tv World War I Battle of Verdun CSPAN December 3, 2016 2:00pm-3:06pm EST
our complete american history tv schedule, go to c-span.org. >> one hundred years ago from february to december 1916, armies clashedan in one of the longest battles of world war i and human history. the battle of virgin army stop, the french the german offensive and came away is a curious -- victorious. . paul jankowski is is part of a two-day symposium hosted by the world war i my -- easy and memorial in kansas city, missouri. >> i'm delighted to be able to introduce to you our first speaker for the symposium, paul
jankowski. he specializes in modern european and french history, including the histories of modern warfare. in 2014 he won the world war i historical association tomlinson book award. dr. jankowski will discuss today. paul will consider how this devastating battle has continued to survive in the public's collective memory. on the centennial anniversary of the battle in december, dr. jankowski's talk is particularly timely. we are delighted that at the beginning of this symposium we would be introducing to you and invite you to warmly welcome paul jankowski to the museum and memorial. thank you.
>> good morning, thank you very much. to comeeal pleasure , one ofthis fine museum the truly great world war i museums in the world. it's nice to see such an impressive during. i'm not used to such gatherings, and the classes i teach on the subject. but so be it. about -- let me take this off for a minute. i want to talk about the various ofs in which the battle
verdun has been rendered. it has generated a rich crop of myths, or perhaps in any other battle of the great war. most of those myths began during the battle of itself while it ws still going on and then flourished for a number of decades before beginning to expire in our own day. meanings thate contemporaries and posterity attributed to this battle, and they superficially distort the realities, but justice surely, they reveal truths of a they callorder, and on the historian to give each we have to restore the facts, but we also have to respect the legends and understand them and know why they are there. that holds that again in mortality. usually do so by the way they end.
verdun is the beginning that dominates the retellings, the unprecedented deluge of shells by concentrated within eight hours, followed by a rather strange, almost tentative assault, and then by the french reaction in extremis. here is a document, and it's -- it's a neutral document. it's a report written by the military attach a of a neutral power.
frankly, telling this government what is going on in this battle, the 31st of may, several months into the battle. that neutral power is the united states. the american attach a, military trying in switzerland is do his an accountant government of all that is happening. and he's having a difficult time doing so. i don't know that you can read very well -- first for example in the second paragraph, whatever may be the cause is urging them on -- they here refers to the germans. he says in the first graph -- howagraph, the assailants s no sign of letting up and seem as determined as ever to attain the goalie have set themselves,
exactly what this is has been the subject of much discussion. it actually continues. with this speculative account. report, that surprisingly inaccurate in many of the details about casualties. can't quite understand why the whole thing is taking place at all. the discussion has gone on ever since. war, and this is the first legend i want to talk about, the myth established itself and took hold. hebrew or demon from theabout bible to whom the canaanites were supposed to have sacrificed their children.
the chief of the german general launched the legend after the war, not using that term, but that's how the legend became known. hebrewin his own memoirs publie following year -- he claimed to not to have wanted to take verdun at all, the ancient fortress town in eastern france. he attended to the city believed the french army, an army he believed wrongly but he believed to be on the verge of exhaustion. he thought it would rush to defense of a town, only to lose under thethe ravines shell fire of his heavy, long-range guns, which the germans had clear superiority which they maintained throughout the war. as evidence for this in his
memoirs, he gave the text of a memorandum he claimed to have written and sent to the kaiser on christmas eve, 1915, so a few .onths before the battle began in that memo he is supposed to have set forth just such thinking. nobody in germany talked about the myth of moloch, but from a satirical german weekly here is something that comes close to it . see, this is from july 1916, and its pre-close to the monster consuming the french forces pouring in, into the hilly and cratered terrain.
