Verdun: Wikis


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Coordinates: 49°09′43″N 5°23′15″E / 49.16202°N 5.38759°E / 49.16202; 5.38759

Commune of Verdun

Quai de Londres
Verdun is located in France
Country France
Region Lorraine
Department Meuse
Arrondissement Verdun
Mayor Arsène Lux
Elevation 194–330 m (640–1,080 ft)
Land area1 31.03 km2 (11.98 sq mi)
Population2 19,624  (1999)
 - Density 632 /km2 (1,640 /sq mi)
INSEE/Postal code 55545/ 55100
1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km² (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.
2 Population sans doubles comptes: residents of multiple communes (e.g., students and military personnel) only counted once.
Warning: Value not specified for "common_name"
Imperial City of Verdun
Free Imperial City of the Holy Roman Empire
? – 1552
Capital Verdun
Government Republic
Historical era Middle Ages
 - Established Uncertain Enter start year
 - Three Bishoprics
    annexed by France
1552 1552
 - Treaty of Westphalia
    recognises annexation

Verdun (medieval German: Wirten, official name before 1970 Verdun-sur-Meuse) is a city in the Meuse department in Lorraine in north-eastern France. It is a sub-prefecture of the department.

Verdun is the biggest city in Meuse, although the capital of the department is the slightly smaller city of Bar-le-Duc.



Verdun (Latin: Verodunum - meaning "strong fort") was founded by the Gauls (as its Celtic name shows; "Dunum" is the Latinized version of a Celtic word meaning oppidum). It has been the seat of the bishop of Verdun since the 4th century, with interruptions. In the Treaty of Verdun in 843, the empire of Charlemagne was divided into three parts.

At around this time Verdun was the centre of a Europe-wide thriving trade selling young boys to be enslaved eunuchs to the Islamic emirates of Iberia[1].

Verdun became part of the middle kingdom Lotharingia, and later of the Holy Roman Empire, in which it was an Imperial Free City. The Bishopric of Verdun formed together with Tull (Toul) and Metz the Three Bishoprics, which were annexed by France in 1552 (recognized in 1648).

Bird's-eye view of Verdun in 1638
Early map of Verdun, circa 1695

Verdun in 1819

Norwich Duff visited Verdun in 1819, shortly after the conclusion of the Napoleonic Wars. He writes: 'Verdun is prettily situated in a valley surrounded by hills. The River Meuse runs through the town and forms several canals and ditches round the town which is fortified and, I believe, by the great Marshal Vauban.

The citadel and [surrounds] are a good deal out of repair and [people] were at work on them. Though there is little to see at Verdun, every part of it felt interesting from the number of our countrymen [ie British prisoners of war] confined here during the war. Verdun is famous for its sweetmeats, sugar plums, confits etc which are said to be the best in France. They made us show our passports [here] it being a fortified town.'

Battle of Verdun

Verdun was the site of a major battle of the First World War. One of the costliest battles of the war, Verdun exemplified the policy of a 'war of attrition' pursued by both sides, which led to an enormous loss of life.

Following the failure of the Schlieffen Plan in 1914 and the solidifying of the Western Front, Germany remained on the strategic defensive in the west throughout most of 1915. In the winter of 1915–1916, German General Erich von Falkenhayn, the chief of the German General Staff (1914–1916) made plans for a large offensive on the Western Front that ultimately aimed to break Great Britain, which he believed was Germany's main enemy. Falkenhayn argued that Britain, hidden behind the shield of the French army, could be met head on and defeated only after this shield was broken. As Falkenhayn recalled it, his so-called Christmas memorandum to Kaiser Wilhelm II envisioned a massive but limited attack on a French position 'for the retention of which the French Command would be compelled to throw in every man they have'. Once the French army had bled to death, Britain could be brought down by Germany's submarine blockade and superior military strength. The logic of initiating a battle not to gain territory or a strategic position but simply to create a self-sustaining killing ground — to bleed the French army white — pointed to the grimness of military realities in 1916.

Recent scholarship by Holger Afflerbach and others, however, has questioned the veracity of the Christmas memo. No copy has ever surfaced and the only account of it appeared in Falkenhayn's post-war memoir. His army commanders at Verdun, including the German Crown Prince, denied any knowledge of an attrition strategy. It seems likely that Falkenhayn did not specifically design the battle to bleed the French army but justified ex-post-facto the motive of the Verdun offensive, despite its failure.

