Borrowing from the Master:
Uses of Clausewitz in German Military
Literature Before the Great War
By Antulio J. Echevarria II
This article appeared originally in War
and History, 3 (July 1996): 274-92. It is displayed here with the
permission of War in History and its publisher, Edward Arnold. Copyright
Edward Arnold, 1996. All rights reserved.
We are epigones, the grinning heirs of a
rich and unfettered past, whose fruits we reap while being spared the labor.*1
In 1976, the Naval War College Review published the late
Herbert Rosinski's seminal essay, "Scharnhorst to Schlieffen:
The Rise and Decline of German Military Thought."*2 Rosinski,
a respected Clausewitzian scholar and military historian, argued
that German military thought had reached its zenith with
Clausewitz' systematic study of the "Whole of War," and
then descended into pure dogmatism with Schlieffen's
oversimplified, formulaic approach to its conduct. He contrasted
the philosophical sophistication of classical German thought in the
age of Clausewitz to the axiomatic pragmatism of its late
nineteenth-century counterpart. Rosinski viewed thought as
something that moved through history in an Hegelian-like stream or
current. Abstract, yet discernable, it ebbed and flowed, or rose
like a star to its "apogee."*3
In the course of his argument, however, Rosinski discounted the
contributions of those military writers like Wilhelm von Blume,
Albrecht von Boguslawski, Sigismund von Schlichting, Friedrich von
Bernhardi, and Colmar von der Goltz who never rose to a position as
prominent as that of Chief of the Great General Staff (GGS). These
men were dismissed as: "second-hand, second-rate compilators
and commentators . . . almost wholly devoid of any original
inspiration . . . and largely concerned with hairsplitting
controversies about the subtleties of Moltke's [and Napoleon's]
Although this judgment has come to represent the received view of
German military literature before the Great War--the so-called era
of the "epigones"--it is misleading on at least two
counts, namely, the issues of originality and range of interest.*5
To be sure, the works of the epigones fall far short of the
intellectual sophistication of Clausewitz' On War, but a
mere out-of-hand rejection of them serves only to obfuscate the
urgent issues with which they were concerned. In fact, these
military writers were doing precisely what members of their
profession ought to have been doing--studying and debating issues
pertinent to the impact of industrialization and the changing
conditions of warfare. Among other things, their writings proposed
viable and inspired (if not wholly original) solutions to the
challenges that technology posed to the Imperial army's battle
doctrine. These recommendations anticipated modern tactics of fire
and maneuver, and resulted in successive revisions of the Imperial
army's infantry, cavalry, and artillery Drill Regulations as well
as its Field Service Regulations.*6 But at the same time, the
epigones were concerned with more than mere doctrinal issues as
evidenced by their participation in the political right's polemical
discourses against pacifism and Social Democracy.*7
To be sure, the military literature of the Wilhelmine period
clearly reflects strong militaristic and anti-democratic biases.
Bernhardi's Germany and the Next War, which went through
numerous editions and translations, reflects these attitudes, and
those of Social Darwinism, expansionism, and warism as well.*8
Guilty of these sins and more, the military literature of this
period is nonetheless rich in uses of Clausewitz. This essay
discusses those uses as they occurred in the course of the Imperial
army's debate over tactical doctrine, and suggests that a
redefinition of Clausewitz' influence might be in order.
If, as Rosinski has remarked, turn-of-the-century military
writers seemed more imitative than original in their uses of
Clausewitz, it was due in no small measure to Field Marshal Helmuth
von Moltke's endorsement of On War shortly after Germany's
successful Wars of Unification.*9 This endorsement firmly
established Clausewitz as the Prussian officer's
"schoolmaster." Proper use of, and reference to,
Clausewitz, affirmed one's legitimacy as a military writer.
Moreover, Prusso-German officers of the Wilhelmine era consciously
identified themselves as part of a tradition of military
"greatness" originating with Frederick the Great,
continuing through Clausewitz, Moltke, and finally to the uncertain
situation that confronted them on the eve of World War I. Following
the war against France, German military literature exalted the
Prussian army's leaders of 1870-1. These heroes provided
"models of fresh initiative . . . stand[ing] forever as an
admonition for the soul."*10 Similarly, Moltke, the architect
of the army's military victories, emerged as the paragon of
military virtue--epitomizing the qualities of courage, boldness,
discipline, and obedience. One essay praised a letter Moltke had
written to William I on the eve of the war against Austria. The
letter advised the King to take the initiative against the House of
Hapsburg despite the danger of provoking a general war with France
"Rarely have words of such unshakeable confidence in the decisive
power of the sword been expressed in the face of such impending
political turmoil. They sound to us epigones as evidence of the
fire of war burning in the soul of this great man."*11
To be sure, such rhetoric was intended to consolidate control of
the new Imperial army, and of the nation itself, under Prussian
auspices, but it also conspired to place a great deal of pressure
on the epigones to live up to the glory of Prussia's military past.
By the turn of the century, borrowing ideas or examples from
Prussia's history, especially in the form of citations or
references to these celebrated names, had become something of a
tradition (or an obligation) amongst these "grinning"
heirs. Thus, the Prusso-German usage of Clausewitz emerged in an
era which was epigonal in attitude--intellectually predisposed to
seek answers to the questions of the present in the examples and
traditions of the past.
It must also be mentioned that the interpretations of the epigones
suffered from the use of adulterated editions of On War.*12
As Werner Halweg and Peter Paret have pointed out, several hundred
"clarifications" were introduced into the second edition
of On War (1852) by Clausewitz' brother-in-law, Count
Friedrich von Brühl, and remained in effect until after World
War II. One in particular, which occurred in Book VIII, Chapter
Six, actually reversed the sense of the original text. Clausewitz
had emphasized that a nation's political leadership must share in
the activities and decisions of its commander-in-chief, while von
Brühl's alteration emphasized the military's participation in
political decisions.*13 The method of citation employed by the
epigones (when they used one) did not identify the edition used;
and we have no evidence indicating that they appreciated the
discrepancies between the first and subsequent editions. Nor were
they trained to appreciate the assistance that unpublished primary
sources can lend to clearing up ambiguities in a printed text.
Thus, the interpretations of Clausewitz offered by the epigones
generally betray more enthusiasm than precision.
