World War I

Douaumont – Destroyed village – Verdun WWI

[wce_code id=1]

Douaumont – The Divine Mountain

Douaumont is one of nine villages of the department of Meuse, which were completely destroyed during the Battle of Verdun and were never rebuilt.

The origin of the village goes back to the Gallo Roman era; its name evolved from the Latin Dives meaning divine associated to Mons for mountain.

Douaumont, the Divine Mountain, such a beautiful name but such a tragic fate, for this village located some 11km northeast of Verdun.

The villagers lead a peaceful existence until the late 19th century, when the defence forts of Douaumont, Vaux, Souville et Froideterre were built after the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-71.

An influx of construction workers, followed by the arrival of the garrison staff, suddenly increased the number of inhabitants from 192 to 576 in 1885.

This triggered the opening of small shops and workshops that contributed to the prosperity of the village.

Once the forts built, many of the workers returned to their home regions, but on the eve of the Great War, the village of Douaumont still had 288 inhabitants, among whom many soldiers.

The disarmament of the Fort Douaumont, considered outdated and unsuited to modern fighting methods, was undoubtedly one of the worse decisions taken by the French state in 1915.

The fort remained, indeed, a symbolic target for the Germans during the Battle of Verdun, the great offensive they launched in February 1916!

Douaumont, in the heart of the battlefield

The Fort of Douaumont and the village became a prime target, and the latter was in a total state of ruins, when the Germans took control of the area on March 4.

It is interesting to know that a young captain in charge of the 33rd Infantry Regiment, and named Charles de Gaulle, was wounded during this fighting and taken prisoner in Germany until the end of WWI…

But let’s go back to the Fort of Douaumont and its ruined village.

The counter-offensive, led by the French on May 8, 1916 on the Fort of Douaumont, had tragic consequences for the Germans.

The explosion produced by the French shells that fell on one of their depots of grenades and flamethrowers, killed 800 German soldiers.

It sadly proved impossible to bury all those soldiers outside the fort.

The German commander in charge of the fort decided to place the 679 remaining bodies in an underground gallery and wall them up.

They still are there; the Fort of Douaumont is the only German necropolis in Verdun!

But despite this tragedy, the Germans remained in control of the Fort until October 24, 1916 when the French Colonial Troops of Morocco, under the command of General Mangin, recaptured it.

Douaumont, a village ‘Mort pour la France’ – ‘Died for France’

In 1919 the village was officially declared ‘Mort pour la France’ and added to the list of nine villages of the Meuse that were entirely destroyed (Villages Détruits).

It was declared as Zone Rouge – Red Zone, an area where reconstruction was prohibited because of the permanent damage done to the ground.

Not only the village was not rebuilt, but it was kept in its original war state.

Old shell craters and trenches are now covered with grass, and the site was replanted; everything seems so peaceful!

The Monument to the Dead was erected in 1925, and the Chapelle Saint-Hilaire in 1932 on the site of the old church.

As in Fleury-devant-Douaumont, the current paths follow the lay-out of the old village’s streets, and the bollards mark the location of the houses that bordered them.

The chapel is not open to the public, but as you peek through the grid, you can admire a beautiful Virgin placed on the altar and beneath a superb stained glass window.

Vestiges of fireplace plates and a church capital, which miraculously escaped total destruction, were placed on the porch wall.

A handful of stones, recovered from the ruined church, have been piled on the front lawn of the chapel.

But don’t look for anymore vestiges, this is all that remains of the village of Douaumont!

The small cemetery contains the graves of the chaplains of Douaumont and the village’s mayor.

Both graves surround a commemorative monument.

The village was chosen as the site for the construction of the National Cemetery and Ossuary.

Free access

Other sites of the Battle of Verdun
Citadel of VerdunSacred Way – Douaumont Ossuary and National CemeteryAbri 320Bayonet Trench Fort of Douaumont – Fleury-devant-Douaumont “Village Détruit – Maginot Monument in Fleury-devant-Douaumont Department of Meuse – Lorraine – Grand Est
Coordinates: Lat 49.222692 – Long 5.435674

World War I – Latest content

Saint-Quentin National Necropolis

Saint-Quentin National Necropolis – French Military Cemetery

Saint-Quentin National Necropolis, a WWI French military cemetery where the soldats who fell during the fights of August 1914 and October 1918 are buried Continue Reading Connaught Cemetery entrance

Connaught Cemetery – Commonwealth Cemetery – Thiepval

Connaught Cemetery, a Commonwealth Cemetery open in 1916 at the edge of Thiepval Wood where the British lines were positioned during the Battle of the Somme Continue Reading Mill Road Cemetery - flat gravestones

Mill Road Cemetery – Commonwealth Cemetery – Thiepval

Mill Road Cemetery, a Commonwealth Cemetery open in 1917 to bury the soldiers who fell at Beaumont-Hamel and Thiepval during the Battle of the Somme Continue Reading Poster for the Commemoration of the Centenary of the Bel-Air City

Commemoration of the Centenary of the Bel-Air City

Boulazac-Isle-Manoire commemorates the 100-year anniversary of the creation of the base and hospital of the American Army in its district of Bel-Air City Continue Reading

Sign up to our newsletter

Travel France Online will use the information you provide on this form to keep in touch with you and to provide updates via our newsletter. By selecting the boxes on the form you confirm your acceptance to receive our newsletter.

You can change your mind at any time by clicking the unsubscribe link in the footer of any email you receive from us, or by contacting us at

We will treat your information with respect. For more information please visit our privacy policy page

Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.

Grand Est – Latest content

Monk Dom Perignon statue

Who was Dom Perignon?

Dom Perignon, a Benedictine monk and renowned oenologist with genius for winemaking, is considered the inventor of the Champagne method; legend or fact?

World War 1 – Latest content