Germany focuses on on the Eastern Front in 1916

The flip side of any German (and Austro-Hungarian?) offensive concentration on the east, is that the Germans will have to spend the whole of 1916 responding to withering French and British assaults in the west. Defense being less challenging than attacking doesn't mean it is not challenging. The British and French will be innovating their techniques, and the Germans will have to be making their defenses ever more deep and flexible, and expending ever more reserves in counter-attacks, to keep restoring the integrity of their western front lines during the year.

I assume no Verdun means the French could extend the attack frontage in their sector. (I would assume if the Russians were suffering under an offensive in May/June there would still be pressure to pull up the offensive early for relief. Is there any chance the western Allies could pull off a Somme victory???
 

raharris1973

Gone Fishin'
Is there any chance the western Allies could pull off a Somme victory???
Great question.

With all the Allied hammering German occupied France is going to take, any errors or weakness in German defensive or counter-offensive tactics and operations could lead to at least marginal 'flattening' of the occupied 'bulge' somewhat resembling perhaps the land that was given up in the retreat to the Hindenburg line in early '17, possibly a bit more.
 

Coulsdon Eagle

Monthly Donor
Great question.

With all the Allied hammering German occupied France is going to take, any errors or weakness in German defensive or counter-offensive tactics and operations could lead to at least marginal 'flattening' of the occupied 'bulge' somewhat resembling perhaps the land that was given up in the retreat to the Hindenburg line in early '17, possibly a bit more.
The Somme was meant to be a huge joint Anglo-French operation. The attack on Verdun saw the French involvement diminish over the weeks. Now if the German offensive at Verdun is reduced in impact, the French will have more troops - and, more importantly, more heavy guns - on the Somme. Given that their artillery was the main reason that they, and the southernmost British units, were the most successful sector on 1st July 1916, it is possible that the French manage to outflank the German defences from the south. Won't stop the British casualties elsewhere along the front on the First Day, but could see a successful Allied offensive push past Bapaume before the year is out.
 
After talking about it, none of these options seems war winning. The Murmansk railway is opening in March 1917, blockade is tightening, the trends are bad, I can see German leadership committing to unrestricted submarine warfare just the same bringing in America, ensuring Germany's defeat, regardless of any east front gains.

I think if we magically gave Falkenhayn a history book at the end of 1915, I think he would just do Verdun differently, either rushing the city in the first few days, or widening the attack frontage west of the Meuse, or not do it at all, knowing the attrition would work against him in the long run. And he would the just stay on the defense in the East, maybe sprinkling in a few divisions in Galicia before the Brusilov offensive, and hoping Russia has revolution just the same, while not doing anything to bring America in.
 

raharris1973

Gone Fishin'
After talking about it, none of these options seems war winning. The Murmansk railway is opening in March 1917, blockade is tightening, the trends are bad, I can see German leadership committing to unrestricted submarine warfare just the same bringing in America, ensuring Germany's defeat, regardless of any east front gains.

I think if we magically gave Falkenhayn a history book at the end of 1915, I think he would just do Verdun differently, either rushing the city in the first few days, or widening the attack frontage west of the Meuse, or not do it at all, knowing the attrition would work against him in the long run. And he would the just stay on the defense in the East, maybe sprinkling in a few divisions in Galicia before the Brusilov offensive, and hoping Russia has revolution just the same, while not doing anything to bring America in.
Well the Galicia option, if not overextended, and if having the impact you suggested, sure isn't war-winning. But it may be career-saving for Falkenhayn, presuming the Somme isn't a record-breaking Allied success. Saving Falkenhayn's career is the shortest path to stopping unrestricted submarine warfare, and possibly some of the worst Hindy-Ludy fuckery with the economy. The war hasn't been Germany's to win from the beginning. When it was (as started in OTL) even that was a dice roll. The war was always the Entente's to lose. Germany's calculations and estimates are all about not losing and maximizing opportunities to the Entente losing. Or even more accurately, getting out of the way of the most plausible paths to Entente self-defeat. The situation has really been Entente's to lose since circa 1909 or 1910 actually, once the Triple Entente alignments were in place.

By Entente's to lose I mean that looking at the Triple Entente versus the CP 4 line-up and assuming no negotiability or disruptability in the Entente's will to impose its victory, the CP 4 do not have the economic-military resources to overpower the Entente through any tactics, operations, or strategy.
 

Riain

Banned
The thing about Verdun is that the Western Allies were readying to strike blows in 1916, and the Somme and the French counter offensive at Verdun showed these were very powerful blows indeed, far more powerful than anything the Russians could muster and far more dangerous.

If Falkenhayen leaves the West alone Germany will suffer a hammering, the Somme was a real blow for Germany as was Verdun. They have to do something in the West in 1916, even if it's limited spoiling offensives.
 