The epigones borrowed from the master as part of an ideational
response to what another historian has justifiably called the
nineteenth-century "crisis in warfighting."*14 This
crisis began in the middle of the century when improvements in the
range, accuracy, and rate of fire of direct and indirect-fire
weapons made themselves felt on European battlefields. The impact
of this crisis is best viewed through the course of the Schlichting
controversy, at the core of which was the issue of the high
casualty rates, especially among infantry and cavalry units,
experienced in the Wars of Unification. New technology combined
with old tactics resulted in unexpectedly heavy losses. This
realization, in turn, inspired some Prusso-German officers, despite
the army's overall success against Denmark, Austria, and France, to
argue for a revision of existing methods of attack. Hence, by the
1870s, treatises on the subject of war had less to do with
discussing its nature, as Clausewitz had done, than its practical
conduct, which was clearly undergoing a period of
transformation.*15 Imperial Germany's military writers had come to
realize that four new phenomena were exercising a decisive
influence on the conduct of war on all its levels: 1) improved road
networks; 2) railroads; 3) electric telegraphs; and 4) long-range,
rapid-firing rifles and cannon.*16
Indeed, the performance of the Prussian needle gun in engagements
like Lundby (July 3, 1864) and Podol (June 26, 1866), and of the
French chassepot in the battles of Spichern (August 6,
1870), and Gravelotte-St. Privat (August 18, 1870) demonstrated
that advances in military technology were in fact changing the
"face of battle."*17 In a single assault against the
heights of St. Privat, for example, the Prussian Guard Division
suffered over 8000 casualties, more than 25 percent of the entire
corps strength, in less than twenty minutes.*18 To be sure,
military history is replete with bloody battles, but the idea that
such heavy casualties could be inflicted in so short a time
continued to preoccupy German military writers long after the war.
Reactions ranged from abject denial that the battle possessed any
enduring significance to sober appreciations for what it foretold
about the lethality of modern military technology.*19
As early as 1872, Captain Albrecht von Boguslawski condemned the
army's tradition of instantly attacking whenever the enemy was
encountered and called for more methodically-planned infantry
assaults, coodinated with massed artillery fires.*20 A year later,
he followed this argument with the recommendation that the
traditional battalion column, because it presented too large a
target to modern weaponry, should be banned in favor of smaller
company and skirmish formations.*21 Major Wilhelm von Scherff
likewise argued that the war against France had given birth to a
new tactical method--a skirmish-tactic--which, despite the
similarity in name, differed from the skirmish tactics of the
Napoleonic wars, and that this new method ought to be reflected in
existing battle doctrine.*22 Major Verdy du Vernois went so far as
to declare that, due to the lethality of modern infantry weapons,
only open-order, skirmish-type formations would be feasible in
Given the fact that improvements in artillery guns and munitions
had also occurred, junior officers like Majors Hoffbauer and Schell
reviewed the performance of their branch in the Wars of Unification
and suggested doctrinal changes that would allow the artillery to
better support infantry and cavalry units in battle.*24 Each of
these branches performed different missions on the battlefield, and
procedures which provided adequate artillery support for the one
did not necessarily work for the other, particularly as the
formations and roles of each were currently undergoing revision.*25
Likewise, cavalry general Carl von Schmidt's reports regarding the
heavy losses sustained by mounted units during the War of 1870-71
led directly to the appointment in 1873 of a committee of officers
to revise the Cavalry Drill Regulations of 1855. As one might
expect, despite the evident lethality of the modern battlefield,
optimism prevailed within this branch regarding the relevance it
would enjoy in a modern war. While some officers, including Moltke
himself, believed that cavalry could be used only against
disorganized infantry units, or in reconaissance, security, or
pursuit missions, others, like Generals Schmidt and Stolberg,
suggested that by reorganizing itself into three specially trained
groups--breakthrough, maneuver, and support--cavalry units could
still perform attack missions.*26 A few years later, Bernhardi, who
also participated in successive revisions to the cavalry drill
regulations, advocated mass-cavalry formations employed in
strategic rather than tactical roles. Making use of the greater
mobility of the horse, large numbers of friendly troops might be
quickly relocated across the front, thereafter dismounting to fight
as infantry.*27 Bernhardi's ideas on the use of cavalry thus
anticipated twentieth-century mobile warfare. Whereas officers like
Freytag-Loringhoven abhorred the "democratization" or
atomization of the battlefield, fearing that it would lead to a
loss of discipline and control, Bernhardi embraced it, arguing that
the greater lethality and faster pace of modern war required a
stronger emphasis on individual action, as well as the
standardization, as far as possible, of routine procedures. He also
advocated judicious use of the spade in infantry attacks, called
for greater latitude to subordinates, and stressed the importance
of individual initiative on the battlefield.*28 That the latter two
have become an integral part of the combat philosophy of modern
armies demonstrates their efficacy. The improved effectiveness of
direct and indirect-fire weapons had thus caused a revision of the
formations and battle procedures of all branches of the Imperial
army, as well as a great deal of discussion concerning the role
each might play in future war.
In addition to these and similar discussions concerning how the
separate branches might adjust to advances in military technology,
the emergence of mass armies raised troubling questions regarding
how to bring large quantities of men and matériel from their assembly areas in the homeland to the battlefield
itself. Far more than the mere "hairsplitting
controversies" which Rosinski denounced, the debates over
Napoleonic and Moltkean strategy were concerned with the advantages
and disadvantages of moving troops along exterior or interior
lines, and whether it was better to concentrate one's force on or
off the battlefield. These issues had a direct bearing on the
development of operational as well as strategic doctrine, and were
certainly relevant to any approach to warfighting, old or new.
To be sure, Clausewitz' On War stands as a first-rate
philosophical inquiry into the nature of war. But the works of
Schlichting, von der Goltz and other military writers, focused on
developing practical solutions to a very urgent and compelling
problem--the integration of modern technology and
warfighting--which threatened the Imperial army's current battle
doctrine with obsolescence.*29 What was needed, with the threat of
a general conflict growing more likely every year, were thoughts
concerning the impact of recent technological advances upon war.
Philosophical inquiries into its nature could wait.
Indeed, the nature of the literature published by Prusso-German
officers following the war of 1870-71 suggests that most had
realized that military technology had in fact out-paced military
doctrine. To close this gap, the epigones borrowed from Clausewitz,
recalling his dictum that experience informs and modifies theory.
In other words, Imperial Germany's military writers borrowed from
the master to augment an ideology which had traditionally glorified
individual skill and bravery, but was now increasingly forced to
acknowledge the importance of matériel on the
battlefield. The "Schlichting controversy," a
turn-of-the-century debate over battle doctrine, provides a closer
look at how Clausewitz was used.
