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What was the Schlieffen Plan and why was it significant?
Transcript of What was the Schlieffen Plan and why was it significant?
The Schlieffen plan was based on swiftly wiping out France, in order for a full scale assault of Russia. The plan consisted of keeping 10% of their troops on the east of Germany in case of early Russian assault, and the other 90% would be split into two armies, heading west towards France. The left (southern) army would have 1/3 of the sent army, and go south-west to Alsace Lorraine, to distract and fight off the French defences. The right (nothern) army would have 2/3 of the sent army, and would go through neutral Belgium and Luxembourg, and keep heading west until reaching the west side of Paris, France's capital. Then the troops were to go south, to sweep around Paris, taking over the capital. Once the French were defeated and surrendered, they would go east back to Germany to focus all their force on the Russians.
Due to the declaration of war between Austria-Hungary and Serbia, Russia began to mobilize to protect the Serbians. Since Germany was an ally of Austria, they declared war on Russia. Once this occurred, Germany's fear of a war on two fronts was becoming a reality. The Germans then considered the Schlieffen plan a top priority.
Flaws of the Plan
The success of the Schlieffen plan depended on events taking place at a specific time and in a specific manner.
Some of the assumptions and changes that cause failure of the plan were:
- Assumption that Russia would take 6 weeks to mobilize and invade them
-Assumption that Belgium would not put any resistance but would surrender and let them pass
-Assumption that France would take only 6 weeks to defeat
-Assumption that Britain would not get involved
-General Moltke's alterations to the plan
Alfred Von Schlieffen
The Schlieffen plan was made in 1905 by German army general Alfred Von Schlieffen. It was made for the purpose of avoiding a war on two fronts, one against Russia on the east, and the other against France on the west.
Failure of the Plan
Due to the combination of powerful British and French forces, the lack of men and ammunition, and the new orders of Commander Von Kluck, the Germans made their way south to the Marne river, and resumed their battle. This resulted in the battle of the Marne, which foiled the Schlieffen plan.
Result of Flaws
-Great Britain joined the war due to Germany's violation of Belgian's neutrality
- Belgians fought back along with British Expeditionary Force, slowing down the Germans
- Russia mobilized in 10 days, forcing the Germans to send some of their troops east to face Russia
-Due to the early south turn from the instruction of Von Kluck (Commander of the right army) , their right army was exposed to British and French fire
The German Schlieffen plan aimed to invade France through neutral Belgium, failed, and in turn cemented the First World War.
Helmuth Von Moltke's changes
Schlieffen died in 1913, making Helmuth Von Moltke the Chief of German general staff. Moltke made a crucial change to the plan, instead of the right army having 2/3 of the sent army, the two armies heading into France were split evenly, .