What would it have taken for the Schlieffen Plan to succeed?

By now it's widely accepted that the Schlieffen Plan was flawed. It used unexistent divisions, overestimated the physical capacity of soldiers, the Belgian resistance, and didn't take into account the retreating armies destroying railways. The logistical situation was also downplayed.

So, the question is, can these issues be solved with minor changes? Or would you need an earlier POD and more fundamental ones?
 
I'm not an expert on the first Battle of the Marne, but my understanding is that a German victory there is plausible, even if it's unlikely, and that it would stand a good chance of leading to a German victory if it happened.
 
I'm not an expert on the first Battle of the Marne, but my understanding is that a German victory there is plausible, even if it's unlikely, and that it would stand a good chance of leading to a German victory if it happened.
I remember reading somewhere that by then the German soldiers were dead on their feet and overstretched logistically, but I'm not sure.
 
Not so much for the Germans to succeed, but for the French to fail. Specifically Joffre is either not in command & someone much less steady and capable is. As the management consultants say the fish rots from the head first. A loss of nerve at the top spreads downwards with confusion of purpose, failing morale, and no coherent strategy for reversing the events existing. By the time of the Battle of the Marne OTL the Army is on the edge of disintegration. The example of Gamelin and the events of 1940 are a model.
 
By now it's widely accepted that the Schlieffen Plan was flawed. It used unexistent divisions, overestimated the physical capacity of soldiers, the Belgian resistance, and didn't take into account the retreating armies destroying railways. The logistical situation was also downplayed.

So, the question is, can these issues be solved with minor changes? Or would you need an earlier POD and more fundamental ones?
Mechanization is possible, as is having more RR rolling stock, locos and track workers to make sure that logistics work. Otherwise
you are stuck with 1870 horse drawn mobility.

Even that would have been enough if they were plans for a 'Special Forces' to grab vital bridges and that.

Communications, could have been better than wire telegraph, spark gap radio transmitters, and carrier pigeons

Amphetamine was discovered in 1887, so is possible to keep those guys marching, if needed.

But to me, all of that still doesn't guarantee a fast French knockout. Look how long France held out, after the disasters in the field in 1870 and Paris under Siege, and that was without the UK and Russia in the mix

The only real chance the German have, is to stay on the defense in the West, while giving the Russians enough of a bloody nose to get some kind of peace talks going by Christmas
 
The Schlieffen "Plan" could have succeeded as it was in 1914. It came very close to doing so IOTL. Better decisions on the German side, or worse decisions on the French side, could easily turn it into a success.
 
The Schlieffen "Plan" could have succeeded as it was in 1914. It came very close to doing so IOTL. Better decisions on the German side, or worse decisions on the French side, could easily turn it into a success.
There was a chance to destroy the French 5th Army. Lost because of poor coordination between the two right wing armies and prompt retreat by the French.

That might have provoked a 1940 style collapse of French morale but, absent that, without mechanised forces to exploit gaps the results are unlikely to have been decisive. IMHO. Note that the Entente forces had a similar opportunity after the Battle of the Marne but didn't take it. For much the same reason; Fog of War.

Essentially the Plan was overambitious and almost impossible given the state of contemporary logistics, communications and control links.

In 1940 improvements in these plus mechanisation made Blitzkrieg a feasible strategy. In France but it couldn't be scaled up to succeed in Russia.
 
I remember reading somewhere that by then the German soldiers were dead on their feet and overstretched logistically, but I'm not sure.

Didn't stop them marching quite a distance backward after the BotM.

With a 1914 PoD. the answer would seem to be "Yes, given a lot of luck on the German side and a bit more incompetence on the French."

Otherwise, my suggestion would to cancel a couple of dreadnoughts and put the money into giving the Army several times as many machine-guns and ammo for same as it had OTL, so that the initial French offensives lead to an even more thorough massacre than they actually did.
 
Didn't stop them marching quite a distance backward after the BotM.

With a 1914 PoD. the answer would seem to be "Yes, given a lot of luck on the German side and a bit more incompetence on the French."

Otherwise, my suggestion would to cancel a couple of dreadnoughts and put the money into giving the Army several times as many machine-guns and ammo for same as it had OTL, so that the initial French offensives lead to an even more thorough massacre than they actually did.

I'd go a little further and have Little Willie suffer from accute sea sicknesses as a boy which causes him to have little interest in things maratime in general and naval in particular. The German navy becomes largely a cruiser force for limited international prestige and the protection of German colonys. The resources used OTL on the naval Arms race are used to improve the German Army both in fire power and mechanical transportation. It also makes British involvement less likely without the Naval arms race ratcheting up the tension.
 
The idea of some special forces to seize key points is interesting. In WW1 context these could be motorised troops with supporting armoured cars. Reliability would be a big issue, but it's a way to sieze forward objectives with surprise and to disrupt command and control by cutting telephone lines. The Austrians had some reasonable armoured cars early on but even a few technicals and truck mounted pompoms would have potential for causing major problems.
Like paras and glider troops, they'd be vulnerable against an organised opponent and would need rapid backup, but unlike paras they'd have a chance of jumping in the lorries and heading back towards friendly lines if it all went wrong.

Edit. Add in Derwent Water's suggestion and that frees up steel, mechanical engineers and light naval guns for the special companies.
 