In 1879, Colonel Sigismund von Schlichting argued that the Imperial
army's infantry battle doctrine required revision. His important
essay, "On the Infantry Battle," suggested that the
dense, close-order formations which had proved such easy targets
for the French chassepot and mitrailleus had become
obsolete.*30 Henceforth, attacks were to be carried out in loose,
open-order formations, making use of folds in the terrain,
advancing under cover of artillery fire, and aiming at enveloping
his exposed flank.*31
This approach to the infantry battle, Schlichting maintained, was
the easiest and best way to avoid the devastating effect of modern
weaponry. In those instances where the nature of the terrain and
density of troop concentrations prevented envelopment, soldiers in
the assault were to use spades to "dig in" as close to
the enemy position as possible; and to concentrate fire on selected
points until the enemy had been sufficiently weakened to allow the
attack to resume.*32 Such an operation, Schlichting cautioned,
might have to take place over several days, acquiring the character
of a methodical battle. Whether a matter of days or hours, however,
modern firepower had now reduced the role of the bayonet to little
more than a "metaphor for the spirit of the
offensive."*33 The real key to success in battle lay in
achieving fire superiority.*34
Perhaps his most significant contribution to the development of
battle doctrine occurred in 1888, when Schlichting was assigned to
a committee responsible for revising the 1847 Infantry Drill
Regulations. Due to his influence, the Regulations of 1888 included
a much-needed distinction between a meeting engagement, or battle
of encounter (Begegnungsgefecht), and a deliberate attack
(geplanten Angriff) against a prepared position as well as
equal emphasis on operations like defense and withdrawal.*35
While many officers agreed that something had to be done about
current battle doctrine, little concensus existed on the extent of
change necessary. Shortly after the publication of Schlichting's
"On the Infantry Battle," rebuttals appeared.*36 The
first significant objections came from von der Goltz, who argued
that "a unit broken up into clusters of skirmishers was lost
to control. . . . [and] hardly maneuverable."*37 Driving home
an attack with open formations seemed impossible. Concern for
minimizing casualties, Goltz warned, was all well and good, but
"he who ponders too much how to avoid losses, forgets how to
bear those that are necessary."*38 While he accepted the
increased role of firepower on the battlefield, von der Goltz
refused to relegate the bayonet to the status of a mere metaphor.
Hence, he employed an alternate aphorism to counter Schlichting:
"The bullet is a fool but the bayonet is wise."*39 Flank
attacks, Goltz added, offered a reasonable means for avoiding the
devastating effect of the enemy's direct-fire weapons. Indeed,
faith in the efficacy of flank attacks had been growing in
popularity since the campaigns of 1866 and 1870-71.*40
In 1896, the year of his forced retirement, Schlichting's critical
review of von der Goltz' The Conduct of War*41 appeared,
sparking a debate between himself, Boguslawski, Wilhelm von
Scherff, and Hugo von Freytag-Loringhoven (who seems frequently to
have spoken on Goltz' behalf). Schlichting found Goltz too
indiscriminate in his use of historical examples. "The conduct
of war," he argued, "has changed from the ground
up."*42 Only the experiences of the most recent past offer any
value for the development of current doctrine.*43
Scherff countered that the "siege-type warfare" which
Schlichting advocated was not new at all, but in fact centuries
old.*44 "Today, just as in earlier times, infantry are able to
fight their way across open fields . . . [by] moving forward in a
series of alternating, mutually supporting bounds."*45 Freytag
argued that the use of axes and spades in battle will not deliver
the kind of rapid decision in war that European states require.
Furthermore, he added, "who can imagine an entire division of
skirmishers creeping forward to attack?"*46 Boguslawski found
Schlichting's conclusions concerning St. Privat alarmist in nature.
That battle was poorly conducted--"the Saxons were not in
position to support the attack of the Guard and the artillery had
not conducted its preparatory shelling."*47 Had such
preparations been carried out, he argued, the results would not
have been so dreadful. He could see no reason, therefore, for
Schlichting to call for a new doctrine when "the correct
principles for conducting an attack were already at hand."*48
In the eyes of his opponents, then, Schlichting had only proven
that battles not conducted in accordance with time-honored
principles are doomed to fail.
Generals Egon von Gayl, Rudolf von Caemmerer, and Verdy du Vernois
came to Schlichting's defense. Caemmerer supported Schlichting's
call for open-order formations, combined with flank attacks, and a
more methodical approach to the infantry battle. He also agreed
with Schlichting's argument that military technology had changed
the nature of modern warfighting.*49 Verdy du Vernois also
commented on the soundness of Schlichting's principles.*50 Von
Gayl's biography portrayed Schlichting as a flexible and innovative
thinker attempting to promote positive change in the Imperial
In the course of the discussions over doctrinal issues, uses of
Clausewitz increased both in frequency and importance. In the 1870s
and 1880s, such appropriations (for they hardly merit being called
citations) generally appeared at the beginning or end of a written
work, and were rarely footnoted. There were notable exceptions, of
course. Virtually every chapter of Goltz' most famous work, The Nation in Arms (1883), for example, drew heavily from On War. The chapter on military command follows very closely
Clausewitz' chapter on military genius.*52 Schlichting's 1879
essay, "On the Infantry Battle," on the other hand, uses
Clausewitz only three times--in the last five pages of the
article.*53 The first two references borrowed from Clausewitz'
observation that the defensive form of war was stronger than the
offensive, which Schlichting used to underscore his point that
modern infantry weapons had made the already difficult task of the
attacker even more so. His third use of Clausewitz emphasized the
difference between the conduct of war in the age of Napoleon, and
the present (thus, implying that not all of the doctrines of the
master were still relevant).
Between 1890 and 1914, many of Clausewitz' ideas had gained common
currency, often appearing in diffused form throughout the corpus of
an essay or article. Footnoting, though still inconsistent, became
more frequent as well. General Verdy du Vernois' 1904 essay, for
example, "Concerning 'Unforeseen Situations,'"
appropriated Clausewitz' expression, "Fog of
Uncertainty," on several occasions and without any reference
to its author.*54 While von der Goltz' and Schlichting's uses of
the master do not suggest a particularly thorough grasp of his
thought, their ideas, if not wholly original, were nonetheless
intended to be seen as legitimately rooted in the soil of
Clausewitz' general concepts.
As the polemics over doctrine intensified in the course of the
Schlichting controversy uses of Clausewitz changed. Each side began
to use the master's words as the "heavy artillery" needed
to support its attacks against the other. Appropriations of
Clausewitz served not only to reinforce one's own argument, they
also helped to usurp the authority of one's opponent. Each writer
attempted to dislodge and discredit his rival by employing
Clausewitz as a lever. Thus, the polemics over doctrine had
developed into a struggle for professional legitimacy.
Schlichting's use of Clausewitz in his critique of von der Goltz' Conduct of War, provides a telling example. Like his earlier
work, The Nation in Arms, Goltz had attempted to write Conduct in the spirit of Clausewitz. His chapters on
"Generalship" (Heerführung) and
"Decisiveness" or "Resolve"
appeared in later editions, follow very
closely Clausewitz' chapter on military genius. Each chapter of
Conduct, in fact, used aphorisms or expressions of the
master as an authoritative anchor, and as a springboard for
launching into discussions on modern war, attempting, at the same
time, to show the timelessness and relevance of Clausewitz.
