The Death of Max Immelmann – Haig’s Final Offensive I THE GREAT WAR – Week 100


You may or may not know this, but the great
pilots, the flying aces, were the rock stars of World War One, celebrated far and wide
as heroes of their nations, and in 1916 there was perhaps none greater than Max Immelmann.
Until this week 100 years ago when Max Immelmann died. I’m Indy Neidell; welcome to the Great War. Last week the Germans began and then suspended
an offensive at Verdun. They managed to reinforce the Austrians against the Russians, to hopefully
stop the huge Russian advances. The Austrian Offensive in Italy came to an end and in the
Middle East; Jeddah fell to the Arab Revolt. Last week was also episode 99 of our regular
episodes so this one is number 100. That sounds like a big number, but if you want really
big numbers, let’s take a look at the Eastern Front. Russia’s Brusilov Offensive, named after
its mastermind, General Alexei Brusilov, really looked for the moment like the breakthrough
that everyone on both sides had been looking for for two years. In the north part of the
Galician Front Alexei Kaledin’s 8th Army could now drive to either Lemberg or Brest-Litovsk.
The 7th and 9th Armies had broken the Austrians in the south and were moving through Bukovina
threatening to invade Hungary. If Russian Generals Evert and Kuropatkin on the far Northern
front could tie down the Germans and prevent them from sending reinforcements, the Central
Powers might be shattered. And another if: If Russia could convince Romania to join the
war, bringing in reinforcements for the southern Russian forces, that could well be it for
Austria-Hungary in any case. Austrian Army Chief of Staff Conrad von Hotzendorf even
said “If Romania comes in now… that is the end of the war, and to our disadvantage
no less.” Make no mistake, at this point 100 years ago the entire war pretty much hung
in balance. On the 17th near Czernowitz, the Russians
crossed the Pruth River, with only a single Russian soldier wounded in the crossing. The
Austrians fell back behind the Sereth River further south, but the Russian forces were
merciless, and by the end of the week, they had occupied nearly all of Bukovina. But still
Evert and Kuropatkin failed to attack the Germans, with their million man army and two
thirds of the Russian artillery. Germany had suspended an offensive at Verdun
to send troops to reinforce the Austrians, and this week that offensive was resumed. On the evening of June 22nd it happened beginning
with an artillery bombardment with phosgene gas shells called Green Cross. This was a
new type of gas; the deadliest used so far. Men and horses were killed by the terror.
It killed everything – leaves withered on trees, snails died. The flies disappeared
from the battlefield. It was a rain of death for hours and when it was over, the Germans
attacked, 30,000 strong. An entire French division near Fleury – 5,000 men – was wiped
out. Fort Thiaumont, just over 2km north of Verdun, was captured. Fleury fell, but the
Germans were stopped before they could take Fort Souville, the second to last fort before
Verdun itself. The Germans had made errors. The Green Cross,
while a true horror, had not been as effective as hoped, hadn’t done much at all on the
high ground, and had only been fired on the French center, leaving their flank artillery
still active. And, as was a theme of the whole war, mistrusting novelty caused the Germans
to stop firing gas shells and go back to normal shells several hours before the attack, giving
the French a chance to regroup. And – once again – the Germans attacked on a too narrow
front without enough reserves. But the French defenses were so thin that if the Germans
had had just one of the divisions that had been sent east to help the Austrians, well,
that could very likely have been it. French General Nivelle, thanks to Brusilov and the
Russians, had had time to repair his defenses and replenish his reserves. Here’s a side note – one of the attackers
was Lieutenant Friedrich Paulus, who, 26 years later, would surrender an entire German army
to the Soviets at Stalingrad. The French, understandably worried at Verdun,
appealed to the British for aid, but British Commander Sir Douglas Haig was committed to
his coming offensive at the Somme. He would open his preliminary barrage the 24th, though,
and see if that helped relieve some pressure. The Battle of the Somme was to begin June
29th. Here’s what Peter Hart has to say about its objectives: “Much nonsense has been written about what
Haig was trying to achieve on the Somme, but his intentions seem clear enough:
“(Haig) My policy is briefly to: 1. Train my divisions and to collect as much ammunition
and as many guns as possible. 2. To make arrangements to support the French… attacking in order
to draw off pressure from Verdun, when the French consider the military situation demands
