German General Staff

General StaffChief of the General StaffGeneralstabPrussian General StaffChief of the German General StaffGreat General StaffArmy General StaffChief of the Prussian General StaffChief of General StaffChief of Staff
The German General Staff, originally the Prussian General Staff and officially Great General Staff (Großer Generalstab), was a full-time body at the head of the Prussian Army and later, the German Army, responsible for the continuous study of all aspects of war, and for drawing up and reviewing plans for mobilization or campaign.wikipedia
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German Army (German Empire)

German ArmyImperial German ArmyArmy
The German General Staff, originally the Prussian General Staff and officially Great General Staff (Großer Generalstab), was a full-time body at the head of the Prussian Army and later, the German Army, responsible for the continuous study of all aspects of war, and for drawing up and reviewing plans for mobilization or campaign.
He was assisted by a Military Cabinet and exercised control through the Prussian Ministry of War and the Great General Staff.

Gerhard von Scharnhorst

ScharnhorstGerhard J. D. von ScharnhorstGerhard Johann David von Scharnhorst
In the last years of the eighteenth century, it became the practice to assign military experts to assist the generals of Prussia's Army, largely at the instigation of comparatively junior but gifted officers such as Gerhard von Scharnhorst and August von Gneisenau.
As the first Chief of the Prussian General Staff, he was noted for his military theories, his reforms of the Prussian army, and his leadership during the Napoleonic Wars.

Paul von Hindenburg

HindenburgPresident Hindenburgvon Hindenburg
For example, Paul von Hindenburg thought that the history of ancient battles should be minimized to give more time to modern, and that trigonometry was only useful to those who would be surveyors. Other armies were commanded by highly experienced staff officers, for example Paul von Hindenburg was given command of the Eighth Army, the only one facing the Russians invading East Prussia, with Erich Ludendorff as chief of staff.
Upon later being named Chief of the General Staff in 1916, his popularity among the German public dramatically increased and produced a large cult of personality.

Prussian Staff College

Prussian Military AcademyKriegsakademiePrussian War Academy
On 15 October 1810 Scharnhorst opened the General War School (Allgemeine Kriegsschule), on the same day that the new the University of Berlin opened nearby.
The Prussian Staff College, also Prussian War College (Preußische Kriegsakademie) was the highest military facility of the Kingdom of Prussia to educate, train, and develop general staff officers.

Franco-Prussian War

Franco-German WarWar of 1870Franco Prussian War
Even the Army of the Second French Empire, whose senior officers had supposedly reached high rank as a result of bravery and success on the battlefield, was crushed by the Prussian and other German armies during the Franco-Prussian War in the campaigns of 1870–71, which highlighted their poor administration and planning, and lack of professional education.
The Prussian army was controlled by the General Staff, under Field Marshal Helmuth von Moltke.

Staff ride

General Staff Ridewar rides
They attended theoretical studies, annual manoeuvres, "war rides" (a system of tactical exercises without troops in the field) under Moltke himself, and war games and map exercises known as Kriegsspiele.
While serving as chief of the Great General Staff of the Prussian Army, Moltke took his subordinates on riding tours of areas where, in the event of war, significant military events (such as battles or the deployment of large numbers of troops) were likely to occur.

World War I

First World WarGreat WarWorld War One
It came to be regarded as the home of German militarism in the aftermath of World War I, and the victors attempted to suppress the institution.
In response, in February 1917, the German General Staff convinced Chancellor Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg to declare unrestricted submarine warfare, with the goal of starving Britain out of the war.

Prussian Army

Royal Prussian ArmyPrussianArmy
The German General Staff, originally the Prussian General Staff and officially Great General Staff (Großer Generalstab), was a full-time body at the head of the Prussian Army and later, the German Army, responsible for the continuous study of all aspects of war, and for drawing up and reviewing plans for mobilization or campaign.
The Prussian General Staff, which developed out of meetings of the Great Elector with his senior officers and the informal meeting of the Napoleonic Era reformers, was formally created in 1814.

Unification of Germany

German unificationunificationunified Germany
The Prussian General Staff also enjoyed greater freedom from political control than its contemporaries, and this autonomy was enshrined in law on the unification of Germany and the establishment of the German Empire in 1871.
Meanwhile, Helmuth von Moltke had become chief of the Prussian General Staff in 1857, and Albrecht von Roon would become Prussian Minister of War in 1859.

Helmuth von Moltke the Elder

Helmuth von MoltkeMoltkeHelmuth Karl Bernhard von Moltke
In 1857, Helmuth von Moltke the Elder, a widely travelled officer who was a confidante of King William I, was appointed Chief of the General Staff.
In 1857 Moltke was given the position Chief of the Prussian General Staff, a position he held for the next 30 years (though after the establishment of the German Empire, the Prussian General Staff's title was changed to "Great General Staff", as it would have overall direction of the various German armies during war ).

Schlieffen Plan

Belgian annexation policyGerman invasionplanned to quickly defeat France by sweeping through Belgium
To meet this threat, Chief of Staff Alfred von Schlieffen drew up and continually refined the Schlieffen Plan to meet this eventuality.
Schlieffen was Chief of the General Staff of the German Army from 1891 to 1906.

Alfred von Schlieffen

Alfred Graf von SchlieffenSchlieffenAlfred Count von Schlieffen
To meet this threat, Chief of Staff Alfred von Schlieffen drew up and continually refined the Schlieffen Plan to meet this eventuality.
Alfred Graf von Schlieffen, generally called Count Schlieffen (28 February 1833 – 4 January 1913) was a German field marshal and strategist who served as chief of the Imperial German General Staff from 1891 to 1906.

