French soldiers receiving gas mask training during the Battle of Verdun, 1916. As French commanders had been almost exclusively focused on their own offensive plans, their hasty efforts to bolster the defenses of Verdun were very nearly too late. The battle ended in December 1916 when the German troops retreated and left Verdun following a resounding defeat by their opponents (Ousby 2009, 134). Few battles in history were more costly than the Battle of Verdun (21 February – 18 December 1916), one of the bloodiest battles of World War One. When the Germans launched their attack on Verdun on February 21st, 1916, the French were not prepared for it. The following day the Germans capitalized on their gains, repelling a French counterattack. As such, on a previous occasion, I declared the French the victors at Verdun, purely by virtue of them ‘not losing’ (as is often the case in the defence). French reinforcements being moved to the front during the Battle of Verdun, 1916. The village of Haumont was razed by artillery fire, and by February 23 the villages of Brabant-sur-Meuse, Wavrille, and Samogneux were in German hands. [December 19, 2016] Yesterday was World War One’s 100th anniversary of the last day of the Battle of Verdun; December 18, 1916. Battle of Verdun, (February 21–December 18, 1916), World War I engagement in which the French repulsed a major German offensive. Articles from Britannica Encyclopedias for elementary and high school students. Germany did not have the strength to attack on a broad front, so the goal of the offensive was a powerful blow to a narrow sector – in the area of ​​the Verdun f… Then reinforcements arrived and General Petain managed to devise a strategy to slow down the German advance. Before the Battle of Verdun, the Germans had fought on two fronts, with allied forces to their west and Russia to their east. His article on the Battle of Verdun first appeared in the 13th edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica in 1926 and... French soldiers resting away from the front line at the Battle of Verdun, 1916. However, there was another so in the end did anyone win since no absolute solution happened till more than 30 … Since the Germans did not succeed in their aim, it can be said that the French won the Battle of Verdun. The Battle of Verdun started on February 21st 1916 and ended on December 16th in 1916. As the French defense was reorganized, the Germans captured the undefended Fort Douaumont, arguably the most formidable of the strongpoints surrounding Verdun. The expected war of movement had developed into one based around trenches. Hence, Falkenhayn decided to attack the French. That evening the French commander at Verdun, Gen. Joseph-Jacques-Césaire Joffre, the so-called “Victor of the Marne,” was set aside in favour of Gen. Philippe Pétain. Verdun would be equivalent as the battle of Stalingrad in WW2 where it marked the beginning of the end of the great war to end all wars. It was originally planned by the German Chief of General Staff, Erich von Falkenhayn to secure victory for Germany on the Western Front.The aim was to crush the French army before the Allies grew in strength through the full deployment of British forces. Initial plans had been made to mass French forces on the left bank so as to oppose a German crossing, but the French high command soon decreed that a new defensive line, stretching from the heights on the east bank of the Meuse to the village of Douaumont, should be held at all costs. The rest of the German line swept through the second rank of French defenses, capturing Beaumont, the Bois des Fosses, and the Bois des Caurières and advancing on the key fort at Douaumont. The German assessment of the situation was that Britain posed the real threat. At the most, winning the Battle of Verdun would protect important German railway lines 20 kilometers away, but even this could not justify the intensity of the assault. What Weapons Were Used In The Battle Of Verdun . The Germans believed that the war they were fighting could be won only in the west. Get a Britannica Premium subscription and gain access to exclusive content. Local command of the operation was given to Crown Prince William, the eldest son of William II. Falkenhayn has greatly influenced this battle for he has manipulated the minds of the Kaiser and the Crown Prince to some extent in following his plans. Each of these advances was itself to be secured by an intense artillery bombardment, brief for surprise and making up for its short duration by the number of batteries and their rapidity of fire. At about 4:45 pm the first German infantry attack was launched, initially by teams of scouts who surveyed the damage done by the opening barrage. Both sides sought to break through the Trench networks and gain decisive victories. It was to make General Philippe Pétain a hero in France. Military History Encyclopedia on the Web - Battle of Verdun, Battle of Verdun - Children's Encyclopedia (Ages 8-11), Battle of Verdun - Student Encyclopedia (Ages 11 and up). In his so-called Christmas Memo of 1915, Erich von Falkenhayn, the chief of … The Battle of Verdun is believed to be one of the most expensive battles in the First World War that cost so many soldiers on both sides to lose their lives. Member of the staff of Le Journal des Débats (Paris). This is a brief demo Eagle Films created for a War museum concerning the brutal and bloody WW-I battle of Verdun. The Battle of Verdun, which dragged its length from February 21, 1916, to the 16th of December, ranks next to the Battle of the Marne as the greatest drama of the world war. Please select which sections you would like to print: While every effort has been made to follow citation style rules, there may be some discrepancies. He was of the opinion that once France, England's most important ally, was defeated, England would collapse and this would help the Germans in winning the war at the Western Front. On February 26–29 some 500,000 German troops assaulted Douaumont village, but the French defenses held. There have been some thoughtful responses to this, and similar questions regarding Verdun. Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. The Battle of Verdun Verdun was a town in northeastern France with a large fortress and many outlying forts. German Gen. Erich von Falkenhayn believed that the war would be won or lost in France, and he felt that a strategy of attrition was Germany’s best hope of achieving its goals. The Germans were destroying Britain in Verdun, but the British had a surprise for them- the tank. They had recaptured most of the forts around the town taken by the Germans; it is at this point the Germans stopped their attacks. The town held great symbolic value for the French , and the German leadership anticipated that the French would go to great lengths to defend it, diverting troops from other parts of the battlefield. In Falkenhayn’s view, Britain’s “real weapons” in the war were the French, Russian, and Italian armies. By December of 1916 the French and their allies had won the Battle of Verdun. Ring in the new year with a Britannica Membership, https://www.britannica.com/event/Battle-of-Verdun. Apocalypse: The Battle of Verdun is a two-part documentary series composed of real World War 1 footage.. Like other Apocalypse series – these films have been newly restored and colorized, showcasing the horrifying realities of the first world war as it comes to life once again in the infamous Battle of Verdun.. Now over hundred years ago, the bloody battle of Verdun … He zeroed on to Verdun. Omissions? The Battle of Verdun was won by France. However, that would be taking an extremely simplistic view on the battle. Contents. Pétain brought a fresh army—the Second—to the fight, and on February 25 he was given the formidable task of holding the right bank of the Meuse. Updates? Great for home study or … Thousands of French troops, placed in untenable positions in open country, were almost immediately wiped from the field. This battle was a war of attrition that was fought by the Germans as well as the French. Background of Verdun Battle went on from February 21st to December 18th, 1916 It was the largest battle of World War One, on the Western Front The battle was between the German and French armies It took place on the hill north of Verdun-sur-meuse in eastern France . Confronted with a massive logistical challenge—main rail lines to Verdun had been cut or were under constant barrage by German artillery—French officers organized a motorized supply chain on an unprecedented scale, transporting men and matériel to the front in a fleet of more than 3,000 trucks. They also knew that it was impossible to assault the British Isles and that the sectors occupied … Only the World War I Western Front could have produced the rationale for the Battle of Verdun. The attack on Verdun (the Germans code-named it ‘Judgment’) came about because of a plan by … As early as January 1916, French airmen had detected German preparations for the Verdun offensive, and on February 11, 1916, a French intelligence officer discovered a buildup of German troops on the right bank of the Meuse. Most folks will have little interest about this particular battle but at the time it was the longest, largest, and most destructive battle in human history and also part of the first global war. The Battle Of Verdun Knowledge Test 6 Questions | By Sam_max | Last updated: Apr 3, 2019 | Total Attempts: 80 Questions All questions 5 questions 6 questions Germany’s primary objective was to conquer Verdun, which was a city that hosted the historical monuments for France, and thus prompt the French administration to send troops to the area. The battle of the somme was a British counter-offensive to try and distract Germany from Verdun. The fortress of Verdun with its surrounding fortifications along the Meuse River was selected because it threatened the main German communication lines, it represented a salient in the French defenses, and the loss of such a storied citadel would be an enormous blow to French morale. Falkenhayn himself was vague on just what his forces were supposed to accomplish other than destroying the French army by attrition and then, perhaps, seeing what opportunities presented … Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article. The 37-mile (57-km) dirt road connecting the railhead at Bar-le-Duc to Verdun came to be known as La Voie Sacrée (“the Sacred Way”) for its critical role in the French defense. Corrections? He regarded Russia as already paralyzed and Italy as unlikely to affect the outcome of the war, concluding, “Only France remains.” Falkenhayn stated that a breakthrough en masse was unnecessary and that instead Germany should bleed France to death by choosing a point of attack “for the retention of which the French would be compelled to throw in every man they have.”. This prevented the Germans from committing more troops to Verdun and led to the Germans calling off the attack. Eight months would pass and much blood would be shed before the French could reclaim the fort. Battle of Verdun, World War I engagement in which the French repulsed a major German offensive. This battle was a war of attrition that was fought by the Germans as well as the French. The German general viewed the British as the true threat to his country's victory and by obliterating the Frenc… On February 24 the Germans sought to advance from their position at Samogneux, but they were immobilized by French artillery. Over the next 10 days, thousands of men and dozens of guns were moved to Verdun to oppose the expected German attack. Both sides had become entrenched and huge numbers of men had been engaged and lost in battles in Flanders and Northern France. More.. How Did The Battle Of The Somme Affect The Battle Of Verdun In Ww1 ? Since the Germans did not succeed in their aim, it can be said that the French won the Battle of Verdun. However, the Germans nearly took over Verdun and while the French were getting ready to evacuate the east bank of Meuse, the British launched the Somme Offensive. Let us know if you have suggestions to improve this article (requires login). The Germans failed to win quickly, right at the beginning of the war, as outlined by the Schlüffen Plan. Significance. The reason that Falkenhayn selected Verdun was because of its numerous forts that posed a threat to the German lines of communication. Fight through this quiz and prove your intellectual bravery. So, in order to defeat the French, Falkenhayn began looking for a place where the French would be more than willing to commit all the resources. Thus, the war turned