Cover image for The enemy's house divided
The enemy's house divided
Gaulle, Charles de, 1890-1970.
Uniform Title:
Discorde chez l'ennemi. English
Publication Information:
Chapel Hill : University of North Carolina Press, [2002]

Physical Description:
xlix, 177 pages : maps ; 25 cm
The disobedience of General von Kluck -- The declaration of unlimited submarine warfare -- The relations with the Allies -- The fall of Chancellor Bethmann-Hollweg -- The debacle of the German people.
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D531 .G3313 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Originally published in 1924 and available here in English for the first time, The Enemy's House Divided is Charles de Gaulle's analysis of the major errors that led the Germans to disaster in World War I. Based partly on observations made during his internment as a prisoner of war from 1916 to 1918, it can be seen as the foundation for everything he wrote in the 1920s and 1930s in the shadow of German resurgence and for much of what he said and did after the Nazi victory in June of 1940.

To de Gaulle, the German conduct of the Great War and the debacle of 1918 was the greatest moral disaster ever to befall a modern civilized political community. He seeks to identify the internecine causes of the collapse of the German war effort in 1918 and of the subsequent dissolution of the German Empire. His diagnosis of the profound moral crisis that unfolded in Germany during World War I points forward to 1940, for de Gaulle understood the fall of France, above all, as a moral catastrophe for the French. His first book, it is also a key document of de Gaulle's "philosophy of action," introducing his statesmanship to the world with its deliberate and studied critique of the perils of Nietzsche's philosophical initiative.

Author Notes

Charles De Gaulle 1890 - 1970 Charles Andre Joseph Marie de Gaulle was born in 1890 in Lille, France. He attended Saint-Cyr Military Academy before serving in World War I at the Battle of Verdun in 1916, where he was wounded three times and finally taken prisoner by the Germans.

After the war he became the Aide-de-Camp to Marshal Henri Petain. In this position he won prominence with his advocacy of a highly mechanized French Army. He eventually attained the rank of Brigadier General during World War II. De Gaulle escaped to London when France fell and formed a French national committee in exile there. The committee was officially recognized by the Allies in 1942, and de Gaulle became President of the Free French. The forces under his command joined with British forces in an attack on Syria in 1941 and took control of Madagascar in 1942. In 1943, de Gaulle joined the French Committee of National Liberation in Algiers, as co-president with General Henri Giroud. A few months later, he became sole president of the committee and moved the headquarters to Paris after the Allies liberated France in 1944. It was recognized as the de facto government of France.

In 1945, de Gaulle became the provisional president of France, but resigned two months later. He then organized a new political movement in 1947 called "The Rally of the People of France" or the RPF. In the 1951 elections, the RPF won the most seats in the assembly. But even with this victory, de Gaulle chose to retire from politics in 1953. In 1958, civil war breaks out in France over whether to allow Algiers their independence. De Gaulle was called in to act as Premier and the National Assembly granted him power to rule by decree for six months and to create a new constitution.

De GAulle was elected President of the Fifth Republic on January 8, 1959. During his first term, he instituted economic, industrial and governmental reforms, negotiated Algerian independence and lead France into the European Economic Community. He also strengthened french ties with the USSR while scorning the Americans who had helped to liberate France. De GAulle was elected to a second term in 1965, when he urged the autonomy of France and Canada. He requested the withdrawal of troops from the North Atlantic Treaty organization from France in 1967, disregarding any threats along his border.

De Gaulle resigned from the Presidency in 1969 after a defeat in a national referendum. He returned home to work on his memoirs, "War Memoirs - 54-59" and Memoirs of Hope:Renewal and Endeavor." De Gaulle wrote three books on military tactics as well, entitled, "Edge of the Sword" published in 1932, "The Army of the Future" published in 1934, and "France and Its Army" published in 1938.

