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DELBRÜCK, Hans Gottlieb Leopold

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  • Date of Birth: November 1, 1848
  • Born City: Bergen on the isle of Rügen
  • Born State/Country: Germany
  • Parents: Berthold Gottlieb, an appeals court judge, & Charlotte Klein D.
  • Date of Death: July 14, 1929
  • Death City: Berlin
  • Death State/Country: Germany
  • Married: Carolina Thiersch, 1884
  • Education:

    Study at Greifswald, 1867-70; Ph.D., Bonn, 1873; habil., Berlin, 1881.

  • Professional Experience:

    Tutor to Prince Waldemar, 1874-9; Privatdozent, Berlin, 1879-95; extraordinarius, 1895; ordinarius, 1896; memb., Prussian House of Representatives, 1882-5; Reichstag,1884-90; ed., Preussischer Jahrbücher, 1883-1919.

  • Publications:

    Selected:

    Das Leben des Feldmarcschalls Grafen Neithardt von Gneisenau 2 vols.(1882; repr. 1920); Die Perserkriege und die Burgunderkriege (1886); Historische und politische Aufsätze (1886; 1907); Die Strategie des Perikles, erläutert durch die Strategie Friedrich der Grossen (1890); Die Polenfrage(1894) Geschichte der Kriegskunst im Rahmen der politischen Geschichte, I (Das Alterum) 4 vols. (1900, 1920; trans. History of the Art of War within the Framework of Political History, trans. Walter J. Renfroe, 1975-85; repr. Lincoln: U. of Nebraska Press, 1990); Erinnerungen, Aufsätze und Reden(1902); Regierung und Volkswille (1914); Bismarcks Erbe (1915); Krieg und Politik (1918); Geschichte der Kriegskunst im Rahmen der allgemeinen Geschichte I (Das Altertum) (1920; repr. 2000; English, vol. 1 Antiquityi, 1975); Kautsky und Harden (1920); Ludendorff, Tirpitz, Falkenhayn (1920); Weltgeschichte. Vorlesungen gehalten an der Universität Berlin 1896-1920; 5 vols. 1924-8; Vor und nach dem Weltkrieg: Politische ung historische Aufsatze 1902-1925 (1926).

  • Notes:

    Hans Delbrück was a politically engaged modern historian who is of interest to classicists for his works comparing the art of warfare in antiquity with that of modern Germany. His great work was his compendious 4-volume work on the history of warfare, greatly influenced by his reading of Clausewitz. He grew up in a political family in Greifswald and received the first doctorate in German given at Bonn, under the modern historian Heinrich von Sybel (1817-95). Initially opposed to Otto von Bismarck (1815-98), he fought in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1 and came to admire the Chancellor. Beginning in 1874 he was tutor to Prince Valdemar of Prussia (1868-79), brother of future Kaiser Wilhelm II, until his untimely death from diphtheria. Delbrück’s biography of Field Marshall August Neidhardt von Geisenau (1760-1831) led him to the study of military history and to comparative histories of ancient and modern warfare. Conservative historians found his work learned but narrow and amateurish for a professorship, so Delbrück expanded his focus to the history of warfare in the entire range of European history. On the basis of his military experience and external data (demographics, topography, logistics) and following the lead of Karl Julius Beloch (1854-1929), he denied the great numbers of participants and losses in battle recorded by the ancients.  This brought him into protracted conflict with the Leipzig historian Johannes Kromayer (1859-1934). He was work was considered that of a learned amateur until he finally was made professor at Berlin, in 1895 and a year later succeeded Heinrich von Treitscke (1834-96).  He had hoped to elevate military history into a discipline of its own in hopes of incorporating it more fully in standard history courses, but in this he failed, despite his great contribution and influential position.

  • Sources:

    E. Buchfink, "Delbrück Lehre, das Heer und der Weltkrieg," in Am Webstuhles Zeit, Eine Erinnerungsgabe. Hans Delbrück,dem Achtzig jährigen, ed. Emil Daniels & Paul Rühmann (Berlin: R. Hobbing, 1928) 41-9; Annelise Timme, Hans Delbrück als Kritiker der Wilhelminischen Epoche (Düsseldorf: Droste, 1955)Arden Bucholz, Hans Delbrück and the German Military Establishment (Iowa City: U. of Iowa Press, 1985); Sven Lange, Hans Delbrück und der 'Strategiestreit.Kriegführung und Kriegsgeschichte in der Kontroversie (Freiburg im Breisgau: Rombach,1993). 

  • Author: Ward Briggs