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Lego WW1 - The Battle Of Verdun - stop motion

JD Brick Productions · Youtube · 272 HN points · 0 HN comments
HN Theater has aggregated all Hacker News stories and comments that mention JD Brick Productions's video "Lego WW1 - The Battle Of Verdun - stop motion".
Youtube Summary
The Battle of Verdun was the longest and one of the bloodiest battles of World War 1.
It was fought between the Germans and the French around the city of Verdun, in eastern France.

The city of Verdun was both strategically and culturally significant to the French.
The German high command knew that it would be a crushing blow to the French morale if they were to capture it.

On February 21st, 1916, the attack began.
The Germans opened fire with hundreds of artillery guns to bombard the enemy line. They then attacked with huge waves of infantry, which easily overran the destroyed French positions.

Within a few days, they had captured Fort Douaumont, one of France's largest fortresses.
The twenty-year-old fort was no match for this new type of warfare and was quickly destroyed by the German's massive guns.

Eventually, the French were able to reinforce their positions, halting the German advance.
Both sides constantly pounded each other with massive artillery barrages, which made infantry attacks extremely costly.
This also turned the surrounding landscape to mud, which further impeded infantry advances.

For the next few months, the two armies would attack and counter-attack each other, without either side gaining the upper hand.

On July 1st, 1916, the British began the Somme Offensive.
In order to focus on this new threat, the Germans had to revert troops and supplies away from Verdun, relieving the French.

Shortly thereafter the Germans called off their attacks at Verdun.
The French began counter-attacking, and by December 18, over 9 months since the battle began, they had retaken most of the ground they had lost.

Some of the worst fighting conditions during World War 1 were seen in this battle, leading to the deaths of around 300,000 men, with many more being wounded or captured.
The Battle of Verdun showed the strength and determination of the French, and revealed to the world the chaos and destructiveness of modern war.
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Jun 28, 2022 · 269 points, 147 comments · submitted by brudgers
Lego depicting war is so depressing...

(well, except for Lego Star Wars of course, somehow that seems to pass both the corporate and my personal "no way toys!" filters)

>well, except for Lego Star Wars of course

Until you watch this:

Or the obliteration of an entire planet in the first movie.
Watching this makes me feel ill, and it has nothing to do with the content.

Seriously, were they holding a phone in their hand while moving minis around?

Lol. I actually created it. Sorry for the undisclosed self-promotion.

I made this when I was 14. Yeah, camera stability was a major problem for me in pretty much all my videos, and this one is especially bad.

I'm trying to remember exactly what I did over half my lifetime ago... This was made with a point and shoot camera. I think the 2nd shot was indeed me holding the camera with my hand. I don't think there's any actual character movement there though, so that shot didn't involve me moving the characters. I had the actual Episode 3 up and was going through it frame by frame trying to replicate the scene with the same camera angles and possibly camera movement. I think simply setting the camera on the table wouldn't have given me the angles I wanted. There was no tripod short enough to get the camera as low to the table as necessary. I would need cutouts in the set's floor for the camera, requiring multiple sets or a set that can be broken into different pieces. That was too complicated for me and I'm not even sure if I had a tripod at that time.

For the 1st shot, it looks like the camera is sitting on top of something (maybe a book) because its elevation seems constant. Its angle though is quite erratic, so I think I was tilting it down with my hand because simply setting it flat on the book wasn't giving the necessary downward angle.

For the last shot, I think the camera was sitting level on the table. This shot is the most stable, but is still pretty shaky. The camera had a shutter button that required a fair amount of force to press. Every time I pressed it there was a large chance that it would move the camera. Also it was a crowded set. Sticking my hands in there to move the characters often resulted in me bumping the camera.

For the 3rd shot, possibly the camera was also sitting on something.

Another problem is I think the camera was on autofocus, auto exposure, and auto whitebalance. So between each picture these settings could change, which also contributed to inconsistencies between frames. I don't even think that camera had the option of manual focus.

As I got better at stop motion, I started using a Logitech QuickCam Pro 9000 USB webcam attached to my laptop. That allowed me to trigger a frame by pressing a key on my keyboard, which wouldn't shake the camera. I also then enabled manual focus, exposure, and whitebalance, and could use onion skinning. The camera also had hinges allowing the height and vertical angle to be adjusted easily. I focused more on keeping the camera steady, by building a LEGO cage around it, and trying to avoid bumping it while moving the characters.

