|Douaumont Ossuary - French Cemetery|
If you aren't a history buff and have never heard of the place, Verdun was a very significant sight during WWI. The Battle of Verdun was one of the bloodiest battles of the war, especially for the French. To put it in perspective, about 1.7 million French military personnel died during WWI - 542,000 of which died during this battle. The Germans lost 435,000 of their 2,477,000 WWI casualties there as well, so they didn't fair much better than the French. The whole strategy of the battle, from the German perspective, was to kill as many French soldiers as possible with the intent of breaking the French morale and forcing them to retreat. In fact, over 26,000,000 bombs (or 6 bombs per millisecond) were dropped in the Verdun vicinity during the battle. However, the French reserve and pride held out much longer than the Germans ever anticipated, thus leading to the longest battle of the war.
As far as day trips go, I have to admit that our boys are not big fans of visiting war sites or cemeteries. Not a big surprise for 12/13 year olds, but now that we live in Europe even my husband, who admittedly is not a history buff, is quite determined to impress upon the kids the importance of understanding what our brave soldiers (both past and present) sacrifice for our freedom. Luxembourg is so centrally located to many of the biggest battles in world history that you can drive to many of the battle sites within an hour. So, as somber of a day trip as Verdun was, we really felt the need to show the kids just how important these historical sites are.
|Verdun's bombed terrain|