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Wednesday, July 12, 2017
Dritan Nazeraj

The Shlieffen Plan,it's merits and weaknesses.Why did it fail?Unrealistic or badly excecuted?

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I am taking spur from an article of WHO yesterday  (Dec 2,2017) about it.

It seems the author of the article is convinced it was badly concepted. 

Apparently he and I think many have not read much about the initial phase of Western Front in ww1. 

Which is your opinion?

Please argue,not simply cliches.

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Some info:

1. Imperial Germany did not have a superiority of numbers in the West even if Great Britain would not join. 

The respective numbers were Brits 5 infantry divisions and some 3-4 cavalry brigades, the French some 86 divisions  (50 regular infantry divisions,24 reserve divisions and 12 Territorial divisions plus some 8 cavalry divisions and some independent units like Alpine Chasseurs,fortresses artillery etc),Belgians some 6 infantry divisions and one cavalry  division.

 

Germans had like 44 regular infantry divisions,24 reserve divisions regulated in corps (reserve corps),9 cavalry divisions and up to the end of August like 3-4 Landwehr divisions and some 4  Ersatz divisions and a whole host of Landwehr Brigades partly accompanying the regular armies and partly occupying various fortresses. 

There were also two Indipendent reserve divisions in Metz and Strasbourg. 

The total for them may be reckoned prior to end of August at around 78 infantry divisions and 9 cavalry divisions (the 3-4 Landwehr divisions included ) and some 15 Landwehr Brigades plus scores of Landsturm Batallions used for rear duties.

Total 1,485,000 strong.

 

2. There were transfered in the Eastern Front four infantry divisions  (2 full corps - the Guards Reserve corps taken from the Second Army and the XI Reserve corps from the Third Army plus a cavalry division from the same army.

 

This should be deduced from the above total.

This corps were ordered East 24/25 August.

Edited by Dritan Nazeraj

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At the risk of using a cliche, I would answer in one word :-"Logistics". The Plan certainly looked good on paper,pushing the French forces onto their own positions in the East like a gigantic wheel,taking Paris, and causing a vast  Cannae, in a single envelopment.

But fielding a numerically superior force is one thing, keeping it properly supplied and on the move is another.

And of course, the implementation of the (modified) Plan ensured that the invasion of Belgium brought the British Empire into the conflict. Some would argue that British participation would have happened anyway, but I,for one, doubt it: at least while a Liberal Government remained in power.

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Philip, fix it- Germans did not have superiority in numbers,vs French alone equality but if you ad Belgians and Brits they were in inferiority of numbers.

And yet they achieved a lot though not enough to call it a complete success.

 

Many point out at logistics but seems to me this is exaggerated. 

I think when logistics are mentioned people tend to think in terms of trench warfare regarding ammunition expenditure and other supplies.

This is incorrect - initial consumption was much smaller then in later offensives and since the western armies were marching in rich agricultural areas local provisioning saved a lot of initial burden - including for horses(von Kluck for example points at both this points - First Army captured  a lot of provisions at Noyon and Amiens a few days before the Battle of the Marne).

And Germans were quick in advancing the supply bases.

Sure the stocks weren't plentiful after four days of fighting but let us remember the same armies fought a major battle just four days after their retreat(at Aisne)- how the hell they overcome such poor logistics in four days?

The repaired railways at this period (Sept 10-17) were used extensively to transport the 3-4 corps from Lorraine etc so hard to say those 40-50 km of tactical retreat improved them.

 

To me it seems it was the only feasible plan - in keeping with German Doctrine which forbid full frontal assaults and emphasised maneuver. 

The intervention of Britain was a certain thing  - the time remained to be decided not the outcome.

Britain could not allow Germany to beat France and Russia and had a moral obligation to help France- unless you assume RN would sit and watch German Fleet bombing the Channel Ports,French trade and colonies.

You are mistaking the Liberals of Asquith with the snowflakes of Corbyn - it was they who entangled Britain with the Dual Alliance more and more.

So,in fact the certainty of British intervention actually made it even more imperative to deal France as soon as possible a crippling blow - underlining the need to outmaneuver the French Fortifications and achieve as soon as possible a blocking position toward Britain as well.

German Imperial Staff better then anybody else understood the value of new weaponry (though not fully) which even more called for maneuver.

The events in Lorraine showed very well mass frontal assault would have resulted in a futile bloodbath - from Sept 4-8 the Sixth Army with 14 divisions failed to dislodge the French Second Army with just 10 divisions (though true if they kept going the Second Army would have lost Nancy- too small a reward for the losses incurred).

And keep in mind - with one division for some 5-6 km.

And with a far higher density?

People forget the Franco German border was just 200 miles and to make it worse around half was through the Vosges leaving just 100 miles or so as more practical ground though this was hilly too and for the more a breach after massive losses of the French barrier would lead nowhere - except some coal mines at Briey there was little to be captured immediately.

The extra forces to be met (12 infantry divisions and some 2-3 cavalry divisions  at max) of Belgium and Britain (I am assuming here it would have taken some time for Britain to enter the war) was well worth the price of avoiding the impossible terrain and widening the frontage in a vast massive outflanking manoeuvre which also offered the chance to  seize immediately a good part of French industrial areas and rich agricultural lands as well as a surprise.

Edited by Dritan Nazeraj

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I think the plan stood a very good chance of achieving a nice blocking position if not an outright knock out blow (impossible given the time needed for the hook).

Even the plan itself spoke that the massive hook would create the conditions for a massive anihilating battle vernichtungschlacht) not for a Cannae type of battle of encirclement - feasible for much much snaller fronts alone.

What screw it was the vacillation of the Kaiser and his entourage prior to the war who had not shaped his mind for war even in July 1914 and left the army unattended and weakened.

They yielded to the pressure of the snowflakes of Reichstag and kept it at a minimum for too long - affecting gravely the number of corps which could be used at the start.

Sounds weird for a country portrayed being under the clutches of prussianism,militarism and so on?

Not at all - facts are stronger then words of the Entente.

Up to 1912 the yearly intake of German youth into the colours amounted to just 53-55% of the eligible numbers while France for example for the same two year duration recruited almost 90% of eligible numbers - really making compulsory service universal as the name suggests.

The Fleet appropriated a large share (yet it was a must for the second trading nation) and the snowflakes of Reichstag left and right did not allow an increase even for moderate numbers due to the need to keep spendings low (the snowflakes of the Right refused because it would entail an increase in taxation - those of the Left for Corbyns motives) until it was too late (Summer 1913).

And even then (after massive Russian increases) they authorized a watered down version at the cost of forcing Moltke to remove from the General Staff the rising star - Ludendorf ,who out of frustration with this snowflakes made the "mistake" of contacting an ex general to ask for help in approving the increase - enough for Corbyn types to pound at "prussianism".

The initial plan endorsed by Ludendorf (in charge of mobilisation ) asked three more corps and it was going to be adopted prior to April mobilisation date instead of July 1913.

Sure not possible to have three extra corps from Spring '13 to summer '14 but at least another would have been raised in time.

 

The superb German plan counted precisely in the number of trained youth of the age 19-27 to be put into the fighting line contrary to the practice of the rest of the armies who did not trust reserve divisions and thought to first train reserves before assigning them full duties.

That is why Kaiser and the snowflakes of Reichstag are guilty for sacrificing the future of their country - if they had spend a bit more since 1905 when Entente was formed in 1914 they would have had several extra corps available for immediate duty.

He is also guilty for the political assignments - starting with Moltke himself and then Pritwitz,Von Bulow,both Crown princes  (of Bavaria included ) and so on. 

