Germany Aims For Verdun – Russia Goes South I THE GREAT WAR Week 80

Germany Aims For Verdun – Russia Goes South I THE GREAT WAR Week 80


Russia lost territory in 1915. Miles of territory-
thousands of miles of territory to the Austro-German colossus. Russia now needed someone to beat
and if it couldn’t happen in the north, then Russia would turn her attention far to
the south. I’m Indy Neidell; welcome to the Great War. Last week the invasion of Montenegro by Austro-Hungarian
forces was complete, and they then attacked Albania, while the Allies were working hard
to evacuate the remainder of the Serbian army from Albania to Corfu. The Western, Eastern,
and Italian fronts were quiet, but at home in Germany anti-American sentiment was growing,
and in Greece the Allies were building up their forces in violation of Greek neutrality. The Western Front may have been fairly quiet
on the lines, but behind the lines there was a lot going on. German Army Chief of Staff Erich von Falkenhayn
was setting up for his plan to bleed the French army to death at Verdun. He was going to attack
Verdun in the belief that its national symbolism was so great the French would have no choice
but to defend it to the end. The attack was scheduled for February 12th. The German Fifth Army had built ten new railway
lines and a couple dozen railway stations. Trainloads of steamrollers and road building
equipment were on the move. Whole villages behind the lines were evacuated to make room
for the hundreds of thousands of men arriving for the attack. Just one Corps was outfitted
with over a million sandbags and over half a million pounds of barbed wire, but it was,
of course, the artillery that was the real focus here. Big guns were brought in from
as far away as Russia and the Balkans- over 1,200 of them, to attack on a front barely
8 miles long. These included 13 Big Berthas; with a caliber 17 inches they fired shells
that weighed over a ton and when they were fired, the concussion broke windows for several
kilometers around. These were the guns that had shattered the impregnable fortress of
Liege in 1914. Two 15 inch long distance naval guns were also brought in, as well as 17 Austrian
305 mm mortars, and loads of the quick-firing 210s, which would become- to the French- the
most familiar gun at Verdun. 150s, 130s, mine throwers; they all came by the hundreds. And
one other weapon that would make its large-scale debut at Verdun: the flamethrower. By February 1st, all of the guns were in place.
Now, all of this is a lot to conceal from the enemy, but the Germans were helped by
the wooded and broken countryside. Also, they set the artist Franz Marc to work painting
camouflage canvas and nets and where there were no trees, these were draped over the
roads and ground. There were other big changes from the battles
of 1915. For one, there were underground concrete galleries called Stollen. See, surprise had
been lost earlier by cramming assault troops into the front trenches. The enemy can see
when you’re going to attack and the counter attacks always did huge damage. Now, the men
were to wait in shellproof Stollen, hundreds and hundreds of them in each one. And overhead,
168 airplanes would provide a dawn to dusk aerial barrage that would prevent the French
from sending any aircraft to spy on the German positions. This would be the first aerial
umbrella the world had seen. But the war in the skies was heating up the
whole time. Back on January 23rd two French air squadrons,
24 planes, bombed the railway station and barracks at Metz. These bombers were escorted
by two more squadrons and the escorts engaged in ten combats with German Fokkers, but only
one French plane was damaged enough to be forced down. On the 29th there was a zeppelin
raid on Paris, on the 31st, 6 zeppelins raid East Anglia and the Midlands killed 70 and
injured 113, and on February 1st, the first merchant ship ever sunk by aerial bombardment,
the British cargo ship Franz Fischer, went down. And speaking of new forms of attack,
on January 29th, the first British tank began its testing. I want to look now at a front we haven’t
seen much of for quite a while, the Caucasus front. The winter had so far prevented any real activity
there, except behind the lines, but no longer. This front now became for Russia one of major
importance. For one, attacks there promised the best return for the smallest expenditure
of time, men, and money. Against both Germany and Austria-Hungary Russia had suffered severe
setbacks, and the Ottomans seemed to be, comparatively, an easy opponent, even through the roadless-
and railless Trans-Caucasian mountain passes. Of course, that’s what the British had thought
in 1915 at Gallipoli and in Mesopotamia. But the German and Austrian drives had come
to a stop and they seemed to be content for the time being just holding the front from
Riga to Romania, and this breather allowed Russia to really turn her attention toward
the Ottomans, and under the Grand Duke Nikolai, all was now ready for an advance upon Erzurum.
This was actually a really good time for such an offensive because all Ottoman forces available
were being sent to Baghdad and then thrown into the siege of Kut, where General Charles
Townshend’s British Indian army awaited relief. Taking Kut would be a major victory
for the Ottoman Empire. Also, the war in the Balkans had brought the
Allies to Salonika in ever growing numbers and the Turks had an army of over 200,000
men at or to the north of Constantinople to prevent an offensive there so who could be
diverted to the Caucasus front? Good question. In command of the Russian forces under Nikolai
was General Nikolai Yudenich, who had- I’m not kidding- spent years studying the specific
problems of an offensive in the Kars-Erzurum region, and he would advance upon Erzurum
from three points. A pincer movement combined with a frontal assault. But Erzurum was one
of the strongest points in the whole Ottoman Empire with two rings of defenses and hundreds
of big guns. The Turkish plan for the defense was this: the Third Army Corps was moved out
of Erzurum and took a position between it and the Russians, the 9th and 10th Corps moved
out toward Olty to make an offensive ring, and the 11th Corps was to hold the Russians
on the Kars-Erzurum road. If they weren’t able to do that, they would fall back as slowly
as they could toward the fortress and draw the Russian forces in, after which the 9th
and 10th Corps would hit their flank. Things were slowly building to a head, and the Russians
advanced nearer and nearer. But what of Russia at home? What was going
on there after there was much turmoil and strike throughout the last months? Well, on February 1st, though the exact date
is disputed in different sources, Ivan Goremykin resigned as Prime Minister and Boris Stürmer
was appointed. Stürmer was a favorite of Rasputin, who in turn was a favorite of the
Tsarina. The Tsar tasked Stürmer specifically to improve relations between the government
and the Romanovs, which did not happen. The divide grew greater and greater. Stürmer,
and his Germanic name didn’t help things, was suspected of being pro-German and was
deeply unpopular. which caused many to see him as a dictator and his short time at the
helm was marked by inflation, food shortages, and an increase in Rasputin’s authority.
War Minister Alexei Polivanov would later call Stürmer’s appointment the beginning
of the end. And another week draws to a close, a week
of foreboding. The Germans are gearing up for a gigantic offensive, the Russians on
the move against the Ottomans, and the war in the skies growing and growing, while the
Russian government becomes ever more turbulent. There was a story going around the western
front all winter that above a German parapet somebody had put up a plank that said, “The
English are fools.” British rifle fire destroyed the plank. Soon, another plank appeared that
said, “The French are fools.” British rifle fire destroyed the plank. A third plank
soon went up, “We’re all fools. Let’s all go home.” And though it was also shot
to pieces, it caused a great deal of laughter. Correspondent Philip Gibbs wrote that men
were saying, “There’s a good deal of truth in those words. Why should this go on?…
The fighting men have no real quarrel with each other.” And that the men were caught
in a devil’s trap, and Gibbs describes the trap like this, “Loyalty to our own side,
discipline, with the death penalty behind it… obedience to the laws of war… all
the moral and spiritual propaganda handed out by pastors, newspapers, generals, staff
officers, old men at home, exalted women… a deep and simple love for England, and Germany,
pride of manhood, fear of cowardice – a thousand complexities of thought and sentiment
prevented men, on both sides, from breaking the net of fate in which they were entangled,
and revolting against that mutual unceasing massacre, by a rising from the trenches with
a shout of, “We’re all fools! Let’s all go home!” But they weren’t fools, they were just ordinary
men. Millions of them being led by fools, perhaps, others perhaps not, but all of them
hopelessly stuck into obedience of the laws of war. If you want to find out more about the Caucasian
front and how Enver Pasha lost a whole army there last year, check out our episode right
here. Our Patreon supporter of the week is Ryan
Anderson. Thanks to Ryans support we improved our show tremendously. With your support we
could make it even better. For more details visit our Patreon page. Don’t forget to subscribe. See you next
time.

