By 1910, European leaders expected war. Though they expected battle that was fast and localized, most forward-thinking policymakers planned for war in the near future.
Alfred von Schlieffen, the Prussian general and Chief of the German General Staff, developed the German plans for war. Aiming to make Germany the Continent's dominant power, the Schlieffen Plan, as proposed in 1905, provided the framework for Germany's offensive. In the likely event of war with Russia, the Schlieffen Plan, expecting French support for Russia, called on Germany to launch a devastating and fast-paced attack on France. Schlieffen reasoned that France, with miles of railroad and a large army, could mobilize and attack within days, thus requiring Germany to eliminate them or face a two- front war. Since Russia lacked a modern transportation system, its slow mobilization would allow Germany to apply a mere defensive force in the east until it defeated France in the west. Once France was out of the picture, Germany could devote all its military might to defeating the Russian Bear.
How, then, was Germany to defeat France in six weeks? The Schlieffen plan called for a massive invasion through Belgium and Luxembourg to attack France from the northeast and surround Paris by outflanking the surprised French army.
Russia, recognizing its mobilization problem, planned to compensate for its lack of railroad by mobilizing before the war began. However, as soon as Russia, expecting a war with Austria-Hungary, mobilized, Germany would be forced to mobilize, as well. The Russian plan seemed ineffectual since mobilization immediately meant war.
Like the Schlieffen Plan, the French Plan VII called for the concentration of troops in a single area in an attempt to decisively defeat the enemy. Selecting Alsace-Lorraine for the offensive against Germany, France left Paris open to a northeasterly offensive from Germany, as proposed in the Schlieffen Plan.