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Inventing the Schlieffen Plan


Dikke Bertha
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Hello

I am very interested in the Schlieffen Plan and was very pleased to read Ritters book only a few months ago. I found it easy to read and very informativeand I thought it was the definitive book on the subject as it is often quoted and appears in many bibliographies and lists of reference works.

Now I have bought "Inventing the Schlieffen Plan" by Terence Zuber. The publication of this book was supported by no less a person than Huw Strachan.

This is not so easy to read although it is a fascinating book. He is however critical of Ritter' book. So now I don't know what to think.

Has anybody read either book or got an opinion or even a suggestion for further reading??

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  • 1 year later...

Dicke,

You might look out for anything written by Terence Holmes. He and Zuber have differing ideas on the vS plan and have debated it in journals.

Paul

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I think that Zuber's work has merit and I am one of those who believes that the "great" Schlieffen Plan with the right wheel west of Paris was largely an invention of the post war German General Staff to account for their failures in 1914 by passing the blame onto Moltke. In the absence of other sources, other historians fell in with it.

I may be wrong, but it is still worthy of debate.

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Andy, the particulars of Ritter's book are as follows:

The Schlieffen Plan by Gerhard Ritter, introduction by B. H. Liddell Hart, published by Frederick Praeger, New York, (Oswald Wolff, London), 1958. 195 pages. No ISBN in my copy.

Regards,

Dave

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It's worth getting hold of Annika Mombauer's book on Moltke - Helmuth Von Moltke and the Origins of the First World War It's not strictly Schlieffen Plan per se, but it is an eye-opener into German planning in the run-down to war in 1914.

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  • 3 weeks later...

OK... sticker shock. I ordered Zuber's book and it came into the store this weekend. I wasn't expecting it to be $72 :o . I didn't pick it up, is it worth that much?????:huh:

Andy

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Andy,

You might try interlibrary Loan and see if you can get a copy. Perhaps if it seems worthwhile you might want to fork out the cash later.

"War in history," published the "great debate," between Zuber and Holmes about 4 or 5 years ago. I still have copies of all, and if you're interested send me a PM and I'll see if I can send a copy your way.

Paul

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  • 1 year later...

From the CEF Study Group list of Recommended Great War websites - Borden Battery

The Schlieffen Plan – 1905/1914

Count Alfred von Schlieffen, who became Chief of the Great General Staff in 1891, submitted his plan in 1905; it was adopted, slightly modified, in 1914. The plan itself is described in The Army Quarterly, London (July, 1929), 18 (2): 286-90. and presented on this website.[World War I Document Archive][CEF Study Group – Sept 2006]

http://www.lib.byu.edu/~rdh/wwi/1914m/schlieffen.html

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Hi there

I did my undergraduate dissertation on the SP and would be happy to email a copy to anyone that's interested - at least the bibliography may be of interest. Feel free to PM me if you like.

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  • 1 year later...

Just to touch this back to the top with some additonal information.

This edition of "War in History," contains an article on the Schlieffen plan, "There Was a Schlieffen Plan: New Sources on the History of German Military Planning," in relation to Zuber's work by historian Gerhard Gross. Gross found some material at BA-MA Freiburg that it seems Zuber missed, throwing many of Zuber's conclusions into question.

Well worth a read for anyone interested in the Schlieffen plan.

Paul

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The Ritter book is out of print, although I think that the lists still say that it is in print.

I have a photocopy done from a copy in the London Library.

You may be able to get a copy second hand, but don't believe any story about it only taking a week to get it.

Just to show the state of British education my wife went into the university bookshop in Oxford and asked for 'The Schlieffen Plan' by Ritter, and e assistant promptly told her that diet books were on the fourth floor!

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Having spent the money I am not sure that it is worth it. Without question, the debate offered by Paul is well worth the read. It contains everything the book contains plus more. The book is not easy to read, and spends a great deal of time in the pre-World War I maneuvers and planning. Sometimes it is very difficult to see the connection. I would definitely take Paul up on his offer.

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Having spent the money I am not sure that it is worth it. Without question, the debate offered by Paul is well worth the read. It contains everything the book contains plus more. The book is not easy to read, and spends a great deal of time in the pre-World War I maneuvers and planning. Sometimes it is very difficult to see the connection. I would definitely take Paul up on his offer.

Joe,

The whole, Holmes, Zuber, Foley, Mombauer, and Gross debate over the years has been fascinating. Just goes to show how much there is to learn about a key element in our understanding of the war some 90-odd years on.

