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100 Years On – Verdun

On the morning of February 21, 1916, German forces attacked the French fortress at Verdun.  The German plan seems to be to have been to maximize French casualties by occupying territory their enemy would have to retake.  While German soldiers sat behind fortifications, the French would impale themselves on the German lines and artillery.  General Falkenhayn, the German high commander, planned to make the French forces “bleed to death.”  He was very nearly successful.

From February to December, two and a half million men in 130 divisions tore at each other over forts, hills, and ridges around Verdun.  Up to one million of them were either killed, captured, or wounded.

In the end, Verdun petered out and was over in December, 1916, with little change to the front lines.  However, the massive casualties and futility of the effort contributed to demoralization on the French side, which would have grave consequences later.  For the Germans, the loss of men and supplies would never be made up.

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