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Verdun, the longest and cruelest battle where “they will not pass” was born

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Curiously, this phrase with a high emotional content has not always been effective for those who have used it. Nivelle himself failed when he proposed the offensive named after him which caused no less than 350,000 Allied casualties and his fall from grace.

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Nivelle’s defeat would be immortalized by the director stanley kubrick (1928-1999) in his film “Senderos de Gloria” (premiered in 1957) where the useless loss of lives that this offensive implied is shown in all its magnitude. The film was banned in France until 1975.

After this phenomenal defeat of the offensive, Nivelle there were a series of defections and disobediences in the chain of command. The French soldiers did not want to continue being useless cannon fodder. Unfortunately, the only way the authorities found was to shed more blood in summary executions.

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Returning to the protracted battle of Verdun, over the course of almost a year, the German Fifth Army under the command of Erich von Fralkenhain (1861-1922) with almost a million combatants harassed an equal number of French soldiers. While the Germans were fixed in their positions throughout the entire battle, the French rotated their soldiers every two months. In this way it was that 75% of the French army passed through the trenches of Verdun. The French family was rare that did not have a relative or friend in the trenches or tombs of Verdun, where 350,000 soldiers gave their lives for their country.

In their trenches the leadership of two officers was enshrined who would be the heads of two opposing factions during the second conflagration that hit the 20th century: Marshal Philippe Petain (1856-1951) and General charles de gaulle (1890-1970) …

The first was the hero turned villain, the marshal who led the destinies of France to defeat the Germans during World War I and who 20 years later made a pact with Hitler and formed the Vichy puppet government.

In 1916, De Gaulle was a captain of great prestige among his comrades, but no one could predict an auspicious future for him, especially when he was taken prisoner by the Germans in the early days of Verdun, during the defense of Fort Douaumont, despite his indomitable courage. .

From March 16 until the end of the war, De Gualle was a prisoner of the Germans who hardened the conditions of captivity of the French officer before his various escape attempts. He was a fellow prisoner Mikhail Tukhachevsky (1893-1937), who would be the most important of the Soviet generals of World War II.

Petain was the mentor of the young De Gualle and the two liked each other until the defeat of France in the early days of World War II separated them. One chose submission, the other rebellion and freedom…

Today, this town and the surrounding areas where this conflict was fought have become a museum with a strong symbolic value for the French, a place visited by thousands of tourists who relive the horrors of war, search among its hundreds of thousands of tombs the memory of deceased relatives defending France or the tribute to the courage of those who survived this massacre in the static and brutal confrontation of the terrible trench warfare that characterized the long battle of Verdun.

Source: Ambito

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