Eugene Islam

100 thoughts on “Germany Aims For Verdun – Russia Goes South I THE GREAT WAR Week 80

  1. Excellent series. Have you read either of the autobiographical novels by Englishman Ian Hay. "First Hundred Thousand (K-1)" and "All In It (K-1) Carries On". Both are on Project Gutenberg.org. He explains trench warfare in all of it's gruesome detail.

  2. For all those wondering what Indy & Die Jungen will do for "after 11-11-2018…" I suggest you look at the book, "The Kings Depart" by Richard Watt. The turmoil and tumult in Germany and elsewhere is spectacular. Great events on a personal level. And, with all these four years of death and destruction, you will understand the intricacies of the final Treaty of Versailles, and what pushed it to what it became.
    That's about a year's worth of episodes!

  3. I thought it was will 1918 Late ( Oct-Nov) that happened that Merchart Ship was sunk by air Stike. Like Last bit, Keep up good work

  4. European generals were insane, they constantly made the same mistakes over and over and truly expected different results. What is it with elitists, they always think they can do it better than the last person?

  5. http://www.amazon.com/Verdun-History-Important-Battle-World/dp/0451414632/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1454674766&sr=8-3&keywords=Verdun An excellent book on the Verdun campaign

  6. Ah, the deception.
    "Whats that tracked vehicle?"
    "What, that? It's a mobile water tank."
    And so the name "tank" stuck.

