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  • #31
    It's pretty clear that the German state has a greater warfighting potential than Poland does during the same period, with a greater population, industrial base and huge number of experienced officers people to draw from if the need should arise. But at the same time they obviously would need to have rearmed in order to go toe-to-toe with the Polish army, which dwarfs the German military until the NSDAP begins rearming in earnest. I find it a little odd that people in here are discussing nebulous things like historical miltiary tradition, we don't need to look so far in the past or try to imagine which people are "more warlike" or whatnot.

    As to whether or not the Weimar government would attempt rearmament, yes, at least partially. People have pointed out that actually they already were violating Versailles and I think it's inevitable that they would have negotiated softer limits on their military eventually.

    Comment


    • #32
      Originally posted by Javaman View Post
      Well... define martial tradition then? Are you asking about a win/loss ratio? Warrior tradition? Overall effect on military philosophy over the centuries?

      What exactly are you looking for?
      You were asking for comparisons. By the time the concept of the General Staff, and famous commanders had arrived, Poland was in serious danger of being extinguished bythe the three ugly sisters. However, once Prussia was only able to use garrison troops to control the Poles, they had got smacked, leading to the creation of the theoretically independent Duchy of Warsaw.

      Right....

      I don't suppose you could put Frederick's battles in proper context by including the odds? Napolean considered Frederick one of the best generals that ever lived and said something like "Gentlemen, if this man were still alive I would not be here" as he visited Frederick's tomb. You do not agree apparently?

      An earlier mention of Tadeusz Kosciuszko brings to mind someone Frederick sent to the Americans, Baron von Steuben? Would you consider the engineer Kosciuszko of greater importance than Steuben?
      Considering I'd never heard of von Steuben but had heard of Kosciusko, I'd say the latter was more important. And if the US Post Office is any arbiter in these things, von Steuben appeared on a 2c stamp, Kosciusko a 5c.

      Comment


      • #33
        Originally posted by ThoseDeafMutes View Post
        I find it a little odd that people in here are discussing nebulous things like historical miltiary tradition, we don't need to look so far in the past or try to imagine which people are "more warlike" or whatnot.
        I may sound like a Westpoint professor now but 'the people' are consituent part of the the Clausewitzian triangle of 'Army; Government and People'; so definitely people plus their history, warlike or not, should be included in any serious discussion of this aspect of military history, never mind if they appear nebulous.

        From a less academic angle: I have come to enjoy these sort of aspects that you perhaps consider as digressions in the discussion. To me they are the raisins in the pudding
        BoRG

        You may not be interested in War, but War is interested in You - Leon Trotski, June 1919.

        Comment


        • #34
          Originally posted by broderickwells View Post
          You were asking for comparisons. By the time the concept of the General Staff, and famous commanders had arrived, Poland was in serious danger of being extinguished bythe the three ugly sisters. However, once Prussia was only able to use garrison troops to control the Poles, they had got smacked, leading to the creation of the theoretically independent Duchy of Warsaw..
          It wasn't me, I merely responded to another post. Interesting thread nonetheless.

          Considering I'd never heard of von Steuben but had heard of Kosciusko, I'd say the latter was more important. And if the US Post Office is any arbiter in these things, von Steuben appeared on a 2c stamp, Kosciusko a 5c
          Steuben-
          Friedrich Wilhelm August Heinrich Ferdinand von Steuben (born Friedrich Wilhelm Ludolf Gerhard Augustin von Steuben; September 17, 1730 November 28, 1794), also referred to as the Baron von Steuben,[1] was a Prussian-born military officer who served as inspector general and Major General of the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War. He is credited with being one of the fathers of the Continental Army in teaching them the essentials of military drills, tactics, and disciplines.[2] He wrote the Revolutionary War Drill Manual, the book that served as the standard United States drill manual until the War of 1812. He served as General George Washington's chief of staff in the final years of the war.

