Alfred von Schlieffen

Alfred Graf von Schlieffen, generally called Count Schlieffen (German pronunciation: [ˈʃliːfən]; 28 February 1833 – 4 January 1913) was a German field marshal and strategist who served as chief of the Imperial German General Staff from 1891 to 1906.[1][a] His name lived on in the 1905–06 'Schlieffen Plan', then Aufmarsch I, a deployment plan and operational guide for a decisive initial offensive operation/campaign in a one-front war against the French Third Republic.


Alfred von Schlieffen
Alfred von Schlieffen 1906
von Schlieffen in 1906
Chief of the German General Staff
In office
7 February 1891 – 1 January 1906
MonarchWilhelm II
Preceded byAlfred von Waldersee
Succeeded byHelmuth von Moltke the Younger
Personal details
Born28 February 1833
Berlin, Province of Brandenburg, Kingdom of Prussia in the German Confederation
Died4 January 1913 (aged 79)
Spouse(s)Anna Schlieffen
AwardsOrder of the Black Eagle
Military service
Allegiance German Empire
Branch/serviceGerman Army
Years of service1853-1906
CommandsGeneral of the Cavalry
Battles/warsFranco-Prussian War


Born in Berlin, Germany, on 28 February 1833 as the son of a Prussian Army officer, he was part of an old Prussian noble family, the Schlieffen family. He lived with his father, Major Magnus von Schlieffen, on their estate in Silesia, which he left to go to school in 1842. Growing up, Schlieffen had shown no interest in joining the military, so he did not attend the traditional Prussian cadet academies. Instead, he studied at the University of Berlin.[2] While studying law, he enlisted in the army in 1853 for his one year of compulsory military service.[3] After this, instead of joining the reserves, he was chosen as an officer candidate. Thus he started a long military career, working his way up through the officer ranks, eventually completing 53 years of service.

In 1868, fifteen years into his military career, Schlieffen married his cousin Countess Anna Schlieffen. They had one healthy child (Elisabeth Auguste Marie Ernestine Gräfin von Schlieffen, 13 September 1869 - 23 September 1943), but after the birth of a second (Marie, who became a nun), his wife died.[2] After that, Schlieffen focused all his attention on his military work.[4]

Military service

On the recommendation of his commanders,[2] Schlieffen was admitted to the General War School in 1858 at the age of 25, much earlier than others. He graduated in 1861 with high honours, which guaranteed him a role as a General Staff officer. In 1862, he was assigned to the Topographic Bureau of the General Staff,[2] providing him with geographical knowledge and a respect for the tactical and strategic value of terrain and weather that would serve him well throughout his career, particularly in the war games he conducted and in the devising of various war plans including the famous Schlieffen Plan. In 1865 he was transferred to the German General Staff proper, though his role was initially a minor one. He first saw active war service as a staff officer with the Prussian Cavalry Corps at the Battle of Königgrätz of 1866, during the Austro-Prussian War.[2] The tactical "battle of encirclement" conducted there was from that point forward a constant feature of his tactical doctrine, even as his strategic doctrine consistently favoured the counter-offensive due to both his understanding of terrain and his respect for von Clausewitz's assessment of the constantly-diminishing strength of the offensive.

During the Franco-Prussian War, he commanded a small force in the Loire Valley in what was one of the most difficult campaigns fought by the Prussian Army.[4] In France, Frederick I, Grand Duke of Baden, promoted him to Major and head of the military-history division. After years working alongside Helmuth von Moltke and Alfred von Waldersee, on 4 December 1886 he was promoted to Major General, and shortly afterwards, with the retirement of Moltke, became Waldersee's Deputy Chief of Staff.[4] Not long after this he became Quartermeistergeneral, then Lieutenant General on 4 December 1888, and eventually General of the Cavalry on 27 January 1893. In August 1905, at the age of 72, Schlieffen was kicked by a companion's horse, making him "incapable of battle". After nearly 53 years of service, Schlieffen retired on New Year's Day, 1906.[3] He died on 4 January 1913, just 19 months before the outbreak of the First World War.[3] His apocryphal last words are said to have been, "Remember: keep the right wing very strong," (in reference to the main strategic manoeuvre of Aufmarsch I West), but nobody actually present is known to have said this. Furthermore, the origin of this tale is unknown but only seems to have started appearing several decades after his death.