Schlichting pointed out, however, that while Goltz' work may have
been "written in the spirit and form" of Clausewitz' On War, it had fallen rather short of that "biblia
Schlichting's critique of Goltz' Conduct extolled
Clausewitz, dubbing him the Prussian officer's "teacher and
trailblazer," and elevated On War to the status of a
"military bible" that can only be appreciated through
mature and patient reflection.*56 Such language clearly placed
Clausewitz on a pedestal. It also delivered a back-handed slap to
Goltz' treatise which offered, in Schlichting's opinion,
"unrelated observations without decisive conclusions."*57
Schlichting's opponents also used Clausewitz in similar, if less
sophisticated ways. The passages most frequently employed were
Clausewitz' disdain for generals who had "no stomach" for
bloody battles, and his warning against theories which reduced
military success to a formula. For example, responding to
Schlichting's argument for avoiding costly frontal attacks, Freytag
"Certainly it is useful for the officer to keep in mind the great
casualties of Mars la Tour, St. Privat, and Plevna, and it is worth
the trouble to reflect on how they could have been avoided. . . .
[But] war has always been a bloody drama, and it will remain so in
the 20th century. In this regard, we also, with Clausewitz, do not
think much of those generals who would be victorious without
In an article which attacked Schlichting's interpretation of the
battle of St. Privat, Colonel von Schack, showing little concern
for the lives of his men or for the weeks it took to properly train
and equip soldiers for modern war, asked whether, simply for fear
of suffering heavy casualties, the Imperial army really ought to
forgo the tactics which had brought victory in 1870, and which had
served old Blücher and Frederick the Great well indeed.
"If we discard them," he argued, "we would also have
to discard the laurels of victory which our methods have brought us
. . . that is peacetime theory for you! . . . Clausewitz warns
against such theories."*59 Schack's expression reflected the
uneasiness that many Prusso-German officers felt regarding the long
period of peace that had elapsed since the last war. It was
generally believed that the longer an army went without
experiencing war, the less able it was to endure the hardships and
suffering that war demanded. Schack's statement also reveals the
desire, again widely shared, that some connection with Prussia's
military tradition ought to be preserved and nurtured in the
Boguslawski added that Schlichting's principles of strategy were
not only ill-founded, they sounded too much like a "recipe for
victory."*60 Following Boguslawski's lead, Scherff, in a work
purporting to objectively compare the ideas of Schlichting and
those of Boguslawski, but which actually amounted to a one-sided
attack against the former, employed Clausewitz' admonitions against
"rigidly applying theory" in an effort to discredit Schlichting.*61
The polemics over doctrine continued for another decade and a half.
By the end of the 1890s it was becoming clear that military writers
had to have a repertoire of Clausewitzian expressions at hand. A
number of Clausewitz' concepts had in fact become common property
among military writers. But at the same time, at least a tacit
understanding existed among most of these writers that not all of
what Clausewitz had to say applied to the present. While many
considered his chapters on war's imponderables timeless, it seemed
that new technology in the form of breechloaders, railroads,
telegraphs, and airships had rendered much of what Clausewitz had
written about tactics and operations obsolete.
In addition, many officers believed that the appearance of new
technology, the rise of nation-states, and the advent of
million-man armies had compromised Clausewitz' conception of the
nature of war. Von der Goltz' 1905 essay, "Karl von
Clausewitz," which appeared in the popular periodical, Velhagen and Klasing's Monthly, serves as a case in
point.*62 It illustrates, in brief, the credo of the epigones.
Clausewitz, Goltz argued, distinguished between two types of
war--one in which the aim is the complete defeat of the enemy, and
one in which the objective is more limited in nature. But,
circumstances have changed since Clausewitz' time, especially in
the "stark manifestation of national identity, which permits
a people, just like an individual, to feel a sense of honor, and to
comprehend when that honor, like one's existence, is
threatened."*63 This spirit of nationalism, in turn, pushes
every war toward the absolute, as evidenced by the current
Russo-Japanese War. Although the Russians wanted to keep the war
limited, the "heroic behavior" of the Japanese propelled
it towards a more violent extreme, which may only find its end,
Goltz prophesied, in the total exhaustion of each side. In Goltz'
eyes this summation did not constitute a rejection of Clausewitz,
but rather served as a reaffirmation of his "doctrine" of
absolute war.*64 Borrowing a quote from the master, Goltz
concluded: "'Only a nation whose character has been forged in
war can hope to hold a firm position in the political
Despite evidence of the persistence of smaller (less than absolute)
conflicts such as the Balkan and Boer Wars, the Imperial army's
leading military thinkers, especially Goltz and Bernhardi, preached
that the nature of war itself had changed. Governments could now
mobilize the entire technological and "psychical" force
of a nation to wage a war of "national existence."*66
While this argument clearly amounts to a justification for the
militarization of German society, it was founded on more than a
little fact. To the epigones, losing such a war meant the loss of
a people's right to exist as a nation, not to mention the
annihilation of the vague but nonetheless powerful notion of
"national honor." For Imperial Germany's military
writers, national honor was the natural projection of their sense
of personal and collective honor onto the nation as whole:*67
The feeling of personal honor, the awareness of one's individuality
which lifts humanity above the conditions of everyday life and
connects it with the higher order of things, is nothing else than
a concentration of moral strength in the individual. It appears to
the soldier as a type of privilege, a sacred possession. . . .
History teaches that nations which are not ready to defend their
honor with arms sink into oblivion.*68
To these men, then, wars of national existence were tantamount to
fighting a duel. This "reality," in turn, so the militarists claimed,
justified placing the army, especially the
officer corps, in a pre-eminent position in German society.*69 It
also meant that, on the home front, young minds and bodies had to
be trained, educated, and conditioned for war. The army, as
Imperial Germany's "school of the nation," was to play a
key role in achieving this aim.*70 At the same time, this
"new" phenomenon dictated that, in the conduct of war
itself, matters of military necessity, such as the invasion of
Belgium, were to be accepted without question. In other words,
foreign and domestic policies were to be subordinated to strategic
If by the end of the nineteenth century the advent of new military
technology had rendered Clausewitz' chapters on tactics and
operations problematic, his passages concerning the role of theory,
the genius of the commander, and the ineluctability of war's
imponderables remained essential to an officer's understanding of
war. "Freytag's collation of the psychological elements of
Clausewitz' doctrine," Goltz noted, "is something our era
needs, [since] the tremendous development of technology creates the
danger that the essense of generalship will either be overlooked or
lost in a fog of irrelevancy."*71
In some ways a more perceptive military writer, Freytag seemed to
have realized that the most effective way to appropriate Clausewitz
was to cite lengthier passages from his writings and to document
them more completely. In fact, Freytag's style of directly quoting
passages (footnoting the book and chapters) from Clausewitz, rather
than merely referencing his expressions, amounted to a new
"tactic" in the debate over doctrinal change. His
writings thus achieved a higher level of legitimacy--visibly
removing doubt about what Clausewitz had actually said, and where
and how he had said it. The fact that he was cited by other
military writers speaks to the success of his method.*72
Not all of the works of the epigones praised Clausewitz' ideas.