          In US military history and in the military history of the American war of Independence he is a giant, Kosciusko....not so much.
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friedri...lm_von_Steuben
          "Amateurs study tactics; professionals study logistics"
          -Omar Bradley
          "Not everyone who studies logistics is a professional logistician, and there is no way to understand when you don't know what you don't know."
          -Anonymous US Army logistician

          Comment


          • #35
            Originally posted by Major Sennef View Post
            I may sound like a Westpoint professor now but 'the people' are consituent part of the the Clausewitzian triangle of 'Army; Government and People'; so definitely people plus their history, warlike or not, should be included in any serious discussion of this aspect of military history, never mind if they appear nebulous.

            From a less academic angle: I have come to enjoy these sort of aspects that you perhaps consider as digressions in the discussion. To me they are the raisins in the pudding
            The original question stated Prussian/German, so that is to mean that we're not comparing just Prussia to Poland. Wiki is quite helpful here:
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Militar...ory_of_Germany

            Seems that indeed Poland's martial tradition is indeed dwarfed as was originally postulated when German military history is comprehensively taken in sum.
            "Amateurs study tactics; professionals study logistics"
            -Omar Bradley
            "Not everyone who studies logistics is a professional logistician, and there is no way to understand when you don't know what you don't know."
            -Anonymous US Army logistician

            Comment


            • #36
              The Prusso-German 'Military Tradition' seems to be an illusion, one fostered largely by the Prussians themselves. Take Frederick, his tactical innovations served him well during the first and second Silesian Wars but come the third his opponents had figured out how to counter them. In turn Frederick could only demonstrate an ability to manage retreats and keep his army in the field. Kolin, Kunersdorf and Zorndorf saw appalling losses amongst Frederick's army and came close to breaking it completely. But the lessons the Prussians could have learned from these defeats were not taken on board meaning that come 1806, and the disaster of Jena-Auerstadt, they were still fighting as they had done fifty years earlier! Obviously the reforms of Scharnhorst and Gneisenau turned things around and come 1866 and 1870 the GGS under Moltke demonstrated that Prussia-Germany was the leading military power on the Continent. But from there the inertia seems to set in once more.

              It should be noted that Frederick the Great was a poor strategist, the 1756 invasion of Saxony was a huge blunder and was an important factor in bringing about the alliance that nearly destroyed him and his kingdom. If there is one tradition he passed on to future generations of Prussians and Germans it is that.
              Signing out.

              Comment


              • #37
                Originally posted by Javaman View Post
                The original question stated Prussian/German, so that is to mean that we're not comparing just Prussia to Poland. Wiki is quite helpful here:
                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Militar...ory_of_Germany

                Seems that indeed Poland's martial tradition is indeed dwarfed as was originally postulated when German military history is comprehensively taken in sum.
                Good find.
                However wouldn't you agree that we would methodologically be on safer groud if we consider both sides of the medal?

                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of...volving_Poland

                NB the useful color scheme on the right side
                The picture is thus more complete and the comparison better balanced.
                BoRG

                You may not be interested in War, but War is interested in You - Leon Trotski, June 1919.

                Comment


                • #38
                  Originally posted by Major Sennef View Post
                  Good find.
                  However wouldn't you agree that we would methodologically be on safer groud if we consider both sides of the medal?

                  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of...volving_Poland

                  NB the useful color scheme on the right side
                  The picture is thus more complete and the comparison better balanced.
                  Always good to add a bit of colour and a modicum of balance to these discussions.
                  Signing out.

                  Comment


                  • #39
                    Originally posted by Full Monty View Post
                    The Prusso-German 'Military Tradition' seems to be an illusion, one fostered largely by the Prussians themselves. Take Frederick, his tactical innovations served him well during the first and second Silesian Wars but come the third his opponents had figured out how to counter them. In turn Frederick could only demonstrate an ability to manage retreats and keep his army in the field. .
                    What a crock!

