Who's Who - Helmuth von Moltke

Helmuth von Moltke Helmuth von Moltke (1848-1916), born in 1848, was the nephew of the renowned Prussian general Moltke the Elder, famous for important military victories against Austria in 1866 and during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71.

Upon Alfred von Schlieffen's retirement in 1906 Moltke became Army Chief of Staff.  His predecessor had drawn up the famous Schlieffen Plan, to be used during war to quickly defeat France in the west by means of a rapid, overwhelmingly powerful flank attack through Belgium and Holland, whilst a small army kept Russia at bay in the east.

Moltke retained Schlieffen's plan but modified it progressively to take account of French military build up in the south immediately prior to the war.  Whilst Moltke is often blamed for the ineffectual implementation of the Schlieffen Plan, he himself persuaded the Kaiser, Wilhelm II, who was doubtful of its merits.  Moltke insisted that once the Schlieffen Plan was set in motion it could not be stopped.

Most historians agree that Moltke proved indecisive at the critical moment during the invasion of France.  Fear of Russian attack in the east, as well as the opportunity to capture an unplanned victory against the French in Lorraine, distracted Moltke.

Failure to give clear orders during the Battle of the Marne in early September, as his forces neared Paris, resulted in field commanders ordering a retreat.  Stalemate followed with trench warfare.

Wilhelm replaced Moltke with Erich Falkenhayn as Chief of Staff on 14 September 1914, effectively retiring Moltke.

Helmuth von Moltke died in 1916.

The German word "U-Boat" was derived from "Unterseeboot" (undersea boat).

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