Charles de Gaulle died in 1970.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 1

Choice Review

In 1916, Charles de Gaulle, a prisoner of war, began an eight-year study of Germany's conduct of WW I that continued when the repatriated French officer became an instructor at the French Ecole de Guerre. He based his study on his painstaking reading of German newspapers while in captivity, and a thorough analysis of a host of postwar memoirs. This book is a fascinating example of Cartesian system-making. The disastrous German conduct of the Great War was at its roots the product of a moral crisis. Germany's generals and statesmen had adopted the Nietzschean "Overman" as their guide to conduct. In field operations, in dealing with their allies, in bitter in-fighting for political control, it was the "will to power" of these intensely ambitious men that persuaded them that in "serving their own glory" they also served the general interest. These tendencies were developed, even encouraged, by the command system developed by Moltke the Elder in 1870. Eden (Hillsdale College) has added a detailed introduction that provides needed context. Summing Up: Highly recommended. This first English translation will be of great interest to all levels of readership. G. P. Cox Gordon College



The Disobedience of General von Kluck Returning to Berlin an emperor and victorious, and receiving in the name of Germany his subjects' congratulations, Wilhelm I declared publicly, "You, Moltke-thanks to your labor in time of peace, and your methods in time of war-have conducted our armies to victory." Military Germany thenceforth consecrated an unreserved admiration to [Marshal] Moltke and his system of command. All the German commanders trained themselves by studying the "manner" of the marshal and his glorious subordinates. In 1914, they went off to battle animated by the will to imitate their great predecessors, not only in their success but also in their procedures. That obsession, that superstition about the past, was recognized by Kaiser Wilhelm II and was encouraged. All his proclamations at the outbreak of the war called it to mind. And for such sentimental reasons, he was determined that he too should have a Moltke as chief of staff. On the two days during which Prussia's fortune was determined, the 1st of July 1866 and the 15th of August 1870, the application of Moltke's system had, at the decisive times and places, brought success. On the days that determined the result of the Great War, the 4th and 5th of September 1914, General von Kluck was charged with the principal mission. This commander, who was justly and universally respected, imitated in a striking fashion the conduct of the great victors of Königgrätz and Metz [see Figure 1]. That was the origin of the disaster.... There is a clear analogy between the doctrine and procedure of the Prussian commanders in the earlier victories and those of the German generals in the defeat. This manifest analogy serves to prove that in war-save for some few essential principles-there is no universal system, but only circumstances and personalities. I The personality of Field Marshal von Moltke was perfectly suited to preparation but was systematically self-effacing when it came to execution. It was the marshal who had chosen and molded the entire General Staff. It was he who assigned the officers to each post in it, according to their talents and the confidence he placed in them. Owing to him, the whole Prussian army embodied a unity of doctrine that has rightly evoked such astonishment and admiration. He prescribed the thorough study of enemy arms carried out by the General Staff. It was he who drew from that study the famous hypotheses, concerning enemy calculations, which he made the basis of his initial strategic conceptions. It was under his immediate, attentive, scrupulously careful direction that the plans for mobilization, concentration, and transport were studied, settled, and drafted. But once the campaign began, Moltke refused on principle to determine anything beyond extremely general intentions, expressed in a few very broad directives. It was to subordinates that he confided the execution in its entirety, admitting a priori that they would be better and more quickly informed than he would of changes in the situation. And he left them, most often, to coordinate their efforts themselves, in the light of his unified doctrine. A crown prince, a Frederick-Karl, a Steinmetz, superb leaders, seeking responsibilities, could thus give free rein to their initiative. They never lacked it. Moreover, they became accustomed to act exclusively by their own conceptions and to consider those of the chief of the General Staff, literally, as secondary. Besides, Moltke, consistent with himself, did not fail to approve them after the fact, disdaining all authorial vanity and concerning himself only with results. This manner [of doing things] had two consequences that, in their turn, became causes. Moltke did not maintain independent means of keeping himself informed: all the cavalry went to the commanders, none to the generalissimo. Consequently, the field commanders were better informed than the supreme commander most of the time, and believed themselves to be so in all cases. Even more reason for them to judge their own conceptions better justified than judgments from higher