Called the Siegfried Line in German, this was a barrier – built and natural – in various places between 1916 and 1917 from Arras to Laffaux in Eastern France on the Western Front. The original motivation behind building the defences was to ensure a smooth retreat from the Somme, in case the British and French reinforcements proved too much during 1917.
The German army was able to rest somewhat after its defeats in 1916, and submarine and aerial bombing were continued against the Allies.
However, an overall loss in the war seemed increasingly likely as 1916 turned to 1917. The German forces were short on soldiers, bombs, ammunition and guns and barely two-thirds of the required replacement amounts were no offer by mid-1917. The Germans attempted to negotiate a peace settlement in late 1916 – however their terms as presented included the apparent acknowledgment by the Allies that the Germans were the winners. No wonder it was promptly rejected.
The Hindenburg Line – named after General Paul von Hindenburg – was attacked on a number of occasions during 1917 and finally broken in September 1918.