By David Wetzel
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Extra info for A Duel of Nations: Germany, France, and the Diplomacy of the War of 1870-1871
It is my hope that glimpses of Bismarck in his confrontation with the problems of the Franco-Prussian War, as they appear in this narrative, will contribute something to the fullness and richness of this pattern. The year 1870, marked as it was by the great event of the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War, brought important changes into Bismarck’s life. Three points are worth bearing in mind as we observe the reactions to the problems posed by it. First and foremost, it was the fundamental aim of all Bismarck’s diplomacy vis-à-vis the other powers of Europe, especially Russia and Austria-Hungary but also Great Britain and Italy, to deprive these powers during the war of any and all incentives to align themselves with France and, what was likely to follow from this, to intervene (militarily or diplomatically) in the war itself.
In 1832, he joined the General Staff at Berlin and was soon promoted to second lieutenant, largely as the result of the inﬂuence of Prince William, at the time a lieutenant general but destined to become King William I of Prussia. Here Moltke acquitted himself with distinction in a long series of responsible and important assignments in the ﬁeld of military planning and engineering. Conscious of his duties and an indefatigable worker, he began to rise to a position of preeminence in the Prussian military.
On 1 March, a triple alliance against Russia and Prussia was initialed in Paris. Its terms were simple: France would commit forces to the Rhine in case of an Austro-Russian war; likewise, Austria-Hungary would station a corps of troops in Bohemia and take up arms if the Russians came to the assistance of Prussia. Should either conﬂict arise, Italy was obliged to contribute two hundred thousand men. 8 Yet, no sooner was the draft treaty sent to Vienna than Beust began to hesitate. ”9 It now fell to the French to complain.