The reader's digest version is that the historian Gross, following some oblique leads, found some illuminating documents in the files of General Friedrich von Boetticher at the BA-MA Freiburg. Seems von Boetticher had been tasked by von Hindenburg to write a speech about von Schlieffen on the 100th anniversary of his birth in 1933. The good General was given access to files normally restricted, and it seems he was a diligent notetaker. I won't spoil the plot further...

Paul

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Well that was incredibly interesting! Gross did a tremendous job at least he was methodical, and I cannot wait because I feel Zuber must counterattack -- this is absolutely great after 90+ years! I would be most interested in hearing if Zuber has anything to say.

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Well that was incredibly interesting! Gross did a tremendous job at least he was methodical, and I cannot wait because I feel Zuber must counterattack -- this is absolutely great after 90+ years! I would be most interested in hearing if Zuber has anything to say.

Hello Joe,

Knowing Zuber, he'll have something to say. I can't imagine what beyond, "Oops," but that's why I work for a living and research as a hobby! In fairness it's easy to see how it could have happened, and the difficulties of using the resources at BA-MA may have had something to do with overlooking the additional source. You only have so much time and following all obscure leads can be extremely time consuming when you have to wait half a day for an ordered file to be brought from storage. The files can be maddening in that you can simply stumble onto whole sections of files that aren't included in the descriptions at all.

On the other hand when you throw a thesis like Zuber's out, you had better make sure you've dotted your i's and crossed your t's. He was pretty "prickly" with those who challenged him over the years, and that makes him a target.

Paul

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Going from Zuber's Battle of the Frontiers Ardennes 1914, he's a terrific researcher and writes a book that's unreadable. Terrible unuseable maps too. I'll never try another. When I quit a book on WW1 1/3 through it that's remarkable, I own hundreds of them, a large separate set of shelves won't hold them all. On top of that he makes statements such as it's impossible well trained German soldiers could have been wrong about being fired on by civilians. He's far from objective.

Save your money, I wish I had.

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Going from Zuber's Battle of the Frontiers Ardennes 1914, he's a terrific researcher and writes a book that's unreadable. Terrible unuseable maps too. I'll never try another. When I quit a book on WW1 1/3 through it that's remarkable, I own hundreds of them, a large separate set of shelves won't hold them all. On top of that he makes statements such as it's impossible well trained German soldiers could have been wrong about being fired on by civilians. He's far from objective.

Save your money, I wish I had.

Paul,

I think as Joe wrote, reading the long debate from "War in History," is the better choice. I would imagine all the articles would easily be 100's of pages long, and there are differeing view-points and counter-points.

Paul

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  • 4 weeks later...

And again this month in "War in History," a further article on the von Schlieffen plan. Terence Holmes fires another salvo at Terence "There was no Schlieffen plan" Zuber in their long-running debate. Very interesting new information from files in BA-MA Freiburg showing that the Schlieffen plan called for 90 divisions vice 96. Very good reading.

Paul

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I second that it is a very very very good read. I think if Holmes and Zuber were in a room together, they would not hold hands. :D

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Zuber published ITSP in 2002 and it began to ruffle feathers very swiftly: to such an extent that Gross, the leading Great War expert at the Bundeswehr Military History Office in Potsdam immediately went to work to check the research and add more of his own. On the back of this work and other concerns by leading historians, a seminar, which I attended, was held at Potsdam in October 2004. The papers given ranged far wider than the narrow debate for and against the plan, but naturally everyone was intrigued to hear what Gross had to say. In a dramatic, almost theatrical, moment Gross announced, auf Deutsch of course, 'Not everything was burnt!' and put up a slide of a map marked by Schlieffen himself as part of the 1905 Denkschrift. This showed clearly a large force sweeping round to the east of Paris. I personally found the map most convincing. It certainly demonstrated that, however many more versions the plan went through as it was refined, Schlieffen certainly intended its centrepiece to be a massive turning movement. If you can speak German and you want to read into the papers, they were published by the MGFA as Der Schlieffenplan: Analysen und Dokumente, Published 2006 by Ferdinand Schoeningh of Paderborn ISBN 978-3-506-75629-9. As part of my preparation I paid my £45 and waded through ITSP - not a light read - then, at the end of the seminar, I asked to Terence Zuber to sign it for me; which he did, inscribing it, 'To Jack Sheldon at the Battle of Potsdam' [!]

Jack

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On the grounds that a picture is worth a thousand words, here is a section of the critical evidence. This is part of Map 6 (Operational Overview) of the December 1905 Denkschrift (Ref: Nachlass Schlieffen/N 43/141/Kj). This is a copy issued at the seminar. The map was cleaned up rather more for the book I mentioned.

Jack

post-6447-1228468233.jpg

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