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THE CAMPAIGN ON PARIS
 THE key to the German plan of campaign was the decision to begin an aggressive war, directed by a nation fully
prepared against enemies not prepared to fight at all. It was again an aggressive war begun by a power located
between France on one side and Russia on the other, without natural boundaries, like mountains or deep rivers,
to assist her in defense. But the Germans had a tremendous advantage in strategic position. On the west they
held Alsace-Lorraine, which contained the military defenses of France: they were already at the outbreak of
the war inside the French defenses. To the north of Alsace-Lorraine lay Luxembourg and Belgium. In Belgium was
Liege, another vital portion of the military frontier between France and Germany. If it was not in German
possession, neither did France own it. Both had been rendered neutral by the Treaty of 1839 and France was
precluded from using either to attack Germany. In any case the Germans were certain to reach them first. They
could therefore begin an aggressive war against France with absolute confidence that the advantage was in
On the east, in Poland, the situation was extremely favorable to Germany. Poland is flanked on both sides by
Prussia and Galicia. It is as if the Russian army stuck its head into the lion's mouth. If the lion can close
his jaws, he will bite off the Russian's head. The lion, on the other hand, has to beware. If the Russian can
force his jaws further apart, he will break them. If he can get
 his head in far enough between them, he will crawl down the lion's throat and strangle him. But on the whole
the advantage lay with Germany. The Russians must attack in Prussia on the north and in Galicia on the south,
before they could move in force from Warsaw on Berlin. This meant that the German position was extremely
strong on the defensive.
GERMAN MAP OF INVASION OF FRANCE FROM "UNSER HEILIGER KRIEG."
The Germans also planned the war on the assumption that the inside position was one of great strength for an
army beginning an aggressive war, just as they had concluded for centuries that it was a position of weakness
for an army fighting on the defensive. They and the Austrians were ringed around by their enemies, but they
might strike at them from any part of the circle they wished without giving their enemies as good a chance to
strike back. The Germans could campaign on either front at will; they could shift the same army rapidly from
France to Poland and back again. The French and Russians could not help each other. Tremendous preparations
were made so that the German railroads should be adequate to ship any number of thousands of men back and
forth across Germany at maximum speed. The combined French and Russian armies were immense; far greater than
the German and Austrian armies; but the Germans felt that if they took the initiative at the beginning of the
war they would control the situation, could fight on one frontier at a time only, and on either frontier they
They determined to attack France, and the reason was simple. The French army would be ready long before the
Russian and was of admirable quality, which the Germans never underrated. They supposed it would take the
French at least ten days to put their full strength into the field. They knew that the utmost speed of Russian
mobilization could not make possible a campaign for six weeks. The distances in Russia which the troops
 must travel to the frontier were great, the distances supplies must be sent were greater, and the railroads
were few. Obviously the Germans had six weeks in which to attack France without danger of real interference
from the Russians. They could therefore afford to throw the great bulk of their army upon the French and would
thus so outnumber them that they fully expected to destroy the French before the Russians were able to move.
They would then return victorious and end the Russian menace for all time.
But how should they get at France? There were three roads on Paris. Two led through Alsace-Lorraine, and had
been fortified with great care and skill by the French. While the Germans knew that their great guns would
destroy any fort then existing in Europe, they also knew that such a campaign meant time, and time was the
essential element in the assault. Speed was the important thing; if they could only get at France quickly
enough they might be able to disperse the French army before it had assembled.
The third road crossed the Rhine at Cologne, passed into Belgium at Liege, joined the road coming north from
Alsace-Lorraine and passed on through Belgium into France by a great, broad, natural gateway without mountains
or rivers to obstruct an army's march. It was admirably equipped with railroads for the army's use, and,
because of the treaty of neutrality, was entirely unfortified by France. If the German army was to move in a
hurry, it must march, and must march where the marching was good, where the roads were easiest, and the best
time could be made. Belgium was too small to resist effectively, and, once through Belgium, all roads to Paris
were open. The invasion of Belgium was the only plan to consider from a military point of view.
 The Germans worked on a time schedule, determined by the average speed of men actually detailed in time of
peace to walk from the German frontier to Paris. In four days the army should be through Belgium; in six more
it should reach Paris. That was not more rapid marching than the Germans had repeatedly done. If they could
carry out such a schedule, they would infallibly be upon Paris before the French army could mobilize. It was
also to be remembered—a very important and striking fact—that by some misadventure they might not
destroy the French army in the first fortnight and might be compelled to fight longer. It was important to
compel the French to continue the war at a maximum disadvantage.
