This section covers the retreat of Allied forces toward Paris, and the civil-military debate over the feasibility of defending the French capital. Be careful not to get bogged down in the Roman numerals of army corps and generals’ names. Look instead at overall themes, such as civil versus military command of France’s armed forces, and the purely strategic versus cultural and political concerns wrapped up in the question of defending Paris. As the French and British fall back, note the further deviations the Germans make from the original Schlieffen Plan. At the same time, pay attention to the roles played by two very important French commanders, General Joseph-Simon Gallieni and General Joseph Joffre.
What challenges did General Gallieni face when tasked with the defense of Paris?
What were Sir John French’s strategic priorities at this stage of the fighting? How did these affect the BEF’s cooperation with its French allies?
What was General Gallieni’s plan to defend Paris? How did he implement it?
What were General Joffre’s strengths in leading the French Army during the retreat from the German offensive?
What debate existed, and among whom, over the decision to defend Paris?