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The Race to the Sea . Germany realised that of the two, France was the more immediate danger. France could mobalise faster then the Russians and would quickly invade the Western regions of Germany which was also the main industrial region (the Ruhr)

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slide2

Germany realised that of the two, France was the more immediate danger.

  • France could mobalise faster then the Russians and would quickly invade the Western regions of Germany which was also the main industrial region (the Ruhr)
  • In the late 1800s the head of the German General Staff developed a mobalisation plan to accomplish this. The plan was named after him: it was called the Schlieffen Plan.
    • The plan was to mobilise quickly and attack France from the North
      • The Germans planned to request free passage through Belgium in order to attack the French. They knew that this request was unlikely to be accepted but did not see any issue with that. What they did not think was that the British would go to war over a “scrap of paper” (the 1839 Treaty)
    • It was predicted that the French would push East and retake Lorraine and so the German armies put most of their forces on the right flank so as to circle around Paris, capturing the capital and encircling the French armies in Lorraine.
slide4

- The plan was put into motion and for the first months it seemed to be working. However, the German General, von Moltke, began to have doubts and began to modify the Schlieffen Plan.

  • Moltke began to pull troops from the right flank to re-enforce the left. He became fearful that the French would pull back and try to cut the Germans off from behind.
  • The British quickly deployed their professional army in Belgium and were attacked by the German Army near the town of Mons. The well disciplined British inflicted heavy casualties and slowed the Germans down.
  • This pause in the pressure gave the British and French enough breathing space to recover and shift more and more forces in front of the German right flank.
  • The French finally built up enough reserves and counter attacked just as the lead elements of the German Army was marching on the outskirts of Paris.
slide5

- By September 1914, the German Army was finally stopped by the French during the Battle of the Marne. The Germans were over stretched and did not have the strength to capture Paris. As a result the Germans began to retreat until they found good defensive ground. Once they found some they began to dig in and blunt the French and British attacks.

  • http://www.richthofen.com/ww1sum/
  • The British and French could not make the Germans budge once they dug in and so began to try and march around them. The Germans responded by trying to out march them. This created what was called “the race to the sea”. By December the Germans and the Allies were at the coast and each side began to dig in and prepare for the spring offensives.
  • The Germans went on the defensive and began to shift forces to the East to counter the Russians.
  • -This period of the war was sobering for all sides as they began to get a sense of how the war would be different from any other war. The casualties were huge.
end of year tally
End of Year Tally
  • The British had sent their regular army of 100,000 men, the British Expeditionary Force (B.E.F). The total loss of the BEF in France and Flanders from the commencement of the war to 30th November 1914 was approximately 86,000 men.
  • The Germans lost an estimated 400,000 soldiers in their failed bid to defeat France quickly.
  • By the end of the year 90 percent of France's iron mines and 83 percent of its heavy industry was in German hands.