Verdun was the strongest point in pre-war France, ringed by a string of powerful forts, including Douaumont and Vaux. By 1916, the salient at Verdun jutted into the German lines and lay vulnerable to attack from three sides. The historic city of Verdun had been a Gallic fortress before Roman times and later a key asset in wars against Prussia, and Falkenhayn suspected that the French would throw as many men as necessary into its defence. Ironically, France had substantially weakened Verdun's defences after the outbreak of the war, an oversight that would contribute to the removal of Joseph Joffre from supreme command in the summer of 1916. The attack was slated to begin on February 12, then the 16th, but snow forced repeated postponements.

Falkenhayn massed artillery to the north and east of Verdun to precede the infantry advance with intensive artillery bombardment. His attack would hit the French positions on the right bank of the Meuse. Although French intelligence had warned of his plans, these warnings were ignored by the French Command and troop levels in the area remained low. Consequently, Verdun was utterly unprepared for the initial bombardment on the morning of 21 February 1916. German infantry attacks followed that afternoon and met tenacious but ultimately inadequate resistance for the first four days. On 25 February the Germans occupied Fort Douaumont. French reinforcements — now under the leadership of General Pétain — began to arrive and were instantly thrown into "the furnace" (as the battle was called) to slow the German advance, no matter what the cost. Over the next several days, the stubborn defense managed to slow the German advance with a series of bloody counter-attacks. In March, Falkenhayn decided to target the French positions on the left bank of the Meuse as well, broadening the offensive front twofold. Throughout March and April, Le Mort Homme and Hill 304 were under continuous heavy bombardment and relentless infantry attacks. Meanwhile, Pétain organised repeated, small-scale counter-attacks to slow the German advance. He also ensured that the Bar-le-Duc road into Verdun — the only one to survive German shelling — remained open. It became known as La Voie Sacrée ('the Sacred Way') because it continued to carry vital supplies and reinforcements into the Verdun front despite constant artillery attack.

German gains continued in June, but slowly and only after increasingly heavy losses on their side. They attacked the heights on both banks of the river. On 7 June, following almost a week of bitter resistance, Fort Vaux fell to the Germans after a murderous hand-to-hand fight inside the very fort. On 23 June the Germans reached what would become the furthest point of their advance. The line was just in front of Fort Souville, the last stronghold before Verdun itself. Pétain was making plans to evacuate the right bank of the Meuse when the Allies' offensive on the Somme River was launched on 1 July, partly to relieve pressure on the French. The Germans could no longer afford to continue their offensive at Verdun when they were needed so desperately on the Somme. At a cost of some 400,000 German casualties and a similar number of French, the attack was finally called off. Germany had failed to bleed France to death.

The battle continued, however, from October to the end of the year. French offensives, employing new tactics devised by Pétain's deputy, General Robert Nivelle, regained the forts and territory they had lost earlier. This was the only gleam of hope in an otherwise abysmal landscape.

Overall, the battle lasted 11 months. Falkenhayn was replaced by Hindenburg as Chief of General Staff. General Nivelle was promoted over the head of General Pétain to replace Generalissimo Joffre as French supreme commander, although he was to hold the post for less than six months.

A panoramic view of Verdun in 1917
A panoramic view of Verdun from 2004
A portion of the battlefield today

Cemetery and memorial

The Nazi Swastika over Verdun

There are many French and German cemeteries throughout the battlefield. The largest is the French National Cemetery and Douaumont ossuary, near Fort Douaumont. Thirteen thousand crosses adorn the field in front of the ossuary, which holds roughly 130,000 unidentified remains brought in from the battlefield. Every year yields more remains, which are often placed inside the ossuary's vaults.

Among many revered memorials on the battlefield is the "Bayonet Trench", which marks the location where some dozen bayonets lined up in a row were discovered projecting out of the ground after the war; below each rifle was the body of a French soldier. It is believed that these belonged to a group of soldiers who had rested their rifles against the parapet of the trench they were occupying when they were killed during a bombardment. The men were buried where they lay in the trench and the rifles left untouched.

Nearby, the World War I Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery and Memorial is located east of the village and is the final resting place for 14,246 American military dead, most of whom died in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. The chapel contains a memorial to the 954 American missing whose remains were never recovered or identified.

