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Through the looking glass: German strategic planning before 1914.

"Contrariwise," continued Tweedledum, "if it was so, it might be; and, if it were so, it would be; but as it ain't, it ain't. That's logic."

Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass

In August 1914 the armies of Imperial Germany went to war according to a single-force design, the Schlieffen Plan. That operations plan had not been coordinated with the Prussian War Ministry, the Imperial German Navy, the Foreign Office, the Chancery, or even the Austro-Hungarian ally. As a result, there existed no coordinated national strategy--much less an alliance strategy--and no joint-forces command. The German armies headed west, hoping somewhere in northern France to crush the combined forces of France and Great Britain. In the East, Habsburg armies dashed into Galicia in hopes of defeating isolated Russian forces before the proverbial "steamroller" got under way. Both navies remained in port.

The obvious question: Why this lack of coordinated planning? Was it constitutional? Was it a function of tradition? Was it structural? Was it simply oversight? Or was it the result of individual failures? To be sure, there were examples that other states had come to realize that military-naval as well as political-diplomatic strategy-making demanded central coordination. Great Britain in 1902 had established the Committee of Imperial Defence as a forum for discussing defense matters between Cabinet ministers and representatives of the two armed services. France had established two coordinating agencies: the Conseil superieur de la guerre as the highest military coordinating body, and the Conseil superieur de la defense nationale as the highest governmental coordinating body. But no such coordinating agency existed in Germany. (1) As late as 1930, Bernhard von Bulow (1849-1929) revealed this inability in his (posthumously published) memoirs. After making the sensible statement that "wars in the final analysis are won or lost not just militarily but also politically," the former chancellor then prided himself "that on principle I never involved myself in military matters." (2) Apparently, politics and military matters were two separate and unconnected areas, to be kept isolated from one another.

The failure to devise a coherent and integrated national strategy before 1914 stemmed in large measure from the peculiar Prusso-German military structure. At the top of that command structure stood the Hohenzollern king-emperor, who exercised almost limitless powers in the military realm. Wilhelm II was the de facto commander-in-chief of all Prussian land forces (as well as of the Imperial German Navy). The extent to which the Prussian war minister or state secretary of the Navy Office could steer passage of monetary bills through the Reichstag (the federal parliament of the empire) alone limited their authority. The existing military agreements with Bavaria, Saxony, and Wurttemberg and the generosity of parliament constituted the principal brakes on the monarch's military powers.

The decision-making process was firmly imbedded in the constitutions of the North-German Confederation (16 April 1867) and of the German Reich (16 April 1871). Specifically, Article 63 of the Constitution of 1871 enshrined the Prussian king-emperor as "Bundesfeldherr," that is, as commander-in-chief of all federal land forces. "The entire armed land forces of the Reich will be composed of a unified army, which will be placed under the command of the Kaiser in war and in peace." (3) In time of war, it further granted the king-emperor operational control of the non-Prussian armies through the institution of the Great General Staff (which was not embedded in the Constitution). Article 64 accorded the king-emperor power to make all officer appointments, from subaltern to chief of the General Staff. Article 11 granted him exclusive power to declare war, which he exercised only once, on 31 July 1914. Mobilization of the federal armies and a subsequent declaration of war--except in case of an attack on the Reich--required the approval of both the imperial chancellor and of the German Federal Council (Bundesrat), which also occurred only once, on 1 August 1914. (4) Likewise, the conclusion of peace rested with neither the Reichstag nor the Bundesrat, but solely with the king-emperor, who exercised this right only once, on 10 May 1871 in the Frankfurt Peace that ended the Franco-Prussian War. (5)

The Reichstag, elected by universal male suffrage, was the only truly parliamentary institution in Imperial Germany. But its powers were sharply curtailed by the constitution of 1871. Under its article 23, it could neither initiate legislation nor remove unpopular ministers. Its primary power was that of the purse--that is, the right to approve or to reject the army budget every five or seven years. It was also empowered by the constitution of 1871 to grant or to deny war credits, a right that it exercised on 4 August 1914. (6) It could at no time question, much less instruct, the monarch (through the federal government) concerning military or security policies, personnel appointments, and decision making. Its only other resort was to influence official policy by mobilizing popular pressure. (7) The 1871 constitution enshrined into law the Prussian Army's hallowed division between "command" and "administrative" domains. The former, which concerned the organization, training, discipline, appointments, promotions, and disposition of forces, remained exclusively with the king-emperor. The latter, which revolved around budgetary items such as recruitment, size, and the equipping of forces, was delegated by the king-emperor to the chancellor (by way of the minister of war). This required the consent of the Reichstag. Obviously, the dividing line between "command" and "administrative" domains was often blurred and the subject of bitter acrimony between the executive and legislative branches of government.

The officially-used title "Supreme War Lord" (Oberster Kriegsherr) for the king-emperor was not imbedded in the constitutions of 1867 or 1871, or in the various military conventions that Prussia negotiated with the south German states in 1867 and 1871. It existed only in the form of the personal oath of allegiance that German officers and soldiers pledged to their king-emperor, "His Majesty the German Kaiser, Wilhelm II, my Supreme War Lord." (8) As well, Kaiser Wilhelm II jealously guarded his active command role, or "Kommandogewalt," at least up to 1914. This consisted of no clearly mandated constitutional power, but mainly as a political guiding principle, employed by Prussia's kings since the reign of Friedrich Wilhelm IV (1795-1861) in the 1840s and 1850s. Over time, Wilhelm II sought to broaden these nebulous powers to command. He largely succeeded, as his chambers remained the first and last place of appeal. Ministers and generals could advise; the king-emperor alone decided.

The monarch was assisted in his awesome, all-encompassing command and decision-making role by about forty generals and eight admirals. Each of these enjoyed direct access (Immediatstellung) to the All Highest; each could bypass his immediate superior(s) and approach the ruler directly. Three Prussian royal institutions--the War Ministry (finances, equipment), the Military Cabinet (personnel), and the General Staff (operational planning)--stood at the king's side in running the army. The Navy Office (material), Navy Cabinet (personnel), and High Command/Admiralty Staff (operational planning) likewise assisted the emperor in running the Imperial Navy.

At the top of the Prussian command structure, and immediately below the monarch, stood the commanding generals of the Reich's twenty-five military districts. (9) Each of these was directly responsible to the Supreme War Lord for all matters pertaining to command, leadership, and training of the troops in their district; and to the Prussian war minister for those relating to supply and equipment. The corps commanders approved all fitness reports (for the Military Cabinet) and rendered judgment in matters concerning the officer corps' concept of military honor. In time of war, Germany's army field commanders would be selected from their ranks. Their deputies, in such an exigency, would assume the power to suppress any civilian unrest, to censor all mail and newspapers, and to oversee transportation and communications as well as police and the courts, according to the Prussian State-of-Siege Law of 4 June 1851. (10)

The Prussian War Ministry, established in 1809, was entrusted with matters ranging from finances to training, armaments to equipment, and organization to health of the troops. (11) Numbering some 600 to 700 officers by 1900, the Kriegsministerium consisted of five major bureaus. Wilhelm II selected all his war ministers from the ranks of division commanders, all of whom had studied at the prestigious War Academy (Kriegsakademie) and served with the General Staff. The minister's most important task was to prepare the army budget and to win parliamentary approval of the funds requested.

