The Schlieffen Plan, the German General Staff's overall strategic blueprint for victory on the western front against France in the years up to 1914, takes its name from its author, Alfred Graf von Schlieffen. In essence it envisaged a rapid German mobilisation, disregard of Luxembourg, Belgian and Dutch neutrality, and the overwhelming sweep of German armies through Belgium southwards in the back of the French defences pivoting on weakly-held left-wing positions in the province ofAlsace-Lorraine. Paris was not to be taken but to be by-passed in the east. The plans intention was not to conquer cities or industry in order to weaken the French war efforts - the plan was to capture most of the French army and to force France to surrender. Following the speedy defeat of France, von Schlieffen envisaged switching German concentrations to the Eastern Front.
Schlieffen regularly updated details of his master plan as a labour of love even after his retirement from the General Staff in 1905, but his successor, Helmuth von Moltke (the younger) weakened the plan's execution in 1914 at the beginning of World War I, avoiding invading the Netherlands, weakening the German right wing and maintaining forces in the threatened East Prussia. Stubborn French resistance also contributed to the plan's failure in 1914. However, a modified form of Schlieffen's concept proved effective over the same terrain in the defeat of France in 1940 (Manstein's Sichelschnitt).
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