They Did Not Pass – The Battle Of Verdun Ends I THE GREAT WAR Week 126


It had raged since February. It was now December. In an area just 25 km wide and 10 km deep
hundreds of thousands of men had become casualties of war. I’m talking about the Battle of Verdun,
and this week that battle came to an end. I’m Indy Neidell; welcome to the Great War. Last week saw French General Robert Nivelle
take over command of the French army from General Joseph Joffre. The British began a new offensive campaign
on the Tigris River. The Macedonian Front went quiet, but a new
French attack began at Verdun on the Western Front, and in Romania, the Central Powers
continued pushing the Romanian army eastward. The Russian army fighting in Romania had set
up a defense line from Ramnicu Sarat to Braila on the Danube. At the beginning of the week, though, German
Alpenkorps troops took the high ground northwest of Ramnicu Sarat, making the city and that
flank untenable in the long run. Russian General Vladimir Sakharov, in command
there, told Romanian King Ferdinand he was going to abandon the city and bring his 20
divisions further north, and indeed aerial reconnaissance showed that the Russians were
digging trench lines behind the Sereth River, but Allied Liaison Officer Major General Henri-Mathias
Berthelot goaded Sakharov into staying and making battle at Ramnicu Sarat. I’m not making that up. Now, since there was so much traffic on the
highway from Ramnicu Sarat to Foscani, German General Erich von Falkenhayn thought Sakharov
wouldn’t actually offer a real battle, just delaying tactics. Here’s how it all looked from the German
lines south of the city as you looked north: the foothills of the Carpathians were to the
west, dominating the landscape, east of the city the Ramnicu Sarat River turned northward
and headed toward Foscani. There was a highway that ran alongside the
river, with marshy ground on both sides. Falkenhayn’s plan was to going to be to
attack heavily from the west, drive the Russians out of the foothills and on to the plain where
they would have to retreat north on the highway. The marshy ground would slow them down and
they’d be exposed and easy pickings. And just in case, he sent several divisions
further west to the mountains to seal off any chance of escape to the northwest. And as the week ended, Falkenhayn ordered
the advance. There was an advance that took place this
week, on the Palestine Front. On December 22nd, the British captured El
Arish. It had been a pretty serious undertaking,
with wire roads and supply dumps and water stations having to be built all the way from
Suez. This took months and though the Royal Navy
protected the men on the left from at sea, they were theoretically exposed on the right
to the desert. The capture was kind of an anti-climax as
German General Friedrich Kress von Kressenstein, commanding the Ottoman forces there, withdrew
his troops before the British arrived, but this meant that the Suez Canal was really
secure, for there was plenty of water here to supply a garrison that could stop any Ottoman
attempt at crossing the desert to hit Suez from the north. It was also a food base for any assaults over
the border to Palestine, and the Palestinian Campaign was soon going to begin in earnest. And a huge campaign was coming to an end,
over in the West. The French had launched a second counter offensive
at Verdun at the end of last week, as I said. This counter offensive began with a six-day
bombardment that sent well over a million shells down on the Germans from 827 guns. The French attacked on December 15th at 10
AM with four divisions and had four more in reserve while the German defenders numbered
five divisions, but two of them were down below half strength. The French did something interesting here
– they attacked with a double creeping barrage, with shrapnel from the field guns 70m in front
of the infantry as it advanced, and high explosive shells 150m in front of the men, but also
a steady shrapnel barrage on the second German lines to cut off retreat or reinforcements. The German front line defenses were shattered
and of the roughly 21,000 men in those five divisions, well over half were lost – most
of those taken prisoners since they were trapped under cover and under fire until the French
infantry arrived. The weather was terrible, but still the French
recaptured Vacherauville and Louvemont, which had been lost to the Germans in the early
days of the battle in February. The Germans had big problems bringing up their
reserves, and indeed two counter attack divisions that had been ordered to the front the night
before were still over 20km away at noon. By the night of the 16th, the French lines
