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During the Great War, armies saw the transition from mobile war to static war. This resulted in an astronomical death toll and a war of attrition. When the war was over, the Allied Powers wrote the Treaty of Versailles with the hope of dismantling the German military to such a degree that Germany would never again be able to threaten the world. Despite these restrictions, the German army during the Weimar Republic (the Reichswehr) sought to rebuild its fame and power in Europe. In this process, General Hans von Seeckt, the Commander-in-Chief of the Reichswehr, emerged as a prominent military figure.
A primary analysis of Seeckt’s four training manuals shows that he aimed to restore mobility to the battlefield, train troops to effectively use terrain, and increase coordination between branches of the Reichswehr. Examination of his comments and recommendations with regards to annual field exercises demonstrates that Seeckt personally oversaw the implementation of his manuals. Lastly, documents indicating his role in forging a clandestine agreement with Russia— granting military bases to Germany in Russia on which soldiers could gain hands on experience with tanks, airplanes, and poisonous gases— establish Seeckt ’s resolution to offset the restrictions of the Treaty of Versailles amidst political instability.
Ultimately, Seeckt’s reforms were so influential that they transcended his time as Commander-in-Chief of the Reichswehr. In 1933, Ludwig Beck (et al.) authored Truppenführung, the manual with which the Wehrmacht fought the Second World War. Within its pages, Beck continued Seeckt’s legacy by propagating a doctrine based on mobility, effective use of terrain, and combined armed tactics. These ideas proved paramount in the Second World War and indicate the effectiveness of reforms that Seeckt instituted during the interwar period.
Miller, Aaron, "Hans von Seeckt: Reformer of the Reichswehr" (2013). Honors Theses. 2271.
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