 

The other reason was the failure of Moltke himself to conduct the campaign properly and ruthlessly - he clearly did not have the stomach for the duty assigned and fell prey to temptation or was too much snowflake himself to kick the crap out of Crown Princes and put them in line and panicked too much for East Prussia though Hindenburg and Ludendorf assured him.

He failed to create proper Army Groups  (3 in total) and spent the limited general reserve too fast and failed to create an extra temporary reserve from the two central Armies (4&5) of two corps which together with the proper assignment of the three reserve corps  (at least two could have been sent at the rear of Western Armies instead of assigning all three since Aug 15 to the Southern Armies) would have given the German armies the proper depth and chances for a decisive surprise in the Center  (Ardennes) as well as the chance to keep the two corps from general reserve for a new surprise after the initial Battle of the Frontiers around the time his First Army would approach the line Noyon- Amiens.

A proper knock out blow might have well been impossible but German armies stood a very good chance of achieving a far better position along the Seine and further East forcing the French to abandon Verdun,including quite possible Paris itself.

Finally reaching a blocking position pivoting on Toul  (in French hands) west toward St Dizier,Aube and Seine River including Lower Seine. 

Occupying a large chunk of France with some 7 million people or more and a short defensive line same time threatening British communications in the Channel. 

The Entente could have kept fighting for as long as they wished then....

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Wow. Where do I begin ?

To dispose of the British political situation first. I reinterate that  had Belgium not been invaded then British participation would have been unlikely ?  Why ?  One reason is that there was no conscription in thje UK. Alone amongst the European powers they had to rely upon volunteers to form a credible intervention force on the Continent. THe only way to have men streaming to the Recruiting Offices was to have them responding to a clear-cut, unambiguous cause for which to fight. For Serbia ? Never. To support France ? Unlikely.. No, the cruel,unprovoked attack on a peaceful neutral country ,which was invaded merely to suit a military convenience, provided sufficient incentive. And in the conduct of the invasion the Germans provided yet more reason to enlist (Louvain ?).

As to the Schlieffen Plan itself ? It ended in pure failure which condemned the combatants to four years of trench warfare and the eventual defeat of the Central Powers. However inspired it may have been in conception it still depended upon the ability of millions of men,many of them newly recalled from soft civilian life,to march long distances across Western Europe carrying heavy loads during the summer heat, and all during the critical time it took for Joffre to redeploy forty one divisions from Lorraine to support the Marne offensive.

 

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Philip come on- british public was already benevolent toward France and no doubt most however dumb would understand the need to avoid the fall of France.

And for sure incidents at sea would happen - enough to provoke the feelings of the public.

Sure the invasion of Belgium was a better pretext then the preservation of the balance of force but it is certain within a few days Britain would intervene  - the Fleet was already mobilised. 

 

As for the emotional terms like poor little Belgium- come on,those who killed five million in Congo according to the British Consul hardly deserves that term.

 

Once again - I showed you that though Germans had around 50% more soldiers at the start of September in Lorraine in a relatively thinly held front they failed to gain a quick breach (the same for the French offensive ) - the overall numbers were equal between French and Germans.

How the hell would any side gain a quick breach on a very short front held by a thick defense????

Military necessity is as old as humanity - do you know the history of Britain herself or not? :D

Come on man - let's be real.

During Bulanger crisis the British media itself often said that a temporary breach of Belgian neutrality was acceptable for Germany to eliminate the French threat.

Britain hell bent in defending neutrals? :D

The same Britain which imposed a blockade on say Dutch trade? :D

Come on :D

You should know better.

 

Have you read the history of the German March to judge?

 

I can give you the link of a book of a British author to have a clue - a bit biased but loads of info.

Edited by Dritan Nazeraj

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As for the Plan - it did not end in a pure failure - it was a qualified success.

Germany did occupy important parts of France containing heavy industry and mineral resources - just not enough to cripple France critically.

The main problem for the Germans wasn't the lack of proper logistics on Sept 6 - it was the imbalance of forces in the critical western side. 

Once Moltke got sobber and made a tactical retreat to straighten the armies and sent some 3 extra corps (plus the corps which had taken Maubege on the evening of Sept 7) regardless of an overall slight superiority in numbers the Germans quickly stalled the allied counteroffensive in a matter of days.

So,the basic problem was the poor distribution of troops not the overextended logistics of the First Army - itself on the verge of a tactical victory mere hours away against the French Sixth Army when the order to retreat was given (and yes,Kluck was correct in his memories it was a mistake to interrupt the offensive in the middle of the day denying them a tactical victory which would have paralysed the Sixth Army for enough time to allow a leisurely retreat on the far western flank and same time releasing some 3 divisions on the morrow to face the British threat - the relative advantage they would gain beyond the Marne would have been more then repaid by gaining the freedom of manoeuvre vs the Sixth Army ).

And if the two corps and the cavalry division sent in the Eastern Front would have been kept in the West????

Believe me Marne would not have even happened probably - it would have been Seine Battle lol.

We can speculate if you wish.

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On 05/12/2017 at 8:03 AM, Dritan Nazeraj said:

Philip come on- british public was already benevolent toward France and no doubt most however dumb would understand the need to avoid the fall of France.

And for sure incidents at sea would happen - enough to provoke the feelings of the public.

Sure the invasion of Belgium was a better pretext then the preservation of the balance of force but it is certain within a few days Britain would intervene  - the Fleet was already mobilised. 

 

As for the emotional terms like poor little Belgium- come on,those who killed five million in Congo according to the British Consul hardly deserves that term.

 

Once again - I showed you that though Germans had around 50% more soldiers at the start of September in Lorraine in a relatively thinly held front they failed to gain a quick breach (the same for the French offensive ) - the overall numbers were equal between French and Germans.

How the hell would any side gain a quick breach on a very short front held by a thick defense????

Military necessity is as old as humanity - do you know the history of Britain herself or not? :D

Come on man - let's be real.

During Bulanger crisis the British media itself often said that a temporary breach of Belgian neutrality was acceptable for Germany to eliminate the French threat.

Britain hell bent in defending neutrals? :D

The same Britain which imposed a blockade on say Dutch trade? :D

Come on :D

You should know better.

 

Have you read the history of the German March to judge?

 

I can give you the link of a book of a British author to have a clue - a bit biased but loads of info.

"You should know better ". Do you mean that I should, without a doubt, be of the same mind as yourself? Do I know the history of Britain herself or not? you ask.

Well- I do try !

I don't know where the idea that the British public was benevolent towards France came from. Why would they be ? Despite King Edward's sponsored Entente Cordiale, the people were generally indifferent. Bear in mind that France had been the hereditary enemy since the Middle Ages. There had almost been a war in 1899 over the Fashoda Incident. Germany was actually viewed in a far better light as having been,somehow,akin to the British. After all ,the Royal Family was,largely German. Hence Joseph Chamberlain's tentative proposals for an alliance in the 1890s, and again in 1902.

The invasion of Belgium added a moral dimension to what otherwise was an obscure balance-of-power matter. And it was wrong-Bethmann Hollweg admitted as much .

 The fact was that Britain was committed to the integrity of Belgium under the 1839 treaty:- as was Prussia, incidentally. What has Belgium's conduct in the Congo got to do with it ?

The Fleet was mobilized certainly. At a time of international crisis ,wouldn't that be a prudent precaution ?

THe Schlieffen Plan was a gamble, pure and simple:- and it failed. Its failure lay in the rigid timetable: the trains had to deliver the troops. Belgium had to be complicit.The troops and horses had to cover a set distance each day, regardless of any opposition encountered .For the Plan to be fully effective and France defeated  all was timetabled to be achieved in six weeks.

