The Ultimate German Strategy: The Schlieffen Plan
After Austria-Hungary went to war with Serbia, now it was time for Germany to make its move. But there was a problem, a very big problem; Germany was surrounded by enemies on 2 sides, Russia to the East and France to the West. Russia and France were allies by a peace treaty. Germany’s primary target was France, taking into account it’s much more modernized economy and army than Russia. In order to achieve that, it came up with a strategy; the Schlieffen plan.
Although Germany shared a border with France, it was accurately predicted by the French that a war was inevitable with Germany following the 1870 Franco-Prussia war, so they heavily fortified that common boundary. Germans with all their military might would have broken through those defenses but it would have cost them time, which is something they didn’t want to lose considering they had a much larger enemy on the other front. So, the then General of German Army, Alfred Von Schlieffen, came with an offensive design which compromised of swiftly defeating France while holding the Russian troops at Bay along with Austria-Hungary. Once France was defeated, then all the necessary forces could be rerouted back to the eastern side with Russia.
The Germans anticipated that it would take a minimum of 6 weeks for all of the Russian Army to mobilize, giving them this window to complete their victory over France. But, in order for them to save time, the Germans had to quickly overhaul their western enemy which was not possible if they were to get involved in face to face combat at their borders. Thus, they explored what other option they had. They ultimately arrived at another great possibility; an invasion of France through Belgium. Belgium was a small country and posed relatively a small challenge of crossing compared with the German-France border. But there was a problem. Belgium had declared a neutral status way long before with the backing of London. Therefore, an invasion of Belgium posed a risk, a risk of getting Britain involved in the war. Nevertheless, Germany threatened Belgium to surrender so that they could pass. When Belgium refused, the Invasion of Belgium along with the official start of World War 1 began.