<– Part 6 – September 6, 1914  | Part 7 – September 13, 1914 |  Part 8 – September 20, 1914 –>

 

September 7 saw the German finally defeat the beleaguered forces under siege at the Maubeuge fortress, allowing the advance to continue. The Central Powers saw additional success to the East, where Austro-Hungarian troops launched a counter-attack against Serbia across the Drina and established footholds. After a series of attacks & counter-attacks, with horrific casualties, the area seems to be settling into a state of entrenched siege warfare (which benefits Austria-Hungary, due to her better supplies and overall weaponry, such as artillery).

To the North, a battle has begun around the Masurian Lakes. A German attack, with a push through the 8th, has seen victory nearly assured as of today, and rumors have the Russians beginning a full retreat from East Prussia, having lost one entire army and another nearly destroyed.

 

German troops (blue) approaching Paris. From Wikipedia.

With German troops nearly 70 miles from Paris, and victory, Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg, Chancellor of Germany, agitator for war, and the man who expressed surprise that England would honor a “mere scrap of paper” (the treaty pledging Belgian independence from nearly 80 years ago), has laid out German’s aims on September 9, in the “Septemberprogramm.”

  • Belgium shall either be vassalized, ceding eastern lands, Antwerp, military and naval bases to Germany; or complete annexed by Germany. A strip of northern France (producing steel) will be either added to Belgium, or annexed to Germany proper.
  • France will pay a massive war fine, covering Germany’s expenses, damages, and debt, will cease trade with Britain, disarm, destroy forts, and become a vassal of Germany.
  • Luxembourg will join the German empire as a member state.
  • Western Russia will be seized to form Mitteleuropa – new states to be closely and economically tied to Germany, including Poland; all vassals of the German Empire.
  • French and Belgian colonies in Africa will be ceded to Germany, allowing German Mittelafrika to be a contiguous colony.
  • The Netherlands will be “brought closer” to Germany without force.

German war goals. Central Powers in yellow; Triple Entente in red. Orange is Entente land ceded to Germany, Pink is an almost forced alliance. The ambiguity in Belgium & Luxembourg represents the uncertainty of Belgian annexation or vassalization.

However, the tide has begun to turn against Germany, starting on the 11th. The fighting around Rawa, Rava Russka, part of the battle of Lemberg, has led to an Austro-Hungarian defeat and the Russian occupation of Lviv. The following day, September 12, saw the fighting on the Marne a French victory, with the entire German advance halted – the Schlieffen plan has failed. While the eastern flank saw German victories, the western required forces against Paris, although neither achieved the war goals.

Helmuth von Moltke (the Younger), the Chief of the German General Staff, nephew of Helmuth von Moltke (the Elder) – champion of the Franco-Prussian War 45 years ago, is reported to have said to Kaiser Wilhelm II: “Your majesty, we have lost the war.”

Fighting has also stopped to the north at the “Frontiers”, where the German victory over the British Expeditionary Force and the French Fifth Army was not sufficient to continue the advance across the Marne. Further affront to Germany came as South African troops invading the German Sud-West Afrika colony.

Allied troops have crossed the Aisne, and while British and French troops have established beachheads across the Aisne, a stalemate in the area has lead the opposing sides to begin attempt to outflank one another to the north, the only exposed flank in contested land.

Situation at the Marne. The end of German (red) hopes and dreams of a swift war. As German Emperor Wilhelm II had told departing troops: “You will be home before the leaves fall from the trees.”

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