After his retirement in 1909, Friedrich von Bernhardi tried to
establish himself as a leading military theorist with ideas more
current (and by implication relevant) than those of Clausewitz. In
the introduction to his magnum opus, On War of Today,
which he wished to offer as a replacement for Clausewitz' On
War, Bernhardi declared: "We have not yet grasped clearly
enough a uniform point of view to which all individual
efforts must subordinate themselves if an harmonious whole is to
emerge."*73 This phrase obviously proceeds from Clausewitz'
expression: "Nothing is more important in life than finding
the right standpoint for seeing and judging events, and then
adhering to it. One point and one only yields an integrated
view of all phenomena."*74 Caemmerer, too, employed this
Clausewitzian expression in the preface to his Development,
but he gave due credit to its author.*75
Bernhardi also attempted to supersede the master by challenging
Clausewitz' expression that the defensive form of war was stronger
than the offensive. Bernhardi argued that since the defender cannot
rest until he has vanquished the attacker, and since he must attack
to do so, the offensive is the stronger form of war.*76 Clausewitz,
on the other hand, had never argued that attack and defense were
exclusive concepts--an offensive consists of defensive measures,
and a defensive involves offensive blows. Moreover, and this point
speaks directly to Clausewitz' appreciation for the different
natures of attack and defense, the defender need merely ward off
the blows of the attacker to prevail, while the attacker must
either obtain something from the defender or vanquish him.
In the course of the polemics discussed above, we have seen how
uses of Clausewitz began as out-of-context references, such as
Schlichting's use of his dictum that the "defensive form of
war was stronger than the offensive," which were intended to
lend authority to a particular argument. These appropriations
gradually evolved into efforts to turn that authority against one's
opponents, as evidenced by Shack's use of Clausewitz' comment that
"we do not care to hear of generals who would be victorious
without shedding blood." Finally, the works of Goltz,
Bernhardi, Caemmerer, and Freytag demonstrate that the polemics
over doctrine resulted in a struggle to define (or redefine) more
precisely the essence of Clausewitz' doctrine. Each side of the
doctrinal debate attempted to show that it had the better grasp of
Despite its general inconclusiveness, the Schlichting controversy
reflected not only a proper professional focus on the problematics
of doctrinal change, it also raised a number of important questions
that would continue to occupy Imperial Germany's military writers
for the next several decades: How should one coordinate the
separate combat arms during the conduct of battle? How will new
technologies of mass transportation and communication impact
leadership and command and control? Which contributions of
Clausewitz are still relevant? How useful are military-historical
examples in the education of an officer and the development of
doctrine? How far back into history is too far? To what extent is
it desirable to develop and prescribe principles of war?*77
The nineteenth-century crisis in warfighting had thus shaped
military thinking around urgent themes. It is perhaps too obvious
a point to say that Clausewitz and the epigones dealt with
different problems in different historical eras. Nonetheless, the
evidence is clear. Axiomatic pragmatism went hand-in-hand with the
professionalism of men like Goltz, Bernhardi, and Schlichting, who
were responsible for training officers and soldiers to perform in
combat. The time had come to address the changed circumstances of
warfighting, and attempt to comprehend their impact at the
tactical, operational, and strategic levels of war. The polemics
over doctrinal change in fact reveal that, beyond Schlieffen and
the GGS at least, German military thinking remained lively
throughout the decades before the First World War. That it had such
disappointing results between 1914 and 1918 only proves that theory
and doctrine are not the same thing, the latter is far more a
political process than the former.
Clausewitz' ubiquity in German military literature before the Great
War also allows us to extend further the conclusions of
Clausewitzian scholars like Werner Hahlweg, Peter Paret, Michael
Howard, Jehuda Wallach, and Ulrich Marwedel.*78 By separating
Clausewitz' original thought from the traditions of confusion and
misrepresentation which have surrounded it, these historians have
contributed significantly to our understanding of the nature and
extent of his influence. Thanks to their efforts we know that the
neo-Clausewitzians arrived at a one-sided representation of the
master by stressing only four of his many themes: 1) the uses and
limitations of theory; 2) the impact of psychological and moral
forces on war; 3) the importance of striving for a decisive battle;
and, 4) the superiority of a strategy of annihilation.
As a complement to this list we might add that neo-Clausewitzianism
included four basic but closely related attitudes: 1) a desire to
see Clausewitz and On War as the source of current
Prusso-German military doctrine; 2) a penchant for appropriating
his "voice" in the form of aphoristic and pithy axioms;
3) an interest in proving his continued relevance to warfighting
despite the doctrinal and ideological challenges of the
"present"; and, 4) an imitation of his style and form.
That Clausewitz' thoughts were indeed misappropriated and
misrepresented, often to the point of being militarized, does not
negate his influence but confirms it. Misrepresentation and misuse
(according to Renaissance intellectual historian Paul Kristeller)
constitute valid forms of intellectual influence.*79 Each
historical generation appropriates, eclectically and syncreticly,
the ideas of its predecessors and combines them with present
concerns, until the resultant "accretions, like the
tributaries of a broadening river, bec[o]me integral parts of the
continuing tradition."*80 In other words, the "original
thought" itself has but a fleeting existence in the history of
ideas. Renaissance thinkers and writers like Marsilio Ficino, Pico
della Mirandolla, and Lorenzo Valla, for example, revived and
applied the doctrines of Plato, Aristotle and other classical
philosophers to their own age. Although distorted, the ideas of
these masters certainly exercised an influence upon Renaissance
Arguably, then, contemporary historians have held the epigones to
an anachronistic standard of intellectual influence. As
Schlieffen's introduction to the fifth edition of On War implied, Clausewitz' influence was considered more or less
spiritual--subliminal--rather than the result of a deliberate
analysis and application of his thought:
Whoever amongst us teaches war, does so, consciously or
unconsciously, by more or less closely following Clausewitz, and
drawing from the inexhaustible reservoir of his thought.*81
Or, as Bernhardi suggested, "ideas from others flow forth to
combine with one's own to form new structures, since consciously or
unconsciously, we appropriate the mental efforts of
In an age in which military thinkers believed that the natures of
both, warfare and international politics, had "changed from
the ground up"*83 only portions of Clausewitz' doctrine were
likely to remain applicable. Hence, for the epigones, influence
meant not a direct application of Clausewitz' thought but the
further stimulation and direction his ideas might afford their own.
From this perspective, then, Clausewitz' influence was significant,
Militär-Bildung und Wissenschaft," Beihefte zum Militär-Wochenblatt No. 1, (1873), 29. (Hereafter, Beihefte).
