Creators of the German Empire

Albrecht von Roon, and Helmuth von Moltke

Albrect von Roon

Born: April 30, 1803

Died: February 23, 1879

Albrecht Theodor Emil von Roon was born into a Flemish family in Pleushagen, Pomeria. His father, a Prussian officer, died during the French occupation. Because of this he was raised by his maternal grandmother. Around age 13 he joined the corp of cadets, although this may seem young it was not uncommon for people to join at his age as Prussian military theorist Carl von Clausewitz had joined the Prussian army at age twelve. He entered the Berlin military academy two years later in 1818. Following this he received an officer's commision in the a Pomerian regiment. Young von Roon went back to school for three years, after which he was appointed to the Military Cadet school in Berlin as an instructor. He also wrote extensively on geography and his works sold over 40,000 copies. During the failed revolutionary attempts in 1848 an 1849 he helped suppress the rebellion in Baden. His tenure as Prussian Minister of war from 1859 to 1873 was marked by success. Three wars in 1864, 1866, and 1870-71 were orchestrated and carried out with swift Prussian victories under his administration. Von Roon worked extensively with chancellor Otto von Bismarck and chief of the general staff Helmuth von Moltke. Also during his time serving as minister of war he instituted compulsory military service and organized reserves which greatly added to Prussia's, and later the German Empire's, ability to mobilize large amounts of men for war.

Helmuth Karl Bernhard Graf von Moltke

Born October 26, 1800

Died April 24, 1891

Helmuth Karl Bernhard von Moltke was born in Parchim, Mecklenburg at the dawn of the nineteenth century. His father was unsuccessful in business and in the military so his father moved his family to Denmark. Here Helmuth attended the Royal Military Academy in Copenhagen. Three years into his military career he transferred from Danish service to the Prussian Army as a Lieutenant. This move was undertaken while he was twenty-two years old. While in the Prussian service he was sent to the General War College in Frankfurt an der Oder. In 1832 he was attached to the General Staff and a year later he was promoted to first lieutenant. Shortly afterwards he went to the Ottoman Empire to assist the Turks in managing their military. The Turks did not heed his advice and he left after four years. He was made aide de camp to the ailing Prinz Heinrich but he only held that post for a year because the Prinz died. Moltke achieved the rank of Colonel in 1851, and was made chief of the General Staff seven years later. From the time he was appointed to the time he was made a Graf (count) he had successfully carried out two wars, one against the Danes and one against the Austrians. Then he planned for war against the French. The campaign was successfully carried out in the 1870-71 war against France, culminating in the crowning of King Wilhelm of Prussia as Kaiser Wilhelm of Das Deutsches Reich. Moltke's career continued on for another seventeen years until he had a falling out with Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1888 at the age of 88. He did go to the Reichstag occasionally until his death in 1891. Helmuth von Moltke could speak German, Danish, French, English, Italian, and Turkish. His appointed successor was Alfred von Waldersee.    

Moltke's Officer Categories

While Chief of the Prussian General Staff he categorized the entire general staff into four categories: the active and smart, the lazy and smart, the active and dumb, and the lazy and dumb. He prefered officers who fit into the lazy and smart category because they would find the easiest way to do something, and he fired the active and dumb because they were walking talking disasters waiting to happen.


Kevin’s Poems on the Franco-Prussian War


1. When the Germans invaded France,

Von Moltke did a little dance.

He was so happy to map,

A wonderfully large trap,

He nearly soiled his pants.


2. In the year eighteen-seventy,

Defeats for France came aplenty.

The French army was a mess,

Though they did their very best,

Their casualties were many.


3. Those silly French declared war,

Bringing on the Prussian boar,

They didn’t know what had hit,

Only lasting for a bit,

Covering their fields with gore.


4. Von Moltke, Bismarck, and von Roon,

“No war,” they began to bemoan.

Then came a dispatch from the King,

Which Bismarck gave a nice new ring,

Now the seeds for their war were sown.




Note, these aren’t true limericks because they don’t follow the proper meter.