The Battle of Verdun and German Offensive Tactics in 1916

One thing I’m still struggling with is that attrition was not in the German repertoire, ever. Straight thrust to encirclement was always the German preference–except at Verdun.


This is the third of three posts covering German planning for Operation Gericht, their offensive at Verdun. This month marks the 100th anniversary of the beginning of this battle, which would last, including French counter-offensives, until the end of 1916. Although it is not as well remembered in Britain today, the ‘hell of Verdun’ left an enduring mark on not only on the millions of Frenchmen and Germans who fought there, but also on their societies. Indeed, for France and Germany today, the battle of Verdun is as synonymous with the First World War, as the battle of the Somme is for Britain. This series explores the German strategic, operational, and tactical planning for the battle.


Prior to the Verdun offensive in February 1916, the German army had not launched a major offensive on the Western Front since November 1914. It could, however, draw upon…

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