I didn't have a cell phone at the time. I think I got my first phone a year and a half after this video. It was a feature phone and I think its picture quality was a lot worse than this point and shoot's quality or that of the QuickCam. I never thought about using it for stop motion; that would have been worse than this.

Probably just someone figuring out stop-motion by trial and error.
As far as themed sets go, Lego has been consistent in promoting aggressiveness in the last 30 years. Police chasing the bad guys to put them in a prison cell, pirates wanting to plunder the treasure, ninjas riding heavily-armed aircraft.
Are you criticizing Lego for producing what sells? Aren’t they producing what our culture wants? Do you think a wokeness set would sell as well as a pirate set?
> Are you criticizing Lego for producing what sells?

There is demand for all sorts of things the society in general considers harmful.

If one chooses to offer it anyway, be prepared for the criticism.

I never understand the argument of "what our culture wants". You can still be a critic even if it's the norm. Also, you can cater to a part of what the culture wants, so yeah, you can criticise Lego.
Well, FWIW it's impossible to find a Pirate set on a brick and mortar shelf, but Lego Friends and similar are still selling reasonably well.
Pirates have never really "come back" as an official theme but pirate-themed sets have appeared on shelves now and then (Creator has one).

Part of the problem is that dedicated toy stores are almost dead, so if Walmart or Target's shelf of LEGO doesn't have it, it basically doesn't exist.

There was a time when Lego was pretty solidly pacifist in what they chose to make. Sure, you could make a gun out of your bricks, but they didn’t make plans for them, or special parts.

Over time this has changed. There is an entire page on Wikipedia dedicated to chronicling this:

When was that time?

Because classic space had rayguns, and the pirate ships had working cannons.

> When was that time?

It's literally written in the article that the person you are responding to linked. I'd recommend reading it.

> From 1945 onwards, Lego began producing a wooden version of a toy pistol. The company then applied for a patent of the model in 1946. A plastic version of a rapid-firing pistol began to be manufactured in 1949.

The first minifigure is from 1978, the first weapon is from the same year.

The article is about “realistic weapons that kids may recognize from conflict zones.” Everyone I know from the time took the various “antenna” pieces on the space craft as “laser guns.” The space police figures had weird looking pieces that can be interpreted as or such, but they easily serve as futuristic guns as well.

I’m observing my kid picking up lego and assembling my old sets and they take that the same way without prompting.

Using bricklink as proof that the number of weapons increased is hilarious. Many kits used and still use regular bricks in places where they can clearly be read as weapons. (1) Lego definitely has a trend to make more specialized pieces now, so it’s not surprising at all that more specialized weapons show up.

(1) The cannonballs are listed as “Brick Round, 1x1 open stud”, because that’s what they originally are.

Yeah, it's pretty weak. According to the article, they made toy guns up till 1962, and then reintroduced weapons in the 1970s, with the caveat that they would not be realistic, current weapons (so space guns and pirate guns are okay. AK47 is not, presumably).

But yearning for a 12 year period in the middle of the last century and talking about it as if deviating from it is a recent sign of the company losing its way, is a little odd IMHO.

Police transitioned from just cops with a police station or a motor cycle directing traffic to police stations with jails and criminals inside.
I have a Lego City police station from the mid-80s that has a jail cell.
The very first Lego police station had a jail cell: but no criminals, I guess you had to supply your own or assume that one of the cops is a dirty rat.
The police minifigs have certainly kept up with real life US cops:
The clothes are one thing, but that face!
I do worry about the mental health of the minifigs. They used to be so happy, but more recently they're all angry.
The switch that I really regretted was the move from "open play" to "good vs bad".

When I was a kid I had a ton of castle sets. They were pretty much "neutral". Various factions doing their thing, some a bit more shady sure, but you could set up whichever story and alliance you wanted. In early 2000 it turned into humans vs ugly trolls. I felt like so much was taken away from kids by doing that.

Pirates, knights, ninjas, cops and robbers, etc. are part of being a boy. Girls have Barbie.
Part of being a child. My daughter would not be seen dead with a Barbie (a doll anyway, she really enjoys the other kind).
Klaus Barbie? The Butcher of Lyon?
Haha no, that’s Aussie slang for “barbecue”.
Ahh ok, that one :P
Is that it, are we back at “video games cause murders”-level pearl clutching?

I’ll take a peer-reviewed cohort study before I believe that “Lego has been consistent in promoting aggressiveness”.

