The Douaumont Monument: a symbolic structure

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Thanks to the tower of the monument, the light of the ossuary is visible from 40 km away. It has a shape whose real symbolism is often unknown.

If the shape of the Douaumont Ossuary has a particular symbolism, it is often misinterpreted. For example, it is often thought to represent a sword planted in the ground to symbolize peace between nations. But there is also a potential Egyptian influence, with the monument perhaps being inspired by Egyptian obelisks. Indeed, one of the three architects of the Ossuary, Azema, came from Alexandria in Egypt.

In reality, the Douaumont monument was imagined with a tower to give the building an ascending dimension. Its goal is to help the soldiers still on the battlefield of the Battle of Verdun to find peace. It is estimated that about 80,000 soldiers have never been found and are still lost on the battleground. Those who were found rest in 46 graves, which correspond to the 46 sectors of the battlefield. The bones are sorted according to where they were found. In total, 130,000 unknown soldiers of all nationalities rest in this place. The bones are visible through glass windows from the outside.

A golden chasuble preserved under glass in the center of the aisle leading to the chapel also has a unique story. A chasuble is an outer garment worn by a priest. At the end of the First World War, Corporal Halvik of the 89th Division rescued the chasuble from a burning church in Verdun. He kept the chasuble and hid it under his uniform. Back home safe and sound, he attributes his luck to the golden chasuble. It was donated to the Ossuary by Corporal Halvik’s grandchildren.

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