9/2/1917 Western Front: the Germans begin a withdrawal to the Hindenburg Line

Under the command of Hindenburg and Ludendorff, the Germans are now pursuing a defensive strategy on the Western Front. They will not be initiating another attritional bloodbath like that Falkenhayn ordered at Verdun.

The Germans expect that the Allies will launch more offensives of their own on the Western Front. To better meet these they have begun the construction of a new, shorter defensive line. Now they begin to withdraw from exposed salients to the new defensive position, known to the Allies as the Hindenburg Line but to the Germans as the Siegfried Line, after the hero of Wagner’s opera.

As the Germans withdraw, they leave behind devastation. Impressed by the Russian scorched earth policies in their Great Retreat of 1915, the Germans destroy anything of value in the territory they are surrendering. Booby traps are left behind for the advancing Allies. Many of the civilians living in the abandoned zone are forcibly evacuated to be used as labour elsewhere in German occupied territory.

image source:

German withdrawal from the Bapaume and Noyon Salients (Wikipedia)

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