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Explain How The Schlieffen Plan Was Meant To Work

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Explain How The Schlieffen Plan Was Meant To Work Britain and France signed the Entente Cordiale (friendly understanding) during 1904. Germany was seen as a perceived threat so consequently Britain and France wished to have higher levels of co-operation with her. Negotiations had also begun to arise to accumulate Russia with this alliance; the German military began to expect an attack from these three powers, which is what led to the decision of the Schlieffen Plan. Alfred von Schlieffen, German Army Chief of Staff, was appointed to start devising a strategy, with an objective that would prevent Germany fighting a war on two fronts in December 1905. This preceded the Dual Entente that was agreed between France and Russia that meant if a stronger power invaded one of them; the other in turn would join the war with their counterpart. Due to this Germany felt encircled, and they believed the way to win a war on two fronts was to defeat one of them first, not simultaneously. This power was to be France, as Germany knew that Russia would take about six weeks to mobilise all of their troops. This was crucial, as it should give them just enough time to conquer France to then direct their attention to the Eastern Front before Russia could react. Russia's inability to mobilise quickly was key to Schlieffen's Plan, the roots of this was due to the vast landscape throughout their country, but ...read more.


Schlieffen was inspired to do this by Hannibal's defeat of the Romans at the battle of Cannae in 216 BC where the inevitable tactic of 'manoeuvre sur la derriļæ½re' was implied. This was intended to move their main army corps around the back of the enemy to catch them unaware from behind and encircle them. Schlieffen aimed to use this tactic again to chase the French around Paris to meet the oncoming Germans that lay along the Alsace Lorraine border. Schlieffen laid out 37 1/2 of his divisions to control the decisive wing - the wing which would sweep down the western front and around the back of Paris. The other 4 divisions which complete Schlieffen's 471/2-division army would remain the pinning force around Alsace and Lorraine. The 37 1/2 divisions took the western front, Schlieffen knew exactly what he expected of these troops, as he knew what France was like due to spies but most of all previous wars including the Franco-Prussian war - Battle of Sedan in 1871, (this battle forced the French to give Alsace Lorraine to the Germans). As they passed the western wing they attempted to capture the main channel ports - Calais and Dover. If they did this the British Army would not have had much chance of crossing the channel to help the Belgians, capturing the central ports would also give the Germans great trade benefits. ...read more.


In doing so a 50 kilometre gap had expanded between 1st and 2nd German armies, this then allowed both the French and British forces to attack the Germans exposed flanks. Due to this endangerment of both 1st and 2nd armies, the forces were ordered to withdraw to the Aisne River to regroup. This then began the race to the sea, which was to control all the channel ports and outflank the other being the highlighted objectives. The French then turned their forces around to defend the Marne. Germans began to dig in to high ground beginning the start of trench warfare and ending the Schlieffen Plan. So overall the Germans partially managed to fight a war on one front first towards the beginning, but assumptions caused them to make wrong judgements. For example Russia took less time than expected to mobilise all their troops. That led to redeploying some of the German troops from the western front which in turn led that wing to be increasingly less powerful. Moving southeasterly along the western front caused the Germans to bypass Paris, which was a major blow as Paris was seen to be one of their main aims. This consequently led to the battle along the river Marne which was seen as the real turning point within the war, as neither side began to make ground. With Germans along the Marne and thousands over in Russia fighting at Tannenburg, the plan had not reached its main aims and objectives in order to make the French surrender. Will Beach 10J (JPS) ...read more.

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