In fact, the Prussian war minister owed triple allegiance: to the nation for its security, to Parliament for the outlay of military expenditures, and to the king-emperor as an active military officer. Although the war minister was a Prussian, he had to cajole the Reichstag, which was German, to fund the largely Prussian-dominated army. And although the Kriegsminister was the only military officer in Prussia responsible to Parliament, as an active officer on duty in the Prussian Army he owed unquestioned obedience to the King of Prussia--and, by extension, to the German emperor. While directly responsible to the Prussian king for the combat readiness of the Prussian Army, the war minister was also a plenipotentiary to the Bundesrat and as such had to answer to the parliament on fiscal matters. This dual personal loyalty to king and Parliament constituted a natural conflict of interest. In case of conflict with his Supreme War Lord (Wilhelm II), the war minister possessed neither leverage nor freedom of action as his personal oath of loyalty to the king-emperor was inviolate. In case of conflict with the Reichstag, he could but resign his ministerial portfolio (provided that the king-emperor had acceded to this request). The war minister commanded not a single troop contingent or formation, and was not formally involved in the formulation of national security policies. Simply put, the war minister's position was precarious and unrewarding.

The Prussian Military Cabinet, created in 1883, served as the monarch's personnel bureau. (12) As an exclusive agent of the Crown, it was regarded almost universally with suspicion and often accused of being "unconstitutional." It dealt with all matters pertaining to appointments and promotions, punishments and dismissals, decorations and awards, honor and appeals. Its role was purely advisory. The chief of the Militarkabinett, assisted by no more than ten officers and an equal number of civil servants, was responsible for drafting the king-emperor's commands and decrees. Like the Prussian war minister, the chief of the Military Cabinet came to his post only after distinguished service with a division or army corps and the General Staff. As the Supreme War Lord's primary liaison with every other institution of the Prussian Army, he enjoyed a potentially influential position. Yet, like all other active officers, his sole allegiance was to the king-emperor. He could be challenged in personnel matters neither by the parliament nor by other department heads, but only by the monarch.

The Prussian General Staff undoubtedly was the army's premier (and most often emulated) institution. (13) Its chief enjoyed seemingly august powers largely by tradition and example. He commanded not a single battalion, regiment, division, or corps. He could issue no formal orders, purchase no equipment, and authorize no war plan. His selection of personnel had to be cleared with the Military Cabinet. His operational plans required the monarch's approval. The position was not imbedded in the constitution.

In essence, the chief of the General Staff was but "the first advisor of the Imperial Supreme Commander." (14) His primary function was to advise the king-emperor, at whose pleasure he served, on military planning and policy. No more; no less. That his influence far exceeded his modest formal role was due to the victorious campaigns of Helmuth von Moltke (the Elder, 1800-91); the General Staff's drive for intellectual and operational excellence; the chief's superior bearing and demeanor; and the fact that virtually every senior commander had come up through its ranks. In reality, the General Staff consisted of two entities: the Great General Staff in Berlin, which served its chief as a support cohort, and the Troop General Staff, which assisted divisional, corps, and fortress commanders in carrying out their command and training functions.

In time of peace, the chief of the General Staff formulated strategic and operational contingency war plans, devised and evaluated the annual maneuvers, gathered and evaluated military intelligence, maintained railroad schedules, worked out potential mobilization schemes, supervised the writing of military history, and oversaw the War Academy. In time of war, the chief of the General Staff directed mobilization and then operational planning. The General Staff grew from the small cadre of fifteen officers, which the Elder Moltke had taken into the field in 1870, into a bureaucratic labyrinth of about 650 officers by 1914. Noted by the distinct burgundy stripes on their uniform pants, the officers of the General Staff saw themselves, in Otto von Bismarck (1815-98)'s words, as "demi-gods." They were routinely rotated between field and staff commands.

At the federal level, article 53 of the 1871 constitution called for the creation of a unified, federal navy: "The Navy of the Empire is united under the supreme command of the Kaiser." (15) Indeed, the Kaiserliche Marine was the only German branch of the armed forces. After Wilhelm II's reorganization of the navy in March 1889, its decentralized decision-making structure closely paralleled that of the Prussian Army. Administrative matters as well as construction and maintenance of naval material were supervised by a state secretary of the Navy Office, who was responsible (by way of the imperial chancellor) to the Reichstag. Like the Prussian war minister, the state secretary of the Navy Office was both an active officer and a federal official who had to defend budgetary policy before Parliament. Strategy, operations, and tactics were relegated to a new chief of the High Command of the Navy--changed in 1899 to an Admiralty Staff. (16) And as a parallel to the Prussian Military Cabinet, Wilhelm II in 1889 also created a Navy Cabinet to supervise personnel matters.

Decision making in Imperial Germany, then, was both simple and complex. In 1898 Germany's leading constitutional authority, Paul Laband (1838-1918), at the request of Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz (1849-1930), state secretary of the Navy Office, attempted to summarize that process. While carefully avoiding defining the extra-constitutional term Kommandogewalt, Laband nevertheless firmly stated that "the execution of Kommandogewalt is not governed by laws," and that "the Bundesrat and the Reichstag have no right of co-determination or control over it." (17) Nor, Laband went on, was Wilhelm IPs power to command "covered by the responsibility of the Reich Chancellor, or his authorized representative." (18) Military supreme command, both in peace and in war, was the "absolutely personal prerogative" of the king-emperor, as was the "direction of foreign policy." (19) The only control on the Supreme War Lord's powers was "considerations imposed by the budgetary rights" of the Reichstag. (20) In short, the king-emperor possessed sweeping, almost unlimited extra-constitutional powers in the areas of foreign and military policies. He alone decided the organization of the armed forces, their staffing, their war planning, and their deployment, in complete accordance with his own designs. "There is but one man in charge of the Reich," Wilhelm II declared at Dusseldorf in May 1891, "and I will not tolerate any other." (21)

The Prusso-German military tradition was intimately associated with the army. It had been forged on the battlefields of Frederick II (1712-86), renewed in the Wars of Liberation against Napoleon I, and enshrined in the Wars of Unification against Austria (1866) and France (1870-71). Neither the Prussian navy nor its successor, the Bundesmarine, had figured prominently in these wars. It had undertaken mainly riverine operations on the Elbe, Weser, and Ems in support of the army's operations against Hanover. And in the war against France, the Bundesmarine managed to seize but three French supply ships while losing more than two hundred merchantmen to the enemy. In both wars, the navy's most prominent flag officer, Admiral Prince Adalbert of Prussia (1811-73), chose service with the army over that with the navy. For many Germans, even though they hailed the navy as the only true federal institution, it was all too obvious that the Reich had been unified by the "blood and iron" of the Prussian army.

Traditions are hard to come by. They are forged usually in war and mostly through victory. Tirpitz tried by various publicist ventures to remind the nation of past naval legacies, those of the Vikings and the Hansa, of the Welsers and Fuggers, of Jacob of Courland and the Great Elector. But there was always something artificial about his efforts. Until the Imperial German Navy created its own traditions through baptism of fire, it could not hope to approach the tradition, for example, of the British Royal Navy. As the novelist Theodor Fontane (1819-98) put it,
   We do not have a trace of this confidence.... We are not mentioned
   in the Old Testament. The British act as though they had the
   promise. (22)


In terms of strategic considerations, as will be discussed later, Tirpitz rejected both riverine deployment (as in 1866) and coastal defense (as in 1870) for the new Kaiserliche Marine. It was to be built as a Mahanian blue-water battle fleet; its unspoken adversary was to be the Royal Navy. As far as I know, there existed no plans under Tirpitz whereby the navy's primary role in war would be to support army operations. Certainly, in 1914 that option was not even on the table.