It wasn't. The men fell out exhausted. Boots fell apart. The horses could barely force a walk. Gaps began to appear between the leading formations, all to be exploited by the allies on the Marne. No book that you might care to cite can possibly rewrite history.

In my view, Germany would have been far better off standing on the defensive in the West:permitting the French to exhaust themselves in Alsace-Lorraine and concentrate on the Russian threat.

Instead of which, what was the ultimate result ?

 

Edited by Philip Whitehouse

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Philip, the British public had time being bombarded by pro French propaganda. 

Yes,true up to 1900 or so it was largely benevolent toward Germany but this changed after repeated incidents(for example Jameson Raid, Boer war,Daily Mail interview etc).

Seriously it was only a matter of time - Grey was belligerent - who would counter,Churchill? :D

 

Now to the morality issue - who said invading  Belgium was morally right?

It was a military necessity, put and simple.

Full compensation for any damage was offered.

That Belgium as a small neutral would agree is not something belonging to fantasy- small countries are often (ab) used in this respect - from Britain too btw.

Belgium in fact (the gov and King) were a bit anti German though far from being part of the Entente.

They also were biased toward Flemish  - a Teutonic race - one has to admit this.

However, their resistance was not a killer as many think - it actually helped tactically prior to Mons.

It lent strength to French misconceptions about real German plans - they thought the move beyond Meuse was a diversion.

It also unwittingly gave the Germans the chance to outflank the French left because due to the "delay" the Brits ended up at first Maubege and then Mons- tied to French Fifth Army with Kluck slightly Northwest.

 

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It was beyond the means to give France a knock out blow due to sheer numbers and distances involved - I agree - it would take really dumb moves from the French etc to achieve annihilation in 45 days- true. 

But once again - it depends how do you define a knock out blow.

It you think in terms of unconditional surrender (like in 1940) there was no hope. 

But it the scope is to inflict a crippling blow to weaken France and block both France and Britain then it was the best plan.

Thoughts of breaking the bones in a fortified barrier based on hopes snowflakes would prevent Britain to enter the war are I am sorry,naive.

Let us think about this alternative- namely Germany would respect Belgium with an eye to keep Britain neutral.

All right - as explained German and French forces were roughly equal at the start - how could Germany achieve the neutralization of France?

By hitting a narrow hilly and fortified barrier?

99% it would fail - fortifications require a strong superiority to break. 

Stay on the defensive in the West by instead attacking Russia?

How many corps could be transfered?

Out of around 78 divisions  (Reserve and Labwehr units up to end of August included )  let us say that 20 or even 25 would be sent East.

France had 74 divisions  (Reserve included but the 12 Territorials excluded) - below some 58 divisions was risky,but let us assume some 53-55 would be enough .

This extra 12 corps together with the 6 corps in the East make some 18=36 infantry divisions plus say 4 cavalry divisions or 5.

Russians had a large cavalry so no hope for even equal numbers.

And what could achieve Germany in the East with 36 divisions - 3 armies more or less?

Would have kept one to hold the First Russian army and use the other two to occupy Congress Poland together with Austria?

Ok,done.

Then what?Keep marching inside Russia?For how long?

What makes you think the Tzar would surrender if Germany in Summer and Autumn 1914 would capture the Riga,Daugavpils,Minsk and down to Rovno (Austrians)?

Roumania would enter the war on their side. 

Okay,Moldavia gone too.

Even Turkey would succeed to score a success in the Caucasus.

Ok,then what?

The initial Russian numbers in Congress Poland were small - since Germans would attack no doubt they would cut the losses.

So little hope for a Tannenberg on a mega scale.

The Russian base was further East not in Poland.

And in the West?What would happen in the meantime? 

France would break it's bones in August and September?

Okay,let's assume so(actually since they would have some superiority they may well have pushed Germans in Alsace to the Rhine - Perhaps even from Metz after this due to the exposed FLANK).

 

What would do the German Fleet meanwhile?

Would it stay home or blockade France?

Would Britain accept this?

Since it would mean it's trade with France would be cut.

Would not incidents arise?

Since the German Fleet was entitled to stop ships in the Eglish Channel to prevent contraband - would British public accept the British shios to be routinely checked and if the Maritime Law would be uphold actually be escorted in a German Port for inspection? :D

Would Brits accept the sequestering of ships and cargo so peacefully?

And if German Fleet would say embark a corps to occupy Morocco? :D

For Lusitania a mega storm arose though every legal argument was in German favor - and from the more or less neutral American opinion (neutral at the time) - and how would Brits react if a German sub would sink a French ship with British subjects in it? :D

 

Let us assume that after the initial attack against Russia which of course would yield lands but no peace and since Germans if course would need some time to repair railways (different gauge) how would they spent the time?

Waiting?Or take a chance in the West?

How could it be done against even greater French numbers  (after the mobilisation numbers rose everywhere) in the same restricted area?

Attack via Belgium? :D

But would not Belgian mobilisation have given then at least double the initial numbers  (6 infantry and one cavalry divisions )?

Would not Britain in the mean while have increased somewhat it's Army?

So they would face not simply a fully mobilised Belgian army but a larger BEF too :D

You still sure defense in the West or limiting the attack to exclude Belgium (and Britain ) was the better gamble? :D

Edited by Dritan Nazeraj

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So,Philip, since the famous "encirclement " propagated by pangermanists was a real fact only an all encompassing plan (that is one based on certain British involvement and a neutral Italy) would work.

Shlieffen Plan was simply an operational plan having in mind the Dual Alliance  (France and Russia) - not the Entente as a whole.

It also relied on a faithful Italy which was not realistically to be counted upon - it had time drifting away from the Central Powers and for the more the Tripple alliance pact did not technically count for a preventive war such as Germany and Austria was doing and for the more Italy had made it clear repeatedly they were not prepared to fight against Britain.

Also,when the plan was completed Russia was semi paralysed from the Revolution - the basic tenet of the whole plan was a slow Russian mobilisation  - so true when it was finalised. 

The failure prior to the war to prepare the German  (and Austrian) Army for the actual changed circumstances  belongs to Kaiser and the German Government - not so much on Moltke - he was rebuffed repeatedly in his requests to strengthen the Army while there was time (even a limited increase of just 27,000 regular soldiers had years waiting to be approved by the snowflakes of Reichstag and the Government in 1911 - the year of Agadir Crisis).

The changed circumstances  (I.e - the more and more distinct prospect of Britain joining immediately in the war and the slow desertion of Italy plus the revival of Russia,the slow distancing of Roumania,the strengthening  of Serbia, the weakening of Turkey) in fact made it (the Shlieffen plan) even more desirable and indeed a MUST since all this factors strengthened the French revanschism - reflected more and more in unconditional support for Russia - this was the real blanc cheque,not the German support for Austria.

Since the inception of German Austrian alliance (1873 and especially after 1879) the German partner had restrained the Austrian Partner. 

The famous white check came only in the end - July 1914- when the encirclement was a real fact.

It was a do or die matter.

The strategic circumstances made it imperative that though Russia and then Britain might be the strategic enemy to beat the pillar of the Entente was France - with France knocked out or greatly weakened Central Powers could afford a lengthy war - the actual set of events proved this perfectly - though the war started badly for Central Powers they held the rest of the world at bay for four years.

I won't touch the moral topic - there is so much to be said and it is not the theme.

I will comment only in the practical aspect - was the Plan a strategic mistake or it was badly excecuted by an unprepared Army.

I fully believe it was the best possible bet.

The "mistake " lay on the failure of Government to provide the means and the failure of Moltke the Young to implement it correctly.

