Revision Diary

Schlieffen Plan

         

The Schlieffen Plan;

  

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

  

WHY DID THE SARAJEVO ASSASSINATION LEAD TO THE OUTBREAK OF WAR IN 1914?

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.

 

    

  

  

WHY DID THE SARAJEVO ASSASSINATION LEAD TO THE OUTBREAK OF WAR IN 1914?

     

The Schlieffen Plan

Background

    Background of tension & rivalry (esp over Germany's growing power):

    Alliances - Dual Alliance of 1879 v. Triple Entente of 1907 - Germany's generals assumed that, if war came, it would be a war on two fronts against France and Russia.

    Militarism - Germany's generals believed that France was weak (Germany had defeated France in 1870), and that Russia was slow (it would be 6 weeks before Russia could put an army in the field).

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

Meat

    The plan imagined a huge hammer-blow at Paris, using 90 per cent of the German army, swinging down through Belgium and northern France, to take out France in a quick, decisive campaign  (allowing Germany to transport its army back across Germany to fight Russia - although this was NOT mentioned in the plan itself).  

End

    The Schlieffen Plan did not allow for a situation like that in 1914 - where Russia was mobilising (30 July) but France was not going to war to help the Russians.   Now Russia was going to be ready too soon - every day that passed gave the Russian army one more day to get ready.  

    When the German Chancellor Bethmann-Hollweg asked General Moltke: 'Is the Fatherland in danger?' the reply was: 'Yes'.

    Germany was forced to invent a pretext to declare war on France (3 August 1914).  

 

        

Revision Focus

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

1.   WHAT happened

2.   EFFECTS/ Importance

  

Links

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

  

   

  

  

  

 

     

Significance of the Schlieffen Plan

(ARE)

     Caused the War?  

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

1.   Attack: It was a plan of attack - for Germany, mobilisation and war were the same thing = Germany could not mobilise against Russia as a sign of intention (as Russia had against Germany).   When Germany mobilised, the World War started.

2.   Russia: It did not plan for a situation where Germany was at war with Russia, but not with France.   The Sarajevo crisis did NOT need Germany to attack France and cause a world war.   (Germany could have sorted out Russia quite easily.)   But the Schlieffen Plan meant that the only way Germany had to deal with the Russian problem was to attack France = the Schlieffen Plan CAUSED war out of nothing.

4.   Error: The Schlieffen Plan had a error.   It planned for the German army, when it attacked France, to go through Belgium.   But Germany had NOT arranged passage of arms through Belgium so - when the Belgians refused - Germany was forced to declare war and invaded Belgium = this brought Britain into the war.

  

  

    

Where the Schlieffen Plan went wrong

(WEAK BE)

1.   War: It turned the crisis of 1914 into a war (see above).

2.   Errors: In the end, it turned out to be full of mistakes:

    Russia took only 10 days to mobilise

    The French army was too strong to be defeated/ it was the Russian army that was weak.

3.   Aggressor: The plan began to go wrong on 30 July 1914, when Russia mobilised its army, but France did not.   Germany was forced to invent a pretext to declare war on France (3 August 1914) = made Germany look like the aggressor (and led to Article 231 of the Treaty of Versailles).

6.   'Knackered': It required the German army to march too far, too fast, so Moltke had to divert some of his men to pass EAST of Paris.   This created a gap in the front line which the French drove into (Battle of the Marne) and stopped the German invasion.   "Sir, we have lost the war," Moltke told the Kaiser.

4.   Belgium: It planned for the German army, when it attacked France, to go through Belgium.   Attacking Belgium led to a war with Belgium which crucially delayed the German army for a few days = caused the Schlieffen Plan to fail.

5.   England: Attacking Belgium also brought Britain into the war.   The small BEF crucially held up the German army at Mons = caused the Schlieffen Plan to fail.