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  • Frederick II "the great"? Nah...

    Was Frederick II of Prussia really that “Great”?



    There are many that consider Frederick II of Prussia a great military man and tactician. And I'm sure that there are many "Frederick fans" out there.

    Yet, personally, I do not think him as so. Of course he wasn’t a lowsy military leader, he was pretty good but not as to deserve the term “Great”.
    If he must go throughout history as the “Great” I think it would be more deserving for his love of music, literature, philosophy and his intelligence. But then, can't we consider his rival Maria-Theresa as "the Great" also????

    In terms of military “greatness”:

    The Austrian War of Succession 1740-1748

    At Mollwitz in 1741, Frederick had a beautiful opportunity to destroy the Austrians. The Austrians had marched 8 days without stop through melting snow and mud. It was exhausted and very low on morale. It’s artillery was lagging behind and it was unaware that the Prussians were not far off. When the Prussians fired off their artillery, they were caught off guard by the lighting strike of the Austrian cavalry smashing into the Prussian right flank, that soon faltered. If it wasn’t for the iron Prussian infantry , the battle would’ve been lost for Frederik. It was as Wellington would later claim at Waterloo “a near run thing”. It shouldn’t have been a near run thing !!!!

    In Moravia in 1742 Frederick let himself be cut off from Silesia by Prince Charles of Lorraine and had to retreat in order not to lose Silesia again. His campaign in Moravia was a defeat!

    In 1744 we see Frederick being cut off from Silesia again as he was campaigning in Bohemia. It was a defeat yet again.

    At the Battle of Soor in 1745, Frederick almost bit the dust again. His infantry changed front in the face of the advancing enemy and saved the day at the last moment – another “near run thing”!

    Seven Year’s War 1756-1763

    One can say that the Battle of Prague in 1757 was a Prussian victory! Indeed, but one can also call it a Pyrrhic victory as both armies lost 15.000 men and Frederick was thus unable to besiege the city.

    At the battle of Kolin in 1757, Frederick's main force turned toward the Austrians too early and attacked their defensive positions frontally instead of outflanking them. This led to a terrible Prussian defeat.

    By early 1758, Frederick was forced to forget his campaign in Bohemia and to retrace his steps, as the Austrians were gathering on Prussian soil.

    In 1758, attacked on all sides (the Russians from the East), Fredrick made another daring attack into Moravia. He laid siege to the city of Olmutz, but failed to take it as the resistance was stronger than he had expected.

    In August 1758, Frederick marched on eastwards to take on the Russians. He fought a battle a Zorndorf in Poland and although the Russians held the ground at the end of the day, Frederick claimed it a victory as it prevented the Russians from linking up with the Austrians. However both sides had almost lost the same amount of men !

    At Hochkirch in October 1758, Frederick was beaten by the Austrians under leadership of Daun. And yes, you might say that the Prussians were outnumbered 2:1, but Frederick was not supposed to be there in the first place. It was a blunder !

    Kunersdorf in 1759. Frederick was beaten to a pulp by the combined Austrian-Russian armies, leaving 40% of his army dead and wounded on the battlefield.

    November 1760, Frederick emerges victorious, but once again, he had to pay dearly for the victory. ¼ of both armies lay dead and dying on the battlefield.



    Of course he also had a number of great victories: Chotuzits, Hohenfriedberg, Rossbach, Leuthen, Torgau and Freiberg but do these victories measure up to his defeats and campaign losses????
    The Great? I’m not convinced of it on the military field…I think Frederick of Prussia is overrated !



    Greets,
    Stratego
    Death is nothing, but to live defeated and inglorious is to die daily.- Napoleon

    It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation.- Herman Melville

    Aut viam inveniam aut faciam

    BORG

  • #2
    Originally posted by Stratego View Post
    Was Frederick II of Prussia really that “Great”?



    There are many that consider Frederick II of Prussia a great military man and tactician. And I'm sure that there are many "Frederick fans" out there.