Even though Germany lacked several much needed corps through it's long time failure to train more of it's youth (the base of it's superb performance )- be it the limited increase of 27,000 mire recruits applied since 1908 - the Plan even with the means at hand offered a very good chance to achieve the quick reaching of a line from Lower Seine (and probably even more south toward Dreux -Plaisir (with Le Havre included),round Paris Camp (depending on French moves might have even captured Paris ) and then along the Seine and Aube Rivers ending on Comercy - Toul- Nancy pivot before heading south along Vosges.

Though it would not knock out France it would have been severe enough to cripple the Western Allies in the long term,providing a much better and shorter  defensive line and consequently allowing a stronger Army in the Eastern Front to knock Russia out if not during November '14 at least during 1915.

There would not be an Italian entry alongside Entente at all after a much larger success bothin the West and in the East and in Autumn 1915 Entente would have been forced to sue for peace or Russia might have signed a separate Peace.

The crux of the matter was the failure of Moltke to keep in mind the basic tenets of the Plan and to follow the German operational doctrine.

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To pass into specifics:

Moltke made some changes to the initial plan on view of the new circumstances  - the means at hand were not lavish so he had to compromise.

He strengthened the Eastern Front with two corps - events proved him correct - the strengthened lone Army more then held it's own.

 

He strengthened the Lorraine front with 4 corps making it much less vulnerable to the expected French attack and lending strength to the idea the main German force was around Lorraine- Metz - Louxembourg area.

It could hold off long enough to allow the Western armies to make themselves felt - realizing both the physical and logistical constrains (the original plan counted on no Belgian resistance probably since the rhythm of advance had to be real quick to forbid a fast French March against the weakened Lorraine front - nor did it keep much in mind the moral aspect on Southern Germany).

He left the center as it was but here was his first mistake - he distributed the corps to the armies instead of keeping two in reserve and 8 frontline (southern pivot was Metz - one of the strongest fortresses in the world) in the right rear of the northern army (the fourth) to have quick means at hand to counter any event with a proper mass of maneuver.

His general reserve was thin-just 6 divisions - the mistake is this weren't first class corps but ersatz divisions.

He however can not be blamed for this  - the Corbyn types restricted the German army because for them prussianism was a worse adversary then Entente Hordes. 

France could enlist yearly 90% of it's eligible youth - this fellows of Merkel Shultz kept the respective German strength at 53% :D

There is more - the bad set up at the Center was compounded by the premature commitment of the small reserve - since August 15 it was sent to the Southern Armies - probably alarmed by exaggerated reports of French strength. 

But in the next couple of days events proved the contrary- French strength was visibly diminished - it's progress much slowed down - why not reorder two corps  (4 divisions) on Aug 17 as a general reserve of the two western armies and sent via railway to Huy - Liege fast?

An extra corps was enough to prolong the German resistance in Lorraine.

By August 20 the German set up would have been perfect - deep in the all important western armies with two corps following the Two western armies and two more south around Marche in Ardennes at the right rear of the Fourth Army.

To 'be continued.

Edited by Dritan Nazeraj

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As mentioned prior one of his errors was not to create proper Army Groups  (3 in total) each with a specific duty and a separate commander instead of simply assigning one army commander to lead another too since it is normal in his eyes his own situation takes priority.

The western group would command the First and Second Army, the Center group the Third (Saxons),The Fourth (Wurtemberg)  and the Fifth (Crown Prince of Germany) and the southern with the Sixth and Seventh  (for this southern armies in fact the unity of command was achieved ).

Each of this groups in Aug 20 would have had a sizeable reserve (for the Northern /Western group 4 divisions sent from general reserve at or approaching Huy-Liege,for the Central group the two mentioned corps at the right of the Fourth Army which corresponded with almost the Center of the group as a whole and the Southern group one extra corps in the form of two reserve divisions).

This is not fantasy Philip, in the war of maneuver when you do not know the precise strength and location of enemy units a deep formation is a MUST - a principle in fact of German doctrine. 

Moltke instead by this date had spread all his forces in a linear way - how could he respond to an emergency or chance?

Is it surprising that the much criticized Von Bulow at the eve of the all important Battle of the Frontiers ,cautious by nature,  in his quality as temporary commander of Western Armies ordered the First Army (he himself was also commander of the Second Army ) on Aug 21 to adopt a course closer to his own Second Army that had just started the Battle of the Charleroi- Sambre?

He knew the French were heading toward him,did not know their numbers,knew Brits were coming too though not numbers or precise location and wasn't sure if the projected attack of the Third Army on the morrow would be succesful or not.

So he adopted the usual practice of bringing armies closer together and by so doing deviating from the plan which in fact planned to direct the main strength of the First Army toward Ath and then Tournai- Valenciennes rather then more directly south toward Mons.

If he would have been an Army Group commander well brieffed about the plan (so with a much wider view ) also knowing he would also have a general reserve of two corps on the Meuse shortly and also knowing that the next group of Armies also had a reserve East of Giver just two days away from Sambre no doubt he would have risked and kept to the plan since he would have the means for every eventuality within easy reach.

 

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Same thing in the Center (Ardennes) - the ingenious German plan initially showed just two armies (the Fourth and Fifth ) from Giver down to Metz.

The third  (and the most northern army) advanced behind the cavalry screen of Richthoffen in Aug 18-21 and on Aug 22 (one day after Von Bulow hit the Sambre) attacked from south of Namur to Dinant in a one ,two move,taking the frenchies by surprise. 

The French also at the same time  (Aug 21)attacked south of Givet toward Neufchateau - Arlon - a move well predicted by germans.

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So,the French moves created an ideal chance for the Germans to achieve a much greater initial result.

In the North/Northwest while the Second and Third Army where blocking and beating the French Fifth Army in a one,two punch (in Aug 21 on the Sambre and one day later south of Namur to Dinant by the Third Army ) constantly putting the French on the wrong foot the First German Army had reached operational freedom after forcing the Belgians into Antwerp.

The lack of a proper commander at an Army Group level together with lack of a reserve were behind  (which Moltke could have easily provided by reassigning two corps of the general reserve heading toward Lorraine)  the wrong decision of von Bulow in Aug 21 to order the First Army closer to his own Second Army,deviating from the Plan.

The proper solution was to direct 2/3 of the First Army toward Tournai - Valenciennes while two corps would head toward Mons and further East to keep in touch with the Second Army  - avoiding to decisively clash on the 23 with the Brits.

The "delay" on Liege actually played in German hands - the extra days of delay allowed the BEF to arrive on the 21 at Maubege and 22 at Mons- tied to the French army onit's Right - being the Left wing of the entire allied deployment. 

The First Army was slightly Northwest and with the necessary numbers to both send the necessary force toward Brits to keep them blocked and to march directly southwest toward Tournai - before heading south - effectively finding and turning the allied flank,in keeping with established German doctrine.

There was only one (1) French territorial division further west then Brits on the 23-d - the 84-th at Valenciennes - a piece of cake for the three full first line infantry corps and a full cavalry corps of Von Kluck.

 

At the same time an amazing opportunity appeared at Ardennes - the French offensive.

Stupid Joffre ordered a full attack from the bases of the Fourth and Third French armies at Sedan -Stenay due East by North toward the line Libramont - Neufchateau - Arlon and Longwy while the French Fifth Army was facing North some 100 km further North west,with it's hands full by two German armies! 

Do you realize the huge chance presented to German armies? 

If Moltke had applied correctly the doctrine and created an Army Group command who would posses two corps in his right Center  (so closer to the main German attack- a natural position) the opportunity offered an ideal chance.

