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Inventing the Schlieffen Plan


Dikke Bertha
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No, maybe I believe that you get the guy that did it, you dont impotently strike out at the next best or closest target.

If Terence believes that 10 000 000 dead are justified for saving national pride (irrespective of which individual was killed) then I would not want him in a higher command in my army.

But if I do understand Terence's comment above... it is indeed Austria and friends who started the war.... which contradicts what you were saying about it being Russia...

You are basically saying "Of course there will be war... they killed Ferdi! no talk is going to change that!"

Or do I understand Terence wrong?

Chris - AFAIK Afganistan did not orchestrate the 9/11 attack and the USA had no evidence of its complicity. Afganistan was held severely accountable for a plot hatched on its soil, and Kabul's reply to the American ultimatum was a smarmy non-answer Bush met by launching an immediate invasion. It's actually quite similar to Sarajevo; you will note that the US Administration did not give a damn whether the attack was official Taliban policy or criminal. They were held accountable and the US Army went in and started wiping them out.

Another example would be the UN holding Libya fully responsible for Lockerbie despite Libya's repeated denials of guilt. Did the UN care that Tripoli was playing games? No, it did not.

Generally, the failure in 1914 was not that Austria attacked Serbia. In 1914 the circumstances were such that a Great Power would not be acting unusually to go to war. The failure was that what should have been a minor Balkans war turned into a World War. You will notice, for example, that when Japan attacked Russia in 1904, the entire world did not have a massive conflict. If France had declared war on Japan in response to Japan's attack on Russia, then Britain would have been drawn in and it would be world war. Using the logic about Austria and Germany, this war would apparently be Britain and Japan's fault, rather than France's for using a war not of her business to provoke a global catastrophy.

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1) France went to great pains to show that it would respect Belgian neutrality unconditionally; France gave unambiguous assurances to that effect which satisfied both Belgium and Britain.

Whatifs are one thing - realities are quite another.

Cheers-salesie.

Go on Judge Judy and tell her that you don't feel you have to fulfil your contractual obligations to Germaine because you and your buddy Belgie are satisfied with things as they stand.

France told Britain a German violation was required and told Belgium it was not; the French wording in Brussels about a menace to soveriegnty was looser, and allowed for an invasion without Germany ever invading Belgium.

The French reply in London indicates that France would not necessarily await an invitation from Belgium, but could violate her neutrality as soon as France declared a violation had occured. This is important; notice that no definition of 'violation' was ever given. You seem to assume, for some unfathomable reason, that 'violation' means 'invasion' when it does not. Should the French army declare a German Zeppelin had violated Belgian airspace in an attack on Liege, that would be a violation of Belgium's neutrality. Under the conditions of the French reply, the French could invade Belgium even if the Belgians said no thanks.

Again, how Moltke places any value on anything past a British hard-wired commitment to action against France if she invades Belgium, I cannot fathom. The gun was cocked in 1905 when Germany and France fell out over Morocco. It remained loaded and ready to fire for nine more years. At no point did either Britain or Germany place the slightest value in the original obligations of the 1839 Treaty. Germany's intentions were to ignore it. Britain's were to use it as a pretext against Germany, or otherwise to ignore it. Each could have approached the other to secure an understanding. Neither did.

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I may be misunderstanding, but we seem to have moved off the origional topic and are now chasing round in circles about Belgum and the 1839 treaty. However, it seems that there is a sense in some quaters of double standards by the UK regarding an invasion of Belgium by either Germany or Belgium.

To me the situation is simple if Germany invades Belgium then the Belgian ports become possible bases for a German fleet much closer to the UK,nearer to the Thames than the Grand Fleets bases at Scapa & Rosyth. A British Govenment could never accept this. A French occupation of theses ports was less of a threat. The Invasion of BElgium by Germany, provided the British Government the excuse to declare war on Germany. THe previuos assurance to France that the Royal NAvy would safeguard the ENglish Chanel on behalf of the French would have eventually crated an incident that would have meant war with Germany.

IF this scenario had occurred the BEF would not have been in a position to engage the German First Army at Mons & le Cateau and the French left would have probably been turned making for either a successful Schlieffen Type plan or a Cannae style double envelopment possible.

The British have valid interests in allowing a French violation but not a German one - if the French attack and win, then the High Seas Fleet is destroyed. If the Germans attack and defeat France, then Germany is now supreme on the continent and Balance of Power has failed; no concievable European alliance can weigh in against Germany. The 1839 Treaty had become, as you say, a pretext; if Germany violated it then it would be war against Germany. If France did so, then it would be war against Germany. No Great Power placed any value to the original obligations or intentions.

By the way - on your thesis of Channel ports. If this were true, then Grey will say to the Germans that should they stay south of the Meuse then Britain will not intervene. Alternatively, that the BEF will garrison the ports but remain otherwise neutral.

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Go on Judge Judy and tell her that you don't feel you have to fulfil your contractual obligations to Germaine because you and your buddy Belgie are satisfied with things as they stand.

France told Britain a German violation was required and told Belgium it was not; the French wording in Brussels about a menace to soveriegnty was looser, and allowed for an invasion without Germany ever invading Belgium.

The French reply in London indicates that France would not necessarily await an invitation from Belgium, but could violate her neutrality as soon as France declared a violation had occured. This is important; notice that no definition of 'violation' was ever given. You seem to assume, for some unfathomable reason, that 'violation' means 'invasion' when it does not. Should the French army declare a German Zeppelin had violated Belgian airspace in an attack on Liege, that would be a violation of Belgium's neutrality. Under the conditions of the French reply, the French could invade Belgium even if the Belgians said no thanks.

