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 military academy as such was contemplated by Scharnhorst.  To-day it assumed rather the character of a preparatory school for the General Staff.  Instruction in history and mathematics is all that remains of its former importance.  The instruction in military history was entirely divested of its scientific character by the method of application employed, and became wholly subservient to tactics.  In this way the meaning of the study of military history was obscured, and even to-day, so far as I know, the lectures on military history primarily serve purposes of directly professional education.  I cannot say how far the language teaching imparts the spirit of foreign tongues.  At any rate, it culminates in the examination for interpreterships, and thus pursues a directly practical end.  This development was in a certain sense necessary.  A quite specifically professional education of the officers of the General Staff is essential under present conditions.  I will not decide whether it was therefore necessary to limit the broad and truly academical character of the institution.  In any case, we need in the army of to-day an institution which gives opportunity for the independent study of military science from the higher standpoint, and provides at the same time a comprehensive general education.  I believe that the military academy could be developed into such an institution, without any necessity of abandoning the direct preparation of the officers for service on the General Staff.  By the side of the military sciences proper, which might be limited in many directions, lectures on general scientific subjects might be organized, to which admission should be free.  In similar lectures the great military problems might be discussed from the standpoint of military philosophy, and the hearers might gain some insight into the legitimacy of war, its relations to politics, the co-operation of material and imponderable forces, the importance of free personality under the pressure of necessary phenomena, sharp contradictions and violent opposition, as well as into the duties of a commander viewed from the higher standpoint.

Limitation and concentration of the compulsory subjects, such as are now arranged on an educational plan in three consecutive annual courses, and the institution of free lectures on subjects of general culture, intended not only to educate officers of the General Staff, but to train men who are competent to discharge the highest military and civic duties—­this is what is required for the highest military educational institution of the German army.



“Germany’s future lies on the sea.”  A proud saying, which contains a great truth.  If the German people wish to attain a distinguished future and fulfil their mission of civilization, they must adopt a world policy and act as a World Power.  This task can only be performed if they are supported by an adequate sea power.  Our fleet must be so strong at least that a war with us involves such dangers, even to the strongest opponent, that the losses, which might be expected, would endanger his position as a World Power.

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