by the time he issued his version of what had happened or what he intended to do, another legend had grown up. this one was drawn not from scripture, but classical antiquity. the narrow field, narrow plane in ancient greece between the mountains on one side and the where the other archetypal defensive battle of history is supposed to have taken place in 480 b.c.e.. this legend, the french seized on very eagerly to depict their own battle, with themselves as the spartans and the germans as the invader. it's a very powerful and tenacious story or legend of the outnumbered french, rushing to defend the access to the heartland against the powerful
imperial host. fact, this wasn't the first time that this region, this area around verdun, had gone slightly to the north and west, even lyon to the east, it wasn't the first time this region had found itself renamed in this way. general had called as thermopylae of france suppression invader was inside the rawls -- walls of verdun. is what he was talking about. and, the idea here is the prussian invader threatening the young public in 1792.
the thermopylae of france was an image that was -- wasn't restricted to this site. some of the neighborhoods and revolutionary french towns began renaming themselves. here, this is a district in ,renoble which renamed itself in honor of this event in ancient greece, the defense against the imperial invader. in february 1916, when the germans returned to this region thettack verdun, nationalist french novelist took up the image again in the newspaper, and in the general who was the french general sent him to command the french second
army. he then started to repeat it a couple of months later. and that image stuck. and 1920, the general put out his patrician the frenchof moloch, happily added to that their own heroic legend of thermopylae. during the battle itself, the french thought no such thing about falcon nine's cersin -- ve rsion. they were happy to accept it later on as a vision of a monstrous invader with such cynical design, but during the war they bought no such thing.
he told the american newsman, frank simons, that in his eyes, verdun andl between gettysburg was inescapable. after the war, in 1920, the french quickly picked up falcon heights version. the french historian who wrote an account of the battlefields of the western front, including verdun, he picked it up, established it, took it as the gospel truth, and ever since, school in history books and on,ls, films, songs, and so
recently asing as the televised documentary in france and germany a few years ago. when you think of it, however, of moloch sits badly with the legend of thermopylae. the moloch legend sees the defenders decimated as they throw themselves in waves against the wall of the invaders. the legend of thermopylae sees the invaders decimated if they throw themselves against the wall of the defenders. in factare of incompatible. that case, nobody worried about that very much. muchecades, no one worried either about the authenticity of christmas's memorandum, the text of which he purported to give in his memoirs.
that memoir has never been found for the very good reason that he never wrote it. the archivists after the war in the 1920's couldn't find it. war,g the second world almost all of the archives of the imperial german army were destroyed by bombing raid in early 1945. that,at took care of whatever hopes there was of finding it. that bombing raid spared me an awful lot of work, actually. it appears that falkenhayn did not even begin talking about attrition until several weeks after his attack. when he grasped the failure to achieve his original design -- what were those original designs?
alwaysans still are not in agreement about this. he was indeed, as he claimed, trying to provoke a response, but it was not just a fresh response and it was not that he wanted this to happen. move away from that argument, that can go on for a long time. nothing in any case allows one andhink that this astute rather skeptical general the believed he could and the war, or,inventing a town, with min if any strategic significance, with such a modest infantry force, in the late afternoon on the 21st of february, when his long-range guns ceased firing,
force, he committed only eight divisions to the attack. if this is to be a war-ending battle, there's really very few. nothing allows one to discern either, and the response of his french counterparts, the general, he committed only eight the sacrifice through the immortal xerxes on the shores of ancient greece, he intended to win, but not at verdun. he wanted the decision there, together with the sense that the other allies would mount elsewhere, the russians in the east and the italians on the alpine fronts. he only agreed to defend verdun to weaken the adversary, and also importantly, to avoid the dangers of a national humiliation.
