Timeline: Von Schlieffen plan
August 2, 1914 Berlin
Kaiser Wilhelm II asks Chief of General Staff general Moltke to postpone the invasion of France and to concentrate on beating Russia first. Moltke is horrified because the Von Schlieffen plan for invading France has already started: German troops are already in Luxemburg and an ultimatum has been sent to Belgium. He tells the Kaiser that it is impossible to halt German troop movements. During the night, Moltke's health deteriorates and he is rushed to the hospital. Erich von Falkenhayn takes over as Chief of General Staff.
August 3, 1914 Berlin
Germany declares war on France.
August 4, 1914 Belgium
Germany invades Belgium without declaring war.
August 7, 1914 Alsace
The French army attacks German positions in Alsace. Germans stay on the defensive as required by the Von Schlieffen plan. The commanders demand reinforcements but Von Falkenhayn resists this: he is not going to make changes in the battle plan so soon after taking command.
August 9, 1914 Berlin
German forces start the long and tedious process of reducing the fortresses protecting Liège in Belgium.
August 14, 1914 Alsace
The French army launches an attack on Alsace-Lorraine. Casualties are high as the French are highly visible in their beautiful uniforms. German forces are being driven back slowly.
August 15, 1914 Dinant
German forces start attacking the fortresses of Dinant in Belgium. The French rejoice because it seems that Germany has fatally weakened the south front in favor of the north, making an attack in Alsace-Lorraine almost certain to succeed.
August 17, 1914 Tannenberg
The Russian army moves into East Prussia, three weeks earlier than the Germans expected. Von Falkenhayn resists calls for reinforcements. If Germany loses against France, the Russian invasion will be irrelevant in any case.
August 20, 1914 Alsace
The French offensive in Alsace runs out of steam. The army has gained some ground but at high cost. The German commander Crown Prince Rupprecht repeatedly asks permission to attack, but Von Falkenhayn refuses. He is only interested in the German right wing which will surround the French Armies.
August 21, 1914 Ardennes
General Joffre orders an attack on the German right wing moving though Belgium.
August 23, 1914 Ardennes
The French armies are routed from the Ardennes with heavy losses. The British Expeditionary Force halts the Germans at Mons, inflicting heavy casualties. The British and French start withdrawing to the Marne river during the night.
September 2, 1914 Tannenberg
The Russian 2nd army is completely destroyed at Tannenberg. This is a stunning defeat for the Russians. General Samsonov commits suicide rather than face the Tsar.
September 5, 1914 Marne
After fighting rearguard actions for two weeks the French and British make a stand at the Marne.
September 7, 1914 Masurian Lakes
German forces in the east advance and make contact with the Russian 1st army near the Masurian Lakes.
September 9, 1914 Marne
The German second army is reinforced with divisions from the left wing and is able to stop the French advance on the Marne and support the 1st army dashing towards the Channel.
September 12, 1914 Amiens
Amiens falls to the advancing German 1st army. There are no forces available to stop the Germans. The French army is totally committed at the Marne.
September 13, 1914 Masurian lakes
The Russian 1st army suffers a resounding defeat at the Masurian Lakes and retreats into Russia.
September 14, 1914 Rouen
The German 1st army moves through Rouen. Some German forces reach the Channel.
September 16, 1914 Paris
There is panic in Paris as the German 1st army reaches Chartres to the south-west of the capital. General Joffre sends divisions and reserves from the threatened Marne front in order to stop the 1st army.
September 18, 1914 Paris
Weak French forces are brushed aside by Kluck's 1st army south of Paris. The stunned French retreat eastwards to avoid encirclement, leaving Paris undefended. They are now under threat of being hammered by the German 1st and 2nd army against the anvil of Alsace as Von Schlieffen intended.
September 19, 1914 Paris
Paris falls to the advancing Germans.
September 23, 1914 Auxerre
German forces are reported at Auxerre far in the rear of the French armies. Crown Prince Rupprecht finally obtains permission to attack in Alsace just as the French withdraw troops to oppose the Germans in Auxerre.
September 28, 1914 Neufchateau
The German 1st and 6th armies meet at Neufchateau. The disaster is complete, the French and British armies completely surrounded.
September 29, 1914 Neufchateau
French armies desperately try to batter through the German envelopment at Neufchateau.
October 3, 1914 France
General Joffre advises the French Government to surrender.
October 8, 1914 France
A ceasefire comes into effect on the western front. Peace negotiations start in occupied Paris. Fighting in Belgium continues around Antwerp.
October 9, 1914 Antwerp
A truce is declared in Belgium. Separate peace negotiations start.
October 15, 1914 France
France has no choice but to accept German conditions. Damages of 100 billion francs have to be paid. The French army is demobilized and will be limited to a maximum of 250,000 troops in the future. The Belgian government accepts peace terms requiring Belgium to remain neutral. A Belgian demand for financial restitution because of the undeclared war is politely refused. Great Britain is still at war and introducing general mobilization to replace the army lost in France.
October 21, 1914 Eastern front
A storm is gathering in the east as the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th German army start concentrating on the border with Russia.