In a semi-authoritarian state such as the Germany of the constitutions of 1867 and 1871, personalities were bound to play a significant role. And given the king-emperor's Olympian stature in the military realm, it is fair to ask to what degree Wilhelm II lived up to both his constitutional and his self-defined responsibilities, and who guided him in reaching imperial decisions. Wilhelm II, upon ascending the throne in 1888, announced that he wished to be his own "Officer of the Watch of the Ship of State," his "own Bismarck." (23) Apart from clinging to a sort of mystical notion of the Early Modern concept of the divine right of kings, Wilhelm II had his own views concerning the distribution of power in the Reich. In September 1891 he wrote in the Golden Book of the City of Munich how, "Suprema lex regis voluntas," that is, the "highest law [of the land] is the will of the monarch." (24) In that year, Wilhelm II declared that he wished to be his own chief of the General Staff as well. Denouncing the Elder Moltke and Bismarck as "pygmies" and "lackeys" who had merely been his grandfather's "tools" (Handlanger), the kaiser announced that Moltke's successor would merely be his assistant. General Alfred von Waldersee (1832-1904), the Elder Moltke's successor as chief of the General Staff, was shocked by Wilhelm's hubris: "He wants to be his own General Staff chief ... God preserve the fatherland."(25)

As time went on, Wilhelm II tired of the daily grind required of him, indulging instead in the pageantry of endless public spectacle. (26) He frittered away his time wih trivial pursuits: The Kaiser reveled in multiple uniform changes each and every day, and endlessly darted between his residences and castles, of which he had 75. Instead of the government's business (or that of the army and navy), the emperor attended regattas at Cowes and Kiel, fox hunts at Donaueschingen, or stag hunts at Rominten. There were years that he spent 200 days on the royal yacht Hohenzollern. As admiral Georg Alexander von Muller (18541940), chief of the Navy Cabinet, commented, "He is not faithful to duty,... or else he would devote more of his time to the serious problems of his occupation." (27)

One solution to the Kaiser's failings would have been to delegate power to responsible state servants. For a brief moment, such a possibility existed. On 7 July 1888, just weeks after his accession to the throne, Wilhelm II established a "Headquarters of His Majesty the Kaiser and King" by All-Highest Cabinet Order. (28) This new headquarters, or maison militaire, consisted of high-ranking adjutants and generals close to the emperor. It was entended to operate as a supreme advisory board to the monarch on military and security matters. But the Cabinet Order establishing the maison militaire did not define its tasks. In time, mainly officers who enjoyed Wilhelm II's favor in the Palace Guards and Life Guards were appointed to it, but it had so little role to play that it entirely disappeared after a while. It was meanwhile of greater consequence that in 1897 the kaiser dissolved the joint-services Home Defense Commission (Landesverteidigungskommission): Composed of admirals and generals, it had been tasked to coordinate joint defense policies. (29) It was never replaced with an analogous organization. Ultimately, Wilhelm II tolerated no advisory board as this might have curtailed his powers to command. As a result, from 1888 to 1918, no single institution existed which coordinated all military and naval, diplomatic and financial policies. Imperial Germany, then, had no equivalent to the British and French joint civil-military committees noted above, or even to the rather loosely operating Austro-Hungarian Common Council of Ministers.

Wilhelm II's command role was most obvious at the annual army maneuvers, organized by the chief of the General Staff. There, he played to the hilt his stage role as Supreme War Lord. (30) Weeks of staff work were required just to transport the kaiser and his entourage to the maneuver area. Once there, Wilhelm II oversaw even the minutest of details in the war game. (31) The maneuvers usually had the kaiser lead a glorious cavalry charge that even overcame entrenched machine gunners, who were ordered to change their colored arm bands and join the celebrated cavalry charge. This was not the stern test the army required during the long period of peace after 1871, and nothing was gained refining its operational and tactical concepts.

Usually, Wilhelm II himself evaluated the war game (a duty otherwise reserved for the chief of the General Staff), underscoring his command role by publicly criticizing the Generalstabscbef. When, in 1891, Wilhelm openly critiqued even the examination papers submitted by subalterns to the chief of the General Staff, von Waldersee submitted his resignation. (32) That the Kaiser could lavish such time and detail on a relatively trivial matter in the aftermath of the chancellor crisis of 1890 (created by Wilhelm's decision to dismiss the Reich's architect, Bismarck), reveals in spades, as Deist has shown, Wilhelm's obsession with exercising his Kommandogewalt.

In time, most senior planners realized that the only way to succeed was to pay public lip service to the Kaiser's command role--and then quietly and independently to conduct business as they saw it, knowing full well that Wilhelm II did not have the stamina for hard, sustained work. Alfred von Schlieffen (1833-1913) was one of those who quickly learned how to side-step the kaiser's interference. In his first year as chief of the General Staff, Wilhelm II, who, at the end of the annual maneuvers presented an evaluation that was diametrically opposed to that just rendered by Schlieffen, humiliated the new chief in front of his staff. Thereafter, Schlieffen learned to accept the kaiser's bombast as a "given," as part of a God-willed reality. (33) In public, he acceded to the monarch's every wish; in private, he heaped ridicule and sarcasm on Wilhelm II. As for the navy, Tirpitz developed a modern managerial style to circumvent the kaiser's obsession with ships and interference in operational matters. Each summer, Tirpitz took a core of co-workers with him to St. Blasien in the Black Forest to plan a new navy bill or supplement down to the most minute detail. And each succeeding fall he showered the new plans on the Kaiser at his stag-slaying feast at Rominten in East Prussia. (34) As a result of Schlieffen's and Tirpitz's methods, the Prusso-German command structure became even more fragmented and secretive. Each service devised its own budgetary and operational plans; neither sought joint fiscal or military strategies.

The radical shift toward the so-called "New Course" of fleet building and global adventurism after 1890 reveals the heart of German decision-making. It came about because of the decision-making role of one person: Wilhelm II. It was never debated at the highest councils--neither by the Home Defense Commission nor in the maison militaire, and certainly not by the Imperial Cabinet. Military and naval polices were never coordinated. No common budgetary strategies were ever hammered out. Diplomatic policy was never readjusted to reflect the radical shift in strategic policy. Financial planning at no time was finetuned to enable Germany to become the premier European power both on land and at sea. The end result was that Germany was bankrupt by about 1905 (three state secretaries of the Treasury resigned rather than bear responsibility for ever-greater mountains of debt!) and that army and navy continued to pursue independent strategies, refusing to use even the chancellor's office as a clearing house for common considerations. While coordinated planning may not have averted war in 1914, it certainly would have made plain to army and naval planners alike the limits of the Reich's fiscal resources and thus its abilities to challenge the Entente powers both on land and at sea. In what historian Stig Forster has called the "polychratic chaos" of Imperial Germany, aims and means remained disparate entities. (35)

