THE RED ZONE AND THE DESTROYED VILLAGES
The Zone Rouge, or Red Zone, is the name given to about 460 square miles of totally devastated land in the Meuse. Littered with unexploded ordnance, it became a physical and environmental catastrophe. During the terrible conflict of the Battle of Verdun, nine villages were totally razed from the map: Beaumont-en-Verdunois, Bezonvaux, Cumières-le-Mort-Homme, Douaumont, Fleury-devant-Douaumont, Haumont-près-Samogneux, Louvemont-Côte-du-Poivre, Ornes and Vaux-devant-Damloup. The villages have in the main been left as they are as a memorial to war. Some have traces of former houses and public places recalling the different occupations of these former communities. ‘Died for France’, an evocative phrase for these haunted villages and a stark reminder of human cost in amongst the memorial chapels and cenotaphs erected after the war.