Schlieffen Plan (2169 words)

Historical Context Essay

  • Terence M. Holmes (University of Wales, Swansea)


The Schlieffen Plan is commonly – though misleadingly – identified with the German western offensive at the start of the First World War in August 1914, which began as a campaign of rapid movement but ended in deadlock and trench warfare. The plan is generally seen as a desperate gamble almost certain to fail, and its recklessness is counted as part of Germany’s war guilt – the plan held out the false promise of a quick victory, and so it underpinned the “short war illusion” that led Germany into a long war of attrition, ending with her defeat and collapse in 1918. This analysis confuses two quite different moments in history. The Schlieffen Plan was not designed to meet the strategic challenge Germany faced in 1914, but …

Holmes, Terence M.. "Schlieffen Plan". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 22 November 2004
[, accessed 21 October 2016.]