The Kaiser's Army: The Politics of Military Technology in Germany during the Machine Age, 1870-1918

By Eric Dorn Brose | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 4
THE PLANS OF SCHLIEFFEN

AUNIFORMED MAN was ushered into the room. It was an exclusive gathering of turn-of-the-century, Berlin high society. The feathered ladies, wives of top officials from the Foreign Ministry and Reich Chancellery, were dressed as if they expected the kaiser to appear. The men were attired formally and stiffly, as befitted their station in life and the state. As civilians, however, they lacked the status, the rank, and the eye-opening excitement of the elder man who walked in. It was not the emperor, but everyone knew that when Europe exploded, when mounting tensions forced a new martial resettling of European relations, when war brought the reordering of the continent that would finally give Germany its due, Alfred von Schlieffen, chief of the Great General Staff, would again guide Germany's men to victory. It was unquestioned.

Schlieffen's receding hair, elongated ears, and chiseled features marked him as an old and serious man. His subordinates would later talk about his legendary intensity. When one pointed out the beauty of a valley during a staff ride, he would say coldly that it was only a minor obstacle for his army. When juniors received an operational problem on Christmas Eve, answers were due on Christmas Day. Schlieffen was a dogmatist, a doctrinaire, and a theoretist. His dogma was the offensive; his doctrine was envelopment; and his operational theories, tested by loyal professionals, were developed to reproduce glories as great as Waterloo, Königgrätz, and Sedan. 1

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The Kaiser's Army: The Politics of Military Technology in Germany during the Machine Age, 1870-1918
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Acknowledgments *
  • Contents *
  • The Kaiser's Army *
  • Introduction 3
  • Chapter 1 - Old Soldiers 7
  • Chapter 2 - Queen of the Battlefield 26
  • Chapter 3 - Between Persistence and Change 43
  • Chapter 4 - The Plans of Schlieffen 69
  • Chapter 5 - Past and Present Collide 85
  • Chapter 6 - No Frederick the Great 112
  • Chapter 7 - Toward the Great War 138
  • Chapter 8 - Rolling the Iron Dice 183
  • Chapter 9 - Denouement 226
  • Notes 241
  • Bibliography and Abbreviations 293
  • Index 305
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