2. Herbert Rosinski, "Scharnhorst
to Schlieffen: The Rise and Decline of German Military Thought," Naval
War College Review 29 (1976): 83-103. See, also: Martin Kitchen, "The
Political History of Clausewitz," The Journal of Strategic Studies 11, March 1988, No. 1, p. 47, n. 25, which refers to the article as "valuable"
due to its analysis of Clausewitz' vision of war as a "totality." Rosinski
(1903-1962) lectured on Clausewitz at Oxford University during the autumn
of 1937, and was a member of E. M. Earle's seminar on military studies
at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton from 1940-41. He also
delivered lectures on Clausewitz at the U.S. Naval War College, and authored The German Army (London: Hogarth Press, 1939), a study of the background,
organization, and doctrines of the German Army which saw numerous editions
in Great Britain and the United States. Another seminal work, The Development
of Naval Thought (Newport: Naval War College Press, 1977), was published
posthumously. For a detailed biography see: Richard Stebbins, The Career
of Herbert Rosinski: an Intellectual Pilgrimage (New York: P. Long,
3. Rosinski, 97, 95.
4. Rosinski, 103, n. 9.
5. The historical literature
examining turn-of-the-century German military thought is too extensive
to list completely. On the one hand, the work of Jay Luvaas, Herbert Rosinski,
Jehuda Wallach, and Martin Kitchen has portrayed German military thought
as tactically and strategically "static." Jay Luvaas, "European Military
Thought and Doctrine," The Theory and Practice of War, 69-93; Rosinski,
"Scharnhorst to Schlieffen;" Jehuda Wallach, Das Dogma der Vernichtungsschlacht:
Die Lehren von Clausewitz und Schlieffen und ihre Wirkungen in zwei Weltkriege (Frankfurt am Main: Bernard & Graefe, 1967); and Martin Kitchen, "The
Traditions of German Strategic Thought," The International History Review I, No. 2, (April 1979): 163-190. Joachim Hoffmann's work, which pre-dated
Rosinski's and Kitchen's, offers an opposing point of view by tracing the
lively doctrinal debates that occurred between leading military thinkers
like Schlichting and von der Goltz. Joachim Hoffmann, "Wandlungen im Kriegsbild
Armee zur Zeit der nationalen Einigungskriege," Militärgeschichtlichen
Mitteilungen No. 1 (1968): 5-33; and its continuation, "Die Kriegslehre
des Generals von Schlichting," Militärgeschichtlichen Mitteilungen No. 1 (1969): 5-35. More recently, Arden Bucholz and Dennis Showalter have
offered new interpretations of turn-of-the-century German military thinking
emphasizing its attempts to cope with modernization. Arden Bucholz, Moltke,
Schlieffen and Prussian War Planning (New York: St. Martin's Press,
1991); Dennis E. Showalter, "Infantry Weapons, Infantry Tactics, and the
Armies of Germany, 1849-64," European Studies Review 4 (April 1974):
119-40; "The Eastern Front and German Military Planning, 1871-1914--Some
Observations," East European Quarterly XV, No. 2, (June 1981): 163-80;
"Army and Society in Imperial Germany: The Pains of Modernization," Journal
of Contemporary History 18, No. 4, (October 1983): 583-618; "Even Generals
Wet Their Pants: The First Three Weeks in East Prussia, August 1914," War
& Society Vol. 2, No. 2, (September 1984): 60-86; "Goltz and Bernhardi:
The Institutionalization of Originality in the Imperial German Army," Defense
Analysis Vol. 3, No. 1, (1987): 305-318; and his recent book, Tannenberg:
Clash of Empires (Hamden, Connecticut: Archon Books, 1991).
6. The Infantry Drill Regulations
(Exerzierreglement für die Infanterie), upon which, because
this branch was the mainstay of battle, everything else depended, were
revised in 1888 and 1906; the cavalry regulations in 1895 and 1909; the
artillery regulations in 1876, 1907, and 1910; and the Field Service Regulations
(Felddienstordnung) in 1887, 1900, and 1908.
7. The following works by Boguslawski
are but a sample of the army's attacks against Social Democracy: A. von
Boguslawski, Contra Bebel und Bleibtreu. Noch ein Wort in Heeressachen
für weitere Volkskreise (Berlin: A. Schall, 1899); Nicht rede--aber
fehde wider die Socialdemocratie (Berlin: H. Walter, 1904); and Los
vom Joch der Socialdemocratie! Ein Mahnwort von A. von Boguslawski (Leipzig: W. Weicher, 1905). For samples of its rejection of pacifism,
see: C. Freiherrn v.d. Goltz, "Der ewige Friede und der nächste Krieg," Deutsche Revue 29 (February 1904): 129-37; and Colmar Frhr. v. d.
Goltz, "Noch einmal der 'ewige Friede,'" Deutsche Revue 29, No.
2, (July 1904): 23-25; which is a response to pacifist Bertha Suttner's
article, "Der ewige Krieg und die Friedensbewegung," Deutsche Revue 29, No. 2, (July 1904): 18-23.
8. Friedrich v. Bernhardi, Deutschland
und der nächste Krieg (Berlin: J.G. Cotta'sche, 1911).
9. Moltke listed Homer's works,
the Bible, and On War among three of the five books which most influenced
him. Eberhard Kessel, Moltke (Stuttgart: K.F. Koehler, 1957), 108.
Cited in Michael Howard, "Influence of Clausewitz," On War trans.
Michael Howard and Peter Paret (Princeton: Princeton University Press,
1976), 30. In numerous conversations and essays Moltke stressed how valuable
Clausewitz' writings were to individuals studying war. See Ulrich Marwedel, Carl von Clausewitz: Persönlichkeit und Wirkungsgeschichte seines
Werkes bis 1918 (Boppard am Rhein: Harald Boldt Verlag, 1978), 130.
10. Frhr. v. Freytag-Loringhoven, Macht
der Persönlichkeit im Kriege (Berlin: E.S. Mittler, 1911), 44-5.
11. Frhr. v. Freytag-Loringhoven,
"Theorie und Praxis bei König Friedrich, Napoleon und Moltke," Vierteljahrshefte
für Truppenführung und Heereskunde V, No. 1, (1909): 28-47,
here 45. Hereafter cited as Vjhft.
12. Vom Kriege itself
went through ten editions between 1905 and 1918, compared to only four between 1832 and 1880. The first edition appeared in 1832/34, the second
twenty years later, in 1853, the third in 1867, and the fourth in 1880.
In 1905, the fifth edition appeared (with an introduction by Schlieffen).
The sixth appeared in 1911 and the seventh in 1912. The eighth (1914),
ninth, tenth, eleventh (1915), and twelfth (1917) were all wartime editions,
abridged, portable, and usually featuring selected chapters only. The thirteenth
(1918) edition recaptures Schlieffen's 1905 introduction, and contains
endorsements from a number of the First World War's prominent general officers:
Prince Leopold, von Bülow, von Eichhorn, von Mackensen, and von Kluck,
among others. Vom Kriege, Hahlweg (19th Ed.), pp. 1362-64.
13. See Werner Hahlweg's introduction
to Vom Kriege (19th Ed.), pp. 69-70; and On War, Howard and
14. Hoffmann, "Kriegslehre Schlichting,"
7. Dieter Storz, Kriegsbild und Rüstung vor 1914: Europäische
Landstreitkräfte vor dem Ersten Weltkrieg (Berlin: E.S. Mittler,
1992) looks at the doctrinal reforms of all of the major powers.
