Landschaftsverband Rheinland - Qualität für Menschen

Foto: Bildleiste von Szenen

Schrift: größer/kleiner

Sie sind hier: WirRheinländer > english version > First World War (1914 - 1918) > The "Schlieffen-Plan"

First World War (1914-1918)

The "Schlieffen-Plan" or a Military Solution instead of Political Wisdom

The German Kaiser Wilhelm II did not possess the foresight of Bismarck and failed to continue his policy of alliances, which was intended to prevent the German Empire from being politically "surrounded". Therefore, at the outbreak of the First World War, Germany found itself involved in a war on two fronts.

What had been lost politically then had to be achieved by military means.

Before it came to an attack by Czarist Russia, regarded as slow and cumbersome, the General Staff intended to push the French Army, with a wide-ranging encircling movement through neutral Belgium, via northern France to around Paris, against its own southern flank and to surround the French in a kind of colossal "Cannae". This plan had already been devised back in 1905, by the Chief of the German General Staff until his death, Field Marshal von Schlieffen (1833-1913).

However, his successor, Senior General Hellmuth von Moltke, only carried out this plan in a weaker form. He believed that the original plans would stretch German forces too far, in addition to which the surprising fast advance of Russian troops to East Prussia forced him to withdraw his own forces from the western front. 

Among other reasons, this led to the defeat of German troops at the Marne, to their retreat and finally to a positional war of attrition which lasted until 1918.

The doctrine of the Schlieffen-Plan was to have a formative effect on the transport and infrastructure of the Rhineland before the First World War.

In order to guarantee rapid deployment of troops and supplies, a network of strategically important railway lines was constructed in the Eifel. Existing railway lines were to be extended from two tracks to four. This affected the stretch along the Moselle, opened in 1877, which connected Trier - Koblenz – Metz, as well as the line through the Ahr valley. Both railway lines were built by the Prussian railway administration for tunnel and bridge construction. However, the extensions were never going to be in operation. One of the tunnel constructions in the Ahr valley later served the Federal Republic of Germany as the so-called government bunker.

In addition, new railway bridges were erected across the Rhine, like the bridge at Remagen, which would later play a famous part in the Second World War.
The Eifel railway from Cologne to Trier was officially opened on 1st June 1871, and the following were built and opened for wide-ranging strategic reasons:

In 1915, i.e. during the First World War, the railway line from Erdorf to Bitburg, which had been built in 1910, was extended via Wolsfeld and Irrel as far as Igel on the line from Trier to Luxemburg. 

In order to have sufficient troops in place, the Prussian Army enlarged its garrison towns in the Rhineland, for instance in Cologne, Aachen, Koblenz and Trier by building numerous new barracks. As late as 1913, two barracks were constructed in Trier for the newly created rifle regiment on horseback, which was to reinforce the mobile cavalry and facilitate a rapid advance.

Zu den deutschen Webseiten