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Fort Douamont
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Fort Douaumont held the proud title of being the most extensive and highest fort of 19 large defensive works which had protected the city of Verdun, France since the 1890s.

Building Fort Douaumont

Construction work of the fortress started in 1885 near the village of Douaumont, on some of the highest ground in the area. It has a total surface area of 30,000 m2 and is approximately 400 m (440 yds) long, with two underground levels protected by a steel-reinforced concrete roof 12 m thick resting on a sand cushion. The entrance to the fort was at the rear. Two main tunnels ran east-west, one above the other, with barrack rooms and corridors to outlying parts of the fort, branched off of the main tunnels. 

Fort Douaumont’s Fire Power

The fort was equipped with numerous armed posts, 155 mm rotating/retractable gun turret, a 75 mm gun rotating/retractable gun turret, four other 75 mm guns in flanking “Bourges Casemates” that swept the intervals and several machine-gun turrets. Entry into the moat around the fort was interdicted by Hotchkiss anti-personnel revolving cannons located in wall casemates or “Coffres” present at each corner. 

By 1915 however, the French witnessed the strength of the German firepower and realised that Fort Douaumont and the other Verdun forts were no match for that. So, they were left unoccupied and undefended since the beginning of 1915. 

Powerless at the Face of German Bombardments

Fort Douaumont was taken by a surprise attack just after four days from the start of the Battle of Verdun. In February 1916, Verdun was being protected by 500,000 Frenchmen stationed at the two main fortresses, Fort Douaumont and Fort Vaux. The German Army sent one million men to fight against the city of Verdun and quickly gained on them. The massive structure of Fort Douaumont, protected by two layers of concrete over a meter thick, and surrounded by a seven-meter-deep moat and 30 meters of barbed wire was no match for the strength of the German troops. It is fair to say that the Fort Douaumont was captured without much fight on 25 February 1916. 

The fall of the Fort Douaumont was an early turning point of the Battle of Verdun and became symbolic to the French that public almost demanded the recapture of the fortress.  

Shelter for Germans

Fallen in the hands of Germans, Fort Douaumont provided shelter for the German Army for nine months. It also acted as a significant operational base for their offensive operations.

Recapture of Fort Douaumont

Despite multiple attempts by the French to recapture the fortress, they were not successful until the 24 October 1916. On 8 May 1916, some of the German soldiers who just wanted to heat their coffee by using flamethrower fuel started a massive fire which then caught on to a stock of ammunition which was placed right next to the fire with no protection. The firestorm blasted through the fort and killed hundreds of soldiers in an instant. Some of the 1,800 wounded and soot-covered survivors trying to escape the blaze were fired upon, being mistaken for the French troops. 679 German soldiers perished in this fire.

The French attacked the fortress again on the 24 October 1916 determined to recapture it this time. Fort Douaumont had become untenable due to the fire that took place and was in the process of being evacuated when it was recaptured finally.

Burial Grounds

The remains of the soldiers who died in the fire were gathered inside the fort at the time and placed into a casemate which was walled off. This site is inside the fort and is underground. It is considered as an official German war grave. A commemorative plaque in German and a cross stand at the foot of the grave’s sealing wall, which is open to visitors.

D913D, 55100 Fleury-devant-Douaumont, France

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D913D, 55100 Fleury-devant-Douaumont, France

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Fort Douaumont held the proud title of being the most extensive and highest fort of 19 large defensive works which had protected the city of Verdun, France since the 1890s.

Building Fort Douaumont

Construction work of the fortress started in 1885 near the village of Douaumont, on some of the highest ground in the area. It has a total surface area of 30,000 m2 and is approximately 400 m (440 yds) long, with two underground levels protected by a steel-reinforced concrete roof 12 m thick resting on a sand cushion. The entrance to the fort was at the rear. Two main tunnels ran east-west, one above the other, with barrack rooms and corridors to outlying parts of the fort, branched off of the main tunnels. 

Fort Douaumont’s Fire Power

The fort was equipped with numerous armed posts, 155 mm rotating/retractable gun turret, a 75 mm gun rotating/retractable gun turret, four other 75 mm guns in flanking “Bourges Casemates” that swept the intervals and several machine-gun turrets. Entry into the moat around the fort was interdicted by Hotchkiss anti-personnel revolving cannons located in wall casemates or “Coffres” present at each corner. 

By 1915 however, the French witnessed the strength of the German firepower and realised that Fort Douaumont and the other Verdun forts were no match for that. So, they were left unoccupied and undefended since the beginning of 1915. 

Powerless at the Face of German Bombardments

Fort Douaumont was taken by a surprise attack just after four days from the start of the Battle of Verdun. In February 1916, Verdun was being protected by 500,000 Frenchmen stationed at the two main fortresses, Fort Douaumont and Fort Vaux. The German Army sent one million men to fight against the city of Verdun and quickly gained on them. The massive structure of Fort Douaumont, protected by two layers of concrete over a meter thick, and surrounded by a seven-meter-deep moat and 30 meters of barbed wire was no match for the strength of the German troops. It is fair to say that the Fort Douaumont was captured without much fight on 25 February 1916. 

