The Battle of Vimy Ridge as the Germans
Inside Story of Ludwig von Falkenhausen
Vimy Ridge was a strategic part that controlled a large area of France that we captured in October 1914. It was a long, low ridge that linked our new "Hindenburg line" to our trenches leading north to Hill 70 near Arras, France. It was about 7km and we had thousands of German troops that withstood attacks from the French and British forces costing them over 200,000 casualties! Then the most surprising thing happened, on April 9th to the 14th 1917, Canadian forces swept us off our feet and claimed victory. This unexpected victory was led by British General Julian Byng and the first Canadian Division commander Major-General Arthur Currie, with only 938 artillery pieces and 40,000 Canadian trrops!
Our German Defense System of Vimy Ridge
Our strategic position developed a defensive network in the Northern part of France to match the Ridge's natural geography. We had deep trenches that could stand the heaviest bombardments from our enemies, and we had belts of barbed wire and destroyed trenches, shell holes, and mine craters that made it even harder for our enemies to cross the Ridge. Our first trenches were on the front lines with second trenches behind it to create a deeply-dug and protected trench system. My troops had great protection and supplies with electricity and water wells. To even try to take our strategic positions of 'Hill 145' and 'The Pimple', the attackers had to go up against my machine-gun emplacements and our massive German fortifications!
Their Attack Plan, Taking over our Ridge
Our German Defense System has defended and withstood raids from the French and the British costing them over 200,000 casualties. It was known to be the most fortified and secure network protected by the Germans, until the Canadians took a shot at taking over the Ridge. We did not think that British General Julian Byng and Major-General Arthur Currie would capture Vimy Ridge along with 40,000 troops. Their plan was as followed: The 1st division would attack from their position west of the Arras-Lens road and capture our German trenches in front of Thélus. Their 2nd division was just north of the 1st and they assaulted our lines opposite of Thélus. 3rd division moved forward opposite of La Folie Wood, the large wood south of Hill 145. Lastly, their 4th division attacked a section of our German frontlines just north of 3rd division. Their most surprising and remarkable victory, yet our most disappointing defeat.
Ludwig von Falkenhausen's Diary, Written on the Frontlines
April 9th 1917
The Canadians have started marching up the Ridge, and our men are ready to defend at all costs. Their 1st division has captured our trenches in front of Thélus and their 2nd division has taken the trenches opposite of Thélus. Our men are falling by the second, our divisions and reserves are gone in the south. The Canadian's 3rd division has taken control of La Folie Wood, the battle is looking grim and our chances of victory are decreasing. Our last defense has also failed to defend its position but we took out as many Canadians in the 4th division as possible.
April 12th 1917
For the past three days, there has been nothing but bloodshed for us. We have lost total control of Vimy Ridge on April 10th, and ever since we have been hunted down by the Canadians. We didn't think this day would come so soon, that our enemies would conquer our Ridge. We had our last stand at the 'Pimple', but as the Canadians captured it, we fled to the closet village which was Givenchy-en-Gohelle. All hope has gone, we had no choice but to surrender and lose the fight on Vimy Ridge. Have no fear brothers, Hail Wilhelm II and Germany, stand strong.
Letter to Wilhelm the 2nd
Wilhelm II, German Emperor, Ruler of the German Empire.
My greatest Wilhelm, you may have heard of our uttering defeat defending Vimy Ridge. We have lost a strategic position in Arras, Northern France that may change the tides of the war. British General Byng and Canadian Major-General Currie has led the Canadians to victory on the Ridge, at the same time capturing and seizing 54 of our artillery pieces, 104 trench mortars, 124 machine-guns, 60 km², and 4000 prisoners. I recommend that you should permit me lead the 16th, 17th, and 18th German Division, and the 6th Army to retake the Ridge and use it against our enemies.
Your General der Infanterie, Ludwig von Falkenhausen.
Letter to Catherine née Rouanet
Catherine née Rouanet, My beautiful wife.
My dearest Catherine, we have finally lost our ground on Vimy Ridge but I assure you, all will be alright. We have held this Ridge for far too long, 3 years we have stopped the British and the French, but the day has come. It was a significant fight and victory for the Canadians, but not for us. The battle for Vimy Ridge was rather our most disappointing battle ever, no one, including the Canadians thought they would achieve victory on my Ridge. I'm sorry my Catherine, for I have failed for defending the Ridge as Germany slowly crumbles to the Allies.
Be safe, Ludwig von Falkenhausen.
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2. Christie, N. M. Winning the Ridge: The Canadians at Vimy Ridge, 1917. Nepean, Ont.: CEF, 1998. Print.
3. Roy, R. H. "Vimy Ridge." The Canadian Encyclopedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Feb. 2015.
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