Poster said Lego has been promoting aggressiveness, not that it has caused aggressiveness. It's undeniable that Lego themes have drifted a lot more to violence (Lego City is half about Policing), plus all the Ninja and other stuff.
I don't think it's s much about Lego promoting it, but giving in to demand. The more violent lines are consistently their most popular ones. The excessive amount of policing and lack of hospitals in Lego City is disturbing, but I'm sure their sales numbers dictate this. They used to have hospitals in the past, but I guess they never sold as well as the police stations.
They still have hospitals
The top sellers in LEGO city are always police, fire, then a close tie between mechanics and hospitals.

They've said that a main reason is there's a direct visible story with those, and their main customers are boys (not as much with LEGO Friends which is their first girl-oriented and successful line) and boys want conflict/story. "Save the people from a fire" or "catch the robber" - even a hospital falls a bit short there.

The old joke is LEGO City has fifty five thousand police stations, almost as many fire stations, one gas station, and one house.

The current hospital: goes up against (at my count) two police stations, two fire stations, and some various "smaller" police/fire sets.

To be fair, LEGO has always had houses available, but they often fell under LEGO Classic or LEGO Creator (and now LEGO Friends).

I deny Lego themes drifted towards violence. I just went through my kits from the late 80ies/early 90ies since kid is reaching Lego age. I was a big fan of Space, and like > 60% of the sets are Blacktron and Space Police.

City kits always had police and my cousin mostly owned Castles/Knights. There were pirates and pirate ships with cannons that can shoot bricks (we loved those) Pirates seem to be mostly gone and replaced by Ninjago but police stuck around. No surprise, kids love police stories.

On the civilian side of Lego City, a large collection of civilian space exploration has been added. Space definitely has been demilitarized.

Yeah, the answers in this thread clearly show that I greatly overestimated whatever pacifism commitment Lego ever had. I'm genuinely surprised, apparently they were quite successful at overselling the "play good" brand to me. Pirate cannons actually throwing plastic? Before today I was convinced that this was the defining difference between Lego and Playmobil.

I'm from the region that is home to playmobil and we have a joke here that by count of items identifiable as "handgun" we have the world's largest guns manufacturer at our doorsteps, given the number of pirate and wild west kits sold each year.

The LEGO shooting cannon came out, and then went away for a number of years, and then came back - I guess whatever "safety" reason they took it away for was decided not as important later.

I remember as a kid finding one of the then-old "shooty" cannons and it was the most prized one I had.

When I was a child, Lego was explicitly and deliberately pacifist in outlook. I remember reading that the colour palette was determined in part by this philosophy - green, grey and brown were verboten, the latter colour completely absent and the first two existing only in limited plate form. Of course manufacturing cost limitations made a restricted set of colours sensible anyway.

As a preventative, this was not entirely effective - we war-mad kids still had red bombers intercepted by white fighter aircraft over a battlefield of blue armoured vehicles, we didn't care!

> Lego was explicitly and deliberately pacifist in outlook

For my part, I remember (in addition to the SW kits) cavalry vs indians kits, full with sabers, rifles and pistol, which we often used with modern-day kits.

LEGO didn't want to sell weapons used in existing conflicts because there may be kids there, too. So most things were historical or fictional (but kids don't care, they can do cops + robbers with anything).
Really? I distinctly remember having grey knights, sharks, and pirates with musket.
When were you a child? In the late eightees, I happily played with Lego that had grey swords for knights in grey castles, and pirate themed stuff with brown guns, and cannons that were grey and brown. Lots of green base plates, too.
Yes of course I should have qualified the colours point by excluding base plates - they were indeed predominantly green and grey. The point though is that these were to denote grass or urban road surface, you couldn't exactly build camouflaged military vehicles out of them!
Not to mention gray spaceships galore.
still have the green dragon sitting on my desk, with red wings and mouth fire. I guess that was early 90s stuff though
I assume it was the 70s. During the 80s, Lego included more and more green, brown, and especially grey, and also more and more weapons. First swords and spears for the knights, later muskets for the Pirate theme, and then blasters for Star Wars. They still don't like modern weaponry, though. I'm not sure if they have guns for their cops and robbers.

The real military stuff comes from clones/competitors, not from Lego.

The movie-tie ins are the closest they get to "modern weaponry in LEGO" and it's not much (mainly Star Wars) - they intentionally made the muskets and such for Pirates pretty old looking.