Size and composition of the German Army

For Schlieffen, Germany's smaller rate of conscription (55 percent) compared to France's (80 percent) presented a problem. This numerical imbalance was worsened by Russia's 1894 alliance with France. German tactical and operational abilities could not compensate for this quantitive inferiority. It was always Schlieffen's intention to institute genuinely universal conscription and, more importantly, raise as many combat units from trained reservists as possible.[5]

Schlieffen was not in charge of conscription policy; that was the purview of the War Ministry, which in turn was under the budget powers of the Reichstag. Since politics and economics blocked increases in the peacetime army, Schlieffen resorted to creating masses of new units when war came, when he would assume command of the army. Upon mobilisation, large numbers of reservists would be assigned to replacement battalions (Ersatzbataillone), while waiting for an open spot in the field army.[6]

From June 1891 onwards, Schlieffen began to push for transforming Ersatzbataillone into brigade-sized manoeuvre units in the field army. There were major drawbacks to this design. These units were not cohesive, combat-capable forces. Replacement units as field units would also not be able to replace field army casualties. Because the War Ministry had no intention of creating such armed hordes with practically no equipment or command and control, nor was it willing to incur the political cost, it turned down Schlieffen's proposals and nothing was done until 1911, six years after Schlieffen's retirement, when 6 ersatz divisions entered the German order of battle thanks to Ludendorff's efforts. Schlieffen continued to believe in the veracity of his idea and the mass use of Ersatzbataillone in combat formed the keystone of the January 1906 Schlieffen plan Denkschrift. The Schlieffen plan Denkschrift was therefore not a war plan, an impossibility because Schlieffen had retired on 31 December 1905 and the 96 divisions needed to carry out this one-front war plan never existed (in 1914 the German army had 79, of which 68 were deployed in the west), but a demonstration of what Germany might accomplish if she instituted true universal conscription.[6]

Schlieffen thought that even this hypothetical 96-division German army would probably not be able to defeat France in a full-scale strategic offensive:

These preparations [encircling Paris] can be made any way that you like: it will soon become clear that we will be too weak to continue the operation in this direction. We will have the same experience as that of all previous conquerors, that offensive warfare both requires and uses up very strong forces, that these forces become weaker even as those of the defender become stronger, and this is especially true in a land that bristles with fortresses.[7]

Without 12 ersatz divisions on the right flank (in 1914 the German army had only 6 and they were all sent to Lorraine), outflanking Paris was impossible. Schlieffen admitted in the Denkschrift that ersatz units could not catch the right wing by foot-marching nor would the rail system be in a state to support the deployment of 12 ersatz divisions to Paris. If they could not be sent to the right wing, they could be deployed practically anywhere else on the German front, either between Verdun and Mézières, at Metz or on the right bank of the Moselle.[8] There is no evidence that Schlieffen ever conducted an exercise to test a scheme of manoeuvre similar to the one in the Schlieffen plan Denkschrift (a right wing envelopment of Paris), which would be odd indeed if this represented the pinnacle of Schlieffen's strategic thought. None of Schlieffen's surviving deployment plans (Aufmarsch), General staff rides (Generalstabsreisen) or war games (Kriegsspiele) bear any resemblance to the manoeuvre of the "Schlieffen plan". Instead they all point to Schlieffen's counterattack doctrine.[9]

On 11 December 1893 Schlieffen wrote a Denkschrift that represented the completion of his idea of mass warfare. When war came, the German government ought to declare full mobilisation in East Prussia, owing to its vulnerability to Russian cavalry raids. The East Prussian militia would have pre-prepared equipment to defend themselves with. Behind this militia screen the German field army would deploy and then throw back the Russians.[10]

War planning

Schlieffen Plan
Schlieffen plan Denkschrift (1905) and French Plan XVII (1913)

The cornerstone of Schlieffen's war planning was undoubtedly the strategic counter-offensive. Schlieffen was a great believer in the power of the attack in the context of the defensive operation. Germany's smaller forces relative to the Franco-Russian Entente meant that an offensive posture against one or both was basically suicidal. On the other hand, Schlieffen placed great faith in Germany's ability to use its railways to launch a counter-offensive against a hypothetical French or Russian invasion force, defeat it, then quickly re-group her troops and launch a counter-offensive against the other. To quote Holmes:

The Generalstabsreise Ost [eastern wargame] of 1901 followed on from a Generalstabsreise West of the same year, in which the French – not the Germans – attacked through Belgium and Luxembourg and were decisively beaten by a counter-attack on the left bank of the Rhine near to the Belgian border. It was this defensive victory that Schlieffen was referring to when he spoke of the need to crush one enemy first and then turn against the other. He insisted that the Germans 'must wait for the enemy to emerge from behind his defensive ramparts, which he will do eventually'. That was the approach adopted in this exercise, and the Germans won a decisive victory over the French.[11]

