Johanna von Puttkamer

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The formerly Lutheran Parish Church of Alt-Kolziglow.

Johanna von Puttkamer
Princess of Bismarck
Johanna von Bismarck in 1878
BornJohanna Friederike Charlotte Dorothea Eleonore von Puttkamer
11 April 1824
Viartlum, Pomerania, Kingdom of Prussia
Died27 November 1894(1894-11-27) (aged 70)
Varzin, Pomerania, German Empire
Noble familyPuttkamer
Spouse(s)Otto von Bismarck
IssueMarie von Bismarck
Herbert von Bismarck
Wilhelm von Bismarck
FatherHeinrich von Puttkamer
MotherLuitgarde Agnes von Glasenapp

Johanna Friederike Charlotte Dorothea Eleonore, Princess of Bismarck, Duchess of Lauenburg (née von Puttkamer; 11 April 1824 – 27 November 1894) was a Prussian noblewoman and the wife of the 1st Chancellor of Germany, Otto von Bismarck.

Early life[edit]

Reinfeld palace, Puttkamer family estate where Johanna grew up

She was born at Viartlum manor near Rummelsburg in the Prussian Province of Pomerania (present-day Wiatrołom, Poland), the daughter of Heinrich von Puttkamer (1789–1871) and his wife, Luitgarde Agnes von Glasenapp (1799–1863). Her ancestors of the Puttkamer family, first mentioned in the 13th century, belonged to the circle of Uradel families of Farther Pomerania and were known for their devoted pietism.[1] Johanna grew up in neighbouring Reinfeld palace (Barnowiec), which her father acquired shortly after her birth.


Johanna met Otto von Bismarck, then owner of Kniephof estate (Konarzewo), in 1844. The Prussian Junker had associated with Pomeranian pietist circles around Adolf von Thadden-Trieglaff (1796-1882), mainly because he had desperately fallen in love with Thadden's daughter Marie. The young woman appreciated his advances, nevertheless, as she was already engaged to Bismarck's school friend Moritz von Blanckenburg, she introduced him to her friend, Johanna von Puttkamer, at her wedding ceremony. However, not until the married couple took both Otto and Johanna on a journey to the Harz mountains in 1846 did the two seem to become closer to each other. Marie's sudden death from meningitis in November 1846 tipped the scales and Bismarck finally asked Heinrich von Puttkamer for the hand of his daughter.

Marie, Herbert and Wilhelm von Bismarck, c. 1855

Marriage and issue[edit]

On 28 July 1847 Johanna married Otto von Bismarck in the parish church of Alt-Kolziglow (modern Kołczygłowy) near Reinfeld. The couple had three children:

Later life[edit]

Unpretentious and deeply religious, Johanna was a loyal friend and an essential support throughout her husband's career. Though Otto von Bismarck never completely got over his love for the late Marie von Thadden (1822-1846) and even entered a passionate affair with Princess Katarina Orlova (1840-1875), born Princess Trubetskoy, wife of the Russian envoy Nikolay Alexeyevich Orlov, his marriage with Johanna turned out to be a happy one. Johanna's considerable influence on her husband's politics is documented by their voluminous correspondence, nevertheless, she was rivaled by sharp-witted liberal salonnières like Countess Marie von Schleinitz.


Johanna died on 27 November 1894 at the Bismarck manor in Varzin (Warcino), aged 70. Her husband had a chapel built in the Varzin park, where she was buried. Later, her mortal remains were transferred to the Bismarck Mausoleum in Friedrichsruh.


  1. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica, 2009

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