They weren't averse to reusing pieces to make guns (the early Star Wars sets used megaphones for that) and they have revolvers, etc: has all Minifig, Weapon that are made by LEGO.

Looking through 70s lego sets there is a ton of greens and grays. Not a lot of 'violent' stuff, as it's mainly models of houses and transport vehicles. But it seems to come along with the minifigs in 78.
IIRC the "dark green" and "brown" were more expensive to make accurately without color variation - bright green had been around for a long while.
Yes this was the 70s. At the tail end of my time there were indeed knights with swords and (checks on google) halberds, and the Space theme guys had little doohickeys that were presumably meant to be ray guns - at least that was how we used them. With hindsight one could see that this was the thin end of a wedge, but contemporary weapons like guns and cannons would still have been very off-message.
I wonder if this is done with CGI or real Legos. The texture on the prices is excellent but The LEGO Movie achieved this level or realism in CGI.

Edit: looked at the rest of his channel. It’s a mix of stop motion, rigs to throw bricks/simulate brick explosions, and CGI.

The combination is extremely impressive.
All I can think of is, in a few years when AI can trivially generate this video from a few prompts, will anyone care about this kind of art anymore?
Will anyone care about any kind of CG art ? Depressing.
Wow, I was certain it was entirely CGI. If it's stop motion, it's incredibly impressive, as the animation and camera work are nearly seamless.
They definitely came a long way since their first video 8 years ago:

What makes you say it contains CGI?

It obviously contains a lot of CGI, but the question is if the lego pieces are CGI.
Based on the VFX breakdowns I think the ones in the distance and out of focus are.
How else would they do muzzle fire?
Look at the "behind the scene":
If wonder if this is where they got the French machine guns: (first result for "lego chauchat gun"). I kind of love that there's this 3rd-party market for relatively obscure weapons for minifigs.
I'm just shocked that the creator even got the rate of fire right for the Chauchat. Up to and including it being annoying and jamming!
I half expected this to depict the battle of Verdun in the Edge of Tomorrow movie.
I simply cannot imagine how many hours would be required to produce this amazing stop motion film. I just hope it brings in some cash for you. It's incredible how much detail and minute motions there are between images. Bravo to you and your team!
Are these computer animated movies is are they doing that in lego? They also got lots of other battles rendered this way, it must be a movement!

there are even stop motion movies on the Ukraine war

There are behind the scenes videos of the stop animation!
Here's the behind the scenes video:
wow, amazing! thanks for the link!
Verdun always reminds me the treaty of 843. Split of Frankish Kingdom into what is now known as France, Germany, Benelux and northern Italy.
Funny, watched this recently :
For anyone interested, Battlefield 1 is a world war 1 game available for every platform, and it’s one of the best games in the franchise! It’s about 6 years old now, but still active and stupidly cheap. I highly recommend it to anyone with an interest or even casual curiosity in WWI.
There's an upcoming game, Isonzo, that is a continuation of Verdun, and will probably be quite realistic (Battlefield 1 is fun, but very... Creatively based on WWI)

Yeah, it's kind of hard to make an interesting and realistic game when people were mostly chilling in trenches. That said, the maps are beautiful, and the gameplay is a whole lot of fun.
Obviously people weren't jumping off blimps, and the pace is higher than it is in actual warfare (but that's in all games) but apart from that I thought it had pretty historically accurate settings isn't it? (I haven't actually played it.)

People think World War 1 was all trenches and mud, but it wasn't. There was action in Africa and the Middle-East as well.

Who makes the lego Chauchat? That was a pretty nice detail.

Unofficial, but compatible, period-appropriate military gear is on
Call me a killjoy, but the Battle of Verdun was one of the worst and bloodiest battles of a horrific war that arguably ruined Europe. Is there Lego Auschwitz, too?

Bad taste, whoever did this. Bad taste.

>Is there Lego Auschwitz, too?

IIRC there is. A polish artist created an Auschwitz Lego Set a few years ago. (IIRC with Lego's blessing)

> the Battle of Verdun was one of the worst and bloodiest battles of a horrific war that arguably ruined Europe

Even more reasons to remember it. It’s also a law of nature: anything that can be remade in Lego bricks eventually will be. Resistance is futile.