into trench warfare, in which neither side achieved any breakthroughs. The Battle of Verdun … Imperial War Museums - What Was The Battle Of Verdun? Since the Germans did not succeed in their aim, it can be said that the French won the Battle of Verdun. How about Napoleon? War was becoming increasingly one of attrition. France are credited with winning the battle although in reality it was a stalemate. The battle of Verdun was the longest and costliest battle in world history, lasting from February 21 to December 18, 1916. Combat engineers then followed, ahead of the main body of the advance. In addition, it was a historic region for the French and the Germans knew that the French would allot the maximum number of soldiers for its defense. The Battle of Verdun was fought during World War I (1914-1918) and lasted from February 21, 1916 until December 18, 1916. In preparation for attack, thousands of artillery guns of all calibers bombard the French bulwarks. The Allies had dug Trenches to prevent further advances, the Germans had dug in having already gained ground. Chevalier of the Legion of Honour. To the west of Metz, in the vicinity of Verdun, German troops are poised to penetrate French fortifications. The main aim of the Germans was to bleed the French white, as put by General Erich von Falkenhayn. The keynote of the tactical plan was a continuous series of limited advances that would draw the French reserves into the mincing machine of the German artillery. Includes 5 activities aimed at students 11-14 years old (KS3) & 5 activities aimed at students 14-16 year old (GCSE). French resistance stiffened over subsequent days, however, and the German advance slowed. It was one of the longest, bloodiest, and most-ferocious battles of the war; French casualties amounted to about 400,000, German ones to about 350,000. The longest and largest battle fought on the Western Front during the conflict, Verdun saw German forces attempt to gain the high ground around the city while drawing the French reserves into a battle of annihilation. Falkenhayn thought that when this happens, the Germans would be able to inflict high casualties. In 1648, the Peace of Munster treaty awarded Verdun to France. In the 1870s, Séré de Rivière devised a programme to build two lines of fortresses from Belfort to Epinal and from Verdun to Toul which were defensive screens and also enclosed towns which, initially, were to be bases for counteratta… At 7:15 am on February 21, the Germans commenced a massive bombardment of a front some 25 miles (40 km) long, from the Bois d’Avocourt to Étain. By this means the objective would be taken and consolidated before the enemy could move up its reserves for counterattack. By the end of 1915, German General Erich von Falkenhayn (arguably the main architect behind the bloodshed at Verdun) asserted that the path to a German victory had to be on the Western Front where he believed French forces could be weakened. The Battle of Verdun, 21 February-15 December 1916, became the longest battle in modern history. After a series of bloody battles on both fronts in 1914-1915. Location of French forts in the area around Verdun, 1916, taken from the, Key sites of the Battle of Verdun, taken from the. If French defenses had not been shattered in a given area, the scouts retired and directed additional shelling. They introduce… By 1916 the Western Front had become quite static. In the initial 4 days, the Germans met with hardly any resistance and they were able to occupy Fort Douaumont with ease. In a letter to German Emperor William II in late 1915, he argued that Britain was the most formidable of the Allied powers, but he conceded that it could not be assaulted directly, save by submarine warfare, as the British sector of the Western Front did not lend itself to offensive operations (an assessment that would be proved correct at the First Battle of the Somme). By the time the Battle of Verdun drew to a close in December of 1916, it had been going on for nearly a year French fliers reclaimed command of the air over the battlefield, and Pétain deployed hundreds of artillery pieces to Verdun, linking many of the new batteries by telephone. Please refer to the appropriate style manual or other sources if you have any questions. Due to the city’s strategic location on Meuse River, it played a crucial role in the defense of its surroundings. As the winter of 1915/16 drew in it had become clear that the war on the Western Front was very different to ones encountered before. In which battle were Antony and Cleopatra decisively defeated? However, that would be taking an extremely simplistic view on the battle. The main aim of the Germans was to bleed the French white, as put by General Erich von Falkenhayn. It was one of the longest, bloodiest, and most-ferocious battles of the war; French casualties amounted to about 400,000, German ones to … In three days the Germans had overrun the first line of French defenses, and both sides hastily reinforced their positions. The Battle of Verdun was fought because The German Empire believed the French Third Republic would use the strategic reserves and that they would be able to inflict huge losses on the French. The battle of Verdun was seen as a failure of Falkenhayn’s objective grueling situations in the trenches and the lack of confidence that Falkenhayn has to begin with. German troops made significant gains by the end of the first day, occupying the Bois d’Haumont and penetrating the French lines. The Battle of Verdun—also known as the "Mincing Machine of Verdun" or Meuse Mill—became a symbol of French determination to hold the ground and then roll back the enemy at any human cost.However, it is quite clear that the French High Command had been caught unprepared by the assault in February 1916. Trench warfare had begun. However, that would be taking an extremely simplistic view on the battle. General Erich von Falkenhayn, the commander in chief of Germany, believed that the most important enemy of Germany was England. By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. Some 300,000 were killed. He assumed that he would win against the French and when this happened, the British would be left fighting on their own, and they would be able to hold out for too long. 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