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The idea of some special forces to seize key points is interesting. In WW1 context these could be motorised troops with supporting armoured cars. Reliability would be a big issue, but it's a way to sieze forward objectives with surprise and to disrupt command and control by cutting telephone lines. The Austrians had some reasonable armoured cars early on but even a few technicals and truck mounted pompoms would have potential for causing major problems.
Like paras and glider troops, they'd be vulnerable against an organised opponent and would need rapid backup, but unlike paras they'd have a chance of jumping in the lorries and heading back towards friendly lines if it all went wrong.

Edit. Add in Derwent Water's suggestion and that frees up steel, mechanical engineers and light naval guns for the special companies.

On the game board I tried aggressive use of the robust German cavalry, but that never worked. In the end the deep advanced cavalry was destroyed and the French only slightly discomfited.
 
On the game board I tried aggressive use of the robust German cavalry, but that never worked. In the end the deep advanced cavalry was destroyed and the French only slightly discomfited.
Better warn Monty. I heard he's planning something similar near Arnhem!
Could ypur cavalry experience reflect the high risk high reward side of daring operations?
Then again, Von Schlieffen spoke of cavalry as no longer an effective battlefield force in 1909 so maybe your game rules are realistic after all. Against thst, 1909 German army regulations talk of a more traditional battlefield role for cavalry, so you could have a bob each way and argue the rules are wrong.
 

C.Z.A.R

Donor
By now it's widely accepted that the Schlieffen Plan was flawed. It used unexistent divisions, overestimated the physical capacity of soldiers, the Belgian resistance, and didn't take into account the retreating armies destroying railways. The logistical situation was also downplayed.

So, the question is, can these issues be solved with minor changes? Or would you need an earlier POD and more fundamental ones?
Specification, please?

For the Memorandum of 1905 to work, i.e., 'War with France,' Russia must not be in the war, and Germany must be ready to mobilize itself for war. Mobilize itself means getting the extra 25 divisions.
 
With the 1914 correlation of forces the Germans need to take a French field army off the board in August. It could possibly happen on the Franco-German border by letting the French advance into an envelopment. The other opportunity was on the right wing , with the 2nd and 3rd armies possibly cutting off the 5th French army, but in ww1 doing an encirclement on the advance is amazingly difficult.

Removing a French field army at the start will make it difficult to impossible for them to outnumber the Germans near Paris in September.
 
Removing a French field army at the start will make it difficult to impossible for them to outnumber the Germans near Paris in September.

Unless they are prepared to abandon Verdun and the big hump at the eastern end of their line. Falling back to a roughly straight line from Toul-Nancy to around Vitry le Francois could release enough troops to cover Paris. In that event you still end up with trench warfare, but a good deal deeper inside France.
 
Lorries or a massive dose of lead to the French High Command.

The problem with the Schlieffen Plan wasn't the number of Divisions on the German side or their disposition. It was that with 1914 era logistics by the time the Germans reached the Marne most of their logistics train was fully occupied supporting itself and could not deliver anywhere near enough food or ammunition to enable the Army to actually fight. If you gave the Germans another Corps they would probably be weaker as the capacity of the roads and the railheads would be the same but the number of troops to be supplied would be greater.
In order to win the Germans either need to do what they did in 1870 and destroy the French Army nearer the border (Sedan), or do what they did in 1940 and have lorries to enable them to keep fighting that far away from their jumping off points.
 
On the game board I tried aggressive use of the robust German cavalry, but that never worked. In the end the deep advanced cavalry was destroyed and the French only slightly discomfited.

Did you try putting all the cavalry with the right wing with the mission of getting behind the BEF so that 1st and 2nd Armies could isolate and destroy the BEF?
 
So, the question is, can these issues be solved with minor changes? Or would you need an earlier POD and more fundamental ones?

Refusing the right wing in hopes Joffre would put his head in the noose by making a risky advance across the Ardennes to the German border was probably the only way Germany could have taken Paris in 1914. But the German general staff was not inclined to waste the advantage of speed of mobilization that this entailed.

In terms of a campaign where the Germans attack when immediately able, the way to increase the chances of success was to alter the objective from the destruction of the French army to the destruction of the British army. The idea being, that if the BEF had been destroyed perhaps the continentalists in London would be discredited and another BEF might not so quickly follow. Success would see the Germans capture Amiens in 1914 and allow them to push their lines down the Somme to Le Crotoy. The German navy could place coastal artillery at Pas de Calais and advance its lighter flotillas and submarines to take advantage of some of the smaller French harbors in the Channel.
 
I'd go a little further and have Little Willie suffer from accute sea sicknesses as a boy which causes him to have little interest in things maratime in general and naval in particular. The German navy becomes largely a cruiser force for limited international prestige and the protection of German colonys. The resources used OTL on the naval Arms race are used to improve the German Army both in fire power and mechanical transportation. It also makes British involvement less likely without the Naval arms race ratcheting up the tension.
The problem of the over investment of the navy at the expense of the army is a much bigger problem than just the Kaiser, mainly that the army of the German Reich was still mostly a Prussian institution while the Navy was wholly a German institution. What this meant was that the Reichstag was rather willing to fund the navy, as it was seen as more of an expression of German identity rather than Prussian identity. Also the bottleneck of the army was more of an issue with them not wanting to open up the officers to outside of the aristocracy, which meant there's a limit in expanding their size regardless of the budget.

So really a good army reform to give it a more German identity would go a long way in solving most of those issues, but that would require a POD a bit further back.
 
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