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EPB1 en. Ranganathan et al. Udo et al. Bunker et al. Economic ascent and the global environment: World-systems theory and the new historical materialism. Desfor et al. DEU1 en. Niederwerfungsstrategie , a strategy of decisive victory, later termed Vernichtungsstrategie replaced the slow, cautious approach to war that had been overturned by Napoleon. German strategists judged the defeat of the Austrians in the Austro-Prussian War 14 June — 23 August and the French imperial armies in , as evidence that a strategy of decisive victory could still succeed.
Despite inexperience, lack of training and a shortage of officers and artillery, the size of the new armies forced Moltke the Elder to divert large forces to confront them, while still besieging Paris, isolating French garrisons in the rear and guarding lines of communication from francs-tireurs irregular military forces. The Germans had defeated the forces of the Second Empire by superior numbers and then found the tables turned; only their superior training and organisation had enabled them to capture Paris and dictate peace terms.
Moltke the Elder wrote later. The days are gone by when, for dynastical ends, small armies of professional soldiers went to war to conquer a city, or a province, and then sought winter quarters or made peace. The wars of the present day call whole nations to arms The entire financial resources of the State are appropriated to military purposes The quick victories of led Moltke the Elder to hope that he had been mistaken but by December, he planned an Exterminationskrieg against the French population, by taking the war into the south, once the size of the Prussian army had been increased by another battalions of reservists.
Moltke intended to destroy or capture the remaining resources which the French possessed, against the protests of the German civilian authorities, who after the fall of Paris, negotiated a quick end to the war. They saw the longer war against the improvised armies of the French republic, the indecisive battles of the winter of — and the Kleinkrieg against Francs-tireurs on the lines of communication, as better examples of the nature of modern war. Hoenig and Widdern conflated the old sense of Volkskrieg as a partisan war , with a newer sense of a war between industrialised states, fought by nations-in-arms and tended to explain French success by reference to German failings, implying that fundamental reforms were unnecessary.
Goltz advocated the conscription of every able-bodied man and a reduction of the period of service to two years a proposal that got him sacked from the Great General Staff which was then introduced in in a nation-in-arms. The mass army would be able to compete with armies raised on the model of the improvised French armies and be controlled from above, to avoid the emergence of a radical and democratic people's army.
Goltz maintained the theme in other publications up to , notably in Das Volk in Waffen The People in Arms, and used his position as a corps commander from to to implement his ideas, particularly in improving the training of Reserve officers and creating a unified youth organisation, the Jungdeutschlandbund Young German League to prepare teenagers for military service. The professionals were hard to replace and the conscripts would run away if the army tried to live off the land, operate in close country or pursue a defeated enemy, in the manner of the armies of the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars.
Dynastic armies were tied to magazines for supply, which made them incapable of fulfilling a strategy of annihilation. The growth in the size of armies made a swift victory unlikely and British intervention would add a naval blockade to the rigours of an indecisive land war. By the s, the Strategiestreit had entered public discourse, when strategists like the two Moltkes, also doubted the possibility of a quick victory in a European war.
The debate provided the German army with a fairly familiar alternative to Vernichtungsstrategie , after the opening campaigns of Assuming French hostility and a desire to recover Alsace-Lorraine, Moltke the Elder drew up a deployment plan for —72, expecting that another rapid victory could be achieved but the French introduced conscription in By , Moltke thought that the French army was too powerful to be defeated quickly and in , Moltke considered a preventive war but did not expect an easy victory.
The course of the second period of the Franco-Prussian War and the example of the Wars of Unification had prompted Austria to begin conscription in and Russia in Moltke assumed that in another war, Germany would have to fight a coalition of France and Austria or France and Russia. Even if one opponent was quickly defeated, the victory could not be exploited before the Germans would have to redeploy their armies against the second enemy.
By , Moltke was writing war plans with provision for an incomplete victory, in which diplomats negotiated a peace, even if it meant a return to the Status quo ante bellum and in , the deployment plan reflected pessimism over the possibility of a Franco-Russian alliance and progress made by the French fortification programme. Despite international developments and his doubts about Vernichtungsstrategie , Moltke retained the traditional commitment to Bewegungskrieg war of movement and an army trained to fight ever bigger battles.
A decisive victory might no longer be possible but success would make a diplomatic settlement easier. Growth in the size and power of rival European armies increased the pessimism with which Moltke contemplated another war and on 14 May he gave a speech to the Reichstag , saying that the age of Volkskrieg had returned.
According to Ritter the contingency plans from to were his attempts to resolve the problems caused by international developments, by adopting a strategy of the defensive, after an opening tactical offensive, to weaken the opponent, a change from Vernichtungsstrategie to Ermatttungsstrategie. The possibility that a defeated enemy would not negotiate, was something that Moltke the Elder did not address.
