Talk:Battle of the Frontiers
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Disastrous french losses - or not?
The article says that French losses were disatrous - and at the same time that they lost no more than the Germans (300,000 each). Sounds like skewed logic or wrong numbers to me. I've read elsewhere that the failed french attack in Elsace and Lorraine actually produced more casualties than they had in the battle of Verdun. Can someone look into this matter?
--itpastorn 13:13, 8 December 2005 (UTC)
- I can't see where it says French losses were "disastrous". The 300,000 German figure was added by an anon. I can't find a figure for German casualties to 24 August 1914 in any of my books. Stevenson's 1914-1918 says:
- "By the end of August some 75,000 French soldiers had already died (27,000 of them on the 22nd alone) and their total killed and wounded numbered 260,000, against much lighter German losses."
- From his notes, those figures appear to have come from Hew Strachan's First World War: To Arms, which I don't have. Tuchman says French casualties for the four days 20-24 August were 140,000
so that's the best I can come up with at the moment, even though the article covers the preceding French offensive in Alsace & Lorraine.Geoff/Gsl 04:28, 10 December 2005 (UTC)
- I've dropped the casualty figures from the infobox. They can be added back in if someone comes up with a reliable count. Geoff/Gsl 21:13, 10 December 2005 (UTC)
Hmmmm, was it really expected to be a war winner? Could it be that this was post-war apologetics? Could it be that the military were hoping it would come off but expected that it wouldn't and that its real purpose was to capture Belgian and northern French resources and then dig in for a war of exhaustion? Wouldn't this explain the transfer of two corps to East Prussia - that fighting the war beyond all of Germany's borders mattered more than the 'knockout blow'? Has anyone read Annika Mombauer's book?Keith-264 (talk) 22:24, 28 October 2008 (UTC)
- I think poor old Von Schlieffen has been done a great disservice by history. Documents dug up over the last 50 years would indicate that what he produced was more of an ongoing feasibility study than a "plan" : his last comments were "we are too weak', meaning Germany still lacked the resources to carry out any such enterprise. The smoking gun seems to point to Moltke, who tried to use a feasibility study as a plan and screwed up. Rcbutcher (talk) 22:47, 28 October 2008 (UTC)
Isn't that the Zuber thesis? I'm leaning towards the ermattungskrieg view, that the military thought that a quick win was unlikely but didn't let the politicals know because they thought that Germany needed to go to war before it was too late. Foley and Mombauer suggest that much of the post-war historiography in Germany was apologetics intended to pass the buck for a ghastly failed war onto Moltke. From that point of view the Schlieffen Plan succeeded. It would also explain the sketchy nature of it - overrunning Belgium and northern France and setting up a forward defence didn't need a blueprint. Keith-264 (talk) 23:27, 28 October 2008 (UTC)
Items move from front page France's frontier defences were based on a fortified zone from Verdun to Toul and isolated fortresses such as Épinal and Belfort. To the north, France relied on the impassable terrain of the central Ardennes forest and the promise of Belgian neutrality. Thus Plan XVII called for a two-pronged offensive, north and south of the Verdun-Toul line. In the south, the First and Second Armies would attack into Lorraine. In the north the Third, Fourth and Fifth Armies would attack through the southern Ardennes towards Luxembourg. On the left flank of the Fifth Army, facing the Belgian frontier, was the BEF, which concentrated near the fortress town of Maubeuge.
On the French frontier, the German forces roughly matched the French in numbers and disposition, even to the point of being divided north and south of a fortified zone between Metz and Thionville. However, in Belgium to the north, opposing the French Fifth Army and BEF, were the German First, Second and Third Armies, forming the mass of Schlieffen's right wing.
Germany invaded Belgium on 4 August 1914 and began to besiege Liège. Despite evidence of German forces massing east of the city, General Joseph Joffre, the French Commander-in-Chief, dismissed the threat to his northern flank and persisted with Plan XVII. Indeed, Joffre welcomed the prospect of a strong German right, which would mean the German left wing against which his offensives were directed would be weaker. In 1913, General Nöel de Castelnau, then Deputy Chief of the French General Staff, declared a German attack through Flanders was "so much the better for us" and that opinion still prevailed amongst the French high command. Even as the German armies began flowing through Belgium in mid-August, Joffre's Assistant Chief of Staff, General Henri Berthelot said:
- "If the Germans commit the imprudence of an enveloping manoeuvre through northern Belgium, so much the better! The more men they have on their right wing the easier it will be for us to break through their centre."