The Seven Years War in Europe, 1756-1763

The Seven Years War in Europe, 1756-1763

The Seven Years War in Europe, 1756-1763

The Seven Years War in Europe, 1756-1763

Synopsis

In this pioneering new work, based on a thorough re-reading of primary sources and new research in the Austrian State Archives, Franz Szabo presents a fascinating reassessment of the continental war.

Professor Szabo challenges the well-established myth that the Seven Years War was won through the military skill and tenacity of the King of Prussia, often styled Frederick "the Great". Instead he argues that Prussia did not win, but merely survived the Seven Years War and did so despite and not because of the actions and decisions of its king.

With balanced attention to all the major participants and to all conflict zones on the European continent, the book describes the strategies and tactics of the military leaders on all sides, analyzes the major battles of the war and illuminates the diplomatic, political and financial aspects of the conflict.

Excerpt

On the evening of Friday 13 April 1945, Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels excitedly phoned General Theodor Busse, commander of the German 9th Army on the Eastern Front, and announced: ‘The Czarina is dead!’ During the final weeks of the death agony of the Third Reich the Propaganda Minister had been assiduously drawing the attention of the Führer, Adolf Hitler – or GRÖFAZ (the German acronym for ‘greatest commander of all time’), as his acolytes called him – to the apparently similar hopeless situation faced by the King of Prussia nearly two centuries earlier. Certain defeat was averted in that case when the King’s bitter enemy, the Czarina of Russia, died and was succeeded by an heir of completely different views whose reversal of Russian foreign policy was the salvation of Prussia. News of the death of the American President, Franklin D. Roosevelt, now suddenly held out promise of a similarly startling collapse of the Allied coalition against Germany. the illusion was quickly shattered, but Hitler’s identification with ‘the Great’ Frederick was not. the patriotic legend of the Prussian King as founder of German greatness was central to his understanding of history, and it was a portrait of the same Kingforce the parallels between the two in Hitler’s mind, even if he privately confessed to his diary that the Führer was unfortunately simply not ‘Fritzish’ enough. in his view Hitler was too soft and lacked the utter and complete ruthlessness of Frederick.

The anecdote reflects well the extraordinary power the story of Frederick II’s fortuitous escape from sure defeat in the Seven Years War had on subsequent generations. Frederick ii would never have become Frederick ‘the Great’ of romantic legend had the Seven Years War ended in Prussia’s defeat. in many ways, therefore, the Seven Years War was seen as the great turning point in German history in which Prussia’s ‘German mission’ was confirmed. Ironically the same war played a similar crucial role in the . . .

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