External links


  1. ^ Herrin, Byzantium: The Surprising Life of a Medieval Empire, Penguin, Harmondsworth, ISBN 9780141031026

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Beirut/Verdun article)

From Wikitravel

Verdun is in Beirut. Verdun is one of Beirut's most prestigious residential neighborhoods where also some of the most important fashion boutiques are found. All aspects of luxury are readily accessible to the visitor in Verdun where cinemas, coffee shops, shopping, and restaurants are the main attraction. The neighborhood does not offer much in the way of nightlife, however.

  • Planete Concorde (8 theaters), Concorde Center, Verdun, Beirut, (Tel: +961 1 738 440), Tickets: LBP 6,500 - 9,500
  • Empire Dunes (4 theaters), Verdun, Dunes Shopping Center, Beirut, (Tel: +961 1 792 123), Tickets: LBP 7,000 - 10,000
  • Naïman, This stylish and relatively new salon offers good manicure and pedicures if you happen to be in the Verdun/Hamra area. You can get a relaxing massage for LL33,000 as well as reflexology, body peeling and facials. Open Mon-Sat 8.30am-7.30pm. Nour Bldg, Verdun. 01 787858.
  • Verdun Esthetic Centre, This large centre in the heart of upmarket Verdun is simple and stylish in decor (in a rather clinical way), but seems to provide absolutely every treatment you have ever heard of – and probably a few that you haven’t. There’s a salon for brushing but the main focus is on beauty treatments. There’s dental whitening, laser hair removal, facials, firming and slimming treatments and chromotherapy (a treatment that treats all sorts of different skin conditions). It’s top to toe, basically. Check out the cute guys that work there too. Open Mon-Sat 9am-8pm; Sun 4pm-8pm. Verdun 732, 1st floor. 01 807061.
  • Dunes Center, Centre Dunes, Verdun Str., +961 1 785310, [1]. Displaying some of the latest shopping brands, as well as many cafes and a movie theater.
  • Mandarine (Lebanese), Lebanese fusion cuisine in a quiet setting appealing to shoppers and an older crowd. Lebanese mezza dishes are served on a sushi-style conveyor belt. Usual suspects to try are the foul modamas and fried cauliflower in tahini. Rachid Karame Street, Verdun 01 781000. Open daily 12noon-12midnight. Meal for two with wine: around $40.
  • Le Bristol (4 stars), Verdun, Mme. Curie Street, +961 - 1 - 351400 (, fax: +961 - 1 - 351409), [2]. $150-$1000.  edit
  • Holiday Inn (4 stars), Holiday Inn-Dunes, Dunes Center, Verdun, Beirut, Lebanon, P.O.Box: 13-5904, +961 1 771100 (, fax: +961 1 771177), [3].  edit
  • Legend Hotel (4 stars), Verdun - Beirut, +961 - 1 - 801062/860660 (, fax: +961 - 1 - 807238). $110-$290.  edit
  • Plaza Suites Hotel, Verdun - Beirut. $195.  edit
  • Takaya Suites Hotel (4 stars), AIn El Tineh - Sakiet El Janzir Street. P.O. Box: 135550 Chouran - Beirut, +961 - 1 - 799799 (, fax: +961 - 1 - 798798), [4].  edit
  • Four Points Sheraton [5] - Verdun, Boulevard Saeb Salam, Beirut, Lebanon, (Phone: (961)(1) 803804), Located in the heart of Beirut's most exclusive business and shopping district, easily accessible from Beirut International Airport and only minutes away from Downtown Beirut, Four Points Sheraton Verdun is a brand new boutique Hotel, offering full personalized service in a sophisticated atmosphere with distinctive attitude. Ideally situated for business and leisure travelers, Hotel visitors will find a stimulating world to discover both inside and outside the Hotel.
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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

VERDUN, a garrison town of north-eastern France, capital of an arrondissement in the department of Meuse, on the main line of the Eastern railway between Paris and Metz, 42 m. N.N.E. of Bar-le-Duc. Pop. (1906) 12,837. In addition the population comptee å part (soldiers, &c.) numbers 8198. Verdun is situated in a basin surrounded by vine-clad hills on the Meuse, which here forms the Eastern Canal.