so he committed as little as he possibly could there, to hold off an adversary who himself declined to commit all he had, the bulk of his divisions, declined to risk his all, and with that, the inevitable happened. nobody could prevail, nobody could win. verdun has perpetuated itself, becoming the longest battle of the war and one of the bloodiest in history. no matter, right? such messy realities did nothing either to undermine the central myth of verdun, and that is the myth of willpower. poster, themous getage -- courage, we'll them. words used at the
end of a famous communique on the 10th of april, 1916. they are also the words of a 1915, whichal of was reproduced on this equally famous poster promoting the sale of war bonds. the historical illusion here is unmistakable. it's to the volunteers of 1792. rushing to defend the endangered young republic. for -- for decades -- sorry, that's not what i meant to do. and manyes, novelists others,n novelists and novelsa d forth,- and films and so
on both sides of the rhine, stubbornly elevated the camaraderie and when -- and willpower and resolve above the din of the heavy guns. that is -- ailm, vision of history. filmmaker who made this movie in 1929, and then released a spoken version in , visions of" verdun history," and he dwells on the very first day of the battle. what i want to do is show a brief clip of how he dwells on it, and then show another brief clip from the german filmmaker the same year portraying exactly the same moment. short inve to cut this the interest of time, just show 90 seconds or so of this. be -- if ask that it
dr. jankowski: thanks. if you notice, the whole theme technology against french rest his city. the first thing we see is the shell falling through the roof of the peasant cottage. and stink of reaction is to pick up his hunting rifle and rush out to the defense, to avenge this insult. even in the scene where i just cut it off, there is the restive city, the animals. -- rusticity, the animals. german shells against french bodies. the emphasis on the human element of french resolve. the germant ilm, how hen his f showed that day, or rather, that morning. and -- maybe we should just show itilm, how he we canagain, show it, if
here, -- almost completely ignores the eight hour german artillery deluge, the one on which the french maker insists, he deals with it in an obligatory, cursory manner, the way you just saw. he insists instead on the result, the human element of the german soldiers as it were bit to beginhe their attack. words, he insists on the human element in a different way from his french counterparts. order -- talk about the german side for a minute, words, he insists on the human element this german tt appearing in the german retellings.
once they began to appear in the 1920's. and then into the 1930's. there was nothing specifically nazi about this, but the knot sees -- nazis when they came along would seize on this theme to extol the arian blood coursing through the veins of the ordinary german soldier, and to -- by extension the corruption and rods of the home front and their superiors. 1930, in a novel with a revealing title, there's the title page, he did adjust that, and he depicted the horrors of verdun, the physical torments of it, but he also depicted another subtle, that if a soldiers at the front and the rot at the
home front. this theme of the awakening of the nation is one that the far right end nazis did pick up on. hitler. the medals from you can see this theme. i'm sorry, this is march 1933. this is the day of potsdam. theme again. year -- not 1933, but in 1930. wrote --erman novelist and there is the title page of that -- he did something similar, but he deliberately
instructs the reader in the moral of the story, beginning, quoting, the struggle. inexhaustible struggle against the enemy and against the spirit of the old, spirit of decay and corruption. that, he spares the reader the need to read through this interminable novel. it's almost as long as the battle itself. novel as a this report to his compatriots, all quiet on the western front. it was in fact received that way. naziweather filled with delirium or not, such works all come back to this, i'll deny the
reality of industrial -- all deny the reality of the industrial warfare. this is the suppression of the central figure of indo-european warrior mythology for millennia. we have a problem. verdun gave rise to very few heroes. , norer willpower determination could prevail over the daily daily of steel and poison gas. the french command acknowledged as much in its infantry regulations of january 1916, built just before the beginning of the battle of verdun, the month before, this is what it says. one does not fight material with man. with those words, the french high command laid to rest the primary cult of 1914, and that