                    , the Austrian co-ruler Emperor Joseph II wrote,


                    When the King of Prussia speaks on problems connected with the art of war, which he has studied intensively and on which he has read every conceivable book, then everything is taut, solid and uncommonly instructive. There are no circumlocutions, he gives factual and historical proof of the assertions he makes, for he is well versed in history... A genius and a man who talks admirably. But everything he says betrays the knave.[35]

                    [I]An example of the place that Frederick holds in history as a ruler is seen in Napoleon Bonaparte, who saw the Prussian king as the greatest tactical genius of all time;[36] after Napoleon's victory of the Fourth Coalition in 1807, he visited Frederick's tomb in Potsdam and remarked to his officers, "Gentlemen, if this man was still alive I would not be here".

                    Let's see, that's an Austrian regent and a French Emperor. Where is the Prussian/German self promotion, perhaps from such a pedestrian as CLAUSEWITZ?

                    Seriously FM, what is your issue with Frederick?

                    Kolin, Kunersdorf and Zorndorf saw appalling losses amongst Frederick's army and came close to breaking it completely.
                    But it didn't, due to perhaps say...leadership?

                    But the lessons the Prussians could have learned from these defeats were not taken on board meaning that come 1806, and the disaster of Jena-Auerstadt, they were still fighting as they had done fifty years earlier!
                    As you stated, "take Frederick; your above example of Jena-Auerstadt has nothing to do with him and in fact has a lot to do with the talent of Napolean, no?

                    Obviously the reforms of Scharnhorst and Gneisenau turned things around and come 1866 and 1870 the GGS under Moltke demonstrated that Prussia-Germany was the leading military power on the Continent. But from there the inertia seems to set in once more.
                    Right....is that because the German army of 1914 performed poorly relative to it's opponents?

                    It should be noted that Frederick the Great was a poor strategist, the 1756 invasion of Saxony was a huge blunder and was an important factor in bringing about the alliance that nearly destroyed him and his kingdom. If there is one tradition he passed on to future generations of Prussians and Germans it is that
                    That's one way to look at it... Or you could look at this map and consider Prussia's holdings and status as a European power both before and after Frederick's reign to see the overall strategic effect.
                    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedi...russiamap2.gif

                    But hey, that's probably just Prussian self promotion and not real territorial gain or established power status. Must have been from all those battles that Frederick grossly outnumbered the enemy and lucked his way to victory in spite of just being average (as implied in your post)
                    "Amateurs study tactics; professionals study logistics"
                    -Omar Bradley
                    "Not everyone who studies logistics is a professional logistician, and there is no way to understand when you don't know what you don't know."
                    -Anonymous US Army logistician

                    Comment


                    • #40
                      Originally posted by Javaman View Post
                      What a crock!

                      , the Austrian co-ruler Emperor Joseph II wrote,


                      When the King of Prussia speaks on problems connected with the art of war, which he has studied intensively and on which he has read every conceivable book, then everything is taut, solid and uncommonly instructive. There are no circumlocutions, he gives factual and historical proof of the assertions he makes, for he is well versed in history... A genius and a man who talks admirably. But everything he says betrays the knave.[35]

                      [I]An example of the place that Frederick holds in history as a ruler is seen in Napoleon Bonaparte, who saw the Prussian king as the greatest tactical genius of all time;[36] after Napoleon's victory of the Fourth Coalition in 1807, he visited Frederick's tomb in Potsdam and remarked to his officers, "Gentlemen, if this man was still alive I would not be here".

                      Let's see, that's an Austrian regent and a French Emperor. Where is the Prussian/German self promotion, perhaps from such a pedestrian as CLAUSEWITZ?

                      Seriously FM, what is your issue with Frederick?
                      Bonaparte recognised that Fred the Lucky only got involved in wars he figured he could win. He never fought France directly (Russian armies in Berlin? Certainly in Koenigsburg). Joseph's comments also indicate a certain lack of honour shown by the king of Prussia. Technically, Fred was Joe's vassal and should have been doing Joe's bidding. How often did that happen? But again, this is when the Poles could no longer field an army. Fred's reputation rests on very shakey foundations.

                      Comment


                      • #41
                        So I take the time to explain something an J-man dismisses it as 'crock' because he regards it as an affront to one of his Germanic heroes. Sorry, but I don't worship at that, or any, altar!
                        Signing out.

