40 maps that explain World War I
by Zack Beauchamp, Timothy B. Lee and Matthew Yglesias on August 4, 2014
One hundred years ago today, on August 4, 1914, German troops began pouring over the border into Belgium, starting the first major battle of World War I. The Great War killed 10 million people, redrew the map of Europe, and marked the rise of the United States as a global power. Here are 40 maps that explain the conflict — why it started, how the Allies won, and why the world has never been the same.
Map 5 The German and French war plans emphasized attacks
German and French war planners both believed the war was going to be an offensive one. The German plan, conceived by strategist Alfred von Schlieffen, envisioned a rapid German march primarily through Belgium into French territory. The French strategy, Plan XVII, sent French troops directly across Franco-German border, as well as through Luxemburg and Belgium. This partially explains where the main battle lines were during the war, but according to some historians it means much more than that. A very contentious line of scholarship holds that World War I was caused by these plans, because every state believed that the key to victory was a quick offensive strike and that a war, under those terms, could be won quickly and comparatively cheaply.