Was The German Defeat On The Western Front Caused By the Failure Of The Schlieffen Plan?


Germany’s defeat on the Western Front was not caused by the failure of The Schlieffen Plan, the plan failed on September 11th 1914 and the war dragged on for another four years until Germany was defeated on November 11th 1918. The failure of the plan led to many causes such as a war of movement had become a war of attrition (a stalemate). There were long-term and short-term reasons for Germany’s defeat as a consequence of The Schlieffen Plans failure.



There were many consequences that brewed from the failure of The Schlieffen Plan such as; Germany now had to fight a war on two fronts, one in the west between Britain, France and the other Allied (or entente) powers and a war in the east against Russia this was caused by the assumption that Russia would not be able to mobilize their troops quick enough but Germany were wrong and the Russian troops mobilized quicker than expected, so this meant that Germany had to split its forces over two fronts this also led to Germanys resources, supplies and soldiers being dispersed over the two fronts which means that Germany could not focus all forces on one front either the Western Front(U.K.and its colonies, France, USA and Belgium) or the Eastern Front (Russia and its allies). Also another assumption that did not go in their favour was that Germany did not expect Britain to follow the Treaty Of London which stated neutrality towards Belgium and if needed Britain, France and Germany would protect it from any threat, Which led to Britain joining the war and slowing down the German detour through Belgium to Paris (The Schlieffen Plan). Another consequence from the failure of The Schlieffen plan was that a Great War of movement had become a war of attrition; this started to happen at the River Marne when German troops retreated 60km and dug defensive trenches now both sides had to race each other to the channel in attempt to outflank each other. Both failed and dug defensive trenches and by November 1914 these trenches stretched to the Swiss border and this line of trenches was called The Western Front. With trench warfare came the stalemate that prolonged the war for four years. This allowed the Allies to develop tanks and other weapons that were crucial to Germany’s defeat.


Long term causes that could have led to Germany’s defeat on The Western Front could have been that if The Schlieffen Plan had succeeded the German victory would have been achieved before the naval blockade could have affected the outcome of the war. When The Schlieffen plan failed it allowed the allies win the race to the sea in 1914. This meant that the allies controlled the channel ports and could bring in resources and fresh troops. The successful British naval blockade stopped the Germans from getting much needed supplies such as food and weaponary; this affected the Western Front because without supplies the German army could not fight effectively it also caused anger against the Kaiser. The chief of staff General Erich Von Falkenhayn started the Battle of Verdun because he could not break through on The Western Front. This was due to the failure of The Schlieffen plan. He assumed (just like The Schlieffen plan was based on assumptions that caused its failure) that this battle would be a war of attrition, and would result in eventual victory for the Germans. In fact this battle was the longest in world war one it started in February 1916 and ended in December 1916 when the German army was defeated. The Germans lost 400,000 men and the French successfully evicted German forces from Verdun and the surrounding area. The battle of Verdun severely crippled German resources and contributed to the eventual German defeat on The Western Front. Also another long-term cause that led to Germany’s defeat on The Western Front was that General Von Moltke resigned after the failure of The Schlieffen Plan because he knew that the there was no hope for Germany winning the war and this led to a drop in morale because if their leader resigned what message does this give to the other troops.