stood from Bezonvaux to Cote du Poivre. This was several kilometers beyond Douaumont
and one kilometer north of Fort Vaux. The nearest German position to Verdun itself
was now over 7km away, and the French had taken 11,387 prisoners and 115 guns in the
attack. So many prisoners in fact, that when captured
German officers complained about the conditions in captivity, French General Charles Mangin
told them “We do regret it, gentlemen, but we did not expect so many of you.” Verdun was safe. Exactly one year to the day after the Kaiser
had approved Falkenhayn’s plans for “Operation Gericht” – December 18th – the counter offensive
ended. The Battle of Verdun was over. There would be sporadic fighting there for
the remainder of the war, but technically it was over. It had run for 299 days. German propaganda, of course, downplayed the
significance of losing Forts Douaumont and Vaux, but the German army took it as a serious
defeat. Chief of Staff Paul von Hindenburg said this
of the retaking of Douaumont (Horne), “On this occasion the enemy hoisted us with our
own petard. We could only hope that in the coming year
he would not repeat the experiment on a greater scale and with equal success.” This was a major French victory, no question. Nivelle’s creeping barrage was very obviously
one of the great innovations of the war, but you know, even the December counter offensive
came at a heavy cost – 47,000 casualties and French commander in chief Robert Nivelle’s
and Mangin’s determination to achieve their goals at all costs showed that the army of
France was now a scarred army. When French President Raymond Poincaré arrived
to decorate troops, rocks were thrown at his car. One night in December an entire division preparing
for that last offensive began bleating like sheep. Scenes like these carried notes of ominous
foreboding for 1917. But the French public didn’t see this. The celebrated like crazy and they even had
a new hero. Joseph Joffre was no longer in charge and
no longer the public darling, Philippe Petain’s role at Verdun and all his preparations for
the counterstrokes were overlooked, Nivelle was now top dog. He had been an artillery colonel in 1914 and
he was now the top Commander two winters later. And winter was clamping down everywhere. Winter weather had put a stop to any major
activities on the Eastern Front, but this week in the Southeast it flared briefly into
life. The Germans began a fairly extensive offensive
near Great and Little Porsk, around 30 km southeast of Kovel, taking the Russian positions
there and holding them against counter attacks. There were also engagements near Tarnopol,
but the winter soon put a stop to all of this and the front quieted down once again. And here are some notes to round out the week. On the 21st, Count Heinrich Clam-Martinic
becomes new Austrian Prime Minister and the following day, Count Czernin becomes their
minister of Foreign Affairs. Now, we’ve seen a lot of turmoil in Greece
over the past few weeks and there were a few incidents of note there this week too. On the 17th, a warrant was issued for the
arrest of Eleftherios Venizelos, the leader of the Provisional government. His government, as opposed to that of the
King, was officially recognized by Britain on the 20th. On the 21st, an Allied note was sent to the
Royalists in Greece demanding control of the post, the telegraphs, and the railways. And that was the week. More conflict in Greece, the beginnings of
conflict on the Palestinian Front, winter ending life on the Eastern Front, the Germans
going on the move again in Romania, and the end of the Battle of Verdun. 300 days. Okay, 299 days. That’s how long the Battle of Verdun lasted. The longest battle of the war, and pretty
much the longest battle of history so far. This was something new. Casualty estimates vary widely between sources,
from a low of around 600,000 for both sides combined, to a high of nearly a million, but
for ten months of battle you’re still looking at 70,000 men a month. What could be worse than that? Well, the war of movement had been worse than
that in the fall of 1914 in numbers of the dead and wounded. Around a million and a half French and Germans
casualties in the first four months of the war, so by those standards this was an improvement. Think that through – this was an improvement. This was modern war. There is some considerable debate about Falkenhayn’s
true intent at Verdun. If you want to know more about the Falkenhayn
controversy check out our special right here. Our Patreon Supporter of the week is Ian Kath. Help us out on Patreon, or by buying our official
merchandise or visiting our amazon store where we get a cut of the check out prize. See you next week.