of the all-out infantry own, 1914, atits a time when artillery was merely auxiliary and poison gas to not exist. admittedn implicitly as much when he relied on artillery and economized on infantry at verdun from the very beginning, economized to the utmost, instructing the infantry even not to push on as they encounter too much resistance. german author, his novel 1931 -- there's the page of that. this was partly set in verdun. he's saying the spirit he of the german spirit, over the new war
of material. ofcalled it the unequal myth the german soldier. this is really to know avail. the myth of siegfried, like that of napoleonic a long, is over. it's finished. they found a few heroes. they found a way to make the most of them. these heroes incarnated on both sides, two different kinds of willpower. defensive among the french, offensive among the german. side --ide, the french officer officer who died valiantly with his men in the woods northeast of verdun. the german advance
the day after the german attack began on the 22nd of february. that became the french bureau. the idea of defensive sacrifice. on the other, the german counterpart of that would be the two german attendants, a name who ignored orders with two companies of brandenberger's, troops, andrman sees the mightiest fort in seized it with simply a couple of companies of men on their own initiative. before the end of the war, musical songs had transformed him and his men on the french side into the most interesting when i found was they transformed him into the hero roland. the german side, he and his
fort,hose who took the were often cast as the reincarnated teutonic knights. even in a serious gym or newspaper, -- german newspaper, which wrote about how they had pulled off the greatest feat of arms. so willpower among the french consisted above all in stopping the invader. it's an active refusal, really. -that also has very little to with napoleon, the very different kind of myth, very different kind of story. and that is the words that have been given appropriately to this entire symposium. pass, which turns
up in various other forms. no passage. and so on. and these words appear in the ink of soldiers' letters,no pas. and so as often as they do on the list of who is credited with this. credited with very little else in this war. wrong.fact, this is the phrase was not his. those words appear often and often. it's the essential french division of the battle of verdun . here's the medal struck by the city. on ne passe pas. it's the words on the monument on top of the hills north of the city. one is called the dead man's hill.
the scene of some of the most savage fighting of the first world war anywhere, they did not pass. interestingly, that's grammatically incorrect. i really cannot resist my , evensorial instincts when confronted with someone who cannot answer. probably the best kind of situation to be in. here it is again, and countless 1960, a collection of accounts. one cannot pass. there is no passage. appears fairly quickly. words, as i say, express the central french vision of
this battle, and that is a defensive battle. happened almost immediately. february, the 25th of newspaper wrote of the quote , living wall of french defenders. and some months later, while the battle was still raging, so in august, a member of the french newspaper wrote of the quote , living wall of frenchacademy d parallels. 1214, these were not very convincing, but it is the idea of french chest against foreign invaders. in 1916, as in 1792, as in 1214. you can find this over and over again during the battle itself. the author published a satirical novel called "memoirs of a rat."
in it the pond hero, a heroic rat, complains he doesn't get his due. and he says, and i quote, i too was at verdun. i too made of my chest a living rampart. hat's -- could perhaps continue. i want to make the point that that idea, that sense of ideal lived on. later on -- there are many examples of this, in 1938, at the time of munich, a french journalist said that france was diplomatic that it should not, it could not see anything more to the germans -- cede anything more to the germans that munich. the metaphor, that this
version continued after the war and found new ways of applying ofelf, it's th emyte myth thermopylae again. it's the myth of the defensive will. trench ofyth of the the ans. this is where the french soldiers at the 137th infantry regiment were supposed to have stood in passively in their trench as they cased in around them, leaving only the tips of the bayonets showing. this is one of the famous sites. and, thanks to an american philanthropist in large part, the trench was moved. this monument was made. again, an image of stoicism. side, it's the legend of initiative, almost of rage, of depression traditions
-- prussian traditions. he wrote in his own account of 1934, the old spirit of attack, leaving no obstacle standing, that frederick the great taught. attack, always attack. always attack. there is a cover of his book. these legends distort the facts. the trench of the bayonet never existed. that has been established since then that there never was a trench on the site. it's just not plausible. fellhe fort of dumont because of a relief operation gone bad, leaving the fort essentially defenseless.