The fall of the Fort Douaumont was an early turning point of the Battle of Verdun and became symbolic to the French that public almost demanded the recapture of the fortress.  

Shelter for Germans

Fallen in the hands of Germans, Fort Douaumont provided shelter for the German Army for nine months. It also acted as a significant operational base for their offensive operations.

Recapture of Fort Douaumont

Despite multiple attempts by the French to recapture the fortress, they were not successful until the 24 October 1916. On 8 May 1916, some of the German soldiers who just wanted to heat their coffee by using flamethrower fuel started a massive fire which then caught on to a stock of ammunition which was placed right next to the fire with no protection. The firestorm blasted through the fort and killed hundreds of soldiers in an instant. Some of the 1,800 wounded and soot-covered survivors trying to escape the blaze were fired upon, being mistaken for the French troops. 679 German soldiers perished in this fire.

The French attacked the fortress again on the 24 October 1916 determined to recapture it this time. Fort Douaumont had become untenable due to the fire that took place and was in the process of being evacuated when it was recaptured finally.

Burial Grounds

The remains of the soldiers who died in the fire were gathered inside the fort at the time and placed into a casemate which was walled off. This site is inside the fort and is underground. It is considered as an official German war grave. A commemorative plaque in German and a cross stand at the foot of the grave’s sealing wall, which is open to visitors.

D913D, 55100 Fleury-devant-Douaumont, France

Where is it on the Map?

D913D, 55100 Fleury-devant-Douaumont, France

Explore more places in Europe

See more in Can't retrieve term. In case if you changed taxonomy slug for this term, please update widget settings to use new taxonomy slug.
Explore more nearby places in France, Grand Est

Fort Douaumont held the proud title of being the most extensive and highest fort of 19 large defensive works which had protected the city of Verdun, France since the 1890s.

Building Fort Douaumont

Construction work of the fortress started in 1885 near the village of Douaumont, on some of the highest ground in the area. It has a total surface area of 30,000 m2 and is approximately 400 m (440 yds) long, with two underground levels protected by a steel-reinforced concrete roof 12 m thick resting on a sand cushion. The entrance to the fort was at the rear. Two main tunnels ran east-west, one above the other, with barrack rooms and corridors to outlying parts of the fort, branched off of the main tunnels. 

Fort Douaumont’s Fire Power

The fort was equipped with numerous armed posts, 155 mm rotating/retractable gun turret, a 75 mm gun rotating/retractable gun turret, four other 75 mm guns in flanking “Bourges Casemates” that swept the intervals and several machine-gun turrets. Entry into the moat around the fort was interdicted by Hotchkiss anti-personnel revolving cannons located in wall casemates or “Coffres” present at each corner. 

By 1915 however, the French witnessed the strength of the German firepower and realised that Fort Douaumont and the other Verdun forts were no match for that. So, they were left unoccupied and undefended since the beginning of 1915. 

Powerless at the Face of German Bombardments

Fort Douaumont was taken by a surprise attack just after four days from the start of the Battle of Verdun. In February 1916, Verdun was being protected by 500,000 Frenchmen stationed at the two main fortresses, Fort Douaumont and Fort Vaux. The German Army sent one million men to fight against the city of Verdun and quickly gained on them. The massive structure of Fort Douaumont, protected by two layers of concrete over a meter thick, and surrounded by a seven-meter-deep moat and 30 meters of barbed wire was no match for the strength of the German troops. It is fair to say that the Fort Douaumont was captured without much fight on 25 February 1916. 

The fall of the Fort Douaumont was an early turning point of the Battle of Verdun and became symbolic to the French that public almost demanded the recapture of the fortress.  

Shelter for Germans

Fallen in the hands of Germans, Fort Douaumont provided shelter for the German Army for nine months. It also acted as a significant operational base for their offensive operations.

Recapture of Fort Douaumont

Despite multiple attempts by the French to recapture the fortress, they were not successful until the 24 October 1916. On 8 May 1916, some of the German soldiers who just wanted to heat their coffee by using flamethrower fuel started a massive fire which then caught on to a stock of ammunition which was placed right next to the fire with no protection. The firestorm blasted through the fort and killed hundreds of soldiers in an instant. Some of the 1,800 wounded and soot-covered survivors trying to escape the blaze were fired upon, being mistaken for the French troops. 679 German soldiers perished in this fire.

The French attacked the fortress again on the 24 October 1916 determined to recapture it this time. Fort Douaumont had become untenable due to the fire that took place and was in the process of being evacuated when it was recaptured finally.

Burial Grounds

The remains of the soldiers who died in the fire were gathered inside the fort at the time and placed into a casemate which was walled off. This site is inside the fort and is underground. It is considered as an official German war grave. A commemorative plaque in German and a cross stand at the foot of the grave’s sealing wall, which is open to visitors.

D913D, 55100 Fleury-devant-Douaumont, France

Where is it on the Map?

D913D, 55100 Fleury-devant-Douaumont, France

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