WW1 – CORE STUDYReasons for the Stalemate on the Western Front
THE SCHLIEFFEN PLAN• Developed between 1891 and 1905 – The plan was developed because Germany predicted they would be fighting a war on 2 fronts, France in the West and Russia in the East. The plan focused on a crushing defeat of France.• Germany intended to swing around the French forces and capture Paris therefore neutralising France so that they could focus their attention on Russia.• They believed it would take Russia about 6 weeks to mobilise so they had the time to focus their attention on France and then send most of their forces over to the Eastern Front.
HELMUTH VON MOLTKE• When Schlieffen retired as General in 1905, Von Moltke took over as General.• Schlieffen stressed the need for an all out right wing sweep of France however, Moltke was not courageous enough to risk his whole army. As a result he made some changes to the plan that would prove to be disastrous for Germany:• He abandoned the German advance through Holland.• He reduced the size of the right wing and increased the size of the left wing along the Franco-German border.
IMPLICATIONS OF THE CHANGES• The changes created a huge supply problem:1. Germany advancing through Belgium saw the need for the army to capture the Belgian town of Liege in the first few days of the war. It also created a big bottleneck which lead to problems with supply for the German Army.• Political Implications:1. The changes meant that Germany needed to rely on Austria for help.2. The changes to the plan committed Germany to war, therefore preventing any possibility of a peaceful resolution.
IMPLICATIONS OF THE CHANGES• Changes to soldier ratios and further changes to the plan:1. Moltke’s redeployment of soldiers changed the ratio of German to French soldiers from 100:15 to 100:42.2. Moltke’s changes saw French troops draw back and create their own fortress barrier to stop German advances.3. By the start of September, German forces were only 48 Kms from Paris however, Commander Von Kluck decided not to encircle Paris. Instead he moved past Paris and halted on the River-Marne.4. Capturing Paris was important to deflate French morale. Instead, they were able to counter-attack leading to the Battle of the Marne from 6-9 September. A victory for the French.5. This lead to a German retreat to the River Aisne where they were to hold for the remainder of the war, effectively starting the trench warfare which characterised the rest of the war.
WRITING PRACTICE SECTION 1 – 10 MARKS1. Explain why there was a stalemate on the Western Front by the end of 1914.• Use Sources A and B and your own knowledge to answer this question.When war broke out in August of 1914 both the Allied Powers and the CentralPowers put into place mobilisation plans that they thought would win them the warvery quickly. This was not the case and certain factors lead to a major stalemate onthe Western Front in 1914. This happened for two major reasons. The SchlieffenPlan developed by General Von Schlieffen and Frances Plan XVII. Major changesto the Schlieffen Plan and Frances inability to predict Germany’s advances throughBelgium lead to both sides digging a long line of trenches which is why theStalemate occurred on the Western Front in the early days of WW1.
WRITING PRACTICE SECTION 1 – 10 MARKS1. Explain why there was a stalemate on the Western Front by the end of 1914.• Use Sources A and B and your own knowledge to answer this question.1. Source A is a map of the Schlieffen Plan as it happened in August 1914…• Paragraph 1 - Start by detailing the original Plan developed by Schlieffen• Paragraph 2 - Then write about the changes developed by the new General, Von Moltke2. Source B is an extract from a book about WW1 by Simkins, Jukes and Hickey. It details the inefficiencies of the Schlieffen Plan in brief.• Paragraph 3 - Explain the effects that the changes to the Schlieffen Plan had on the overall outcome.• Paragraph 4 – Explain how Germany did not invade Paris, instead moving to the River Marne, which lead to the Battle. This pushed Germany back to River Aisne where they dug in which was the beginning of trench warfare which characterised the rest of the war.