Moltke, Helmuth Johannes Ludwig, Graf von (hĕlˈmōt yōhäˈnəs lōtˈvĭkh gräf fən môltˈkə) [key], 1848–1916, German army officer. He fought in the Franco-Prussian War (1870–71) and became adjutant to his uncle, Field Marshal H. K. B. von Moltke, in 1882. A favorite of Emperor William II, he succeeded Alfred von Schlieffen as chief of general staff in 1906. Shortly before the outbreak of World War I, Moltke modified his predecessor's famous plan by withdrawing several divisions from the right wing of the potential Western front, in order to reinforce the left. This revision weakened the initial attack on France when war broke out. On Sept. 14, 1914, Moltke was succeeded as chief of staff by General Erich von Falkenhayn.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.