Bernhardi, Theodor Von

Bernhardi, Theodor Von

 

Born Feb. 6, 1803, in Berlin; died Feb. 12, 1887, in Kunersdorf. German historian, economist, and diplomat. Studied at the University of Heidelberg.

He lived in Russia from 1834 to 1851 and was an official of His Imperial Majesty’s Own Chancery. In 1851 he moved to Prussia. Between 1866 and 1871 he carried out a number of responsible military-diplomatic missions for the Prussian government in Italy, Spain, and Portugal. During the 1840’s he wrote a work on large- and small-scale land ownership, criticizing the English economists of the 18th century. He is best known for his works on the history of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. During 1856–58 he published a four-volume biography of the Russian general K. F. Tol’ in the guise of a treatment of the latter’s authentic memoirs. Taking refuge in the authority of Tol’, he presented his own conception of the events of 1812 in this falsified work, following Prussian nationalist conservative historiography (the disparagement of the role of Russian military art and so on). The false conception that Bernhardi’s work belonged to Tol’ was long prevalent in literature and influenced European military historiography—in particular, K. Marx’ and F. Engels’ notions of the Patriotic War of 1812 and of the military leadership art of M. I. Kutuzov.

A. G. TARTAKOVSKII

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