Given the Kaiser's inability (or refusal) to undertake integrated war-planning, the realization of his global sea-power aspirations fell to a new cadre of professional generals and admirals, each of whom concentrated on his most immediate goal: operational planning. First among these was Tirpitz, the man entrusted with realizing the Kaiser's dream of Weltpolitik. In navy bills of 1898 and 1900, augmented by the supplementary bills of 1906, 1908, and 1912, the admiral strove to create a mammoth battle fleet of perhaps sixty capital ships, to be stationed in the North Sea. (36) In memoranda of 1888, 1891, and especially in the service memorandum IX of 1894, Tirpitz defined his strategy in simple, yet powerful terms: to annihilate British sea power, if London proved unwilling to accord Germany its cherished "place in the sun," in a single Armageddon in the south-central North Sea. "In a war at sea, destruction of the enemy rather than territorial gain is the only goal." (37) Tirpitz's smokescreen about building a "risk fleet," one that would simply deter British naval power, or an "alliance" fleet to attract future allies, notwithstanding, such a powerful fleet stationed but a hundred miles off Britain's east coast could only be construed by London as a unilateral challenge to Britannia's sea control. Historian Paul M. Kennedy aptly likened the Tirpitz-fleet to a "sharp knife, held gleaming and ready only a few inches away from the jugular vein of Germany's most likely enemy." (38)

At heart, the Tirpitz-plan came down to a va-banque [all-or-nothing] strategy, one that would take a generation to realize and one that would see Germany supplant Britain as the twentieth century's premier naval power. At a decisive audience with Wilhelm II in September 1899, Tirpitz had described the future fleet as "an absolute necessity for Germany, without which she will encounter ruin." (39) He painted a clear geopolitical picture of choices available in the new century: "4 world powers: Russia, England, America, and Germany." (40) Britain was the greatest threat, but one that could be overcome by superior German equipment, training, and organization--and by its "unified leadership through the Monarch." (41) In fact, Tirpitz offered the Kaiser a dazzling vision: a Germany that in a single generation could make the leap from European land power to global maritime power. In the process, Tirpitz single-handedly added Britain to the ranks of Germany's likely adversaries.

But no true strategic concept lay behind the Tirpitz plan. It speaks volumes for German decision making that the head of the Navy Office, an administrative bureaucrat, should envision and then realize a bold strategic national policy. There was never a "grand council" of German naval leaders to hammer out Tirpitz's naval vision. Tirpitz, who feared that the Admiralty Staff, which was charged with developing naval strategy, might develop powers and independence akin to those of the General Staff, kept it powerless. For this reason, in 1903 he tried to veto an Admiralty Staff proposal to exchange officers with the General Staff. Four years later, he persuaded Wilhelm II to reject an Admiralty Staff plan that one-half of the Naval Academy graduates serve with the Admiralstab, (42) Indeed, it is indicative of the lack of coordinated naval planning that Tirpitz, a Berlin bureaucrat, in 1909 made the tactical decision to base the battle fleet on Helgoland--without consulting either the Admiralty Staff, the Fleet Command, or the General Staff.

It is fair to say that Tirpitz never thought strategically. His was a grand political plan, not a strategic one. He simply expected the British, should they feel threatened by the German fleet, to descend into the Helgoland Bight and to offer battle. But various chiefs of the Admiralty Staff knew better. As early as 1908, Vice-Admiral Friedrich von Baudissin (1847-1926) warned Tirpitz that the British might not simply steam into the Bight at the outbreak of a war. In 1909 Baudissin's successor, Admiral Max von Fischel (1850-1929), raised the key strategic issue:
   We are fighting for access to the ocean, whose entrances on that
   side of the North Sea are in England's hands. We are therefore
   basically the attacker, who is disputing the enemy's possessions.
   (43)


And in May 1914 Fleet Chief Admiral Friedrich von Ingenohl (1857-1933) bluntly asked Tirpitz during the last peacetime naval maneuvers, "What will you do if they [the British] do not come?" (44) It is indicative of Tirpitz's lack of strategic acumen that he could offer Ingenohl no reply. There was no flexibility in Tirpitz's planning, no fail-back position in case the British refused to act according to his predictions.

At another level, the High Sea Fleet proved well beyond Imperial Germany's ability to pay (better, willingness to sacrifice) for it. Initially, Tirpitz indexed construction and maintenance costs for the fleet to the growth of the German economy. (45) He opted to pay for it by way not of direct but rather of indirect taxes, that is, on consumer and luxury goods and services. But the never-ending upward spiral of construction costs--fueled especially by Britain's decision in 1905 to turn up the heat by building the world's first "all big gun, one caliber" battleship, HMS Dreadnought--forced Tirpitz up against the wall. He accepted the challenge. The cost of building German dreadnoughts increased from 37 million Goldmark with the Nassau class of 1907-10, to 46 million with the Kaiser class of 1909-13, and finally to 50 million with the Bayern class of 1913-16. Overall, the navy's budget grew from 20 percent of the army's outlays in 1898 to 53 percent by 1911. (46) Even the kaiser began to complain about the "ghastly" nature of "this [financial] screw without end." (47)

Obviously, army leaders were becoming alarmed at this escalating shift in scarce defense resources in favor of the navy. What did Tirpitz hope to accomplish with his mighty fleet, in case of a general war on the continent? The fleet, despite Tirpitz's promises, had attracted no new "alliance partners." Nor had it "deterred" the British, who not only decided to maintain their numerical superiority in capital ships, but also to enhance their qualitative superiority with HMS Dreadnought. (48) Already in 1898, General von Waldersee had firmly rejected the navy's notion "that future wars will be decided at sea," about which he sarcastically mused: "What will the navy do if the army should be defeated, be it in the East or in the West?" (49) By 1905, that question had become not only fair, but also acute.

It fell to Schlieffen to try to solve by military means the Reich's self-imposed diplomatic isolation in the wake of the Kaiser's cancellation of the Reinsurance Treaty with Russia in 1890. The basic contours of the Schlieffen plan are well known and require no detailed discussion. Rather, of interest to this essay's argument is the process by which the plan was devised: Who had input? Who did not? Was there even a formal operations plan? If so, did it correspond to available force structure and financial resources?

Despite recent assertions by Terence Zuber that "[t]here never was a 'Schlieffen plan'," Germany's military leaders had no doubt as to its existence. In 1912 the Kaiser formally asked his senior military planners whether they were prepared to execute the Schlieffen plan. (50) In 1914, Helmuth von Moltke (the Younger, 1848-1916), chief of the General Staff, not only referred to Germany's "one" operations plan, but attached Schlieffen's name firmly to it. (51) In August 1914, Moltke executed Schlieffen's grand design. General Wilhelm Groener (1867-1939), head of the Prussian army's railroad department, openly spoke of the "great symphony" of the Schlieffen plan. (52) By late fall 1914, General Erich von Falkenhayn (1861-1922), about to leave his post of war minister for that of chief of the General Staff, cryptically noted Moltke's intellectual bankruptcy: "Schlieffen's notes are at an end and therewith also Moltke's wits." (53) The military historians who produced the multivolume official history Der Weltkrieg, 1914-1918 had no problems identifying that operations plan to have been Schlieffen's. (54)

Schlieffen developed his great memoranda concerning the conduct of a two-front war against France and Russia in isolation. In what obviously was going to be a coalition war, the Habsburg ally was nearly absent from German thoughts. Schlieffen so distrusted the Austrian military that after 1896-7 he limited contact with its General Staff to annual New Year's greetings. Austria-Hungary's fate, he coldly asserted, would be decided not along the Bug but the Seine River. (55) Nor did matters improve significantly after Schlieffen's retirement. Despite the fact that Wilhelm II and Archduke Franz Ferdinand regularly corresponded with and visited each other, this did not lead to more intimate military relations. The Habsburg heir apparent in 1908, 1909, and 1910 vetoed a planned exchange of staff officers for the annual military maneuvers of the two putative Nibelungen partners. (56) Austrian military officials in 1910 denied German colleagues access to the Steyr armaments factory as well as to the artillery plant at Wiener Neustadt. When the German and Austrian automobile clubs in 1908 agreed to a joint outing and then sought to regularize such undertakings, the Habsburg military attache at Berlin vetoed the project--in part because this had not led to the award of any medals! And in the spring of 1914 the Habsburg military attache at Constantinople had a special stamp, "Not to be relayed to the German General Staff," made for his reports concerning the German military mission to the Porte. (57) The role of Italy in any future war was couched in imponderables and insecurities.