The thing about Verdun is that the Western Allies were readying to strike blows in 1916, and the Somme and the French counter offensive at Verdun showed these were very powerful blows indeed, far more powerful than anything the Russians could muster and far more dangerous.

If Falkenhayen leaves the West alone Germany will suffer a hammering, the Somme was a real blow for Germany as was Verdun. They have to do something in the West in 1916, even if it's limited spoiling offensives.
The British writer Liddel Hart in his World war 1 history book, thought the Germans could have taken Verdun if they would have just rushed the city on the first day.

So perhaps they could have just won a short battle, shortened the line on the Meuse there and freed up enough reserves to make up for the lack of an extended offensive.

Regardless, the Germans have all of February, March, April, before the eastern front gets to be major offensive worthy.

It's easy to see why Verdun made sense to the Germans, we have to create an attrition favorable situation with the nation with the smallest manpower reserve, France, we can do it now instead of several months from now, we have a particular place where we can do it, no place else offers that advantage.
 
...
Regardless, the Germans have all of February, March, April, before the eastern front gets to be major offensive worthy.
...
... just wonder why they would have to or would decide to wait that long given these actions
Humin-Bolimow 14th Jan. to 28th Feb.​
2nd Masurian Lakes 7th Feb. to 28th Feb.​
1st Przasnysz 7th Feb. to 28th Feb.​
Lomza 1st March to 28th April​
2nd Vistula 27th Feb. to 21st March​
Lake Naroch 18th to 30th March​
Bessarabia 19th Jan. to 8th March​
all happend - regardless their outcome and the first 5 as kinda 'preparation' for Gorlice-Tarnow performed by 'only' 3 german Armies instead the 5 austrian and german armies engaded in the latter - during the periods of a year you depicted above.

After talking about it, none of these options seems war winning. ...
... is there actually someone asking for?

Aside the propagandistically often by every side 'promised' :
"Total victory is just one other battle away."​
none of the militaries promising this - including Falkenhayn - actually believed it themself.

Therefore would another eastern campaing in 1916 'only' prepare better conditions for the next step and after the overnext step have the Entent powers brought to be willing to come to the negotiating table.
 
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If Falkenhayen leaves the West alone Germany will suffer a hammering, the Somme was a real blow for Germany as was Verdun. They have to do something in the West in 1916, even if it's limited spoiling offensives.
On the other hand the Germans can build a Hindenburg Line earlier, which would significantly delay an Allied offensive due to having to laboriously come up with new plans.
 
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David Flin

Gone Fishin'
The British writer Liddel Hart in his World war 1 history book, thought the Germans could have taken Verdun if they would have just rushed the city on the first day.

Although Liddell Hart needs to be read bearing in mind his obsessions and his rewriting of his own views.

Rushing on the first day may or may not have yielded results. It would have led to horrendous casualties that would have been war-losing in the case of failure, and would probably not have been war-winning in the case of success.

With the benefit of hindsight, and with knowledge of the certainty that, for Germany, the clock was ticking, maybe. With the knowledge available to the German High Command at the time, it would have been a ridiculous risk to take.
 
... just wonder why they would have to or would decide to wait that long given these actions
Humin-Bolimow 14th Jan. to 28th Feb.​
2nd Masurian Lakes 7th Feb. to 28th Feb.​
1st Przasnysz 7th Feb. to 28th Feb.​
Lomza 1st March to 28th April​
2nd Vistula 27th Feb. to 21st March​
Lake Naroch 18th to 30th March​
Bessarabia 19th Jan. to 8th March​
all happend - regardless their outcome and the first 5 as kinda 'preparation' for Gorlice-Tarnow performed by 'only' 3 german Armies instead the 5 austrian and german armies engaded in the latter - during the periods of a year you depicted above.


... is there actually someone asking for?

Aside the propagandistically often by every side 'promised' :
"Total victory is just one other battle away."​
none of the militaries promising this - including Falkenhayn - actually believed it themself.

Therefore would another eastern campaing in 1916 'only' prepare better conditions for the next step and after the overnext step have the Entent powers brought to be willing to come to the negotiating table.
Maybe it was the memory of whole blood in the snow Carpathian thing, and the focus was favorable attrition right then, but the thought was another winter offensive in the east would have high casualties, this was another Churchill book comment paraphrasing Falkenhayan, so agendas may be involved.
 
Churchill having an agenda when writing something? Surely not (sarchasm).
Yeah at the end of 1915 section in the book, Churchill goes into a long discussion of possible German strategy of 1916, including Falkenhayn's thoughts at the time about the various strategies (even an Alexander style march to India now that a route to the Ottomans was open). Churchill talked about how Germany had reversed her fortunes for the better by attacking the weaker and going east in 1915, and should have done the same in 1916. (Churchill is trying to cover for and explain his own Gallipoli decisions by pointing out of attacking the weaker is better than a west front slog)
 
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