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tv   Doc Film - Verdun - The Battle of the Great War  Deutsche Welle  November 5, 2018 2:15am-3:00am CET

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v i done nine hundred sixteen. the longest battle the first world war. and one of the most bloody. it's the end of nine hundred fifteen. somewhere in the region of out on some french soldiers are to destruct themselves projecting some films on the wall. for over a year now they've been at war with germany. this is how they were caricaturing the
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german emperor wilhelm the second and the german soldiers with their pointy helmets and their superman cult just look at this image inbred the german army positions in the middle the town of ed on the river moise are running through it and the hills all around the french have built thirty or more forts here to protect themselves from invasion from the east. mythical names soon all the world will have heard of them. souvenir. vote. dromo.
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playing the elephants take a look at the other side of the front the german side. on this day the german emperor wilhelm the second has come to meet his military staff as well as his own son the crown prince the one with the husain death's head on his hat. here in the greatest secrecy the germans are getting ready to launch a major offensive by unexpectedly attacking the strongest position on the whole front. they reckon the french won't give up the town of their done without throwing everything they've got into the battle and that they can crush them before turning their sights on the british and winning the war. to.
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the emperor has entrusted the task of leading the battle to his own son. this is him addressing his officers. his majesty calls us to the attack he's saying we must see that the sons of germany's will to win is as hard as steel. at the beginning of nine hundred sixteen. thousands of germans are converging on vet on the envelope a little the in just a few days after the heaviest bombardment in military history this massive force
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will throw itself at the french positions. it's going to be a fight the like of which the world has never known a rifle man called rudy writes to his parents. the german troops have dug what they call sheldon tunnels under the hill for cover . in one of these perot's twenty year old clemens buchan hall frights i've got my rifle and three thousand cartridges by the door that you get the french on the run . was. the aircraft . the french are still completely unaware. they believe
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their forts are invulnerable especially this one dual mall. it's a state of the art underground city strong enough to repel any attack. was feb twenty first one thousand nine hundred sixteen. the german crown prince. says guns unleash a hurricane on the french lines. french
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spotter pilots say the twelve hundred german guns look like a plays in yellow line across the landscape. we don't have as many pictures of those first hours. but take a look at this recovered footage. it's a reconstruction filmed with the survivors at the same spot ten years later. we were deafened one of them says bugging out blown upside down and.
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the germans fire off a million shells that day. this is tommy foyer carpet shelling. it's like the end of the world. one lieutenant tells how both officers and their men are beginning to lose hope. all we are doing is trying to save face he says before it all goes to hell. back in paris the politicians are in shock. the commander of the french forces general joseph is always saying that verdana is too
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well protected for the germans to attack it. he's even started to strip the forts of their guns and send them north to the somme where he's preparing an assault with the british. prime minister. the one in the bowler hat warns him that he can't afford to lose any french territory. if you have vacuum and so on the retreat he says will be dismissed immediately along with all of your chiefs of staff. within hours an order from those chiefs of staff has fired off to the troops at vet done. your to fight to the death it says while awaiting reinforcements.
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but it comes too late in just five days the german steamroller crushes all the villages around bad done all the way up to dual mode right below the fort. it's here that a certain shi'a to go it twenty five years old is wounded and taken prisoner. but for the french the nightmare has only just begun. it's the twenty fifth of february four days after the beginning of the assault. now the germans are right up against the enormous fortress of doom on only two hundred yards away from the supposedly impregnable summit. a handful of soldiers from brandenburg strode on by the speed of the advance decides to have a go without telling the commanders. there without to carry out one
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of the greatest feats of arms of the first world war one that will live on for many years in german memory. at their head and he'd loss of danger captain you hakim helped slips through the barbed wire and jumps into the fortress as moat. made it to. the real danger is friendly fire the german troops haven't been told about this raid so they're firing on their own men. it it but that doesn't stop the troops from brandon. our getting into the strongest fortress in france right through the front door because the place is almost deserted and all the panic a french general has left it on manned. the
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tryouts has lose of the fall of doom or reaches germany and all the church bells start to ring out a young mother in feibel expresses the delight of her country man. what joy to read this news she writes to her husband at the front may god grant us peace and let the music of the cannons hail our future happiness. but france is badly shaken it's a disaster above all it's a humiliation for the troops all are picturing the germans rolling across the country as they done half a century earlier and eight hundred seventy. different
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had done falls france does too. that's what people are thinking. but now a new character arrives on the scene phillipa time a complete unknown a defense strategist. he's handed the job of defending via down. here he's arriving at his h.q. . for now he's just another bit player urging on the troops soon there will be the nation's biggest stars. what matters now for france is to get men to the front to block the german advance
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. it already seems like a lost cause. the french have been taken by surprise they just weren't ready. there's only one road that links fed on to the rear alongside it a single small train line it's a harsh contrast to the german front with its network of fourteen railway systems. once the new general arrives this country road becomes very dones on pillock accord . the sacred way as they begin to call it. its handsets a relentless pace six thousand troops changes a day. the lorries rolled day and night.