Hence, it is little wonder that German diplomats were so ignorant of their major ally's military strength--and so enamored of their own--that on 3 July 1914 they informed the Ballbausplatz's chef de cabinet, "Alek" Hoyos, "that Germany was strong enough to conduct the war on both fronts alone." (58) At no time did Schlieffen (or the Younger Moltke) address the issue of a unified command in case of war. In fact, neither the Triple Alliance of 1882 nor the ten supplements to it that were added between 1887 and 1911 raised the issue of a possible joint supreme command. (59) This lack of coordinated planning was revealed fully by Lieutenant Colonel Karl von Kageneck (1871-1967), the Reich's military attache at Vienna, who on 1 August 1914 cabled the General Staff in Berlin: "It is high time that the two general staffs consult now with absolute frankness with respect to mobilization, jump-off time, areas of assembly, and precise troop strength." (60) It would be difficult to find a more pathetic statement concerning lack of coordinated strategic planning among close allies.

As well, Schlieffen declined to bring other German planning agencies into his deliberations. The relationship between General Staff and War Ministry was a critical variable; while the former devised the nation's war plans, the latter provided equipment and armaments. Planning demanded close cooperation. But the Prussian War Ministry in Berlin apparently was kept ignorant of Schlieffen's plans until December 1912--that is, until six years after the general's retirement. (61) Schlieffen never sought a face-to-face meeting with any of its chiefs to discuss force structure and size, preferring instead to exchange letters across town with the War Ministry. The other royal armies--those of Bavaria, Saxony, and Wurttemberg--were simply asked to "game" various aspects of Schlieffen's grand design.

Nor was the head of the civilian government, Theobald von Bethmann Hollweg (1856-1921), officially informed of the great offensive "wheel" in the West until December 1912. (62) The chancellor crowed in his postwar memoirs that it was not his "business" to have taken an active role in the formulation of the national strategy: "The political leadership was not involved in the creation of the war plan." (63) This situation is all the more incredible when one keeps in mind that the Schlieffen Plan called for the war to begin with the violation of the neutrality of both Belgium and the Netherlands. At no time did Kaiser, chancellor, and chief of the General Staff convene to debate national policy in case of war. "Generally, there never took place during my entire period in office," Bethmann Hollweg asserted, "a sort of war council at which politics were brought into the military for and against." (64) Given the Kaiser's inability to act up to his responsibilities, it is little wonder that he never tackled the thorny issue of coordinating foreign and military policies.

To be sure, there were exchanges of staff officers within the two German services under Schlieffen between 1900 and 1905. But these were limited to one officer from each service per annum and were for but two months' duration each. Such token exchanges hardly allowed for thorough, integrated operational planning. Moreover, the General Staff decreed that no one beyond its inner planning circle be given insight into the details of mobilization and deployment in case of war. Joint maneuvers were generally eschewed: Formal proposals for such fell through in 1895 and again in 1900. Apparently, neither the Prussian War Office nor the Imperial Navy Office was willing to lay out funds for joint exercises. Only once, in 1904, did Wilhelm II order combined army-navy maneuvers--in the Baltic region. (65) The case of the China campaign to suppress the Boxer rebellion in August 1900, in which Wilhelm II by Cabinet Order gave Field Marshal Alfred von Waldersee supreme command over all German land and sea forces both at home and abroad, remained unique in the history of the Second Reich.

Coordinated planning did not improve under Schlieffen's successor. The Younger Moltke also preferred to keep national security planning within the confines of the "red house on the Konigsplatz," as General Staff headquarters was popularly called. He worked primarily with his first quartermaster-general and left major department heads in the dark concerning his intentions and designs. Nor was Moltke eager to initiate frank exchanges of information and views with the general staffs of the various German royal armies outside Prussia. He viewed the Military Cabinet as a personnel office and the War Ministry as an administrative bureau; he denied both a role in operational planning. The General Staff, in "Julius" Moltke's view, alone was responsible for "advising the Imperial Supreme Commander." (66)

The Imperial Navy also remained outside the planning loop. While the Admiralty Staff was probably aware of the planned violation of Belgian and Dutch neutrality by 1905, there was no direct planning between army and navy to coordinate their wartime strategies. Schlieffen did not raise the possibility that the High Sea Fleet might interrupt British cross-Channel troop transports, either in his official contingency plans or in his numerous writings in retirement. (67) British expeditionary forces--Schlieffen expected about 100,000 troops to cross the Channel--simply would be "shut up" at Antwerp, "together with the Belgians." (68) His successor, Moltke, also declined to address the possibility of naval action against British transports in the Channel. And while the General Staff, as stated earlier, had denied naval appointees insight into its operational planning, the junior service on occasion flatly refused the General Staff's requests to exchange intelligence data.

It is fair to state that the Schlieffen plan--like the Tirpitz plan before it--was never brought into line with Germany's capabilities. Schlieffen penned his great memoranda without taking into account vital, non-operational factors. At no time did he seek to tailor his grand design to the Reich's financial or industrial resources. It would simply be a "come-as-you-are" war in which the troops would live off the land and fend for themselves as best they could. Schlieffen casually ignored force structure as well. When Colonel Erich Ludendorff (1865-1937), head of the Mobilization and Deployment Section of the General Staff, "gamed" the Schlieffen plan in 1912, he discovered that the German armies lacked the strength to implement it. The right wing of the "wheel" through Belgium and along the English Channel was fully eight army corps shy of strength requirement; and the seven to eight army corps that were to lay siege to Paris did not exist, even on paper. (69) Part of the reason was that Germany was not willing to pay the price for universal male conscription: By 1914, about five million young men had escaped military training due to the Reichstag's parsimony and the army's unwillingness to expand its officer corps beyond the traditional elites.