Again, how Moltke places any value on anything past a British hard-wired commitment to action against France if she invades Belgium, I cannot fathom. The gun was cocked in 1905 when Germany and France fell out over Morocco. It remained loaded and ready to fire for nine more years. At no point did either Britain or Germany place the slightest value in the original obligations of the 1839 Treaty. Germany's intentions were to ignore it. Britain's were to use it as a pretext against Germany, or otherwise to ignore it. Each could have approached the other to secure an understanding. Neither did.

Judge Judy, Glen239? If the legalities are irrelevant then what on earth would Judge Judy have to do with it? Now, lets clear up your misguided obsession with the legal rights and wrongs once and for all (hopefully, but I won't hold my breath).

Extract from the speech of the German Chancellor, Bethmann Hollweg, given to the Reichstag on 4th August 1914 (the bold highlights are mine).

"Gentlemen: We are, at present, in a state of legitimate defence and necessity knows no law! Our troops have occupied Luxembourg; perhaps they have entered Belgian territory already. Gentlemen, this is contrary to the rules of international law. It is true that the French Government has declared at Brussels that it would respect Belgium's neutrality as long as the adversary would respect it. However, we knew that France was ready for an invasion. France could afford to wait, but we could not! A French invasion at our flank, at the Lower Rhine, could have become fatal to us. Thus, we were forced to disregard the justified protests of the Governments of Luxembourg and Belgium. The wrong, I speak openly, the wrong which thereby we commit, we shall try to make good as soon as our military aim is attained. Whoever is threatened as we are, is not allowed to have any other consideration beyond that how he will hack his way through!"

The German Chancellor no less, says from the midst of time that you are talking complete and utter b*llocks i.e.

1) He states openly in the Reichstag that the act of German troops entering Belgium is against International Law.

2) Openly states that France has declared in Brussels that she would respect Belgian neutrality as long as any adversary does (no mention of dodgy French wording, just that Germany could not afford to wait but France could).

3) Openly states that the protests of the Governments of Belgium and Luxembourg are justified.

4) Openly states that Germany has committed a wrong.

No legal-lame-excuse making from Bethmann Hollweg (or von Jagow when talking to the British Ambassador) So who shall we believe, Glen239, the piles of evidence backed by Bethmann Hollweg's own words or your own, pretty poor, attempt at legal-lame-excuse making?

Cheers-salesie.

As a footnote, and an attempt to get back to the main theme of this thread. Do the words of Bethmann Hollweg and especially those of von Jagow, on 4th August 1914, about the dire need for German speed of action against France, not throw serious doubt on Terence's much repeated assertions that at the outset Germany intended to fight on internal Lines. If they did, then perhaps Moltke forgot to tell the German Chancellor and Foreign Secretary?

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This is rich! Do you know who Pierre Renouvin was? No? Let me help. Pierre Renouvin was the most senior French historian of WWI and the secretary of the committee that wrote up the Documents Diplomatiques Francaises. But according to you, apparently not a very important guy.

It is rather foolish to conclude somebody does not know of a person because they do not comment about him. Renouvin was one of the prime opponents of people like Barnes - rather more a writer of fantasy and fraud than an historian - who demolished the Poincare's War theory being advanced in the 1920's by people who tended to edit documents and quotes to reach a conclusion they wanted. At the time his works were doubted but they have since tended to be shown to be correct. Saying he was worried by a lack of detail is hardly something that needs comment, as there is nothing to comment upon, only speculation as to what was discussed.

The French and Russians hide the results of their conference before the war and your attitude is "don't worry, be happy"! Renouvin worried, and he wasn't happy.

Nowhere have I said that, but if it helps you to think that, then I suppose that is ok.

There is no longer any "specualtion" : the French were encouraging the Russians to mobilize, and mobilization meant war.

Would this be much the same as Stieve published in the 1920's? Almost everything 'revealed so far has sounded like a book published in 1927 iirc. If mobilization really did mean war, then where was the war when austria mobilized in the last Balkan crisis?

You've been doing this for 15 years? Too long. You've got too many markers down, and if new evidence comes up that contradicts your preconcieved ideas - as well as a decade and a half of mistakes - you've got a lot of crow to eat.

A very interesting comment, but not one I would have expected from somebody who first published a book on this subject in 2002 - nine years ago - and has considerably more preconcieved ideas put into print that I do. Maybe 15 years is too long to be taken in by the first new theory to see the light of day, or to imagine it is the final word on a subject. By the 15 years is too long line of thought, Hew Strachan has about double the problems I have, though few would suggest that as a problem to him I would guess.

I get the same "don't worry, be happy" and denial from people who are on the record saying that there was a "Schlieffen plan"

Curiously enough, when I agreed with you on this point, you said I was well informed on this subject. How times change.

The "militaristic nature of Austria"? You're kidding. Austria hadn't fought a war since 1866. Per capita she spent less on the military and conscripted fewer than any other Great Power.

Just because the Hapsburg Empire spent less per capita on the military does not change what she was. She proved perfectly capable of threatening war if she didnt get her way and grabbing land in the Balkans at every opportunity in the decade or so prior to WWI, though the annexation of Bosnia-Hertzegovina did prove troublesome in the end. I believe Conrad was rather well known for wanting to declare war, including on Italy to whom he was allied.

The Austrains did not run around the planet enslaving the natives like the Russians, British and French did.

You forget the Germans, I am sure the Herero would like to do so too. As I said, none of the empires were without a dark side to them.

Look at Vienna and show me where you see militarism. Nowhere.