The post had lost influence to rival institutions in the German state, because of the machinations of the previous incumbent Alfred von Waldersee 8 April — 5 March , who had held the post from to and had tried to use his position as a political stepping stone. Other governing institutions gained power at the expense of the General Staff and Schlieffen had no following in the army or state.
The fragmented and antagonistic character of German state institutions made the development of a grand strategy most difficult, because there was no body to co-ordinate foreign, domestic and war policy. The General Staff planned in a political vacuum and Schlieffen's weak position was exacerbated by his narrow military view. Within the army, organisation and theory had no obvious link with war planning and responsibilities overlapped. The General Staff devised deployment plans and its chief became de facto Commander-in-Chief if war began but in peace, command was vested in the commanders of the twenty army corps districts.
These commanders were independent of the General Staff Chief and trained soldiers according to their own devices. The German system of government was federal and the ministries of war of the constituent states controlled the forming and equipping of units, command and promotions. The system was inherently competitive and became more so after the Waldersee period, when the possibility increased of another Volkskrieg , a war of the nation in arms, rather than the few European wars fought by small professional armies, that had occurred after A big army would create more choices about how to fight a war and better weapons would make the army more formidable.
Mobile heavy artillery could help make up for numerical inferiority against a Franco-Russian coalition and smash fortifications. Schlieffen tried to make the army more operationally capable so that it was better than its potential enemies and rapidly could win a decisive victory. Schlieffen continued the practice of staff rides Stabs-Reise tours of territory where military operations might take place and war games , to teach techniques to command a mass conscript army. The new national armies were so huge that battles would be spread over a much greater space than in the past and Schlieffen expected that army corps would fight Teilschlachten battle segments equivalent to the tactical engagements of smaller dynastic armies.
Teilschlachten could occur anywhere as corps and armies closed with the opposing army and become a Gesamtschlacht complete battle , in which the significance of the battle segments would be determined by the plan of the commander in chief, who would give operational orders to the corps,. The success of battle today depends more on conceptual coherence than on territorial proximity. Thus, one battle might be fought in order to secure victory on another battlefield. War against France , the memorandum later known as the "Schlieffen Plan", was a strategy for a war of extraordinarily big battles, in which corps commanders would be independent in how they fought, provided that it was according to the intent of the commander in chief.
The commander led the complete battle, in the manner of commanders of the Napoleonic Wars. The war plans of the commander in chief, were intended to organise haphazard encounter battles , so that "the sum of these battles was more than the sum of the parts". In his war contingency plans from —, Schlieffen faced the difficulty that the French could not be forced to fight a decisive battle quickly enough for German forces to be transferred to the east against the Russians to fight a war on two fronts, one-front-at-a-time.
Forcing the French from their frontier fortifications would be a slow and costly process that Schlieffen preferred to avoid by a flanking movement through Luxembourg and Belgium. In , this was judged impractical because of a lack of manpower and mobile heavy artillery. In , Schlieffen added the manoeuvre to German war plans as a possibility if the French pursued a defensive strategy, because the German army was more powerful and by , after the Russian defeat in Manchuria, Schlieffen judged the army to be formidable enough to make the northern flanking manoeuvre the basis of a war plan against France alone.
In , Schlieffen wrote that the Russo-Japanese War 8 February — 5 September , had shown that the power of Russian army had been overestimated and that it would not recover quickly from the defeat. Schlieffen could contemplate leaving only a small force in the east and in , wrote War against France which was taken up by his successor, Moltke the Younger and became the concept of the main German war plan from — The great mass of the German army would assemble in the west and the main force would be on the right wing.
An offensive in the north through Belgium and the Netherlands would lead to an invasion of France and a decisive victory. Even with the windfall of the Russian defeat in the Far East in and belief in the superiority of German military thinking, Schlieffen had reservations about the strategy and research published by Gerhard Ritter , English edition in showed that the memorandum went through six drafts. Schlieffen considered other possibilities in , using war games to model a Russian invasion of east Germany against a smaller German army. In a staff ride during the summer, Schlieffen tested a hypothetical invasion of France with most of the German army and three possible French responses; the French were defeated but then Schlieffen proposed a French counter-envelopment of the German right wing by a new army.
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At the end of the year, Schlieffen played a war game of a two-front war, in which the German army was evenly divided and defended against invasions by the French and Russians and where victory first occurred in the east. Schlieffen was open-minded about a defensive strategy and the political advantages of the Entente being the aggressor, not just the "military technician" portrayed by Ritter. The variety of the war games showed that Schlieffen took account of circumstances; if the French attacked Metz and Strasbourg, the decisive battle would be fought in Lorraine.