it. 3. But while attacking to help our Allies, not to think that we can for a certainty destroy
the power of Germany this year.” There were no major strategic objectives and
it was the 4th army under Henry Rawlinson that would carry out the Somme Offensive and
the Reserve Army under Sir Hugh Gough would exploit any breakthroughs. Rawlinson foresaw
a two-stage attack, overrunning the German first line system in one assault, pausing
to reorganize, and then making a separate attack on system two. It was pretty cautious,
but planning for the Somme required logistical planning that the British had never before
done. Hundreds of thousands of men and horses were moved to the front, millions of shells
were transported, many many millions of tons of food and supplies, you had to set up roads
and railways, trenches and tunnels had to be dug, and you had to try and keep this as
secret as you could from the Germans, who were giving you harassing fire all the time
anyhow. But Haig & Co. thought they’d learned a
lot of lessons from the 1915 Allied offensives and from German methods at Verdun, though
there were still problems: They had to attack on a wide front, but did
they really have enough guns to do a Neuve Chappelle style bombardment? And anyhow, the
German trenches by now were not the single trench system at Neuve Chappelle. By the summer
of 1916 they had a whole trench network. Belts of barbed wire up to 30 meters thick, concrete
reinforced dugouts, whole villages actually physically incorporated into the defense system.
There were three trench lines in the German front line system, there was a whole second
system being dug a few kilometers back and even a third system under construction. The British bombardment would be with 1,010
field guns and howitzers, 182 medium and heavy guns, and 245 medium and heavy howitzers (Hart).
Sounds like a lot but it came to one field gun for every 20 meters and one heavy gun
for every 50. At Neuve Chappelle they had one every 6, and these guns now had to clear
barbed wire, destroy multiple lines of well-constructed reinforced trenches, and take out the German
batteries. Tough mission. One thing the British did have going for them
now was the integration of airplanes into tactical planning. Brigadier General Hugh
Trenchard of the Royal Flying Corps would fight an aggressive air war well over the
German side of the field. This would prevent German reconnaissance and artillery spotting.
For months the RFC had been taking photos of every inch of the Somme region, blowing
them up to identify every German machine gun post, headquarters, dugout, and so on. In late 1915, thanks to synchronization gear,
Germany had enjoyed a period of air superiority, but no longer. The FE2 B, flying in formation
with their Lewis guns blazing, the DH2, meeting German Fokkers head on, the Sopwith 1½ Strutter,
and the French Nieuport 16, with a top speed of 110 miles per hour that outstripped the
Fokkers. The RFC had 185 aircraft at the Somme; the Germans had only 129, and this week the
great German ace Max Immelmann was killed, fighting the FE2 B’s in northern France.
The other top German ace, Oswald Boelcke, was immediately withdrawn from the front lines
by the Kaiser’s orders and sent on training tours of the Russian front to keep him safe.
Peter Hart says this of the situation at the Somme, “Soon the Germans were near helpless
in the air, which therefore left them vulnerable on the ground.” One Crown Prince and 20
Generals attended Immelmann’s funeral, that’s how big the aces were. Boelcke and Immelmann
had exchanged the top spot as aces off and on for months, actually, with Boelcke taking
the lead May 1st for good. And on the same day that Immelmann was shot
down, Helmuth von Moltke the younger died. He was the former German Army Chief of Staff
and is one of the people who bears some responsibility for the outbreak of the war in the first place. And the week ends, with two German celebrity
deaths, the Russians still on the move in the east, and the Germans being again stopped
at Verdun. In the South Atlantic, Ernest Shackleton,
the explorer, after two years in the Antarctic reached South Georgia. His first question
to the manager of the whaling station there was, “tell me, when was the war over?”
The reply was this, “The war is not over. Millions are being killed. Europe is mad.
The world is mad.” 100 weeks of war also means 100 regular episode
on our channel now and the same number of extra episodes. Thank you for your ongoing
support, we couldn’t even imagine to make this channel so big and we couldn’t have
done it without you. If you want even more formats and videos, you can also support us
on Patreon. Patreon keeps this show running and makes it even better. Don’t forget to tell all your friends and
teachers about our show. See you next week.

