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The First World War: 1914

The Schlieffen Plan. Move into France along the coast, keep the British away and attack Paris from the west and south. The stiff Belgian resistance put paid to the plan.

According to the Schlieffen Plan of the Germans they would move rapidly through Belgium and then onto France capturing all the French coastal ports thus cutting off the British from coming to the aid of the French. Then the German troops would move to Paris approaching it from the north, west and south. Then knocking off the French quickly and keeping the British away from landing, the German troops would be thrown on the eastern front to defeat Russia.

This cartoon in the 'Punch' lauds the good fight Belgium put up

But the Belgian resistance was fierce and so the German advance was slower. It gave the British to land its troops on the European coast. The German did move towards Paris but from the east. They came within twenty miles of Paris. The French government shifted to Bordeaux. But the Germans were slowing down. The supply lines were strained. The soldiers were tired marching in the August sun.

French soldiers during the Battle of Marne

French taxis were commandeered to ferry troops for the Battle of Marne

Then, on 3 September, the seemingly hopeless Allied situation suddenly changed. On that day, the Military Governor of Paris, General Galliéni — while reviewing the results of newly-obtained aerial reconnaissance — discovered that the German advance had veered east of Paris, exposing the lengthening flank of the German right wing to an Allied counterattack. Despite initial skepticism on the part of Marshal Joffre, General Galliéni was persistent and persuasive. On 4 September, six hundred Paris taxis were commandeered by the Military Governor to help transport a fresh division across the ‘City of Light’. These troops were desperately needed to reinforce General Maunoury’s Sixth Army as it began a major counterattack against the exposed German flank. By 6 September, General von Kluck’s First German Army had been forced to fall back in the face of the increasing French pressure; this, in turn, had opened up a thirty mile gap in the German front. Surprised by the unexpected Allied counteroffensive, and increasingly worried about false rumors of Allied amphibious landings along the Belgian Coast to their rear, the German High Command ordered General von Bülow’s Second Army to fall back and reestablish contact with von Kluck’s First Army. The German drive had been turned back.

German troops during the Battle of Marne

The French attacked under Joffre at the Battle of Marne. The Germans fell back to River Aisne where they dug trenches and settled in. The trenches stretched from Alps to the coast.

This meant that the German dream to knock out France in six weeks under the Schlieffen Plan went in smoke. The British fought hard at the First Battle of Ypres and held on keeping the other French ports open to let the British troops and supplies flow in. Moreover Germany had to fight on two fronts something they had never bargained for. The British started a crippling blockade of German ports that clogged supplies for Germany from the sea.

 German soldiers in a trench


The Russians mobilised much more quickly then the Germans expected and attacked both Germany and Austria. That was a mistake. Though they were successful against the Austrians; they captured Galicia; the Germans were not their cup of tea. They brought Hindenburg out of retirement who defeated the Russians twice, at Tannenburg in August and Masurian Lakes in September and drove them out of Germany. The Russians lost a huge quantity of arms; they never really recovered from it. They had a lot of soldiers but a third of them had no rifles.

 Kaiser Wilhelm enters the city of Lyck in triumph after Hindenburg thrashed the Russians at the Battle of Tannenburg

Turkey entered the war on the side of the Germans thing got worse for the Russians. Turkey would now cut off Russian supplies through the Black Sea. One bright spot for the allies i9n 1914 was that Serbia threw out the invading Austrians.


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May 1945 - If hell on earth existed, than it existed in Prague after May the 5th. 1945. Old men, women and children were beaten to death and maimed. Rapes, barbaric cruelties, horror-scenarios of hellish proportions - here they had been let lose.

- Ludek Pachmann, Czech Chess-Grand Master and publicist, forty years after the fact.

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"History is a guide to navigation in perilous times. History is who we are and why we are the way we are."

History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.


HISTORY, n. An account mostly false, of events mostly unimportant, which are brought about by rulers mostly knaves, and soldiers mostly fools.
-- Ambrose Bierce

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"Patriotism ruins history."

Snippets from History

This short but important battle played a key role in the decision to use atomic bombs when attacking Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The battle showed just how far Japanese troops would go to defend their country.

Snippets From History

Paulus didn't give the order to 6th Army to surrender, but his troops no longer had much fight left in them. Resistance faded out over the next two days, with the last die-hards finally calling it quits. One Red Army colonel shouted at a group of prisoners, waving at the ruins all around them: "That's how Berlin is going to look!


History is Philosophy teaching by examples.


"Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it."
-- George Santayana

Points to Ponder: Why Is China Unstable?

The aim of individuals in any society is money and power. Societies that give equal chance to all its members to get them will be the most stable. That is why democracies are more stable than other systems of governance.

China after Deng's reform gave the chance to get rich but power is in the hands of an elite; the Communist Party of China. Membership to the party is at the whims of the local party bosses. This leaves out many people who crave political power dissatisfied and disgruntled. There in lies the roots of instability. The Party suppressed these demands once at Tiananmen in 1989. But force is hardly the way to deal with things like these.

READ MORE: Tiananmen Square Massacre