Schlieffen also recognised the need for offensive planning, however, as failing to do so would limit the German Army's capabilities if the situation called for them. In 1897, starting from a plan of 1894, Schlieffen developed a tactical plan that – acknowledging the German army's limited offensive power and capacity for strategic manoeuvres – basically amounted to using brute force to advance beyond the French defences on the Franco-German border.[12] To complement this unsophisticated manoeuvre and improve its chances of success he deemed it necessary to outflank the fortress line to the north and focus on destroying it from north–south starting at Verdun. This was, it must be stated, a tactical plan centred around the destruction of the fortress-line that called for very little movement by the forces involved.[13]

In 1905, however, Schlieffen developed what was truly his first plan for a strategic offensive operation – the Schlieffen plan Denkschrift (Schlieffen plan memorandum). This plan catered for an isolated Franco-German war which would not involve Russia, and more specifically it called for Germany to attack France. The rough draft of this plan was so crude as not to consider questions of supply at all and be vague on the actual number of troops involved, but theorised that Germany would need to raise at least another 100,000 professional troops and 100,000 "ersatz" militiamen (the latter being within Germany's capabilities even in 1905) in addition to being able to count on Austro-Hungarian and Italian forces being deployed to German Alsace-Lorraine to defend it. The German Army would then move through the Dutch province of Maastricht and northern Belgium, securing southern Belgium and Luxembourg with a flank-guard to protect both Germany and the main force from a French offensive during this critical manoeuvre [this being the point of the 1913 French Plan XVII].[14]

But it is here, in the second and final phase of the operation, that Schlieffen shows his true genius: he notes the immense strength of the French "second defensive area" in which the French can use the fortress-sector of Verdun, "Fortress Paris", and the River Marne as the basis of a very strong defensive line. Appreciating its defensive power, Schlieffen knew that he would have to try to force the French back from the Marne or at least secure a bridgehead over the Marne and/or Seine if he did not want the second German operation/campaign of the war to result in heavy losses. To do this, Schlieffen insisted that they cross the Seine to the west of Paris and, if they managed to cross in strength against sufficiently weak opposition, then they might even be able to force the French back from the westernmost sections of the Marne and surround Paris.[14]

However, the bulk of Schlieffen's planning still followed his personal preferences for the counter-offensive. Aufmarsch II and Aufmarsch Ost (later Aufmarsch II West and Aufmarsch I Ost, respectively) continued to stress that Germany's best hope for survival if faced by a war with the Franco-Russian entente was a defensive strategy. This "defensive strategy", it must be noted, was reconciled with a very offensive tactical posture as Schlieffen held that the destruction of an attacking force required that it be surrounded and attacked from all sides until it surrendered, and not merely repulsed as in a "passive" defense:

Discussing the proper German response to a French offensive between Metz and Strasbourg, he insists that the invading army must not be driven back to its border position, but annihilated on German territory, and "that is possible only by means of an attack on the enemy’s flank and rear". Whenever we come across that formula we have to take note of the context, which frequently reveals that Schlieffen is talking about a counter-attack in the framework of a defensive strategy [italics ours].[15]

In August 1905 Schlieffen was kicked by a companion's horse, making him "incapable of battle". During his time off, now at the age of 72, he started planning his retirement. His successor was yet undetermined. Goltz was the primary candidate, but the Emperor was not fond of him.[16] A favourite of the Emperor was Helmuth von Moltke the Younger, who became Chief of Staff after Schlieffen retired.

Moltke went on to devise Aufmarsch II Ost, a variant upon Schlieffen's Aufmarsch Ost designed for an isolated Russo-German war. Schlieffen seems to have tried to impress upon Moltke that an offensive strategy against France could only work in the event of an isolated Franco-German war, as German forces would otherwise be too weak to implement it.[17] Knowing this, Moltke still attempted to apply the offensive strategy of Aufmarsch I West to the two-front war Germany faced in 1914 and Schlieffen's defensive plan Aufmarsch II West. With too few troops to cross west of Paris, let alone attempt a crossing of the Seine, Moltke's campaign failed to breach the French "second defensive sector" and his troops were pushed back in the Battle of the Marne.[18]


