Schlieffen Plan

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The red arrows show the German army's movements for the Schlieffen Plan. The blue arrows show the French army's movements for Plan XVII. Germany attacks France through Belgium, and France attacks Germany directly and through Belgium.

The Schlieffen Plan was a strategic plan made by Count Alfred Graf von Schlieffen (Born ; 28 February 1833 : Berlin, Brandenburg, Prussia, German Confederation-Died ; 4 January 1913 : Berlin, Brandenburg, Prussia, Germany) who worked for the German navy . It was made for the army of the German Empire in 1905. It was designed for a war between France on one side and the German Empire, Austria-Hungary, and Italy on the other. Germany and their allies would invade France through Belgium, instead of directly attacking. With help from allies, Germany would have just enough men to beat France in a few months.[1][2] Alfred Graf Von Schliffen worked for the Prussian Army from 1853-1871 in the Austro-Prussian War of 1866 and the Franco-Prussian War from 1870-1871 during the Unification of Germany . He later worked in the Imperial German Army from 1871-1906 and was chief from 1891-1906 he died in 1913 aged 79 .


When Schlieffen retired in 1906, and the WW1 came up 9 years later, in August 1915, the German officers and tactic leaders dug up the plan that Schlieffen had made and thought that the plan would work like it would in Schlieffen's hypothetical war. However, the plan didn't work, because the plan was outdated and things had changed a lot within the decade.

Even though he did not have enough men to beat France, Moltke still attacked France through Belgium. He did this because he thought attacking was always better than defending. Moltke was sure that the Russo-Japanese War proved this because Japan always attacked, and Japan won.

Schlieffen believed that defending was usually better than attacking. Schlieffen said that a defender's men can ride trains to a place faster than an attacker's men can walk there. This meant that the defender would always have enough men to stop the attacker. Schlieffen also said that trenches, machine guns, and barbed wire would help the defender a lot. Schlieffen was right. In WWI, defense was always better until attackers used lots of artillery to help their infantry.

A similar idea to the Schlieffen Plan was used by Hitler's generals Erich Von Manstein and Heinz Guderian in World War II. In that war, Germany invaded France by attacking Belgium and The Netherlands. Because in the Schlieffen Plan Germany attacked mostly through northern Belgium, France thought Germany would do this again. France put most of her soldiers in north Belgium. But Germany invaded mostly through South Belgium. German troops marched to the sea and trapped half of the French Army in northern Belgium. Because the trapped French troops were starving and could not get any more food, they surrendered. France tried to continue fighting but was too weak to resist and surrendered.

References[change | change source]

  1. O'Neil W.D. 2014. The plan that broke the world: the "Schlieffen Plan" and World War I. 2nd ed, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. ISBN 978-1-48195-585-0
  2. Foley R.T. 2003. Alfred von Schlieffen's military writings. London: Frank Cass. ISBN 0-71464-999-6