Verdun as a fortress is of first-rate importance. It lies directly opposite the frontier of German Lorraine and the great entrenched camp of Metz. At the time of the war of 1870 (when it was defended for long without hope of success by General Guerin de Waldersbach) it was still a small antiquated fortress of the Vauban epoch, but in the long line of fortifications on the Meuse created by Serre de Riviere in 187s Verdun, forming the left of the "Meuse Line" barrier, was made the centre of an entrenched camp. The first lesson of 1870 being taken to heart, forts were placed (Belrupt S.E., St Michel N.E., Belleville N. and La Chaume and Regret W.) on all the surrounding heights that the besiegers had used for their batteries, but the designers soon extended the line of the eastern defences as far out as the sharply defined cliffs that, rising gently for some miles from the Meuse, come to an abrupt edge and overlook the plain of Woevre. On this front, which is about 52 m..

long, the most important works are (from right to left) Chatillon, Manezel, Moulairlville, Eix, Mardi Gras, Lanfee, Vaux and Hardimont. At right angles to this line, the south front, the works of which are placed along one of the long western spurs of the line of heights, are forts Rozellier, St Symphorien and Haudainville, the last overlooking the Meuse. The north front, also on a spur of the ridge, is thickly studded with forts, these in some cases being but 200 yds. apart and the left fort overlooking the Meuse. Behind the east front, chiefly designed to close the valley by which the Metz-Verdun railway penetrates the line of heights, are Fort Tavannes with its outworks and a series of batteries on the adjacent spurs. On the left bank of the Meuse there is a complete semicircle of forts. At the northern end of this semicircle (besides some works in the valley itself), and crossing its fire with the left of the north front, is Fort Belle-Epine, then comes Marre, Bourrus and Bruyeres, all four being on a single ridge facing N.W. The west front is composed of Fort Germonville, Fort Bois de Sartelles, Fort Bois du Chapitre, Fort Landrecourt and Fort Dugny, which last is within sight of Fort Haudainville over the Meuse. In second line behind these works are Fort Choisel, Chana redoubt and Fort Sartelles. In all there are 16 large forts and about 20 smaller works, the perimeter of the whole being about 30 m. and the greatest diameter of the fort-ring 9.

The chief quarter of the town lies on the slope of the left bank of the river and is dominated by the citadel which occupies the site of the old abbey of St Vanne founded in the 10th century. Several arms of the river intersect the quarter on the right bank. The whole town is surrounded by a bastioned enceinte, pierced by four gates; that to the N.E., the Porte Chaussee, flanked by two crenelated towers, is an interesting specimen of the military architecture of the 15th century. The cathedral of Notre-Dame stands on the site of two previous churches of the Romanesque period, the first of which was burnt down in 1047; a crypt and other remains of the second building consecrated in 1147 are still to be seen, but the greater part of the present church dated from subsequent periods. Built under the influence of Rhenish architecture, Notre-Dame has double transepts and, till the 18th century when the western apse was replaced by a façade, had an apse at each extremity. A fine cloister to the S.W. of the cathedral dates from the 15th century. The hotel-de-ville (17th century) contains the museum.

Verdun is the seat of a bishop and a sub-prefect and has tribunals of first instance and of commerce, a communal college, ecclesiastical seminaries and a branch of the Bank of France. The industries include metal founding, the manufacture of sweetmeats (dragees de Verdun), machinery, nails, files, embroidery, linen, chairs and rope and the distillation of liqueurs. The canal port has trade in timber, agricultural produce, stone and building materials and coal.

Verdun (Verodunum), an important town at the time of the Roman conquest, was made a part of Belgica Prima. The bishopric, of which the most celebrated holder was St Vanne (498-525), dates from the 3rd century. Verdun was destroyed during the period of the barbarian invasions, and did not recover till towards the end of the 5th century. Clovis seized the town in 502, and it afterwards belonged to the kingdom of Austrasia. In 843 the famous treaty was signed here by the sons of Louis the Pious (see Germany, History). In the 10th century Verdun was definitively conquered by Germany and put under the temporal authority of its bishops. Together with Toul and Metz, the town and its domain formed the territory of the Trois-Eveches. In the 11th century the burghers of the now free and imperial town began a struggle with their bishops, which ended in their obtaining certain rights in the 12th century. In 1552 Henry II. of France took possession of the Trois-Eveches, which finally became French by the treaty of Westphalia. In 1792, after some hours of bombardment, the citizens opened their gates to the Prussians - a weakness which the Revolutionary Government punished by the execution of several of the inhabitants. In 1870 the Prussians, unable to seize the town by a coup de main, invested and bombarded it three different times, till it capitulated in the beginning of November.

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