By David Wetzel
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Additional info for A Duel of Nations: Germany, France, and the Diplomacy of the War of 1870-1871
Of all the senior ofﬁcials in Prussia, Moltke seems to have taken from the start the ﬁrmest and most uncompromising anti-French attitude. Of course, as leader of the army charged with defeating the enemy, this was understandable. But his hatred of France continued long after it was clear that Prussia would win the war, and, as we shall have repeated occasion to note, this hatred was at bottom the fundamental expression of his belief that the ﬁghting should not cease until France had been pulled down from the ranks of the Great Powers and driven back into the inferiority from which it ought never to have escaped.
38 This he accomplished with great skill and competence, skillfully guiding his ship, often behind the scenes, toward the port to which he would bring it, seldom inviting attention to his own person. But he did not accomplish it overnight. In the years immediately after his appointment, Moltke’s plans seem to have taken a back seat to those of Count Roon, the minister of war, to whom he was still responsible but with whom he hardly ever corresponded. It was during the last phase of the Danish war of 1863–64 that Moltke’s skill as a commander began to catch the eye of the king.
The Second Empire was passing through difﬁculties at home, and clericalist support was the necessary condition of its survival; certainly this support was rated by Napoleon more highly than any diplomatic arrangement. In such circumstances, the emperor found himself against a wall. ”14 But Francis Joseph was not so easily 30 the position of the powers caught. He would not, he replied, make an alliance without ﬁrst informing Napoleon but was silent on what Beust later referred to “as the voluntary engagement”15 undertaken by France.