A Short History of the Great War

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Purchase of this book includes free trial access to www.million-books.com where you can read more than a million books for free. This is an OCR edition with typos. Excerpt from book: CHAPTER II THE GERMAN INVASION GERMANY began the war on the Western front before it was declared, and on 1-2 August German cavalry crossed the French frontier between Luxemburg and Switzerland at three points in the direction of Longwy, Luneville, and Belfort. But these were only feints designed to prolong the delusion that Germany would attack on the only front legitimately open to warfare and to delay the reconstruction of the French defence required to meet the real offensive. The reasons for German strategy were conclusive to the General Staff, and they were frankly explained by Bethmann-Hollweg to the British ambassador. There was no time to lose if France was to be defeated before an effective Russian move, and tune would be lost by a frontal attack. The best railways and roads from Berlin to Paris ran through Belgium ; the Vosges protected more than half of the French frontier south of Luxemburg, Belfort defended the narrow gap between them and Switzerland, and even the wider thirty miles' gap between the northern slopes of the Vosges and Luxemburg was too narrow for the deployment of Germany's strength; the way was also barred by the elaborate fortifications of Verdun, Toul, and Nancy. Strategy pointed conclusively to the Belgian route, and its advantages were clinched by the fact that France was relying on the illusory scrap of paper. Her dispositions assumed an attack in Lorraine, and her northern fortifications round Lille, Maubeuge, and Hirson were feeble compared with those of Belfort, Toul, and Verdun. Given a rapid and easy marchthrough Belgium, the German armies would turn the left flank of the French defence and cut it off from the capital. Hence the resistance of Belgium had a great military importance apart from its moral value. To its lasting honour the Bel...
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