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Explain How the Schlieffen Plan was meant to work

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Assignment 1.1 - Explain How the Schlieffen Plan was meant to work The Schlieffen plan was a unique strategy designed so the Germans could defeat their two major enemies, France and Russia, without being severely incapacitated themselves. This could be achieved by attacking and defeating France within 6 weeks and then attacking Russia and thus avoiding a war on two fronts, which is what every dominant power fears. Although Britain was in the triple entente along with France and Russia, it was only the powers encircling Germany that frightened it. They knew they always faced a war with France after Germany had "snatched" the rich provinces of Alsace and Lorraine in 1870, leaving France humiliated after an unsuspected invasion. They were also worried about the Franco - Russian alliance (1892-4), which stated that one should come to the aid of another if it was attacked and vice - versa. ...read more.


The original plan consisted of both a left and a right wing, with a ratio of 7:1 in favour of the right wing. This "pincer" movement was based upon General Hannibal's winning tactics at Cannae in 216BC. The same original plan included 8 armies. The first 3 were to enter France through Belgium, and another 2 were to go via Luxembourg to gain a surprise entry, with maybe an army going through Holland, which they would decide on a later date. These 5 armies consisted of 68 divisions. 59 divisions were to come from the north and the remaining 9 were to penetrate from the south. Armies 1 and 2 were specifically instructed to take Paris with Von Kluck leading the first and Von Bulow leading the second. Armies 6 and 7 were situated in Alsace and Lorraine, where it was thought would be the most likely place for a French advance. ...read more.


This could hinder their progress, which was a severe disadvantage as it was vital that the French were defeated within 6 weeks or they would face what they had always feared. He also completely ruled out the option of going through Holland stating that invading a third neutral country would present more problems and resistance, as well as more fatigue for the soldiers who would have to march further as a result. Also they needed a neutral country with a port, which they could bribe to smuggle in food in the event of a British naval objective attempting to starve Germany into surrender. However this led to congestion on the railways, which in turn warned the French they were coming. The Schlieffen plan was a complete gamble, no evidence Schlieffen had used was reliable in the slightest and he had completely undermined the importance of several key things. His intentions of only fighting the French for 6 weeks very quickly spiralled into 4 years. ?? ?? ?? ?? Dominic McGrath 5MAW ...read more.

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