The memorial museum at Verdun in Eastern France gives a striking impression of this central point of one of the key battles of WW1. Between 1916 and 1917 French and German generals rained down uncountable munitions on soldiers in a hell on earth, with multiple initiatives and counter-initiatives. The museum gives a good feel for the reality of that war for those involved – a sobering experience.
As at the Somme, the result was essentially stalemate, with hundreds of thousands killed on both sides and a traumatised generation of Europeans and their allies.
Fortunately the Americans came along and sorted the battle out with overwhelming force. But nobody got the subsequent politics right at Versailles and we had to go through the whole thing again with WW2.
The Bishops Palace in Verdun has an exhibition showing how the whole experience led to the establishment of the movement towards a united Europe, including pioneering spirits such as Jean Monnet and Winston Churchill. What an inspirational project that was, after the horrors of the extended World War – indeed it still is for many people.
Sad that weak UK governments have created the Brexit process because of disagreements they were not willing to work at and resolve within the EU.
And equally sad that European politicians have not so far shown the vision to help the UK around its genuine problems.