Verdun battle centenary marked by France and Germany

Discussion in 'Europe' started by Vergennes, May 29, 2016.

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  1. Vergennes

    Vergennes Captain Staff Member Ret. Military International Mod

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    French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel are marking the 100th anniversary of the battle of Verdun, the longest of World War One.

    About 300,000 French and German soldiers were killed during 10 months of fighting in north-eastern France.

    France eventually emerged victorious.

    But now Verdun is seen as a symbol of Franco-German reconciliation, which was reflected by both Mr Hollande and Mrs Merkel in their speeches.

    Verdun: France's sacred symbol of healing


    The ceremonies started with the leaders visiting the German military cemetery at Consenvoye, just north of Verdun, where 11,000 German soldiers are buried.

    The leaders then moved on to a ceremony at Verdun city hall.

    In her speech there, Mrs Merkel said: "Only those who know the past can draw lessons and build a good future."

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    Francois Mitterrand and Helmut Kohl held hands in a famous gesture of reconciliation in 1984


    Remembering the famous 1984 image of former leaders Francois Mitterrand and Helmut Kohl holding hands at Verdun, she said: "We have reconciled and reached agreement; we have become friends."

    Mr Hollande also reflected on Franco-German relations, saying that Mrs Merkel's presence showed that Verdun was not a symbol of suffering but one of hope.

    He said: "Verdun... is where Europe lost itself, 100 years ago. But it also experienced the best - the town was capable of galvanising itself, coming together for peace and for Franco-German friendship. Long live the spirit of Verdun."

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    The ossuary at Douaumont contains skeletal remains of some 130,000 unidentified Verdun combatants, along with the largest single French military cemetery of the war


    A commemorative ceremony was then held at the Douaumont Ossuary. Some 4,000 French and German children took part in a performance choreographed by German filmmaker Volker Schloendorff.

    Church bells then sounded throughout the Verdun area.

    Some 60 million shells were fired during the battle. About 25% failed to explode, meaning that housing and farming in the battlefield area are still banned.

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    The battle of Verdun, 21 February - 15 December 1916

    • Verdun - a strong point on the long front line dividing the French and German armies - was the longest battle of World War One
    • At the end of the bloodshed in December 1916, France won back nearly all the territory it had lost in February
    • General Erich von Falkenhayn, the Chief of the General Staff and Germany's principal strategist, targeted Verdun because of its position on the Allied line and its sentimental value to French people
    • Falkenhayn hoped to combine the Verdun offensive with a U-boat offensive against British shipping - the two campaigns together were designed to force France and Britain to seek peace terms
    • But Falkenhayn's plan for an attack that would economise on German resources failed to work out as he expected, and he used many more divisions than planned
    • Germany, like France, accumulated huge losses and gained little territory, leading it to throw more and more men into the conflict, and Verdun soon became a battle of prestige for the Germans, as well as the French
    http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-36407564

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  2. Pathfinder

    Pathfinder Lieutenant Colonel

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    Unbelievable, 100,000 soldiers dead in a single battle. 60 million shells. Today wars are nothing compared to what our forefathers went through.
     
  3. Vergennes

    Vergennes Captain Staff Member Ret. Military International Mod

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    *300.000.
    -
    It is estimated that nearly 140.000 german soldiers and 160.000 french soldiers died in this battle (We won't even count the wounded,disabled etc.) making it one of the bloodiest battle of this war and the longest.
    The battle started when the germans fired in 1 day..... more than 1.000.000 shells on the french positions.....
    I won't even talk about the living conditions in the trenches,which were worst than anyone could think about + non stop shells fired on you,the smell of dead bodies,rats everywhere etc...
    -
    Today Verdun symbolizes for France and the french,patriotism and the ultimate sacrifice for the nation... just like Stalingrad for the russians.
    -
    More than 1,5 million french soldiers gave their lives to defend the country during this war.
    More than 3 million were injured or disabled for life. 8 million soldiers were mobilized.
    To remember their memories,their sacrifice,there's a monument dedicated to them in every 36.000 communes of France.


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  4. Falcon

    Falcon Major Staff Member Social Media Team

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    Yo, fetch yo self some glasses.

    Quite a serious battle I would say, too bad WW1 doesn't get as much attention as WW2 does. Maybe its because the combat wasn't as "cool". The war was not very mobile, the equipment wasn't neat, and there were not as many decisive battles as there were in WW2.
     
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  5. Bundeswehr

    Bundeswehr Captain

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    many people prefer WW2 over WW1 because of technological expansion with newer aircraft, tanks, weapons, and so on. I would say even with WW1 many soldiers no matter if they were fighting for Germany or France lost their lives for nothing when they could of been spending it with their familys and having a good time instead of seeing their friends fall in front of their eyes, i respect both sides in the war.
    good to our new relations @Gabriel92 let us remember in solidarity the fallen for both our homelands brother.
     
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  6. Vergennes

    Vergennes Captain Staff Member Ret. Military International Mod

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    In fact,we forget that the WW1 'revolutioned' warfare where many innovations saw the light and were used.
    For exemple this war saw for the first time the large scale use of chemical weapons (chlorine gas) which were as deadly as the other innovations. (More than 112.000 tons of chemical weapons were used between 1914 and 1918.)
    Billions were spent into R&D and for exemple,mobile radio telephones were invented and fighter planes were flown into battle zones for the first time ever.
    Artillery canons capable of firing shells as far as 120km !
    Flamethrowers were used for the first time on the battlefield,(At Verdun),and were capable of firing fire at a range of 35 meters !
    Tanks,were developed and used for the first time.

    Of course this isn't as cool as the WW2,because it was mainly static war where there wasn't significant changes on the battlefield during months if not years... where you had to fight during months and loosing thousands of men for one trenche isn't cool ?

    Of course,too many lives have been wasted for nothing,and i'm sure the millions of men on the battlefield would have prefered to stay with their families instead of the dirty trenches with raining shells... there was even peaceful truces (Like during Christmas 1914) where both sides were greetings,talking... exchanging food,playing football together.....
    I am happy that now France and Germany are allied and that our past as ennemies is forgotten....

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    PS ; @Bundeswehr Don't get me wrong you fritz,we would still have re-captured the Elsass-Lothringen by any means ! :D
    Just kiddin' of course.
     
    Last edited: May 30, 2016
  7. Pathfinder

    Pathfinder Lieutenant Colonel

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    I just got contacts and now I need reading glasses? |Blackeye|

    It was definitely revolutionary and set the technological stage for the next war, especially for Germany which took WW1 developments and concepts to the next level during its military buildup in the 30's. The allies were completely caught off guard by German Land and Naval doctrine. The allies had tanks and U-boats before the war began but their doctrines were not putting those systems to good effect. Someone might have mentioned this on the forum previously but its not all about weapons and technology, often times doctrine is what counts.

    Casualties as percentage of population by country in WW1:

    siJPOjr.png

    Casualties as percentage of population by country in WW2:

    wSJBI4W.png
     
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  8. Cybermat47

    Cybermat47 2nd Lieutenant

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    Unbelievable casualties. I hope nothing like that ever happens again.
     
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