Tell me which nations head of the military called for war more times between 1912 and 1914? I would put my money on Conrad.

Salesie,

Do the words of Bethmann Hollweg and especially those of von Jagow, on 4th August 1914, about the dire need for German speed of action against France, not throw serious doubt on Terence's much repeated assertions that at the outset Germany intended to fight on internal Lines. If they did, then perhaps Moltke forgot to tell the German Chancellor and Foreign Secretary?

A very good question. I think the answer is to be found on exactly where Germany considered her 'internal lines of communications' to be, and this is not always the same thing as lines of communication withing the state boundaries of Germany. For example, pretty much everyone seems to have expected Germany to grab the rail network in Luxembourg at the outset of any war - Germany did own them anyhow iirc - and from the German ultimatum to Belgium it seems fair to assume the rail network in Belgium was deemed critical too - hence the problems with Belgians destroying their own bridges and tunnels.

A line could be set across northern France and Belgium behind which Germany would operate on internal lines. The definition is correct, even if some of the internal lines are in somebody else's lands.

Liam,

It is my understanding too that the Russians requested a 48hour extension to the ultimatum and were reluctant to go from partial to full mobilisation and wasn't there also a telegram from the Tsar to the Kaiser trying to put a brake on things?I don't see how that fits with Russian aggression.

A good question too. The problems here are that the proponents of one side or the other say that any such move was a cynical ploy by the other side and totally insincere, and whilst some of this is quite possible, it is also true that by the end of the July Crisis there were people on all sides trying to suggest something that would turn off the moves to war. One nations was notable in not being interested in the slightest, and this is where all hopes ended. Bethmann had been trying to get a reply out of Berchtold for a couple of days by 31st July and had met with stalling tactics. When there was a reply to Bethmann it was the following on the morning of 31st July as detailed in Albertini's The Origins of the War of 1914 Vol II;

On the morning of the thirty-first, Bethmann's call for mediation was discussed by the Austro-Hungarian Cabinet. The Germans request that Austria submit to mediation was refused by setting three unfulfillable conditions: war against Serbia must be allowed to continue; all Russian mobilization must be stopped; Serbia must unconditionally accept all terms of the Austrian ultimatum.

So at a point when everyone was trying to turn off the crisis, Berchtold and Austria refused to do so. Negotiation may well have ended in failure, but it would not have hurt to try, Sazonov, Bethmann, Grey etc were all offering possible way out short of war, if only Austria would talk.

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Salesie,

Do the words of Bethmann Hollweg and especially those of von Jagow, on 4th August 1914, about the dire need for German speed of action against France, not throw serious doubt on Terence's much repeated assertions that at the outset Germany intended to fight on internal Lines. If they did, then perhaps Moltke forgot to tell the German Chancellor and Foreign Secretary?

A very good question. I think the answer is to be found on exactly where Germany considered her 'internal lines of communications' to be, and this is not always the same thing as lines of communication withing the state boundaries of Germany. For example, pretty much everyone seems to have expected Germany to grab the rail network in Luxembourg at the outset of any war - Germany did own them anyhow iirc - and from the German ultimatum to Belgium it seems fair to assume the rail network in Belgium was deemed critical too - hence the problems with Belgians destroying their own bridges and tunnels.

A line could be set across northern France and Belgium behind which Germany would operate on internal lines. The definition is correct, even if some of the internal lines are in somebody else's lands.

A valid point Terry, and one which I had considered. However, what I'm getting at is I don't see that Terence has made a solid enough case for his premise i.e. there are too many inconsistencies in his lines of argument. Brief examples:

1) Schlieffen's actual plans (and Germany's at the outset in 1914) were to fight a two-front war on internal lines, which by necessity entailed non-operational pursuit. Yet, Schlieffen would turn in his grave because three Corps Commanders failed to operationally-pursue defeated French forces and thus missed a chance to defeat France as in 1940.

Really bad analogy with 1940, and contradictory to say the least; why would Schlieffen turn in his grave if these Corps Commanders were following his plans of non-operational pursuit?

2) In several posts we are told that Germany knew full well that France and Russia had agreed a joint attack on two-fronts on the 15th day of mobilisation, and as a consequence of this Germany was indeed invaded on two-fronts and therefore from the beginning was defending itself with the use of counter-attacks on its own territory. And, in post #496 we are told that, "From the beginning of the alliance, the French wanted the Russians to agree to attack Germany at the same time as the French. This would prevent the Germans from using interior lines to defeat one, then the other."

No mention at all about the invasion of Belgium, and that it was an offensive not a counter-attack, and definitely not fought on German Territory. And, if Germany knew the Franco-Russian plans, and that a simultaneous two-front assault would prevent them from using internal lines, why would Germany plan to use internal lines if they knew that Franco-Russian plans prevented such a strategy being successful?

3) On August 4th, Bethmann Hollweg mentions speed as being vital, saying that France can afford to wait but Germany can't. On the same day, the very day that German troops enter Belgium, von Jagow goes further and tells the British Ambassador that speed of penetration into France is vital in order to secure a decision against France before Russian forces become effective.

This may fit in with the notion of obtaining a new line from which to fight internally - but, surely, point 2) makes such a notion somewhat flimsy? And Terence tells us that von Moltke didn't decide to pentrate into France until 24th August, yet von Jagow states it as a reason for violating Belgium some three weeks earlier?