The Germans knew the French were not ready to fight and
 that the continuation of the war would require an immense volume of supplies which would have to be
manufactured. Moreover, this very area, which the Germans would overrun at the outset, was the industrial
section of France. Here were the most important factories. Here were great coal and iron mines upon which
French industry relied and upon which the French army would have to depend. Assuming the invasion's failure
the Germans would still force the French to conduct the war in a way so difficult for them that, without very
prompt and considerable assistance, they might not be able to continue it at all.
All this determined the diplomatic arrangements at the beginning of the war as well as the first military
movements. The war must be sprung as a surprise and time must not be wasted in negotiations. Once the
intentions of Germany and Austria became clear to their enemies, not an hour should be lost. The whole
campaign would fail if they allowed the diplomats to write and talk about causes and purposes. Both Germany
and Austria therefore fairly tumbled over each other at the end of July, 1914, to get the war actually begun.
They seem to have been terrified lest in some way it should be averted, lest the favorable moment should pass
without the beginning of the campaign. All attempts to postpone it, to explain the issues, or to compromise
them, were therefore rejected as fast as they were made. Austria declared war on Serbia four days after the
first note. Three days later the German ultimatum was delivered to France and Russia, and four days after that
the German armies were in Belgium. Twelve days sufficed for all the preliminary moves of the greatest war in
Austria declared war on Serbia on July 28; Russia began mobilization on the Hungarian frontier on the
following day; on July 30 Austria began the bombardment of Belgrade and
 general mobilization was ordered in Russia. Germany accordingly presented ultimatums both to Russia and to
France on the last day of July and declared war on Russia on August 1, Italy promptly declaring her
neutrality. August 2 saw German armies in Luxembourg and the German demand to march unopposed through Belgium.
August 3 brought the Belgian refusal and the German declaration of war on France. The next morning, August 4,
found the German armies in Belgium and that night at midnight Great Britain declared war on Germany.
How now should the attack be met? What could the Allies do, unprepared as they were, to meet the thrust which
the Germans had calculated would be irresistible? They saw that the German campaign was based on two factors:
first—on time; second—on crushing the French army. When the Germans asked the Belgians to allow
them to march unimpeded through their territory, the latter knew that if they agreed to that request, Paris
would be lost and the independence of Belgium would become a thing of the past. Only France and England could
in the end save Belgium from annexation; but neither France nor England could possibly save Belgium from
invasion at that moment.
Yet only Belgium could save Paris from capture, protect the French army from immediate defeat, thus eventually
save the cause of the Allies, and by this first blow win in the end its own independence. Unless the Belgians
wished to become the slaves of the Germans, they must resist. It would be the struggle of a small boy against
a large and desperate man. The Belgians must fight for time, they must delay the Germans as long as possible.
They would in the process be defeated, slaughtered, crushed, maimed; that much they knew. The real extent of
what the Germans would do to Belgium was little suspected.
 If the Belgians succeeded in delaying the Germans long enough for the French to mobilize, the latter must then
keep out of the Germans' way. There is still some confusion of opinion as to the original French plan of
campaign, and there is reason to believe that they hoped to strike successfully from their prepared positions
in Lorraine at the German left and thus compel the evacuation of France and Belgium. However that may be, the
defeat of the first preliminary assaults in Alsace, the steady rush of the Germans through Belgium, showed the
futility of such strategy, and caused Joffre to adopt the plan which eventually won the first and greatest
Allied victory. He must at all costs not be beaten. That, he saw, must be the key to his defensive campaign.
He must draw the Germans further and further into France and further and further away from Germany. He must
compel them to march as far as possible, as fast as possible, to transport their supplies as long distances as
possible, and thus maneuver them into an unfavorable position. On no account must he stand still to be
crushed; that alone could give the German campaign a chance of success without giving France the same chance
to defeat it. Joffre therefore ordered the armies to retreat and to continue retreating. Meanwhile, the Allied
plans provided that the British were to rush over such troops as they had ready, however few they might be.
Every man, every rifle, every horse might be enough to check the Germans and prevent an immediate German
victory. Meanwhile something might happen.
Last and not least, inasmuch as the German calculations assumed that the bulk of the army could be sent to
France because the Russians could not move, the latter should invade Prussia at once. Even if the troops
walked barefoot with nothing but clubs in their hands, the army must move. It would not be
 prepared to attack with success but the Allies knew that the Germans would not be prepared to meet an assault
in Poland. They would have to send troops from France to stop it and in that way the Russians would save
And so at Liege, the Belgians held the forts desperately against wave after wave of German attacks and
resisted the great advance step by step until resistance was no longer possible. For three days the Germans
were checked entirely,—three precious days! Then the Belgian army was stamped flat on the ground and
over its body tramped the great columns of troops marching to Brussels and Paris. But the Germans were not
four days but sixteen days going through Belgium. Sixteen days and Paris was saved! The British and French
armies had had time to get to the Belgian frontier, not in full strength, but in enough force to show the
astonished Germans an amount of resistance they thought absolutely improbable.
