** German World War I Schliffen Plan

World War I Germany: Schliffen Plan

Figure 1.--The Germans activated the Schliffen and invaded neutral Belgium (August 4, 1914). Here the German Army is marching thriough Belgium, probably Brussels. The Germans did not expect serious resistance from the small Belgian Army or the rapid intervention of the British Expeditionary Force. A Russian offensive forced the Germans to transfer forceseast. The Belgians, British, and Russians managed to slow the German drive toward Paris down just enough to make the Miracle on the Marne possible (September 6-12).

The German War Plan was the Schlieffen Plan. It was developed by Army Chief of Staff Count Alfred von Schlieffen to deal with a two-front war against France and Russia. Chancellor Bismarck gave a hihgh priority to maintaining good relations with Russia. When Wilhelm II became Kaiser he boyth eased Bisnarck out of office and allowed the treaty relatiins wityh Russia to lapse. The French began cvourtiung Russia and soon Germany was confronted with a possible two front military challenge. The German Army's respomse to this this threat was the Schliffen Plan (1905). The German Army was elaborated over time. On paper the Russian Army seemed an overwealming force. The Germans believed, however, that the Russians would take at least 6 weeks to mobilize, probably longer, and the Army would be poorly trained and equipped. The Germans considered the French more of a threat and thus Schlieffen developed a plan to knocking France out of the war before Russia could effectively attack. Schlieffen thus planned a small force to defend East Prussia while Russia was mobilizing. The great bulk of the German Army would be deployed in the West for a massive offensive aimed at seizing Paris. Schlieffen invisioned attacking France through Belgium to avoid the strong French defenses along the Franco-German border. The flat geography of Flanders was ideal for a mobile invasion force. Schlieffen invisioned five German armies moving through Belgium and northern France in a grand arc. He graphically insisted, "When you march into France, let the last man on the right brush the Channel with his sleeve". Schlieffen warned of the need to maintain a strong right arm. The Germans had the advantage of staging areas in Alsace-Lorraine, obtained in the Franco-Prussian War (1870-71). This avoided major geographic barriers. Schlieffen was insistent on the invasion force having a strong right arm. Schlieffen assumed that the French would attack into Alsace-Loraine to regain the provinces rather than attempt more difficult objectives such as crossing the Rhine. Thus the strike through Belgium could move on Paris and the rear of the French Army moving north. Once the German Army had delt with France in the West, the Army would be rapidly deployed to the east by Germany's excellent railroad system to confront the mobilized Russian Army.


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Created: 11:10 AM 10/27/2021
Last updated: 11:10 AM 10/27/2021