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Inventing the Schlieffen PlanGerman War Planning 1871-1914$
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Terence Zuber

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780199250165

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199250165.001.0001

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Excuses and accusations

Excuses and accusations

(p.281) Chapter Six Excuses and accusations
Inventing the Schlieffen Plan


Oxford University Press

As early as September 1914 it was clear that the reputation of the General Staff was in danger. There were also intense internal General Staff battles to assign blame for the defeat on the Marne. It is evident from the personal papers of Wilhelm Groener, the last Chief of the General Staff, that Groener decided in 1919 that the best solution was to place the blame on dead officers, who he alleged did not understand the infallible Schlieffen plan. This explains why there is no mention of the Schlieffen plan being the German war plan before 1919, when Groener ‘invented’ it. The ‘Schlieffen plan’ was therefore not built on documents and proof but on gross generalization and bald assertion. The Schlieffen plan has always been popular because in the simplest terms it tells a wide group of people — from armchair generals to opponents of ‘German militarism’ — exactly what they want to hear. Professional military analysis of actual German war planning documents shows the real nature of Schlieffen's planning and conclusively proves that there never was a ‘Schlieffen plan’.

Keywords:   Schlieffen plan, war planning, Wilhelm Groener, Germany, World War I, Moltke, military history

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