The term "Battle of Verdun" has become synonymous with senseless slaughter. This book offers a new perspective on one of the twentieth century's bloodiest battles by examining the development of German military ideas from the end of the Franco-German War in 1871 to the First World War. Its use of recently released German sources held in the Soviet Union since the Second World War sheds new light on German ideas about attrition before and during the First World War.
About the Author
Robert T. Foley is a Lecturer in the Defence Studies Department, King's College London at the Joint Services Command and Staff College. He is the editor and translator of Alfred von Schlieffen's Military Writings, 2002.
Table of Contents
List of illustrations; Acknowledgements; Table of ranks; Maps; Introduction; 1. The Volkskreig in German military thought; 2. The (re)birth of Ermattungsstrategie; 3. The short-war belief; 4. The rise of Stellungskrieg; 5. Competing strategic visions; 6. Attack in the east; 7. Defence in the west; 8. Verdun: the plan; 9. Verdun: the execution; 10. Verdun: the failure; Conclusion; Bibliography; Index.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The title says it all, as the author examines how German military thinkers prior to the Great War tried to intellectually cope with the realization that the strategy of decisive victory that created the Second Reich was unlikely to be viable in the future, and how Erich von Falkenhayn attempted to create an attrition-based strategy that would allow for a negotiated settlement. The essentially problem remained that Germany was poorly placed to win a total war when the weight of resources was against them, despite Falkenhayn's efforts to break the morale of the Entente powers. Instead, it was Falkenhayn's own morale that was broken, meaning that the command duo of Hindenburg and Ludendorff were empowered to try and achieve victory in the old style, with disastrous results for Berlin.These general trends are not exactly news, but what informs this book is access to archival material once thought permanently lost, so one now has a better sense of the process by which policy was generated.Also, one has a better sense of the situation in which Falkenhayn operated, in which he tried to drag a German officer corps towards new truths, only to be undercut by both his distinct lack of respect for his foreign opposition and his poor skills of persuasion.If I mark down this book for anything it's that the author really can't connect the pre-war strategic debate to the choices that Falkenhayn made, but that is probably the unfortunate result of Falkenhayn's over-secretive nature; he would be the last man to admit the influence of another on his thinking.