Whay was The Shliffen Plan?

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In reality, the German plan was too ambitious. The fear of a two front-war drove the German General Staff to explore any possible solution. The plan developed by Von Schlieffen was probably one of the best. Yet, Von Schlieffen himself predicted that his plan would fail. In essence, it attempted to do too much, too quickly.


At the beginning of August, over one million German soldiers pushed towards France. Most of these men marched thirty to forty-five km a day (0-45 km). The men were following a very precise and detailed plan. As in all wars, perfectly laid plans rarely work. The front line troops who started so well inside of Germany soon became tired and confused. Communications between military units were limited or did not exist at all. Messages were sent by horseback or on motorcycles to headquarters. Unfortunately, because of the fast pace of movement, messengers would also become confused or lost while returnin to their units. Moltke also panicked because of events on the Eastern Front. He was unsure if German forces would be able to keep the massive Russian army from invading Germany. Therefore, at a critical point in the invasion of France, he took one of the assigned armies and moved it to the Eastern Front. This had the effect of weakening the German invasion of France, dooming the western attack.


The lack of confidence by German generals, combined with the growing resistance of the British and French armies, changed the outcome of the war. Large-scale mobility of the various armies was disappearing and the battle lines were solidifying. Furthermore, the German General Staff become dejected. As the weeks slipped away, the generals believed that the plan had failed. They now faced what they had fear for years, a two-front war.


The Germans were not expecting any resistance from Belgium, but the Belgian army fought bravely and managed to delay the German advance. Members of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) arrived to help, and the Germans were held up at Mons. The Belgians later prevented the Germans from taking the French channel ports by flooding their land.


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Although the BEF consisted of only 15, 000 men, they were well trained and equipped, and ready for action within less than one week.


· The plan relied upon rapid movement. The resistance of the Belgians and the BEF prevented this.


· Russia mobilised its troops quicker than expected. Within 10 days the Russians had invaded Germany, which meant that the Germans had to switch troops away from western Europe to hold up the Russian invasion.


· Russia mobilised their troops quicker than Germany thought they would.


· Britain allied Belgium and France, making a stronger army.


· The Belgium army put up more resistance than thought by Germany and so slowed Germany down.


· Provisions for Germany (supplies) were low and not kept up.


· When the Germans were in sight of Paris, they were forced with a three-fold attack - French troops from Alsace and Lorraine, the BEF (British Expeditionary Force) and an army from Paris.





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