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Ritter wrote that invasion was a means to an end not an end in itself, as did Terence Zuber in and the early s. In the strategic circumstances of , with the Russian army and the Tsarist state in turmoil after the defeat in Manchuria, the French would not risk open warfare and the Germans would have to force them out of the border fortress zone.
The studies in demonstrated that this was best achieved by a big flanking manoeuvre through the Netherlands and Belgium.
In Aufmarsch I , Germany would have to attack to win such a war, which entailed all of the German army being deployed on the German—Belgian border to invade France through Limburg , the southern province of the Netherlands , Belgium and Luxembourg. Helmuth von Moltke the Younger took over from Schlieffen as Chief of the German General Staff on 1 January , beset with doubts about the possibility of a German victory in a great European war. French knowledge about German intentions might prompt them to retreat to evade an envelopment that could lead to Ermattungskrieg , a war of exhaustion and leave Germany exhausted, even if it did eventually win.
A report on hypothetical French ripostes against an invasion, concluded that since the French army was six times larger than in , the survivors from a defeat on the frontier could make counter-outflanking moves from Paris and Lyon, against a pursuit by the German armies. Despite his doubts, Moltke the Younger retained the concept of a big enveloping manoeuvre, because of changes in the international balance of power. The Japanese victory in the Russo-Japanese War — weakened the Russian army and the Tsarist state and made an offensive strategy against France more realistic for a time.
By , Russian rearmament, army reforms and reorganisation, including the creation of a strategic reserve, made the army more formidable than before Railway building reduced the time needed for mobilisation and a "war preparation period" was introduced by the Russians, to provide for mobilisation to begin with a secret order, reducing mobilisation time further. Modern, mobile artillery, a purge of older, inefficient officers and a revision of the army regulations, had improved the tactical capability of the Russian army and railway building would make it more strategically flexible, by keeping back troops from border districts, to make the army less vulnerable to a surprise-attack, moving men faster and with reinforcements available from the strategic reserve.
The new possibilities enabled the Russians to increase the number of deployment plans, further adding to the difficulty of Germany achieving a swift victory in an eastern campaign. The likelihood of a long and indecisive war against Russia, made a quick success against France more important, so as to have the troops available for an eastern deployment.
Moltke the Younger made substantial changes to the offensive concept sketched by Schlieffen in the memorandum War against France of — The 6th and 7th armies with eight corps were to assemble along the common border, to defend against a French invasion of Alsace-Lorraine. Moltke also altered the course of an advance by the armies on the right northern wing, to avoid the Netherlands, retaining the country as a useful route for imports and exports and denying it to the British as a base of operations.
Later changes reduced the time allowed to the 5th day, which meant that the attacking forces would need to get moving only hours after the mobilisation order had been given. Extant records of Moltke's thinking up to — are fragmentary and almost wholly lacking to the outbreak of war. In a staff ride Moltke sent an army through Belgium but concluded that the French would attack through Lorraine, where the decisive battle would be fought before an enveloping move from the north took effect.
The right wing armies would counter-attack through Metz, to exploit the opportunity created by the French advancing beyond their frontier fortifications. In , Moltke expected the British to join the French but that neither would violate Belgian neutrality, leading the French to attack towards the Ardennes. Moltke continued to plan to envelop the French near Verdun and the Meuse, rather than an advance towards Paris. In , a new 7th Army with eight divisions was prepared to defend upper Alsace and to co-operate with the 6th Army in Lorraine. A transfer of the 7th Army to the right flank was studied but the prospect of a decisive battle in Lorraine became more attractive.
In , Moltke planned for a contingency where the French attacked from Metz to the Vosges and the Germans defended on the left southern wing, until all troops not needed on the right northern flank could move south-west through Metz against the French flank. German offensive thinking had evolved into a possible attack from the north, one through the centre or an envelopment by both wings. It was assumed that France would be on the defensive because their troops would be greatly outnumbered.
To win the war, Germany and its allies would have to attack France. After the deployment of the entire German army in the west, they would attack through Belgium and Luxembourg, with virtually all the German force. The Germans would rely on an Austro-Hungarian and Italian contingents, formed around a cadre of German troops, to hold the fortresses along the Franco-German border. Aufmarsch I West became less feasible, as the military power of the Franco-Russian alliance increased and Britain aligned with France, making Italy unwilling to support Germany.