Schlieffen was perhaps the best-known contemporary strategist of his time, although criticised for his "narrow-minded military scholasticism."[19]

Schlieffen's operational theories were to have a profound impact on the development of manoeuvre warfare in the 20th century, largely through his seminal treatise, Cannae, which concerned the decidedly un-modern battle of 216 BC in which Hannibal defeated the Romans. Cannae had two main purposes. First, it was to clarify, in writing, Schlieffen's concepts of manoeuvre, particularly the manoeuvre of encirclement, along with other fundamentals of warfare. Second, it was to be an instrument for the Staff, the Waand for the Army all together.[20] His theories were studied exhaustively, especially in the higher army academies of the United States and Europe after the First World War. American military thinkers thought so highly of him that his principal literary legacy, Cannae, was translated at Fort Leavenworth and distributed within the U.S. Army and to the academic community.

Along with the great militarist man we've known Schlieffen to be, there are also underlying traits about Schlieffen that often go untold. As we know, Schlieffen was a strategist. Unlike the Chief of Staff, Waldersee, Schlieffen avoided political affairs and instead was actively involved in the tasks of the General Staff. These tasks included the preparation of war plans, and the readiness of the German Army for war. He focused much of his attention on planning. He devoted time to training, military education and the adaptation of modern technology for the use of military purposes and strategic planning.[4] It was evident that Schlieffen was very much involved in preparing and planning for future combat. He considered one of his primary tasks was to prepare the young officers in not only a way in which they would accept responsibility for taking action in planning manoeuvres, but also for directing these movements after the planning had taken place.[21]

In regards to Schlieffen's tactics, General Walter Bedell Smith, chief of staff to General Dwight D. Eisenhower, supreme commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force in the Second World War, pointed out that General Eisenhower and many of his staff officers, products of these academies, "were imbued with the idea of this type of wide, bold maneuver for decisive results."

General Erich Ludendorff, a disciple of Schlieffen who applied his teachings of encirclement in the Battle of Tannenberg, once famously christened Schlieffen as "one of the greatest soldiers ever."

Long after his death, the German General Staff officers of the Interwar and Second World War period, particularly General Hans von Seeckt, recognised an intellectual debt to Schlieffen theories during the development of the Blitzkrieg doctrine.


  • "A man is born, and not made, a strategist."—Schlieffen
  • "To win, we must endeavour to be the stronger of the two at the point of impact. Our only hope of this lies in making our own choice of operations, not in waiting passively for whatever the enemy chooses for us." — Schlieffen


  1. ^ Regarding personal names: Graf was a title before 1919, but now is regarded as part of the surname. It is translated as Count. Before the August 1919 abolition of nobility as a legal class, titles preceded the full name when given (Graf Helmuth James von Moltke). Since 1919, these titles, along with any nobiliary prefix (von, zu, etc.), can be used, but are regarded as a dependent part of the surname, and thus come after any given names (Helmuth James Graf von Moltke). Titles and all dependent parts of surnames are ignored in alphabetical sorting. The feminine form is Gräfin.


  1. ^ "Alfred Schlieffen, Graf von." Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th Edition (November 2011): 1.
  2. ^ a b c d e Dupuy 1977, p. 128.
  3. ^ a b c V. J. Curtis, "Understanding Schlieffen," The Army Doctrine and Training Bulletin 6, no. 3 (2003), p. 56.
  4. ^ a b c d Dupuy 1977, p. 129.
  5. ^ Zuber 2002, pp. 138-139.
  6. ^ a b Zuber 2002, p. 139.
  7. ^ Zuber 2004, p. 195.
  8. ^ Zuber 2002, p. 46.
  9. ^ Zuber 2002, p. 212.
  10. ^ Zuber 2002, p. 140.
  11. ^ Holmes 2014, pp. 205.
  12. ^ Dupuy 1977, p. 135.
  13. ^ Walter 1967, p. 132.
  14. ^ a b Zuber 2010, Chapter 1905/06.
  15. ^ Holmes 2014, pp. 206.
  16. ^ Walter 1967, p. 138.
  17. ^ Walter 1967, p. 139.
  18. ^ Otto, Helmut (July 1979). "Alfred Graf von Schlieffen: Generalstabschef und Militärtheoretiker des Imperialistischen Deutschen Kaiserreiches Zwischen Weltmachstreben und Revolutionsfurcht". Revue Internationale D'histoire Militaire. 43: 74.
  19. ^ Paret, Peter (1984). Makers of Modern Strategy: From Machiavelli to the Nuclear Age. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press. p. 311. ISBN 0-691-09235-4.
  20. ^ Dupuy 1977, p. 132.
  21. ^ Dupuy 1977, p. 133.