In fact, on the eve of the war two distinct visions of military policy had emerged in Berlin. On the one hand, the General Staff, led by Ludendorff's energetic planning, sought manpower enhancement in the form of an expansion of three corps, or about 300,000 men. The War Ministry, under General Josias von Heeringen (1850-1926), on the other hand, favored technological enhancement by way of additional firepower; it rejected manpower expansion on the ground that this would open up officer billets to "undesirable circles." (70) No compromise between the two visions was ever enacted. In 1914, the German armies were prepared to execute a traditional march on foot and horse under the guise of what basically was the opening round of an incomplete operations plan. Even the Younger Moltke's "small wheel" turn-in around Brussels required the troops to march 300 miles in 40 days--and to defeat the French, British, and Belgian armies on the process. Ammunition tables were forty years out of date, with the result that the German armies ran out of ammunition by October 1914. Trucks were inadequate and rail capability too limited to handle the vast quantities of supplies required by a modern army corps--130 tons of food and fodder per day, while standing still. In logistical terms, the Schlieffen plan, in historian Martin van Creveld's inimitable words, was "the wheel that broke." (71)

In the final analysis, neither admirals, generals, or civilian leaders achieved their political-strategical objectives: annihilation of the British fleet in the south-central North Sea; destruction of the French armies in the Seine basin; and the attainment of Weltpolitik. Neither army, navy, Chancery, or Foreign Office coordinated their various diverse strategies. Neither Schlieffen nor Moltke involved other service agencies, Prussian and non-Prussian, in their deliberations. Neither coordinated policy with their one loyal ally, Austria-Hungary. The civilians happily conceded that the formulation of national policy was not their "business." At no time did Kaiser, chancellor, war minister, chief of the General Staff, chief of the Admiralty Staff, and state secretary of the Navy Office meet to hammer out policy and strategy. Instead, each jealously guarded his traditional military or civilian role (Ressortegoismus), unwilling to surrender one iota of power or responsibility to a rival. Wilhelm II reveled in his cherished Kommandogewalt, blind to the reality that modern warfare required more than bluster and braggadocio. Force structures, finances, material resources, and industrial production were never coordinated. Antecedent, personalities, service jealousies, and rivalries precluded coordinated strategic planning.

At the grand-strategic level, by way of the Tirpitz plan and the Schlieffen plan, Germany attempted to become both a continental hegemon and a global sea power in one generation. The Reich lacked the resources and the leadership to attain either goal. Its national security decisions were made through the prism of uncertainty. General Wilhelm Groener, Ludendorff's successor as first quartermaster-general, acknowledged this strategic confusion for his General Staff officers in May 1919: "We struggled unconsciously for world dominion--naturally I can state this only in the most intimate of circles, but anyone how looks at the situation relatively clearly and historically cannot be in doubt about this--before we had secured our continental position." (72)

Critics of this perhaps harsh portrayal of decision-making under Wilhelm II will undoubtedly point out that a "war council" did take place on the eve of the Great War--on 8 December 1912, to be precise. Is this not evidence, one may well ask, that the system worked? That Wilhelm II was able at the moment of crisis to pull all the strings of his decentralized command structure together? That civilian, military, and naval planners were able to coordinate their disparate strategies? Historian John C. G. Rohl has pointed out that in the wake of the "war council," Reich institutions inaugurated certain war-powers measures: to secure food and other stocks to feed the civilian and military sectors; to regulate the labor market; to set aside special funds for the initial phases of mobilization; and to increase the Reichsbank's gold reserves. (73)

I suggest, in the first place, that this "war council" stood out by its singularity. No system of "war councils" was imbedded in the Prussian-German constitutional system; the so-called Kriegsrat of 8 December 1912 occurred simply because Wilhelm II called it into being. Second, it is instructive to note that neither the imperial chancellor, nor the state secretary of the Foreign Office, nor the Prussian war minister was invited to the meeting. This by itself negates the notion that a true "war council" took place on 8 December 1912. Third, little came of the military discussions. After the Kaiser allowed that in any future war, Britain would side with France and Russia--"the Anglo-Saxons on the side of the Gauls and Slavs"--which could prompt Germany to conduct a Schlieffenesque offensive in the West, Wilhelm II demanded that the fleet prepare for the war with Britain; that the navy get ready to torpedo British troop convoys in the English Channel and to mine the Thames estuary; that Admiral von Tirpitz step up the production of U-boats; and that the Navy Office prepare the nation for war also with Russia. (74)

Nothing of this sort happened. Tirpitz clung to his battleship grand design and simply demanded "postponement of the great fight for 1 1/2 years" in order to complete expansion of the Kaiser Wilhelm Canal and construction of the submarine pens on Helgoland Island. (75) His propaganda apparatus undertook no major activity to popularize a war with Russia. The Foreign Office launched no diplomatic realignment to shore up the kaiser's new vision of a war with Britain. General von Moltke, who at the "war council" had regarded a general European war "to be inevitable, and the sooner the better," instead became embroiled in a bitter (and losing) struggle with the Prussian War Ministry over modest army expansion. In short, the outcome of the putative "war council," in the words of one of its participants, Admiral von Muller, was "pretty much zero." (76)

It is fair to state that the one "war council" that ever took place under Kaiser Wilhelm II constituted mainly bluster. (77) Throughout his career, Wilhelm II was never able to live up to the primary responsibilities that the Constitution of 1871 bestowed upon him, or even to carry out effectively his role as commander-in-chief of Germany's armed forces. The strategic and operational plans of his army and navy were never coordinated; national finances were never rationally apportioned to army and navy; and the Reich's diplomatic position was never reassessed, and much less realigned, to buttress those military and naval strategies. Coordination of the Schlieffen plan and the Tirpitz plan was first and foremost the Kaiser's duty; in this, he failed his nation utterly.

In the final analysis, the inability to undertake coordinated decision making came down to individuals. It is fair to say that national policy making in Imperial Germany was in the hands of about half a dozen players--king-emperor, chancellor, secretary of state for Foreign Affairs, state secretary of the Navy, chief of the General Staff, and Prussian war minister. (78) Their failure to coordinate national policy making before 1914 resulted in a fractured command structure, in an uncoordinated alliance with Vienna, and in an uncoordinated army-navy operations plan. Put differently, guilt by coterie.

For a quarter of a century, Wilhelm II had played at the role of Supreme Commander, aided and abetted by a coterie of sycophants. When the great test came in 1914, the Oberster Kriegsherr revealed himself to be the quintessential "hollow Hercules." (79) With the outbreak of war, he moved off to the front--to Koblenz Castle on the Rhine River, where he heroically dined on Frederick the Great's silver field service. On 20 August Wilhelm II ventured into the castle's gardens with the chief of the Military Cabinet, General Moriz von Lyncker (1853-1932), and the chief of the Navy Cabinet, Admiral von Muller. The Kaiser sat on one bench, the cabinet chiefs on another, when, pathetically, Wilhelm II lamented: "Am I already such a figure of contempt that no one wants to sit next to me any more?" (80)

This episode was not an isolated incident of senior military officers deprecating their Supreme War Lord's military command failure. In 1913 Colonel Ludendorff had commented on Wilhelm's command authority: "In case of war, the kaiser will not be asked." (81) Two years later, General Karl von Einem (1853-1934), a former war minister and then commander of Third Army, also reflected on the Kaiser's Kommandogewalt: "The truth is that we have not had a working head of state for the last 1/4 century." (82) Finally, it fell upon Imperial Germany's last quartermaster-general, Groener, on 9 November 1918 to inform the monarch that his army "no longer stands behind Your Majesty." (83) Wilhelm II's world of Through the Looking Glass thus ended.

Holger H. Herwig is Professor of History and Canada Research Chair in Military and Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary. His most recent publications include The Marne, 1914: The Opening of World War I and the Battle that Changed the World (New York: Random House, 2009); and The First World War: Germany and Austria-Hungary, 1914-1918 (London: Bloomsbury, 2014). He is currently working on a history of Karl Haushofer and the genesis of geopolitics.

