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Battle of Verdun

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Battle of Verdun, World War I

The longest and bloodiest war during

It went down in history as one of the battles. This period of heavy conflict, which started in February 1916 and lasted until December, occurred between the French and German armies.

The Beginning of the Battle and Strategies:

The Battle of Verdun began with German Chief of General Staff Erich von Falkenhayn implementing a strategy that would exhaust the French. Falkenhayn predicted that with the German attack, the French would be forced to defend their forces at Verdun and thus the French army would suffer heavy losses. Since Verdun was an important symbol of French national pride, the Germans believed this would be a psychological blow. Additionally, the series of strong fortresses around Verdun formed the center of the French defence.

Course of the War:

The German army supported the great attack, which it started with artillery fire on Verdun on February 21, 1916, with a large number of heavy artillery. At first German forces made rapid progress and the French defenses were forced to retreat. However, under the leadership of French General Philippe Pétain, the French put up a stubborn defense and slowed the German advance. Pétain managed to raise French morale with the slogan “They will not pass.”

The battle quickly turned into a war of exhaustion; both sides suffered heavy losses and the front remained almost unchanged. When the Germans could advance no further, the quick victory they had hoped for at the beginning of the war was replaced by a protracted and exhausting conflict.

Loss of Human and Resources:

The Battle of Verdun turned into a massacre in which hundreds of thousands of soldiers lost their lives and many more were injured. Although exact numbers are not known, it is estimated that more than 700,000 soldiers in total were killed or wounded on both sides. The conflict also had deep effects on the mental health of soldiers, and many soldiers struggled with psychological trauma called "shell shock".

End of the Battle and Its Effects:

When the Battle of Verdun ended in December, not much had changed; The front line was almost where the war began. Verdun became a symbol reflecting not only the military but also the political and psychological dimensions of the war. The determination of the French defense and the heroism displayed at Verdun have been praised as a national epic.

The Battle of Verdun was a turning point that revealed the destructiveness of modern warfare and the brutality of industrial warfare. In addition, it was important in creating a great national consciousness in France, which carries the memories of the heavy losses they suffered to this day.

Writer: Hüseyin Emre Eken

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