  • Dupuy, T. N. (1977). A Genius for War: The German Army and General Staff. New Jersey: Prentice Hall. ISBN 0-13-351114-6.
  • Walter, Goerlitz (1967). History of The German General Staff. New York: Frederick A. Praeger.
  • Zuber, Terence (2002). Inventing the Schlieffen Plan: German War Planning, 1871–1914. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-925016-2.
  • Zuber, Terence (2004). German War Planning, 1891-1914: Sources and Interpretations. Woodbridge: The Boydell Press. ISBN 1-84383-108-2.Cannae
  • Zuber, T. (2010). The Real German War Plan 1904–14 (e-book ed.). New York: The History Press. ISBN 0-75247-290-9.
  • Holmes, T. M. (April 2014). "Absolute Numbers: The Schlieffen Plan as a Critique of German Strategy in 1914". War in History. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. 21 (2). ISSN 0968-3445.

Further reading

  • Foley, R. T. (2006) [2003]. Alfred von Schlieffen's Military Writings. London: Frank Cass. ISBN 0-71464-999-6.
  • Foley, Robert T. "The Real Schlieffen Plan", War in History, Vol. 13, Issue 1. (2006), pp. 91–115.
  • "Alfred Schlieffen, Graf von." Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th Edition (November 2011): 1
  • Schlieffen, A. von (1931). Cannae (authorised trans. ed.). Fort Leavenworth, KS: The Command and General Staff School Press. OCLC 435941505. Retrieved 26 October 2015.
  • Wallach, Jehuda L., The dogma of the battle of annihilation: the theories of Clausewitz and Schlieffen and their impact on the German conduct of two world wars. (Westport, Conn. ; London : Greenwood, 1986).

External links

Military offices
Preceded by
Count Waldersee
Chief of the General Staff
Succeeded by
Helmuth von Moltke


was a common year starting on Tuesday of the Gregorian calendar and a common year starting on Sunday of the Julian calendar, the 1833rd year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 833rd year of the 2nd millennium, the 33rd year of the 19th century, and the 4th year of the 1830s decade. As of the start of 1833, the Gregorian calendar was

12 days ahead of the Julian calendar, which remained in localized use until 1923.


Bandenbekämpfung is a German-language term that means "bandit fighting" or "combating of bandits". In the context of German military history, Bandenbekämpfung was an operational doctrine that was part of countering resistance or insurrection in the rear area during wars. Another more common understanding of Bandenbekämpfung is anti-partisan warfare. The doctrine of "bandit-fighting" provided a rationale to target and murder any number of groups, from armed guerrillas to the civilian population, as "bandits" or "members of gangs". As applied by the German Empire and then Nazi Germany, it became instrumental in the genocidal programs implemented by the two regimes, including the Holocaust.

Battle of Cannae

The Battle of Cannae () was a major battle of the Second Punic War that took place on 2 August 216 BC in Apulia, in southeast Italy. The army of Carthage, under Hannibal, surrounded and decisively defeated a larger army of the Roman Republic under the consuls Lucius Aemilius Paullus and Gaius Terentius Varro. It is regarded both as one of the greatest tactical feats in military history and as one of the worst defeats in Roman history.

Having recovered from their losses at Trebia (218 BC) and Lake Trasimene (217 BC), the Romans decided to engage Hannibal at Cannae, with approximately 86,000 Roman and allied troops. They massed their heavy infantry in a deeper formation than usual, while Hannibal used the double-envelopment tactic and surrounded his enemy, trapping the majority of the Roman army, who were then slaughtered. The loss of life on the Roman side was one of the most lethal single day's fighting in history; Adrian Goldsworthy equates the death toll at Cannae to "the massed slaughter of the British Army on the first day of the Somme offensive in 1916." Only about 15,000 Romans, most of whom were from the garrisons of the camps and had not taken part in the battle, escaped death. Following the defeat, Capua and several other Italian city-states defected from the Roman Republic to Carthage.

As news of this defeat reached Rome, the city was gripped in panic. Authorities resorted to extraordinary measures, which included consulting the Sibylline Oracles, dispatching a delegation led by Quintus Fabius Pictor to consult the Delphic oracle in Greece, and burying four people alive as a sacrifice to their Gods. To raise two new legions, the authorities lowered the draft age and enlisted criminals, debtors and even slaves. Despite the extreme loss of men and equipment, and a second massive defeat later that same year at Silva Litana, the Romans refused to surrender to Hannibal. His offer to ransom survivors was brusquely refused. With grim determination the Romans fought for 14 more years until they achieved victory at the Battle of Zama.