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100 thoughts on “They Did Not Pass – The Battle Of Verdun Ends I THE GREAT WAR Week 126”

  1. Nathan Norman says:

    have you seen the film Oh what a Lovely war?

    and what was your opinion on it if you have

  2. Bethany Cook says:

    y does it seem that ww1 less popular then ww2 less is known about it? love this series

  3. andypants1000 says:

    These new animations are everything I wanted from the older ones. Easier to understand lines and movements and terrain. Amazing! Thank you!

  4. andrew brindescu says:

    regardless what it was an meat grinder. Merry Christmas to all of you and family

  5. Otto von Bismarck says:

    I turned on bell notifications and I wasn't notified of this video.

  6. MakeMeThinkAgain says:

    If you are comparing casualties in 1814 with 1816 wouldn't you have to include the Somme and other battles as well?

  7. Edmund McCluskey says:

    Fella I'm so addicted to this.. well done. Question… The trench stalemate I understand but what happened at the ends of the trench as in the Swiss end and the End at the coast.?? Could the Royal Navy not fire perpendicular to the the coast down the German front line creating a potential for a way around and in.?? Keep up the great work… Ever in Frankfurt biers on me or if I'm in Berlin next biers on me here…. Slàinte!

  8. David Roberts says:

    Yo Indy, I just found out my step dad grandfather served in ww 1 and was a special dispatch rider, (on a motorcycle) could you inform me more one what his purpose was during the ww1

  9. kisscola says:

    Hey Indi, have you ever thought of being a narrator for TV documentaries?
    Love the show.
    Best wishes from Berlin.

  10. Manfred von Coolstuff says:

    Can't wait for 2017! Exactly April 6th, 2017…. USA USA USA!

  11. Cuba Libre Ball says:

    This video is a great birthday gift

  12. cofa74 says:

    I dont know why but you tube has removed you from showing up on my subs so ive been over looking your videos and missing them now.

  13. QuebeC VR says:


    Is that the Aussie lighthorse?

  14. GravesRWFiA says:

    points to indy for the math at the end showing the bloodshed and how Verdun-a name associated with slaughter, was LESS deadly than 1914. WOW!

  15. dudeman says:

    Great videos! But please, make more videos with Russian subtitles

  16. DamuEmran says:

    I finally caught up with all the main videos.
    I feel really bad for Austria-Hungary because if Franz Ferdinand didn't die and his ideas of United States of Greater Austria could have helped avoided world war 1.

  17. The Woolly Eel says:

    For Râmnicu Sărat, the "â" is an unrounded vowel /ɨ/. The "ă" in the name is pronounced like the first letter of the word "about". The "ș" in Focșani makes a "sh" sound like in the word "shock". Hope this helps.

  18. ludditeneanderthal says:

    3 day binge watch completed… i'm now right up to date 100 years in the past! AWESOME (yeah, caps, not only exclamation points Indy!) effort guys!! seriously comprehensive, reasonably accurate to the "nitpicking" level for the most part, and impressively somber and clinical in condemnation of ALL who ran this circus of death.

  19. Micheal Prendergast says:

    This series is incredible.

  20. Julian . Hofmann says:

    Well done GT team. Another great show. It is sobering to think that despite a 299 day battle, France still suffered the majority of its combat deaths in 1914-15 because of the botched Battle of the Frontiers and the poorly planned Artois/Champagne offensives.

  21. Abu-Hurera Ali says:

    THEY SHALL NOT PASS!! (in Gandalf voice)

  22. Glenn Pettersson says:

    1 000 000 an improvement. What was lost, great works of art never painted, beautiful sonatas never to be written or performed, a cure for cancer? 100 years later and what has changed? Why?

  23. TDD LordPivot says:

    I've spent the last several months catching up on your show. I've enjoyed every bit of it so far. Thanks for all the work, and I'm looking forward for the daily episodes. 😀

  24. tacomaster6643 says:

    bf1 DLC someone?

  25. Dick Tingeler says:

    Hey Indie,what are you planing to do after november of 2018?

  26. Brian OReilly says:

    This is early but will the Great War do a country special on Siam in World War I? Siam joined the allies in July 1917 what did Siam di in World War I?
    Viva the Great War Show!!!

  27. kesirien says:

    Rîmnicu Sărat is prounounced more like Rimniku Sarat. ˌ[ˌrɨmniku səˈrat]

  28. Pablo Aparicio says:

    Im new to the channel, can someone tell me what's this "127 week" thing? Are they like weekly vídeos teaching some WWI's battles and so on?

  29. Corbin Moore says:

    Kress kress von kressenstein

  30. Grizabeebles says:

    Just in case it hasn't been said, the casualties at Verdun average out to about two men per hour. I can't even imagine what it would be like to live through that. And I'm GLAD!

  31. Bung Hole says:

    Hi again thegreatwar. I just heard an interesting thing from my grandparents, and it is something like this: they said that the Trianon treaty is for 100 years, and after that Romania has to give back the regions that Hungary lost. I could not find any info about that but other old folk said something along that story. How could they do something foolish like that if it its true? Thank you again for the great show and pardon me for posting it on this video because it is not related. Kepp up the great work bringing us these awesome new information

  32. Stefan Puiu says:

    I hate to nitpick :), but the town's name is pronounced Râmniku Sărat, c is k in Romanian most of the times, never ts (and ce/ci are pronounced che/chi). Otherwise, good episode, I wasn't too aware of what had happened in between the fall of Bucharest and the 1917 fighting on this front.

  33. Sir Adrian says:

    I sometimes wonder what Napoleon would have thought of this type of warfare.

