Alfred von Schlieffen
Alfred von Schlieffen was born in Berlin, Germany in 1833. He was a student at Berlin War Academy. During the Austro Prussian war he was a staff officer. In 1891 he replaced Helmuth von Moltke as chief of general staff. After 4 years of holding this position he made a tactical plan that became known as the "Schliefffen Plan". This strategy involved a German invasion of Belgium and a right-wheel flanking movement through Holland and then southwards, cutting off Paris from the sea. He retired from his postion in 1906 and died in 1913.1
Alfred von Schlieffen
Alfred von Schlieffen

The Schlieffen Plan
In 1905, nine years before the first World War, the Shlieffen plan was made. The plan was made by Alfred Graf von Schlieffen to invade franch through Belgium, holland, and Luxemburg. The major reason for the Schlieffen Plan was to avoid a two front war against France, and Russia.7

Through some changes throughout the years, the plan was then used on August 2nd 1914 when Germany invaded Luxemburg and Belgium. The schlieffen plan aimed to defeat the French armies and capture Paris. The German army would then concentrate on fighting against the Russians. Belgium was going to be the main route for the Schlieffen plan, but the Germans realized that Belgium would not be east groiund to take over. The germans didn't plan on Britain and Canada responding to the invasion of Belgium. The Germans could not enter Paris, France to take over and continue with their plan. Not being able to continue further, they had battles on what was called the Western front.7

Schlieffen set out his plan in a a few detailed steps. Its key features were:
  • a bold and decisive initial move against France in the west
  • enter Dutch and Belgian to neutralize the countries and then go westwards to enter France from its northern borders
  • use of German reserve troops along with the regular army
  • envelopment of the French left flank, pushing the French forces across France against their own eastern frontier
  • capture Paris as the German right flank extended west and south of the city and enveloped it
  • a small holding operation with just five army corps to contain the French on their eastern border in Lorraine (that is, a weak German left wing).2

The French might have been defeated by the Germans within the first few weeks of the War. But even so, Shlieffen himself considered three main problems when it came to his plan:
  • How to Neutralise Paris's high, strong defense
  • Not being able to transport the required number of troops for his plan to work
  • The shortage of troops even after the full mobilisation3
external image schlieffen.jpg5

Primary Source Documents

The Schlieffen Plan itself.

|                    |                  |                 |
| 11 corps           |  8 corps         | First and Second|
|  7 Reserve corps   |  5 reserve corps | idem            |
|      <-----------(line just south of Namur)----->
|                    |                  |                 |
| 6    corps         |  6 corps         | Third and Fourth|
|  1/2 Reserve corps |  3 reserve corps | idem            |
|      <------------(line through Mezieres)------->
|                    |                  |                 |
| 8 corps            |  3 corps         |  Fifth          |
| 5 Reserve corps    |  2 Reserve corps |  idem           |
|      <------(line through Verdun and Metz)------>
|                    |                  |                 |
| 3 corps            |  4 corps         |  Sixth          |
| 1 Reserve corps    |  1 Reserve corps |  idem
|      <----------(line through Strasbourg)------->
|                    |                  |                 |
| nil                |  2 corps         |  Seventh        |
|                    |  1 Reserve corps |  idem           |
| 41 1/2 (total)       35 (total)                         |

Additional Information

1"Alfred von Schlieffen." Spartacus Educational - Home Page. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Feb. 2010. <>.
2"HSC Online." NSW HSC Online. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Feb. 2010. <>.
3"Schlieffen Plan (1905) ." Military History Encyclopedia on the Web. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Feb. 2010. <>.
4"Schlieffen Plan." Schlieffen Plan. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Nov. 2010. <>.
5"The Western Front in France and Flanders in 1914-1918." The Long, Long Trail. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Feb. 2010. <>.
6"YouTube- The failure of the Schlieffen Plan."YouTube - Broadcast Yourself. . N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Feb. 2010. <>.
7"world war 1 The Schlieffen plan." HubPages. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Feb. 2010. <>.