15. See, for example: General-Major
Blume, Strategie. Eine Studie, 2nd Ed., (Berlin: E.S. Mittler, 1886);
Schlichting, Taktische und strategische Grundsätze der Gegenwart (Berlin: E.S. Mittler, 1898-9); C. Frhr. v. d. Goltz, Das Volk in Waffen.
Ein Buch über Heerwesen und Kriegführung unserer Zeit (Berlin:
R. v. Decker's Verlag, 1883). The book went through numerous editions up
to 1913; and Friedrich v. Bernhardi, Vom heutigen Kriege (Berlin:
E.S. Mittler, 1912).
16. R. Caemmerer, Die Entwicklung
der strategischen Wissenschaft im 19. Jahrhundert (Berlin: Wilhelm
Baensch, 1904), 123.
17. Lundby was a small, outpost-sized
engagement fought between Danish and Prussian infantry (180 and 120 men
respectively) which lasted less than twenty minutes. The Danes suffered
88 casualties to the Prussian three. The disparity in losses was largely
due to the higher rate of fire and accuracy of the latter's needle gun.
At Podol a Prussian battalion-size element repelled a counter-attack by
an Austrian brigade, inflicting 1100 casualties while suffering 130. Again,
the higher rate of fire of the Prussian breech-loading needle gun when
compared to the slower, more cumbersome Austrian muzzle-loader accounted
for the difference in number of casualties. Dennis E. Showalter, Railroads
and Rifles. Soldiers, Technology, and the Unification of Germany (Hamden,
Connecticut: Archon Books, 1975), 115-16 and 125-6. By the Franco-Prussian
War, however, the needle gun was already obsolete: the French chassepot outranged it by more than 1000 yards. At Spichern, for example, the Prussians
suffered 4500 casualties to the French 2000 largely because the French
were able to open fire long before the Prussians. Michael Howard, The
Franco-Prussian War: The German Invasion of France, 1870-1871 (London
and New York: Routledge, 1989), 7, n. 4, and 98-99.
18. Howard, Franco-Prussian
19. Compare: v. Keim, "Der gegenwärtige
Stand der Gefechtslehre und die Ausbildung zum Gefecht," Beihefte (1890), 1-22, esp. 12; and v. Schack, "Der Angriff der Garde auf St. Privat," Beihefte (1901), 295-318.
20. Boguslawski, Taktische
Folgerungen aus dem Krieg von 1870/71 (Berlin: E.S. Mittler, 1872).
21. [Boguslawski], Ueber den
Einflu8 der Feuerwaffen auf die Taktik. Historisch-kritische Untersuchungen von
einem höheren Offizier (Berlin:
E.S. Mittler, 1872). The work was published anonymously. Cited from: Hoffmann,
22. While skirmishers were generally
used to harrass and wear down an enemy standing in close-order formation,
Scherff proposed using them more aggressively, as small combat teams using
fire and maneuver to close with the enemy. Scherff, Studien zur neuen
Infanterie-Taktik, 2 Vols., (Berlin: A. Bath, 1873).
23. J.v. Verdy du Vernois, Studien
über Truppen-Führung, 2 Vols., (Berlin: E.S. Mittler, 1870-73,
24. Ernst v. Hoffbauer, Taktik
der Feld-Artillerie unter eingehender Berücksightigung der Erfahungen
der Kriege von 1866 und 1870-71 wie des Gefechtes der Infanterie und Cavallerie
für Offiziere aller Waffen (Berlin: F. Schneider, 1876); A.v.
Schell, Studien über die Taktik der Feldartillerie (Berlin:
A. Bath, 1877).
25. Another problem which was
not addressed in existing artillery doctrine lay in the need to accomplish
two competing missions simultaneously: 1) silencing the enemy artillery
as soon as possible; and 2) placing mass preparatory fires on an enemy
position like St. Privat. The obvious solution of splitting the available
batteries usually left too few to accomplish either mission effectively.
Hoffmann, "Wandlungen," 25.
26. Hoffmann, "Wandlungen," 26-7.
27. F. von Bernhardi, Unsere
Kavallerie im nächsten Krieg, (Berlin: E.S. Mittler, 1903); and Reiterdienst,
(Berlin: E.S. Mittler, 1910).
28. Bernhardi, Vom heutigen
Krieg, 343-68; see also his essays: "Die Elemente des modernen Krieges, Beihefte No. 9 (1898): 429-54; and "Ueber angriffsweise Kriegführung," Beihefte No. 4 (1905): 125-52.
29. In 1873 the first tentative
steps toward doctrinal reform occurred when a Royal order decreed that
the standard formation for operations within the enemy's radius of engagement
was the company rather than battalion column. Two years later the War Ministry
acknowledged that this step was only a half-measure and resolved to revise
the current (1847) Infantry Drill Regulations. Hoffmann, "Wandlungen,"
30. V. Schlichting, "Ueber das
Infanteriegefecht," Beihefte, 37-68. At the time the essay was published,
Schlichting held the post of Chief of Staff of the Guard Corps.
31. Schlichting, "Infanteriegefecht,"
32. Schlichting, Grundsätze,
I: 106, III: 133. Due to the lively controversy which his ideas caused,
Schlichting published this three-volume work in an effort to outline his
position in greater detail and address the objections which Boguslawski
and others had raised against him.
33. Schlichting, "Infanteriegefecht,"
34. Schlichting, "Infanteriegefecht,"
47, 61, 65.
35. Hoffmann provides more detail
concerning Schlichting's contributions to German military thinking, including
his later works, such as Moltke und Benedek in "Kriegslehre Schlichting,"
5-35. For more information regarding his military career see Werner Gembruch,
"General von Schlichting," Wehrwissenschaftliche Rundschau 70 (1960):
188-196; and E. Freiherr von Gayl, General von Schlichting und sein
Lebenswerk (Berlin: Georg Stilke, 1913).
36. See, for example: v. Kessel,
"Zur Taktik der Infanterie von 1880," Beiheft (1880): 331-398.
37. Goltz, Volk in Waffen,
38. Goltz, Volk in Waffen,
39. The passage is an undocumented
citation from Suvarov. Volk in Waffen, 279-80. Freytag-Loringhoven
used a similar quotation of Suvarov in his 1899 essay, "Friedensarbeit
und Kriegslehren," Beihefte 9, No. 4, (1899), 337.
40. "In dem umfassenden und gleichzeitigen
Vorgehen aller unserer Streitkräfte gegen Front und Flanke des Feindes
liegt die beste Gewähr für den Erfolg des Angriffs über
die Verteidigung." Blume, Strategie, 169.
41. Colmar von der Goltz, Kriegführung.
Kurze Lehre ihrer wichtigsten Grundsätze und Formen, (Berlin:
E.S. Mittler, 1895).
42. V. Schlichting, "Taktische
und strategische Grundsätze der Gegenwart. Eine Betrachtung, angeleitet
durch die Schrift: Kriegführung. Kurze Lehre ihrer wichtigsten Grundsätze
und Formen von Colmar Frhrn. von der Goltz, Verfasser von 'Das Volk in
Waffen'. Beihefte No. 4, (1896), 194.