(1.) See Wilhelm Deist, "Kaiser Wilhelm II. als Oberster Kriegsherr," in W. Deist, Militar, Staat und Gesellschaft. Studien zur preussisch-deutschen Militargeschichte, Munich: R. Oldenbourg, 1991, 1-18: 9.

(2.) Bernhard Fiirst von Bulow, Denkwurdigkeiten, ed. Franz von Stockhammern, Berlin: Ullstein, 1930-1, vol. 2, 21, 183.

(3.) Ernst Rudolf Huber, Deutsche Verfassungsgescbichte seit 1789, vol. 3: Bismarck und das Reich, Stuttgart: W. Kohlhammer, 1963, 989.

(4.) Ibid., 821 ff., 849 ff. Huber calls the Federal Council a "princely aristocracy."

(5.) Ibid., 942-4.

(6.) Ibid., 882 ff.

(7.) For a general treatment of this phenomenon, see Stig Forster, Der Doppelte Militarismus. Die Deutsche Heeresriistungspolitik zwischen Status-Quo-Sicherung und Aggression 1890-1913, Stuttgart: F. Steiner, 1985.

(8.) Holger H. Herwig, The German Naval Officer Corps: A Social and Political History 1890-1918, Oxford: Clarendon, 1973, 67.

(9.) See Wiegand Schmidt-Richberg, "Die Regierungszeit Wilhelms II.," in Handbuch zur deutschen Militargeschichte 1648-1939, vol. 3, pt. 5: Von der Entlassung Bismarcks bis zum Ende des Ersten Weltkrieges 1890-1918, Frankfurt: Bernard & Graefe, 1979, 72-3.

(10.) Huber, Deutsche Verfassungsgeschichte, vol. 3, 61-2.

(11.) Schmidt-Richberg, "Die Regierungszeit Wilhelms II.," 63-6.

(12.) Ibid., 67-9; Huber, Deutsche Verfassungsgeschichte, vol. 3, 818-9.

(13.) Schmidt-Richberg, "Die Regierungszeit Wilhelms II.," 69-72.

(14.) See Holger H. Herwig, "The Dynamics of Necessity: German Military Policy during the First World War," in Allan R. Millett and Williamson Murray, eds, Military Effectiveness, vol. 1: The First World War, Boston, MA: Allen & Unwin, 1988, 81-2.

(15.) Huber, Deutsche Verfassungsgeschichte, vol. 3, 1005.

(16.) Huber, Deutsche Verfassungsgeschichte, vol. 3, 838-9, 1004-6.

(17.) Cited in Wilhelm Deist, "Kaiser Wilhelm II in the Context of His Military and Naval Entourage," in John C.G. Rohl and Nicolaus Sombart, eds, Kaiser Wilhelm 11: New Interpretations. The Corfu Papers, Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1982, 169-92: 171.

(18.) Ibid.

(19.) Ibid.

(20.) Ibid.

(21.) Ibid.

(22.) Cited in Holger H. Herwig, "Luxury" Fleet: The Imperial German Navy 1888-1918, London: Allen & Unwin, 1980, 147.

(23.) Herwig, "Luxury" Fleet, 17. See also Hoger H. Herwig, "Command Decision Making: Imperial Germany, 1871-1914," in The Fog of Peace and War Planning: Military and Strategic Planning under Uncertainty, eds Talbot C. Imlay and Monica Duffy Toft, New York: Routledge, 2006, 100-25.

(24.) Cited in Michael Balfour, The Kaiser and his Times, London: Cresset, 1964, 157.

(25.) Cited in Arden Bucholz, Moltke, Schlieffen, and Prussian War Planning, New York and Oxford: Berg, 1991, 129.

(26.) See Herwig, "Command Decision Making," 107-8.

(27.) Cited in Herwig, "Luxury" Fleet, 23, and Herwig, "Command Decision Making," 108.

(28.) Deist, "Kaiser Wilhelm II," 180; Herwig, "Command Decision Making," 108.

(29.) Schmidt-Richberg, "Die Regierungszeit Wilhelms II.," 60-2.

(30.) See the 1903 recollections of Graf Robert Zedlitz-Trutzschler, Zwolf Jahre am deutschen Kaiserhof, Stuttgart, Berlin and Leipzig: Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, 1925, 42-3.

(31.) Herwig, "Command Decision Making," 109.

(32.) Deist, "Kaiser Wilhelm II," 180-1. It should be noted that Waldersee's side had defeated the Kaiser's troops in the war game preceding the emperor's evaluation, which might have been a deliberate effort to show up Wilhelm's questionable commanding qualities.

(33.) Bucholz, Moltke, Schlieffen, 128-9.

(34.) See Patrick J. Kelly, Tirpitz and the Imperial German Navy, Bloomington and Indianapolis, IN: Indiana UP, 2011, especially pp. 223ff.

(35.) Stig Forster, "Der deutsche Generalstab und die Illusion des kurzen Krieges, 1871-1914. Metakritik eines Mythos," Militargeschichtliche Mitteilungen 1, 1995, 61-95: 92.

(36.) The best work on this remains Volker R. Berghahn, Der Tirpitz-Plan. Genesis und Verfall einer innenpolitischen Krisenstrategie unter Wilhelm II., Dusseldorf: Droste, 1971; and the follow-up, Michael Epkenhans, Die wilhelminische Flottenriistung 1908-1914. Weltmachtstreben, industrieller Fortschritt, soziale Integration, Munich: R. Oldenbourg, 1991.

(37.) Alfred von Tirpitz, Erinnerungen, Leipzig: K.F. Koehler, 1920, 112. Tirpitz's most critical memoranda have been reproduced in Volker R. Berghahn and Wilhelm Deist, eds, Riistung im Zeichen der wilhelminischen Weltpolitik. Grundlegende Dokumente 1890-1914, Dusseldorf: Droste, 1988, 82ff.

(38.) Paul M. Kennedy, "Tirpitz, England and the Second Navy Law of 1900: A Strategical Critique," Militargeschichtliche Mitteilungen 8, 1970, 33-57: 38.

(39.) Bundesarchiv-Militararchiv [from here: BA-MA], Freiburg, Reichsmarineamt-Zentralabteilung, Immediatvortrage, vol. 5.

(40.) Ibid.

(41.) Ibid.

(42.) See Herwig, "The Dynamics of Necessity," 90-1.

(43.) BA-MA, RM 5/1607, Folder 75R, Admiralstab der Marine, "Ostsee oder Nordsee als Kriegsschauplatz."

(44.) Cited in Albert Hopman, Das Logbuch eines deutschen Seeoffiziers, Berlin: A. Scherl, 1924, 393.

(45.) See Peter-Christian Witt, "Reichsfinanzen und Riistungspolitik," in Herbert Schottelius and Wilhelm Deist, eds., Marine und Marinepolitik im Kaiserlichen Deutschland 1871-1914, Dusseldorf: Droste, 1972, 146-77.

(46.) See Hans Ehlert, "Marine- und Heeres-Etat im deutschen Rustungs-Budget 1898-1912," Marine Rundschau 75, 1978, 311-23.

(47.) BA-MA, RM 2/1765, Kais. Marinekabinett, Wilhelm II to Tirpitz, 4 November 1913.

