Verdun is located in the northeast of France and was one of several known battlefields during the First World War. The Battle of Verdun took place in 1916 and was an attempt by the Germans to break the stalemate that had arisen after the failure of the Schlieffen plan in 1914. The Schlieffen plan was to defeat France by a rapid campaign. Verdun was surrounded by several forts (fort Douaumont and fort Vaux) which the Germans considered to be of military importance and invested large forces in conquering them, which they eventually did. The problem for the Germans was that while the battle of Verdun was going on, the battle of the Somme also raged. The need for German forces was great on both sides, which depleted resources. This meant that the Germans did not succeed in defeating the French defence, which instead recaptured the forts and restored the former front lines. The Battle of Verdun lasted for about eleven months and both sides suffered losses over 300,000 soldiers.

Current status: Demolished with museum (2008).

Address: 1 avenue du Corps Européen, 55100 Fleury-devant-Douaumont.

Get there: Car.

My comment:

The French war cemetery and chapel is extremely large and lavish and exudes a glorification that I have rarely seen. Ironically, the chapel is reminiscent of the camp entrance to Auschwitz II – Birkenau. But I’m probably the only one seeing this resemblance. 

Follow up in books: Clark, Christopher: The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914 (2013).