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The Failure of the Schlieffen Plan - How it was meant to happen.

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The Failure of the Schlieffen Plan How it was meant to happen Germany's Schlieffen plan was to send forces through Belgium to invade and defeat France in six weeks. Schlieffen knew that the French were desperate to regain the two provinces of Alsace and Lorraine (lost to Germany 1870-71), so he planned to deliberately keep the German forces guarding these provinces weak. He hoped this would encourage an attack there from the French, allowing Germany to launch a surprise attack from the north (coming through Belgium). But going to war with France also meant going to war with Russia as the two countries had built up a strong friendship. For the plan to succeed, Germany needed to defeat the French before Russia could mobilise their troops. ...read more.


How it failed * Schlieffen died in 1913 and General von Moltke, the new chief of staff, took over his plan. * The Germans were held up at Liege, (Belgium) which only surrendered after an 11-day siege. * German troops advanced too quickly. Their supplies could not keep up and the men were exhausted. * The BEF slowed down the Germans in battle at Mons and Le Cateau. The British rifle fire at Mons was so fast and accurate that the Germans thought they were being machine-gunned. * The Russian army mobilised in just six weeks instead of the expected twelve, therefore General von Moltke was forced to send 100 000 men to hold them back. ...read more.


If the German army could get round the Allied troops, it could surround them and trap them. If the Allied armies could get round the German troops, they would be surrounded and trapped. Both sides tried to do this. They raced through northern France towards the Channel, fighting a series of battles as they tried to outflank each other. This is known as 'The Race to the Sea'. The most bloody fighting was around Ypres, which was eventually held by British and French forces. By November 1914, of the original 160,000 members of the BEF, 90,000 had become casualties and 250,000French and 130,000 German soldiers had been either killed or wounded. Neither side managed to outflank the other. Each side dug trenches to defend themselves and to stop the other side advancing. A line of trenches stretched form the Belgian coastline to the Swiss Frontier. It was stalemate. Kay Wilson 12/9/2003 ...read more.

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