They clashed with the main powers of Europe over territory like morocco, which ultimately strengthened Franco-Anglo relationships. Weltpolitik was a huge political risk and in the end the risks outweighed the positive factors, which resulted in the failure of the plan and ultimately was a great cause of WW1 In 1893 the Franco-Russian alliance was formed which meant that it allowed the possibility of encirclement of Germany, which made them paranoid. The Kaiser at the time was Wilhelm II and he surrounded himself with military figures so had a very militaristic point of view. So his response to the possible encirclement was to come up with a new plan called the Schliffen Plan. This stated that if a possibility of a two front war with France and Russia was ever to arise they would mobilise their troops quickly and beat the French within six weeks and then march back in time to meet the Russian army.
France might have also been frightenend by the progressing German unification. There were other more politically domestic long term reasons for the war. These were that Bismarck wanted to unify the land that he had won as a result of the Austrian and Prussian war in 1866. Bismarck also used France as a common enemy of Germany all together so that unification could take place much more easily. France thought the war would not only help by stopping Germany’s increase in power.
This meant more power for their empire. This is why Britain backed France as they didn’t want Germany to gain land as they could potentially get more land and a bigger empire than Britain. In the long term this caused problems between Britain and Germany because they was both power hungry and the thought of another country having a bigger empire or navy made them angry. Wilhelm tested the Entente Cordiale again in 1911 when he demanded compensation
Furthermore, the intricate system of alliances spawned during this era meant diplomacy became an impossible task that only the most expert politicians could manoeuvre. Despite the factors that could contradict the popular belief that it was Germany and it's unification that caused the First World War, the contrast of Bismarck's expert leadership with Wilhelm II's youthful and naive approach is also a huge factor, incorporated with this school of thought is the idea that the growth of Militarism, especially in Germany, made the idea of war vogue. This study will attempt to provide an alternate view point on the issue. In 1871, Otto Von Bismarck amalgamated the German States through subtle diplomacy and a series of military victories. However, the nature of their victory incited bitter indignation from the French and unsettled the European balance of power.
The peace treaty did not satisfy France as it was not harsh enough in the eyes of France. After suffered badly from WWI with umpteen casualties, France was determined to cripple Germany completely as a form of revenge as well as an assurance against future German revival. Some provisions of the treaty did meet French demands, such as the return of Alsace-Lorraine from Germany; the German disarmament which set a maximum strength of 100000 soldiers together with the dissolution of the air force and the reduction of navy to 6 batttleships; and a whopping reparation of 132 billion gold marks to be paid over 42 years. These clauses would severely weaken Germany economically and militarily which certainly catered to French aim. However, French felt these punishments were not harsh enough to eliminate the chance of future German revival.
From “War of Movement” to “Stalemate” The Schlieffen Plan: * Germans believed they could win the war quickly. 1905, General Chief of Staff Alfred von Schlieffen planned a way of preventing Germany from fighting a war on two fronts. He believed that it was a priority to defeat France quickly, forcing them to surrender before Russia had a chance to mobilise her armed forces * Helmuth von Moltke revised/modified the plan, less prepared to take risks than Schlieffen – lacked faith in elements of the original plan. * Execution of Schlieffen Plan led to Britain declaring war on Germany and honouring alliance/agreement guaranteeing protection of Belgian neutrality and territory against invasion, 4th August 1914. * Moltke changed ratio of number of troops in right wing to left wing from 7:1 to 3:1 as he thought the left wing were too small and might be over-run and forced back by French forces; weakened the main strike force by diverting more German troops reinforcing Eastern Front from right wing to support Austria-Hungary * Right wing (main attack force) of the German army would mobilise in massive strength (north) and invade France through neutral Belgium * Smaller left wing (decoy/diversion) would hold French army on Rhine border against unexpected attack through Alsace-Lorraine * French Plan 17 went to German hands.
Austria were most excluded from the plethora of links between nations, meaning that if and when war should break out, there would not any nation willing to come to the aid of Austria in times of desperation. It was also on the verge of bankruptcy, as excursions into pointless wars had put a very heavy burden on Austrian shoulders. Additionally, the ‘war’ of Schleswig-Holstein proved to be a debacle and this consequently put a dagger right into the heart of Austro-Prussian relations, with Austria still supporting the Duke of Augustenburg to be the reigning monarch, whilst Prussia worked for annexation, on the contrary. Meanwhile, Prussia was most certainly in a very strong position. They were certainly on the rise and that almost all down to the Zolleverein.
Moreover, as Britain was one of the major power of the WWI, the effects on both of their men and arms were not recovered from the WWI. This also led Chamberlain hesitant to take part for a large war at this time. Thus, making an appeasement with the Germans was the best solution for them to be recovered and prepared later in the future because rather than fighting a big war against advanced army with unprepared-no men army, they would fight a war with recovered army even if the opponents might grow more. ! Back again to 1919, the Treaty of Versailles made conclusions to the German’s territorial, armed forces, colonies, preparations and indemnity, and the war guilt issues.
German defeat in the Great War was largely down to the incompetence and mistakes of the German Military Elite. The failure of the Schlieffen plan in 1914 can be accredited to these German leaders and also more importantly blamed for the failure in the First World War. Schlieffen, Chief of the German General Staff (1891-1906) devised what is known as the ‘Schlieffen plan’ in 1905 in response to the Anglo-French Entente Cordiale and the further negations this alliance began to have with the huge empire that was Russia. These new relations began to worry Germany and create fears of a combined attack on the country. Schlieffen’s plan aimed to counter a joint attack and then later in the Great War the Schlieffen Plan was used as a strategy to ensure a swift victory and avoid fighting two-fronted war.
They put restrictions on the German military, to make Germany weak and a second-rate power. Germany had huge financial losses, which brought the rise of the ultra-nationalist Nazis. They had to take acceptance of responsibility for the damage in the war even though they weren’t the only ones in the war. Germany had absolutely no say in the requirements and matters of the treaty. The Treaty of Versailles would prove to be one of the most disastrous mistakes in history.