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and the road has to be maintained day and night by thousands of laborers. if it's cut the battle is lost. a sacred way straight into a battle that's become a sacred cause. and one of those trucks is a young lawyer lieutenant jew there. the very blood of francis here he writes in his diary. over the next ten months two thirds of the french army will pass through here. two million five hundred thousand men many of whose names will be inscribed on the monuments to the dead. they're defending their wives and their children their homes . and among these men
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marching to their fate a rallying cry as. they shall not pass. enduring media. to. be dug in within the walls of due or more to the germans had any idea what's coming. if these german reconstructions filmed after the war are to be believed the morale is sky high. in reality though they've suffered enormous losses. their advance has become much more difficult than it was to start with and they're exhausted especially these fragile young eighteen year olds.
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or. among the first to die as fans mark one of the greatest german painters of the twentieth century he was hit by a shell. he's realized right from the start that this is a totally few told battle all i see he writes to his wife shortly before his death is the most frightful spectacle the human brain could ever imagine. i. crown prince and his father at the kaiser are well aware of all the misgivings. the germans have only advanced ten kilometers and two weeks and there's no breakthrough in sight.
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they just keep going. they can't lose face. here's how the battlefield looks to them. to the right to a more held by the germans. the artillery eternal has placed on the west bank of the moisture and then the forts of mav and russia will view this pinning the germans down on the east bank. if the germans want to take verdana they'll have to destroy those guns. but to do that they'll have to take the two hills that stand in their way cote three or four
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and not on the dead man's hill. dead man's hill acquired its name after a body was found there in the nineteenth century. or every square foot of it has seen fighting to violent to even contemplate. today at summit there's a terrible monument. a skeletal figure crying victory. on the sixth of march the crown prince launches his troops at dead man's hill. before their eyes beheld explodes.
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the assault will go down in history as the hell of a done it if. it is. expected until later and april one thousand nine hundred sixteen is where the battle grinds to a standstill. the two armies are dug and face to face they'll spend months trying to destroy each other. but this is already a victory for the french as piton promised the germans cannot pass. it's time for him to speak the words that will make him famous throughout the world . courage. will get them. what it. is words hit home. the new general
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will become a symbol of all france the man who stood up to the germans and the french will remember this twenty five years later when the country falls to nazi germany in one nine hundred forty. on dead man's hill now however the boot is on the other foot. as the french put out more flags the germans grow increasingly uneasy. especially the ones who've been captured by the french. we've been gravely deceived by our officers rights young god not to his mother and other demands we would like on those gentleman responsible for the war to come and fight at our side if they'd done so we would have had peace long ago.
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in fact although the french don't suspect it germany is increases. with the war seemingly endless some politicians are starting to question the sense of it peace demonstrations are spreading. this is one in berlin on the first of may in the middle of the battle of ads on. the far left politician car leake nash disarrange the crowd down with the government he says down with the war . right after he speaks he's jailed. meanwhile the mood in the french capital was completely different.
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one of the troops have been holding out on dead man's hill life has almost returned to normal here almost as if the battle was actually being won. the civilians seen getting on with their lives and even having fun have no idea that sixty thousand men have already died it fed on. and more are dying there at the rate of one every two minutes. by the spring of one thousand nine hundred sixteen the germans are desperate for a rapid end to the battle for the french dream of glorious revenge that fed on. i. they'll get their wish. after three months of
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shelling had done has been virtually destroyed. but the german still haven't broken through and the town itself emptied now of all its inhabitants is still in the hands of the french. it's clearly a success for the french in any war of attrition a stalemate represents a victory for the defending side. and while soldiers are still being blown to smithereens delegations are arriving from all over the world to celebrate the resistance of a nation. this is the future king of serbia an ally of france being welcomed by the president of the republic. the journalists have been invited to an english correspondent rights of video one feels an intense satisfaction
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it would seem a masterpiece has been achieved. the by. the french and stood alone against germany. everyone knows it the germans shall never pass. the battle let's round to a halt and this is of no further strategic importance. but it will still carry on for another eight months. this statue by local store done that stands on the banks of the moyes a is an idea of the mood at the time. it speaks of france's need to wipe away the insult and punish germany.
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the french counterattack comes on the twenty second of may the troops hurl themselves at dual mode the fourth they'd abandoned only three months earlier. but their objective is a dubious one their generals know getting the fort back won't help them break through the german lines the whole area is locked down by artillery. but they still want a victory. and for a few hours. it seems within reach the french rushed the front line and get a foothold on the fort before being decimated by the german artillery.
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it's a disaster five thousand dead wounded or taken prisoner. and all for nothing. the survivors limp back to their positions among them no he's not a shy who writes. duel more has been taken last retake and. the wounded look ghastly. one of them is crying mommy and my little girl or it's madness we're all mad. to.
