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By Matthias Strohn
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Additional info for World War I Companion
His disposition of forces assumed an early French offensive into the German Empire; therefore he reinforced the left instead of the right wing with recently established forces. In the summer of 1914 seven out of eight armies were deployed on the Western border, with one army protecting East Prussia against any Russian attacks. At the same time, he renounced a passage through the Netherlands on political grounds; therefore, unlike Schlieffen, he had no alternative but to define the fortress of Liége as an intermediate target.
12 This predicted war against two land powers would be condemned to failure if fought defensively and would only have a chance of success if fought offensively. The key to this continued to be the decisive battle,13 brought about through an offensive designed to destroy the adversary psychologically and morally. The envelopment was based on manoeuvring, with Cannae and Leuthen serving as historical blueprints. The site of the decisive battle, which should be imagined not as one great battle but as a sequence of several small-scale engagements, was to be located in a border region, an indication that operational thinking in its conception, particularly with a view to logistic endurance of a mass army, was limited.
Envelopment was no longer an easy option here. This would have required a breaking up of the static front. German operational thinking was neither rigid nor exclusively intent on envelopment. Alternative approaches such as the frontal attack with break-in and breakthrough had been discussed as early as before the war. A frontal attack had been considered an effective means, provided a gap could be discovered in the battle disposition of the adversary. The purpose of envelopment and breakthrough was the same – to cut off the enemy from his rearward lines of communication and to then destroy him in a decisive battle.
World War I Companion by Matthias Strohn