(Besides the fact that this is how someone uses their free time without hurting anyone, so I have a really hard time getting outraged about it)

This looks to be a history presentation in a medium the creator is most proficient, not a glorification or trivialisation of war, as evidenced by the epilogue.
considering that the video has a like two minutes long educational section without lego at the end and the fact that it is not much fun to watch this ... I would say: good job.
That was my takeaway. It isn’t gleeful, it is sad… and I think that’s the point. Getting huffy that a horrific battle is being portrayed with toys seems to miss the entire message.
I think it’s tastefully made, and doesn’t make light of the war at all. Lego can be a neutral medium to express ideas, like play dough or wooden figurines.
It also lets you experience the horror of the war whilst being disconnected from it - the difference between and watching The Passion of the Christ.

Seeing a stand-in for humans may let you watch it further than you would be inclined to if it were actual humans (or live footage).

Is Maus in bad taste too?
All you people talking about how it's "educational": I'm doubling down here.

Dumbing down history to the level of modern day action figures because "the kids can relate to it" is missing the point of "reading history." It's to realize that the past was not like now.

Yes, it takes an effort to get the kids off their phones and pay attention to something other than each other. No one said teaching was easy.

I'm sure it IS hard to make them realize that they didn't have cell phones, Internet, or flush toilets out there, and when a soldier was wounded, he suffered, screaming and thirsty, often for hours, and they didn't have good medical care for him when he was finally stretchered off. Somehow throughout history, some teachers and parents have managed to do it.

Isn't this all the more reason to remember this battle? While the Lego re-enactment does have elements of action that could be misinterpreted as glorification of war, the 2 minutes educating the viewer on the actual history seems to indicate that this is a tribute to the lives lost and an education on the horror of war.

Similarly, a Lego Auschwitz would probably be a good way to explore history. Again, not to glorify it, but to educate people in engaging ways on how horrific human beings can be to each other.

There is nothing tasteful about war.
This is clearly art. Whether it is in bad taste or not is subjective, but art should not shy away from the horrors of humanity just as it should not shy away from the triumphs of humanity.

Personally I think it is excellent, and stuff like this will encourage the younger generation to ask "What was Verdun?". It has way more capacity for teaching/inspiring interest than me having been forced to sit in class and read about Verdun in a textbook.

IMO, those most willing to call for violence from behind the keyboard are those who least understand the real world consequences, those who have the least knowledge of the horrors that have come before. It's really important for people to know just how cruel and awful we can be to each other, and most importantly, how damn pointless it all was. Media like this can help bridge that gulf.

Expertly made, but not all of it is Lego. Lego doesn't make most or any of these hand weapons and helmets, so those come either from a clone/competitor, or were custom made.
Interesting. I was going to complain about the use of the leather "Pickelhaube" helmets on the German side there, but looks like the Stahlhelm was only introduced during the battle of Verdun in 1916 (hence the name M1916). Those Pickelhaube helmets would have been covered with textile in the same color as the uniforms though, and without the characteristic spike (for obvious reasons in trench warfare). The iconic black one was mostly for staff officers and parades in those days (and police).
Thanks for this comment providing what was, to me, rather obscure information.

To anyone else reading this who is surprised as I was, all this information is corroborated by the German Wikipedia page for Pickelhaube[0] (to those unaware, Wikipedias in other languages are all independently edited and often have completely different articles - in this case the English page has some relative shortcomings). The spike was deprecated in 1915, and textile covers were in fact used after 1892 and modified with the removal of the spike.


The most mindless slaughter in human history.
I always wondered how the folks that stormed beaches in Normandy did it. Where did they find the courage to face death ???.
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"The Battle of Verdun showed the strength and determination of the French, and revealed to the world the chaos and destructiveness of modern war."

Based on the jokes from WWII, they must have not recovered that tenacity in time. "We have these gently used WWII French rifles. They've only been dropped once"

Or maybe the people remembered the absolute devastation that total war with Germany causes and figured that peace at all costs, including surrender, was a better choice. France lost something like ~4.5% of their population in WWI and 'only' ~1.5% in WWII (according to some cursory Wikipedia-ing). It also stretched out the Germans' defensive line, gave them an active resistance to deal with (which can be more difficult than an army), and transitioned much of the war to a naval/air focus where the Germans weren't as competent. Seems like a sound choice, compared to feeding another 2%+ of the country into a meat grinder again.
No one in Europe makes such jokes, the French fought like lions.

Of course, our friends across the pond also think state healthcare is communism, and republicans are “literally” nazis so, I wouldn’t truck too much with such statements.