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in truth it's the battle itself that's gonna end it is. it's about pride ego and prestige. and industrial war where technology counts for more than all the lives lost and the slaughter is starting to run amuck. the odds on either side of the front are roughly equal two hundred thousand french against two hundred thousand germans all are dug in well to hide from the observation balloons that make them sitting targets. return has his troops on a rotation system ten days on the front line ten days on the second line then a rest back at the rear. and
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that to the front line again and that's where captain dead veil is when he writes you feel like an animal being herded into the. sixty million shells. almost a ton of explosives per square metre. at a fair done at the pump argument never stops. the enemy mustn't be allowed to breeze way men are dying all the time often with nobody even noticing there's no glory in the slaughter. made when nature is starting to in flesh. some men even drown in the shell
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craters. what keeps them holding on are their loved ones they're coming larger. and i'll call the bird. to last any sense of patriotism is long gone. the soldiers continue to fight out of routine and a sense of duty and because they have no choice. at the beginning of june general evers from fica nine head of the german army orders his men to have another go at fed on. he
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wants to ten down the french and stop them from supporting the british further north on the somme. no one is really committed to the attack though not even the crown prince for him the battle no longer makes sense in my heart the kaiser son will write i was totally opposed to this offensive but i had to abate orders so i forced myself to appear completely confident. between the four to do and more still in german hands and the fourth at voe still held by the french once more the landscape burns. this reconstruction based on an aerial scan of the battlefield shows the network of
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trenches and the thousands of shell craters dotting the landscape. the germans descend into the ravines climb back up the hills and eventually encircled the fort a vo. incited or four hundred french. they've had no water or munitions for several days now. and every day eight thousand shells rained down on them. they're completely cut off but they know that all of france is watching. it's here on the fourth of june that one of the most famous episodes of the battle
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of dun takes place. when the germans managed to breach the fort through a tunnel or. the trench raiders attack with grenades flame throwers and hand to hand with knives. on. both sides fighting for glory and survival. the end. it ye. eventual eighty exhausted french surrender and the germans they've just been trying to kill record them full military honors.
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it could all just end here but that's not what happens. i'm. for having to convert all the germans have cleared the way to the next hill and the next fort over there on the horizon. sylvia. was. home from this rocky promissory which they scale a month later on the eleventh of july they again begin to feel that victory is within reach and the distance they can see their done and it's cathedral their ultimate goal. their never get there their final offensive will fail in
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a village now wiped off the map philly was taken and then retaken a dozen times in just two weeks. it's the very image of the whole battle heroic and pointless. the two sides have been fighting for six months over one hundred thousand men are dead. like many of his comrades arnolds five a young writer feels he's been sacrificed by as emperor and his generals. the war's been going on too long he writes to his wife just one more push they keep telling us in march they said it in april in may in june. reinforcements arrived even younger man. the infantry
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struck at the very heart of the french. they told them they were defending their country and they believed it. then they saw it wasn't working. whose fault is all this. many people blame fuckin highness. chief of the german army the man who has sent an entire generation of the country's young men to die. the end. the eppy end of august the kaiser has fuckin hine replaced. was. the end.
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of the generals plan has been a total failure the allies have been advancing on the somme since early july the minute vet done are needed elsewhere and now romania has declared war on germany so fuckin highness' packed off that they are as a punishment he's replaced by two generals from the eastern front every student off and polish fun hinton blog hidden book on the left will become president of germany after the war he's the figure who end one nine hundred thirty three with a point at all for hitler chancellor of germany. for the time being though he's here to put an end to a battle that was supposed to be decisive for germany but instead awoke french patriotism like no other action and the war.
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but this is very done so it never ends. for the french it's no longer a battle it's already become a legend an existential struggle for their country survival. things are different on the somme where a murderous british and french offensive has been going on since the first of july but that's just a joint operation with the british so it's having a little impact on public opinion in france where the country's collective memory.
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no it's here in the mud event done the french want their revenge. they say they want to secure the region. but what they really want is glory. between september and december of one thousand nine hundred sixteen and will constitute a lives of forty seven thousand more frenchman general ted turner has brought in the big guns they fire one ton shells the size of an eight year old child as they like to say. it. on the twenty fourth of october the french make one last assault on dual mode the
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latest icon of their national myth. and nine months after the forts capture by the germans the french finally managed to retake it. this time for good. the old. the. crown prince's troops surrender in droves. one hundred forty thousand germans have died at red on and another one hundred ninety thousand have been wounded. all in a battle that did nothing to affect the course of the war.
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the french losses were even heavier. one hundred sixty thousand dead and two hundred ten thousand wounded. but the french got their victory in the end. the tactical errors the humiliations all behind them now. who. and when the snows come in december of one nine hundred sixteen the battle is officially over. three hundred days of fighting. it would take another eight months to win back the forest of course and dead man's hill and another two years for the war to end. these soldiers these husbands these fathers
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who had taken bravery to the very limit. they left behind thousands of orphans and they would ask was a glorious this battle. or was it just absurd. or all that was a century ago the trauma of the great wars longest battle reminds us how far we've come and above all perhaps. how much we ourselves have changed.
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