The Clausewitz Papers in Münster University Library

In one of my previous posts I explained how I encountered the newly released complete private correspondence between Marie and Carl von Clausewitz. Now I will introduce to you another collection of Clausewitz papers that is rather understudied.

While corresponding with scholars these past weeks, one theme reoccurs. This concerns the notion that the Clausewitz papers have been irreversibly lost, forever.

My response is simply “Not so.” True, much was lost, particularly during the horrid days of WWII; however, much remained.

One of these caches remains in the Münster University and State Library. Luckily for all Clausewitz aficionados out there, the partial estate was reorganized and reevaluated just recently, indeed in the beginning of 2015.

Mrs.Birgit Heitfeld-Rydzik, the chief archivist for the historical collections department, has electronically cataloged all the Clausewitz papers kept in Münster. Mere words cannot express my appreciation for her. She never grew tired from my urgent Friday-3pm-requests.

You can access the catalog through the archive search machine, lovingly named HANS 


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The papers in Münster date back from a 1955 auction. By that time Werner Hahlweg, the most industrious and influential publisher of Clausewitz’s works in the twentieth century, was a professor in Münster. Obviously he was the driving force behind the acquisition. Legends persist about Prof.Hahweg carrying an old leather bag with a broken buckle. Yet the bag was just the right size to be carried with two hands. So when he put the acquired papers inside, none could pry it away from him until he arrived safely in the archive. I don’t know how factual this story is. From what I’ve been told, Prof. Hahweg was a complex man.

The papers in Münster are already listed in Hahlweg’s Schriften—Aufsätze—Studien. Yet not all manuscripts have been thoroughly studied. For instance one of the surprises for me personally was Marie’s diary from the fall of 1813. In that period she either remained close to or spent extensive periods of time in the Russo-German Legion’s headquarters where Carl served as the chief-of-staff.

Some of the more well known Clausewitz manuscripts kept in Münster are: Lectures on the Little War for the War College (1810) with drawings; “Our Military Institutions”(after 1815); “On the Future Military Operations against France” (1808); correspondence with the Prussian foreign minister Bernstorff.

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