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The Battle of Verdun Madison Cooley, Audrey Huang, and Kathy Lin

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Page 1: The Battle of Verdun

The Battle of VerdunMadison Cooley, Audrey Huang,

and Kathy Lin

Page 2: The Battle of Verdun

(Doran) ThesisAs an effort to take down Britain, whom the Germans viewed as their biggest rival, Germany attacked their ally, France. The Germans launched an attack on the area where French valued the most, Verdun, France’s symbol of national prestige. Classified as the longest and most devastating battle in WWI, the Battle of Verdun disturbed the national French psyche, exemplifying society’s change of opinion towards war and the horror of trench warfare. Furthermore, extreme German pressures towards France impelled the British to take action on the Somme, resulting in another lengthy, costly war.

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Overview• One of the costliest wars of WWI• Exemplified “war of attrition”• German siege of Verdun and its ring

of forts• Longest war in WWI• Lasted from February 21, 1916 to

December 19, 1916• Over 700,000 casualties• Battlefield was not even ten km2

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German General Erich Von Falkenhayn thought that England was Germany's most important enemy

Von Falkenhayn believed that France’s defeat would inevitably lead to England’s collapse

The Setup: Location Planning

Properly mustachioed

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Verdun was an important fortified stronghold at the E. border of France, b/c:1. Part of the line of defense2. Northern gate to Paris (Schlieffen Plan)

Verdun was part of the French psyche & had historic sentiment; thus, The French “would be compelled to throw in every man they have”

The Plan: Take Down France

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French knew Germans were

coming, but didn't know they would choose Verdun, so

French were unprepared once the battle started.

The Plan: Take Down France

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Feb. 21, 1916: Start with heavy German bombardment on the French

Feb. 25: Germans take Fort Douaumont French reinforcements, led by General Henri

Pétain, counterattacked and slowed German advance

March & April: Hills and ridges W. of the Meuse R. & N. of Verdun were bombarded, attacked, counterattacked, taken, & retaken (overall not much progress)


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June: Germans try to assault heights along Meuse but couldn’t maintain an advantage

July: (Britain launches attack on the Somme Battle of the Somme) Germans realize that their plan resulted in terrible losses with little gain

Oct.-Dec.: French took offensive & regained forts/territories lost


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*Note: Technically the French won, but since they suffered such as tremendous loss, the

victory did not feel like a true triumph.

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Intense German pressure on the French made British action on the Somme increasingly urgent Battle of the Somme

The horror of the fighting had a traumatic psychological effect on France's national psyche

Longest & most devastating battles in WWI


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“...I have returned from the most terrible ordeal I have ever witnessed...Four days and four ice-cold mud...kept

under relentless fire, without any protection whatsoever except for the

narrow trench, which even seemed to be too wide...I arrived with 175 men, I

returned with 34 of whom several had half turned insane....”

Witness Account~French captain

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"...the soldiers fell over like tin soldiers. Almost all our officers get hurt or killed and many of our men

get killed because of their own artillery fire which is too close and therefore causes many victims..."

Witness Account~German soldier

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 "Battle of Verdun." Encyclopedia Britannica. N.p., 19

June 2013. Web. 14 Mar. 2014.

 "Battle of Verdun Ends." History Channel. A&E

Television Networks, n.d. Web. 14 Mar. 2014.

Palmer, Peter J. "The Battle of Verdun, 1916." The

Western Front Association. Hendersonline, 17

Mar. 2010. Web. 14 Mar. 2014.

Works Cited