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WW1 German Military Textbook | Friedrich von Bernhardi

On War of To-day (1913)

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Volumes 1 (1912) & Volume 2 (1913)

Friedrich von Bernhardi

HUGH REES, LONDON, 1912-1913

'War is the extension of politics by other means, and at the same time the most effective, if most dangerous, instrument of politics'.
Friedrich von Bernhardi

This is the first edition, two volume set of General von Bernhardi’s On War of To-day, published in 1912-13. Heavily influenced by the work and ideas of Clausewitz, these two volumes are a detailed and comprehensive survey of the principles of modern warfare just before the First World War. Covering the strategy, tactics, equipment, and weapons of land, sea and air warfare. Bernhardi’s works were well received by Germany's rightist nationalists, but ironically, found their greatest popularity in England. At a time when British suspicion of German militarism led to a widespread fear of invasion, Bernhardi's assertive views were cited as proof of German ill intent towards England.

Friedrich Adolf Julius von Bernhardi (1849–1930) was a Prussian general and military historian. He was a best-selling author prior to World War I. A militarist, he is best known for his bellicose book Deutschland und der Nächste Krieg (Germany and the Next War), printed in 1911. He advocated a policy of ruthless aggression and complete disregard of treaties and regarded war as a 'divine business’. Bernhardi was born in St. Petersburg, and his family moved to Schöpstal, Silesia in 1851. During the Franco-Prussian War (1870–71), Bernhardi was a cavalry lieutenant in the 14th Hussars Regiment of the Prussian Army, and at the end of that conflict had the honor of being the first German to ride through the Arc de Triomphe when the Germans entered Paris. From 1891 to 1894, he was German military attaché at Bern and was subsequently head of the military history department of the Grand General Staff in Berlin. He was appointed general in command of the VII Army Corps at Münster in Westphalia in 1907, but retired two years later and became a military writer. In his 1911 book, Germany and the Next War, Bernhardi stated that war 'is a biological necessity,' and that it was in accordance with 'the natural law, upon which all the laws of Nature rest, the law of the struggle for existence.'

During WW1 Bernhardi returned to the army with the rank of General. He fought with success first on the Eastern Front on the Stochod, where he stormed the bridgehead of Tsarecze, and afterwards on the Western Front, in particular at Armentières. He was awarded the Pour le Mérite on 20th August 1916, for his participation in the German defense against the Brusilov Offensive.


Both volumes are in good condition. The boards are in good condition, with a few marks, some wear at the spine and corners, and small stickers to the lower spine. The binding and hinges are good and secure, the hinges of volume 2 having been carefully reinforced with archival paper tape. There are Air Ministry Library ‘Withdrawn’ stamps to the front endpapers. The text, maps, and fold outs are in very good condition.

Published: Volume 1: 1912, Volume 2: 1913
Pages Volume 1: 396
Pages Volume 2: 462
Illustrated with maps, diagrams, and fold-outs
Red boards with gilt titling.
Dimensions:150mm x 220mm
Weight: 1.7kg