Wednesday, October 24, 2018

General Moltke on mobilization day was found lying on a sofa reading Lady Audley’s Secret

From the Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman.
Confident in his magnificent system, Deputy Chief of Staff General Waldersee had not even returned to Berlin at the beginning of the crisis but had written to Jagow: “I shall remain here ready to jump; we are all prepared at the General Staff; in the meantime there is nothing for us to do.” It was a proud tradition inherited from the elder, or “great,” Moltke who on mobilization day in 1870 was found lying on a sofa reading Lady Audley’s Secret.

His enviable calm was not present today in the palace. Face to face no longer with the specter but the reality of a two-front war, the Kaiser was as close to the “sick Tom-cat” mood as he thought the Russians were. More cosmopolitan and more timid than the archetype Prussian, he had never actually wanted a general war. He wanted greater power, greater prestige, above all more authority in the world’s affairs for Germany but he preferred to obtain them by frightening rather than by fighting other nations. He wanted the gladiator’s rewards without the battle, and whenever the prospect of battle came too close, as at Algeciras and Agadir, he shrank.

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