29/2/1916 Verdun: what is to be done?

At Verdun German assaults continue but no real progress is being made. Near Fort Douaumont, now in German hands, the assault troops try to drive the French from the village of Douaumont itself. But stubborn resistance keeps the shattered village in French hands. Both sides suffer terrible casualties in the fighting.

Now Falkenhayn, the supreme commander, meets with Crown Prince Wilhelm, the local commander, and Knobelsdorf, the Crown Prince’s chief of staff. The Crown Prince resents Falkenhayn’s decision to hold back the reserves on the 25th and to leave the west bank of the Meuse unmolested at the start of the battle; he feels that these decisions have thrown away the chance of an early victory. But he agrees that the battle should continue, provided that Falkenhayn supplies more men and launches an assault on the west bank to relieve pressure on the east.

Falkenhayn agrees. Preparations begin for a renewed stage of the offensive to begin on the 6th of March. New troops will be committed to the battle and the French will be attacked on the west bank and also on the extremity of their eastern flank, where Fort Vaux will be the initial target.

At Verdun Falkenhayn had planned to draw in French troops who could be killed by German guns, inflicting so many casualties that France would be forced to drop out of the war. Now he is feeding in more of his own men to the mincing machine. Perhaps Germany too will be bled white by the battle.

image sources:

Crown Prince Wilhelm of Prussia (The Mad Monarchist)

Erich von Falkenhayn (Wikipedia)

The harvest (Les Français à Verdun)

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