France marks centenary of Battle of Verdun


PARIS: France on Sunday marked the centenary of the start of the Battle of Verdun — the longest battle of World War I, and a symbol of French suffering – with a visit to the battlefield by hundreds of French and German children. A strong point on the long frontline dividing the French and German armies, Verdun in northeastern France was the target of a German offensive whose aim —according to commander-in-chief Erich von Falkenhayn — was to “bleed France white.” Around 300,000 French and German soldiers died in the 10-month battle in which some 30 million shells are estimated to have been fired. With some three-quarters of France’s soldiers having experienced the “hell of Verdun,” the battle quickly embedded itself in the country’s traumatized psyche, viewed by the French in much the same way as the British saw the Battle of Somme.



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