In the Afternoon of Aug 21 it was clear that the two advancing German armies  (the Fourth and Fifth  Since in the far north behind the Cavalry of Richthoffen the Third was preparing to hit the Meuse in force from Dinant to Namur) were meeting a major French offensive - it was obvious the scheme (also a major goal of the overall Plan)- this armies would retreat on the 22 while the general reserve of two full corps would march from around Marche toward the line Givet- Gedinne - covered by two French corps in a flank duty.

Elated by the "success" of the 22 of course the French would have kept attacking (as a matter of fact Joffre asked to attack even after the heavy defeat of the 22) further East by North while in the morning of 23 the heavily reinforced right wing of the Fourth Army would make a decisive surprise attack on the line Givet - Gedinne aiming to cross the Meuse north and south of Givet and toward Fumay and Mezieres - Sedan.

Hard to conceive a more nasty blow - at the seam of two armies both engaged heavily with no reserves at hand (the French Fifth Army was using it's last reserves to contain the Saxon army at Dinant) facing an enemy double the number (2 corps in line added by the two reserve corps  against two French corps - and the frenchies hardly digged at all).

By afternoon it would be clear to the french commander of the Fourth Army the grave danger of effective outflanking - no doubt he would have ordered a hurried retreat but could he arrive before the Germans to stop them on the 24 from massively crossing the Meuse,seize Mezieres and be at the doors of Sedan?

His main corps would be toward Libramont and beyond Neufchateau- more then 50 km further East - try as they might no chance they could make it in time. 

So,while the French Fourth Army would retreat in the afternoon the Third on the 24-th of course would have followed rapidly to avoid outflanking - arriving at Stenay by evening of 25-th.

So Joffre on the 24-th of August would see the worst scenario - a left Wing owned by Germans (the First Army ),with the British force effectively countered by two Corps, a shattered Fifth Army further East in full retreat and A BROKEN CONNECTION BETWEEN THE FIFTH AND THE FOURTH FRENCH ARMY ,with the Germans possessing Mezieres,seriously threatening Sedan (which would mean the remaining 4 corps of the Fourth Army would have to cross further South - in the area of the next army,creating a damn mess,and quite obviously the right wing of the German Fourth Army backed further North by the Third Army poised to keep outflanking the French Fourth Army toward Signy l'Abbaye and further toward Rethel - by so doing keep threatening the French Fourth Army and widening the breach in the Center between the beleguared  Fifth and Fourth Army. 

So,two serious threats instead of just one as actually happened  ,while the two reserve corps on the North group would not be involved and being marched behind the First German Army to be used as a further surprise some days later.

And for the more in the far Northwestern side Kluck would not be tied close to the Second Army - having to overcome with his main force the obstinate Brits - but forcing the tied  (after the French Fifth Army ) Brits to retreat by the obvious more distant outflanking toward Douai - Denain (south of Valenciennes ),unable to hit on the flank due to the two corps directly on their heels west of Maubege.

There were only two French reserve divisions  (61&62) at Arras except the 84-th Territorials to counter the four German corps  (3 infantry and one cavalry) !

And to make it worse - in Lorraine his failing offensive would have the 22 divisions (except some 3 cavalry divisions ) blocked in a fruitless offensive!

In Southern Alsace 7 more divisions changing some Landwehr brigades :D

 

In the actual events Joffre had only one threat (Kluck without a reserve),his Lorraine force back in the fortifications giving a blow to the foolish German attempt of Bavarian Crown Prince toward the Charmes Gap (instead of the french it were the Germans wasting divisions in a secondary theatre ), and his central Armies  (fourth and Third ) behind the Meuse on the 24-th - beaten tactically in Ardennes but helped by terrain to deny the pursuing German armies an easy crossing ( inflicting heavy casualties on them) for several days!

And Moltke helped on the 24 and 25 August by removing 2 infantry corps and one cavalry divisions from precisely the Second (the Guards Reserve corps and the 11-th reserve corps from Saxons if I am not wrong) and the Third Armies who after the constrained area between Maubege and Dinant were just gaining momentum toward the Fifth Army  (mostly by the Second Army since the Third was heading more South toward Rethel to help the failing German Fourth Army pass the Meuse)!!!!

And you tell me it was a matter of logistics? :D

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32 minutes ago, Dritan Nazeraj said:

 

So,the French moves created an ideal chance for the Germans to achieve a much greater initial result.

In the North/Northwest while the Second and Third Army where blocking and beating the French Fifth Army in a one,two punch (in Aug 21 on the Sambre and one day later south of Namur to Dinant by the Third Army ) constantly putting the French on the wrong foot the First German Army had reached operational freedom after forcing the Belgians into Antwerp.

The lack of a proper commander at an Army Group level together with lack of a reserve were behind  (which Moltke could have easily provided by reassigning two corps of the general reserve heading toward Lorraine)  the wrong decision of von Bulow in Aug 21 to order the First Army closer to his own Second Army,deviating from the Plan.

The proper solution was to direct 2/3 of the First Army toward Tournai - Valenciennes while two corps would head toward Mons and further East to keep in touch with the Second Army  - avoiding to decisively clash on the 23 with the Brits.

The "delay" on Liege actually played in German hands - the extra days of delay allowed the BEF to arrive on the 21 at Maubege and 22 at Mons- tied to the French army onit's Right - being the Left wing of the entire allied deployment. 

The First Army was slightly Northwest and with the necessary numbers to both send the necessary force toward Brits to keep them blocked and to march directly southwest toward Tournai - before heading south - effectively finding and turning the allied flank,in keeping with established German doctrine.

There was only one (1) French territorial division further west then Brits on the 23-d - the 84-th at Valenciennes - a piece of cake for the three full first line infantry corps and a full cavalry corps of Von Kluck.

 

At the same time an amazing opportunity appeared at Ardennes - the French offensive.

Stupid Joffre ordered a full attack from the bases of the Fourth and Third French armies at Sedan -Stenay due East by North toward the line Libramont - Neufchateau - Arlon and Longwy while the French Fifth Army was facing North some 100 km further North west,with it's hands full by two German armies! 

Do you realize the huge chance presented to German armies? 

If Moltke had applied correctly the doctrine and created an Army Group command who would posses two corps in his right Center  (so closer to the main German attack- a natural position) the opportunity offered an ideal chance.

In the Afternoon of Aug 21 it was clear that the two advancing German armies  (the Fourth and Fifth  Since in the far north behind the Cavalry of Richthoffen the Third was preparing to hit the Meuse in force from Dinant to Namur) were meeting a major French offensive - it was obvious the scheme (also a major goal of the overall Plan)- this armies would retreat on the 22 while the general reserve of two full corps would march from around Marche toward the line Givet- Gedinne - covered by two French corps in a flank duty.

Elated by the "success" of the 22 of course the French would have kept attacking (as a matter of fact Joffre asked to attack even after the heavy defeat of the 22) further East by North while in the morning of 23 the heavily reinforced right wing of the Fourth Army would make a decisive surprise attack on the line Givet - Gedinne aiming to cross the Meuse north and south of Givet and toward Fumay and Mezieres - Sedan.

Hard to conceive a more nasty blow - at the seam of two armies both engaged heavily with no reserves at hand (the French Fifth Army was using it's last reserves to contain the Saxon army at Dinant) facing an enemy double the number (2 corps in line added by the two reserve corps  against two French corps - and the frenchies hardly digged at all).

By afternoon it would be clear to the french commander of the Fourth Army the grave danger of effective outflanking - no doubt he would have ordered a hurried retreat but could he arrive before the Germans to stop them on the 24 from massively crossing the Meuse,seize Mezieres and be at the doors of Sedan?

