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Battle of Verdun

One of the bloodiest battles of the First World War

Battle of Verdun

Monday morning, February 21, 1916. A quarter after 7 in the morning, the German army opened fire on the forts north and east of Verdun, France.

It is the starting signal of one of the bloodiest battles of the First World War, in which 306,000 soldiers were killed and 406,000 were injured in an area the size of a handkerchief.

Monuments in the forests of Verdun commemorate the victims: the Ossuary (or ossuary) of Douaumont contains the remains of 130,000 French and German soldiers. There are graveyards all around as far as the eye can see and a monument to the French Muslim soldiers from the First World War.

Initially, the Germans gained ground and captured several forts, including Douamont. The French people were gasping for breath: Verdun, symbolically important to them, was becoming isolated.

After a bloody battle, Fort Vaux fell in the German's hands on June 7, 1916.


That is why General Pétain ordered the only now muddy road between Bar-le-Duc and Verdun to be covered with a layer of crushed stone. "La Voie Sacrée" (the soldiers speak of Chemin de l'Abattoir ) was born.

The supply and removal of troops, wounded, and war materials was assured. Every 14 seconds, a vehicle passes along this crucial artery.

The German offensive went downhill from the summer onwards, and the Germans were forced onto the defensive. The French and Allied counterattacks lasted until December 15, 1916, after which the front line fell into almost the same position as before the bloody battle.

The enormous human sacrifices had been in vain. "La tranchée des baïonnette" is the oldest monument on the battlefield from 1919 and is dedicated to the French victims. An explosion buried the bodies of French soldiers under this strip of earth.

A century later

In and around Verdun, soldiers' cemeteries, forts, and monuments remind us of the violence of war and, less visibly, the heavily contaminated soil and unexploded ammunition.

On top of the Côte 304 hill, this tower commemorates the battle. The Germans tried to take Verdun via this western flank, but they never got past the heavily guarded hill.

Several villages around Verdun were completely destroyed in the fighting and wiped off the map. Only a few columns and side walls of the church of Ornés remain standing.

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