Don't get me wrong, Terry, I'm not unsympathetic towards Terence's premise, I did say much earlier in the thread that in my opinion "what is commonly known as the Schlieffen plan is badly mis-titled and, thus, creates something of a red-herring vis-a-vis our understanding of the events of August 1914. I've been of the opinion for some time now that a more apt title could well be "The Failure Writ Large Plan" - or, perhaps, even more appropriately, "The German gross-overestimation of its own military prowess, whilst, at the same time, seriously under-estimating the capabilities of its enemies plan"."

To that end, when discussing this particular time of the war I've always been careful to place "modified" or "revised" in front of Schlieffen Plan. But, as I said earlier, the inconsistencies in Terence's premise (and there are more than three) stops me from accepting it as is.

Cheers-salesie.

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Thanks Terence and Terry,one thing I still don't understand though with the idea that Franco Russian aggression started the war

is what could these two countries gain by it and what could their possible motives be?

For France maybe the regain of Alsace Lorraine but what would be in it for Russia surely they had enough territory already and they were hardly threatened by anyone were they?The only ones that war seemed to suit was Austria Hungary.

Best/Liam

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Salesie,

I think a lot of the problems occur when somebody tries to pain one side as the out and out aggressor and to ascribe nothing more than self-defence to the other side - obviously this varies depending which side people 'support' and the subject has a long list of evidence tampering, surpression or even invention to support claims. All nations went to war claiming they were under attack, some, like Belgium with perfect justification, others like Germany and Russia somewhat less such justification, though they probably were acting because they felt their enemies were preparing to act against them.

The new claims Terence talks about seem to be little more than the same as those put forward by Stieve in Isvolsky and the World War 1926, where Izvolsky's correspondence was thoroughly examined and used to show Russia and France were to blame for the war. The fact that Dr Friedrich Stieve was head of the German Foreign Office War Guilt Section, and commisioned by them to write the book - nice work if you can get it - and that Stieve avoided looking at anything that could call Austrian or German actions into question, leaves the work as one of those interesting but less than objective works covering the subject. He too had Poincare and the Tzar/Sazonov plotting war on the state visit, and no doubt such talks did occur, as it would be foolish to imagine no discussion at all took place over events in the Balkans, especially in light of the embassy leak in Rome telling people Austria was looking for war. Nobody in France or Russia was involved in writing the Austrian Note, nobody could force them to opt for war either, so all you have is at best a discussion about what action to take once Austria has made her stance clear.

What was Germany doing? Planning to fight a war inside other states borders, is probably the best answer that covers both Terence Zuber's theories and those of his opponents like Annika Mombauer, though obviously this ignores the issue of offensive/deffensive war. Would Germany have dearly loved to defeat France in six to eight weeks, almost certanly yes. Did she expect to do so, probably not. But then fighting the war on enemy soil, depriving him of manpower and other resources is obviously simply trying to balance odds in your favour.

With regards your points,

1. I can only say Terence would have to explain his thinking on this, it doesnt make too much sense to me unless he feels the operational concept could be changed if a sufficiently large victory looked possible? After all, why stop one blow short of certain success if that meant France would survive as opposed to being forced out of the war?

2. I have seen much the same charge put forwards many times, though it seems to be one of preference only. France and Russia should not conspire to force Germany to fight on two fronts at the same time because that is unfair to the Germans. It seems to matter little that it makes perfect sense for the French and Russians to do this irrespective of fighting offensive or defensive wars. It is certainly no more aggressive than Germany planning to invade Belgium to get at France better and possibly somewhat more moral if any war can be such a thing entirely.

3. Jagow said a lot of strange things, and lied a lot afterwards - as iirc Albertini put it, he had a tenuous relationship with the truth - but the claims by the German leaders early on show that they were in no doubt why they were in Belgium, and it had nothing at all to do with French incursions or any certainty of French intent to rush into Belgium.

Don't get me wrong, Terry, I'm not unsympathetic towards Terence's premise,

Nor am I, I just do not agree that military action absolves Germany or Austria of their roles in starting the war. Nobody disputes Russia was premature in mobilizing, though with Austria refusing all attempts to talk there were few options left, but it is entirely unrealistic to expect Russia to put aside what she saw as her interests so Austria can bolster hers - and at Russian expense too!

Liam,

The claim for what Russia was after is usually centred on the control of Dardanelles and the straits past Constantinople/ This was a long term Russian goal, as treaty had them closed to warships, and anyone controlling them could also cut off Russian imports and exports as the Black Sea ports were the only useful ice free ports Russia had at this point. Russia had come close in the 1870's, and had tried to make a bargain with Austria's Foreign Minister Arenthal in 1908 where Austria would annex Bosnia-Herzegovina and support Russia over access to the straits. Oddly enough on both occaisions it was Britain and France who really objected to Russia having access to the Med! In the latter incident Austria acted early to take her part of the agreement and then renaged on her support for Russia. When Russia started to push the matter, Germany effectively threatened Russia with war at Austrian discretion unless she backed down, and with Britain and France refusing to support Russia over the Straits, the matter ended. When Bethmann took over from Bulow, he recommended such a tactic never be tried again as it had almost led to war, and he warned Russia would not back down a second time, as indeed proved to be the case. It did have three notable consequences for the future.

1. The Russian leader, Isvolsky, was forced to resign, he was then given another post, that of ambassador to France and was there in 1914 and no friend to Germany.

2. The land Austria grabbed was far from happy even though Austria had administered it for decades, and it was the students from this land that carried out the assassination. Ironically, all were Austro-Hungarian citizens who wished to be part of a Greater Serbia and not part of the Hapsburg Empire.