We do make such jokes. Not about WW1, though. But the reputation of the French was heavily tainted by their failure to check Germany in the interbellum and the Vichy regime.
Then I hope that you have plenty of jokes about the country whose prime Minister came back from Germany "with peace for our time" in 1938 :)
Of course, however they are all framed as "LOL, look how stupid/naive politicians are" rather than "LOL look how stupid/naive our country was". "Chamberlain" is still used as a shorthand for a politician accepting a deal that no one believes will be upheld.
Yes, a misleading statement, but also one which bought the British valuable time to build up their military.

It isn't clear that Chamberlain believed what he said, politicians are sometimes cleverer than they appear.

He then proceeded to fool the whole cabinet by telling them that Hitler is not insane and has very limited objectives:
> Yes, a misleading statement, but also one which bought the British valuable time to build up their military.

This is not really the case. The most important things the British could do against the Germans was the Blockade. And the Blockade was available at literally any time since WW1.

And the Germans were already in full buildup, they delay between 1938 and 1939 helped the Germans far more then it would have helped the Allies. Not to mentioned it took out the Czech military.

Specially since its only when the Germans invaded Prague that the British really started the buildup.

And in the end, the British army was kind of useless in the Battle of France, since the breakthrew happens in Verdun and the British were in Belgium.

Not to mention that the main reason why French army underperformed in the war is that lots of resources were spent on Maginot line as spending them on a potentially offensive things would upset the British
This is an old theory that doesn't hold up at all. The Maginot line was a good investment and worked as intented. And it was by no means as large an investment as people claim.

Where they failed is in terms of their officers, command&control and training. The French Generals made some horrible mistakes and never managed to recover.

Many Brits still do I'm afraid.

It's a sad irony to see 'Dunkirk Spirit' being rolled out at a time of crisis, despite it being a rout of the British army. It was a logistical triumph, which no doubt allowed the British army to live to fight another day. But I also consider Dunkirk Spirit to be about standing helplessly on a beach while being machine gunned by German pilots, while 30,000 Frenchmen die, guarding your rear.

> despite it being a rout of the British army

The Allied Army was surrounded because of a Break threw in the South. The British Army could literally do absolutely nothing and they don't do anything to lose the overall battle.

In fact British keeping minimal organization alive and managing even limited counterattack had a strong effect German planning.

And then of course despite massive help by the British Pétain essentially stabbed them in the back.


Attacking your opponent's strengths is a time proven rhetorical strategy.

Swift Boat Vets successfully depicted war hero Sen John Kerry as a pacifist. Ditto Sen Max Cleland.

Sen John McCain was mocked as weak for being a POW.

Ad nauseum.

More nauseating is that it works. "Balanced" media coverage signal boosting the agitprop, muddying the waters, begatting cynicism and apathy.

France lost an awful lot of men in WW1, however they could not do it alone. The allies almost lost the war with the Ludendorf offensive in spring 1918, however the USA saved the day when the expeditionary force got to two million soldiers in the summer of 1918.
European anti-colony resentments saved the day. Its riduculous how unaware pre WW2 europe was of the rest of the world. It was just some kind of pantry to fetch things from when in need.
> The allies almost lost the war with the Ludendorf offensive in spring 1918

Not really. Those offensive were very unlikely to win the war. They look more impressive on a map then in reality. He really had no strategic plan, its was basically 'Lets attack and hope for the best'.

It was a big deal for Germany, they moved their troops from the eastern front after the Brest-Litovsk treaty, and they sold it as the 'last big push' to their troops. Part of the original plan was to first win in the west, in order to avoid fighting a war on two fronts at the same time.
They basically took all their best troops and pushed them into one relentless offensive after another destroying all their best troops.
> No one in Europe makes such jokes, the French fought like lions.

You clearly have never been to Switzerland.

Oh, of course we make such jokes... my grandfather who spend a real good time in france sure did...
(Ignorant) English people absolutely make jokes about the French being militarily incompetent and prone to surrender, in the face of significant evidence[0] - "France is the most successful military power in history".

Source: am English, am attempting to become decreasingly ignorant over time.


EDIT: Wait, crap, I forgot Brexit. I guess your statement remains _technically_ incorrect, since England is in (the continent of) Europe but not in the EU.

> "France is the most successful military power in history".

A lot of their victories are from subjugating colonies. Hardly something to be proud of. But if you want to quote Niall Ferguson, self proclaimed "Neo Imperialist" go ahead.

The rest writes itself. e.g.: The Arc de Triomphe - celebrating the Revolution and Napoleonic War(s). Both wars that France lost.