His main corps would be toward Libramont and beyond Neufchateau- more then 50 km further East - try as they might no chance they could make it in time. 

So,while the French Fourth Army would retreat in the afternoon the Third on the 24-th of course would have followed rapidly to avoid outflanking - arriving at Stenay by evening of 25-th.

So Joffre on the 24-th of August would see the worst scenario - a left Wing owned by Germans (the First Army ),with the British force effectively countered by two Corps, a shattered Fifth Army further East in full retreat and A BROKEN CONNECTION BETWEEN THE FIFTH AND THE FOURTH FRENCH ARMY ,with the Germans possessing Mezieres,seriously threatening Sedan (which would mean the remaining 4 corps of the Fourth Army would have to cross further South - in the area of the next army,creating a damn mess,and quite obviously the right wing of the German Fourth Army backed further North by the Third Army poised to keep outflanking the French Fourth Army toward Signy l'Abbaye and further toward Rethel - by so doing keep threatening the French Fourth Army and widening the breach in the Center between the beleguared  Fifth and Fourth Army. 

So,two serious threats instead of just one as actually happened  ,while the two reserve corps on the North group would not be involved and being marched behind the First German Army to be used as a further surprise some days later.

And for the more in the far Northwestern side Kluck would not be tied close to the Second Army - having to overcome with his main force the obstinate Brits - but forcing the tied  (after the French Fifth Army ) Brits to retreat by the obvious more distant outflanking toward Douai - Denain (south of Valenciennes ),unable to hit on the flank due to the two corps directly on their heels west of Maubege.

There were only two French reserve divisions  (61&62) at Arras except the 84-th Territorials to counter the four German corps  (3 infantry and one cavalry) !

And to make it worse - in Lorraine his failing offensive would have the 22 divisions (except some 3 cavalry divisions ) blocked in a fruitless offensive!

In Southern Alsace 7 more divisions changing some Landwehr brigades :D

 

In the actual events Joffre had only one threat (Kluck without a reserve),his Lorraine force back in the fortifications giving a blow to the foolish German attempt of Bavarian Crown Prince toward the Charmes Gap (instead of the french it were the Germans wasting divisions in a secondary theatre ), and his central Armies  (fourth and Third ) behind the Meuse on the 24-th - beaten tactically in Ardennes but helped by terrain to deny the pursuing German armies an easy crossing ( inflicting heavy casualties on them) for several days!

And Moltke helped on the 24 and 25 August by removing 2 infantry corps and one cavalry divisions from precisely the Second (the Guards Reserve corps and the 11-th reserve corps from Saxons if I am not wrong) and the Third Armies who after the constrained area between Maubege and Dinant were just gaining momentum toward the Fifth Army  (mostly by the Second Army since the Third was heading more South toward Rethel to help the failing German Fourth Army pass the Meuse)!!!!

And you tell me it was a matter of logistics? :D

And,in the end so it was:-that and the fact that Moltke did not hold his nerve and the actual on-the-ground conditions did not correspond with the map appreciations.

Your learned discourse on the movement of the opposing forces ,the German Command Structure, and the German ORBAT all makes interesting reading.and I'll not dispute it.

But in the end, what does it all amount to ?

The fact remains that the Schlieffen Plan did not succeed, and the consequences were dire.The chances of a quick and absolute victory that the Plan was supposed to ensure were gone forever. Total defeat might be averted. Military successes elsewhere might lead to a negotiated peace:- perhaps. But the invasion of Belgium brought the British Empire into the war,and the naval supremacy that came with it brought on a blockade of Germany against which the response was unrestricted submarine warfare.

That brought an enraged United States into the war.

So what was left ? The only remedy was to dig trenches and hope to win a war of attrition.

It occurs to me that one way that the Plan might have achieved a "Qualified Success" was the seizure of the Channel Ports.

But that didn't happen either.

16 hours ago, Dritan Nazeraj said:

Philip, the British public had time being bombarded by pro French propaganda. 

Yes,true up to 1900 or so it was largely benevolent toward Germany but this changed after repeated incidents(for example Jameson Raid, Boer war,Daily Mail interview etc).

Seriously it was only a matter of time - Grey was belligerent - who would counter,Churchill? :D

 

Now to the morality issue - who said invading  Belgium was morally right?

It was a military necessity, put and simple.

Full compensation for any damage was offered.

That Belgium as a small neutral would agree is not something belonging to fantasy- small countries are often (ab) used in this respect - from Britain too btw.

Belgium in fact (the gov and King) were a bit anti German though far from being part of the Entente.

They also were biased toward Flemish  - a Teutonic race - one has to admit this.

However, their resistance was not a killer as many think - it actually helped tactically prior to Mons.

It lent strength to French misconceptions about real German plans - they thought the move beyond Meuse was a diversion.

It also unwittingly gave the Germans the chance to outflank the French left because due to the "delay" the Brits ended up at first Maubege and then Mons- tied to French Fifth Army with Kluck slightly Northwest.

 

"Military necessity " ?  Who said so ?

Perhaps you would describe the "Full Compensation" given to Belgium in the event. The burning of Louvain, the removal of industrial resources ,the murder and enslavement of the Belgian population,perhaps ?

 

 

 

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What would happen next was :

1 . The rapid abandonment of the Meuse Line by the Fourth Army on the night between 25/26 and then the Third one day later - so Germans would not spend much bones as actually happened. 

2. There would be no Guise counterattack which contributed so much to unravel the Shlieffen plan - since the Fifth Army would be threatened on both sides (nor would there be a need to relieve pressure on Brits since the later would not be engaged seriously at all - unless we assume they would be stupid enough to stop south of Maubege and allow themselves to be outflanked and forced East - on the rear of the retreating Fifth Army :D )

 

3. Joffre would send whatever reserve divisions he had both in the Center as well as in the West - no doubt the parallel needs would mean less forces in the West because the breach in the Center was for the moment more dangerous and pressing - there would be no time to send this reserve divisions in Lorraine and then send the more experienced regular divisions in the West as happened.

4.The two central Armies would retreat fast from Meuse and together with the reserve divisions sent in the Center (which formed the Detachment Foch in the actual events) in order to form a shortened line and give a major battle in Champaigne and Argonne and in front of Reims to stop the German onrush in the Center  (roughly between August 29-30).

5. The French Fifth Army and BEF would keep retreating south by east without interruption in order to be in line with the Center armies preparing to give battle on August 29 (read point 4) since a retreat more west would make it impossible to seal the breach. 

Actually hard to think Fifth Army would stop at Noyon-  La Fere - Laon line - they would be protruded more North then the Center army - a more probable stopping line (no doubt the Fifth and BEF would have to make some sort of stance while the Battle in Reims - Champaigne - Argonne  would happen otherwise it was compromised since the start) would be along the famous Chemin de Dames on the evening of August 29.

6 . The First German Army would have followed it's actual southwest course - just more west by some 20-30 km - since August 26/27 on a diverging course with the Brits retreating more east - just a more rapid advance due to the initial move toward Tournai which would have avoided a protracted collision with the Brits for four consecutive days (23-26 August).

Still able to assign one corps to follow the Brits once the line Peronne - St Quentin would be reached,battling the smaller French forces (no doubt due to parallel need to reinforce heavily the breach in the Center ).

Reaching the line Roye- Amiens (close to) by August 28 - one day prior then actually happened. 

Not impossible - From Tournai - Valenciennes(reached on the evening of Aug 23) to Roye- Amiens  the distance is just 110 km or so - 22 km a day for his first rate corps facing some from 1 (initially) ,to 3 and by 27-28 Aug some 5-6 reserve and territorial divisions was not an impossible task.