    Yet, personally, I do not think him as so. Of course he wasn’t a lowsy military leader, he was pretty good but not as to deserve the term “Great”.
    If he must go throughout history as the “Great” I think it would be more deserving for his love of music, literature, philosophy and his intelligence. But then, can't we consider his rival Maria-Theresa as "the Great" also????

    In terms of military “greatness”:

    The Austrian War of Succession 1740-1748

    At Mollwitz in 1741, Frederick had a beautiful opportunity to destroy the Austrians. The Austrians had marched 8 days without stop through melting snow and mud. It was exhausted and very low on morale. It’s artillery was lagging behind and it was unaware that the Prussians were not far off. When the Prussians fired off their artillery, they were caught off guard by the lighting strike of the Austrian cavalry smashing into the Prussian right flank, that soon faltered. If it wasn’t for the iron Prussian infantry , the battle would’ve been lost for Frederik. It was as Wellington would later claim at Waterloo “a near run thing”. It shouldn’t have been a near run thing !!!!

    In Moravia in 1742 Frederick let himself be cut off from Silesia by Prince Charles of Lorraine and had to retreat in order not to lose Silesia again. His campaign in Moravia was a defeat!

    In 1744 we see Frederick being cut off from Silesia again as he was campaigning in Bohemia. It was a defeat yet again.

    At the Battle of Soor in 1745, Frederick almost bit the dust again. His infantry changed front in the face of the advancing enemy and saved the day at the last moment – another “near run thing”!

    Seven Year’s War 1756-1763

    One can say that the Battle of Prague in 1757 was a Prussian victory! Indeed, but one can also call it a Pyrrhic victory as both armies lost 15.000 men and Frederick was thus unable to besiege the city.

    At the battle of Kolin in 1757, Frederick's main force turned toward the Austrians too early and attacked their defensive positions frontally instead of outflanking them. This led to a terrible Prussian defeat.

    By early 1758, Frederick was forced to forget his campaign in Bohemia and to retrace his steps, as the Austrians were gathering on Prussian soil.

    In 1758, attacked on all sides (the Russians from the East), Fredrick made another daring attack into Moravia. He laid siege to the city of Olmutz, but failed to take it as the resistance was stronger than he had expected.

    In August 1758, Frederick marched on eastwards to take on the Russians. He fought a battle a Zorndorf in Poland and although the Russians held the ground at the end of the day, Frederick claimed it a victory as it prevented the Russians from linking up with the Austrians. However both sides had almost lost the same amount of men !

    At Hochkirch in October 1758, Frederick was beaten by the Austrians under leadership of Daun. And yes, you might say that the Prussians were outnumbered 2:1, but Frederick was not supposed to be there in the first place. It was a blunder !

    Kunersdorf in 1759. Frederick was beaten to a pulp by the combined Austrian-Russian armies, leaving 40% of his army dead and wounded on the battlefield.

    November 1760, Frederick emerges victorious, but once again, he had to pay dearly for the victory. ¼ of both armies lay dead and dying on the battlefield.



    Of course he also had a number of great victories: Chotuzits, Hohenfriedberg, Rossbach, Leuthen, Torgau and Freiberg but do these victories measure up to his defeats and campaign losses????
    The Great? I’m not convinced of it on the military field…I think Frederick of Prussia is overrated !



    Greets,
    Stratego
    I disagree I think his accomplishments were great, Silesia makes a nice boobie prize. On top of that he founded public education, developed industry, left the treasury in the positive and built on the Prussian myth of martial success. Even though he is a pole smoker.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Bellerphon1971 View Post
      I disagree I think his accomplishments were great, Silesia makes a nice boobie prize. On top of that he founded public education, developed industry, left the treasury in the positive and built on the Prussian myth of martial success. Even though he is a pole smoker.
      Napoleon did that all that too-and more...why is he not officially considered a "Great" ????



