Alfred von Schlieffen (1833-1913) was a German field marshal that served as Chief of General Staff in Germany between 1891 and 1905. He was born in Berlin, Germany, in 1833. He joined the army in 1854 at the age of twenty. Between 1858 and 1861, Alfred von Schlieffen attended the Berlin War Academy, and he was a staff officer during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871.
In 1884 Schlieffen became head of the military history section of the general staff, and in 1891 he replaced Alfred Graf von Waldersee as Chief of General Staff. In 1905, Alfred von Schlieffen presented the Schlieffen Plan, which would stipulate that fighting a two-front war should be avoided by first defeating France in a lightning campaign and then throwing its full weight against Russia. The rest of Schlieffen’s career was spent inculcating the operational ideas required to make this strategy work.
After fifty two years of service, Alfred von Schlieffen retired as Chief of General Staff of the German Army in 1906 and died in 1913, one year before the outbreak of World War I. Schlieffen was perhaps the best known contemporary strategist of his time. Schlieffen’s operational theories were to have a profound impact on the development of maneuver warfare in the twentieth century.