                        Comment


                        • #42
                          Originally posted by Full Monty View Post
                          So I take the time to explain something an J-man dismisses it as 'crock' because he regards it as an affront to one of his Germanic heroes. Sorry, but I don't worship at that, or any, altar!
                          Ha ha! A dissenting opinion ends in an accusation of fanboism. Such a shock (or perhaps crock?).

                          Seems to me the fanboism accusations are a distant cousin of Godwin's law.

                          Actually I took the time for a proper response, just opened with an honest comment. meh....
                          "Amateurs study tactics; professionals study logistics"
                          -Omar Bradley
                          "Not everyone who studies logistics is a professional logistician, and there is no way to understand when you don't know what you don't know."
                          -Anonymous US Army logistician

                          Comment


                          • #43
                            Originally posted by broderickwells View Post
                            Bonaparte recognised that Fred the Lucky only got involved in wars he figured he could win. He never fought France directly (Russian armies in Berlin? Certainly in Koenigsburg). Joseph's comments also indicate a certain lack of honour shown by the king of Prussia. Technically, Fred was Joe's vassal and should have been doing Joe's bidding. How often did that happen? But again, this is when the Poles could no longer field an army. Fred's reputation rests on very shakey foundations.
                            Much of what he did militarily (organizational, tactical and operational innovations) was copied by his contemporaries and studied by those that came after so I'm guessing that such a lucky guy actually knew something about what he was doing. Any proper analysis of Frederick's campaigns guided by the principles of war and the definition of military leadership will reveal he is worthy of the accolades that historians have laid upon him. There is a wealth of them out there as evidence.
                            "Amateurs study tactics; professionals study logistics"
                            -Omar Bradley
                            "Not everyone who studies logistics is a professional logistician, and there is no way to understand when you don't know what you don't know."
                            -Anonymous US Army logistician

                            Comment


                            • #44
                              Originally posted by Javaman View Post
                              Much of what he did militarily (organizational, tactical and operational innovations) was copied by his contemporaries and studied by those that came after so I'm guessing that such a lucky guy actually knew something about what he was doing. Any proper analysis of Frederick's campaigns guided by the principles of war and the definition of military leadership will reveal he is worthy of the accolades that historians have laid upon him. There is a wealth of them out there as evidence.
                              The prosecution advances the Seven Years' War as evidence of lack of vision and blind luck.

                              Comment


                              • #45
                                Originally posted by broderickwells View Post
                                The prosecution advances the Seven Years' War as evidence of lack of vision and blind luck.
                                Indeed, and this can be said of all three Silesian wars. Although one shouldn't play down the tactical qualities he displayed at Rossbach and Leuthen. His preference for an oblique marching order over the standard practice of the day enabled a number of early successes, especially against enemies who were unaware of this tactic (Rossbach can be seen in this light). Once this 'trick' had been recognised Frederick was unable to score victories that were meaningful in the course of the war. Lobositz and Liegnitz were costly victories and the three battles I mentioned in a previous posts were costly defeats. Effectively Frederick was reduced to fighting a war of attrition that he had no hope of winning, prolonging it by managing his withdrawals (no mean feat I happily concede) and praying for some kind of politically inspired miracle .... which he got!

                                It should be recognised that Frederick inherited a well armed, well trained and highly disciplined infantry from his father and it was these who enabled his successes during the first two Silesian wars. Indeed at Mollwitz Frederick fled the field believing the battle to be lost, only the 'iron walls' of his infantry saving the day. Much is made of Frederick's ability to make quick and decisive moves but this needs to be seen in the light of the political system he operated in compared to his opponents. Prussia was small, he was the absolute monarch who was his own commander-in-chief and battlefield commander, he was also young and, at least when he invaded Silesia on 16 December 1740, he had a 'war chest' that exceeded that of his rivals. He was fortunate, although he made the most of that good fortune. That good fortune stayed with him to enable Prussia to survive despite prodigious losses (estimated at 10% of its population during the Third Silesian War) and indeed expand. I would argue that the epithet 'Great' is more deserved from his administrative and social skills as demonstrated post-conflict than his battlefield exploits.
                                Signing out.

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