Causes of World War 1 – Militarism: The Existence of War Plans


Militarism: The Existence of War Plans



By the year 1914, the seeds of the war had already been planted since most of the great powers had strategic and calculated war plans for defeating their European threats.

The military officials who planned the war plans were expecting a short war since most wars from 1865 were short and did not last for over a year.

Some states knew the plans of their opponents through intelligence systems.

This made the states to be ready for a war with their opponents.

Germany had the Schlieffen Plan by Count Alfred von Schlieffen which was created after the French-Russian Alliance.

The plan was for Germany to start a war with France on the Western Front and then turn to Russia after the defeat of France.

The plan had laid out that Germany would also pass through Belgium.

It is important to take note that passing through Belgium is what brought Britain into the war over the issue that Belgium’s neutrality was violated.

Germany was 100% sure that France wanted to revenge her loss of Alsace and Lorraine during the Franco-Prussian War.

The Schlieffen Plan gave the Germans confidence that they would defeat France in 6 weeks and then turn to defeat a slow Russia on the Eastern Front.

Since 1905 the Schlieffen Plan had been there and military leaders like Schlieffen and General Moltke were waiting for the opportunity to apply it.


In 1914 after Russia vowed to support Serbia if Austria attacks Serbia, Germany was more determined than ever to utilize the Schlieffen Plan.

Von Moltke and the Kaiser had to use the Schlieffen Plan to defeat Russia. By attacking France through Belgium Germany had sparked an international war.

France had Plan 17 (XVII) since 1912.


Plan 17 was meant for a future war between Germany and France.

The plan was a decisive war against Germany.

France was to ferry her soldiers to her Eastern border with Germany.


Also, Russia would fight Germany from the East whilst France would fight Germany from the West at the same time.


France feared the large numbers in the German military so her hope was to have Germany fight at the Eastern Front and the Western Front at the same time.


Britain had plans to defend France and Belgium by all means.

Britain was against the defeat of France by Germany.

The defeat of France by Germany would mean Germany was to control Western Europe.

Britain had the plan for her forces to enter Europe and support her ally France in Northern France against Germany’s invasion of Belgium and France.

The British Navy was meant to protect Britain, to protect the movement of her soldiers to Europe via France, the protection of her allies at sea as well as the destruction of enemy fleet and commercial areas anywhere in the world.

Russia had a plan to attack Austria-Hungary as well as to attack Eastern Germany if Germany attacked France.

Russia depended on her large military to a greater extent.

The main agenda was to defeat Austria-Hungary who was Russia’s enemy in the Balkans and then a defensive war against the Germans.

The Russian Navy was also preparing for a defensive war against Germany’s fleet near Finland.

Austria-Hungary depended largely on the success of Germany’s Schlieffen Plan although she already had a plan for the Slavic Balkans and Slavic Russia.

Austria-Hungary’s plan was to invade Serbia and Montenegro and then a defensive war against Russia whilst waiting for Germany to defeat France.

After Germany defeated France, Austria-Hungary expected to defeat Russia with Germany’s support.


The effect of the war plans was that they gave the military leaders confidence that they would win a very short war against their opponent.

They expected the war to be short and quick for them with them also winning.

The knowledge by other countries through intelligence operatives that their opponents had military plans against them also inspired them to create their secret war plans in case of a war.

The Sarajevo Incident came as an opportunity for the states to implement their war plans.

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