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Transcript of Schlieffen Plan
Germany on the Eve of War
In 1914, Germany believed that war with Russia was extremely likely.
Because of Russia's alliance with France, the Germans understood that war with Russia meant war with France as well.
If this happened, Germany would face a war on two fronts.
To avoid a two-front war, Germany devised a plan to defeat France quickly on the western front, then move rapidly to the eastern front for a major offensive attack against Russia.
The German Army assigned Chief of Staff Alfred von Schlieffen to create a plan to prevent a two front war.
Germany put the Schlieffen plan into action on August 4, 1914.
Alfred von Schlieffen
To defeat France quickly on the western front, Germany planned on cutting through neutral Belgium and entering France from the North.
This would allow Germany to enter France without resistance, and attack French troops from behind.
Germany planned to defeat France before Russia could mobilize its troops.
Failure of the Schlieffen Plan
What Germany Didn't Expect
Although the Belgian army was one tenth the size of the German army, it still delayed the Germans for over a month.
Even though Germany eventually defeated Belgium and advanced into France, the delay caused by the Belgian army gave France valuable time to mobilize their troops.
British- Belgian Alliance
Although Britain and Belgium had a longstanding alliance, Germany hoped that Britain would not honor the alliance and leave Belgium to fend for itself.
But Britain did honor the alliance and came to assist Belgium when Germany began to attack.
What Germany Didn't Expect
Speed of Russian Mobilization
Russia was able to gather troops and supplies faster than the Germans had anticipated.
This shifting of troops and supplies allowed the German army to push into Russian territory, but left them with a small army in France.
As a result, Germany was forced to move more soldiers and supplies from the western front (France) to the eastern front (Russia).
German Failure to Capture Paris
With not enough soldiers or resources to support an attack on Paris, Germany led its army to the outskirts of the city to an area called the Marne.
The German army was met by French and British soldiers, and the Battle of the Marne began.
The battle involved over 2 million soldiers and ended with a German defeat, finalizing the failure of the Schlieffen Plan
The failure of the Schlieffen Plan did not mean that the war was completely over.
Germany's success in entering Russian territory meant that the war was at a stalemate after the Schlieffen Plan.
War Far From Over
Most of Belgium is flat, while most of Switzerland is mountainous. Can you think of a reason why the Germans decide to attack France by moving through Belgium instead of Switzerland?
Why did Germany choose to enter Belgium before France?
How was France able to defend the German attack and prevent Germany from taking over the country?
If you were Alfred von Schlieffen, what would you change about the plan to better your chances of success?
the Russian armies
were too big to move fast on
and railways which
were in poor conditions
because of the climate.
He assumed the minimum
amount of time to travel
for them would be six weeks.
Also he thought if war began, the
army would have to invade France first .