Society, Fin de Siecle
World War I
the War

World War I
Germany's Strategies and Goals

A.) Military Strategies

The German OBERSTE HEERESLEITUNG (OHL, Army High Command) had anticipated a war in which Germany and Austria would face France and Russia; this constellation had been obvious ever since the German-Russian Treaty of mutual aid was not prolonged in 1891. The OHL was concerned about Russia's rapidly growing population, which also meant a strengthening of it's army. It was expected that by 1916 the Russian army would gain a dangerous numerical superiority. France had established a tight chain of strong fortifications along it's border to Germany.
General ALFRED GRAF VON SCHLIEFFEN (chief of staff 1891-1905; he died in 1913) authored a plan, according to which the German army, bypassing the French lines by marching either through Belgian or Swiss territory, would achieve a quick military victory in the West and then turn it's attention on the east - the SCHLIEFFEN PLAN. In order to achieve victory in the west, two thirds of Germany's forces were to be stationed along the western front, while one third should hold back the invading Russian forces as long as possible, until reinforced by the forces from the west.
The German side hoped that Britain and the USA stayed out of the conflict; Italy was regarded Germany's ally, Europe's minor states were given little attention in these plans.

B.) Political Goals

At the beginning of the war, Germany's political goals were ill-defined. The war was fought because the enemy was there and it was regarded opportune to do it now rather than later.
During the war, which demanded a high price both in effort and suffering, demands were defined in case of a German victory : FLANDERS, the Flemish speaking part of Belgium, and COURLAND (with it's dominating German minority) were to be annexed, as was the mineral-rich region around LONGWY in French Lorraine (iron ore). Germany also expected colonial gains in the Congo basin region. Plans were to establish an economic zone in central and eastern Europe dominated by Germany. Russia was to be weakened by granting independence to Finland, Russian Poland, Ukraine etc., which were to become German satellites.


This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2000, last revised on November 12th 2004

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