  7. So much death and destruction yet the world learns nothing. Now everyone is anxiously and nervously awaiting WW3. Tsk, tsk, tsk

  8. Question for Out of the Trenches: how come someone as incompetent as Conrad von Hötzendorf (have I spelt that right) was not remove d from his post as soon as his incompetence started to show itself in 1914?

  9. I suggest for the animator to look up some Hearts of iron 3 gameplay
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MaRbKLP7Zgo
    When describing troop movements and plans, this approach would be beautiful(Watch the video)

  10. Hey Indy. I first heard about Battle of Verdun while watching the Adventures of Young Indiana Jones. Most of that series revolves around Indy's (Jones not Nidel) experience of the war while serving as a foreign volunteer in the Belgian army. I was wondering have you ever seen this series and how accurately do you think it portrays the war?

  11. 100 years later and it looks like Turkey and Russia will be at war again…interesting.

  12. Russia is locked in an offensive in the same general area today and for the last two months, just a little farther south 100 years later.

  13. Why do you always call Istanbul Constantinople. Because Met Met was the one to take Constantinople and change the name to Istanbul before the Crusades.

  14. Off course they were fools. Great War was the first event in which the power and resources of the planet got reallocated. Millions died for it and the powerful realized how easy it is to manipulate human race.

    Second world war was the next event. More fools, following other fools, died, so the bankers can shift around world resources, yet again.

    Third event is upon us, is it up to us really if we prove to be just as foolish as our grandfathers and great grandfathers.

  15. it's strange to be listening about a war from 100 years ago, yet it seems the next war seems like it is just around the corner.

    War never changes, we just find new toys to kill people with.

  16. The Germans and Austo-Hungarians have basically achieved their strategic objective of taking Serbia (plus a few other Balkan states), they're hundreds of kilometers deep into Russia, and they've shown that allied attacks on the western and Italian fronts are fruitless. They're arguably in a position of power; was there any talk of sending peace feelers at this point?

  17. The Pasha's discuss the Caucasus'_ "Who can We send to the Caucasus' to defend against the Russians"? "Oh the Armenian's are- ohh wait, We killed them all didn't We?"
    "Oh oh…"

  18. Who were the 8 people that disliked this?

    "This channel is heretical! WW1 never happened, it's a martian conspiracy."
    "I hate europe and revile all european history! Cis white males still rule through the patriarchy!"
    "I prefer history channel. It never lied 'bout nothing."
    "I'm a nationalist living under a rock who doesn't like seeing reality. My country should have won the war, even though the whole thing was basically a result of intense nationalist friction, but I'll ignore that at my own convenience."
     Etc.

  19. love how u call it constantinople and not istanbul. Hate it when turks complain about that. It was called Constantinople for nearly 2 millenia before the turks lived there.

  20. WATCH & SUBSCRIBE to Indy's WatchSundayBaseball channel if you are a fan of baseball or a fan of the host of The Great War. It's very entertaining and every sub saves a puppy from euthanasia!!!I do not know nor am I affiliated in any way with Indy Neidell, The Great War channel, or WatchSundayBaseball channel. I am just a subscriber of both who want to see WSB get the attention it deserves!!!

  21. You speak of 'bleeding the French to death'. I have read opinions that Verdun was an attempt to break through the front and try to reach Paris. And that the 'bleeding to death' was only later added, once it was clear the attempt was failing?

  22. Indie, the purpose behind the planned battle of Verdun is subject to debate. After the was, Falkenhayn wrote that he wanted to bleed the French army but no one of his relatives confirmed the fact that he actually said that as a battle goal. I am reading a book wrote by Antoine Prost and Gerd Krumeich and they state that Vedun did not have the legendary status that we give it nowadays. So why would the French bleed themselves for Verdun ?

    In fact, Verdun was a solid stronghold at the nearest of the front line, from which the French armies could run quick skirmishes that would be deadly to the German 5th army. Mr. Prost and Mr. Krumeich write it is actually more likely that Knobelsdorf – the staff chief of the 5th army – got the idea to attack Verdun. Knobelsdorf wanted to take Verdun quickly, attacking both sides of the Meuse, but Falkenhayn didn't want to send too many troupes from the Heeresreserve so he limited the assault to the right side of the Meuse. As the reserve was insufficient to take Verdun started the well known bloodbath of the battle of Verdun.

  23. You should do a video about the artilery of WW1 . Because I am getting the impresion that ww1 artilery is much more bigger and stronger then ww2 .
    And also do a special on Rasputin ! But more on his role in ww1 and how much he influenced the decisions of the russian army !

