25. Like all of World War I, Verdun was a special kind of horror
The battlefields of World War I were in many ways foreseen during the siege of Petersburg and Richmond in the American Civil War; two entrenched armies possessing firepower so devastating that assaulting the other was foolhardy. During the First World War, the rain of death from the sky was constant, either from artillery shells of up to then unheard-of size, bullets and bombs from aircraft, poison gas wafting on the wind, and many others. Disease was common, as were accidents as the industrial age went to war. Men lived, literally, in the ground, which was often cold, wet, mud.
During the height of the fighting at Verdun, in the spring of 1916, when German attacks were still pressing forward a French Lieutenant confided his thoughts to his diary. Alfred Joubaire wrote in his diary on May 23, 1916, “Yes, humanity has gone mad. We must be mad to do what we are doing. What massacres! What scenes of horror and carnage! I cannot find words to express my feelings. Hell cannot be so terrible. Mankind has gone mad!” It was his last entry. The 21-year-old French lieutenant was killed during German shelling, one more victim of the Battle of Verdun.
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