  34. To Ha says:

    Love the show Indy! keep it up!

  35. KickingJoub says:

    The map graphics are beautifully representative and artistic, and I hope everyone has a great break (yeah I'm late) and keeps improving the easy to access, and explain, information of this channel! It's far too simple to disregard having all or most information in one place, to the point where it's disregarded, rather than respected.

  36. Oggie60 says:

    Superb episode as always.

  37. Akuma's RSNL says:

    A question how significant were watches in ww1? how did they incorporate them in to battle tactics? in general whats up with watches during ww1?

  38. Chad Clark says:

    It is interesting to compare all the attention 2016 is getting for being such a terrible year because a few celebrities died and the year 1916. We should be thankful to live in such horrible times as 2016. And keep up the great work Indy and Flo, The Great War is the best thing on any media right now.

  39. Pizza Time says:

    I don't think ypu know how to do |

  40. Oliver Enevoldsen says:

    gotta love the refences in the titles of your videos.

  41. Dillon Swan says:

    Love this channel

  42. Wouter says:

    Kress von Kressenstein, such a cool name :3 2:58

  43. Rene Levesque says:

    I love this show, keep it up Indy & Crew!

  44. Markus Curran says:

    Hey I'm glad you tell real history not just what was written by the victors

  45. Timberhawk says:

    Ils ne passèrent pas… No mention of the secret weapon: some tall long-white-bearded dude in a grey cloak?

  46. David Zhi LuoZhang says:

    Modern War

  47. J.G Czaricit says:

    Boy I love this show

  48. Overton says:

    The surge didn't work.

  49. Alias McAlias says:

    In Mangin's quote, he actually paraphrased a victorious Frederick the Great, which makes his quote rather biting to German prisoners.

  50. Mr BigCookie says:

    70.000 men a day.. that's like my whole COUNTY x2.. good grief!

  51. Michael Keane says:

    what a waste

  52. Andy Barde says:

    Hi Indy,
    My great-grandfather fought in Verdun for most of the duration. During his time in the trenches, he made many different pieces of trench art, including 2 shells that we still keep today. I was wondering if you knew about and could elaborate on the nature of trench art, what materials were used for then, and why/how soldiers interacted with these elegant pieces of art amid so much destruction.

  53. S.H.T mk says:

    i need arabic captions

  54. Jan Sten Adámek says:

    Another such victory and Nivelle will come back to Paris alone.

  55. Walter Taljaard says:

    The French were more feared by the Germans than the British.
    This was the reason why many commanders of the Wehrmacht in the summer of 1940, including Hitler, couldn't believe their luck and were overcautious, which saved the BEF and gave them precious time to evaquate from Dunkirk.
    Was this the same French army, with their stubborn bad ass blue coated trench pigs, who fought so fiercely for every yard of muddy, blood soiled ground and stormed their positions relentlessly, driving them back or holding them back with lethal methodical determination as in the last war?
    Was zum Teufel ist los mit dieser Franzosen?/What the hell is the matter with these French? Are they luring us into a trap and another battle at the Marne or cut us off in Flanders and encircle us in a cauldron? Where are they? What are they up to? Halt!
    Do not advance any further untill we have thouroughly assessed the situation.
    So in a way the German high command was also fighting the previous war, in which they had learned to fear and respect the French. but not as much as the aging and blundering French high command, which didn't have a bloody clue what was actually going on and waisted the then second best army in the world.

  56. J Sailer says:

    Iles ne passeront pas!

  57. dugroz says:

    "Hoisted us with our own petard" isn't a phrase I was familiar with. Apparently it means, (roughly) "blew us up with our own bomb."

  58. Daniel says:

    1:34 Highway? In Romania? At least this channel has a sense of humour.

  59. Lightspit says:

    in Romanian "c" is never pronounced "tz".
    It is a latin language and you will have better chances pronouncing like an Italian

  60. JHAYKHAY25 says:

    I have a nerdy interest in field gear and can't identify the mess kit on the shelf behind you, German or Swedish or??

  61. Conor Hoffman says:

    Really don't know why the hell these videos don't bring in millions of views each

  62. Konstantin Voloshin says:

    Why cannot you fight much in winter? I get the thing about problems with moving artillery in the mud, but what about when it's frozen good?

  63. Panzer Vast says:

    I love how he talks about it like he is in ww1 as it happened

  64. Captain Haddock says:

    this episode is dedicated to all the suckers joking about France surrendering!