the real travesty is deeper. the french and germans fought the same way throughout this battle. sometimes they fought off insulin, sometimes the fence of lee. and sometimes they did both at once. and they did this from the very first day of the battle. it is true that the battle has two broad phases, which i will quickly resume. shows thephase, this beginning german lines. the germans were able to push forward in the first few days, several miles. perhaps 6 or 7 miles. before the french resistance stiffened, reinforcement came in and the front stabilized. the french were unable in their counter to get much done in these early months, and the
final german attempts to get much further on the right bank ended with heaps of bavarian corpses. succeeding months, from august onwards, the french slowly came pushing back with counterattacks, taking back by december most of what they had lost in february. that's a broad canvas, and it's not wrong, months, from august onwards, the french slowly but it really leaves out a great deal. it leaves out 1000 daily the frenchin which and german were comfortably changing roles, attacking and defending in desperate struggles, in the ravines, on the hilltops, in front of the forts in what was left of their fact, theand in french counterattacks began almost at once.
this is what a french general briefly in command there said. this is the 23rd. the attack, and he wanted to tell his men, this is the lesson of the past 48 hours. yes, the fort of dumont fell in the 25th. 1/2 a kilometer away, the village of duomont kept changing hands in a savage combat that went on for a week and left nothing standing. there's no other way to explain the casualties at the end of , which were10 days almost the same on both sides. each side took about 25,000 dead, loaded, and missing. already in that first week, verdun was already verdun. this is what the battle was really about, and the broad canvas of the six months of
german attacking and six months of french counter attacking, what that canvas leaves out. great losses. great losses demand great causes. the newspapers of both sides came up with these. amongrvival of the nation the french, the recovery of an old dramatic city -- germanic city among the germans, and they attributed causes to the enemy to each other. eyes, the french were attempting to avenge the defeat of 1870 and in some french eyes, the germans were trying to save the dynasty. in one french paper, only 2 weeks into the battle, in early march, the editor said that, he said quite correctly, but no one quite understood the strategic value of verdun. nobody quite knew why it mattered so much.
and yet the whole world was watching it. it has become a symbol of what was unclear. there was really no other way of understanding what was going on, and the tenacity with which the men were fighting for it. in fact, these men were always enthusiastic. that is the myth of enthusiasm, which is already apparent in , the warer i showed bonds poster. afeter the war, that particular version reappeared again, and various french and german retellings. afeter thea french officer at vn wrote, and this is during the war, in 1917, that he had march
2 verdun praying to god to sustain his hatred of germans, the german race, rather. never stopped boasting about owngeist, his spirit, his version of enthusiasm. all of the evidence i think else.ts something now, there was hatred of the enemy, which is intrinsic towards itself. but it was mixed in with odd but it was mixed in with odd sentiments of respect, and even compassion for the enemy, especially for the enemy dead. and sometimes the bloodthirsty effusions of the homefront discussed in the man at the
front. i have seen letters from soldiers to their wives urging them to burn their newspapers. they could not believe what was in it. if any word recurs among the censors poured through the poreds of the men -- through the letters of the men, in their effort to assess the morale, that word is morose. over and over again, the morale of the troops is morose. and i, for one, am convinced that the men went up to the line the way they went to work, the way they went to their fields and factories, because they had to, because they had no choice. and some of them even say that. one quote anyway, we go along becaus we we can't do otherwise. of enthusiasm,th like the myth of willpower, rarely comes from the men themselves. they are the ones who launch this myth. god to sustain his hatred of the german race, and
boasting of his geist -- they don't need much encouragement. but there were exceptions. what they said and what they wrote required town crier's. it required people to amplify and convey, a required journalists and moviemakers and historians and the authors of schoolbooks and so on, this had to be generated and expanded and kept alive. thatthis suggests to me society needed such legends, to makey enable them sense of what was going on. otherwise, an event the magnitude of verdun would become incomprehensible. and that myth, that central myth, at least on the french side -- and then i want to stop very soon, but that myth on the
french side, france had been invaded. a german victory, they said then, and they continue to say later on, would mark the victory of an imperial, authoritarian empire over a liberal republic, and then later, or once the war ring it,, even du depending, they said that anyone who doubted the reality of that vision had only to look at the assembled ingram september 1914, the german wargames set forth there, known later on, it might also look at the terms imposed by germany and russia in 1918, while the war was still going on in the west, it would point to this and say this, this version of things is not an invention.
