Revision Diary

Schlieffen Plan


The Schlieffen Plan;


Make sure you have detailed factual knowledge about AND HAVE THOUGHT ABOUT the following issues and topics:



1.  A description of the Schlieffen Plan.

2.  The significance of the Schlieffen Plan.


and, although it is not on the syllabus, it would be wise to know:

3.  Where the Schlieffen Plan went wrong.





The Schlieffen Plan


The Schlieffen Plan was Germany's (only) plan to fight a war ... against France and Russia at the same time.   The Plan planned a huge hammer-blow at France, using 90 per cent of the German army, and defeating France in six weeks, which would allow Germany to transport its army across Germany to fight Russia before Russia got ready.  



1.   The plan was devised by German army chief-of-staff Alfred von Schlieffen and took nine years to devise - 1897-1906.   It was Germany's ONLY plan.

2.   The Plan was designed on the beliefs that if war came, it would be a war on two fronts against France and Russia, and also that France was weak but Russia was slow.

3.   The Schlieffen Plan did not allow for a situation like 1914 - where Russia was mobilising but France was not going to war with Germany.   Germany was forced to invent a reason to declare war on France (3 August 1914).




Significance of the Schlieffen Plan


     Note that it is arguable the Schlieffen Plan was the main cause of the war.  

1.   It was a plan of attack: unlike other countries - which could mobilise without attacking - when Germany wanted to mobilise, Germany had to attack France.

2.   It did not plan for a situation where Germany was at war with Russia, but not with France.   In 1914, Germany was forced to invent a reason to declare war on France (3 August 1914).

3.   The Schlieffen Plan went through Belgium = this brought Britain into the war.



Where the Schlieffen Plan went wrong

1.   In the end, it turned out to be full of mistakes (Russia took only 10 days to mobilise, and it was the Russian army that was weak, not the French)

2.   The plan began to go wrong when Russia mobilised its army, but France did not.   Germany was forced to invent a reason to declare war on France (3 August 1914)..

3.   It made the German army to march too far, too fast, which tired them out and let the French army stop them.

4.   It went through Belgium.   This brought Britain into the war.   The Belgians and British delayed the Germans = caused the Schlieffen Plan to fail.  


Revision Focus

This is a Paper 1 topic, so concentrate on learning:

1.   WHAT happened

2.   EFFECTS/ Importance



e-book on events leading to the outbreak of WWI.