A war memorial in Verdun, symbolising the determination to stand firm (Photo: Centenary News)

'They shall not pass' - US WWI Museum highlights Verdun & the Somme

Posted on centenarynews.com on 06 May 2016
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The Battles of Verdun and the Somme are the focus for the latest special exhibition opening today (May 6th 2016) at the National World World War I Museum in Kansas City, Missouri.

Verdun and its fortifications held major symbolic importance for France, and its armies fought for most of 1916 to save them from capture by the Germans.

Such was the scale of French losses that the British Army took the lead in the Somme offensive, suffering its bloodiest day at the start of the attack on July 1st 1916. 

The exhibition's title is taken from General Robert Nivelle's order to his troops in June as the German pressure on Verdun reached its peak: "Vous ne les laisserrez pas passer" (you shall not let them pass), a battle cry shortened to 'on ne pass pas' or 'Ils ne passeront pas' (they shall not pass).

"The Somme and Verdun are among the most destructive and tragic events in human history,” said National World War I Museum and Memorial Senior Curator Doran Cart.

 "The loss of life during these two battles was absolutely catastrophic. Through this special exhibition, we paint a broad picture of these staggering events, while sharing deeply personal stories from those who participated."

Exhibits include a British Vickers machine gun, a Verdun commemorative flag, German uniforms from regiments at both battles and a French infantry folding bicycle.  

Nearly all of the objects and documents are being exhibited for the first time in the museum’s history.

They Shall Not Pass/1916 runs at the National World War I Museum and Memorial in Kansas City, Missouri, from May 6th 2016 - March 12th 2017. The museum is planning several free public events alongside in the exhibition. 

Also in Centenary News:

America's volunteers - Exhibition at US National World War I Museum

Read more here about the Battle of Verdun, the longest single battle of the First World War 

Verdun is preparing to host international commemorations on May 29th, led by the French President, François Hollande, and Chancellor Angel Merkel of Germany

Information about the  UK's Battle of the Somme Centenary commemorations, including overnight vigils on June 30th/July 1st, can be found here.

Source: National World War I Museum and Memorial

Images: Centenary News

Posted by: CN Editorial Team