  24. Wars are caused by leaders, egotistical leaders. The artificial creation of nation states and political power is the predicate for eventual wars of slaughter. When people vote for leaders they condemn themselves and millions to be destroyed physically and economically. Better to clip the wings of politicians. Sadly there will always be filthy thugs like Kadafi/Gaddafi or Hussein or Stalin or Lenin or Mao or Hitler or Mussolini or FDR or Wilson or Lincoln.

  25. Hi Indy

    The Franz Fischer was sunk by a german submarine UB17 not an aircraft or Zeppelin see uboat.net

    Yukikaze

  26. Indy, your last comment was something my grandfather said of the war. He was 20, by this time of the war, and a Sargent by this time. Getting shot pulled him out, for a time. To heal and go back.

  27. Extraordinary coverage, guys. These videos are addicting and informative. I can't help but feel so energized when I hear these stories. They are impressive and exciting.

  28. I really like the quote at the End. It points out very well that the fighting soldiers were not differnet from each other. It seemd like that they know, deep down in their hearts, that the normal Dude on the other side is not the enemy.

  29. Smart guy 1: "Ah, the German planes are not allowing us to photograph this one area of the battlefield."

    Blind guy 2: "Don't worry about it. The Germans would never launch an attack from that area since our photos are empty."

  30. maybe this could be for the chair of wisdom, but I may not see it for awhile as I am catching ….up a question…..with all the death and misery, flooded trenches in the west…marching, starving over frozen passes in the east..unforgiving, hostile terrain in the southern mountains…mud, famine, and decay , even the troops in Galatia with not much fighting were mired with malaria and dysentery….was there any front or station that wasn't so bad? that when vets talked after the war they said" you were sent there? you had it easy"…..? like you said before , balloon observers probably had it pretty good…as did pilots I assume(when they weren't flying) I suppose the navies fared OK in that they had food and shelter pretty regularly…..which ground campaign would YOU prefer to be stuck at, Indy?

  31. I'm not finding much info on the S.S. Franz Fischer. There are accounts that it was sunk by torpedo, and accounts it was sunk by an airship. And then there's that picture (painting I'm guessing) showing a biplane flying over it with what appears to be an explosion in the water. Which is it? :/ And if there's an accurate source online, we need it on top of the Google search results for Franz Fischer!

  32. yes men were lead by fools to kill each other .. instead of solving problems of education , industrial increased , employment fools lead men to die ..

  33. While I have studied military History my whole life and I do not joke at all about that, ( my first teacher was a woman who related stories from war time while students in Australia at that time still studied under the gaze of portraits of the Queen ) I never had had it all laid out in chronological order like this before and it is helping give insights I never saw before. Thanks for all the hard work.

  34. Was the Russian offensive against the Ottomans a deliberate attempt to draw forces away from the siege at Kut? Payback for France and Britain's efforts to relieve the pressure on the Russians during 1915? It doesn't seem to make much sense otherwise. Sure, the Russians had had a bit more success against the Ottomans, but the Germans and Austro-Hungarians were occupying a huge swathe of Russian territory! Why wouldn't they concentrate all their efforts there?

  35. "Time to break out the big guns!"
    "Which are?"
    "Literally, big guns."
    No kill like overkill i suppose. I would just give my soldiers cannons that wouldn't turn their insides to soup

  36. Im glad the Zeplin raid on the Midlands was mentioned. I had an entire class on it a few years ago, and I think a couple of houses on my street were destroyed. Apperently the wasn't an article about it in the Nottingham post until 1921 (or 1920 or 1922 I forget) because of censorship.

  37. The last bit reminded me of a phrase "War isn't good, but good men go to war". Sometimes I think about what kind of twisted and horrible society we live in. Where people just die for somebodies ambitions and business interests under cover of "duty".

  38. Philip Gibbs sounds like an international Marxist who mocks war in hope that men will vote themselves a communist government. Which will end all war.. Ha. Now that's funny… and foolish.

  39. I would like to see an officer give me a rifle and then order me to charge a machine gun. Oh, the chances of a misfire… The chances of several misfires to his face… I might be a fool, but I am not going down alone…

  40. Damn. You gave me chills. This is fantastic work you are doing here. I sincerely hope the ADpocalypse didn't savage your income because YouTube needs channels like this to maintain their legitimacy.

  41. Here's my favorite dis-citation: „Stell dir vor, es geht und keiner kriegt's hin“ („Sometime it'll be possible and nobody achieves it“) – a german play on words on the famous line from Carl Sandburg:
    „Stell dir vor, es ist Krieg und keiner geht hin!“ (orig: „Sometime they'll give a war and nobody will come“)

  42. 2:05 Those Austrian guns were built by a company called Skoda, which today is a car manufacturer. Just an interesting side note.

  43. In a just world those men would have agreed and ended the madness. The world of men however is far from just. After all these episodes I didn’t think I’d be phased by anything anymore but this just pisses me off. I wish they would’ve just shaken hands, maybe get fucken drunk…

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