18 February 2009

How motivational techniques have changed

Frederick the Great (Friedrich der Grosse, 1712-1786) urging his battle-shy troops forward:

Kerls/Hunde/Racker*, wollt ihr ewig leben

Wretches/Dogs/Rascals--would you live forever?

*As so often, there are variants of his reported words. They were supposedly spoken--shouted??-- at the Battle of Kolin in 1757, during the Seven Years' War, where the Austrians routed Frederick's Prussian troops, his first defeat in this conflict. Around 23,000 soldiers lost their lives at Kolin, 14,000 of them Prussian, contributing to the estimated million deaths in battle between1756 and1763. Churchill referred to this as the first true world war. It was fought around the globe, in the North American sector as the French and Indian War.

The British aligned themselves with the Prussians, the two dominant players in what turned out to be the winning team. For the Pennsylvanians reading this, King of Prussia, home to our favorite mall, was named in honor of Friedrich der Grosse, whose personal bravery can't be faulted: in the course of a bellicose lifetime, he had six horses shot from under him.

Thank you, Google, for the refresher course in high school history. I started out with only the (make that "an") English translation of the opening quotation.

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