Module 4: The Schlieffen Offensive

Helmut von Moltke wrote that no battle plan survives contact with the enemy. Was the German general staff up to responding to changing the changing situation as it developed in the “fog of war”?


Watch all of the following video:

Participate in the Discussion Forum:

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

  2. Read the following accounts of the First Battle of the Marne by the French, British, and German commanders: Joseph Joffre’s reportSir John French’s report, and Alexander von Kluck’s memoir account. Post your comments on how they differ and how they are similar.

  3. On my Great War blog, do a category search for the term “Mons” and “Marne.” 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 3 here.)

View my lectures: 

  • Mobilizations (pdf)

  • The Role of the BEF (pdf)

  • The Spirit of August (pdf)

Write a brief reflective essay on one of the following:

  • In your opinion, would the Schlieffen plan as conceived and modified before 1914 have been successful?

  • What events in August caused the Schlieffen Plan to miscarry? What was the role of the BEF and how did the Plan play into French strengths?

  • Was the “spirit of August” are reality or was it a myth as recent scholars have suggested?

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