Fort Douaumont - History and Facts | History Hit

Fort Douaumont

Douaumont, Grand Est, France

Fort Douaumont was one of the strongest, most state of the art forts in France at the time of the First World War. However, in 1916, it was destroyed during the Battle of Verdun and today it lies in ruins.

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About Fort Douaumont

Fort Douaumont (Fort de Douamont) was originally constructed in around 1885 following the Franco-Prussian wars, with ongoing works carried out until just before the First World War. It was the largest and highest fort on the ring of 19 large defensive works which had protected the city of Verdun since the 1890s.

Fort Douaumont history

As a fully fortified structure with sophisticated weaponry and a sunken position on high ground, Fort Douaumont was considered to be a vital defensive post.

However, 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 (16.5 in) Gamma guns. These new super-heavy howitzers had easily taken several large Belgian forts out of action in August 1914. Fort Douaumont and other Verdun forts were judged ineffective and had been partly disarmed and left virtually undefended since 1915.

When the Battle of Verdun commenced in February 1916, the village of Douaumont was in chaos. People went to shelter in Fort Douaumont but, in the confusion, nobody was firing the fort’s guns. German soldiers managed to infiltrate Fort Douaumont and its destruction ensued.

Fort Douaumont today

Today, visitors can see Fort Douaumont as it was at the end of World War One. You can take a tour through its three levels and see the guns, turrets and weaponry which remain.

Despite the destruction, much of Fort Douaumont is well preserved including the barrack rooms and command posts. There is also a graveyard.

Getting to Fort Douaumont

Fort Douaumont is located just north of the city of Verdun, which lays roughly 50km south of the border between France, Belgium and Luxembourg. It is extremely close to Verdun Battlefield and Fort Vaux.

There is parking on site large enough for coaches. It is advisable to travel via car as there are no near bus stops or train stations outside of Verdun.

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