At a time when Napoleon needed all his forces to reassert French dominance in Central Europe, why did he fixate on the Prussian capital of Berlin? Instead of concentrating his forces for a decisive showdown with the enemy, he repeatedly detached large numbers of troops, under ineffective commanders, toward the capture of Berlin. In Napoleon and Berlin, Michael V. Leggiere explores Napoleon’s almost obsessive desire to capture Berlin and how this strategy ultimately lost him all of Germany.
Napoleon’s motives have remained a subject of controversy from his own day until ours. He may have hoped to deliver a tremendous blow to Prussia’s war-making capacity and morale. Ironically, the heavy losses and strategic reverses sustained by the French left Napoleon’s Grande Armee vulnerable to an Allied coalition that eventually drove Napoleon from Central Europe forever.