The cavalry of general Sordet would not be able to contest the march before August 27 - at Aug 24 (evening ) it was at Avesnes - East of BEF.

By forced marches on a shorter distance it hardly succeeded to be in a position to reach in front of Kluck's right wing - stopped from a greater pace by British resistance - since he would be more west and facing less resistance no way he would be able to counter before Aug 27  at best around Albert  - easing Kluck-s duty. 

And here we come to the last probable surprise of Moltke - the two reserve corps behind the First Army from his general reserve. 

They would be finally able to reach the advancing corps of Kluck by August 28-29 - exactly when Joffre would stop the french FIFTH and BEF at the line Compiegne- Cuts - Chemin de Dames  to Juvigny to help during the predicted Reims - Champaigne Battle against the German Center!

Imagine French surprise on August 29-30 when they would discover that Kluck did not have 5 but fully 7 corps with himself!

Able to both push hard west of Oise with 4 infantry corps and the Cavalry corps yet at the same time advance 3 full infantry corps against the British force of 5 divisions!

While the Fifth would have in front an equal force (because those two corps removed on August 24-25 would be there too!

Still a matter of logistics,right? :D

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2 minutes ago, Dritan Nazeraj said:

What would happen next was :

1 . The rapid abandonment of the Meuse Line by the Fourth Army on the night between 25/26 and then the Third one day later - so Germans would not spend much bones as actually happened. 

2. There would be no Guise counterattack which contributed so much to unravel the Shlieffen plan - since the Fifth Army would be threatened on both sides (nor would there be a need to relieve pressure on Brits since the later would not be engaged seriously at all - unless we assume they would be stupid enough to stop south of Maubege and allow themselves to be outflanked and forced East - on the rear of the retreating Fifth Army :D )

 

3. Joffre would send whatever reserve divisions he had both in the Center as well as in the West - no doubt the parallel needs would mean less forces in the West because the breach in the Center was for the moment more dangerous and pressing - there would be no time to send this reserve divisions in Lorraine and then send the more experienced regular divisions in the West as happened.

4.The two central Armies would retreat fast from Meuse and together with the reserve divisions sent in the Center (which formed the Detachment Foch in the actual events) in order to form a shortened line and give a major battle in Champaigne and Argonne and in front of Reims to stop the German onrush in the Center  (roughly between August 29-30).

5. The French Fifth Army and BEF would keep retreating south by east without interruption in order to be in line with the Center armies preparing to give battle on August 29 (read point 4) since a retreat more west would make it impossible to seal the breach. 

Actually hard to think Fifth Army would stop at Noyon-  La Fere - Laon line - they would be protruded more North then the Center army - a more probable stopping line (no doubt the Fifth and BEF would have to make some sort of stance while the Battle in Reims - Champaigne - Argonne  would happen otherwise it was compromised since the start) would be along the famous Chemin de Dames on the evening of August 29.

6 . The First German Army would have followed it's actual southwest course - just more west by some 20-30 km - since August 26/27 on a diverging course with the Brits retreating more east - just a more rapid advance due to the initial move toward Tournai which would have avoided a protracted collision with the Brits for four consecutive days (23-26 August).

Still able to assign one corps to follow the Brits once the line Peronne - St Quentin would be reached,battling the smaller French forces (no doubt due to parallel need to reinforce heavily the breach in the Center ).

Reaching the line Roye- Amiens (close to) by August 28 - one day prior then actually happened. 

Not impossible - From Tournai - Valenciennes(reached on the evening of Aug 23) to Roye- Amiens  the distance is just 110 km or so - 22 km a day for his first rate corps facing some from 1 (initially) ,to 3 and by 27-28 Aug some 5-6 reserve and territorial divisions was not an impossible task.

The cavalry of general Sordet would not be able to contest the march before August 27 - at Aug 24 (evening ) it was at Avesnes - East of BEF.

By forced marches on a shorter distance it hardly succeeded to be in a position to reach in front of Kluck's right wing - stopped from a greater pace by British resistance - since he would be more west and facing less resistance no way he would be able to counter before Aug 27  at best around Albert  - easing Kluck-s duty. 

And here we come to the last probable surprise of Moltke - the two reserve corps behind the First Army from his general reserve. 

They would be finally able to reach the advancing corps of Kluck by August 28-29 - exactly when Joffre would stop the french FIFTH and BEF at the line Compiegne- Cuts - Chemin de Dames  to Juvigny to help during the predicted Reims - Champaigne Battle against the German Center!

Imagine French surprise on August 29-30 when they would discover that Kluck did not have 5 but fully 7 corps with himself!

Able to both push hard west of Oise with 4 infantry corps and the Cavalry corps yet at the same time advance 3 full infantry corps against the British force of 5 divisions!

While the Fifth would have in front an equal force (because those two corps removed on August 24-25 would be there too!

Still a matter of logistics,right? :D

Please read my (slightly) earller response.

You simply can't dress-up the Schlieffen Plan as,in any way ,a success

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Philip,read the next comment too please.

I write long text,trying to cover everything, every scenario.

Yes,I have read a lot.

For whoever has read the actual moves it is clear I am not talking about fantasy - it is all the natural consequence of a proper deployment. 

Once again - you apparently fail to understand - had the German onrush reached and kept the Lower Seine the Channel Ports were a gonner, Belgian Army too. 

There would be some 4 million frenchies too under german rule - their sons woume not serve for France,the mines of Bethune would not yield coal for France,the rich valley of Marne,the Valois,the agricultural areas west of Oise would not feed the french.

Yes,France would keep fighting ,but with a lesser cumulative  impact. 

Britain no doubt would keep a couple of corps in readiness at Dover once the Channel Ports would be in German hands.

Belgium might well have surrendered rather then evacuate toward the unknown and fight in a distant area in French soil.

You forget the cumulative effects. 

Why would have Italy joined Entente in May 1915 when Central Powers would be in a far better position?

Actually why would Germany rush to declare unrestricted submarine warfare in Febbruary 1915?

Large and rich  French agricultural and industrial areas ensured both food and products for the time being .

It took Britain two years to be a serious land factor - what guarantees you France would last until then?

In Spring 1916 they almost lost the Verdun Battle - and if they would have say 10 divisions less?

If Italy would not see an apparent Entente success why would they join?

And with Italy neutral there was no chance for a Russian success toward Austrians. 

 

And we all know without a Russian success Roumania would have kept neutrality. 

You seriously underestimate how much a close run thing it was.

Just a little shaped victory from defeat.

Only the limited German success at the start saved Entente.

This is what you do not understand. 

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4 minutes ago, Dritan Nazeraj said:

Philip,read the next comment too please.

I write long text,trying to cover everything, every scenario.

Yes,I have read a lot.

For whoever has read the actual moves it is clear I am not talking about fantasy - it is all the natural consequence of a proper deployment. 

Once again - you apparently fail to understand - had the German onrush reached and kept the Lower Seine the Channel Ports were a gonner, Belgian Army too. 

There would be some 4 million frenchies too under german rule - their sons woume not serve for France,the mines of Bethune would not yield coal for France,the rich valley of Marne,the Valois,the agricultural areas west of Oise would not feed the french.

Yes,France would keep fighting ,but with a lesser cumulative  impact. 

Britain no doubt would keep a couple of corps in readiness at Dover once the Channel Ports would be in German hands.

Belgium might well have surrendered rather then evacuate toward the unknown and fight in a distant area in French soil.

You forget the cumulative effects. 

Why would have Italy joined Entente in May 1915 when Central Powers would be in a far better position?

