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The secret mission of Karl Friedrich von dem Knesebeck

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  • The secret mission of Karl Friedrich von dem Knesebeck

    While I was researching about another topic I found this:

    In 1812 Knesebeck received new diplomatic task, the success of which would create the basis of the allies’ later victories against Napoleon in 1813. From the Prime Minister of Prussia, Hardenberg, he received the official mission to inform Tsar Alexander I of Russia that Napoleon would deem it necessary to invade Russia, should the tsar not lay down his arms. Simultaneously, he was secretly ordered by the King of Prussia to persuade the Russian Emperor into luring Napoleon into the wide extremities of his country and not to make peace until Napoleon’s Grande Armée had worn itself down. According to Knesebeck’s own writings, the tsar answered that he would not "make peace, even if I would have to retreat to Kasan".
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karl_Fr..._dem_Knesebeck

    Has anyone more information about this "operation"?

    If this piece of information is correct, does it mean the picture of the hesitant and indecisive Friedrich Wilhelm III is not fully correct, because the defection to the Allies was than part of a royal masterplan?
    "Every man thinks meanly of himself for not having been a soldier" - Samuel Johnson

    "Kerls, wollt ihr denn ewig leben?"

  • #2
    The article is not well-sourced, so I'd take it with a grain of salt. And since there is no evidence that the Russians planned to deliberately lure the French deep into Russia and that the initial Russian plan was based on the Drissa fortification drafter by the Prussian Phull, it would seem that if the mission took place it was not considered.

    And I don't see how Knesebeck affected the 1813 campaign, especially with the initial campaign in the spring when the allies were driven to the Oder because of Lutzen and Bautzen.

    If a reference could be found besides Wikipedia (which is too many times not credible) it might shed more light on the subject. One of the problems with this idea is that there was a problem with Prussian officers serving with the Russians, and Frederick William punished some of them, such as Clausewitz, for doing so. This doesn't back up a supposed 'plan' by Frederick William to give strategic advice to Alexander.

    Sincerely,
    M
    We are not now that strength which in old days
    Moved earth and heaven; that which we are we are; One equal temper of heroic hearts
    Made weak by time and fate but strong in will
    To strive to seek to find and not to yield.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Massena View Post
      The article is not well-sourced, so I'd take it with a grain of salt. And since there is no evidence that the Russians planned to deliberately lure the French deep into Russia and that the initial Russian plan was based on the Drissa fortification drafter by the Prussian Phull, it would seem that if the mission took place it was not considered.

      And I don't see how Knesebeck affected the 1813 campaign, especially with the initial campaign in the spring when the allies were driven to the Oder because of Lutzen and Bautzen.

      If a reference could be found besides Wikipedia (which is too many times not credible) it might shed more light on the subject. One of the problems with this idea is that there was a problem with Prussian officers serving with the Russians, and Frederick William punished some of them, such as Clausewitz, for doing so. This doesn't back up a supposed 'plan' by Frederick William to give strategic advice to Alexander.

      Sincerely,
      M
      And on top of that, the behavior of Friedrich Wilhelm after the convention of Taurogge is contrary to that. He is said to have been quite enraged...
      "Every man thinks meanly of himself for not having been a soldier" - Samuel Johnson

      "Kerls, wollt ihr denn ewig leben?"

      Comment


      • #4
        I am reading the biography of Clausewitz by Wilhelm Ritter von Schramm at the moment. He states that von dem Knesebeck boasted, that he had adviced the tzar to lure the Grande Armée in the vast spaces of Russia in Febuary 1812. However, he gives no footnote. Von dem Knesebeck was there after Scharnhorst and during a time when Prussia allied itself with France, so I cannot imagine that von dem Knesebeck conducted such a secret mission. The only persons who know the truth a probably the King and von dem Knesebeck himself...
        "Every man thinks meanly of himself for not having been a soldier" - Samuel Johnson

        "Kerls, wollt ihr denn ewig leben?"

        Comment


        • #5
          I was reading the writings of Karl von Clausevich from the website:

          www.clausevitch.com

          There is a book of his own writing on this website about 1812. I have read the terrible 1806 campaign against Napoleon by Prussia. This operation was a disaster, as bad as the British navy invasion of Cadiz 1626, and the Invasion of Tanga in German East Africa in WWI. I have not read the 1812 book yet, but I assure you his writings are excellent.
          Last edited by Nickuru; 20 Jan 13, 21:27. Reason: syntax
          When looking for the reason why things go wrong, never rule out stupidity, Murphy's Law Nº 8
          Those who do not remember history are doomed to repeat it. George Santayana
          "Ach du schwein" a German parrot captured at Bukoba GEA the only prisoner taken

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Nickuru View Post
            I was reading the writings of Karl von Clausevich from the website:

            www.clausevitch.com

            There is a book of his own writing on this website about 1812. I have read the terrible 1806 campaign against Napoleon by Prussia. This operation was a disaster, as bad as the British navy invasion of Cadiz 1626, and the Invasion of Tanga in German East Africa in WWI. I have not read the 1812 book yet, but I assure you his writings are excellent.
            Agree. Clausewitz was a combat infantryman, an excellent historian, and a superb staff officer and chief of staff. Gneisenau thought very highly of him and his histories are both informative and accurate.

            Sincerely,
            M
            We are not now that strength which in old days
            Moved earth and heaven; that which we are we are; One equal temper of heroic hearts
            Made weak by time and fate but strong in will
            To strive to seek to find and not to yield.

            Comment

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