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100 thoughts on “The Death of Max Immelmann – Haig’s Final Offensive I THE GREAT WAR – Week 100”

  1. Walter Taljaard says:

    Ma cher Jeanette,

    Last week the Boches did us a great favour by killing off all the rats with a gas attack.
    And when they came we stopped them with our canons.
    The barrel of our piece became so hot that I burned my hand and my back hurts because I had to lift all these shells, but for the rest I'm fine. I even could take a bath and wash my uniform and underwear yesterday for the first time in months, so that the lice are gone for at least a while.
    Tell maman Claudette not to sell our pigs before the beginning of november (and tell Michel not to volunteer for the infantry, because these pauvre cons are killed by the thousands overhere. Let him enroll into the artillery like his papa.) If you can please send me more of that Dutch chewing tobacco.


    Your husband,

  2. PainterforBeginners says:

    Great intro it looks nice better than the older one

  3. L_J says:

    100 weeks and no end in sight

  4. Frank Br says:

    Hi all, yesterday it was a boring day, because no Football Game was on TV. Therefore I zipped thru German TV Channels and on ZDF Kultur there was a TV Programme named "Bares fuer Rares" ( Cash for rare things). Persons can value their Treasure and perhaps afterwards sell to professionals Memoriable Dealers. This seems to be  an old show from some years ago. In this show an old Lady offers Love-Letters from Max Immelmann. Max wrote the Letters to her Grandma. These letters content no war description, only personal words. There were many Letters, Photos and Postcards in a Box. One Dealer paid 2.000 Euro for these Box. The Lady was lucky and sell this Box. From my point of view much to cheap.

  5. TheRavingCelt says:

    You guys kind of brushed past the death of Kitchener back on the 5th of June. I'm honestly not even sure it was mentioned at all? Can we expect a "Who Did What" video on the man in the near future?

  6. 1320crusier says:

    Peter Hart's The Somme: The Darkest Hour on the Western Front is wonderful book on the battle. The insight into Haig's and Rawlinson's planning and methodology especially so.

  7. Martin T says:

    Really hope you will not make the Somme a simple British vs. German thing. Others were there too, and in huge number…

  8. Bushmo Inc says:

    Too many mutha' fokkers fokkin' wit' my shi-

  9. mousebert1 says:

    BBC article and links about the Somme:

  10. Edelbrandfreund says:

    New intro is great but the music is awful, if you can call it music what is coming out of the loud speakers. Why don't you keep the old score?

  11. Randolph Guevara says:

    About Max Immelman. There were a lot of people dying at the time he got killed so the exact circumstances of his death got lost in the shuffle I guess. But there were reports that the propeller had been shot off of his plane. Which would have meant that the interrupter gear on his plane had failed. Which would have been really ironic because that technology was the basis for his success as a fighter pilot. My understanding is that was the families understanding of what happened. There is a rumor that Fokker himself inspected the wreckage secretly. But the official line was that he was shot down by an enemy pilot. I couldn't even find out exactly what type of plane he was flying. You would assume it was an eindeker but I don't think anybody is even sure of that. An event shrouded in the fog of war I guess. If anybody knows more it would be interesting to know.

  12. F. Warren says:

    Love the new opening!