becomes anse, verdun battle for salvation. i don't think anyone can dare call that myth a lie. the germans, the myth of effort, of initiative, resolve -- it helped narrate the war, what it happened during it, to a disillusioned and in many ways embittered nation. in this version -- the german soldiers had nothing to be ashamed of. had not won the battle of verdun, but they had not lost it either. in some versions of this, it is the leaders and the homefront who betrayed them at verdun and elsewhere. germancase, a nascent, franco phobia powerfully nascent
francophobia in the interwar years, hardly encourage them to accept the french heroine versions of this battle. 1940, theh of june, nazi newspaper announced that the myth of french invincibility was over. close, duringo a the 1960's and 1970's, another myth arose. then myth is closer to the myths of the versions put out by the soldiers themselves. 1964, the prime and, later president of the republic, then prime minister, on a visit to verdun that she spoke not of and resistance in sacrifice, but the absurdity and
stupidity of war itself, the folly and horror of it all, slowly came to dominate many recitations. and this was not new. literatureantiwar had spread up on both sides of the rhine in the 1920's. becomingt was something like the standard version. last may francois laurent and angela merkel -- francois hollande and angela merkel went to verdun and they spoke about the history of europe and franco-german relations. perhaps that is where the story will stop, i don't know. if verdun gave rise to so many iterful myths, it's because raised so many questions which people at least had to think have some kind of answer. why did it happen, what was decided there, did it matter? we can hardly blame the myths for giving people such answers for the past hundred years
because without them, we might all go mad. but with that, i will stop. and thank you for your attention very much. [applause] >> your last statement i think can be drawn to many wars and many myths. --re are some i care phones microphones. you can come down and ask your questions of dr. jankowski. dr. jankowski: i'm overwhelmed. battles that are intriguing me how different they are yet similar.
loses these mythical battles of world war i. its mythical battle in world war i, and that doesn't seem to matter in terms of the latest myths, its mythical batte in world war whether you win or lose. what's important is sacrifice. british 2 cases, the and they are defeated in certain mythical ways because both centuries become nations out of world war i. the idea of winning and losing really doesn't matter in terms of creation of mythical battles from national history. after 1918, to the french need to frame verdun as a win or loss or to sacrifice another larger issues that much more important than winning or losing? dr. jankowski: i think you make a good point. win or lose, the battle can acquire great mythical significance.
hows surprised to find just battle endured on the german side. when you would think they had more to celebrate on the sum, which was a successful defense, although an extremely costly one. there too, it's not so much a victory or defeat that allows a battle to live on, although victory usually helps. the question is whether the french needed to make verdun a -- the myth that they did. >> do they frame it as a victory, or more importantly as a sacrifice? dr. jankowski: both. they certainly framed it as a victory. he became known overtime as the victor of verdun. some of these versions were extremely fanciful. the important point is that they did see it as a victory precisely because the french image of the war was a defensive
one. they had not started it, in their eyes. they had been invaded. there are other reasons for this at verdun. at verdun they foughta lone, -- alone, without allies. ctorious, but vi they weren't alone. they were with the british. in champaign, the french offensive in september 1915, they were not victorious. they fought alone, but they were not victorious. offensive hasaign not lived on. at verdun they were not only fighting a defensive battle, the battle they had not started any war in their eyes they had not started either, they were doing so alone. and they sacrificed a great deal. for all those reasons, i think it was natural that they should such a symbolic
battle. it became the symbolic battle of the war for the french. i don't know if that's -- the elements of an answer. such a symbolic battle. >> can you talk a little bit about the plan 17, the french attack of 1914? dr. jankowski: i could. by the time of the battle of .erdun, it was long gone -- it was the french plan in which they went to war in august 1914 anticipating a german invasion, but defending against it in ways that very nearly led to disaster. planmplify very greatly, 17 called for french
, while expecting a german advance in belgium, which turned out to be much larger than they had anticipated. the difference between 1916 and could not 1914 there be clearer, when you look at the french response to the german attack. at first not-- want to commit important forces at verdun because he didn't think it matter that much. once they did decide to defend, they did so at the insistence of politicians, not of the generals . once they decided and agreed to that, they conducted a rather parsimonious defense. that he retained his impatience, wanting the german gains to be reversed and taken back.