Claiming its the most successful in history is nonsense.

France was the most populated and richest country in Europe for a very long time.

Despite this, what one could consider natural French territory, Belgium and Netherland France never managed to hold for a significant amount of time.

And then they decisively lost the global great power struggle against Britain despite France being much richer and having larger population.

France is constrained by pretty natural frontier boarders that when looking the Medieval Kingdom of 1223 and modern day France, it doesn't seem like its the most amazing achievement.

Specially considering its German neighbors, for 1000 years were far more fractured, and France never managed to really take full advantage of that situation.

> Despite this, what one could consider natural French territory, Belgium and Netherland

What's natural about this? Those countries had been fendong off occupyers for centuries by the time the French made any serious progress during Napoleon. If you're refering to the Rhine/Maas delta, after the Roman empire it never was a (significant) border again, at least not in the Netherlands.

> What's natural about this?

Where is the center of power of the French crown? And then measure how far away the lowlands are.

The French kings have been struggling to control Flanders for literally more the 1000 years.

Given how much larger and richer France was, and how incredibly valuable that land is, the most successful military in history should have managed it.

> Those countries had been fendong off occupyers for centuries

Yes but if they had been opposed by the best military in history then they shouldn't have been able to.

The British Army ran faster than the French to the sea but the joke is always on the French. It's also a very anglo-saxon joke…
A British route is not even in the same league as compete national capitulation.
Been like this since the 100 years war... Some tourism on the continent or else, then run back to the security of their island if any trouble. And spitting their British exceptionalism contempt across the channel and the rest at any occasion. Our best "friends".
Had the channel not been there, the UK would have surrendered like the French…
The French fought hard. The problem was twofold:

1. The German army in 1940 was utterly unstoppable. They didn't just conquer France, they conquered half of Europe. The French army was seen as the best army in the world at the time, but they were utterly unprepared for the new way of warfare the Germans introduced.

2. Petain.

Every year I visit various ww1 battle sites in northern France and Italy. We walk through endless farm lands to find information about certain events. We often stumble upon ammunition and steel scrap. The land is literally filled with shells, bullets, scrapnel everywhere. Some are still live and just brought to the top of the soil by farm tractor machinery. The amount of shells fired at the battle of as Verdun is so extremely high that you find layers of shells everywhere. For months millions of shells were fired in a 20 square km area. It will take hundreds of years to clean them up. 900 years in some places. A few years ago I found in the middle of farmland a lot of unexploded bullets still in their clips. After searching a bit more we found also various fragments of helmets and bajonets, leather belts and more. It turned out to be a French defense unit, completely destroyed and burried under layers of mud only to be discovered 100 years later.
Myself and my then GF visited Arras just north of Verdun in 2019. She was a few months pregnant at that stage and in every hotel we stayed, the proprietor warned her to only drink bottled water, including for brushing teeth.

The locality got so hammered with poison gas shells, it all seeped into the ground water making it mildly poisonous!!

Lovely part of the world, but a sad legacy of military buildups.

What about non-pregnant people?
I'd say it's probably a red flag for non-pregnant folks too.
It is an honest question. Is the poison bad for others or only because a pregnant woman or the foetus are exceptionally weak to it?

If it is, why and how do people still live there?

Again, I'm guessing that pregnancy is probably a health condition where everything is under stress, and drinking toxin laced tap water doesn't help.

But lots of people do live there, and from albeit biased observation, they seem happy enough just drinking beer and wine (and maybe bottled water).

To give a bit more reference on the scale of the slaughter of Verdun and WW1 in general:

Total casualties for the 1916 battle were ~755,000, maybe less. The battle lasted 302 days, from 21 Feb to 18 Dec. Doing a bit of math, you arrive at just shy of two casualties per minute.

That comes out to crashing a fully loaded 737 jet into the ground every 2 hours, every day, every night, for 300 days straight.

The total casualties of WW1 are worse. In terms of 737-crashes, it comes out to one every ~14 minutes for the ~4.25 years of the war for military casualties. Including civilian casualties you get a 737 plane crash every ~10 minutes for the four years, three months, and two weeks of the war.

Imagine a Lion Air Flight 610 tragedy every 10 minutes, 132 times a day, every single day, every single night, for over 4 years straight. No breaks.

Just building plane after plane, fueling them, training pilots, finding people, getting them on the plane, taxiing, taking off, getting to altitude, and then intentionally running them into the ground, every ten minutes, for 4 years, nonstop.

