Construction of Fort Douaumont began around 1885, after the Franco-Prussian War and continued until 1914. The fort was positioned on high ground close to the village of Douaumont. Built on three levels and fully fortified, it was designed for modern warfare, with machine gun turrets, guns and weaponry. There were barracks on two floors and an observation turret. Fort Douaumont fell to the Germans without resistance on 25 February 1916. The French General Staff, under General Joffre, had looked at the experience of Belgium, where several forts had been taken down by the enemies’ giant Gamma guns. Consequently, he made the decision to leave the fort virtually unarmed, except for maintenance crew. This assumption that the fort would not withstand a German assault is now considered erroneous and it is believed that if the fort had been properly defended, it may have prevented the invasion of Verdun.
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