Albrecht von Roon

RoonAlbrecht Graf von RoonAlbrecht Theodor Emil Graf von Roon
Moltke, describing his reasons for confidence to War Minister Albrecht von Roon, stated, "We have the inestimable advantage of being able to carry our Field Army of 285,000 men over five railway lines and of virtually concentrating them in twenty-five days ... Austria has only one railway line and it will take her forty-five days to assemble 200,000 men."
In 1835, he entered the General staff, and, in 1835, he was promoted captain and became instructor and examiner in the military academy at Berlin.

Mission-type tactics

AuftragstaktikDirective controldirectives stating his intentions
Gneisenau also founded mission tactics (Auftragstaktik), in which the commander determines the objective of an operation and allocates the forces used, while the subordinate on the spot determines how the objective will be attained.
After the severe defeat of the Prussians by Napoleon in 1806 in the Battle of Jena-Auerstedt, the Prussian military rethought their military approach and aimed to build a college of military capability, the General Staff, as a systemic counter to the individual genius that had so soundly beaten them.

Helmuth von Moltke the Younger

Helmuth von MoltkeMoltkeGeneral von Moltke
Chief of the General Staff Helmuth von Moltke the Younger and Generalquartiermeister, Hermann von Stein convinced him that this was unthinkable because the thousands of orders could be quickly rewritten and because the French with their quicker mobilization and excellent railways would be attacking a German border in force long before the Russians.
Helmuth Johannes Ludwig Graf von Moltke (25 May 1848 – 18 June 1916), also known as Moltke the Younger, was a German general who served as the Chief of the German General Staff from 1906 to 1914.

Wilhelm II, German Emperor

Wilhelm IIKaiser Wilhelm IIKaiser Wilhelm
The need for the system was promptly demonstrated when Supreme Commander Kaiser Wilhelm II proposed to concentrate against Russia, not France.
A lax wartime leader, he left virtually all decision-making regarding military strategy and organisation of the war effort in the hands of the German General Staff.

Erich von Falkenhayn

FalkenhaynErich Falkenhaynvon Falkenhayn
Soon Moltke was replaced by Erich von Falkenhayn who was already the Prussian war minister.
General Erich Georg Sebastian Anton von Falkenhayn (11 September 1861 – 8 April 1922) was the Chief of the German General Staff during the First World War from September 1914 until 29 August 1916.

Hindenburg Programme

Hindenburg Programeconomic life
They led OHL in aggressively intervening in German political and economic life, changing the original goal of defending Germany's borders to conquest and expansion.
The Hindenburg Programme of August 1916 is the name given to the armaments and economic policy begun in late 1916 by the Third Oberste Heeresleitung (OHL, the German General Staff), Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg and General Erich Ludendorff.

Hans von Seeckt

von SeecktGen. von SeecktSeeckt
The interactions between a commander and his chief of staff were elucidated by a successful practitioner of both roles, Hans von Seeckt
He served in the elite Kaiser Alexander Guard Grenadiers, then joined the Prussian General Staff in 1897.

Truppenamt

Troop OfficeChief of the Troop OfficeTruppenamt im Reichswehrministerium
He camouflaged the general staff by renaming it the Truppenamt ("troop office"), and selected many general staff officers to fill the available places.
The Truppenamt or 'Troop Office' was the cover organisation for the German General Staff from 1919 through until 1935 when the General Staff of the German Army (Heer) was re-created.

August Neidhardt von Gneisenau

August von GneisenauGneisenauAugust Graf Neidhardt von Gneisenau
In the last years of the eighteenth century, it became the practice to assign military experts to assist the generals of Prussia's Army, largely at the instigation of comparatively junior but gifted officers such as Gerhard von Scharnhorst and August von Gneisenau.

Erich Ludendorff

LudendorffGeneral LudendorffGeneral Erich Ludendorff
Other armies were commanded by highly experienced staff officers, for example Paul von Hindenburg was given command of the Eighth Army, the only one facing the Russians invading East Prussia, with Erich Ludendorff as chief of staff.
In 1893, he entered the War Academy, where the commandant, General Meckel, recommended him to the General Staff, to which he was appointed in 1894.

Rupprecht, Crown Prince of Bavaria

Crown Prince RupprechtCrown Prince Rupprecht of BavariaRupprecht
The system also removed uncertainty about the competence of Army Commanders Rupprecht, Crown Prince of Bavaria and Albrecht, Duke of Württemberg, though both were well-trained soldiers.
In fact he was ordered by German General Staff to only occupy the French forces in that region.

Werner von Blomberg

von BlombergFeldmarschall von Blomberg
Hitler was soon able to curtail the Army's traditional independence, by the fortuitous disgrace of the commander in chief of the armed forces, Werner von Blomberg, and false accusations of homosexuality against the commander in chief of the army, Werner von Fritsch.
Werner Eduard Fritz von Blomberg (2 September 1878 – 14 March 1946) was a German General Staff officer, who, after serving at the Western Front during World War I, was appointed chief of the Troop Office during the Weimar Republic and Minister of War and Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces of Nazi Germany and the first general to be promoted to Generalfeldmarschall in 1936.

Wilhelm, German Crown Prince

Crown Prince WilhelmWilhelmCrown Prince Wilhelm of Germany
One of the eight German Armies was commanded by Crown Prince Wilhelm of Prussia, paired with Konstantin Schmidt von Knobelsdorf, a senior general staff officer — the kaiser instructed his thirty-two-year-old son: "whatever he advises you must do".
However, under the well-established Prussian/German General Staff model then in use, inexperienced nobles who were afforded commands of large army formations were always provided with (and expected to defer to the advice of) experienced chiefs of staff to assist them in their duties.