Although for most of the following decades the battle was seen solely as a major Roman disaster, by modern times Cannae acquired a mythic quality, and is often used as an example of the perfect defeat of an enemy army. It was studied by German strategists prior to World War II, and General Norman Schwartzkopf claimed to have drawn inspiration from Hannibal's success for his devastatingly effective land offensive in the First Gulf War.

February 28

February 28 is the 59th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 306 days remaining until the end of the year (307 in leap years).

German Army (German Empire)

The Imperial German Army (German: Deutsches Heer) was the unified ground and air force of the German Empire (excluding the Marine-Fliegerabteilung maritime aviation formations of the Imperial German Navy). The term Deutsches Heer is also used for the modern German Army, the land component of the Bundeswehr. The German Army was formed after the unification of Germany under Prussian leadership in 1871 and dissolved in 1919, after the defeat of the German Empire in World War I.

Helmuth von Moltke the Younger

Helmuth Johannes Ludwig Graf von Moltke (German: [ˈhɛlmuːt fɔn ˈmɔltkə]; 25 May 1848 – 18 June 1916), also known as Moltke the Younger, was a German general who served as the Chief of the German General Staff from 1906 to 1914. He was a nephew of Generalfeldmarschall (Field Marshal) Helmuth Karl Bernhard von Moltke who is commonly called "Moltke the Elder" to differentiate the two.

How Few Remain

How Few Remain is a 1997 alternate history novel by Harry Turtledove. It is the first part of the Southern Victory saga, which depicts a world in which the Confederate States of America won the American Civil War. It is similar to his earlier novel The Guns of the South, but unlike the latter, it is a purely historical novel with no fantastical or science fiction elements.The book received the Sidewise Award for Alternate History in 1997, and was also nominated for the Nebula Award for Best Novel in 1998. It covers the Southern Victory Series period of history from 1862 and from 1881 to 1882.

Hugo von Freytag-Loringhoven

Hugo Friedrich Philipp Johann Freiherr von Freytag-Loringhoven (May 20, 1855 in Copenhagen – October 19, 1924 in Weimar) was a Prussian general and a writer on military matters, being awarded the Pour le Mérite in 1916 for his work as a historian.He came from an old Westphalian family, the son of a diplomat, Karl von Freytag-Loringhoven (1811–1882). He entered the Imperial German army in 1877, a few years after German unification, as a lieutenant. From 1887 to 1896 he taught military history at the Prussian Military Academy in Berlin. He then worked for a while for Alfred von Schlieffen, later being described as "Schlieffen's favorite disciple", and in 1907 took command of the 12th Regiment of Grenadiers at Frankfurt an der Oder. In 1910 he became Oberquartiermeister, and in December 1913 took command of the 22nd Division at Cassel.

With the mobilisation of troops in 1914 for World War I, he became firstly a liaison officer with the Austro-Hungarian forces. He then returned to the Supreme Army Command as Stellvertretender Generalquartiermeister (Deputy Quartermaster-General), where he became an unofficial adviser to Erich von Falkenhayn although he bemoaned his lack of influence. He briefly led the 9th Reserve Corps, then the 17th Reserve Division, and in September 1916 went back to the Supreme Army Command. On April 18, 1918 he was promoted to General of the Infantry.

His published works include:

Deductions from the World War the English translation of Folgerungen aus dem Weltkriege (1918)His son Leopold married the Dadaist artist and poet Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven.

Imperial German plans for the invasion of the United Kingdom

Imperial German plans for the invasion of the United Kingdom were first conceived in 1897 by Admiral Eduard von Knorr, commander of the Imperial German Navy, against a background of increasing Anglo-German rivalry and German naval expansion. Acknowledging the inferiority of the small German fleet, his concept called for a preemptive strike against the Royal Navy to establish temporary naval supremacy. This would be followed by an immediate landing, before British naval reinforcements re-established command of the sea. Subsequent studies determined that the shortest possible sea-crossing would be a prerequisite for success, requiring the use of port facilities seized in Belgium and the Netherlands to embark the expeditionary force. Reconnaissance of the English east coast was completed and potential landing sites in East Anglia were selected.