echelons. Moreover, transmissions between General Headquarters and the armies were entirely neglected. On 1 July 1866, Moltke gave his directive for the decisive battle against Benedek. He himself was at Gitschin; Frederick-Karl was at Horitz, twelve kilometers distant, and the crown prince was at Königinhof, a distance of forty kilometers [see Figure 2a]. No one had thought to connect these three command posts by telegraph. They had not even set up a chain of cavalry riders. It fell to colonels from General Headquarters, who galloped all night through the rain, to carry the orders.... On 18 August 1870, Moltke passed the whole day at the side of the king, near "La Point du Jour" behind his right flank. He saw his right flank beaten and almost put to flight. It was with his left that he had mounted his operation. It was from his left that he anxiously awaited news. That left flank, under the crown prince of Saxony, attacked Saint-Privat at 6:00 p.m., eight kilometers away from Moltke's command post. A simple relay of riders would have brought blow-by-blow intelligence, barely an hour old, to the commander in chief. Instead, he would know nothing. No one even thought to keep him up to date. Not until 11:00 p.m. did he learn what had happened. Due to this system and its consequences for means of information and communication, Moltke's army commanders acted by themselves, and against the intentions expressed by the High Command, at the decisive moments in their victorious campaigns. On July 1, 1866, Benedek was occupied in concentrating his army corps between the Elbe River to the south of Josephstadt and the Bistritz River facing to the west and the north. The Prussian Army of the Elbe (commanded by Herwarth von Bittenfeld), placed under the orders of Frederick-Karl, was toward Chlumetz. The First Army (Frederick-Karl) was to the south of Horitz. The Second Army (Crown Prince of Prussia) was toward Königinhof. [See Figure 2a.] Moltke had been at Gitschin only a dozen hours. The evening before, he was still at Berlin with the King. Furthermore, he had no cavalry at his disposal. In fact, the armies momentarily lost contact with the enemy. Behold the chief of the General Staff without military intelligence! He was going to base his conception for the battle upon an hypothesis, and that hypothesis was false. He supposed that the enemy was to the east of the Elbe River, between Königgrätz and Josephstadt, and his orders for 2 July stipulated that ò the Army of the Elbe was to cross the Elbe at Pardubitz to turn Benedek's left. ò the First Army was to follow the movement of the Army of the Elbe, and to detach a flank-guard between the Bistritz and the Elbe. If that flank-guard encountered few significant Austrian forces east of the Elbe, it was to attack them. ò the Second Army was to remain in place. [See Figure 2a.] However, on the morning of July 2nd, the cavalry of Frederick-Karl spotted very considerable masses of Austrian forces (at least four army corps), on the east bank of the Bistritz. The commander of the First Army immediately took it upon himself ò 1. not to execute the movement ordered by Moltke, which would result in making the Army of the Elbe and the First Army march in file, exposing its flank to the concentrated Austrian forces [see Figure 2b]; ò 2. to bring himself with all his forces against the enemy masses east of the Bistritz River, and to engage them there in battle; ò 3. to call directly for the assistance of the Crown Prince of Prussia [see Figure 2c]. Frederick-Karl made his decision, dictated his orders, and had them largely put into execution even before advising General Headquarters, which was twelve kilometers away. Moltke would approve completely. The commander of the First Army had intelligence not possessed by the commander in chief; it was only right that he should do things his own way. Moreover, his decision conformed to the unity of doctrine: march straight to the known enemy. The marshal was fully satisfied. A lieutenant colonel from General Headquarters mounted his horse on the night of 2-3 July and went alone under the beating rain to Königinhof (forty kilometers), to bring the order to support Frederick-Karl. And if that colonel had fallen into some ditch en route, nothing would have changed. For the crown prince, who had been ordered to remain in place, had already, on the evening of 2 July, ordered his army to march toward the enemy. The First Army and the Second Army had launched the operation, each independently and on its own, without taking account of intentions or orders from above. The result was Königgrätz. The entire German military, considering the victory, would have nothing but praise for the system. On 15 August 1870, the French Army of Metz had been retreating toward Verdun since early evening. The indecision of its leader, the wretched marching conditions, and the confused fighting at Borny on the 14th had delayed it in the extreme. The Army used the day's march to concentrate itself on the left bank of the Moselle, to the north and northeast of Gravelotte [see Figure 3a]. The First German Army (Steinmetz) had been engaged at Borny. On the evening of the 15th, it was concentrated to the southeast of Metz, in the angle formed by the Seille and the Metz-Saint-Avold Road, facing to the northwest. The Second Army (Frederick-Karl), extremely dispersed, was on horseback on