Gerhard von Scharnhorst

Prussian General
1755 -1813

A Hannoverian by birth, Gerhard von Scharnhorst served with his country's army until 1801.

Sought out by the Prussians for his abilities at military theories, Scharnhorst rose up the ranks and in 1806 was chief-of-staff to the Duke of Brunswick.

He was wounded during the Prussian humiliation at Auerstadt.

Appointed to the task of recreating Prussia as a military force, Scharnhorst followed the path of creating a people's army through the formation of landwehr units.

He changed the army's organisation, tactics and also ended the class system that barred all but the nobility from becoming an officer.

One of his biggest successes was to introduce a secret system that kept Prussia to a French-imposed limit of soldiers by fully training troops and then releasing them so more could be trained.

By the time hostilities broke out in 1813, Prussia could field almost 35,000 more than the official limit of 75,000 men.

Scharnhorst went on campaign with Field Marshal Blucher and was wounded at Lutzen.

The wound became infected and he died, just over a month later, in Prague.


He was one of the German historical figures honored in the DDR.

In the DDR, on the 10 Mark:

Statue of Gerhard von Scharnhorst, Unter den Linden, Berlin.