An explanation on how the schlieffen plan was meant to work
Weaknesses of the schlieffen plan
Germany would then use her modernised rail system to move troops from the French operation to the Russian front. German politicians expected that, in the event of war, France and Russia would support each other against Germany. The post had lost influence to rival institutions in the German state, because of the machinations of the previous incumbent Alfred von Waldersee 8 April — 5 March , who had held the post from to and had tried to use his position as a political stepping stone. Military plans are seldom famous in themselves. It assumed that Russia would need six weeks to mobilise. He advanced with a much smaller attacking army than Schlieffen had recommended. Railway building reduced the time needed for mobilisation and a "war preparation period" was introduced by the Russians, to provide for mobilisation to begin with a secret order, reducing mobilisation time further. In , Moltke expected the British to join the French but that neither would violate Belgian neutrality, leading the French to attack towards the Ardennes.
Schlieffen was open-minded about a defensive strategy and the political advantages of the Entente being the aggressor, not just the "military technician" portrayed by Ritter. Belgium relied upon its concrete fortifications to hold up the Germans.
A report on hypothetical French ripostes against an invasion, concluded that since the French army was six times larger than inthe survivors from a defeat on the frontier could make counter-outflanking moves from Paris and Lyon, against a pursuit by the German armies.
They were marching east of Paris instead of going west and encircling the city. Despite having fewer troops than in the original plan and less space through which to advance, the Germans at first seemed to be succeeding in their plan. Moltke also altered the course of an advance by the armies on the right northern wing, to avoid the Netherlands, retaining the country as a useful route for imports and exports and denying it to the British as a base of operations.
It took little account of Allied counter-moves. Seeing that Kluck had extended his forces and exposed his right flank, he saw a weakness to exploit.
The General Staff devised deployment plans and its chief became de facto Commander-in-Chief if war began but in peace, command was vested in the commanders of the twenty army corps districts.
He also decided to avoid invading the Netherlands, hoping to keep the British out of the war.
Schlieffen plan logistics
Without checking with his superiors, Kluck swung his forces southeast. The quick victories of led Moltke the Elder to hope that he had been mistaken but by December, he planned an Exterminationskrieg against the French population, by taking the war into the south, once the size of the Prussian army had been increased by another battalions of reservists. A transfer of the 7th Army to the right flank was studied but the prospect of a decisive battle in Lorraine became more attractive. Italy was only expected to join Germany if Britain remained neutral. The commander led the complete battle, like commanders in the Napoleonic Wars. Railway building reduced the time needed for mobilisation and a "war preparation period" was introduced by the Russians, to provide for mobilisation to begin with a secret order, reducing mobilisation time further. It is easy to argue that the failure of the Schlieffen plan was a failure of execution. A report on hypothetical French ripostes against an invasion, concluded that since the French army was six times larger than in , the survivors from a defeat on the frontier could make counter-outflanking moves from Paris and Lyon, against a pursuit by the German armies. See also: Total war Map showing areas of France occupied during the Franco-Prussian War After the end of the Napoleonic Wars, European aggression had turned outwards and the fewer wars fought within the continent had been Kabinettskriege, local conflicts decided by professional armies loyal to dynastic rulers. Even with the windfall of the Russian defeat in the Far East in and belief in the superiority of German military thinking, Schlieffen had reservations about the strategy and research published by Gerhard Ritter , English edition in showed that the memorandum went through six drafts.
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