4. Russia had been left humiliated, and as Bulow warned, was in no mood to back down the next time such a situation occurred. Each major crisis had seen the side most willing to support its aims with the threat of force had predominated. When Austria used force against Serbia and refused to talk, Russia sought to use the threat of war to force Austria to do as she wished.

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I am not going to be here very often for a while. We have a (wooden)1884 Victorian house that sits on 2 acres of flower-and-vegetable garden and orchard. Not so much grass. House and garden are maintanance-intensive and I lost a month of that when our grandchildren were here this summer. We are looking at 5 days of good fall weather and we are going to get all we can cleaned up and ready for next spring. In addition, this thread is time-consuming and my publisher has hired a very enthusiastic young editor who wants me to get to work. I will be back whenever I can, but even then page-long answers will be less likely.

Terence Zuber

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I would like to add that one reason the "Schlieffen plan" thread is so time-consuming, and perhaps confusing to some people, is that many have not read Inventing the Schlieffen Plan or German War Planning. It is difficult for me to distill the concepts and conduct of 24 years of German war planning into one-paragraph sound bites. While Inventing the Schlieffen Plan may be too daunting, German War Plan was intentionally kept short and cheap. Check it out from the library for all I care.

Terence Zuber

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Thanks Terence for contributing so much to the thread,it has been an education for me.I will be certainly getting your books except for ITSP which has a heart attack sticker price,that one might have to come from the library.:D

All the best,Liam

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Judge Judy, Glen239? If the legalities are irrelevant then what on earth would Judge Judy have to do with it? Now, lets clear up your misguided obsession with the legal rights and wrongs once and for all (hopefully, but I won't hold my breath).

Extract from the speech of the German Chancellor, Bethmann Hollweg, given to the Reichstag on 4th August 1914 (the bold highlights are mine).

"Gentlemen: We are, at present, in a state of legitimate defence and necessity knows no law! Our troops have occupied Luxembourg; perhaps they have entered Belgian territory already. Gentlemen, this is contrary to the rules of international law. It is true that the French Government has declared at Brussels that it would respect Belgium's neutrality as long as the adversary would respect it. However, we knew that France was ready for an invasion. France could afford to wait, but we could not! A French invasion at our flank, at the Lower Rhine, could have become fatal to us. Thus, we were forced to disregard the justified protests of the Governments of Luxembourg and Belgium. The wrong, I speak openly, the wrong which thereby we commit, we shall try to make good as soon as our military aim is attained. Whoever is threatened as we are, is not allowed to have any other consideration beyond that how he will hack his way through!"

The German Chancellor no less, says from the midst of time that you are talking complete and utter b*llocks i.e.

1) He states openly in the Reichstag that the act of German troops entering Belgium is against International Law.

2) Openly states that France has declared in Brussels that she would respect Belgian neutrality as long as any adversary does (no mention of dodgy French wording, just that Germany could not afford to wait but France could).

3) Openly states that the protests of the Governments of Belgium and Luxembourg are justified.

4) Openly states that Germany has committed a wrong.

No legal-lame-excuse making from Bethmann Hollweg (or von Jagow when talking to the British Ambassador) So who shall we believe, Glen239, the piles of evidence backed by Bethmann Hollweg's own words or your own, pretty poor, attempt at legal-lame-excuse making?

Cheers-salesie.

As a footnote, and an attempt to get back to the main theme of this thread. Do the words of Bethmann Hollweg and especially those of von Jagow, on 4th August 1914, about the dire need for German speed of action against France, not throw serious doubt on Terence's much repeated assertions that at the outset Germany intended to fight on internal Lines. If they did, then perhaps Moltke forgot to tell the German Chancellor and Foreign Secretary?

As already stated, the German violation constituted an illegal action regardless of the fact that all other guarnators had served notice of their intention to defect from the treaty. Remember that Crowe's conclusion was that the terms were individual and severe. That held for all guarantors, not just Britain. Germany had no right to invade Belgium in reaction to France's mobilization on 2 August that left no doubt as to French intentions to invade Belgium. Terry's suggestion, worded otherwise but in principle to the effect that German evidence of French planning intentions eliminated Germany's obligations to Belgium is also false; it did not. France could plan to invade Belgium all she wished, even do so openly, it was only the act of violating Beglium's neutrality that counted. The fact that Britain had also served notice it was defecting from the treaty, by way of Grey's statements that are impossible to reconcile with Britain's obligations, this too did not give Germany any legal right to invade Belgium. So the Chancellor's statement is correct. Germany had breached international law and the 1839 Treaty. If Germany had wanted it different, then Germany would before the war have made it an issue and used British evasions as the reason to their withdrawing from the treaty. Why Berlin didn't try to 'pin' Grey prior to the war constitutes another example of German diplomatic incompetence.

But by the very same token, the fact that Germany broke the treaty on 4 August does not mean that the Anglo-French actions prior to that date did not constitute the intention to breach the treaty; Germany simply beat France and Britain to the punch. I again draw your wandering attention back to the fact that the British strategy of blockade as concieved prior to the war functioned as the intention to denounce the 1839 Treaty. Britain upholds a treaty of Belgian neutrality by trampling Belgium's neutral right to trade food and other materials without interference? Absurd. No Great Power was willing to make policy on the basis of the 1839 Treaty, and because of this the original raison d' etre was eliminated, supplanted by a British wish - not present in 1839 or 1870 - only to use the treaty as a pretext to war with Germany.

IMO, Myth of the Schlieffen Plan did not adequately explain why the German plan of 1914 looked generally similiar to the Schlieffen Plan. If, as Mr. Zuber suggests, the memo had no influence then presumably in 1914 Moltke allows France to come through the Ardennes, and then drops the hammer on them. This didn't happen.

