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World War First and Operation Schlieffen
World War I began in 1914 after the murder of Archduke Francisco Fernando, heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire by a Radical Serbian separatist Probosnio (Gavrilo Princip), causing the various alliances that had been built over the years beginto trigger. On the one hand, those who supported Serbia were France, Great Britain and the Russian Empire, while those who supported the Austro-Hungarian Empire were the II German Reich, the Ottoman Empire and Italy, although the latter changed the side in 1915. This war was a great change in the political map, since it ended with a large number of empires, such as the Ottoman Empire, the Russian, the Austro -Hungarian and finally the German, which will be the center of this work. As soon as the war began, this empire decided to invade France through Belgium to end one of its open fronts through the military plan of Alfred von Schleiffen, campaign on which the role of the German army will be focused to answer the question of up to evenWhat point Germany was prepared for this event. Finally, a brief summary of each army involved in this event will be made based on factors that we will list below.
However, in order to be able to answer the proposed question, it is importantGoing forward in our research. According to Marta Harnecker and Gabriela Uribe, the strategy would be to plan a fight in its entire. In turn, they establish three fundamental factors in the military strategy: the land of combat, their own troops and those of the enemy. Concreting with respect to the last two factors, in the historical novel the murder of Pythagoras, the author points out two fundamental elements in a battle with respect to the troops: their initial disposition and their movement during the battle that we will also take into account for this work.
Let us analyze the Schleiffen operation, designed to annihilate the French army in a gigantic and fast battle and "whose purpose was to attack France as soon as possible before Russian mobilization". This objective would meet the German troops surrounding the French, as indicated by Santiago Pascual in his historical thesis that was inspired by the battle of gray hair of the third century to.C. Between the Roman Empire and Carthage, reflecting the use of quite old strategies but with a relatively new armament such as toxic aircraft or gases. According to German historian Gerhard Ritter, the Schlieffen Plan was "extremely risky and inflexible", due to the possibility of Britain entry caused by its alliance with France. This operation did not have the expected result and we will analyze some factors to determine its importance to invade France.
The first factor was the disobedience to the philosophy of the former Bismarck Foreign Minister, who dictated that to win a war you must be the victim. Thus, it is important to seem weak to have a victory in the diplomatic field, thus winning international support . However, by invading Belgium, an anti-German feeling extended by most European countries, a fact that is reflected by the change of the name of the Saxony dynasty to Windsor in Britain assuming failure in the diplomatic field for Germany and aChronological time failure, the decision to attack being also related to the movement of troops. This was because the Germans hoped that the Russian army would take to mobilize, a fact that did not pass since the Tsarist troops invaded East Prussia days after the start -up, opening two fronts at the same time, completely destabilizing the theoreonic situation.
The second step that extraordinarily complicated the invasion was the violation of Belgian neutrality. This caused a failure in the diplomatic terrain and also in the same combat field, since the defender of a territory often knows the land much better than the attacker. Great Britain, apart from what has already been mentioned, got because he had different economic interests as we can see in Edward Gray’s speech before the House of Commons before joining the war. In addition, England began to decline economically having low and industrial production drops and imports from its colonies while Germany had gained ground in the chemical and electrical industry. Therefore, it was another mistake in enemy troops since they did not anticipate the British entrance.
After the violation of Belgian neutrality Germany underestimated the enemy troops: this army was totally motivated in the war, and leading to the first German defeat in the western front, this was partly due to the military harangue of the Belgian king at that time at that timeand his charismatic figure. In fact, the British historian Peter Hart acknowledges that he was fundamental to contain the German army for so long infecting that spirit of struggle to the French and the British. We can verify that this was not a German error in Operation Schleiffen, but rather a success of the Belgian army with respect to its own troops, since an important factor is motivation before combat. According to Peter Hart himself, Germany could only win the war in its first month, so the Schleiffen plan is considered, not only as the main cause of defeat in France, but the culprit of defeat throughout the war. In turn, the same author considers that another great effect was the theoreonic numerical inferiority, a ruling related to Marta Harnecker’s own troops belonging to his theory.
Thus, with respect to the combat elements, the German army would be like this:
- Combat field. In relation to this element Germany could not have the exact knowledge of the land to be able to satisfy this military plan to be the attackers. However, having towers in the cities taken by Germans, they had an important advantage from the heights.
- Diplomatic land. In this element there were big problems, since the opinion regarding Germany was generally negative, thus affecting the number of allies and enemies.
- Own troops. The German army was the best in the world according to historian Ricardo Artola and an example at the level of discipline, instruction and organization. Regarding quantity, the Germans exceeded just tens of thousands of enemy troops, since the Germans were a million and a half in front of one million four hundred thousand French, Belgian and English. However, this plan was highly outdated due to its inspiration of two thousand years ago affecting the Schleiffen plan to a large extent. However, the Germans had a faster chain of command and decision giving more freedom to their army during battle. Finally, it should be noted that they had a feeling of superiority with respect to other armies, as we can verify in the German newspaper fragment Die post that influenced this strategic plan.
Regarding the French army, the following elements influenced the Western Front in 1914:
Combat field. Being no fighting in Gallic territory, a similar case would have the French army to the German, unable to know the land where they would fight. However, by having Belgian support, this problem would be solved having an advantage over Germany. In fact, General Carl von Clausewitz openly affirmed that the defensive form is much stronger than the offensive. Diplomatic land. France had a quite powerful ally, which was Britain in order to avoid its invasion, with more international support than Germany during the war, due to its status as a victim and the British territorial extension.
Own troops. France had a large number of soldiers, although slightly lower than the German number with a million two hundred and fifty thousand soldiers and with less divisions than Germany, 80 and 10 divisions compared to 87 and 11 infantry and cavalry divisions respectively. However, he had a very bad organization in terms of officers and non -commissioned officers. In addition to its preparation, much of the economic resources was destined to food and dress its soldiers, although in the latter the army had a great handicap, when dressing highly striking uniforms.
As we have seen in the previous comparison, it is true that Germany had an advantage over France in a considerable amount of fields, as in the discipline or in the uniform. However, we can extract as a final conclusion that Germany was not prepared to invade France since the Schleiffen plan was archaic, because they underestimated the Belgian army totally without having had its innate resistance, to ignore the Bismarckian philosophy and aboutEverything, for not having waited more time.