from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The warfare , even warfare , that is the way how war leads is, since ancient times, a theme that military busy, States and historian. The knowledge and application of practical methods of warfare from the perspective of soldiers and combatants is called the craft of war .

The term is complex and includes both strategy and means of warfare as well as the question of actions permitted and prohibited in war.

Strategic warfare


The oldest historical accounts of warfare and battles come from ancient Egypt . So that led Pharaoh Ramses II. The Battle of Kadesh in the 13th century BC. Against the Hittites . This battle is historically the first whose course has been reconstructed. Foot soldiers and chariots were used on both sides . Egyptian reports indicate that the Egyptian army adhered to certain rules when waging war. Usually the opponent was notified before attacking. In addition to the open field battle , sieges were also carried out.

In the 1st millennium BC During the course of the development of seafaring , naval warfare came along with land warfare . Above all Phoenicians and Greeks built navies . So the Greeks defeated 480 BC. In the sea ​​battle of Salamis (near Athens ) the numerically superior fleet of the Persians with their triremes and thus stopped the advance of the Persian Empire on Greece .

The greatest general in antiquity was Alexander the Great , who with his army quickly conquered an empire from Greece and Egypt to India within a few years .


The Roman Army quickly grew into an important military power on land due to its tight organization. The main force was the foot soldiers, who were supported by cavalry on the flanks. In the three Punic Wars was Carthage defeated. The development of the Roman navy also played a role. In contrast to the usual naval warfare by sinking, the Romans relied on foot soldiers who boarded and captured the enemy ship using a boarding bridge ( Corvus ).

The Egyptian army already consisted partly of foreign mercenaries . In the Roman Empire , especially in the post- Caesar era , a significant portion of the legions consisted of non-Romans. This was the doom of the Romans when the Cheruscan prince Arminius, trained as an officer by the Romans , lured the three legions under Publius Quinctilius Varus into an ambush near Kalkriese and defeated them with the united Germanic tribes .

During the Migration Period , the Huns and Avars in particular carried out rapid campaigns of conquest as horsemen. They often used the element of surprise .

middle Ages

The warfare in the Middle Ages consisted in particular of sieges or individual campaigns, for example the war of Charlemagne against the Saxons . Wars often lasted a long time, an extreme example being the Hundred Years War . In addition to thirst for conquest, there were also religious motifs (which were not infrequently mixed with motives for conquest), for example in the crusades . The dominant element of land warfare was the armies of knights , supported in particular by archers . In the absence of adequate supplies, the civilian population in particular suffered not only from the fighting, but also from the burden of supplying the troops. The naval war often consisted primarily of pirate trips .

A special kind of warfare was introduced in the Mongol Empire under Genghis Khan .

Early modern age

The Thirty Years War was particularly devastating. There were hardly any clear fronts, the whole of Central Europe was criss-crossed by stray mercenary troops, who took care of what they could confiscate from the local population. What seemed unusable was pillaged. Some regions lost more than 50 percent of the population through direct or indirect warfare. Typical of this war was the incipient dominance of firearms while the time of the knights was up.

18th century

In the 18th century, the land powers built standing armies, such as Prussia , France and England . The organization of these armies was tight, and Drill was supposed to ensure that the soldiers jointly carried out every order with precision. As in ancient times, the battle was based on a precisely defined battle schedule. Much was still requisitioned where the army was, but the armies began to set up targeted logistics to ensure the supply of the troops, above all with ammunition .

In the 19th century, too, the wars were primarily wars of movement , supplemented by a few sieges of fortresses or cities. Sea routes were often blocked in order to weaken states involved in land wars.

First World War

Trench warfare

The First World War, on the other hand, was a positional war on Germany's western front , not least because of the extreme armament of all the states involved in the war . The front was made almost impassable by trenches, barbed wire and mines; Unless they perished in an assault within a few hundred meters of the enemy territory , the soldiers served as victims for the cannons ( cannon fodder ).

Naval warfare

The naval war was also primarily determined by the technical armament, which was mainly expressed in the battleships . So the sea ​​battle on the Skagerrak ended de facto in a draw. After a naval blockade had been set up by the British, the German command, which was generally weaker at sea, increasingly also used submarines that attacked not only warships but also merchant ships of hostile states. The attack by German submarines on the English passenger steamer Lusitania , on which there were also Americans, led the USA to enter the war .

Air war

The First World War also led to aerial warfare . While reconnaissance flights were initially in the foreground, the first bombardments were increasingly carried out.

Chemical warfare

The First World War also marked a turning point in terms of chemical warfare . For the first time, chemical warfare agents were used on a large scale. The associated agony, but also the poor controllability, led to an extensive ban on these weapons after the end of the war.