but it is a clear contrast from the heady plans of plan 17 in this, which ended up being a prudent strategic and very patient defense. big difference, i think. >> you have hit upon one of the most fascinating things about history in general, and that is the evolution, changing evolution of mythology. in some cases, to propagandize one'shistory in own agenda or te sensibility of one's own time period. curious, because i think back to churchill's account of verdun and his sort of play-by-play. it, it comes right down to do you think if there were one truthful sentence, would it be about pride of defending this
ancient fortress? is there one truthful reason for verdun? dr. jankowski: that's a critical question. i can give a rather cowardly answer to that. i could also give a foolhardy one. the last thing you said is important. it is very difficult to understand the strategic significance of it. i'm not sure i have a map. i don't think i have a proper map of that. verdun is about 300 kilometers from paris. the autumn of 1914, they dominated the plateau, which is
about -- less than 100 kilometers from paris. without being able to get closer to the capitol. what were they doing now at verdun,, attacking a place that was even further away? near thet anywhere railroad, strategic rail nexus that would have joined the french to their british allies. it would have made sense to attack there. it would have made strategic .ense some of the staff officers began to draw up plans to evacuate the place, or at least to evacuate one side of the river, and the reason they decided not to was because the politicians -- i should not use that term -- the statesman, rather. the french prime minister and the president of the republic would not hear of any withdrawal.
all of the bloodletting of 1915, all of the incessant of french fences that ght, 1915 wouldu be the most murderous year of the french. there are reasons right away of pride.ogy, morale, as the months went on, when you try to determine why one side or other does not get out of this mess, i think it was simply the cost they would have paid in terms of domestic morale were too high to be contemplated.
they immediately switched to a purely defensive stance, and contemplateuld not pulling out, and their defensive stance was a rather aggressive one. even they could not face such a possibility, and i think that that is a very, very powerful reason for it. morale, and appearing not to lose. the cowardly part of my answer would we i don't know. in other words, i think it is a very important part. if it is the only one, i'm not sure. >> it's a very honest answer to the question. for one more brief question. >> having to do with that, is
there any credence to the idea that it was chosen because it was the soul of france, going back to charlemagne, the idea this is where france rose up? very relevant, very pertinent question. i would answer no. it became the sole of france because the battle took place there. the battle did not take lays there because it was the soul of france. place battle did not take there because it was the sole of france. falcon chaim claims that in the text of the memorandum that he is supposed to have written. he says the french would defend suchlace because it had great importance. that alone makes the memorandum suspicious. germanswhen the attacked in france said that it had to be defended because it is so symbolic. it did not have that status in
1916. it has it today and it had it in 19 of an but it did not have it in 1916. certainly, things had happened, if you wanted to choose a symbolic, soulful spot on the western front to attack, he would have been far better to take the cathedral full of the ghosts of 30 anointed french kings. that was a far more symbolic spot. better the braver answer. i think that that was made up, too. [applause] >> to mark the 75th anniversary of the attack on pearl harbor, the national parks service and
servicey will host a wednesday in hawaii, and at the world war ii memorial in washington, d e, senator john mccain is the keynote speaker. c-span cameras will be there, and you can watch on c-span tv beginning at nine: 30 a.m. eastern. american history tv, only on c-span3. 100 years ago, german, french, and british aircraft were battling for superiority in the skies over world war i trenches in northern france and belgium. american history tv, u.s. army command and college history ratola giveshn cu war." k "the air this