Monday, 2 March 2015

Friedrich Adolf Julius von Bernhardi

Friedrich Adolf Julius von Bernhardi


Branch: Kaiserliche Heer
Born: 22 November 1849 in St Petersburg, Russian Empire.
Died: 12 November 1930 in Hirschberg-Kunnersdorf, Silesia, Weimar Germany.

General der Infanterie

Pour le Mérite


Personal Information:

Freidrich von Bernhardi, German soldier and writer, was born at St Petersburg while his father, Theodar von Bernhardi, was attached to the German embassy, November 22nd, 1849. He was educated at the gymnasiums of Berlin and of Hirchberg in Silesia. He entered the german army in 1869 and took part in the Franco-German war of 1870-71. From 1891 to 1894 he was military attache at Berne and for the next three years he lectured to young soldiers on military history. In 1907 he was given command of an army corps but he retired from the army in 1909. He returned to it on the outbreak of the Great War and served first in the eastern and then in the western theatre. At the close of the 19th century, Bernhardi was known only in military circles as a general of a studious character, and a writer on the technical aspects of warfare. In 1912 he startled Germany with the deadly earnestness and frankness of his Germany and the next war which at once ran through a number of editions and was translated into English by A.H. Powles the same year. A disciple of Treitschke, Bernhardi popularised the ideas of his master. The time of his outburst was significant. The embroilment with the French over Morocco had given the military folk every reason to hope that the day had come. It was, however, settled in humans and civilised fashion, and the indignant soldier poured out his scorn on the civilians of Germany who had thus preferred the peace and prosperity of their homes to the expansion of their country by war. Borrowing a little from the newer prophet, Nietzsche, he was able to improve on the older master and show how struggle and the triumph of the stronger was a law of life itself, millions of years older than the demoralising dreams of the pipe-of-peace smokers. Like Nietzsche, he misunderstood Darwinism, and thought civilization could make progress only by warfare. Then followed significant and fatal miscalculations of Britain, Russia, and, worst of all, of the situation at sea. The British fleet would, of course, be so superior that it would drive the German ships under the shelter of the forts and blockade Germany but Germany would not be able to raid British commence disastrously and would get adequate supplies through Denmark and Scandinavia. Belgium would be part of the theatre of war and he sneered at its paper bulwark of neutrality and thus gave a useful phrase in which the German chancellor employed in August 1914. In fine, he scorned the kind of diplomacy which would conceal this aggressive enterprise under pretexts that Germany was defending herself against jealous rivals. The Great War, he said expressly, must be brought about by Germany. She must forment trouble in the overseas possessions of the Rival Powers and march out with her drilled forces to world-power or downfall. He died July 10, 1930.


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