Second World War

The Second World War was the beginning due to the surprising effects above all a war of movement , not least because of the massive use of tanks . On the other hand, after the failure of the Russian campaign and the invasion of the Allies , the warfare ended in retreat skirmishes in the familiar forms of trench warfare , although the positions were broken by the Allies due to the material excesses.

The news system became more important with the technical development. The German troops in particular coordinated the various branches of arms very closely, so that the so-called blitzkrieg emerged, in which the bombing from the air, fighter planes and ground troops proceeded according to a precise plan. The logistics became more important; In addition to overland routes by rail and truck, aircraft were also increasingly used for supply. Above all, the Allies carried out large convoy voyages by sea , with which England and the USSR were supported by the USA. Germany, on the other hand, used the submarine weapon, as did Japan and the USA. With the development of sonar , the effectiveness of the submarines was reduced. Furthermore, the aircraft carrier replaced the battleship as the most important weapon in the Pacific.

The Second World War brought new dimensions of suffering to the civilian population through area bombing from the air. The German Air Force had used this strategy to intimidate and weaken the civilian population, initially in the Spanish Civil War , and then in particular against England (e.g. Coventry ) and Norway ( Hamar , Narvik ) in World War II . Later, unmanned cruise missiles and rockets were developed for this purpose , the V1 and V2 , which were primarily used to bomb London . In return, the Allies carried out massive area bombings against German cities. B. Hamburg , Cologne , Berlin . Huge firestorms were triggered, which caused enormous casualties among the civilian population. In most cases the military effect was small. The attrition of the civilian population intended by both sides hardly occurred either; rather, the bombings rather led to a loathing of the respective enemy. The air raids on Dresden and Würzburg are viewed as particularly nonsensical from a military point of view , as these cities had no military significance in 1945, but were full of refugees.

Cold War

The Cold War followed World War II. The main powers of the anti-Hitler coalition sealed the division of Germany in the Yalta Declaration in 1945, effectively dividing the world into two power blocs under the leadership of the USA and the Soviet Union. The systemic contradiction between the two superpowers later manifested itself through the two military alliances NATO and the Warsaw Pact . In the struggle for supremacy in the world, nuclear weapons have been the focus of attention; Both sides sought strategic deterrence by means of massive nuclear armament, which in the USA led to the planning of space-based missile defense systems ( SDI ). According to the prevailing view, only the so-called mutual assured destruction  - the balance of the atomic powers - saved the world from a nuclear war , which would have very likely led to the destruction of human civilization and its foundations.

However, even during the arms race between the blocs that began around 1950, the vast majority of the budget was spent on conventional weapon systems. The Cold War was also not a war without conventional fighting. There was no direct confrontation between the superpowers, but proxy wars in states with an uncertain political situation. In this way, one's own sphere of influence should be expanded or secured (e.g. USA against North Vietnam or Soviet Union against insurgency in Afghanistan). Since the situation of the bloc states in the first and second world was relatively stable until the end, the countries of the third world were repeatedly pawns in this conflict. For example, the United States installed several puppet governments in Central and South America to increase influence in this area.

Warfare in other regions

While in areas with a high population density the warfare was aimed at the numerical weakening or even the destruction of the opposing armed forces, in the poorly populated regions of the world it was mostly about capturing as many potential workers and belligerent men as possible. That is why such conflicts were generally not about the destruction of military groups, but about their capture. Civilians were also spared insofar as they could be employed. Examples are the clashes between the North American Indians and in Southeast Asia .

Tactical warfare

In addition to detailed planning, tactics include supply and transport, position reference, reconnaissance and combat disposition (battle control) as well as intelligence.

See also


  • Werner Hahlweg : Classics of the art of war. With the cooperation of 13 historians from home and abroad and in connection with the working group for defense research . Edited and compiled by Werner Hahlweg. Wehr und Wissen Verlagsgesellschaft, Darmstadt 1960. (Reprint: Ursula von Gersdorff (Ed.): History and Military History. Paths of Research. Bernard & Graefe, Frankfurt am Main 1974, pp. 313–335)
  • Max Jähns : Handbook of a history of warfare from prehistoric times to the Renaissance, technical part: armament, fighting methods, fortifications, sieges, sea life. Along with an atlas of 100 plates. Leipzig 1880; Reprint (declared as “first part”) Osnabrück 1979 (= Bibliotheca rerum militarium. Sources and representations on military science and military history , 22).
  • Max Jähns: History of War Studies, primarily in Germany. I – III, Munich and Leipzig 1889–1891 (= History of Science in Germany: Modern Times , 21); Reprint Hildesheim 1965.
  • Kurt Pastenaci : The Germanic Art of War. Karlsbad and Leipzig 1940.
  • Malte Prietzel : Warfare in the Middle Ages. Actions, memories, meanings. Schöningh, 2006, ISBN 978-3-506-75634-3 .

Web links

Wiktionary: warfare  - explanations of meanings, origins of words, synonyms, translations