Tuesday, April 24, 2012

V is for Verdun

The Trenches
Verdun is a place one does not want to visit.  Yet, if you are anywhere close to the infamous battleground of World War I, it's incumbent to go.

My family and I visited when our twins were seventeen.  As hard a place as was is to be, as many ghosts as we felt and as much as we looked at our sons and thought, "It could have been them," it was necessary to have gone.

The Battle for Verdun, also called "The Meatgrinder," for terrible and obvious reasons, wae the apex of Hell for World War I.

Douaumont ossuary
TheBattle of Verdun is considered the greatest
and lengthiest in world history. Never before or since has there been such a protracted battle involving so many men, situated on such a tiny piece of land.

The battle, which lasted from February, 1916 until December, 1916 caused over an estimated 700,000 casualties (dead, wounded and missing). The battlefield was not even a square ten kilometers. 

A vew of Verdun today
My family and I were caught up in the horrible story and the restive place.  All four of us felt a disquiet the entire time we walked the battlefield.  Couldn't shake it.  Didn't even try. 

Rather, we tried to empathize with what must have been the horror of it all and the useless slaughter of a whole generation of young men.

On December 19, 1916, the Germans surrendered to the French.  Little comfort, I should think, other than more lives were not lost at Verdun.  It is a sad place, a tragic place, a not to be forgotten place.  A place where humanity should have learned everything there was to learn about the futility of war.  Alas, that was not the case, and the mad march of humans toward war never ceases.


  1. What a vivid -- and chilling -- portrait of Verdun. Thank you for sharing this. I'd not realized how very small the battlefield was. To think of all those lives lost in such a relatively small space and time, is horrifying.

    May our world some day learn its lesson...

    (Thank you for visiting my blog. It seems almost crass to mention my own blog after reading this post, but thank you.)

    Beth Stilborn

  2. Hello, Beth, Thank you for your thoughtful comments on my post today. Yes, that battlefield will never leave my mind and, thankfully, the minds of our sons. One can only hope the world somehow finally learn from our mistakes, as you've said here.

    It was a pleasure to visit yours, and I'm glad I did.

  3. Thank you so much for following me, Beth. I just noticed! Really appreciate it, and I'll follow you back.

  4. I read both your Utopia and Verdun (war) pieces. Sharp contrasts, aren't they.
    I stopped here earlier in the month and see that I'm already a follower. So glad to have met you.

    Play off the Page

  5. Nancy, what a great post. My father is a Civil War buff and my mother, a history major, is obsessed with WWII. This is a place I had not heard of before. Thanks for visiting me in the A to Z, so glad I hopped over to visit back. New Follower!
    A2ZMommy and What’s In Between

    1. Hi, Tracy, Many thanks for visiting and becoming a follower! So appreciated. My husband, like your mother, are WWII buffs, too. Even our sons are interested.

      Again, thanks for your remarks!