Back to: Phase 1 - The preparations before the Battle

The history of Verdun

To the people of France Verdun was of great symbolic meaning. Of old the small city had played an important part in the defence of the hinterland, with its strategic location at the river Meuse. Attilla the Hun never had been able tot conquer the city. At the dividing of the dominions of Charles the Great in 843, Verdun became a part of the (German) Holy Roman Kingdom. At the Peace of Munich in 1648 Verdun was permanently allocated to France. 

The town of Verdun alongside the Meuse in 1915 

Verdun played an important part in the lines of defence, which were built in the period after the French-Prussian war of 1870. Along the French eastern-border a strong zone of forts had been built between Verdun and Toul and between Epinal and Belfort, as a protection against a German threat. Verdun guarded the Northern entrance to the Champagne-plain and with that the entrance to Paris.

In 1914, Verdun also had been able to withstand the German attacks and the forts even had sustained the bombardments of the Big Bertha's. The garrison of Verdun was quartered in the citadel of the city, built by Vauban in the 17th century. At the end of the 19th century subterranean passages had been constructed which functioned, as a workshop, an ammunition-dump, a hospital and resting-place for the French troops during the battle.

Back to: Phase 1 - The preparations before the Battle