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As already stated, the German violation constituted an illegal action regardless of the fact that all other guarnators had served notice of their intention to defect from the treaty. Remember that Crowe's conclusion was that the terms were individual and severe. That held for all guarantors, not just Britain. Germany had no right to invade Belgium in reaction to France's mobilization on 2 August that left no doubt as to French intentions to invade Belgium. Terry's suggestion, worded otherwise but in principle to the effect that German evidence of French planning intentions eliminated Germany's obligations to Belgium is also false; it did not. France could plan to invade Belgium all she wished, even do so openly, it was only the act of violating Beglium's neutrality that counted. The fact that Britain had also served notice it was defecting from the treaty, by way of Grey's statements that are impossible to reconcile with Britain's obligations, this too did not give Germany any legal right to invade Belgium. So the Chancellor's statement is correct. Germany had breached international law and the 1839 Treaty. If Germany had wanted it different, then Germany would before the war have made it an issue and used British evasions as the reason to their withdrawing from the treaty. Why Berlin didn't try to 'pin' Grey prior to the war constitutes another example of German diplomatic incompetence.

But by the very same token, the fact that Germany broke the treaty on 4 August does not mean that the Anglo-French actions prior to that date did not constitute the intention to breach the treaty; Germany simply beat France and Britain to the punch. I again draw your wandering attention back to the fact that the British strategy of blockade as concieved prior to the war functioned as the intention to denounce the 1839 Treaty. Britain upholds a treaty of Belgian neutrality by trampling Belgium's neutral right to trade food and other materials without interference? Absurd. No Great Power was willing to make policy on the basis of the 1839 Treaty, and because of this the original raison d' etre was eliminated, supplanted by a British wish - not present in 1839 or 1870 - only to use the treaty as a pretext to war with Germany.

IMO, Myth of the Schlieffen Plan did not adequately explain why the German plan of 1914 looked generally similiar to the Schlieffen Plan. If, as Mr. Zuber suggests, the memo had no influence then presumably in 1914 Moltke allows France to come through the Ardennes, and then drops the hammer on them. This didn't happen.

Thanks for confirming, Glen239, that you now see the errors in your previous arguments i.e. you now understand that Germany was wrong, under international law, to invade Belgium and that German diplomacy was incompetent to say the least.

Now that we've got the legal "irrelevancies" out of the way, I feel a need to point out the flaw in your line of thought about Britain's naval commitment to France of 2nd August 1914. This was a commitment that the Royal Navy would do everything in its power to secure the French coast and French shipping - no commitment to blockade Germany or anyone else. For the Aug 2nd commitment to have come into being then Belgium would have been left alone by the Germany Army, and I will accept that this naval commitment would probably have led to war between Britain and Germany ultimately (note I said probably not certainly). However, seeing as this particular British naval commitment never came into being, the events of Aug 4th overtaking it, it would seem totally pointless to debate a blatant Whatif - there being, of course, no definitive answer to a Whatif.

So that just leaves me to point out the previously mentioned blatant flaw in your argument:

1) No blockade with the August 2nd commitment, so how would this have interfered with Belgian neutrality on the seas? The answer, of course, is it wouldn't, because there wouldn't have been any blockade.

2) And further proof of your flawed thinking lies in Britain's application of the actual naval blockade of Germany (instigated by Britain after declaring war on Germany, and the Aug 2nd commitment being overtaken by said declaration). In the actual blockade, a neutral sea-channel in the North Sea was declared by all combatants to allow shipping access in and out of Holland. So, if Germany had not violated Belgium neutrality and war between Britain and Germany had ensued anyway, Belgium neutrality would not have been violated at sea by Britain because Belgian shipping would have simply used the neutral sea-way as Holland did during the war.

Hope this clears up your misunderstanding?

Cheers-salesie.

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Terry's suggestion, worded otherwise but in principle to the effect that German evidence of French planning intentions eliminated Germany's obligations to Belgium is also false; it did not.

Not at all what I have said Glenn, presumably 'worded otherwise' in this case means you failed to understand what I have written.

Germany did not actually have any evidence of a French intent to invade Belgium, all they had was the opinion of their own general staff that if they were France then they would attack through Belgium. What the Germans would do in the place of France is not evidence of French intentions, only a reflection of the German view that attacking through Belgium was the best policy. It certainly did not remove the obligation upon Germany to uphold the treaty.

I again draw your wandering attention back to the fact that the British strategy of blockade as concieved prior to the war functioned as the intention to denounce the 1839 Treaty. Britain upholds a treaty of Belgian neutrality by trampling Belgium's neutral right to trade food and other materials without interference? Absurd.

Your idea is absurd, and this is at least the second time you have aired this delusional concept. The British policy of blockade in no way violates any provision under the treaty, it is not even covered in the treaty - I have asked before where in the treaty does it mention anything on this subject?

Under the treaty, Belgium must remain neutral, so she cannot import goods to sell on to nations at war as this is effectively entering into arrangements with them and thereby breaching the terms of the treaty from the moment Belgium enters into any such arrangement. Blockade is a process where ships are searched for goods fitting the description of contraband of war, and if a ship is carrying such goods marked for an enemy nation they may legally be seized. Nothing in the 1839 Treaty makes Belgium immune from such a process, not does it allow Belgium to enter into any such arrangement. The concept of continuous voyage/final destination covers this matter.