Aufmarsch I West was dropped when it became clear that an isolated Franco-German war was impossible and that German allies would not intervene. Italy was only expected to join Germany if Britain remained neutral. France and Russia were expected to attack simultaneously, because they had the larger force. German forces would mass against the French invasion force and defeat it in a counter-offensive, while conducting a conventional defence against the Russians. Rather than pursue the retreating French armies over the border, 25 percent of the German force in the west 20 percent of the German army would be transferred to the east, for a counter-offensive against the Russian army.
Aufmarsch II West became the main German deployment plan, as the French and Russians expanded their armies and the German strategic situation deteriorated, Germany and Austria-Hungary being unable to increase their military spending to match their rivals. Italy was only expected to join Germany if Britain remained neutral; 60 percent of the German army would deploy in the west and 40 percent in the east.
German forces would mass against the Russian invasion force and defeat it in a counter-offensive, while conducting a conventional defence against the French. Rather than pursue the Russians over the border, 50 percent of the German force in the east about 20 percent of the German army would be transferred to the west, for a counter-offensive against the French. Aufmarsch I Ost became a secondary deployment plan, as it was feared a French invasion force could be too well established to be driven from Germany or at least inflict greater losses on the Germans, if not defeated sooner.
The counter-offensive against France was also seen as the more important operation, since the French were less able to replace losses than Russia and it would result in a greater number of prisoners being taken. The plan assumed that France would be neutral at first and possibly attack Germany later. If France helped Russia then Britain might join in and if it did, Italy was expected to remain neutral. About 60 percent of the German army would operate in the west and 40 percent in the east.
Russia would begin an offensive because of its larger army and in anticipation of French involvement but if not, the German army would attack. After the Russian army had been defeated, the German army in the east would pursue the remnants. The German army in the west would stay on the defensive, perhaps conducting a counter-offensive but without reinforcements from the east.
Aufmarsch II Ost had the same flaw as Aufmarsch I Ost , in that it was feared that a French offensive would be harder to defeat, if not countered with greater force, either slower as in Aufmarsch I Ost or with greater force and quicker, as in Aufmarsch II West. After amending Plan XVI in September , Joffre and the staff took eighteen months to revise the French concentration plan, the concept of which was accepted on 18 April The document was not a campaign plan but it contained a statement that the Germans were expected to concentrate the bulk of their army on the Franco-German border and might cross before French operations could begin.
The instruction of the Commander in Chief was that. Whatever the circumstances, it is the Commander in Chief's intention to advance with all forces united to the attack of the German armies. The action of the French armies will be developed in two main operations: one, on the right in the country between the wooded district of the Vosges and the Moselle below Toul; the other, on the left, north of a line Verdun—Metz.
The gap between the Fifth Army and the North Sea was covered by Territorial units and obsolete fortresses. The German force was to advance into Belgium, to force a decisive battle with the French army, north of the fortifications on the Franco-German border. The French attack into Alsace-Lorraine resulted in worse losses than anticipated, because artillery—infantry co-operation that French military theory required, despite its embrace of the "spirit of the offensive", proved to be inadequate.
The attacks of the French forces in southern Belgium and Luxembourg were conducted with negligible reconnaissance or artillery support and were bloodily repulsed, without preventing the westward manoeuvre of the northern German armies. Within a few days, the French had suffered costly defeats and the survivors were back where they began. The German advance outran its supplies; Joffre used French railways to move the retreating armies, re-group behind the river Marne and the Paris fortified zone, faster than the Germans could pursue. The French defeated the faltering German advance with a counter-offensive at the First Battle of the Marne , assisted by the British.
In , Terence Holmes wrote,. Moltke followed the trajectory of the Schlieffen plan, but only up to the point where it was painfully obvious that he would have needed the army of the Schlieffen plan to proceed any further along these lines. Lacking the strength and support to advance across the lower Seine, his right wing became a positive liability, caught in an exposed position to the east of fortress Paris.
When the Staff was abolished by the Treaty of Versailles , about eighty historians were transferred to the new Reichsarchiv in Potsdam, led by the President of the Reichsarchiv , General Hans von Haeften and overseen from by a civilian historical commission. Theodor Jochim, the first head of the Reichsarchiv section for collecting documents, wrote that. The Reichsarchiv historians produced Der Weltkrieg , a narrative history also known as the Weltkriegwerk in fourteen volumes published from to , which became the only source written with free access to the German documentary records of the war.
The writers blamed Moltke for altering the plan to increase the force of the left wing at the expense of the right, which caused the failure to defeat decisively the French armies. The Germans should have defended in the west and attacked in the east, following the plans drawn up by Moltke the Elder in the s and s. Belgian neutrality need not have been breached and a negotiated peace could have been achieved, since a decisive victory in the west was impossible and not worth the attempt.