Explain how the Schlieffen plan was meant to work.

Essay by Digitalchaos May 2006

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On 1 august 1914 Germany declared war on Russia. At once hundreds of thousands of German troops began to move. Instead of going straight for Russia, they poured their troops into Belgium and Luxemburg.

The Schlieffen plan was named after chief of the general staff Count Alfred von Schlieffen. His first plan was based on the possibility that Russia alone would be involved. In this case, he planned to send the German army across the north-east border on a direct route to Russia's capital, St Petersburg. This was called the Great Eastern Offensive Plan. The Schlieffen plan was planned before the war began and the plan itself was supposed to help Germany avoid two-front war by knocking out French army which was using so called plan 17 to recapture one of French province Alsace which was captured during the Franco-Prussian war and after they recapture Alsace French was to move in the Germany.

Russia was the biggest threat to Germany because Russia is a massive country with a lot of army and can easily defeat Germany. Germans estimate calculated that it would take Russian army to mobilize about 6 weeks and the Schlieffen plan was meant to defeat French army in 6 weeks by doing the huge move through the Belgium and coming behind Paris and attacking the French army while they would recapture Alsace from the behind. The German armies left 1/8th of its army to defend Alsace and to stop French army while the other 7/8th of its army to do the Schlieffen plan. But then Schlieffen realized that there is also Britain as a threat from the north so Schlieffen had to change the plan so that they also had to knock out the channel ports to prevent the British army landing. The German army...