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The Myth and Reality of German WarfareOperational Thinking from Moltke the Elder to Heusinger$
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Gerhard P. Gross

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780813168371

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813168371.001.0001

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Factors and Constants

Factors and Constants

Space, Time, and Forces

(p.17) 2 Factors and Constants
The Myth and Reality of German Warfare

Gerhard P. Gross

, David T. Zabecki
University Press of Kentucky

Many attribute Germany’s operational thinking during the world wars to the General Staff’s knowledge of military theorists such as Clausewitz. This chapter argues that the influence of theoretical literature on German commanders has been overemphasized. Instead, the factors of space, time, and forces formed the foundation of operational thinking and tactics in the German Army. Geometrically surrounded by potential enemies, German military thinkers considered a two-front war inevitable. As a result, the German Army embraced its physical location and prepared to fight along interior lines. The General Staff could not change factors established by nature and politics; they could only develop a military policy that would allow a well-trained, well-equipped force to achieve rapid victory during a two-front war fought with inferior numbers.

Keywords:   interior lines, German General Staff, two-front war, Clausewitz

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