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The Prussians learned an important lesson when they were beaten by Napoleon’s “Industrial Warfare”

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The Kingdom of Prussia within the German Empire
Image via Wikipedia

Here is an explanation from Goldman and Eliason:

By repeatedly beating Prussian generals in battle, Napoleon provoked a radical reaction from the Prussians who eventually outdid his brilliance in battle, beginning in the battles of the 1811 to 1815 at Waterloo, especially.

In fact, the Prussian military realized that innovating and rebuilding their military machine required basic political reforms, or freeing its serfs so that they could become citizen soldiers like the French soldiers were. The serfs and mercenaries that made up Prussian armies lacked the ability and willingness to adopt the tactical and operational innovations introduced by Napoleon’s industrialized armies.

Maj. Gen. Scharnhorst, a political liberal and a reformer leading the effort to transform Prussia‘s military capability to meet and then beat Napoleon in the field, recognized that it was necessary to free serfs politically to then train them in the new tactics used by Napoleon’s armies.

It is to easy to project this basic idea of revolutionary change into the predominance that Prussian and then German armies exercised over the next 125 years up until June 1940, which saw the lightning defeat of the larger better equipped French Armies by the Wehrmacht in Western Europe.

Decal for German helmet, Sieg Heil !! Alles ju...
Image via Wikipedia

This predominance was finally stretched and broken by the radical over-reach of Hitler in Eastern Europe from 1941 till the crushing defeat of his armies in 1945 by the Soviet military juggernaut, marshalled by Stalin.

It’s clear then that the predominance of one army over the others comes mostly from the ability to train its soldiery in use of tactics and technology. That certainly was amply demonstrated in May and June 1940 in Western Europe and again in 1943 till 1945 by the Soviet military.

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Written by BobG in Dalian & Vancouver

2009/08/02 at 17:49

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