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ExcerptEdit

For centuries, the city of Verdun had been a symbol of French strength. However, in 1916, the defenses around the city were neglected in this quiet sector. But then at dawn on February 21st a sudden infernal barrage of 1 million shells hammered Verdun turning it into the Devil's Anvil.

IntroductionEdit

Narrator/Announcer: For centuries, the city of Verdun had been a symbol of French strength. However, in 1916, the defenses around the city were neglected in this quiet sector. But then at dawn, on the 21st of February, a sudden infernal barrage of 1 million shells hammered Verdun, turning it into the Devil's Anvil.

Verdun HeightsEdit

German EmpireEdit

IntroductionEdit

German Soldier: (in German) We have been preparing for a long battle, troops and supplies arriving by train from all over Europe. We are edging forward, sleeper by sleeper, rail by rail. These are our scalpels cutting into the heart of France. We will open this country up and leave her to bleed. They have given this offensive a codename: Gerricht: Judgement. I know that this will be the battle to settle this terrible war.

BriefingEdit

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SAMOGNEUX 1916

German Officer: Falkenhayn has guaranteed our artillery will continue to fire on the Verdun fortresses, as we move through Bois de la Vauche to capture the village of Samogneux. From here, we will attack the French positions by the ruins of La Fontaine. We will then continue to push through this ravine, up the hill, where we will clear these trench lines, until we have secured the French artillery at Côte 378. And from here, we will be able to secure Fort Douaumont.

First Battalion LostEdit

German Officer: Our attack failed, and we must rest beside our dead. But while we still breathe we will not give up. We will fight again men, this time to victory!

Second Battalion LostEdit

German Officer: We lost, men. But in your blood remains the iron that gives strength to your hearts. Use that passion, for this, our final assault.

Third Battalion Lost (Defeat)Edit

German Officer: The battle is over. We have lost. Now we must eat and drink and sleep with our dead brothers watching over us. That is the price we must pay.

VictoryEdit

German Officer: A valiant victory, soldaten! The forts which dominate this region that protect the allied lines will soon be ours. Onwards!

French RepublicEdit

IntroductionEdit

French Soldier 1: (in French) Verdun is alive with the scream of shells. A huge black curtain of smoke has arisen like a veil across hell.

French Soldier 2: (in French) An artillery assault of this scale can mean only one thing. There is going to be a battle here the likes of which the world has never seen.

French Soldier 3: (in French) German deserters have been crossing the line, telling us that all leave has been canceled, that something terrible is about to happen.

French Soldier 4: (in French) After the cannonade was over, of every five men two have been buried alive under their shelter.

French Soldier 5: (in French) It is chaos here. The smoke, the noise, the danger. All communications with our commanders have been lost, we are at a loss for what to do.

French Soldier 6: (in French) It sounds like a million shells exploding at once. How can we not be afraid?

BriefingEdit

SAMOGNEUX 1916

French Officer: Verdun is in grave danger. The Germans are on the move in this sector. We expect them to target the village of Samogneux, so we will defend here. Should we lose it, we will fall back to this line by the ruins of La Fontaine. If our defenses fail here, we must retreat through the ravine, and unite with our rear defenses on the slopes of Côte 378. There we will dig in, and hold to the last man.

​First Battalion DefeatedEdit

French Officer: Our defenses held. The German advance proved to be all sound and fury. Let them come again! They are no match for us.

​Second Battalion DefeatedEdit

French Officer: Again we save France from a grim death. But these vile imperial invaders will come one last time, so be ready to fight.

​Third Battalion Defeated (Victory)Edit

French Officer: A glorious victory for France. Your valiant hearts reflect the values of our great nation. Liberté, égalité, fraternité.[note 1]

DefeatEdit

French Officer: Our defenses here are broken, and Fort Douaumont surely lost. We must retreat to Fort Vaux, men! Inside those walls we will fight the boches[note 2], the imperial beast will finally be slain!

IntermissionEdit

Narrator/Announcer: After an initial breakthrough, the Germans took the massive Fort Douaumont. This advance would soon come to a halt, as the French poured men and resources into the area, determined to defend Verdun at all costs. And as the Germans approached Fort Vaux, the outcome was far from certain.

