The study analyses the preparation, unfolding and consequences of the Battle of Verdun (February 21st – December 18th 1916). The initiative belonged to the German High Command, which, with regards to the year of 1916, changed its strategic priorities. Erich von Falkenhayn considered that, in order to take France out of the war, a severe blow was needed on the Western Front. With this purpose in mind, he chose Verdun for its historical symbolism and value.
The German concentration of forces was enormous, but with moderate success, as the French resistance fared much better than expected. The Battle of Verdun went through four major phases. The first, which unfolded between February 21st and March 1st, consisted in a swift and concentrated German offensive, which involved impressive forces, totalling 17 divisions. This massive attack failed and, from March 2nd to April 15th, 1916, there was a generalized offensive on both banks of the River Meuse, which again failed to reach its goals. This was followed by the attrition phase, between April 15th and July 1st. From July 1st until December, in the context of the Battle of Somme, of the Brusilov offensive, of the Italian counteroffensive and of Romania’s entry into the war, the confrontation entered in its last phase, that of recoil and stabilization.
To a large extent, it was the Battle of Verdun that prompted Romania to enter the war alongside the Entente. Confronted with the huge pressure at Verdun, France took the initiative to negotiate with Bucharest, something that was, until that moment, left to the Russian Empire, by accepting its requests and persuading it to enter the war.