Helmuth Karl Bernhard Graf Von Moltke (1800-91)

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Chief of the Prussian and German general staff. Instrumental in the victories of the Seven Weeks War and the Franco-Prussian War. Von Moltke worked under Bismark to ensure French humiliation and the formation of the German Empire under Prussian Leadership in the latter half of the 19th Century.

Von Moltke was of an aristocratic but poor family in Mecklenburg. His great intellect and organisational ability were to make him one of the key figures of German military history and strategic thought. He was educated as a cadet in Copenhagen joining the Dutch infantry but after a visit to Berlin he sought a commission in the Prussian Army, becoming a Lieutenant in a Grenadier regiment he was transferred to the general staff in 1833, being sent to Turkey as an advisor in 1835. Von Moltke was one of the first to see the military implications of the Railway but his studies were to take 20 years before they were fully realised. In 1851 he became a full Colonel and was the aide to the future German Emperor Friedrich Wilhelm and he became Chief of staff in 1857. This coincided with the growth of the German railway network in the 1850s which was to make Von Moltke's ideas on the use of the railway for rapid deployment possible. This was a key idea in the move to modern warfare as we know it -it was the start of the process by which the traditional movement of armies on foot and horseback was to be replaced by mechanised transport, be it vehicles or by rail a process which would not be fully realised until the end of the Second World War. Von Moltke was a key thinker in the move to modern warfare and a genius on matters of transport, supply and reinforcement making the Prussian/German victories of this period possible and in the long run laying the foundation for what would become know as BlitzKrieg four decades after Von Moltke's death.

How to cite this article: Dugdale-Pointon, T. (16 November 2000), Helmuth Karl Bernhard Graf Von Moltke, http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/people_moltke.html

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