      Greets,
      Stratego
      Death is nothing, but to live defeated and inglorious is to die daily.- Napoleon

      It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation.- Herman Melville

      Aut viam inveniam aut faciam

      BORG

      Comment


      • #4
        Finally someone said that the king was actually naked.

        The fact is that despite his reckless adventurism he emerged victorious only thanks to sheer luck and nothing else. The funniest part is that Hitler bought into the whole myth and considered him his role model, waiting for a miracle to happen to save his ass. He took the death of Roosevelt for a sign of a great change of fortune like the death of Elisabeth I saved Frederick II from a complete disaster.
        www.histours.ru

        Siege of Leningrad battlefield tour

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by ShAA View Post
          Finally someone said that the king was actually naked.
          There's more where that came from...now if only I had the guts


          Originally posted by ShAA View Post
          The fact is that despite his reckless adventurism he emerged victorious only thanks to sheer luck and nothing else. The funniest part is that Hitler bought into the whole myth and considered him his role model, waiting for a miracle to happen to save his ass. He took the death of Roosevelt for a sign of a great change of fortune like the death of Elisabeth I saved Frederick II from a complete disaster.
          Strange now that you mention it ShAA...but Napoleon had alot of respect for him also!
          I think a great deal of his "Greatness" is due to the fact that he was popular among the people and a enlighted !



          Greets,
          Stratego
          Death is nothing, but to live defeated and inglorious is to die daily.- Napoleon

          It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation.- Herman Melville

          Aut viam inveniam aut faciam

          BORG

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Stratego View Post
            Napoleon did that all that too-and more...why is he not officially considered a "Great" ????



            Greets,
            Stratego
            because he is short!!!!!

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by ShAA View Post
              The funniest part is that Hitler bought into the whole myth and considered him his role model, waiting for a miracle to happen to save his ass. He took the death of Roosevelt for a sign of a great change of fortune like the death of Elisabeth I saved Frederick II from a complete disaster.
              Good post ShAA. I had heard Hitler kept looking at portraits of him when the Red Army was closing in from the East and the Allies were closing in on the West thinking he would be like Frederick and save Germany.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Sgt. Rock View Post
                Good post ShAA. I had heard Hitler kept looking at portraits of him when the Red Army was closing in from the East and the Allies were closing in on the West thinking he would be like Frederick and save Germany.
                It wasn't the portraits of FtG the man that attracted Hitler, but rather the thoughts of the resolve and glory that were represented by those images.
                Flag: USA / Location: West Coast

                Prayers.

                BoRG

                http://img204.imageshack.us/img204/8757/snap1ws8.jpg

                https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5PtsX_Z3CMU

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Salinator View Post
                  It wasn't the portraits of FtG the man that attracted Hitler, but rather the thoughts of the resolve and glory that were represented by those images.
                  I don't know really much about Hitler's relationship with Frederick II, but I'm quite sure the miraculous salvation he was hoping for in 1945 was based on the biography of said prussian emperor.
                  www.histours.ru

                  Siege of Leningrad battlefield tour

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Stratego View Post
                    Napoleon did that all that too-and more...why is he not officially considered a "Great" ????



                    Greets,
                    Stratego
                    Because he died in exile on a small island in the middle of the Atlantic having seen his empire crushed?

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by The Ibis View Post
                      Because he died in exile on a small island in the middle of the Atlantic having seen his empire crushed?
                      Death is nothing, but to live defeated and inglorious is to die daily.- Napoleon