  65. TacticalPhantom says:

    After November 11 2018 will you start doing WW2 and stop doing WW1

  66. useless youtube channel says:

    the germans got the high ground! its all lost! says obi wan kenobi

  67. Garmen Lin says:

    But the battle of Verdun didn't end, for Dice have make a DLC.

  68. BZZBBZ Gaming says:

    6:02 Paul von Hendenverg?

  69. noah dommaschk says:

    as always, EXCELLENT closing statements!!

  70. Wafflez-Man- says:

    I still cant even count how many soldiers from both sides were lost in Verdun? 299 days , 70,000 a month? Damn man how the hell did germany and france reproduce so much kids to go to WW2? Its insane

  71. Pentay says:

    The transitions are mostly great with the map. I'd suggest less 'noise' when dismissing them. In other words, no effects on fading them out.

  72. Ole Bras De Ruiter says:

    I actually just came back from Verdun the Ossuarium with the remains of 130.000 unidentifed dead made a real impact on me….

  73. Experimental Flow says:

    This series is just outstanding. Week by freaking week documentary of WW1!

  74. Karl Hiscock says:

    "We do regret it gentlemen, but we did not expect so many of you"

  75. Nate Kaufman says:

    Why was there a circle on Montenegro?

  76. Tomás Nogueira says:

    I just wanted tell to the the fallen Allied one thing :
    "They didnt pass"
    And i think they would be relief

  77. Ghost Schmidt says:

    The opening made me think "Price of a mile" by Sabaton

  78. xylomeat says:

    No, the front line was not back to basically where it was in February 1916. It wasn't even back to that point after a highly successful offensive by Petain in August 1917. That is simply a lie told by French high command and repeated by one historian after another. Some of the ground was not recovered until the American offensive in the Argonne in September 1918.

  79. LeCharles07 says:
    Not sheep, Indy. Lambs… lambs to the slaughter… really really dark… this is modern war.

  80. Information My name is classsified says:

    “There was action on the Palestine front” DEMONETIZED

  81. Mike 1958 says:

    I think what amazes me the most is how leadership on both side to the lines failed to see how detrimental their actions had on their own troops. The Germans didn't even consider that in "bleeding the French white" they were also doing the same to their own troops by engaging the French. These disasters weren't exclusively French or German there seem to be plenty of short sightedness to go around. The British did a bang up job at Gallipoli and Mesopotamia while the Turks were cut to pieces by the Russians in Armenia. It just never ceases to amaze me at the degree of incompetency they all displayed.

  82. Nicholas Galea says:

    "With this great victory, the city of Verdun is saved and the Republic of France salutes you. While we have suffered great losses, you have turned the tide of this terrible war. Your courage and strength will never be forgotten." – Battlefield 1.

  83. Amitabha Kusari says:

    The WW1 Generals were far from perfect, but same cannot be said for their moustaches.

  84. Ralph H says:

    Frankly the German officers pows are lucky they were quartered at all. Waging such an immense war of countless deaths. A war which they started.

    I still can't believe Germany. 1914: let's wage a war against the entire world on two fronts any which front fails and we are doomed.
    1939: let's start a war against the entire world on the same two fronts as 30 years ago

    Like wtf

  85. CowBoy Kirby says:

    Ils ne passeront pas

  86. Laila McManus says:

    This battle ended on my sister's birthday

  87. American Reviews says:

    Longest battle – amazing.

  88. Der Joker says:

    2:37 What song is playing here?

  89. SGT Kunze says:

    I bet the Germans win this thing

  90. Kay Faulds says:

    im confused… this modern war?

  91. Captain Barrett Coldyron says:

    There's nothing worse than being hoisted on your own petard.

  92. luke strawwalker says:

    A German General without a mustache?? (Kressenstein @ 2:59)… No wonder he was forced to retreat…

    Later! OL J R 🙂

  93. CountKilroy Graf says:

    I'm sorry. How were the British in WWI any better than the Germans?

  94. markus lappalainen says:

    is it battle of we are done or battle of we are dumb?

  95. Byzantine41 says:

    What this stage of the war calls for now is another Luigi Cardona offensive.

  96. Dankless Horseman69 says:

    Verdun: longest battle in history
    Leningrad: "Hold my beer"

  97. Numor FutÎncă says:

    Now I am ready for the release of the new Sabaton song about Verdun

  98. Geeko170 says:


  99. Jean-Edouard Ahmedozzi says:

    5:26 It sounds so French that the French themselves didn't expect to be brilliant

  100. Meme Central says:

    It's over Romania – I have the high ground

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