Friday, February 19, 2016

On Feb 21st We Mark 100 Years Since the WW1 Battle of Verdun

The worst part is that this battle was pretty much for no real gain or loss.
It was the middle of World War I , and the fighting all along the Western Front that ran between the Channel and the Alps had settled into a static confrontation of men, planes and guns — guns, above all. That day the Germans dropped a million shells onto the forts, forests and ravines around Verdun, and in the 10 months that followed, 60 million more would fall in the area. By then the French had stopped the German advance and even recovered most of the terrain they had lost, reduced by then to a lunar landscape bereft of vegetable or animal life. And 300,000 men had died.
Think about that 300,000 figure for a moment. That is 4 full Allianz Stadiums (where Bayern Munich plays) full of soldiers that would die between Feb 21st and Dec 18th when the battle was officially over. The worst part is was all futile because as it says above the Germans attacked the French counter attacked over and over but they were right back where they started at the end of the battle. It was pretty much all of WW1 encapsulated in one disastrous battle.

Also the Douaumont Ossuary on the site contains the unidentified remains of 150,000 French and German war dead. Those are unidentified soldiers. Blown apart by bombs or artillery or chopped apart by machine guns or whatever. Also 65 square miles of the battlefield is called a Zone Rouge (“Red Zone”) because therein lies perhaps 10 million unexploded shells. Every now and then one blows up or releases mustard gas into the air. Those chemical weapons are still deadly 100 years later. It might take another 100 years or more to clear all the bombs and make that place inhabitable again. More than likely it will always be a haunted wasteland where people will never go again.  

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