Why Did The Schlieffen Plan Fail?

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Why Did the Schlieffen Plan Fail?

Why Did the Schlieffen Plan Fail?


Schlieffen Plan was designed by Germany as a part of their strategy for winning the World War I which was fought during the period of 1914 to 1918. The main reason for the plan to be developed is the fact that Germany was surrounded by enemies from every border. The plan failed mainly because it was based on the assumptions which were highly unrealistic and not even under the control of German planners. However, if considered from the perspective of tactical competence, the plan can be considered as successful.

Schlieffen Plan has been often considered as a demonstration of Field Marshal Helmuth von Moltke's wisdom who was an earlier Prussian. The plan mainly focused on the strategies that how Germany would deal with two of its major enemies, Russia and France. The main reasons behind the failure of plan was underestimating military capacity of France, violating neutral status of Belgium, and finally, underestimating the time required by Russia for assembling her army. This paper describes that in what ways this plan was failed, and in what ways it can be considered as a successful plan.

Why Did the Plan Fail? (Operational Art/Leadership/Command)

The major assumptions related to the operations, leadership and command of the Schlieffen Plan were failed. First of all, the German planners left nearly 10% of their army at Alsace-Lorraine, due to their belief that the French would attack from this front. However, if the planners would have done closed and accurate analysis, it would have become clear that this inadequate army could never be able to fight with the well equipped and huge French forces. Actually, all of these left soldiers were killed by the French army. Thus, the distraction and deviation from the initial assumptions of plan began to fail very quickly.

Another example of false assumptions can be taken from August 1914, when Germany launched its attack as a surprise and its forces needed to march; the march as ended leaving the German forces at Liege in a brave resistance, which was never assumed. According to initial assumptions, German forces would have passed through Belgium very easily, as it was a small country, and its political importance and external friendship treaties were neglected while designing the plan. Thus, the assumption that Britain would not attempt to take risk of War against Germany was proved to be false very soon. This assumption mainly went false because there was a treaty of friendship signed between Britain and Belgium, which provoked the Britain for war, as German forces entered into the boundaries of Belgium.

As a result of German invasion into Belgium, the Britain formally declared war against Germany. The Britain forces began to move and the French forces were reinforced near River Marne. All this chaos resulted in stalling of German forces in September 1914. Also, their dug and trench positions were reformed to remain there for a period of next 3 years. Thus, it can be said that the ...