  13. Johnnyc drums says:

    Was Oswald Boelcke the Blue Max?

  14. Johnnyc drums says:

    I had to look up The South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands again, thanks to you. I forgot where they were. It's amazing how bad the weather conditions are considering it's only about 55 degrees South Latitude. How about that Earth, anyway?

  15. Talos Skycaller says:

    Which country shot down Max Immelmann french, British or maybe one of their allies?

  16. wrongway1100 says:

    "The war is not over. Europe is mad. The world is mad." Things may turn out that way again pretty soon. I've seen the news recently. dont look to good.

  17. Belfastchild sings again says:

    On many pieces of footage of trench war fare, The Somme I think. There is a piece of footage showing the soldiers going over the top. On this film a soldier is filmed attempting to """Go Over''' however he does not make the top & falls over backward. One presumes he was killed. However, many say he suffered some sort of heart attack . Are there any historians out there who know the story behind this soldier. & Was he, in fact killed ( Or Not)

  18. cobalT says:

    There's a maneuver named after him,right?

  19. Oldeuboi says:

    Europe is going mad once again.

  20. Brian Fortney says:

    That out-striped the 'fokkers!' Hah.

  21. MasterBlobby says:

    3:23 If you told me that was the surface of the Moon I wouldn't bat an eye. Wow

  22. John Medina says:

    when Indy said Focker my parents just looked at me

  23. Prometheus says:

    What kind of artillery were they using to explode the photos?

  24. newspaniard says:

    Nice new graphics at the introduction.

  25. The Real Finnbar says:

    First time seeing the new opening. Love it! I would say Happy 100th Week but I'd feel like that might be disrespectful. So, I'll say thank you for doing what you're doing. Keep it up. Respect. 🙂

  26. anascotta08 says:

    are you guys planning on doing a special episode about moltke?

  27. MrDanielZie says:

    Is the new intro inspired by True Detective Season 1?

  28. Jersey2tall62 says:

    I like the other intro music better. More dramatic.

  29. wotan20 says:

    Congratulation to the makers and their helpers to this awesome, one of a kind series. It is breathtaking by its scope, the creators have committed themselves, to follow the Great War in its Centenary week by week, but more so by making it so interesting, that it is a pleasure to follow every episode. Kudos to you all, keep it up, you are on the right track!

  30. Robb Glasser says:

    At the 8 minute mark, there is a pilot with a nose clamp and a tube into his mouth. Was this to help with breathing at the higher altitudes, or did it serve some other purpose?

  31. Maki4444 says:

    The music for the old intro was more dramatic 🙂

  32. D Bruce says:

    Hey hey we're the Moltkees

  33. Jorge Gomez says:

    I think in one point or another, we've been in Shackleton's situation were we go off to some place and come back to see that shit is still fucked.

  34. Heldane Urbanus says:

    … well at least the green cross gas got rid of the flies. [Derp derpety derp derp…]

  35. AngelBlue1302 says:

    New Intro 🙂

  36. Juan Vazquez says:

    Happy 100TH

  37. Der Volksfreund says:

    Hugh Trenchyard… thats a fitting name for a WW1 Officer

  38. Audairevonetta says:

    conrad was wrong, as always

  39. Neil Wilson says:

    I gave this one a speculative 'like' before seeing the whole video. It is like a little thank you, showing that I trust your content to be be great. I'm still behind though, but hope to watch two a day to catch up.

  40. THE ARMADA says:

    This is The Russian campaign through the war.
    Russia does good, pushes through the enemy and does really well in general.
    They fuck it up.

  41. harrison strapp says:

    the gas was only noticed by the french when the snails started to die

  42. Joseph Navarro says:

    Can anyone tell me what is on Gen Brusilov's uniform in that picture? It looks like a row of pens.

  43. Vito says:

    Where's Mackensen?

