Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Saturday, April 3, 2021

Ten Quotes of Helmuth von Moltke the Younger


Moltke in Retirement

The nephew of Field Marshal Helmuth von Moltke, architect of German victory in the Franco-Prussian War, Moltke the younger (1848–1916) succeeded Schlieffen as chief of the General Staff in January 1906. These quotes start from when he was offered that office.

The worth of the great maneuvers as preparation for war lies in the testing of the higher commanders against an enemy who makes his own decisions. . . . If the decisions of the Commanding Generals are always influenced by the interference of Your Majesty, the desire for initiative will be taken from them. 

Request to the Kaiser to stop influencing prewar maneuvers before taking office as Chief of Staff

In war there is no such thing as complete certainty. The adversary has his own will and may perhaps do something entirely different from what we hope. One can therefore only reckon with probabilities and cannot wait for clarification of his intentions. One would otherwise always come too late.

1907 Instruction

The moment Russia mobilizes, Germany also will mobilize, and will unquestionably mobilize her whole army.

To Conrad von Hötzendorf, 1909

If we again slink out of this affair with our tail between our legs, if we cannot pull ourselves together to present demands which we are prepared to enforce by the sword, then I despair of the future of the German Reich.

Letter to his wife during the Agadir Crisis,  1911

But if we are to take the offensive against France, it would be necessary to violate the neutrality of Belgium. It is only by an advance across Belgium that we can hope to attack and defeat the French army in the open field.

Memorandum, December 1912


Riding with the Kaiser

[The next war will be] a question of life or death for us. We shall stop at nothing to gain our end. In the struggle for existence, one does not bother about the means one employs.

To the Italian military attaché (March 1913)

We are ready [for war], and the sooner it comes, the better for us.

Remark of 1 June 1914 

[This war]  will expand to a world war. . . how it will end, no one knows.

Remark of 1 August 1914

Revolution in India and Egypt, and also in the of the highest importance. The treaty with Turkey will make it possible for the Foreign Office to realise this idea and to awaken the fanaticism of Islam.

Memorandum, 5 August 1914

It is dreadful to be condemned to inactivity in this war which I prepared and initiated.

Letter to Field Marshal Colmar Freiherr von der Goltz 14 June 1915

Sources: Wikiquotes, Companion to the First World War, Preparing the German Army for the First World  War

No comments:

Post a Comment