "Your Highness" and advised him to do "gymnastics in your bedchamber".

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