Then began one of the marvelous retreats of history. The Allied troops, French, Belgian, and British, fought
gallantly and retreated superbly, but, without reinforcements, they grew more and more weary and footsore,
less and less able to fight. No army was harder pressed than General French's gallant little British force
They fought in the morning, they fought at noon, they fought at night. The officers kicked the men awake, fell
asleep themselves, and were kicked awake in turn. There were men dragging and carrying their officers, horses
falling dead in their tracks, and men harnessing themselves to the guns in order to save them. Motor
transports moved toward the rear driven often by men sound asleep. "For forty-eight hours no food, no drink,
under a hot sun, choking with dust, and marching, marching, marching, until even the pursuing Germans gave it
up, and at
Vitry-le-  Francois the Allies fell in their tracks and slept for three hours, men, horses, and guns—while the
exhausted pursuers slept behind them." Thus the British retreated from Mons after one of the most gallant and
obstinate actions in history. It played almost as important a part in delaying the German advance as the
resistance of the Belgians at Liege.
Behind the armies the roads were full of French fugitives fleeing from the war. Pitiful and terrible sight!
Here a whole family trudging along on foot, carrying in their hands a few little articles from their homes,
and driving the cow before them. There a woman had piled what little she could save on a wheelbarrow and had
perched the baby on top. Here two little children were tugging at their mother's skirts while she directed a
little cart drawn by the dogs used in Belgium and northern France for drawing light burdens. There children
who had lost their fathers and mothers sat crying by the wayside until some of the fugitives noticed them and
carried them on. Other more fortunate families with horses and carts or with automobiles were pushing on to
Paris more rapidly. The roads and villages in all directions were full to bursting with a people compelled at
a few hours' notice to flee for their lives. It was such a spectacle as men had thought would never again be
seen in history.
EARLY BIRDS IN PARIS IN WAR TIME.
In those first days it was difficult not to believe that all was lost, that the Germans had calculated too
well to be beaten. How could nations, however powerful, but without time to prepare, resist such a foe?
Something like despair spread throughout France and England. Then suddenly there came a change. The British
and French troops were no longer afraid. They retreated still, but their hearts were light, for they had come
to feel that God and His angels in the truest sense were fighting with them. Men told wonderful stories of
what they had seen. At one time
 there was a great gap in the Allied line. There were no troops to fill it and meet the advancing Germans.
Suddenly in that gap there stood English archers with bows and arrows, knights in armor, figures which seemed
to the Germans absolutely real, but which the Allied soldiers believed to be the ghosts of the bold warriors
of Agincourt, the men of the Hundred Years' War come back to save France and England.
Others at other points of the line told of seeing Germans and more Germans, in solid columns, pouring over the
top of the hills. Suddenly between them and the advancing foe came a flash of brilliant light and then right
before them rode "a tall man with yellow hair and golden armor on a white horse." It was St. George, the
patron saint of England, come to rally the troops, come to show them that the powers of peace were with them
and that the Germans were the powers of evil! The French troops also declared they saw at the moment when all
seemed most desperate that same blinding flash of light. When it disappeared, there before them in the field,
clad in full armor, riding a white horse was Joan of Arc, brandishing her sword high in air and shouting,
"Forward!" The troops answered with a rallying shout, and, dashing forward behind her, threw back the Germans.
Did St. George, Joan of Arc, and the dead of the Middle Ages actually appear? No one can say, but thousands
believe that they saw them.
And so, day after day, the British and the French retreated and retreated and finally in the first week of
September, the people of Paris heard one after the other the distant boom of the explosions blowing up the
bridges on the Marne. Still another Allied division had crossed the river. The Germans were just behind. By
September 5, the Germans had also passed the Marne and were within a few miles of Paris. Indeed orders had
been issued to
 many German divisions to wear full dress instead of their field uniforms, so as to be ready for the formal
entry into the French capital. Many of the officers had already in their pockets the orders directing them in
what houses their troops were to be quartered the first night in Paris. But the Germans were never to enter
Paris except as prisoners. They had been not ten days but a full month getting within sight of the city. The
great scheme had failed. The French army was not crushed. The French army had mobilized. The French were ready
to fight, and the British had joined them. The war, far from being won by the Germans, was indeed at that
moment on the point of being lost.