(48.) See Holger H. Herwig, "Fisher, Tirpitz, and the Dreadnought," MHQ: The Quarterly Journal of Military History 4, 1991, 96-104.

(49.) Entry for 25 January 1898 in General-Feldmarschall Alfred Graf von Waldersee in seinem militarischen Wirken, ed. Hans Mohs, Berlin: Eisenschmidt, 1929, 388.

(50.) Terence Zuber, "The Schlieffen Plan Reconsidered," War in History 3, 1999, 262-305. Zuber's position seems entirely untenable after the publication of Schlieffen's annual deployment plans; see Hans Ehlert, Michael Epkenhans, and Gerhard P. Grofi, eds, Der Schlieffenplan. Analysen und Dokumente, Paderborn: Ferdinand Schoningh, 2006.

(51.) See Moltke's November 1914 memorandum in Eliza von Moltke, ed., Generaloberst Helmuth von Moltke. Erinnerungen Briefe Dokumente 1877-1916. Ein Bild vom Kriegsausbruch, enter Kriegsfuhrung und Personlichkeit des ersten militarischen Fubrers des Krieges, Stuttgart: Der Kommende Tag, 1922, 16-17.

(52.) Cited in Holger H. Herwig, The First World War: Germany and Austria-Hungary 19141918, London: Bloomsbury, 2014, 46.

(53.) Cited in Hans von Zwehl, Erich v. Falkenhayn. Eine biographische Studie, Berlin: E.S. Mittler, 1926, 66.

(54.) See Reichsarchiv, Der Weltkrieg 1914 bis 1918, bearbeitet im Reichsarchiv, Berlin: Mittler und Sohn, 1918-1944.

(55.) See Giinther Kronenbitter, "Falsch verbunden? Die Militarallianz zwischen Osterreich-Ungarn und Deutschland 1906-1914," Osterreicbische Militarische Zeitschrift 6, 2000, 743-54; and Graydon A. Tunstall, Planning for War Against Russia and Serbia: Austro-Hungarian and German Military Strategies, 1871-1914, Boulder, CO: Columbia UP, 1993.

(56.) This popular comparison was made most notably by Prince Bernhard von Biilow in a parliamentary speech on 21 March 1909. Later versions contrasted the proud, serious Hagen (Prussia-Germany) with the happy, playful Volker (Austria-Hungary); see Otfrid Ehrismann, Das Nibelungenlied in Deutschland. Studien zur Rezeption des Nibelungenlieds von der Mitte des 18. Jahrhunderts bis zum Ersten Weltkrieg, Munich: Fink, 1975, 207-9.

(57.) Giinther Kronenbitter, "Krieg im Frieden". Die Fuhrung der k.u.k. Armee und die Grofmachtpolitik Osterreicb-Ungarns 1906-1914, Munich: R. Oldenbourg, 2003, 397ff.

(58.) Foreign Under-Secretary Alfred Zimmermann, cited in Annika Mombauer, "A Reluctant Military Leader? Helmuth von Moltke and the July Crisis of 1914," War in History 6, 1999, 417-66: 418. The Ballhausplatz in Vienna was the officla residence of the Austrian head of the government.

(59.) Kronenbitter, "Krieg im Frieden," 465ff.

(60.) Cited in Gordon A. Craig, "The World War I Alliance of the Central Powers in Retrospect: The Military Cohesion of the Alliance," Journal of Modern History 3, 1965, 336-44: 337-8.

(61.) Gerhard Ritter, Staatskunst und Kriegshandwerk: Das Problem des "Militarismus" in Deutschland, Munich: R. Oldenbourg, 1959-68, vol. 2, 261.

(62.) Hermann von Kuhl, Der deutsche Generalstab in Vorbereitung und Durchfuhrung des Weltkrieges, Berlin: E.S. Mittler, 1920, 108.

(63.) Theobald von Bethmann Hollweg, Betrachtungen zum Weltkriege, Berlin: Reimar Hobbing, 1921. vol. 2. 7.

(64.) Ibid.

(65.) Friedrich-Christian Stahl, "Der Groke Generalstab, seine Beziehungen zum Admiralstab und seine Gedanken zu den Operationsplanen der Marine," Wehrkunde. Organ der Gesellschaft fur Wehrkunde 1, 1963, 6-12: 7-8.

(66.) See Annika Mombauer, Helmuth von Moltke and the Origins of the First World War, Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2001.

(67.) Gerhard Ritter, Der Schlieffenplan. Kritik eines Mythos, Munich: R. Oldenbourg, 1965,176, 182-92.

(68.) Ibid., 71-2n50, 198-9.

(69.) Oliver Stein, Die deutsche Heeresrustungspolitik 1890-1914. Das Militar und der Primat der Politik, Paderborn: Ferdinand Schoningh, 2007, 127.

(70.) Ibid., 12Iff., 338ff.

(71.) Martin van Creveld, Supplying War: Logistics from Wallenstein to Patton, Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1977, 140.

(72.) BA-MA, NachlaS Kurt v. Schleicher, N 42. Groener's top-secret discussion, 19-20 May 1919.

(73.) John C.G. Rohl, Kaiser, Hof und Staat. Wilhelm II. und die deutsche Politik, Munich: Beck, 1987, 198-202; and Rohl, "An der Schwelle zum Weltkrieg. Eine Dokumentation uber den 'Kriegsrat' vom 8. Dezember 1912," Militargeschichtliche Mitteilungen 1, 1977, 77-134.

(74.) The most detailed account of the "war council" is in BA-MA, N 159 Nachlass Midler. The first analysis was by Fritz Fischer, "War of Illusions: German Policies from 1911 to 1914, New York: W.W. Norton, 1975, 161-4.

(75.) Cited in Gorlitz, ed., Der Kaiser ... Aufzeichungen des Chefs des Marinekabinetts Georg Alexander v. Muller uber die Ara 'Wilhelms II., Gottingen: Musterschmidt, 1965, 125.

(76.) Ibid.

(77.) This should not, however, lead to the outrageous claim that the "real" war council took place at a meeting of the Committee of Imperial Defence at London on 23 August 1911, which "set the course for a military confrontation between Britain and Germany" (see Niall Ferguson, The Pity of War, New York: Allen Lane, 1998, 65).

(78.) See Richard F. Hamilton and Holger H. Herwig, eds, The Origins of World War I, Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2003, 156ff.

(79.) See Georg Heinrich von Berenhorst, Betrachtungen iiber die Kriegskunst, Osnabruck: Biblio-Verlag, 1978, 511.

(80.) Cited in Walter Gorlitz, ed., Regierte der Kaiser? Kriegstagebiicher, Aufzeichnungen und Briefe des Chefs des Marine-Kabinetts Admiral Georg Alexander v. Muller 1914-1918, Gottingen: Musterschmidt, 1959, 50.

(81.) BA-MA, Nachlass Michaelis, N 164, vol. 1, 5.

(82.) Einem to his wife, 23 March 1915, in Wilhelm Deist, ed., Militar und Innenpolitik im Weltkrieg 1914-1918, Dusseldorf: Droste, 1970, vol. 2, 1135-6.

(83.) Cited in Kuno Graf von Westarp, Das Ende der Monarchic am 9. November 1918, Stollhamm: Rauschenbusch, 1952, 46.
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