the Moselle from Novéant to Marbache, oriented to the west along a forty-kilometer front, forty kilometers deep. Moltke was at Herny. He had received intelligence reports about the progress of the engagement at Borny only quite belatedly and slowly. Furthermore, he had no cavalry. Indeed, it would take more than six hours for him to communicate with Pont-à-Mousson, the headquarters of Frederick-Karl. Toward the middle of the day, however, the chief of the General Staff had been able to form a correct idea of the situation thanks to a personal reconnaissance that he had conducted, led by his chief quartermaster General von Podbielski. From the heights of Flanville, he could see that the French army had evacuated the right bank of the Moselle, proof that it was beating its retreat, but that it had gained only very little ground toward the west. He therefore made his decision for the 16th and expressed it to Frederick-Karl by an order dispatched at 6:00 p.m., which arrived at Pont-à-Mousson at 11:00 p.m.: The advantage gained yesterday at Borny by the First Army cannot be directly pursued by it. It is solely by a victorious offensive of the Second Army against the roads from Metz to Verdun by Fresnes and by Étain that we can harvest the fruits of victory [see Figure 3a]. The commander in chief of the Second Army is ordered to conduct that operation according to his own inspiration and with all the means at his disposal. Moltke thus wanted, for the 16th, to cut off Bazaine's retreat to Verdun by interposing the entire Second Army. However, as on 1 July 1866, Frederick-Karl formed a wholly personal conception of the situation. This time, again, his conception in no way agreed with that of General Headquarters. This time, again, he was going to act according to his own view and to consider received orders as peripheral. Frederick-Karl had believed since the 12th of August that the French were retreating from the Moselle to the Meuse. Alerted to the Battle of Borny, he was inclined to see it only as a rear-guard engagement of the enemy. The evening of the 15th, he was convinced that Bazaine had gained considerable ground toward the west and that there was no hope of overtaking him before the Meuse. The prince judged that the task for his army was to reach the Meuse south of Verdun as quickly as possible, and only then would he be able to head north without encountering merely empty terrain [see Figure 3b]. At 7:00 p.m., he gave his orders to the Second Army for the 16th: "The enemy is in retreat toward the Meuse. Consequently, the Second Army will follow the adversary without stopping, in the direction of that river." The bulk of the army was oriented squarely toward the west. Only two corps of the right flank, the Third and the Tenth Corps, were pushed toward the northwest up to the road from Mars-la-tour to Verdun [see Figures 3b, 3c]. At 11:00 p.m., Moltke's order came to Frederick-Karl, directing him to "mount a vigorous offensive against the roads from Metz to Verdun by Fresnes and Étain with all means at your disposal." The commander of the Second Army had more than enough time to modify his previous order and to orient his army toward the north and northwest. He did nothing about it. Not a word that he had written beforehand was changed. The next day, near Gravelotte, the Third and Tenth Corps were about to throw themselves alone against the entire French army, intact and reassembled. It would require the systematic inertia of Marshal Bazaine to save them from a complete disaster [Figure 3d]. However, military history has been unwilling to recognize the mortal peril risked on the decisive day. The result having been attained on 18 August, everything that had preceded and led to it was proclaimed glorious and reasonable. The unlimited independence of Frederick-Karl was, as after Sadowa, universally cited as exemplary. The system of Moltke found itself definitively consecrated in it. On this occasion, however, the application of the system, and of the independence which was its fruit, had come within a hair's breadth of ruining Prussia's fortune.... II The Imperial Army of 1914 claimed it would assure the definitive triumph of that fortune. It was from Nietzsche that the leaders, like all thinking Germany, had drawn their philosophy. Enthusiastically adopting the cult of the Overman, each was thus naturally disposed to consider himself the center of the world. Each inclined, on the one hand, to develop his character to an extreme and put it to the test with a constancy and audacity that have not been sufficiently noted. But on the other hand, each leaned toward exaggerated independence and was determined to act on his own in all situations. Militarily, their leaders had been formed by studying Moltke's campaigns, and it is understood that they treated them as models. The "manner" of the old marshal appeared to them as the ideal, not only in consideration of his success, but precisely because it encouraged such distorted initiative in subordinates and because it consecrated unlimited independence. The commanders of the army of 1914 dreamed of following the example of Frederick-Karl before Königgrätz or on the eve of Gravelotte. Continues... Excerpted from The Enemy's House Divided by Charles de Gaulle Copyright © 2002 by The University of North Carolina Press Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.