Module 2: Planning for war

What plans did the Great Powers make for war? To what extent did these plans cause each Power to lose its room for maneuver and compromise?


  • Strachan, The First World War, TBD.

  • Vascik, The Schlieffen Plan.

  • Mombauer, The Origins of the First World War, part 1

Watch all or parts of the following videos:

Participate in the Discussion Forum:

  1. List three salient facts that you learned from your reading and viewing of the material above.

  2. Chose a set of the documents in your Mombauer reading for this week and post a comment on what they say and how they fit together.

  3. On my Great War blog, do a category search for the term “War Planning” and read the posts that come up. Comment on something from one of the posts that strikes you as interesting.

  4. After you have completed all the activities in this module, post to the “What I still have questions about” link. (You can find my responses to the questions from Module 1 here.)

View my lectures: 

  • Shifting Alliances (pdf)

  • The Anglo-German Naval Rivalry (pdf)

  • The Schlieffen Plan (pdf)

Write a brief reflective essay on one of the following:

  • How did British attitudes towards the other Great Powers change between 1900 and 1914?

  • Compare the various war fighting plans drafted before 1914, describing the strengths and weaknesses of each?

  • To what extent did war planning dictate diplomatic strategy?

1. The script of this video is overly melodramatic, but the newsreel footage will give you a good visual sense of the period.

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