31 AUGUST 1914
FAR EAST: Japanese land and naval forces begin the siege of Tsingtao, a German outpost on the Chinese mainland.
WESTERN FRONT: Heeding a call for assistance from the 2nd Army, General Kluck, commander of the German 1st Army, makes the decision to follow the retreating French 5th Army south rather than proceed westward according to the Schlieffen Plan.
Kluck commanded the army on the end of the German right wing. According to the Schlieffen Plan, the 1st Army was to sweep around Paris to the west, effectively trapping any French forces in a grand enveloping maneuver. Considering the logistical constraints that were already hampering the German advance, Kluck's decision to abandon the Schlieffen Plan in favor of pursuing the fleeing French 5th Army was probably the correct call. Kluck hoped to turn the French left flank and roll up the enemy line. That change of plans, however, put the Germans in a dangerous position between Paris and the French armies. Unbeknownst to Kluck, the French commander, Joffre, was using interior lines to quickly assemble a new army in Paris.
Kluck's decision also reveals the extent to which German commanders were typically given far more leeway to follow their own initiative and deviate from the pre-conceived plans. That was evident through all levels of German command, and derived, in large part, from Clausewitz's theories on warfare.