Schlieffen Plan

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Schlieffen Plan


a draft plan for strategic deployment of the German Army and for conducting combat operations at the beginning of a German war on two fronts, against France and Russia. The plan was formulated in a memorandum compiled in 1905 by the chief of the General Staff, General A. von Schlieffen.

In implementing the plan, the first strike was to be delivered against France by the bulk of the German troops, up to 85 percent of all ground forces. The main forces were to be concentrated on the right flank and moved through neutral Belgium and Luxembourg to outflank the main forces of the French Army from the north, with the objective of seizing Paris and driving French forces back to the east, where they would be surrounded and wiped out. Against Russia, only a weak screening force would be in place, awaiting the victory over France. After France was crushed, the plan envisioned shifting large forces to the war against Russia.

The Schlieffen plan was risky and unprincipled because the German Army in the west did not have superiority in forces and was unable to provide logistic support for a rapid, continuous advance to great depth. The objective of wiping out the French Army of several million in one blow was also unrealistic. When the Schlieffen plan, in somewhat modified form, was put into effect at the beginning of World War I, the German forces were defeated in the battle of the Marne of 1914.


Melikov, V. A. Strategicheskoe razvertyvanie, vol. 1. Moscow, 1939.
Groener, W. Zaveshchanie Shliffena. Moscow, 1937. (Translated from German.)
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
The German Failure in Belgium, August 1914: How Faulty Reconnaissance Exposed the Weakness of the Schlieffen Plan
If the origins for the Schlieffen Plan can be traced as far back as
In 1914, the Germans had the Schlieffen Plan and the French had Plan XVII.
that as he prepared his Army to execute the Schlieffen Plan in a war
He now almost makes out that GRGRGR is a reincarnation of Bismarck with a Schlieffen plan for a lightning strike on a not so innocent neighbor.
With a clear understanding of those differences, the reader may now understand how the French lost their best opportunity not only to stymie the Schlieffen Plan, but to change the course of the rest of the war.
The Schlieffen Plan was devised in Germany in the last decade of the 19th century by the Chief of the Great General Staff, Field Marshal Alfred von Schlieffen.
the Schlieffen Plan took nine years, but it was brilliant.
From Great Elector Frederick William's (successful) mad 160-mile march to defeat the Swedes at Fehrbellin (1675) to Helmuth von Moltke the Elder's (successful) deployment of his armies in the Austro-Prussian War of 1866, and from the (failed) Schlieffen Plan of 1914 to the (failed) Operation Barbarossa of 1941, the premise remained that Germany must wage its campaigns and wars quickly or not at all.
Germany's Schlieffen Plan, for example, assumed a rapid and decisive victory in the western theater of operations against France while, on Germany's eastern flank, Russian mobilization would lag behind the pace necessary for a prompt offensive against Germany.
Not truly a plan in the general staff sense, it has nevertheless come to be widely identified as "The Schlieffen Plan."
It described a modest variation of the Schlieffen Plan that the Kaiser's Germany had used to invade France in 1914, violating Belgian neutrality en route.