The Battle of Verdun (21 Febuary-18 December 1916) was the longest and largest battle of the great war on the western front. The battle took place on the hills north of Verdun-sur-Meuse in North-Eastern France. The 5th army, commanded by General von Falkenhayn, attacked the Second French Army on the Meuse. The Germans planned to capture this position quickly, in hopes to make it a strategic defensive position for artillery strikes. Although delayed due to bad weather, the Germans at first had initial success. However, the French managed to slow the offensive, despite major casualties. In march, the Germans expanded the offensive and moved to the west bank of the Meuse. The advance was short due to French reinforcements. In may, the Germans began counter attacking the French troops, which gave France the opportunity to attack Fort Douaumont. They captured a portion of the fort, however, the Germans counter attacked, pushing them out and taking larges amounts of prisoners. In July, the Germans reduced the offensive to provide artillery and infantry for the Somme. The continuous failed attacks reduced the offensive more and more, until the French managed to drive the Germans back, capturing much of the previously lost land. The battle was one of the most costly battles in history, with 714,231 (377,231 French and 337,000 German) casualties. With an estimated 306,000 dead.
After the German invasion of France had been halted in 1914, the movement in the war ended with the First battle of Ypres. The Germans built fortifications to hold their ground, and French siege was crippling the German numbers. Seeking a decisive victory, General von Falkenhayn noted "Victory might no longer be received from a battle, but the French army could be destroyed from massive casualties. Von Falkenhayn offered five corps an offensive at Verdun. They would accept, however, Von Falkenhayn would not lead the offensive, and would be replaced with General Ludendorff. Ludendorff would concentrate upon more manpower, as he knew attacking the French would be risky, as they would outnumber his army. The build up of manpower would be to remove soldiers from the Somme, and prepare for the offensive. Once outnumbering the enemy, Ludendorff attacked. His use of "Hurricane Bombardment", in which he would use massive artillery strikes to injure the enemy, followed by massive infantry attacks would be successful. Ludendorff would continue the offensive beyond Fort Vaux, and by June, would be slowed just over a mile away from Verdun. The French were using death tactics to slow down the Germans, which was resulting in massive casualties on both sides. Ludendorff knew if he couldn't break through soon, his troops would be overrun and annihilated. He planned to have Crown Prince Wilhelm lead the 10th Army to reinforce the Germans. Wilhelm would successfully counter attack the French, who sent most of its soldiers to stop them. With this, Ludendorff bombarded Verdun, killing many soldiers and civilians. The 5th army then made a direct attack on Verdun. On September 5, 1916, the Germans successful captured the city, and imprisoned all remaining soldiers of the Second Army. The battle was still quite costly, with an estimated 512,856 (209,981 French and 302,875 German) casualties. With an estimated 213,000 dead.