For the Germans, the Verdun fortress had been an obstacle in their march on the West for centuries. After the defeat of France in their war with Prussia in 1871, the city became a border fortress. In the summer of 1914, when the Battle of the Marne took place, Verdun resisted every German attack preventing its enemies from entering the heart of France from the east. The attack on Verdun forced the French army command to throw all human resources available into the defense of the city. Was the German Verdun offensive decisive to the course of the entire WWI? Find out and view our Verdun infographic.
Verdun is one of the bloodiest and longest battles of the Great War. It began on February 21 with a 9-hour German artillery fire and lasted until December 18, 1916. The possible conquest of the Fortified Region of Verdun opened the way for the Germans to Paris and secured Metz and Lorraine against a possible attack by the French army strengthened by the English expeditionary corps. The head of the German General Staff, Gen. Erich von Flankenhayn in the “Christmas Memorial” of 1915 presented a plan to conquer the Verdun fortress. The task was entrusted to the Fifth Army under the command of the heir to the throne, Prince Wilhelm Hohenzollern. The Commander-in-Chief of the French Army, General Joseph Joffre, disregarded the possibility of an attack in this section indicated by the intelligence service. The battle with variable fortune was fought in 6 phases and eventually ended with the Francois getting closer to their position before it broke out.