How the Schlieffen Plan and the French Plan Xvii Helped to Contribute to the Stalemate That Developed on the Western Front
How did the Schlieffen Plan and the French Plan XVII help to contribute to the stalemate that developed on the Western Front? (10 marks) The French Plan XVII, created by General Joffre, was largely a mistake as it was accurately predicted by the German Schlieffen Plan. It grossly underestimated the strength of the Germany army, assumed that if they conquered enough of Germany they would sue for peace, and misjudged the direction of Germany’s initial offensive. Germany’s original Schlieffen Plan had been called by historians as “a conception of Napoleonic boldness” (Turner, 1979).
The plan relied on the French left flank to push the French forces across to their eastern border and to contain the French forces at Lorraine. However, when Schlieffen retired in 1906, he was replaced by Helmuth von Moltke who proceeded to modify the plan, because of the threat of a British naval blockade (Turner, 1970), which caused disastrous consequences for Germany. The major modification was the change in weight for the German armies against France. Moltke changed the original Schlieffen ratio of 100:15 to 100:42. This change, ultimately destroyed any German chances of winning.
At the Battle of the Mons, the British slowed the Germans down, who were looking for a quick advance, inflicted casualties and gave the French enough time to organize a coordinated retreat to the Marne, which became the turning point as they were able to set up defenses and prevent the German plan for a ‘swift and decisive victory. ‘ A bottleneck was created in Germany which meant that the French troops found it easier to retreat to the Battle of the Marne, which is precisely what Joffre did, therefore causing a stalemate between the French and German forces. (288 words)