                      It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation.- Herman Melville

                      Aut viam inveniam aut faciam

                      BORG

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I don't know really much about Hitler's relationship with Frederick II, but I'm quite sure the miraculous salvation he was hoping for in 1945 was based on the biography of said prussian emperor.
                        At around the time that FDR died Goebbels gave Hitler a gift in the form of a classic biography of Frederick. The main thrust of the argument by the author (whose name eludes me) was a demonstration of the greatness of the famous Prussian. It says a lot about said author that out of all the facets of Frederick's career that could be assessed as indicating greatness, the one that he settled upon as being in his view the most definitive was the sheer amount of "glorious destruction" in lives and land that had resulted from the King's career, whether from his blunders or his triumphs. Hitler was a great fan of the historian in question (who was noted for his particularly violent antisemitic and pro-German views) and thanked Goebbels profusely for the present, spending hours at a time some days leafing through it for the next few months. The biography was amongst the items that were later discovered in the bunker where Hitler ended his life.
                        Last edited by Divus Julius; 24 Apr 10, 01:18.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Divus Julius View Post
                          At around the time that FDR died Goebbels gave Hitler a gist in the form of a classic biography of Frederick. The main thrust of the argument by the author (whose name eludes me) was a demonstration of the greatness of the famous Prussian. It says a lot about said author that out of all the facets of Frederick's career that could be assessed as indicating greatness, the one that he settled upon as being in his view the most definitive was the sheer amount of "glorious destruction" in lives and land that had resulted from the King's career, whether from his blunders or his triumphs. Hitler was a great fan of the historian in question (who was noted for his particularly violent antisemitic and pro-German views) and thanked Goebbels profusely for the present, spending hours at a time some days leafing through it for the next few months. The biography was amongst the items that were later discovered in the bunker where Hitler ended his life.
                          Thanks, Divus. I wonder what the name of this historian was? Archenholtz? He was quite "pro-German" but hardly anti-Semitic though.
                          www.histours.ru

                          Siege of Leningrad battlefield tour

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            As for my view on Frederick himself, I think that I might echo the view of Napoleon that Frederick was above and beyond anything else a magnificent tactician. It would be almost impossible to deny that "Old Fritz" had some real disastrous days on the battlefield - Napoleon's statement that "I have been mistaken so many times that I no longer even blush" could have easily come from Frederick talking about his military experiences. But at the same time it really wasn't nothing that Fritz earned his reputation as a military man in Europe. It has to be admitted that a lot of the time he owed his tactical successes in no small measure to the grit and skill of his soldiers rather than to his own genius and lost many of them in the process, but when given the opportunity to show what he could do at his best, it was still very impressive battle tactics (Leuthen in particular comes to mind).

                            But having established that Frederick was capable of true tactical inspiration on a par with the best, I would otherwise agree with Stratego's first post that the classic assessments of his military career overrate him far too much. As pointed out his maneuvering could leave a lot to be desired, he sufferred appalling casualties, and in a broader sense than his pure maneuvering it could be said that he possessed a badly flawed understanding of strategy, bringing Sun Tzu's famous maxim on the subject of strategy and tactics to mind. But to me the greatest fault that he ought to be charged with was what he did with his army in regards to leadership. Even more so than that he was a great tactician, there is very little room left for doubt that Fritz was an inspired leader of men who had a tally of horses shot out from underneath him that can only inspire respect. But that aside, he was a firm adherent of the idea that the best kind of master/servant, leader/followers relationship is always based upon fear (this from the man who wrote the "anti-Machiavelli") and this IMO had a crippling effect on his army ultimately. His statement that his soldiersshould be more afraid of their officers than the enemy and the actions that he took to back it up served to quite effectively gradually crush all notion of initiative out of the men serving under him as time went on, and to this at least in part can be blamed the negative outcomes of some of his worst battles.

                            When compared to a truly great general from that period like Marlborough, there is no comparison.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by ShAA View Post
                              Thanks, Divus. I wonder what the name of this historian was? Archenholtz? He was quite "pro-German" but hardly anti-Semitic though.
                              I'm still trying to remember the name, but I'm afraid I'm drawing a blank. I got the information out of a book by Timothy Ryback entitled "Hitler's Private Library" that I picked up in a bookstore a few months back. The book was essentially devoted to the books that Hitler liked to read and how they may have influenced him. After leafing through it for a while I ended up putting it back on the shelf, although I'm regretting that somewhat now.

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