“This study is an explication of the theories that Germany’s military writers published before the First World War. Historians have long described those theorists who came after the great Prussian philosopher of war Carl von Clausewitz as mere “second-hand and second-rate” thinkers, “technicians” attempting to follow in the footsteps of one of history’s most profound military writers. Even contemporary assessments, which range from the commentaries of Charles à Court Repington, a former British colonel turned war correspondent for the ‘Times’ newspaper in 1900, to the critical analyses of Hans Delbrück, Imperial Germany’s most renowned civilian military historian, have been unfavorable. Repington, who had observed the Prusso-German army’s field manoeuvres from 1905 to 1911, reproached it, as did most other military observers at the time, for “being the slave of a single idea”, namely, tactic envelopment. Delbrück, meanwhile, criticized the officers of the General Staff for their apparently one-sided conception of strategy – the idea of achieving decisive victory through battles of annihilation. Other contemporary critics, such as Friedrich Engels, who, among other things, had established a reputation as a military critic, remarked that military thinking in Prussia had declined steadily after Clausewitz (1). Still other critics have recently maintained that the military theories of Wilhelmine Germany represent much ado about nothing, since the Imperial German Army, or Kaiserheer, was more an instrument of internal repression than on national defense. These critics argue that the Imperial Army served the Reich as a sort of “Praetorian Guard”, disposed to strike against either the liberals or the Social Democrats, as the situation warranted. They maintain, too, that in the wake of Prussia’s constitutional conflict in the 1860s, the army began to function as the spiritual and intellectual “school of the nation”, a school designed to imbue German subjects with outmoded feudalistic values and habits of deference. (…) Accordingly, the primary purpose of Wilhelmine military theory was to further the cause of social (and political) control by providing a rationale for increasing the prestige and influence of the military. In addition, German military theory shares a general opprobrium that has been leveled against all pre-1914 military thinking. As far as the conventional wisdom is concerned; the era’s military thinkers, accused of being “divorced from civil progress” and overtly “hostile to novelty”, filed to comprehend the nature of modern warfare. Unwilling to heed Friedrich Engels’s warning that the “producer of more perfect tools, ‘vulgo’ arms, beats the producer of more imperfect ones”, they clung to the belief that the conduct of war ha changed little since the days of Napoleon. Consequently, Europe’s military theories, doctrines, and war plans were the productions of the “inferior and unimaginative” professional military mind. That mind, “suspicious of all the great advances in firearms”, dogmatically resorted to a “cult of the offensive” to overcome the requirements of mass, industrialized warfare. Only amateurs – nonspecialists such as Polish banker Ivan Bloch – unencumbered by the “preoccupations of the professional”, seem to have understood how the numerous advances in technology would transform the conduct of war” [Antulio J. Echevarria, ‘After Clausewitz. German Military Thinkers Before the Great War’, Lawrence, 2000] [(1) (…) See: W.O. Henderson, ‘The Life of Frederick Engels, 2 vols, London, 1976, 2: 425, n. 47. See also Sigmund Neumann and Mark von Hagen, “Engels and Max on Revolution, War, and the Army in Society’, in ‘Makers of Modern Strategy’, 262-80]