The Reasons for the Schlieffen Plan
In this piece of coursework I will be investigating the actual reasons
for the Schlieffen Plan due to the situation which the German
government was in. I will talk of the harsh reality of the war and the
situation all the countries involved in the war entered. I will also
talk about the reasons why the Schlieffen Plan failed and the Germans
were made to face a grim reality which was never expected.
In the early nineteen hundreds, Germany believed war with Russia was
extremely likely. If war broke out, Germany assumed France would also
attack as she was an ally of Russia.
If this happened, Germany would face a war on two fronts. Germany
wanted to avoid this at all costs. Therefore it was decided that a
plan would be made in order to avoid this. The man who was asked to
carry out this job was Germany Army Chief Of Staff, Alfred Von
Schlieffen, which is why not surprisingly the idea was later named
‘The Schlieffen Plan’.
The basis that the Schlieffen Plan was planned on was for Germany to
defeat France rapidly and then turn to the eastern front for a major
offensive attack on Russia.
Von Schlieffen’s initial plan to avoid war on two fronts was produced
late and drew up in 1905. In full knowledge of French defences,
Schlieffen proposed attacking France through Holland, Belgium and
Luxembourg (The Benelux countries). Schlieffen planned to use 90% of
German military forces to defeat France. The remaining 10% would
defend the eastern border of Germany against Russian attack.
In 1906 Von Moltke replaced Von Schlieffen and made some alterations
to the plan. His version to the plan avoided invading Holland,
instead concentrating the attack through Belgium. According to Von
Moltke, the Belgium army would be unable to resist a powerful German
military, and the German forces would quickly enter France.
He believed in a general European war that it was a priority to defeat
France quickly, forcing them to surrender as the Germans would
surround Paris and threaten to destroy it as it contained world famous
landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower and was also where their main
political headquarters was. They planned to defeat France inside six
weeks which seemed an easy task on paper for the Germans as they had a
significantly larger army than the French and six weeks was the
minimum amount of time they believed it would take Russia to mobilise
and militarise. Russia was considered a less economically developed
country which is why they were expected to take up to a minimum of six
weeks to mobilise for the war. So Germany would first of all face
France in the west and secondly Russia in the east. Therefore this
gave the Germans six weeks in theory to defeat the French before the
Russians could mobilize in order to avoid having a war on two fronts...