Fort Douaumont was the largest and highest fort on the ring of 19 large defensive forts protecting the city of Verdun, France since the 1890s. It has a total surface area of 30,000 square metres and is approximately 400 metres long, with two subterranean levels protected by a steel reinforced concrete roof 12 metres thick resting on a sand cushion. These improvements had been completed by 1903. The entrance to the fort was at the rear. Two main tunnels ran east-west, one above the other, with barracks rooms and corridors to outlying parts of the fort branched off of the main tunnels. The fort was equipped with numerous armed posts, a 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.

By 1915 the French General Staff had concluded that even the best-protected forts of Verdun could not resist bombardments from the German 420 mm Gamma guns. These newly deployed giant howitzers had easily taken several large Belgian forts out of action in August 1914. As a result, Fort Douaumont and other Verdun forts were judged ineffective and had been partly disarmed and left virtually undefended since 1915.

On 25 February 1916, Fort Douaumont was entered and occupied without a fight, by a small German raiding party comprising only 19 officers and 79 men. The easy fall of Fort Douaumont, only three days after the beginning of the Battle of Verdun, shocked the French Army. It set the stage for the rest of a battle which lasted nine months, at enormous human costs. Douaumont was finally recaptured by three infantry divisions of the French Second Army, during the First Offensive Battle of Verdun on 24 October 1916. This event brought closure to the Battle of Verdun in 1916.

Today Fort Douaumont is open to the public.

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Address

D913D, Douaumont, France
See all sites in Douaumont

Details

Founded: 1890s
Category: Castles and fortifications in France

Rating

4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Korben (13 months ago)
Very impressive. I personally would have liked a bit more text, but thats my preference. A must visit in Verdun.
Terrence Pellikaan (15 months ago)
This fort tells you the story of the great war. There is lots to see and read. It gives a good overview about what happened back then.
Jeroen Kaijser Bots (15 months ago)
Incredible fortress. The video tour brings history to life. Very well done. Educational and interesting.
Matt Carlson (15 months ago)
Simply a must stop for ww1 history. If you visit nowhere else, stop here. Can climb all over inside and on top. Get the audio-guide for some history background. Kid friendly (watch for exposed metal though). You can picnic as well. Don't miss this place.
Simon Drury (18 months ago)
See a very important part of the history of WWI. This fort was thought to be impregnable and was the target of the longest and heaviest artillery attack of the war. Eventually occupied by the Germans, it was then successfully reoccupied by the French. You can visit most of the interior with bountiful displays and even walk over the reinforced roof to see why this fort was held in such importance due to it's dominating site.
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