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About this book

The Prussian army invented modern war processes, and Helmuth von Moltke (1800 - 1891) was the first modern war planner. His accomplishment was to develop, bring to fruition and validate the war processes invented during his lifetime. In this book, Bucholz examines Moltke's work and the processes he utilised in each of the three wars of German unification: against Denmark (1864), Austria (1865) and France (1870-71).

Moltke's achievements have become a legacy for modern military strategists. The procedures he developed have been used in all of the wars of the twentieth century - the Persian Gulf War of 1991 may be its most interesting example - beacuse they respond to the size, space, time and technology mandates of industrial mass warfare. This book describes and analyzes these developments in a unique way, by using organisational, knowledge and learning theory, by looking closely at Moltke's life as a professional soldier and by bringing little-known research in the field to a wider audience.

Table of Contents

Introduction Prussia: War, Theory and Moltke

Abstract
Is it necessary to forever blame the sins of the sons on the fathers? Historians too often consider the past on the basis of what came later rather than on what came before.2 That is one of the problems with Prussian-German history before 4 August 1914.3 The great Fischer controversy of the 1960s hinged around it, as did the Sonderweg dispute of the 1980s and the Goldhagen disagreement of the 1990s.4 Each of these paints nineteenth-century Germany in various ways with the brush of Nazi Germany and the Holocaust.
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1. Napoleon’s Legacy and the Prussian Invention

Abstract
Modern war begins with Napoleon’s Italian campaign of 1796, reinforced by his wars against Austria, Prussia, England and Russia in the next decade. Three aspects of Napoleonic war tell us it begins modernity. First there is terminology: the names used to describe it. For example ‘avant-garde’ was originally a French Revolutionary term meaning something that invades unknown territory, exposes itself to the dangers of sudden, shocking encounters, conquers as yet unoccupied land.1 With this phrase we are no longer in the safe world of eighteenth-century limited warfare, where armies under siege went home, soldiers did not fight in bad weather or at night, wars did not threaten the existence of states, and campaigns went on for years with only a few battles.
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2. Helmuth von Moltke, 1800–57

Abstract
In October 1800, when he was born, his kingdom had gone to sleep on the laurels of Frederick the Great.1 By April 1891, when he died, the kingdom of Prussia had been resurrected, it dominated the first new Germanic great power since the fifteenth century. And the means to that end — a new form of war process — had been created which would become the model and paradigm for twentieth-century armies around the world. Helmuth von Moltke’s life mirrored, represented and created one of the enduring and surprising inventions of the nineteenth-century world.
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3. Moltke and the Prussian System, 1857–63

Abstract
Moltke was 57 when he and Marie moved into the stately mansion on the sunny side of 66 Behrenstrasse in the midst of ‘official’ Berlin.1 One whole floor was devoted to their living and official quarters. The offices of the General Staff were located on the first and ground floors; upstairs, the ‘lady of the house’ and the busy general had to be ready to entertain every Tuesday. There were other social requirements. Aside from official court balls and festivities — for example the Ordensfest on 18 January, the Grosse Defiliercour a week later, and several court balls held up to Fastnachtdienstag — every 22 March Moltke hosted the king’s birthday dinner for the entire General Staff in Berlin.2 This was an affair: probably 40 officers in the 1850s, 60 in the early 1860s, jumping to over 100 thereafter. To organize this they had a house staff of perhaps half a dozen, plus orderlies and adjutants.3
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4. The Danish War, 1864

Abstract
Otto von Bismarck was appointed minister-president of the kingdom of Prussia on 22 September 1862. Ten days later Moltke was requested to explore the possibilities of a war with Denmark.1
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5. The Austrian War, 1866

Abstract
Prussia fought Austria and her allies from 14 May to 22 July 1866. For Europe it was the last act in 100-year struggle for supremacy and leadership among the German-speaking states. For world military affairs it was a benchmark in war-planning processes, validating 50 years of invisible development with a startling upset victory. And certifying Moltke as a planning genius of the first order.
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6. The French War, 1870–71

Abstract
By the summer of 1870 deep future-oriented war-planning processes had been developing in the kingdom of Prussia for over 70 years. Three, almost four, generations of officers had wrestled with this novel technology. But little showed outside; 1864 did not reveal much. Denmark was a minor kingdom, a small war in the snow. And 1866, though a major surprise upending power relationships in central Europe, did not catch everyone’s attention.
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Conclusion

Abstract
Dealing with a legend is always hazardous. Moltke is arguably one of the five or ten most famous Germans of all time. In December 1899, at the turn of the millennium, the Berliner Illustrierte Zeitung conducted a reader survey. What was the most important invention of the century? The railroad. What was the most significant event? The unification of Germany. Who was the greatest statesman? Bismarck. Who was the century’s greatest thinker? Not Darwin, Kant, Schopenhauer or Nietzsche, but Moltke! He also came in a close second to Napoleon as the most important military leader.1
Arden Bucholz
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