In Final Stages of Preparation; Germans Seek Knockout Blow Against French Bastion.
French, British Eye Offensive at the Somme
Special to The Great War Project.
(7-10 February) Planning on both sides intensifies, as the Germans and the Allies each hope to mount massive offensives that can break the war’s devastating stalemate..
Writes historian Martin Gilbert, “Two plans, one German, one Anglo-French both aimed at securing victory on the Western Front, were being devised in mid-February.”
But the two plans are quite different.
“The Germans,” reports Gilbert, “were in the final stages of planning what they believed would be a successful war of attrition, centered upon a massive, sustained attack on the northern French fortress of Verdun.”
For the German command, Verdun offered the possibility of a gambit “to bring a quick and favorable end to the war,”...
…writes historian Alexander Watson.
“The place was well chosen,” Watson notes. The fortress at Verdun holds historical significance for the French, having been constructed during the French Revolution in the 1790’s. “It had been a bastion guaranteeing France against invasion.”
Verdun has already seen battle in this war. “Throughout 1915,” writes Gilbert, “the German frontline trenches had been only ten miles from the center of the town.”
“Now it was to be the German Army’s main objective for 1916.”