The Nivelle Offensive

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The Hindenburg line was a new defensive weapon of Germany. The Germans had built a new defensive line behind their old one, moved to it, and shelled their old line. Considered one of the most amazing tactical moves in the entire war, the decision to move to this new line was reached by the fact that the German army was smaller. The new line would make it possible for fewer men to hold a line against many more foes. The lines set-up was a foreboding sight. The first line of defense were the small blockhouses shielded by rows of razor-wire. Each blockhouse would rain killing fire down on enemy forces, and then retreat when almost overrun. Then, as the enemy troops cleared the blockhouses, artillery fire from one or two of three real defensive lines behind the blockhouses would open fire, causing devastation among the charging men. Reserves would be used to strike at the enemy when they were at their most vulnerable. After the beating the attackers, the Germans could simply return to their blockhouses as if nothing had happened and prepare for the next attack. This was a new system when Nivelle unveiled his new offensive plan to attack and breakthrough the German lines. Little did he know this was the end of his carrer.

The Beginning

The prelude to Nivelle's offensive was launched by field marshal Haig, who quickly broke through German lines. Unfortunately, the Germans there failed to use the new system, and after days of bloody fighting managed to push back the British. However, Ludendorff, now the head of Germany's armies, knew that Nivelle's forces would strike at Chemin des Dames, and ensured the system would work there. Nivelle's real offensive began on April 16, and immediately turned into a disaster. After days of countless shellings, German troops came out from their hidey-holes relatively unscathed.

The Middle
When the attack came, the French and British were slaughtered by machine gun fire as they came up high slopes with no cover. However, with many, many more men, about 1.2 million in all, the French slowly pushed the Germans back with extreme losses. Then they entered the killing field.
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The German artillery made mincemeat out of most of the attackers who made it past the front line, and German reserves rolled over the remainders. This process repeated itself a few times, each more bloody than than the last.

The End
Finally, French forces started to revolt. The stopped attacking and demanded to stop the war. At this point, Nivelle was in hot water. He blamed everyone but himself, but in the end, he was gotten rid of. Petain was then promoted to chief of staff, and went out to pacify the troops. Unlike Nivelle, Petain was famous for the way he cared for his troops. In the end, he stopped the rebellion by giving leave to thousands of soilders and providing better food and care for the rest. Finally, the Nivelle disaster petered out.