Moltke Helmut Karl Bernhard

(26.10.1800 - 24.04.1891)


Graf, Prussian Field Marshal, Chief of General Staff of Prussia, military theorist. Along with Bismarck and Roon is considered one of the founders of the German Empire. The uncle of the chief of the German general staff, Colonel General Helmut von Moltke (Moltke Jr.).

Born in Mecklenburg in Parchim, graduated from the Copenhagen Cadet Corps, was an officer in the Danish army.

In 1822 he switched to the Prussian service. In 1826 he graduated from the Berlin Military Academy, in 1828 he was counted among the Prussian General Staff, in 1833 he was transferred to the General Staff, worked in his Topographic Bureau.

In 1835  with the rank of Captain Moltke, he traveled east, where, at the request of Mahmud II, he remained as a military adviser. He participated in the reform and training of the Turkish army. He took part in the campaigns of the Turks in the Kurds, Egypt, Syria. This page of H. Moltke’s biography was reflected in his geographical notes.

In 1855 he returned to Prussia, became the first adjutant of Crown Prince Frederick William, in 1858 he was appointed head of the Prussian (from 1871 - German) General Staff.

In 1864  Moltke participated in the German-Danish war of 1864, which resulted in the defeat of Denmark and the rejection of the provinces of Schleswig and Holstein, which later became part of Prussia.

In 1866  together with General Albrecht von Roon, he developed a plan for a lightning war against Austria. Thanks to the plan of Moltke, the Prussian army gained the advantages of rapid mobilization and concentration. The Austrian army suffered a series of defeats in Bohemia and Moravia, and in the battle of Sadovaya was finally defeated. The plan of the Battle of Sadovaya belonged entirely to Moltke, the basis of the plan was the idea of two converging blows with the aim of shaking the position of the Austrians and disrupting its coherence. Despite the unfavorable confluence of circumstances (the Prussians summed up the equipment - the Elbe army did not receive an order to attack due to damage to the telegraph), the plan was successful, and the Austrian army was defeated.

In 1866 - 1870 he was engaged in the development of a plan of war with France. In 1870 he headed the headquarters of William in the war with France: in fact, Moltke was the commander of the troops of the German states who fought with France. He led the battle at Sedan, which was victorious for the Germans, as a result of which the Emperor of France Napoleon the Third and 110,000 French soldiers were captured. In the autumn and winter of 1870 he directed the siege of Paris. He participated in the preparation of the proclamation of the German Empire in January 1871 and the terms of the peace treaty with France.


Moltke Monument in the Great Tiergarten Park (Berlin)


On December 27, 1870  the Russian Emperor awarded him the Order of St. George, II degree. In December 1871  Moltke was elected Honorary Member of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences; on August 30, 1872  he was appointed chief of the 69th Ryazan Infantry Regiment, remaining until his death. In the same year he received the rank of Field Marshal of the Russian Empire. From 1867 to 1891, Moltke was a member of the Reichstag from conservatives.

Moltke was a supporter of the strictest discipline, accuracy of execution of everything that constituted the program of training and education of troops. He based all peaceful preparation on rigorous calculation, forethought, which went into detail, on the elimination of possible accidents. He borrowed samples from great generals, but at the same time he categorically expressed that the experience of previous wars can be used only insofar as they meet the conditions of modernity. He spent tirelessly among his subordinates the idea that the first battle is an exam of all considerations and calculations, and not to withstand this exam is to fail all these considerations, and at the same time prove the failure of top army personnel.

In an effort to achieve greater readiness of the army, he simplified the transition of the army from peace to martial law by reducing the time required for this (territorial staffing system). The most careful supply of each military unit with all the material parts necessary for wartime, the most thoroughly calculated military horse and military-transport conscription and, finally, the watch-making calculation of all military mobilization work — this is what Moltke achieved and achieved. But if in the above, something was done before he was appointed chief of the general staff, he had to create everything again on the issue of concentrating the army. Understanding that it is possible to achieve accuracy in the transportation of mobilized troops only when the railways are in the hands of the government, Moltke achieved not only the redemption of all railways to the treasury, but also the fact that in laying new lines the war must prevail. He did not allow the construction of lines of commercial value earlier than the projects of strategic roads would not be implemented.  Having achieved this, he directed the work of the General Staff to the preparation of plans for transportation by corps, and achieved what he later had every right to say after the declaration of the war of France: "I can finally rest".

Moltke wrote several books on the art of war and military history, the most significant of which are “Military Instructions” and “The History of the Franco-German War of 1870–71”.

Along with K. Clausewitz and A. Schlieffen, Moltke is the largest military theorist of the XIX century, the founder of German military thought. The military campaigns carried out by H. Moltke were the basis for the Schlieffen Plan.

He was an honorary foreign member of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
Died in Berlin. He was buried at the Krzyиновovskoy Evangelical Cemetery in Poland.

Cape on the very north of the island of Wilhelm in the Hinlopen Strait. The coordinates are 79° 00'N   20° 00'E.

Glacier on the west coast of the Hinlopen Strait. The coordinates are 79° 00'N    20° 00'E.


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