Did you know some explosions that were going on in france were heard in london when the french dug tunnels under the front lines of german trenches? After they were under the trenches they would plant and detonate mines. Sometimes the explosions were so great that the prime minister of london 140 miles away would hear them. Perhaps this technique would never have been thought of if they would have been In a structure. Like a house, hut, or maybe a huge fortress perhaps?Fortresses played a effective role when it came down to them doing their job.
Let’s take a look at the eastern front for right now. Russian Forts saved the Tsar’s Army from being destroyed in Poland during 1915. The Russian Army put most of it’s heavy artillery in these forts, and yes they cost huge sums of money, but in the end if you look at the fighting in the East it is very clear the forts were instrumental in holding back the Central Powers. This allowed the Russians to escape the trap ment for them in poland. The war might have ended in 1915 rather than in 1917 if the fort wasn’t there to protect them. The osovets fortress was the key to this salvation of a large portion of the Russian army. For a few months they held back the german forces trying to cut off one of the main escape from a doomed warsaw. A very popular fortress was Fort Douaumont.
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This fort was part of one of the most circumstantial battles in ww1. On february 25 1916 german troops attacked fort douaumont, the most reliable of the forts guarding the walled city of Verdun, France, four days after the initial attack. The battle of Verdun would go on to be one of the bloodiest battles in ww1, 700,000 deaths in ten months. In 1916 Verdun was defended by 500,00 men stationed in fort Douaumont and Fort Vaux. The germans, commanded by chief of staff Eric Von Falkenhayn sent 1 million men to Verdun in hopes of getting a swift victory that would push the french towards an armistice.
The first shot was fired on february 21. By the end of that day the germans had only captured the front line of trenches. The germans realized that this battle was going to be harder than they thought. So, they pushed on and by february 23rd the germans had advanced 2 miles and captured 3,000 french soldiers. By february 24th the germans had taken over the second line of trenches. Fort Douaumont was a massive structure protected by 2 layers of concrete over a meter thick, and surrounded by a 7-meter-deep moat.
When it fell on February 25th to the German 24th brandenburg infantry regiment with the kaiser on hand to deliver his personal congratulations, german jubilation was matched only by the french army? shock and sadness. From that point on, Verdun became a cause that the french just couldn’t let go. Public sentiment began to demand the recapture of the symbolic stronghold. The battle stretched on and on, with devastating casualties to both sides.
As german resources were diverted to fight the british at the “battle of the somme” and the russians on the eastern front, French forges gradually regained much of the ground that they had lost and eventually took Verdun back over. “…Ending the Battle of Verdun after 10 months and a total of over 200,000 lives lost.”-A & E Television Networks, LLC, This Day in History Feb 25, 2018.