43. Schlichting, "Grundsätze,"
44. W. v. Scherff, Der Schlachtenangriff
im Lichte der Schlichting'schen "Taktischen Grundsätze" und der Boguslawski'schen
"Betrachtungen." Ein kritischer Vergleich (Berlin: R. Eisenschmidt,
45. "Ein kritischer Vergleich," Jahrbücher
für die Deutsche Armee und Marine 108, No. 1, (1898); 78-100,
46. Freytag, "Friedensarbeit,"
47. V. Boguslawski, "Strategisch-taktischer
Meinungsstreit," Militär-Wochenblatt No. 32, (1902), 964. Hereafter
cited as M-W.
48. Boguslawski, "Meinungsstreit,"
49. [v. Caemmerer,] "Das Gefecht
mit Kommandoeinheiten und das Treffengefecht," M-W (1895): 771-781;
"Der Kampf um die Schlichtingische Lehre," M-W (1902): Nos. 22,
25, 26, 28; and "Ein Stellungskampf im Divisionsmanöver," Beihefte (1902): 425-466; and "Zum 80. Geburtstage des Generals der Infanterie v.
Schlichting," M-W (1909): No. 126. Caemmerer also defended Schlichting
in his study of the development of strategical science in the nineteenth
century: Caemmerer, Entwicklung, esp. 191-208.
50. J. von Verdy du Vernois, Studien
über den Krieg (Berlin: E.S. Mittler, 1892), Vol. III, Book 7.
51. E. Freiherr von Gayl, General
v. Schlichting und sein Lebenswerk (Berlin: Georg Stilke, 1913).
52. Compare: Volk in Waffen,
Chapter 1 of Part II, 54-74, to Vom Kriege, Book I, Chapter III.
53. Schlichting, "Infanteriegefecht,"
63, 64, and 67.
54. J. v. Verdy du Vernois, "gber
'unvorgesehene Situationen,'" Vjhft No. 3, (1904): 319-346, esp.
55. Schlichting, "Grundsätze,"
56. Schlichting, "Grundsätze,"
57. Schlichting, "Grundsätze,"
58. Freytag, "Friedensarbeit,"
335. Freytag and von der Goltz reinforced one another's appropriations
and interpretations of Clausewitz. For example, Freytag's last line is
drawn almost verbatim from Goltz's, Kriegführung, "Mit Clausewitz
halten wir nichts mehr von denjenigen Felherrn, welche ohne Menschenblut
siegen wollen." pp. 257-8.
59. Schack, "Schlacht von Gravelotte,"
60. Boguslawski, Strategische
61. Scherff, Der Schlachtenangriff,
62. C. Frhr. v. d. Goltz, "Karl
von Clausewitz," Velhagen & Klasings Monatshefte XIX, No. 9,
(May 1905): 324-36.
63. Goltz, "Clausewitz," 336.
64. Strictly speaking, Clausewitz
described no doctrine of absolute war. Rather, he established the concept of absolute war--an unattainable extreme--which served to illustrate the
various elements of his overall theory of war.
65. Goltz, "Clausewitz," 336.
66. See especially: Goltz, Volk
in Waffen, and Bernhardi, Vom heutigen Kriege. Similar ideas
are expressed in Freytag's, Krieg und Politik in der Neuzeit (Berlin:
E.S. Mittler, 1911); and Politik und Kriegführung (Berlin:
E.S. Mittler, 1918).
67. Military honor evolved as
a defense against human weakness in the form of fear and loss of morale
in order that the warrior might perform his primary function in tribal
society--fighting. It possesses both personal and collective aspects which
compell an individual to act according to an established code or ethos.
Prior to the twentieth century it was closely associated with the concept
of duelling. Karl Demeter, Das Deutsche Offizierkorps in Gesellschaft
und Staat 1650-1945, 4th. Ed., (Frankfurt am Main: Bernard & Graefe,
68. Freytag, Macht, 228-29.
69. Goltz, Volk in Waffen,
70. Reinhard Höhn, Die
Armee als Erziehungsschule der Nation (Bad Harzburg, 1963).
71. Goltz, "Clausewitz," 336.
72. Goltz praised Freytag's work
on the power of personality in war in his article, "Clausewitz," 336. Likewise,
Freytag's Macht is referred to as a classic in Kuntze, "gber
das kriegsgeschichtliche Studium des Offiziers," Beihefte No. 13,
73. Bernhardi, Vom heutigen
74. On War, Howard and
75. Caemmerer, Entwicklung,
76. Friedrich von Bernhardi,
"Clausewitz uber Angriff und Verteidigung," Beihefte, No. 12, (1911):
77. For an excellent discussion
concerning the Imperial Army's struggle to avoid adopting "principles of
war," which many Prussian officers considered an invitation to dogmatism,
see John I. Alger, The Quest for Victory (Westport, Connecticut:
Greenwood Press, 1982).
78. Werner Hahlweg, "Das Clausewitzbild
Einst und Jetzt," Vom Kriege, Hahlweg, 1-70; Werner Hahlweg, Clausewitz,
Soldat, Politiker, Denker (Göttingen: Munsterschmidt, 1957); Peter
Paret, "Clausewitz and the Nineteenth Century," The Theory and Practice
of War ed. Michael Howard (New York: Frederick A. Praeger, 1966), 23-41;
Michael Howard, Clausewitz (New York: Oxford University Press, 1983);
"The Influence of Clausewitz," and Peter Paret, "The Genesis of On War," On War, Howard and Paret, 27-44, and 3-25, respectively; Peter Paret,
"Clausewitz," Makers of Modern Strategy from Machiavelli to the Nuclear
Age ed. Peter Paret (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1986),
186-213; Jehuda L. Wallach, Das Dogma der Vernichtungsschlacht, Die
Lehren von Clausewitz und Schlieffen und ihre Wirkung in Zwei Weltkriegen (Frankfurt: Bernard & Graefe, 1967); Kriegstheorien: Ihre Entwicklung
im 19. und 20. Jahrhundert (Frankfurt a. Main: Bernard & Graefe
Verlag, 1972); and his essay "Misperceptions of Clausewitz' On War by the German Military," in Clausewitz and Modern Strategy, 213-39;
Marwedel, Carl von Clausewitz.
79. For example, Paul Kristeller
discusses the influence of revised versions of Platonic and Aristotelean
doctrine on Renaissance thinking. Paul Oskar Kristeller, Renaissance
Thought and its Sources (New York: Columbia University Press, 1979).
80. Kristeller, Renaissance
81. Cited from Schlieffen's introduction
(drafted by Freytag-Loringhoven) to the fifth edition of Vom Kriege,
82. Bernhardi, Vom heutigen
83. See Schlichting, "Grundsätze,"
194; and Erich Ludendorff, Kriegführung und Politik (Berlin:
E.S. Mittler, 1922), 23.
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