Fort De VauxEdit

German EmpireEdit

IntroductionEdit

German Soldier: (in German) We are expected to attack Fort Vaux tomorrow. Who knows what hides beneath the surface of those thick walls. I have heard it was built after Bismarck's terrible war, to protect this region from future invaders. And here we are again, at each other's throats, both of us prepared to die before relinquishing an inch of ground.

BriefingEdit

FORT DE VAUX 1916

German Officer: The French garrison have barricaded themselves inside of Fort Vaux. Leutnant Müller has ordered us to breach the Fortress Moat, here. We will then enter the fort and clear the corridors leading up to the Central Courtyard. From this position, we must clear out any remaining French resistance, pushing them out through the main entrance at the rear end of the fort. Prepare yourselves.

First Battalion LostEdit

German Officer: Our attack has failed. Our ranks have been brutalized. But our will is one of iron and cannot be broken. At them again, brothers!

Second Battalion LostEdit

German Officer: Yes, our attack failed again. But while our great empire stands, we cannot give up. At them, one last time, men!

Third Battalion Lost (Defeat)Edit

German Officer: We have lost this battle. But we are not conquered. When the time is right we will come again.

VictoryEdit

German Officer: Glorreichen tag! (Glorious day!) Fort Vaux is ours. The city of Verdun will soon be draped in German flags. The Kaiser praises his brave sons!

French RepublicEdit

IntroductionEdit

French Soldier 1: (in French) Major Raynal has made sure we have barricaded as many entrypoints as possible — the Germans will have to work really hard to get in here.

French Soldier 2: (in French) We have been held back for two days in a tunnel where the lachrymal shells made us weep.

French Soldier 3: (in French) I sing the "Marseillaise" to try to calm our nerves. Others tell stories of their grandfathers defending Verdun so successfully many years ago.

French Soldier 4: (in French) Raynal tells us he is now resorting to using homing pigeons. A war of great machines and technology, and yet is has come to this.

French Soldier 5: (in French) We are running out of water — some men have been drinking their own urin. It is a bitter irony that we can hear the heavy rain outside.

BriefingEdit

FORT DE VAUX 1916

French Officer: We must defend Fort Vaux at any cost. The Germans have shelled the outer walls and will try to enter through the Moat, here. If we fail to stop them, we must hold on to this Courtyard, as it provides access to all parts of the fort. Should we lose this arena, prepare to fall back to the main entrance. Here we will fight, not just for Verdun, but for all of France.

​First Battalion DefeatedEdit

French Officer: Yes men, this is our victory. These barbarians know now that our eternal fighting spirit is what defines us. They will never break us.

​Second Battalion DefeatedEdit

French Officer: We are victorious. This fort remains cloaked in the colors of France. But it is not yet time for celebrations. We must defeat the German eagle one last time.

​Third Battalion Defeated (Victory)Edit

French Officer: This is great victory. The city of Verdun is saved and the Republic of France salutes you. Though we have suffered great losses, you have turned the tide of this terrible war. Your courage and strength will never be forgotten.

DefeatEdit

French Officer: The fortress is lost. Verdun is lost. Only the spirit of the republic can save France now. Only hope can save the free world from destruction.

ConclusionEdit

German Empire VictoryEdit

Narrator/Announcer: In late June, literally dying of thirst, the French were forced to surrender Fort Vaux to Germans. Immediately, the French struck back and took the fortress, but with devastating losses on both sides. While the battlefield was not even a square 10 kilometers, 700,000 were now dead, wounded, or missing. This was the longest battle of World War I.

French Republic VictoryEdit

Narrator/Announcer: The defense of Fort Vaux was marked by the heroism and endurance of the French soldiers stationed there. This small garrison repulsed constant assaults of gas and fire and bullets, before physical conditions forced them to surrender. If the Germans had been able to hold the fort, perhaps their assault on Verdun itself would have been successful, and the Western Front permanently breached. However, strategically, there was little justification for the atrocious losses on either side.

NotesEdit

  1. Liberty, Equality, Fraternity.
  2. French pejorative term for Germans.
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