  44. NuuR says:

    Shackleton's expedition is absolutely insane! If you haven't heard of it I highly recommend reading a book called "Endurance".

  45. Speed Sketches & more says:

    I love how you teach me about all the facts about war since I'm interested and want to learn more! Thank you so much!

  46. Axel Stalson says:

    Dubious choice of words. You are forever talking about the folly, stupidity and waste… the thousands of corpses then say "failed" to attack. Perhaps they "wisely" held back from slaughtering their own army.

  47. Conroy Paw says:

    My German is "nicht so gut", but I believe that Boelcke is pronounced "bowl-keh", not "bell-key".

  48. DJhato says:

    i read a story that the red baron in an attempt to fly back home he got shot down by ground fire from infantry.
    but that could be way wrong.

  49. Denis Demeter says:

    I just made the 667th comment Hail Satan

  50. Marcus B says:

    1:06 just realized that those "pens" insignia in Brusilovs unform seem to be the inspiration for the the pens in imperial star wars uniforms…

  51. My Cinematics says:

    This channel deserves at least 1million subs I will be very happy for you guys once you hit that figure.

  52. massaweed420 says:

    I know you guys gotta make a living out of this, but it is kind of disappointing to get commercials halfway through the episode :/ kind of ruins the experience for me personally. Could you guys maybe set it so the ads come in at the beginning or end of the videos?

  53. J Gongaware says:

    I always knew they were called the "lost generation" and I never understood why but I am beginning to now.

  54. Mars Junior says:

    I know I'm behind, but I happen to be watching on new years est. Happy news years to the whole team. I wish you all a prosperous 2017 with glorious channel growth. Enjoy the holidays, can't wait to see what 2017 brings from you guys!

  55. Christopher Peltzer says:

    Great episode, just found this channel. This will be a great supplement for Hardcore History. One question perhaps you could answer, @7:58 A pilot has a what appears to me to be a clamp on his nostrils. What is the function of such a clamp? Was this standard issue? Thanks!

  56. David says:

    At the end of the siege of Petersburg, Grant followed up Sheridan's crushing of Lee's right flank, by ordering a massive assault along the entire line of trenches. When Brusilov broke through, the Somme should have occurred immediately and the NE Russian front attacked all along the line. This lack of coordination was made clear in the American Civil War and there were observers enough by all the Europeans to realize this lesson 50 years before. Romania also should have joined when Italy did, the result would have been better for them than joining when they did.

  57. Jaak Sootak says:

    Hello, The Grat War!
    This could be a question for Out Of The Trenches. Has Indy or anyone in The Great War team read a book called The Good Soldier Švejk by Jaroslav Hašek (1923) If you have not then you definetly should becuase it is a masterpiece.
    Please dont make videos so fast I can't catch up!

  58. Boosted Fool says:

    I can't believe that the Germans took their best last standing ace off the battlefield

  59. CaptainBardiel says:

    Get out of that Fokker you fucker, GET OUT!!!

  60. Matt Wilkins says:

    This is the best youtube channel I have ever found! Loving this series guys please keep it up!

  61. MrWoodii says:

    AHHHHHHH. Different into. So wierd.

  62. Liquid Bacon says:

    100th episode

  63. Olivier Labrèche says:

    Awesome new theme!
    To me, the horseman wearing a gas mask perfectly represents the fusion of old and new that so characterized this war. And the cruelty and absurdity of it all.

  64. Michael Pellas says:

    I feel unfulfilled this week. I didn't here on how Franz Xaver Joseph Conrad Graf von Hötzendorf really screwed up this week..C'mon he had to do something wrong!….I mean something!

  65. Andrew Turner says:

    His name was Trenchard. Of course he was in the flying corps.

  66. SmallCoffee says:

    8:15 outstripped the what?

  67. BigRig Joe says:

    This confuses me.

    Why didn't the British attack at the Somme early while the Gemans were tied up at Verdun AND Russia?

