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- 02 -262016

The “hyperbataille” of Verdun, second episode : german objectives at Verdun

In September 1915, French operations conductedVerdun épisode 1-1 : La Borne, Forain Jean-Louis (1852 – 1931) / Photo © Paris – Musée de l’Armée, Dist. RMN – Grand Palais / Christian Moutarde during the Third Battle of Artois and the Second Battle of Champagne proved to be costly defeats as the opponent fully demonstrated its military superiority. However, in Germany economic conditions started deteriorating on the home front largely because of the British naval blockade that caused many of the shortages in late 1915.

Verdun épisode 1-2 : Le Rire. A Verdun. Le manchot, journal humoristique, n° 75, 22 avril 1916, Barrère Adrien (1877 – 1931) / Photo © BnF, Dist. RMN – Grand Palais / image BnFAs no decisive advantages were made during the German offensives of the Eastern Front, German High Command adopted a war offensive policy on the Western Front as to be able to negotiate an armistice from a position of strength. The choice of the place of battle was quite appropriate. The poorly defended sector of Verdun formed a salient within French front lines isolated on three sides and cut in half by the Meuse, its railway communications to the rear greatly restricted. It defensive system was considerably weakened since its surrounding forts had been in the most part stripped of their batteries and re-supply almost impossible. As Chief of the Imperial German General Staff, Erich von FalkenhaynVerdun épisode 1-3 : Le prince héritier allemand, commandant les troupes du secteur de Verdun / Agence Rol  © BnF believed that the superiority of German artillery would easily crush French front lines. He did not favour a massive breakthrough as he lacked divisions on the ground, neither did he pursue a battle of attrition unlike what he claimed in his post-war Memoirs.
The Poilus’ heroic defence and their unshakable determination to “save” Verdun at all costs turned the Battle of Verdun into a ten-month battle of attrition without any tangible military results instead of a major defeat leading to a tangible separate armistice.

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