The Prussian Nation

Did you know that Napoleon was a Corsican who only spoke Italian up until 12 years old and then it was another 8 years before he spoke fluent French with a heavy accent. Ironically he was neither a military or politician by nature. Instead he was a voracious reader and with little interest in religion the only other books were typically military science and philosophy (politics).

While most consider Austerlitz his greatest achievements I consider the Battle of Jena his crowing achievement. The annihilation was so complete that King Frederick sat on the shore while is plenipotentiaries concluded his peace (capitulation). The outcome was a complete revamp of the army creating two equal Army Corp commanders – the Field Marshal to direct the battle and the Quartermaster to supply and transport the army – each with unique "veto" or the ability to override. It was crucial in the battles that united Germany especially at Sedan in 1870. Another famous one is the Battle of Tanneburg where Lunderndorf countermanded Hindenberg and carried the day. Of course this was Prussian phenomena when excited by Junker ‘von’ officers and soldiers that went only to military academies.

You see every other European country had both natural resources and defendable landscape so they could raise an army after the conflict was declared. Prussia had neither, so a standing army thoroughly trained, well fed and supplied and completely loyal to the Monarch conquered Central Europe during the 1860’s. It nearly did the same in 1914 but the Schieflan plan designed for professional grenadiers, cavalry and interior lines of communications had no chance to "right wheel" around Paris. The right wing was to a have 80% of the combat troops. Then it was dropped to 60% (so a double envelope was possible like Hannibal at Cannae). Finally a week into the battle it was dropped to 50% since the Prussian aristocrats demanded the Kaiser send two corps to East Prussia (they were on the train when the Russians were annihilated). It didn’t matter anyway as von Kluck lines of communication could never have supplied a sweep 80 kilometers north of Paris. More German – Bavarian, Hanoverian, Saxon, etc. – troops would have been conscripts with no chance to be an officer or even attend a military academy. So von Kluck turned south before Paris and smack dab into the French elite Corps transported and supplied by taxicabs over very short interior supply lines. Conversely the Germans were unable to forage given the sheer numbers mouths to feed they ate their horses when they showed up with ammunition and artillery rather than food. Thus began the war of the trenches were rats lived better than the soldiers that manned them. It also ended the Prussian monarchy, military Junker aristocracy and its control over the German nation and ultimately the forfeiture of nearly all its homeland.

How the world has changed. Germany was forced to sign off that they were solely responsible for the Great War but it was the terrorist act of Serbia – assassinating an allies leader – that lit the European conflagration. Yet we did the same thing to Afghanistan and just like 1914 our binding ‘entente’ i.e. NATO has Germans there.

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