    Why wait when the Germans are so stretched? Hague KNEW how stretched the Germans were and waited anyway….

  68. Cosmic Atrophy says:

    This series has consumed my life for the past few weeks. WHAT THE HELL AM I GOING TO DO WHEN IT'S OVER??!?

  69. metalfuk1 says:

    New intro.

  70. Max Grundström says:

    BRB just gotta binge watch this to catch up.

  71. Fabrizio Cimò says:

    I've seen the gas special episode, is there an episode on counter measures adopted against gas? that would be interesting

  72. Jerold Productions says:

    Wow, I just love the bluntness of that intro.

  73. Ian Hyde says:

    There's only one question that's been bugging me for weeks… Why does Gen. Brusilov carry a bunch of CO2 canisters in his jacket? Is he planning on entering a pinewood derby?

  74. mullet smith says:

    Do a side episode about Ernist Shackelton, I know its not entirely ww1 but it is that era, an it is a great story, hes one of my favorite explorers.

  75. Just Someguy says:

    Phosgene gas killed everything. Flies disappeared from the sky.
    Every cloud has a silver lining.

  76. T Spoon says:

    8:15 Getting a little explicit indy?

  77. Thomas Anderson says:

    How come I found this channel only now?

  78. Caxer says:

    8:09 TO 8:16 I died!

  79. Ra Him says:

    "The Russians cross the Pruth? river with only a single injured soldier". . . after 100 weeks of thousands of death everyday, this statement is pretty interesting.

  80. Divay Pratap says:

    Great intro

  81. Divay Pratap says:

    Outstripped the fokkers😏

  82. Jaime Ramirez says:

    "5,000 men was dead" was dead? Take it slow if you have to ain't no one complaining your videos are too long, we all don't mind

  83. omar10213245 says:

    "fokkers" lol

  84. Georg F says:

    Huh? Do I get something wrong here? I thought phosgene was used not that long after chlorine.

  85. DragonKaiser says:

    New intro is awesome, but the old music is better.

  86. TheMunt2000 says:

    For those that don’t know of Ernest Shackleton mentioned in this ep. I highly recommend this book. It’s an astonishing account of true endurance. Free too…

  87. Jeffrey Tanguay says:

    Appreciate the shout-out to Mr. Hart around the 8:50 mark. Been reading his book for the last month now and his primary sources are incredibly powerful and woven well into the story he tells

  88. World View says:

    The real master plan of Germany was feeding Lenin and Bolsheviks and beating Russkies in that way.

  89. HistoryFan476ad says:

    Were all quick to criticise the commanders of the armies in this war. But honestly if any of us where commanding these armies instead and we had to use the tools and intelligence of the time. We to would also failure to break though. while continuously taking high losses. In fact even with Hindsight or all our future knowledge of the fate of the war, I doubt any of us could have really made much of a difference to the flow of the war.

  90. John Gianiris says:

    Who was the most ruthless officer in ww I ?

  91. Ryan safar says:

    Z m. Bntvyfggygu

  92. Daniel Overcash says:

    I kinda liked the old intro better, and I realize I'm years late

  93. TheJadedEagle says:

    Those mother Fokkers…

  94. Mr. Ramfan says:

    20-30 million dead, then twenty years later it's twice as apocalyptic= INSANITY

  95. Submarine in the Sky says:

    Yaaaay Shackleton – he may not have got to the pole, but he made it out of a nightmare scenario with all of his men alive, which is more than can be said for every out-of-touch field marshal and general drawing up these maps.

  96. Foster Caldaroni says:

    Meeting German fuckers head-on?

  97. mattep74 says:

    Ohhh, new intro

  98. Pau Tangcalagan says:

    What if Capt. Edmund Blackadder was the Army Commander instead of Gen. Haig? It could have made a big difference.

  99. fdsfggr says:

    the fukkers!!

  100. Ye Boi says:


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