Douaumont Ossuary and Cemetery remembering French soldiers killed at the Battle of Verdun in 1916 (Photo: Centenary News)

Verdun Centenary - France remembers on May 29 2016

Posted on on 16 June 2015
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France is to hold international commemorations marking the centenary of the Battle of Verdun on May 29th 2016.

President Hollande will lead the remembrance of one of the longest and bloodiest campaigns of the First World War.

The German Army launched its offensive against the symbolically important target of Verdun on February 21st 1916. The fighting lasted almost until Christmas and cost around 300,000 French and German lives.

Successive French leaders have visited the once fortified city on the River Meuse to pay tribute to those who fell here.

General Charles de Gaulle, who was himself taken prisoner as a junior officer at Verdun, led the 50th anniversary commemorations on May 29th 1966.

Seventy years after the start of the First World War, President Mitterrand and the German Chancellor, Helmut Kohl, took part in a memorial service at Verdun symbolising Franco-German reconciliation.

The two leaders were pictured joining hands in front of the Douaumont Ossuary containing the remains of more than 130,000 French soldiers.

In the Great War Centenary year of 2014, President Hollande and his German counterpart, Joachim Gauck, embraced at a remembrance service in Alsace marking the the 100th anniversaries of their countries going to war.

The French Government announced the date for the Verdun centenary commemorations in February 2015, the 99th anniversary of the start of the battle. Full details are to come.

Sources: French Government/various

Images: Centenary News

Posted by: Peter Alhadeff, Centenary News