Germany and the Next War eBook

Friedrich von Bernhardi
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 339 pages of information about Germany and the Next War.

A profound knowledge of generalship and a self-reliant personality are essential to enable the war preparations to be suitably carried out; under the shifting influence of different aims and ideas the “organizer of victory” will often feel doubtful whether he ought to decide this way or that.  The only satisfactory solution of such doubts is to deduce from a view of warfare in its entirety and its varied phases and demands the importance of the separate co-operating factors.

  “For he who grasps the problem as a whole
  Has calmed the storm that rages in his soul”



Our first object, then, must be to organize and transform the German army into the most effective tool of German policy, and into a school of health and strength for our nation.  We must also try to get ahead of our rivals by superiority of training, and at the same time to do full justice to the social requirements of the army by exerting all our efforts towards raising the spiritual and moral level of the units and strengthening their loyal German feelings.

Diligence and devotion to military education are no longer at the present day sufficient to make our troops superior to the enemy’s, for there are men working no less devotedly in the hostile armies.  If we wish to gain a start there is only one way to do it:  the training must break with all that is antiquated and proceed in the spirit of the war of the future, which will impose fresh requirements on the troops as well as on the officers.

It is unnecessary to go into the details about the training in the use of modern arms and technical contrivances:  this follows necessarily from the introduction of these means of war.  But if we survey the sphere of training as a whole, two phenomena of modern warfare will strike us as peculiarly important with regard to it:  the heightened demands which will be made on individual character and the employment of “masses” to an extent hitherto unknown.

The necessity for increased individualization in the case of infantry and artillery results directly from the character of the modern battle; in the case of cavalry it is due to the nature of their strategical duties and the need of sometimes fighting on foot like infantry; in the case of leaders of every grade, from the immensity of the armies, the vast extent of the spheres of operation and fields of battle, and the difficulty, inseparable from all these conditions, of giving direct orders.  Wherever we turn our eyes to the wide sphere of modern warfare, we encounter the necessity of independent action—­by the private soldier in the thick of the battle, or the lonely patrol in the midst of the enemy’s country, as much as by the leader of an army, who handles huge hosts.  In battle, as well as in operations, the requisite uniformity of action can only be attained at the present time by independent co-operation of all in accordance with a fixed general scheme.

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Germany and the Next War from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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