The Battle of Verdun was one of the bloodiest battles of the First World War. It was fought between the German and French army north of the French city of Verdun. In 1916, the Western Front was turned into a hopeless trench warfare. The German army wanted to break the deadlock. Their strategy was to attack the French army in a place they knew the French would defend till the end. As a result, the French army would eventually bleed to death. They chose the historically important city of Verdun on the river Meuse.
Verdun was a fortified city surrounded by a system of fortifications of forts, ouvrages and abris. On February 21, 1916 the German army launched their offensive with a devastating bombing of the French positions on the east bank of the Meuse. The few French soldiers who survived the bombing defended their positions fiercely. The German offensive was initially a success and within a few days they conquered the important Fort Douaumont. After the capture of Fort de Vaux, months of devastating bombings, gas attacks and barbaric man-to-man fights followed and the battle became a nightmare for both armies.
In July, the German army made a last attempt to reach Verdun and Fort Souville had to be conquered to gain access to the city. During this attack the German troops could see the city from the top of the fort before they were pushed back. The German offensive had failed. The German army was gradually forced back, and in December 1916 the French army had recaptured most of the lost territories. 300,000 soldiers were killed and 500,000 wounded during the Battle of Verdun.