Britain could not violate the treaty under this scenario of yours, as the initial act would be for Belgium to be importing goods to be sold on to Germany, which would only then be seized by Britain. You could only accuse Britain of acting against Belgium if she were to cut off imports destined for internal Belgian consumption, and this would have to take place before anyone could make a claim of Britain breaking any part of the treaty. There is no violation at all if Britain searches ships bound for Belgium and then allows them to continue, the right to stop and search is still practiced today, nor is there a violation if Britain searched a ship and then seized all goods bound for Germany but allows goods bound for Belgium to continue their voyage.

Therefore you entire theory fails at the first hurdle, as unless Belgium has already broken her own neutrality by taking sides in a conflict, a blockade of Germany will not effect Beglium at all, and certainly in no way covered by the 1839 treaty.

supplanted by a British wish - not present in 1839 or 1870 - only to use the treaty as a pretext to war with Germany.

Britain did not need Belgium as a 'pretext' for war, the fact that Germany was at war with France was sufficient reason to go to war with Germany if it were desired to do so. Belgium added a further reason for Britain to go to war, and a perfectly legitimate reason too, in that she was upholding the treaty against an aggressor nation. This was in no way a pretext. It was one of a number of perfectly valid reasons Britain could have cited, it was simply the most flagrant demonstration of why Britain felt it was necessary to fight Germany in 1914.

IMO, Myth of the Schlieffen Plan did not adequately explain why the German plan of 1914 looked generally similiar to the Schlieffen Plan

Simple geography will do that for you. There is only so much land in Europe that could be used, so any attack that was not across the joint frontier or through Switzerland, is going to resemble the 'Schlieffen Plan' to some degree or other. It maybe did not go far enough into examining the role of the left wing, as if this was intended to play ANY active role in attacking into France, then the idea that it must remain weak and play no offensive role at all as is claimed in the Schlieffen Plan is obviously fake. If the left wing was intended to play an active role and invade France, even if was after the right wing had drawn French troops to oppose it, then this is not the Schlieffen Plan as handed down from Groener onwards.

If, as Mr. Zuber suggests, the memo had no influence then presumably in 1914 Moltke allows France to come through the Ardennes, and then drops the hammer on them. This didn't happen.

If plans existed from prior to the 1905 memo, they cannot have been influenced by it. If plans for a two front war with a smaller army resemble it, but were constructed without reference to it, then it still did not influence them. As another example, it is possible for me to write out a plan for a game of chess, and for you to do likewise. The two may resemble each other very closely, but it is perfectly possible that you wrote yours without considering mine even though you knew my plan existed. It is also possible that somebody else wrote a very similar game plan out prior to either of us, but unless we directly used it as a basis, it did not have influence on us and resemblance is a coincidence. I am not saying this is the case, but it is perfectly possible to arrive at such a position. Moltke could have looked at Schlieffen's planning - not the 1905 memo as it is clearly very different as it deals with a one front war and an army far bigger than that even of 1914 - and thought 'yes we will go through Belgium' and used nothing else but this concept in the actual plan used in 1914. Would that make any plan that used this idea Schlieffen's? If so it might even be correct to call it the Waldersee plan, as I believe some sort of maneuver was talked about in 1890, prior to Schlieffen's tenure!

The entire case may rest on semantics, but the details that have emerged are very interesting even so!

Hope this clears up your misunderstanding?

Salesie,

I think you are overly optimistic. The huge holes in this line have been pointed out to Glenn long before they were aired here, but he likes the idea and does not accept that it is wrong. Maybe you should ask him about his idea to send Russian troops to Nish, and how it is Russia's fault WWI started because they didnt try it in 1914???

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Salesie,

I think you are overly optimistic. The huge holes in this line have been pointed out to Glenn long before they were aired here, but he likes the idea and does not accept that it is wrong. Maybe you should ask him about his idea to send Russian troops to Nish, and how it is Russia's fault WWI started because they didnt try it in 1914???

Optimistic, Terry? Definitely not! Subtly sardonic is what I aimed for this time with Glen239, as opposed to being openly sardonic with my earlier Orks through The Shire analogy.

Certain elements of this thread highlight part of the fascination with WW1 do they not? WW2 was a clear good versus evil fight, whereas the geo-political complexities of WW1 provides the Junkerphiles with ample opportunities to "clear" their forefathers of any and all wrongdoing, and in doing so blame the allies for everything. An approach which some (though not all by any means) then take to extremis when they extend their "logic" into excuse making for Nazism itself, and hopefully make WW2 seem a much less clear fight (from an ideological point of view).

I'm sure that Glen239 will be back; after all, "religious faith" by necessity needs to be blind.

Cheers-salesie.

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Terry,thanks for the info on Russian intentions re Dardanelles etc,it would still seem a minor war aim ie I can't see why Russia would want to start a European conflict just to gain the straits.If that was her aim surely a war with Turkey would be more appropriate.

I suppose what I am saying is I can't buy France-Russia starting the war as there doesn't seem to be anything 'in it' for Russia.I rechecked Strachan and he points out that one of the vital mobilisation districts was deliberately not mobilised for fear of angering Germany,hardly fits in with Russia wanting war.It also seems that partial mobilisation was almost a standard feature of

'diplomacy' for several years prior to 1914

Strachan points out too that Moltke did refer to a lot of Schlieffen's plan pre 1906 memo bearing out your point to Glenn.

Best/Liam

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The Schlieffen plan memorandum requires 96 divisions. In January-February 1906, when Schlieffen actually wrote the memorandum, the entire German army had 72. How would you execute the plabn using 24 'ghost divisions'?

Well, the french had something in the region of 60% of the Divisional commanders they needed to Mobilise... but they did it anyway.

