By early 1916, the German Chief of Staff, von Falkenhayn had become convinced that a purely military victory was impossible. The Verdun offensive was aimed at shattering French morale either by its capture or by the prohibitive casualties that would be incurred by defending the city. The Germans enjoyed early successes, but were already losing momentum by July when the massive Allied offensive at the Somme forced the diversion of infantry and artillery. A series of French counterattacks from August onwards captured most of the territory lost, including all the key observation points on the Heights of the Meuse. The indomitability of the French defence cemented the reputation of General Nivelle who then became French Commander in Chief. Falkenhayn had succeeded in inflicting massive losses on the French, but at the expense of equally crushing losses to his own forces, close to a million casualties in total.
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