Helmuth von Moltke and the Origins of the First World War

Helmuth von Moltke and the Origins of the First World War

Paperback New Studies in European History

By (author) Annika Mombauer, Series edited by Peter Baldwin, Series edited by Christopher Clark, Series edited by James B. Collins, Series edited by Lyndal Roper, Series edited by Mia Rodriguez-salgado


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  • Format: Paperback | 344 pages
  • Dimensions: 152mm x 226mm x 32mm | 599g
  • Publication date: 26 September 2005
  • Publication City/Country: Cambridge
  • ISBN 10: 0521019567
  • ISBN 13: 9780521019569
  • Illustrations note: 16 b/w illus. 3 maps
  • Sales rank: 587,804

Product description

This book explores the influence of Helmuth von Moltke, Germany's Chief of the General Staff between 1906 and 1914. Based largely on previously unknown primary sources, it analyses the General Staff's role in military decision-making and Moltke's relationship with Kaiser Wilhelm II, as well as the genesis of the Schlieffen Plan and Germany's military and political reactions to the many pre-war crises. Moltke's influence on Germany's political decision-making was decisive, helping to foster an increasingly confrontational mood. The book takes specific issue with the common perception of Moltke as an ineffectual and reluctant military leader, remembered primarily for the defeat at the Battle of the Marne and his alleged adulteration of the Schlieffen Plan. It concludes that he was both bellicose and ambitious, hoping for war 'the sooner the better' and playing a crucial role in the outbreak and early months of the First World War.

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Review quote

' ... a very significant contribution to the scholarship on both Wilhelmine Germany and the military pre-history of the Great War ... clearly the definitive statement on the role and career of the younger Moltke as Chief of the Great General Staff. I suspect that it will remain as such for a long time to come.' Dr Matthew S. Seligmann, Reviews in History '... as a study of power and the manipulation of government it is unsurpassed.' Open History ' ... this tightly argued and widely researched study ... This is revisionist history at its best.' Contemporary Review 'The book is essential reading for students of Modern Europe, Germany, and the First World War because it moves the debate on the origins of the war to a new plane - from national to individual responsibility, with Moltke.' German Studies Review 'Anyone interested in the history of the first world war will find this scrupulously researched book of absorbing interest ...' The Spectator ' This important and scholarly work ... offers a major contribution to scholarship on the origins and early stages of the First world War ... Mombauer's work will play a major role in future discussion of the period.' History 'Historian Annika Mombauer has produced an excellent book ... every serious historian of the Wilhelmine period will want a copy of this book.' Journal of Military History

Table of contents

Introduction; 1. Military decision-making in Wilhelmine Germany; 2. Alfred von Schlieffen and Helmuth von Moltke: 'military genius' and 'reluctant military leader'; 3. From crisis to crisis: the international background to military planning in the pre-war years; 4. The July crisis and the outbreak of war: the German perspective; 5. The General Staff at war; Conclusion.