Comments were invited from Alfred von Schlieffen, Chief of the German General Staff, who regarded an invasion to be impractical. His staff estimated that it would require up to 320,000 troops to defeat the British home defences and capture London, and that a quick victory would be necessary if the expeditionary force was not to be cut off and forced to surrender. The plans were opposed throughout by Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz, State Secretary of the German Imperial Naval Office. They were shelved in 1899 when it became apparent that the German navy and merchant marine were not sufficiently strong to accomplish an invasion without compromising the secrecy considered essential for success. During the First World War, German naval operations against the British mainland were restricted to raids, designed to force the Royal Navy to dissipate its superior strength in coastal defence and thereby allow the smaller German navy to engage it on more favourable terms.

Imperial German plans for the invasion of the United States

Imperial German plans for the invasion of the United States were ordered by Germany's Kaiser Wilhelm II from 1897 to 1903. He intended not to conquer the US but only to reduce the country's influence. His planned invasion was supposed to force the US to bargain from a weak position and to sever its growing economic and political connections in the Pacific Ocean, the Caribbean and South America so that German influence could increase there. Junior officers made various plans, but none were seriously considered and the project was dropped in 1906.

The first plan was made in the winter of 1897–1898, by Lieutenant Eberhard von Mantey, and targeted mainly American naval bases in Hampton Roads to reduce and constrain the US Navy and threaten Washington, DC.

In March 1899, after significant gains made by the US in the Spanish–American War, the plan was altered to focus on a land invasion of New York City and Boston. In August 1901, Lieutenant Hubert von Rebeur-Paschwitz spied on the target areas and reported back.

A third plan was drawn up in November 1903 by naval staff officer Wilhelm Büchsel, called Operation Plan III (Operationsplan III), with minor adjustments made to the amphibious landing locations and the immediate tactical goals.

The Imperial German Navy, under Grand Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz, expanded greatly from 1898 to 1906 but was never large enough to carry out the plans, and there is no indication that they were ever seriously considered. The German Army, under Field Marshal Alfred von Schlieffen, responsible for at least 100,000 troops in the invasion, was certain that the proposal would end in defeat. The plans were permanently shelved in 1906 and did not become fully public until 1970 when they were discovered in the German military archive in Freiburg (an additional "rediscovery" of them occurred in 2002).The general staffs of all major powers make hypothetical war plans. The main objective is to estimate the amount of resources necessary to carry them out so that if the crisis ever emerged, precious time would not be wasted in developing them. Since all nations do it routinely, there is no sense that the plans developed by junior officers had any impact on national decision-making. Most of the plans never leave the War Department.

Invalids' Cemetery

The Invalids' Cemetery (German: Invalidenfriedhof) is one of the oldest cemeteries in Berlin. It was the traditional resting place of the Prussian Army, and is regarded as particularly important as a memorial to the German Wars of Liberation of 1813–15.

List of cemeteries in Germany

The following is a list of cemeteries in Germany.

List of people from Berlin

The following is a list of notable people who were born in Berlin, Germany.

Max von Bock und Polach

Max von Bock und Polach (5 September 1842 – 4 March 1915) was a Prussian officer and Field Marshal. He served in the military during the three wars of German unification under the leadership of Prime Minister Otto von Bismarck.

Power projection

Power projection (or force projection) is a term used in military and political science to refer to the capacity of a state "to apply all or some of its elements of national power — political, economic, informational, or military — to rapidly and effectively deploy and sustain forces in and from multiple dispersed locations to respond to crises, to contribute to deterrence, and to enhance regional stability."This ability is a crucial element of a state's power in international relations. Any state able to direct its military forces outside the limited bounds of its territory might be said to have some level of power projection capability, but the term itself is used most frequently in reference to militaries with a worldwide reach (or at least significantly broader than a state's immediate area). Even states with sizable hard power assets (such as a large standing army) may only be able to exert limited regional influence so long as they lack the means of effectively projecting their power on a global scale. Generally, only a select few states are able to overcome the logistical difficulties inherent in the deployment and direction of a modern, mechanized military force.

While traditional measures of power projection typically focus on hard power assets (tanks, soldiers, aircraft, naval vessels, etc.), the developing theory of soft power notes that power projection does not necessarily have to involve the active use of military forces in combat. Assets for power projection can often serve dual uses, as the deployment of various countries' militaries during the humanitarian response to the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake illustrates. The ability of a state to project its forces into an area may serve as an effective diplomatic lever, influencing the decision-making process and acting as a potential deterrent on other states' behavior.


