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Karl von Clausewitz
Clausewitz Quotes/Quotations


Prussian general and military strategist
Lived: 1780 –1831

(Click here to find out more about Clausewitz)

I can't guarantee that these Clausewitz quotations are correct or true,
but I have tried to verify as many of the quotes as possible.
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Enjoy the Clausewitz Quotes

"War is the continuation of policy (politics) by other means."
- Karl von Clausewitz
or
"It is clear that war is not a mere act of policy but a true political instrument, a continuation of political activity by other means"
This is from a translated version of "On War" from 1976

“Given the same amount of intelligence, timidity will do a thousand times more damage than audacity”
- Karl von Clausewitz

"If you entrench yourself behind strong fortifications, you compel the enemy seek a solution elsewhere."
- Karl von Clausewitz

"Never forget that no military leader has ever become great without audacity. If the leader is filled with high ambition and if he pursues his aims with audacity and strength of will, he will reach them in spite of all obstacles."
- Karl von Clausewitz

"The majority of people are timid by nature, and that is why they constantly exaggerate danger. All influences on the military leader, therefore, combine to give him a false impression of his opponent's strength, and from this arises a new source of indecision."
- Karl von Clausewitz

"We must, therefore, be confident that the general measures we have adopted will produce the results we expect. Most important in this connection is the trust which we must have in our lieutenants. Consequently, it is important to choose men on whom we can rely and to put aside all other considerations. If we have made appropriate preparations, taking into account all possible misfortunes, so that we shall not be lost immediately if they occur, we must boldly advance into the shadows of uncertainty."
- Karl von Clausewitz

"After we have thought out everything carefully in advance and have sought and found without prejudice the most plausible plan, we must not be ready to abandon it at the slightest provocation. Should this certainty be lacking, we must tell ourselves that nothing is accomplished in warfare without daring; that the nature of war certainly does not let us see at all times where we are going; that what is probable will always be probable though at the moment it may not seem so; and finally, that we cannot be readily ruined by a single error, if we have made reasonable preparations."
- Karl von Clausewitz

"The first and most important rule to observe...is to use our entire forces with the utmost energy. The second rule is to concentrate our power as much as possible against that section where the chief blows are to be delivered and to incur disadvantages elsewhere, so that our chances of success may increase at the decisive point. The third rule is never to waste time. Unless important advantages are to be gained from hesitation, it is necessary to set to work at once. By this speed a hundred enemy measures are nipped in the bud, and public opinion is won most rapidly. Finally, the fourth rule is to follow up our successes with the utmost energy. Only pursuit of the beaten enemy gives the fruits of victory."
- Karl von Clausewitz

"War is the province of chance. In no other sphere of human activity must such a margin be left for this intruder. It increases the uncertainty of every circumstance and deranges the course of events."
- Karl von Clausewitz

"The best form of defense is attack."
- Karl von Clausewitz

"The conqueror is always a lover of peace; he would prefer to take over our country unopposed."
- Karl von Clausewitz

"War is a conflict of great interests which is settled by bloodshed, and only in that is it different from others."
- Karl von Clausewitz

"In war the will is directed at an animate object that reacts."
- Karl von Clausewitz

"There is only one decisive victory: the last."
- Karl von Clausewitz

"a certain grasp of military affairs is vital for those in charge of general policy."
- Karl von Clausewitz

"The first, the supreme, the most far-reaching act of judgment that the statesman and commander have to make is to establish . . . the kind of war on which they are embarking."
- Karl von Clausewitz

"no one starts a war-or rather, no one in his senses ought to do so-without first being clear in his mind what he intends to achieve by that war and how he intends to conduct it."
- Karl von Clausewitz

If the leader is filled with high ambition and if he pursues his aims with audacity and strength of will, he will reach them in spite of all obstacles.
- Karl von Clausewitz

"Pursue one great decisive aim with force and determination."
- Karl von Clausewitz

"The bloody solution of the crisis, the effort for the destruction of the enemy's forces, is the first-born son of war."
- Karl von Clausewitz

"Only great and general battles can produce great results"
- Karl von Clausewitz

"Blood is the price of victory"
- Karl von Clausewitz

"If the enemy is to be coerced, you must put him in a situation that is even more unpleasant than the sacrifice you call on him to make. The hardships of the situation must not be merely transient - at least not in appearance. Otherwise, the enemy would not give in, but would wait for things to improve."
- Karl Von Clausewitz


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