Where would you even find a place to put all the wreckage? What airstrip's tarmac could support that many planes taking off that quickly? How could you even get that many willing people onto planes at that rate? What kind of airport fuel system could support that amount of consumption for 4 years without maintenance? How could you possible train pilots that fast?

The sheer scale of the slaughter in WW1 is just mind boggling. It truly, really, does make my just head go 'fpoooom!'.

EDIT: I'm having some trouble with my math (maybe?), if someone could double check, that would be great.

The "zone rouge":
"...scrapnel everywhere...".

The correct term is 'shrapnel', but your 'scrapnel' means so much more.

/'Scrap', being the root of the word.

I like that neologism, very fitting.
Yeah you are right. English is not my native language.
Yes I went as a teenager. We were warned not to buy souvenirs as live grenades were known to have been bought in the past. But you could still see chalk lines in ploughed fields where the trench lines had been and even in some of the memorials there were signs warning you to keep out of the wooded bits. And some of the memorials are massive, and just covered in names.
I am currently born near to Verdun

> The amount of shells fired at the battle of as Verdun is so extremely high that you find layers of shells everywhere

On the first onslaught on the city, it is estimated the German fired around 2 millions shell on Verdun in two days. [1]

It is hard to imagine by today living standards the hell that people lived there.

> The land is literally filled with shells, bullets, scrapnel everywhere. Some are still live and just brought to the top of the soil by farm tractor machinery

Some forest area are still today considered the 'zone rouge'. There is still so many shell inside them that the access or activities there are forbidden [2].

Even in the area not considered 'zone rouge', it is still pretty common for farmers or forest workers to find back non-exploded shell regularly, even today.

[1]: [2]:

Aftermath - The Remnants of War by Donovan Webster[1] is highly recommended and has a section on Zone Rouge.


I'd second this book -- it's unforgettable in its description of the unexploded bombs left over from war, in addition to land mines and the continuing effects of Agent Orange in Vietnam.
2M shells in 48 hrs is 11.5 shells a second.
But if you design a factory to make shells quickly, each production line can probably do 1 shell per second (they're not so different from big bullets, and those are made very rapidly).

11 of those lines and you can be keeping up that rate forever.

It's not enough to produce them, you also need to get them close to the front. The logistics of transporting millions of tons ammunition outside of normal trading routes should not be underestimated
I just found out a few days ago when I have read about track gauge, that they literally built narrow train lines to transport ammunition at scale. Eg:
Stockpiling those shells for a "huge burst" at the start of a battle is more than possible though.

The main issue today, is such stockpiles are easily found by recon (satellites, airplanes, drones), and then blown up by enemy artillery / rocket artillery.

Logistics are invented during ww1. Same for canned food. Boxing material and more.
Just happened to be listening to Dan Carlin's hardcore history about WWI. From memory, the Germans would build multiple railway lines to the front to supply a large offensive like this. And then they'd spend weeks stockpiling ammunition and food using those multiple railway lines. At times this conferred a large advantage to the Germans as parts of the Allies side would be supplied by a single road vs. multiple railway lines.
Building multiple railway lines is also a safety thing - you don't want to leave a whole section of your troops unsupplied just because some train is hit by a shell and wrecked blocking the tracks.
When you don't have to deal with boring things like permission to build, consent of landowners, keeping roads open, etc., building a railway is very quick and easy.
I watched a documentary a little while ago which described the sound as a constant drum-roll during these barrages.

I don't have sound at the moment but think is something similar. The scale of these attacks is mind boggling.

> A barrage like this is referred to as "drumfire" by veterans to describe artillery that is so constant, unceasing and uninterrupted, that it sounds like drums. Others say that it sounded almost like a sea. It is agreed that it was impossible to hear individual shells, due to the sheer amount being fired.


> A video to describe the sheer scale of WW1 artillery barrages and how they may have sounded. It may also help to convey the experience of shell shock (PTSD) a WW1 soldier may have developed. Although this video pretends to be the experience of an artillery barrage, a true artillery barrage especially on this scale cannot ever be felt in the same way through a demonstration as the world would shatter, pressure and concussive forces would be felt throughout the entire body with each blast, and the noise would be so extremely violent and loud that anyone would have their ear drums ruptured.

In these days of elite, small squads as shown on television, this is a stark reminder that war is incredibly, literally unbelievably, savage thing.
Jun 11, 2022 · 3 points, 0 comments · submitted by Bud
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