Schlieffen (or Schliefen) is the name of an old German noble family from Pomerania. The family, branches of which still exist today, originates in Kolberg.

Schlieffen Plan

The Schlieffen Plan (German: Schlieffen-Plan, pronounced [ʃliːfən plaːn]) was the name given, after the First World War, to German war plans and the influence of Field Marshal Alfred von Schlieffen and his thinking on the invasion of France and Belgium on 4 August 1914. Schlieffen was Chief of the General Staff of the German Army from 1891 to 1906. In 1905 and 1906, Schlieffen devised an army deployment plan for a war-winning offensive against the French Third Republic. After losing the First World War, German official historians of the Reichsarchiv and other writers described the plan as a blueprint for victory. Generaloberst (Colonel-General) Helmuth von Moltke the Younger, succeeded Schlieffen as Chief of the German General Staff in 1906 and was dismissed after the First Battle of the Marne (5–12 September 1914). German historians claimed that Moltke had ruined the plan by meddling with it.

Post-war writing by senior German officers like Hermann von Kuhl, Gerhard Tappen, Wilhelm Groener and the Reichsarchiv historians led by the former Oberstleutnant (Lieutenant-Colonel) Wolfgang Förster, managed to establish a commonly accepted narrative that it was Moltke the Younger's failure to follow the blueprint, rather than German strategic miscalculation, that condemned the belligerents to four years of attrition warfare instead of the quick, decisive conflict it should have been. In 1956, Gerhard Ritter published Der Schlieffenplan: Kritik eines Mythos (The Schlieffen Plan: Critique of a Myth), which began a period of revision when the details of the supposed Schlieffen Plan were subjected to scrutiny and contextualisation. Treating the plan as a blueprint was rejected, because this was contrary to the tradition of Prussian war planning established by Helmuth von Moltke the Elder, in which military operations were considered to be inherently unpredictable. Mobilisation and deployment plans were essential but campaign plans were pointless; rather than attempting to dictate to subordinate commanders, the commander gave the intent of the operation and subordinates achieved it through Auftragstaktik (mission-type tactics).

In writings from the 1970s, Martin van Creveld, John Keegan, Hew Strachan and others, studied the practical aspects of an invasion of France through Belgium and Luxembourg. They judged that the physical constraints of German, Belgian and French railways and the Belgian and northern French road networks made it impossible to move enough troops far enough and fast enough for them to fight a decisive battle if the French retreated from the frontier. Most of the pre-1914 planning of the German General Staff was secret and the documents were destroyed when the deployment plans were superseded every April. The bombing of Potsdam in April 1945 destroyed the Prussian army archive and only incomplete records and other documents survived. Some records became available after the fall of the German Democratic Republic (GDR), making an outline of German war planning possible for the first time, proving wrong much post-1918 writing.

In the 2000s, a document, RH61/v.96, was discovered in the trove inherited from the GDR, which was used in a 1930s study of pre-war German General Staff war planning. Inferences that Schlieffen's war planning was solely offensive were found to have been made by extrapolating his writings and speeches on tactics into grand strategy. From a 1999 article in War in History and in Inventing the Schlieffen Plan (2002) to The Real German War Plan, 1906–1914 (2011), Terence Zuber engaged in a debate with Terence Holmes, Annika Mombauer, Robert Foley, Gerhard Gross, Holger Herwig and others, with his proposition that the Schlieffen Plan was a myth concocted in the 1920s by partial writers, intent on exculpating themselves and proving that German war planning did not cause the First World War, a view which was supported by Hew Strachan.

Wilhelm von Hahnke

Wilhelm Gustav Karl Bernhard von Hahnke (1 October 1833 in Berlin – 8 February 1912) was a Prussian Field Marshal. He was the son of later Prussian Oberst Wilhelm von Hahnke (died 1861) and his wife Angelique, née von der Lancken (died 1873). He married 1865 in Berlin Josephine von Bülow (1842–1911), daughter of Friedrich von Bülow (1789–1853). The couple had seven sons and two daughters, among them:

Wilhelm (1867–1931), Prussian Major general ∞ Elisabeth von Schlieffen (born 1869), daughter of Field Marshal Alfred von Schlieffen, and Adolf (3 July 1873–6 July 1936), jurist.In 1888 he was appointed Chief of the German Imperial Military Cabinet.

Wolfpack Schlieffen

Schlieffen was a wolfpack of German U-boats that operated during the battle of the Atlantic in World War II.

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