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The Struggle for Civilian or Military Control of the War against France (December 1870)

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toward the officers who have deserted under violation of their oath. Formally, I had wished to propose to Your Majesty a different version of the letter, namely the use of German. On another occasion, I will take the liberty of humbly suggesting this for general practice, because German officers and civil servants are always at a disadvantage if they are officially required to use French in correspondence with the enemies, who necessarily have better command of their mother tongue.

May Your Royal Majesty graciously allow me, in light of this incident, to make the respectful general request:

that Your Majesty may graciously order that I be consulted in all military talks that touch upon political issues, and that I be authorized to direct to the General Staff any questions concerning the military situation, about which I, as Foreign Minister and Prime Minister, believe information is required.

Source: Otto von Bismarck, Die gesammelten Werke [Collected Works], ed., Gerhard Ritter and Rudolf Stadelmann, Friedrichsruh ed., 15 vols., vol. 6b, no. 1950, Berlin, 1924-1932.

Original German text reprinted in Ernst Rudolf Huber, ed., Dokumente zur deutschen Verfassungsgeschichte [Documents on German Constitutional History], 3rd rev. ed. Stuttgart: W. Kohlhammer, 1978, vol. 2, pp. 359-60.

Translation: Erwin Fink

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