Seeckt served as a member of parliament from 1930 to 1932. From 1933 to 1935 he was repeatedly in China as a military consultant to Chiang Kai-shek in his war against the Chinese Communists and was directly responsible for devising the Encirclement Campaigns, that resulted in a string of victories against the Chinese Red Army and forced Mao Zedong into a 9,000 km retreat, also known as the Long March.
Operation Iron Fist was the main German contribution in the
initial stages of the Shanghai campaign, but it was far from the only one.
German advisors were present both on the staffs and at the frontline. Their
pivotal role was no secret, and even the newspapers regularly reported about
them. Wearing the uniforms of Chiang Kai-shek’s army, the German advisors not
only provided tactical input, but gave the Chinese troops an invaluable morale
boost, showing them that they were not on their own in the struggle against the
mighty and ruthless Japanese Empire. The “German War” was the name that some
Japanese gave to the battle of Shanghai, and for good reason.
When war with Japan broke out in the summer of 1937, the
German advisory corps consisted of nearly 70 officers, ranging from newly
graduated second-lieutenants to five full generals. It was a major asset for
the Chinese, and one that they were free to exploit. Even though most of the
Germans were in China on short-term contracts and could have left once the
shooting started, they felt an obligation to stay at a key moment when their
host nation’s survival was at stake. “We all agreed that as private citizens in
Chinese employment there could be no question of our leaving our Chinese
friends to their fate,” Alexander von Falkenhausen, the top advisor, wrote
later. “Therefore I assigned the German advisors wherever they were needed, and
that was often in the frontlines.”