Actually why would Germany rush to declare unrestricted submarine warfare in Febbruary 1915?

Large and rich  French agricultural and industrial areas ensured both food and products for the time being .

It took Britain two years to be a serious land factor - what guarantees you France would last until then?

In Spring 1916 they almost lost the Verdun Battle - and if they would have say 10 divisions less?

If Italy would not see an apparent Entente success why would they join?

And with Italy neutral there was no chance for a Russian success toward Austrians. 

 

And we all know without a Russian success Roumania would have kept neutrality. 

You seriously underestimate how much a close run thing it was.

Just a little shaped victory from defeat.

Only the limited German success at the start saved Entente.

This is what you do not understand. 

Frankly no:- I don't.

It might all have been a close-run thing. The German Army no doubt fought heroically .

But notwithstanding anything else, in the end,are we not concerned with end results ?

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I did read your comment my friend.

Just read the probable scenario from a different deployment  - you will see the errors of Moltke seriously undermined the German success.

It's not that the french victory at the Marne was unavoidable  - a mere 4-5 days later after they 're arranged the deployment they stopped the french and Brits. 

No,not logistics man,the bad set up screw the German chances.

The combatants were not in a position to out fight each other - they were equal.

Once the french would transfer enough divisions from the East they would finally stop the Germans. 

True,but they were not able either to dislodge them against not simply parity of numbers but even a small superiority in numbers. 

Germans had a higher quality unit vs unit. 

Time and again they proved it .

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You seriously have no idea about the tactical aspect of Marne - no offense intended.

Probably you think about some magnificent victory :D

Nope,it was a poor one - the french and Brits actually lost more men then the Germans :D

Only in one sector the Franco Brits (superior in numbers overall) won - everywhere else they were losing- in Ourcq the Sixth Army of Manoury was a mere few km (3-4 hours more pressure from Germans) away from defeat,against Foch Saxons and part of Second Army were actually winning (and no,not with  some huge superiority of numbers - equal forces more or less),at Vitri equal fight (the frenchies restored the initial disadvantage but could not push the Germans back) - further East? 

Surprise - the frenchies had actually started the retreat from Verdun when the news of German retreat from Marne reached Serrail (the french commander ).

In Lorraine in the evening of Sept 7 Joffre begged Castelnau to hold "just 24 hours more" - a decisive request since in the afternoon of Sept 8 Germans started to transfer their forces in the West  - mere hours away from victory .

In Vosges too until Sept 6 frenchies with 12 divisions could not make a gain against 8 divisions - yes,even with 12  against 8 they were not wining!

Only when Moltke removed the XV corps and left just 6 divisions this 12 divisions regained the Meurthe Valley!!!

But all this was in vain - this heroic efforts up and down actually sucked the German strength away from the decisive field of battle - the Marne.

The one sector they won - in the Fifth and British areas - was decisive.

And do you know the numbers?

15+ Franco British divisions with 2 more in reserve (a third was given to Foch) against .... 5+ German infantry divisions and 4-5 cavalry divisions  (cavalry was equal in numbers ).

Yes,15 to 5!

You heard it well!

The Seventh German corps, the Tenth German corps facing the 18,the Third and the First another French corps of fully 10 divisions backed by 2 reserve divisions in the rear, one brigade from the Ninth German corps and 2-3 cavalry divisions of Marwitz strengthened in the afternoon of Sept 9 (once all was over ) by the Fifth infantry division against 5 full British divisions and a separate brigade and backed by some 3 cavalry brigades (Germans used mostly cavalry against Brits).

Yes,in 7,8 and first half of Sept 9  (two full days) the Germans had only one infantry brigade and 2-3 cavalry divisions  (a max of 22-25,000 men ) against 5,5 British infantry divisions and a cavalry equal to around 2 German cavalry divisions  (they had a different organisation at the start for cavalry )!!!

British total was around 90,000 men against a fourth of their size.

How much land they gained?

From Coloumiers to Petit Morin and just beyond Marne - say 30 km at best in some 2,5 days :D

 

And now imagine roles reversed :D

Better not :D

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Well,I hope you did read my last post.

There is a reason why loads of historians  (military historians ) blame Moltke for his failure to focus on the decisive theatre wasting the precious initial high quality corps  in pointless attacks up and down without creating anywhere enough strength to achieve a real breakthrough.

Because yes,in the end the french would somehow stop the German drive but there is a huge difference between a German Army on the line Toul - Commercy - St Dizier - Aube -  (upper) Seine- round Paris (or even south of it) and then alongside Lower Seine  (probably even with a bridge head south and Le Havre in their hands ) with everything behind (including Channel Ports ) falling for sure and a German Army that lost at Marne and was at the line Verdun  (north of) - Champagne - North of Reims - along Aisne to Noyon - then sharply north east of Roye  -Brat - Albert - Arras (east of) - Armentieres -Ypres - Yser river.

Open a map and check the difference  - such a huge difference, no?

Up to 4 extra million French denied to French war effort (10% of population) and for the more the most developed areas.

Would not this position threaten British Naval Mastery?

Imagine the main U boat base not at Ostende but at Le Havre or Dieppe!

Would not the shortened line,lesser losses (no First Ypres needed if the Race to the Sea would end at Diepe or Le Havre,tens of thousands extra soldiers captured  (Belgians, Verdun Garrison,Territorials of Channel Ports etc) affect the course of the war?

Would not Brits keep a couple of corps home in Spring '15?

So,what urge would have the German Army to use chemical weapons prematurely?

Read the memories of Ludendorf (are published online) - he bitterly complains about the lack of a few extra corps in Summer '15 to achieve a proper outflanking and interrupting of the retreating Russian Armies at Molodechno - would have yielded an extra 200,000 bag of prisoners perhaps - opening the way to Minsk at the start of September.

Would not this extra 3 corps be available after the described scenario?

Hell, even double :D

Riga might have followed right after this victory. 

People forget  (or simply do not know) the cumulative effects of battles.

 

Let me draw your attention on the Eastern Front at the start - the failure of Moltke to properly inform the Austrian Chief of Staff (he met him in May '14 - just prior to war) about the true strength of German Army in the East at the start (of course privately asking full secrecy - Hotzendorf was a trusted colleague unlike the Italians ).

Hotzendorf knew main german effort would be in the West but thought Germans had more corps then they actually had and for the more he was under the impression Germans would have three and not just one Army in the East!

He simply  did not know Germans would be so weak and prepared a plan of campaign based on false assumption the German strength would attract more Russian corps -  thus making the error of assigning to Serb front a critical mass of Five (5) divisions temporarily - so badly needed against the Russians! 

When he finally understood the real situation it was too late - Russians had achieved a proper victory and try as he might he had no chance to stop them beyond the San river - losing from 100,00-130,000 prisoners,the San river and the Eastern Galicia with Russians approaching Cracow at the end of September!

And not the later cannon fodder but the cream of the multinational Austrian Army - the only institution holding the country together! 

They never recovered the morale!

So related were the different theatres!

A few mistakes at the start and the almost certain victory was turned into disaster! 

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Have a look at this maps- more or less accurate:

http://www.firstworldwar.com/photos/maps.htm

 

At the end of the article you have some maps depicting the progress of Marne:

http://www.firstworldwar.com/battles/marne1.htm

 

At the end Phillip you have a map of the Battle of the Frontiers - more or less accurate - compare the alternative deployment and if the plan would be respected by sending the First Army further west rather then toward Mons - check also the value of the reserve in the Ardennes and you can understand what am I talking:

http://www.firstworldwar.com/battles/frontiers.htm

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