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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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(p.295) Conclusion
The Myth and Reality of German Warfare

Gerhard P. Gross

, David T. Zabecki
University Press of Kentucky

In the end, German operational thinking during the era of the world wars was based on warfare in a vacuum, where neither the population nor politics—in fact, only the military—moved across the chessboard. Such concepts based on eighteenth century cabinet war, however, had already been reduced to the level of absurdity by the realities of the Franco-Prussian War. The General Staff continually suppressed such a realization, ignoring their own failures as well as the strategic level and the limits of their logistical plans. The coming of NATO ended Germany’s single-minded focus on the operational level, although classical theory experienced a brief revival at the hands of Hans-Henning von Sandrart in the 1980s. Today, the Bundeswehr has totally abandoned its one-sided orientation toward operational warfare. Over the years, the old elite of operational experts has been replaced by a new elite of political-military officers. Today nearly all Chiefs of Staff of the Bundeswehr have been trained primarily as political-military officers. The doctrine that defined Germany for centuries, the General Staff’s attempt to solve the strategic dilemma of achieving continental power without first having a sufficient economic or political base through military means, has disappeared.

Keywords:   World War II, General Staff, NATO, Hans-Henning von Sandrart, Bundeswehr, operational thinking

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