Verdun 1916

Traces of the Battle of Verdun

The Battle of Verdun was one of the bloodiest battles of the First World War. It was a battle between the German and French armies 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 region where they knew the French would defend it till the end. The French army would eventually bleed to death. They chose the historically important fortified city of Verdun on the river Meuse.

Verdun was surrounded by a system of fortifications. On February 21, 1916 the German army launched their offensive on the east bank of the Meuse with a devastating bombing of the French positions. 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. Months of devastating bombings, gas attacks and barbaric man-to-man fights became a nightmare for both armies.

After the capture of Fort Vaux the German army made a last attempt to reach Verdun. 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 the French army had recaptured most of the lost territories. 300,000 soldiers were killed and 500,000 wounded during the battle.