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The Schlieffen Plan was the German General Staff's early 20th century overall strategic plan for victory both on the Western Front againstFrance and against Russia in the east, taking advantage of expected differences in the three countries' speed in preparing for war. In modified form, it was executed to near victory in the first month of World War I; however, the modifications to the original plan, a French counterattack on the outskirts of Paris (theBattle of the Marne), and surprisingly speedy Russian offensives, ended the German offensive and resulted in years oftrench warfare. The plan has been the subject of intense debate among historians and militaryscholars ever since. The Schlieffen Plan was created by Count Alfred von Schlieffen and modified byHelmuth von Moltke the Younger after Schlieffen's retirement. It was Moltke who actually put the plan into action, despite initial reservations about it. It was the German plan to avoid war on two fronts in short. After theFranco-Prussian War of 1870, the French province ofAlsace-Lorraine, with a mixed population of both French and Germans, had been made part of the German Empire. The revanchist French Third Republic vowed to regain the territories they had possessed for nearly 200 years. Due to Bismarck's alliances, France was initially isolated, but after young Kaiser Wilhelm II took the throne in 1888 and gradually estranged Germany fromRussia and Britain, fears about having to fight a future war on two fronts simultaneously grew among German leaders. France, having been beaten in a few weeks in 1870, was not considered as dangerous in the long run as the Russian Empire, which was expected to be hard to defeat if the Czar was allowed the necessary time to mobilize his huge country to the fullest extent. After the Entente Cordiale of 1904 was signed between Britain and France, Kaiser Wilhelm asked Count Schlieffen to devise a plan which would allow Germany to fight a war on two fronts, and in December 1905 von Schlieffen began circulating it. The idea of the plan was to win the two-front war by first quickly beating France again in the west - the plan scheduled 39 days for the fall of Paris and 42 for the capitulation of France - before the "Russian Steamroller" would be able to mobilize and descend uponEast Prussia.[1] The plan depended on Germany's ability to invade France before France could fully mobilize its troops to defend itself, and then to turn on Russia, seen as the slowest of the three to mobilize, before the Russians were ready. It envisioned a rapid Germanmobilization, disregard of the neutralityof Luxembourg, Belgium andthe Netherlands, and an overwhelming sweep of the powerful German right wing southwest through Belgium and Northern France, "letting the last man on the right, brush the Channel with his sleeve,"[2] in the words of Schlieffen, while maintaining only a defensive posture on the central and left wings, in Lorraine, the Vosges, and theMoselle. Paris was not to be taken (in 1870, the Siege of Paris had lasted for months) but was to be passed by the right wing to the west of the city. The intent of the plan was not to conquer cities or industry in order to weaken the French war efforts, but to capture most of the French Army and to force France to surrender, in essence a repeat of the strategy used to defeat France during theFranco-Prussian War. The plan was that the French Army would be hemmed in around Paris and forced to fight a decisive envelopment battle. A seed of disaster lurked in the conception of the plan: both Schlieffen and the man who would eventually implement his plan, Helmuth von Moltke the Younger, were seduced by the possibility of the double envelopmentof the entire French Army by the right wing coming from the north and west of France and the left wing coming from the east. The inspiration was the destruction of the Roman Armyby Hannibal's forces at the Battle of Cannae in 216 BC, which was the object of meticulous study by Schlieffen. In essence, his plan was a very large scale strategic readdressing of Hannibal's tactics, capitalizing on the recent breakthroughs in communications and transport. Politically, one of the major drawbacks of the Schlieffen Plan was that it called for the invasion of neutral states in order to pass through German troops to France. As it turned out, at least formally, it was the decision to invade Belgium which led to war with Great Britain. As noted previously, Russian mobilization would supposedly be extremely slow, due to its poor railway system. Following the speedy defeat of France, the German General Staff would switch German concentrations to the Eastern Front. The plan called for sending 91% of the German troops to France and 9% to Russia. His goal was to defeat France in six weeks, the time it took for Russia to mobilize its army, and turn back to the Eastern Front before Russia could react. Kaiser Wilhelm II is quoted as having said "Paris for lunch, dinner at St. Petersburg."

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14y ago

The idea of the plan was to win the two-front war by first quickly beating France again in the west - the plan scheduled 39 days for the fall of Paris and 42 for the capitulation of France - before the "Russian Streamroller" would be able to mobilize and descend upon East Prussia. The plan depended on Germany's ability to quickly mobilize troops and invade France before France could fully mobilize its troops to defend itself, and then to turn on Russia, seen as the slowest of the three to mobilize, before the Russians were ready.

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10y ago

The Schlieffen plan started in 1905. The plan was a way to get other countries to help them attack countries that the Germans wanted.

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10y ago

Schlieffen Plan happened in 1914.

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