I am sure many of us served in Armies where we had only a certain % of what we felt we really needed... :hypocrite:

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Still trying to decide what to read next. I fight to find the time to enjoy a book. At the moment I am torn between Zuber in the Ardennes, or Sheldon in Flanders.

Was does irritate me are some of the things mentioned about the French Army in Zuber in some of the Amazon reviews and here on the forum.

Terence, to what extent did you use French primary and secondary source material for the book? I know you have command of the German language and access to many resources... were you able to balance with the same from the French side?

Best

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Thanks for confirming, Glenn239, that you now see the errors in your previous arguments i.e. you now understand that Germany was wrong, under international law, to invade Belgium and that German diplomacy was incompetent to say the least.

Cheers-salesie.

Salesie - just waiting for Schlieffen to hopefully come back a little more - we're not here to discuss Belgium, but rather, Mr. Zuber's books.

No one ever said Germany didn't violate international law - I can't redact an opinion never held. You are supposing as equal two things that were different; international law on one hand and the story of the failure of the 1839 Treaty as it occurred between the Great Powers. That is, how it came about that from 1870, when the treaty worked as intended as some unique European parlour version to collective security, to 1908, at date by which all the Powers had individually made the decision to defect from their obligations.

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Was does irritate me are some of the things mentioned about the French Army in Zuber in some of the Amazon reviews and here on the forum.

Chris,

I have read both the Ardennes and Mons books by Terence, and think that you may well find that the comments made have some justification. It is some time since I read them now, but I must say they do open Terenece to the criticisms made here.

Terry

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Good morning,

I'd certainly recommend Zuber's Ardennes book, for two main reasons: 1). a detailed description of German army training, organisation and tactics 2) a detailed description from the German perspective of the "Battle of the Frontiers". I don't read German so I am reliant on the likes of Terence Zuber, Ralph Whitehead, Jack Sheldon, Joe Rookery etc for information based on the German sources. However I would also recommend reading a French source as a counter-balance: Grasset may sometimes suffer from his "romantic" style ("baionnette au canon" etc) but his books are very detailed, written in the 20s/30s, based on contemporary records.

I am unaware of any recent detailed French account but a friend, the Belgian historian and author Jean Claude Delhez, is to publish a two volume work soon (the first volume should be out in November). Having read most of his books it should be very interesting and I know will be better illustrated (i've seen some of the photos that he intends to use).

Terence Zuber said he'd be away from the forum for a short while as he had some "home maintenance" to undertake, so in his defence I would say that, although he doesn't much use the French JMOs, regimental histories etc, he did visit the area, walk the battlefields and look and use local Belgian sources (such as Rene Bastin's "Un Samedi Sanglant").

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Hi Steve,

Your PM some time ago convinced me I shall need the Ardennes book some time in the near future.

I shall of course read it with an open mind, but some of the baseless comments that I seem to have read make me wonder about the objectivity, and if a balanced book is possible when you read just german texts.

of course, Jack Sheldon used German texts, but the Objective of the books is different.

Off the top of my head, some Zuberisms that irritated...

1) Both Active and Reserve German Units could easily deal with French active units (a statement that is rather head scratching when you read French sources about the composition of French units)

2) In the area of the battle of the frontiers, you can see that the germans respected their dead more than the French did as they all have individualgraves with names and the french do not

3) His claim that the "attaque a la Outrance" was not practiced by the French in the opening stages of the war (with seems to show a tendency to ignore Primary Source material)

They are all small points, but make me question the balance in the work.

Of course, it is to early to judge before one has read the book, which i shall do soon.

best

Chris

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Chris

This only a small point and entirely peripheral to the main discussion, but I do want to underline the point made by Terence regarding respect for and burial of the dead and to support him in this matter. There was a huge difference between the German and French approaches to this and ample evidence to show that individual German soldiers were disgusted by the total indifference of the French to treating the dead with propriety. I have recently completed a chapter of my 1915 book which covers Second Ypres and a number of German witnesses commented adversely about this. Furthermore, you only need consider the care taken by individual German regiments to provide suitable memorials and decently laid out cemeteries all along the Western Front to see the importance attached to honouring the dead. This is also exemplified in the care taken to provide military honours whenever possible to enemy soldiers killed on patrol or during raids. Often all the key officers would turn out and provision was frequently made for surviving PW to attend these funerals. The French on the other hand, even after the war, took very little care over the burial and commemoration of their fallen until the Bishops of Arras and Verdun, for example, embarrassed the government into action and took a leading role in obtaining funding and creation of the vast sites of remembrance at Notre Dame de Lorette and Douaumont.

Jack

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Good evening Chris,

As you raise 3 specific points:

1. A gross generalisation and "easy" is a subjective word - but the French were heavily defeated across the board. It should also be read in the context of many French descriptions of the beginning of the war, which run along the lines of "we advanced, we met the Germans, we retreated, we won the Battle of the Marne", Some tend to gloss over the scale of the defeat !

2. Plainly wrong - there are German mass graves at Virton and Neufchateau, to name just two.

3. I would agree with him: they were all meeting engagements, where the French just ran into the Germans. Don't get misled by Joffre's order of the day "to attack the enemy wherever he is encountered", the tactics of the "offensive a l'outrance" weren't given the chance to be used. Terence Zuber says he can't find any reference to bayonet charges in German histories, Jean Claude Delhez could only find 4 verified instances across the whole area (approximating to 5% of units involved).

I think the book isn't an easy read, with a paucity of illustrations but if you can separate (some of) Terence Zuber's opinions/commentary from the underlying facts from the German side, then it is an important book.

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