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The Western Front

SLMS/11

The Front

The Schlieffen Plan

A front is where two opposing armies


meet on a battlefield kind of like a weather front where warm
& cold temperatures
meet.
The Western Front developed in Western
Europe where German troops fought
against the Allies in a long arching line that
extended from Belgium, through France, to
Switzerland.

Germany had enemies on both the east


and west sides of their country. Russia lay
to the east, while France and Britain lay to
the west.
Germany knew it could not split its
resources forever. Dividing the army and
supplying both the eastern and western
parts of the armies would be exhausting
and draining. Germany knew it could NOT
sustain a two front war for very long.
The Schlieffen Plan was
Germanys military strategy
to avoid a two front war.
Germany decided that it
would mass most of its
armies in the west and quickly crush the
French. They would then turn and ship
their armies eastward to deal with the
massive Russian Army.

The Western Front


In order to implement the Schlieffen Plan,
the German army had to march through
Belgium. This violation of Belgiums
sovereignty had unforseen consequences.
Britain was allied with Belgium, and thus
declared war on Germany. And, although
the Belgian army was 1/10 the size of the
German army, they fought valiently and
delayed the German offensive into France.
The French had expected the Germans to
attack through the eastern
border, not through the northeast. The French army was badly
mis-positioned.
The German plan was to surprise the
French army by coming through the north,
circle around behind, and trap the entire
French army on the eastern border. Instead
of capturing Paris, they wanted to force
the entire army to surrender.
The German delay in Belgium allowed the
French to move their armies to meet the
German advance in the Battle of the Marne,
fought just outside of Paris. Both sides dug
trenches to secure their positions.

Battling on the Western Front


Trench warfare became the method of
fighting used on the Western front. Armies
fired artillery at each other, men hid in
trenches, and occasionally, soldiers would
charge across the land between in an
attempt to break through the enemy lines.
The reality was that little
territory ever changed
hands, and the human cost
was enormous.
The Battle of Verdun epitomized this. It
was a 10 month battle that cost nearly a
million lives. The front lines of battle were
known as the meat grinder, as the
German strategy seemed to be just that
to grind down the French army.