East India Company

The Schlieffen Plan - Fantasy or Catastrophe?

Terence Zuber argues that the German army’s rigid plan for a quick victory in France in 1914 was a postwar fabrication.

Map of the Schlieffen Plan and planned French counter-offensives. Click to enlargeThe history of German war planning prior to the First World War has been dominated by the so-called ‘Schlieffen Plan’, commonly said to have been developed in a study written in early 1906 by the recently retired Chief of the German General Staff, Count Alfred von Schlieffen (1833-1913). The concept was to deploy the entire German army in the west. No forces would be sent to protect East Prussia against the Russians. Seven-eighths of the German army was to be deployed between Metz and Aachen, on the right wing of the German front, leaving just one-eighth of the army to guard the left flank in Lorraine against a French attack. The right wing of the western army would sweep through Belgium and northern France, if necessary swinging to the west of Paris, continually turning the French left flank, eventually pushing the French army into Switzerland,  while seeking a single great  battle of annihilation. Following this quick and decisive victory,  the Germans could deal with the Russian threat.

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